The Trio has traveled many miles (and eaten many cookies) in the past 10 weeks bringing our “American Voices” concert to audiences in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Since Kansas celebrated its 150th birthday in January, we were so pleased to be included in the week-long Sesquicentennial Celebration in Iola, Kansas. We did a fun concert for the 5th graders (who beat us on their Kansas trivia knowledge), as well as an evening concert. We premiered our new piece by our talented friend, Robert Pherigo, “Serenity,” setting a poem by the same name by African-American poet/photographer/author/composer Gordon Parks.

I wanted to highlight and honor a notable Kansan on our new piece, and had an aha! moment to explore the works of Gordon Parks. Since I happen to be (at least momentarily) something of an expert on Parks, I can tell you he born the youngest of 15 children in Fort Scott, Kansas, and overcame poverty, discrimination and hardship to become an amazing Renaissance man. Robert, who is a fine pianist and singer, as well as a gifted composer, did justice to Parks’ poem. “Serenity” is truly lovely. So lovely that I am including it here for you to enjoy.

Listen to “Serenity” by Robert Pherigo

Many thanks to all of the fine and friendly folks in Duncan, Oklahoma, Iola, Kansas and Hesston, Kansas for treating us so beautifully, applauding so heartily, and pointing us in the right direction for great queso dip (one of our group faves). As a small parting gesture, enjoy this Tiki Snack Mix that I made for Dan’s birthday. It’s got your sweet, your salty and your bacon — all of the food groups.

Tiki Snack Mix

  • 8 thick slices meaty bacon
  • 3 cups salted roasted peanuts
  • 4 candied (or dried) pineapple rings (or just use as much dried pineapple as you like, cut into smallish pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I leave it out)
  • kosher slat, if you wish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the bacon slices in a single layer on a rack set inside a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes (I flipped the slices 1/2 way through) until basically crisp. Drain on paper towels and cut into 1/4 inch strips.

In a bowl, toss the bacon with the remaining ingredients, except salt. Spread it on a rimmed baking sheet and bake about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the bacon is crisp (watch it a bit, since the bacon cooks faster than you might think). Season with salt if you think it needs it and cool. Makes about 4 1/2 cups, or enough for one hard-working pianist (and Dan is the hardest working man in show biz since Sammy Davis Jr. passed).