I really enjoy cooking. And its great to share a meal with friends and family.
Here is a recipe for mango-black-bean salsa that I like. It brings together lots of strong individual flavors to make a delicious dish that is bigger than its separate ingredients—a culinary reflection of the community of southeast Texas. I hope you like it, too.
Texas black bean-mango salsa
1 12-oz. can black beans, drained
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced
2 tsp. red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and finely diced
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. honey
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the ingredients in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate if made a day ahead. Bring to room temperature to serve. Enjoy!
I love to bake and cook, and Thanksgiving is a time I get to do a lot of both. Here’s a recipe I found that packs loads of pecan flavor without the overly sweet, stick-to-the-roof of your mouth custard of a pecan pie.
These pecan pie bars make a terrific holiday treat. The recipe is easy, gets awesome results, and is a great way to enjoy Texas pecans. Plus, they travel well, if it’s your turn to take dessert to a Thanksgiving dinner.
Texas Pecan Pie Bars Recipe
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
6 Tbs. sugar
½ tsp. salt
8 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and hot
2 Tbs. bourbon
½ tsp. salt
1 pound pecan halves, toasted
½ tsp. flake sea salt
Preheat oven to 350°
Line a 13” x 9” baking pan with aluminum foil. Use extra foil hanging over the edges so the lining forms a sling. Push foil into the corners and up the sides of the pan. Smooth the foil flush to the pan. Lightly spray foil with vegetable oil spray.
Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add melted butter and stir until dough begins to form. Use your hands to combine until no dry flour remains. Place small pieces of dough in pan. Use your fingers and palm of your hand to press and smooth dough into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
Toast pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool.
Whisk sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, bourbon, and salt in a bowl until combined.
Fold pecans into sugar mixture until they are evenly coated.
Pour mixture over crust. Use a spatula to spread mixture evenly to edges and corners.
Bake until nut mixture is rapidly bubbling over entire surface, about 23-25 minutes.
Transfer pan to cooling rack and lightly sprinkle with flake sea salt.
Let bars cool completely in pan, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Using the foil sling, lift bars out of pan and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 24 bars.
No one was surprised when Texans lent a hand in recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey. We saw neighbors helping neighbors and folks helping strangers. And those strangers became friends. We Texans did it because that’s the way we’re wired—we’re community—or at least that’s why we did it after Harvey. Things weren’t so community-oriented after Superstorm Sandy. Back then in 2012, Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn, along with 20 members of the Texas Congressional Delegation, including Rep. Stockman from our TX-36, voted against the $50 billion relief package for those affected by Sandy.
Elected officials need to work for us
Some things don’t seem to change. So far, Texas’ request to the Trump Administration for Harvey relief and recovery have not been met. Republicans control DC and they still cannot get their act together to help make our communities whole after Hurricane Harvey.
How can they possibly think that not helping to rebuild our communities is why we elected them? And they have not even considered investing in the projects that will combat future floods!
Hurricane Harvey’s devastation affected us all. Three months after the storm, we still wait for DC to take action. We need to recover from Harvey and rebuild for the future.
You can make a difference
It is past time that we elect a member to Congress who gets things done and plans for the future. You can make this a reality, but only if you get involved today. Please donate to our campaign, talk with your neighbors about our need to do the right things, and make sure you vote.
Houston’s Superfund sites flooded during Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey flooded tens of thousands of homes–and many Superfund waste sites. Houston’s polluted Superfund sites threatened to contaminate floodwaters (Washington Post, August 29).
Flooded Superfund sites like the San Jacinto Waste Pits spread their pollution onto nearby properties, into the river and the bay. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was not on scene, according to the Associated Press on September 2. The EPA indicated on September 4 that 13 Superfund sites were flooded during Hurricane Harvey (NPR article).
Poisons emitted by industry to our air, water, and soil that can be controlled in normal conditions but have been made exponentially worse by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey where they cause harm to our families, reduce our property values, and make us all less healthy and prosperous.
Lawmakers must act now to protect people and clean up vulnerable waste sites.
Congress and our state lawmakers must act now to make protection of the people and cleanup of these vulnerable sites a priority. We must demand that disaster recovery funds be allocated to begin this process immediately. Our lawmakers know that even after a site is designated a Superfund site, cleanup can take decades.
Read my full Op Ed article in the Baytown Sunhere.
The Texas Tribune published my op ed piece on September 7 on how to move forward after Hurricane Harvey, and how to prepare for the next big storm.
Invest in real solutions to real problems
How do we rebuild? How do we prepare for the future? To live in the place we all love, we must be willing to invest in solutions to the problems we know exist; we must ensure that Harvey relief makes us whole and gives us the resources to make the Texas Gulf Coast ready for the next hurricane.
A basic function of government is to protect us. Ask yourself if laws and regulations that were in place before Harvey struck made the situation better or worse. Who advocated for those bad policies? Was it the people who have a financial incentive to not spend the necessary funds for protection and their bought-and-paid-for lawmakers? How do we change the debate so we are talking about real solutions to real problems?
Our leaders must work for us
With floodwaters still flowing in parts of Texas, and Hurricane Irma eyeing the U.S. mainland, the current political talk is about tax cuts for the wealthy or the residency status of nearly 800,000 children and young adults. These are not the priorities of folks who lost everything in Winnie, Port Aransas, Orange, Beaumont, and Houston—and many cities in between.
Our leaders must work for us, not for folks who want to avoid paying to do the right thing.
Texas’ 36th District faces unique problems
Our District is unique because of the major concentration of refineries and petrochemical plants, and shipping lanes, along the Texas Gulf Coast. The effects of Hurricane Harvey reached well beyond the Texas borders, impacting 40 percent of the U.S. petrochemicals market (See CNBC, Harvey threatens to choke off supply of critical chemicals , plastics to U.S. manufacturers). Our District is concerned with the effects of storm surge. And southeast Texas has several protected wildlife areas.
I am a geologist by training, an environmental and risk assessment consultant by trade, so I know the unique problems we face as we work to recover. We need to make sure that DC gives us what we need to rebuild, and does it in a way that helps protect from future storms.
There was a point over this last week when I was speechless: the rain, the damage, the rescues, the deaths in Houston, Port Arthur, Orange and Beaumont, not to mention the chemical plant explosion in Crosby.
If you got emotional, I understand. I did too.
The impact of Harvey forces us to think about how we rebuild better, stronger, and smarter.
Cities large and small require assistance—quickly—to meet basic needs
The President will be in Houston on Saturday and I expect him to show empathy for Texans and give us a concrete timetable for when resources from DC will start to arrive. We need billions of dollars to rebuild our communities—and not just the big cities. There are portions of our area that still don’t have the basics of living—clean water and sewage systems and communications systems, for example, more than 12 years after Hurricane Rita.
It is time to hold our elected representatives accountable
We want a swift and substantial Hurricane Harvey recovery bill passed immediately; it should be the first thing Congress does when it reconvenes in September. Anything else will be an insult to everything we have dealt with over the past week, and the weeks and months to come. We need to mitigate loss, and we need to rebuild with an emphasis on the future.
Rebuild to protect our communities and our economy
I am an environmental consultant by trade; a scientist by training. There are things we can do in the rebuilding that will protect our communities, help us meet the challenges of the 21st century, and put people to work. That’s what I will do when I represent you in Congress.
Thinking of all those whose lives have been turned upside down by Harvey.
The predicted approach of Tropical Storm Harvey reminds us on the Gulf Coast that it’s not if, it’s when a hurricane will hit. Our region is hit by a major hurricane about every 15 years. Many of us have lived through and recovered from Alicia, Allison, Rita, Katrina, and Ike. Hurricane Ike alone caused $30 billion in damage and killed more than 100 people.
Engineers at Texas A&M and Rice University have designed storm surge protection that would protect the southeast Texas coast from damage and loss of life. The proposed cost is $12 billion – a bargain compared to the cost a Katrina-like hurricane would result in: losses to the Texas economy of $73 billion in gross product and 863,000 jobs.
Construction of the “Ike Dike” would bring good-paying jobs to the area, and a sense of pride that we are working to protect our community.
As we prepare for a potential hit from Harvey, I urge you to contact your representatives and tell them that it’s time to protect the Texas coast, our community, our lives, and the economy from these predictable natural disasters.
My name is Jon Powell, and I am a candidate for U.S. Congress in the 36th district here in southeast Texas.
A little about me
I am a husband and father, a scientist and a geologist. I have my own environmental and management consulting business and I have worked with companies here and across the globe.
We moved to Taylor Lake Village in 1988 when Cindy Evans, my wife, got a job at NASA. We spawned two native Texan sons, now grown up and on their own. We raised them surrounded by the friendship of our community. Each of our family members is committed to public service and giving back to others in our community. I have served as City Councilman and Mayor of Taylor Lake Village. Cindy has been on the police commission. Our boys have volunteered and worked to serve the public since they were little kids.
2018 is a pivotal election for this district and our country
We need to get the government back on track where it was intended—to serve the good of the people and provide opportunity for all. This will take new leadership—here and in congressional races across the country—so we can put the country back on the path of investing in America so we can make a brighter future—for our kids and grandkids.
Put real voices in Congress
I’m running for Congress to help put real voices in Congress so we can implement policies that help us build an economy that works for everyone—for people living in the more populated areas along the coast to those in the rural areas in the piney forests of East Texas.
We need someone to build a positive and practical agenda that will help lift us up. I am the person to do this.
President Trump, Congress and the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality are actively working to increase pollution of the air we breathe. In Houston and across Texas we need to protect our children and families from deadly fumes.
Trump and the Republicans in Congress, including Congressional District 36 representative Brian Babin, are axing the EPA’s budget by a third. That means far less enforcement of Clean Air laws, in addition to weakening laws and regulations to clean our air. Likewise, Republican leaders in Texas cut TCEQ’s funds by $6M to cut back enforcement of environmental projection in our communities.
Whether you live in Houston or in Orange, or other small towns or rural areas, the dirty air will find you as it moves across county lines. Support a solid opponent to Brian Babin. Jon Powell has the technical knowledge and experience to stand up to the weak rationals the GOP uses to break down environmental protections of the air we breathe.
Chris Tomlinson, taking a pragmatic analysis of the healthcare situation in the US concludes that, “Someday, Americans will realize what other countries have concluded: Health care is like the military, police and fire services. It should be paid for with taxes and carefully regulated.”
If the Republicans in Congress and Trump in White House can’t come to an agreement on how to improve America’s health care system, perhaps it is time to take an approach that ensures care for all.
On June 7, NASA introduced its new astronaut candidates at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The astronaut candidates joined Vice President Mike Pence, acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, Johnson Center Director Ellen Ochoa, and Flight Operations Director Brian Kelly on stage at the event. NASA chose 12 women and men from over 18,000 applicants.
In his address, Pence said,“These are 12 men and women whose personal excellence and whose personal courage will carry our nation to even greater heights of discovery and who I know will inspire our children and our grandchildren every bit as much as your forebears have done so in this storied American program,” said Vice President Pence. “And to this newest class of astronauts, it’s my honor to bring the sincere congratulations of the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. Your President is proud of you, and so am I.”