“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” – Bob Kerrey


My day job is working in a newsroom for an ABC affiliate in Texas, and I absolutely love it. Of course, the minute I retire I’ll be back on St. Joe Beach basking in the sun, Lord willing, but at this point in my life I’m working in news and it’s a great adventure. I love the busyness of keeping up with what is going on in local news. I love the role we play in sharing stories about organizations who are doing good things, bad guys to protect your family from, or new policies in our area that are important for the viewers.


I love the amazing stories about fascinating people: men and women who served in times of war and lived to tell their stories to the rest of us left behind … dogs who saved their families from a burning home … kids whose random acts of kindness to each other break down barriers between the races or genders or whatever it is that divides their community.


I get excited about police and fire dogs, or K9s, as they’re called, who do amazing work for our communities. They’re brave, and they’re stunningly well-trained. They can sniff out drugs that could kill someone’s child, they can find the source of a fire so an arsonist can be brought to justice, and they can visit schools to teach children about safety and citizenship. Then they go home with their partners at night and are goofy, adorable pups just like yours and mine. I love that.


I am so touched when we share stories about people who create organizations to help those who are disadvantaged in any way. I spoke with a woman this week, for example, who has a truck outfitted with donated prom dresses so that her organization can drive it right up to the doors of the schools to let girls come outside to choose a free prom dress, eliminating the need for transportation to get to a giveaway at a secondary location. She brought her care and concern right to those girls. I applaud that kind of love for our neighbors.


Those kinds of stories are important, and they deserve to be told. That makes me love working in the local news business.


Oddly enough, though, I hate politics. I enjoy election night, honestly, because it’s fast-paced and exciting and reporters are sending back video from all over the region as they talk with voters and candidates who are moments away from finding out their political fates. That part of the political process is exciting when one is in the news business. Plus, there’s always free pizza in the newsroom. Free pizza is important to hungry journalists.


What I hate, to use a strong word, is how politics has changed people over the years. Politics has lost its civility. When I read about politics in my mother’s era, for example, I am astonished that the men who were in those seats in Congress back then would vehemently debate points on the floor and stand up for what they believed in, and then, at the end of the workday they’d shake hands and ask each other, “where shall we go for dinner and drinks, buddies?”


Of course that couldn’t have been the case with everyone, I’m certain, but I love the idea that people across the aisle from one another, literally and figuratively, could still be friends. We don’t seem to allow that for ourselves anymore. These days there is more time spent yelling and posting unkind memes and quotes on social media, and calling people names. It’s a real loss.


"Burning down others’ opinions doesn’t make us right. It makes us arsonists."


— Bob Goff (Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People)


When I watch football games, I always get choked up when at the end of a game the teams rush over to each other, shake hands, and even give hugs to other athletes they’re friends with. I always marvel at that great sportsmanship. They were just pounding each other on a football field, and now they’re high-fiving each other and asking about the wife and kids, or whatever they say to each other out there.


I’d love to see that kind of good-heartedness and good sportsmanship in the political arena, not only in Tallahassee and Austin and D.C., but in our own living rooms. In our churches. In our Facebook feeds. In our dinner table chats. Can we remember that people are more important than politics? Can we remember to see each other as humans loved by God, regardless of political affiliation? I’d say that is what is expected of us as we aim to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” Have we forgotten?


That’s what I vote for today: showing kindness in love. Let’s let kindness win by a landslide, and stop beating each other over the head with political views. Who’s with me?


"Sadly, whenever I make my opinions more important than the difficult people God made, I turn the wine back into water." - Bob Goff (Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People)


And now that politics are out of the way, it’s time for the free pizza I mentioned! Free pizza recipes, at least. If you were here, I’d make you a slice, though, no matter who you’re voting for.


Chicken taco French bread pizzas


Ingredients


1 loaf of French bread, sliced in half lengthwise


1 cup thick and chunky salsa


2 teaspoons taco seasoning mix


1 cup shredded chicken


1 cup shredded cheese blend


Sliced black olives (optional)


Method:


1. Lay French bread halves on a baking sheet, and spread each cut side with 1/2 cup salsa (use more as desired)


2. Sprinkle each half with a teaspoon taco seasoning mix, distributing evenly.


3. Spread chicken evenly over each bread slice.


4. Top each pizza with 1/2 cup cheese


5. Sprinkle each side with olive slices


Bake 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees, or until cheese is golden brown. Allow to cool five minutes before cutting into smaller slices.


Steak and bacon pizza


1 roll of pizza dough


2 cups shredded mozzarella


1 cup tomato sauce


1 teaspoon dried basil


1 teaspoon minced garlic or garlic powder


teaspoon salt


teaspoon red pepper flakes


8 ounces precooked steak strips, chopped


4 slices precooked bacon, crumbled


medium onion, chopped


1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese or blue cheese


Method:


1. Spread pizza dough out on pizza pan, and bake according to package directions.


2. Combine the tomato sauce, basil, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Spread over the baked pizza crust.


3. Cover the sauce with the mozzarella, then the steak, bacon, onion and gorgonzola or blue cheese.


4. Bake at 400 for about 8 more minutes, until toppings are melted together and crust is golden brown.


Enjoy!


Easy Taco Pizza by Mama Steph


Ingredients:


One Boboli or other prebaked pizza crust (or make your own crust, if you have time.)


one can refried beans


one small can of diced green chiles


8 ounces ground beef, browned


1 tablespoon taco seasoning


2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese


shredded lettuce


diced tomato


Mexican crema (or sour cream)


Method:


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place crust on pizza pan.


2. Spread refried beans evenly across pizza crust. Drain chiles, and sprinkle them over the beans.


3. Brown the ground beef, and sprinkle with the taco seasoning.


4. Top with the shredded cheese, then bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until crust is golden brown and the cheese is hot and bubbly.


5. Remove from oven, and top with drizzles of crema, handfuls of lettuce and tomato, and a sprinkling of salsa, if desired.


Makes six generous slices. Enjoy!


Stephanie Hill-Frazier is a writer, food blogger and regional television chef whose on-air nickname is "Mama Steph.” She grew up in Gulf County, on St. Joe Beach, a place she will forever call home.


She is married and has three sons who believe people come before politics, too. You can find more of her recipes at WhatSouthernFolksEat.com.