Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Football Is In the Air

Football is a huge deal in our household, so Kraut and I are VERY excited its almost back. Our schools never play each other so we each can cheer for both teams without any conflicts. Go Dawgs! Go Irish!  We have tickets to several games this year and we are getting so excited.  ND opens up against Navy in Dublin, Ireland and we kicked around the prospect of going, but it just didn't work out.  The first game we are going to is the ND vs. Miami game at Soldier Field in Chicago.  Its going to be on October 6 which is 3 days after our 3 year anniversary.  It should be a fun way to celebrate!  I'm also looking forward to taking my new camera and getting some better quality photos to share this year.  Here are some of my shots from last year's games:

Notre Dame vs. Michican State (at ND)

MS State vs Memphis (at Memphis)

Note...picture above is in the 1st quarter and the one below is the beginning of the 4th quarter! Ha!

Memphis vs MS State was the season opener and I didn't take a camera so the only pics I have to share with you are from my iphone so bear with me on the photo quality.  This year I'll do better.  Plus, I've got a new cowbell ready to ring at the MS State games, and I'm really looking forward to using it.  Its one I made for my mom a while back, so it will be like she's there with me cheering on my team!

Today, because I can hear football calling, the Soundtrack of Life is playing Phil Collins "In the Air Tonight"!!!  Now if you will excuse me, I need to go get my maroon gear out and warm up my bell ringing arm!!!  Until next time.......


Monday, August 27, 2012

Under My Skin

Hi Friends!  The soundtrack of life is playing Frank Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin".  It is my parent's song and yesterday was their 40 year anniversary.  I shared with you last week a little bit about my mother passing away, and my dad wrote the sweetest comment on the post.  I thought that a lot of you may have missed it, so in honor of their 40 years together I want to share this with you.  You may need to grab a tissue first!  (FYI...My mom took the picture of the flowers at the bottom.  My dad picked them for her during their 2 week trip to Jackson Hole, Mount Rushmore, and Yellowstone)

Dearest Jackie,
It’s Saturday afternoon late and I’m alone today for the first time since you left us or God took you last Sunday. I’ve been trying to stay busy- you know me I can’t sit still- cleaning house and going through letters. I sat down and was trying to recall as much as I could of our time together and it’s hard. The last 3 months although precious moments, I had to watch you slowly leave me.  I know it must have been hard as the disease slowly crept into your body and took over, although I can hear you say, “Oh it’s not so bad.”

I just want to reach out and hold your hand. Feel your touch. To hug you and smell the scent that is yours. To have to bend over closer to you to hear your soft voice. To press my lips to yours and kiss you 3 times because once or twice was never enough for you. You know your lips were the softest of anyone I know. I don’t want to forget. You will always be my bestest friend. My ole pal Jackie Dupree. I know I wasn’t perfect but I always tried to be a better husband. You deserved it and more. I guess I’ll always be that work in progress. If I would have just learned those two little words you like sooner, “Yes dear” it would have been so much easier. Right my love. 

I think someday the tears will be less, but for now I can’t seem to stop them as I recall the 40 years we called marriage. I felt like it was more like dating. You were such an easy person to love. I recall so many little things you did to remind me that you loved me.  How great God is to me that He would bring us together when He did. I don’t know what my life would be like without you my sweetheart, but with God’s help I can serve Him and go in the direction He leads. You will always be a part of me “I’ve got you under my skin.” How corny but true. 

Well it has helped to sit down to write this little bit. The tears have subsided and I can recall moments now more clearly. Your smile, your laugh, that awesome sense of humor and wit. You live on my darling in my heart. Thank you so much for our time together in case I didn’t say it enough.
You know you have inspired a lot of people most of all me and our daughters on how to live in the face of adversity. You deserve a medal but I’m sure our Lord will take care of that when He proclaims, “Well done good and faithful servant.” I miss you my love. 

Your Loving Husband,

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Dinner You Can't Refuse

 Mmmmm.....Eggplant Parmesan is a classic recipe, and one of my new favorites to make.  Kraut and I were watching a Bobby Flay "Throwdown" and we both started drooling while watching. We picked up some good tips and decided to make our own recipe that we believe we have perfected.  I think you will find it to be a real winner, and if you are like Kraut and I then you will probably want to pop the Godfather into your DVD player, open a bottle of Italian red wine, roll up your sleeves, and start cooking!!!

Eggplant Parmesan

1 large eggplant
1 jar of plain tomato sauce (we are going to jazz it up, so just get something plain with low sodium)
2 red peppers
3 on the vine tomatoes or a pint of grape tomatoes
1 large ball of mozzarella (sliced)
8 oz grated parmesan
5 eggs
1 cup flour
1.5 cups bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
olive oil/vegetable oil for cooking eggplant

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take your tomatoes and your red peppers and coat them with some olive oil and put them on a foil lined baking sheet.  When your oven is heated up, put them in the oven and roast them for about 20-30 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to burst and peppers begin to brown a little.  You may need to rotate the peppers a couple times, also be aware they will take longer than the tomatoes if you use grape tomatoes. When they are finished pull out and set aside to cool a bit, (leave the oven on 400).  We will use these for our sauce later.

While your veggies are roasting, peel your eggplant.  Then you will want to finely slice the eggplant lengthwise.  This is one of the key tricks we learned recently.  We have a mandolin that we use to get the eggplant really really thin.  Lightly salt your eggplant and set it aside. The salt will help them sweat a little bit and hopefully they won't soak up as much oil during the cooking process. Now set up your dredging station.  In a small dish or bowl (big enough to dip eggplant in), crack 5 eggs, add a splash of milk and beat the eggs.  In another dish add flour, and to a third dish add breadcrumbs. Now add oil to you pan (about a quarter of an inch high) and heat it up.  While your oil is heating, take you eggplant and coat it in flour, then dip it in egg wash, and then coat in breadcrumbs.  You will repeat with all remaining eggplant slices, and fry in small batches for 2-3 minutes each until all pieces are cooked.  You may need to add more oil to the pan as you go. Set aside cooked eggplant.

Now its time for the sauce.  Pour jar of sauce into a pot and warm on medium heat (don't get it too hot).  Peel and deseed your roasted red peppers then add to the pot.  Also, add roasted tomatoes.  Chop fresh basil, oregano, and thyme and add to the sauce (I grow my own herbs, so I'm not the best at giving estimations on proportions but I say the more the merrier!).  Also press 3 or 4 cloves of garlic into your pot.  When its warm, turn off the heat and grab an immersion blender and use it to puree the roasted red peppers and tomatoes until your sauce has no chunks.  (If you don't have an immersion blender you can puree it in a regular blender, but don't heat the sauce, puree ingredients, and then heat afterwards).

 Finally its the moment we've all been waiting for!  You are in the home stretch!  Take a sip of wine to tide you over, and get ready to assemble.   In a 9x13 baking dish, spread a layer of sauce across the bottom.  Next add a layer of eggplant followed by a layer of mozzarella.  Repeat with a layer of sauce, a layer of eggplant, a layer of mozzrella, a layer of sauce, a layer of eggplant, and top it all off with mozzarella AND a generous layer of parmesan cheese.  Cover and bake for 30-40 minutes, cheese should be nice and bubbly.
Buon appetito!!!!

And now for the song of the day on the soundtrack of life, what else goes with a great Italian meal better than the Godfather theme song? I say nothing! Just beware that you may be humming this all day now that I've got it into your head.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Knocking on Heaven's Door

For those of you have been faithful followers of my blog, I'd like to apologize for the hiatus.  For those of you who may be tuning in for the first time, I'd like to apologize in advance for the solemn tone of today's post.  Two Sundays ago (July 29) I lost my mother.  During that time I've gone through quite an array of emotions, but mostly I just feel like a piece of me is missing.  My mom's dear friend gave the eulogy at Mom's memorial service and asked my family and I to say a few things.  I would like to tell you that I was petrified at the thought of speaking at her service, but I surprisingly found it to be a joyous celebration of her life with a solemn tone.  I'd like to share my words with you as well as a few pictures:

I was trying to think of a favorite story or memory of my mother, but honestly what comes to mind are a collection of traits that made up the person she was to me.

My mother was sweet and patient.  I remember being only 2 or 3 years old and we would sit with a tape recorder singing "Miss Polly had a Dolly" and other songs together.   She also read countless stories to me, particularly "The Owl and the Pussy Cat" which she told me that she read so many times that she would try to hide the book way in the back where I wouldn't find it. Despite her tactics it was the one I'd pull off the shelf every time.  Even though she was sick of it, she'd read it for the thousandth time to me without complaint.

My mother was beautiful inside and out.  Anyone that met her knows that she never left the house looking anything but her best.  She loved to sparkle and at one point she quite possibly owned half of the jewelry sold on QVC.  But, its important to mention that her interior was just as beautiful. She spent countless hours cooking for her family, taking us to horseback riding lessons, bringing us on trips to the park, helping us with homework, and coming up with fun crafty projects for us to do together (we made a lot of puffy paint tshirts).

My mother was strong and faithful.  She was such an inspiration to me because during the course of her life she was faced with more adversity than some people ever know in a lifetime and she always bounced back and still saw things from a positive light. When she was first going through chemo, there were a couple times where it was just she and I that went to Jackson for her treatments.  After her treatment, you would think she would want to go home and rest, but no.  She'd want me to take her to the mall to shop and she liked to go with me the best.  She said Dad would push her too fast for her to look at anything, and Jacquelyn would get bored too quickly.  I would push her for hours through the mall and she was like an energizer bunny.  The two of us would either shop until the mall closed or I'd get so worn out I'd have to tell her I was tired.

My mother was soft spoken but witty.  I'd call her up to talk to her all the time because she was such a great listener and always knew the right things to say. She was never loud or boisterous, but she was always quick with a joke.  Even during her last days she was making us laugh.  There was a medicine in the hospital that she absolutely didn't want to take because it tasted terrible. One day when one of the nurses asked Mom what she would like to drink, Mom replied "Anything but Lactolose."

My mother was caring and selfless.  She always put her family and friends ahead of herself.  The day she went into the hospital she was lying in a hospital bed in the ER saying to me "Poor Steve, I'm sure this isn't how he planned to spend his Friday night."  And if you asked her how she was doing she would smile and say she was ok and ask about you.

My mother had perseverance. She lost her leg in a car accident and I was always amazed to see how she overcame her disability every day of her life.  Then she fought a 10 year battle with breast cancer.  Some may say she lost the battle, but I would say that she beat the cancer because she fought hard to have as much time with us on Earth, and I know right now she enjoying her perfect Heavenly body and smiling down on us today.

My mother was my best friend and she will be missed.

So, those were the words I got up and read about her, and I'm sure I did not even begin to do her justice because it would take a book to include all of my memories throughout the years.  She and my dad both have been wonderful inspirations to me in so many ways.  Now, you know I usually like to leave you with a song of the day, but today the soundtrack of life is just that, a soundtrack.  I want to share a few of the songs that have made me think of her lately:

Magical Mystery Tour- The Beatles -The reason I picked this song was that she had surgery a few days before she passed and when she came out she told us all about her "Magical Mystery Tour" and how the doctors were surrounded by neon lights.  Also, the day after she passed, my family and I took an impromptu trip about an hour away to go eat dinner, and this song came on.  It was followed up by:
Knockin' on Heaven's Door- Bob Dylan- and when it came on, I burst in to tears because I sincerely don't think it was a coincidence.  I honestly believe she was speaking to us and reminding us that she was still with us in spirit.

If You Want Me To- Ginny Owens- When Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 this song really spoke to me.  So much so, that I made a copy of the CD, wrote out the lyrics along with a letter to my mom.  In it, I let her know how much she meant to me, and that we were going to get through this no matter what.

Satisfaction- Rolling Stones- My parents went to a Rolling Stones concert back in 1989 and she still has the tshirt from that concert, which I recently found.  While I was sitting with her not too long ago, I asked her what her favorite Stones song was and she said it had to be Satisfaction.  My mom had good taste!

Maggie May- Rod Stewart-  My mom also had a Rod Stewart tshirt that she has kept forever.  She loved this song enough to name our Springer Spaniel Maggie May!

Hard Days Night- The Beatles- Like every other teenager in the 60s my mom was obsessed with the Beatles.  When I was young, she rented all the Beatles movies and I particularly remember her making me watch Hard Days Night.  I love the Beatles too, just not so sure I fell in love with their filmography the way she did!

Thriller- Michael Jackson- When I was a kid, my mom was watching a TV special on the making of this video and she was afraid I'd be scared but instead I was fascinated.  I think just about everyone loves this song and my parents were no exception.  My parents had this album on record and we listened to it over and over.

Hope you enjoy Jackie's soundtrack of life according to Crawfish!  Miss you and love you Mom!!!!