American Sniper & Shooters

liberty allows you to garnish these beauties any way your heart desires

liberty allows you to garnish these beauties any way your heart desires

And the Oscar goes to: Clint Eastwood (love him), Bradley Cooper (love him) and American Sniper (loved it)! Bet you are not surprised considering I am the proud mom of a US Navy Corpsman who was attached to a scout sniper platoon. Many of my family members were surprised I went to see the movie and asked, “Did you cry?” No tears. In fact, I left the theater feeling more proud than ever and thankful for men like my son and Chris Kyle.

making dinner in the dirt

making dinner in the dirt

Truthfully, I was hoping the movie would provide some clarity as to why William chose to extend his stay in the military. Why do the scout sniper training and why deploy again? What makes a man want to go back to a place where he is fired upon and where he risks being blown up? When your military obligation is complete why not come home?

the seat William was sitting in when this vehicle triggered an IED (improvised explosive device)

the seat William was sitting in when this vehicle triggered an IED (improvised explosive device)

These men have some kind of higher calling to defend and protect our freedom and there is no fighting that. They have a job to do and for whatever the reasons their job isn’t finished until they say so. What is sad is that these marines, sailors and soldiers can go through all of that terror only to come home to the good old USA and die in some inexplicable way. We need to take better care of our veterans. American Sniper, the movie, makes that perfectly clear.

on patrol

on patrol in Afghanistan

potato leek soup shooters

thank a Vet for your liberty to call this soup whatever you want

I really do hope the movie wins some awards, but in the meantime I have a winner of a recipe for you to try. It comes from my sweet friend, Mary. Mary was the first neighbor to greet us when we arrived in our new home. She always comes bearing delicious homemade gifts and this soup is no exception. I have adapted it only slightly from the cookbook, The Governor’s Table. A lady named Roma Reuther is credited as contributing the recipe to the book.

Cream of Potato & Leek Soup or Loaded Potato Soup Shooters

4 leeks

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

3 medium potatoes, peeled, sliced

3 cups chicken broth

1 ½ teaspoons salt

white pepper to taste

2 tablespoons flour or 1 tablespoon cornstarch

1-quart skim milk, divided

Garnishes: finely chopped chives, crisp cooked bacon, shredded cheddar cheese.

Trim leek roots and trim tops leaving about 2 1/2-inches of green. Cut a cross through root end and thoroughly wash removing any sand/dirt. Slice leeks finely. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add leeks and onion, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and taking on a golden color. Add potatoes, broth, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Puree in a blender or food processor; return to pot. Whisk flour or cornstarch with ½ cup of milk. Add to pot with remaining milk, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Strain soup through a fine sieve to insure a super smooth texture, if desired. Soup can be served warm or chilled topped with garnishes. Serves 6 or many more as shooters. To easily fill shot glasses pour soup from a measuring cup or other vessel with a spout.

A Father’s Grief & Sunday Brunch

Father's Day Brunch

Father’s Day Brunch

Recently, I was asked if I thought there were gender differences in the way one grieves? Honestly, I have not delved into the subject and I am no expert on the matter. I can say, however, from experience that my husband and I certainly grieve differently. Turns out, I am a sharer–as if you didn’t know that already. My husband, on the other hand, is not. He bottles in his sadness and then when it gets to be too much cries alone. He prefers it that way and I know to give him his space.

Proud dad and son

Proud dad and son

He mourns alone, too. There are things and places that are special to a father and son. Hunting and fishing were activities that they enjoyed together. Scattering a bit of William’s ashes in the forest or at the edge of a trout stream was not an unusual thing for Bill to do on his own. Nor was I surprised to discover that he had left out a small camping flashlight, “in case William needs light to find his way back to us”. That’s Bill’s version of stepping outside himself and I love him for it. He knows he is not alone, but there are just things he needs to do alone and that is OK.

hunting

Gender differences or people differences? Not sure that it matters as long as we all are putting one foot in front of the other in any way we can. Next Sunday is Father’s Day. If you have lost a child you may feel a little upsurge in your grief. It’s normal.

 Today’s recipe is meant to offer some comfort. Dress it up with a side salad and some fresh fruit for a complete brunch menu sure to please your favorite father.

unbaked filled crepe cups

Bacon & Egg Scallion Crepe Cups

Crepes

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

pinch salt

2 eggs

1 tablespoons melted butter

1 scallion, chopped

Just Baked

Just Baked

Filling

12 (1-inch) squares smoked gouda or brie cheese

8 strips cooked crumbled bacon

6 eggs

1 ¼ cups milk

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

Combine all crepe ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth. Let crepe batter stand for 15 minutes. On a lightly greased crepe pan or skillet, over medium heat, swirl 2 tablespoons of batter (for each crepe) forming a 6-inch circle. Cook about 1 minute or until crepe edges look dry. Flip and cook another 30 seconds. Transfer crepe to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter until you have 12 crepes total. Cut each crepe into an even 5-inch round using a pastry cutter or…(I used the top of a jar as a template and just cut around it with a knife). Heat oven 375F. Spray a standard 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick spray. Press 1 crepe into each cup ruffling edges to fit. Place 1 square of cheese in the bottom of each crepe. Sprinkle with half the bacon. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper until well blended. Pour egg mixture evenly over filling to just below the rim of the muffin cup. Sprinkle with remaining bacon. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until eggs are just set. Cool slightly. With the edge of a knife carefully loosen crepe cups from muffin tins and lift out with a spoon. Arrange on serving platter. Sprinkle with green onions.

“Don’t Let the Memory of Them Drift Away” & Duck Bacon Spring Rolls

Just this past week I decided to go back and read some of the entries on my son’s facebook page. I thought it might give a glimpse of who and where he was in his thoughts around the time of his accident. Today’s blog post is inspired by something he wrote  just 1 month before he died. I imagine he was thinking of his Weapons Company brothers, lost in Afghanistan, when he penned this important reminder……..”Don’t Let the Memory of Them Drift Away”.

Will's computer screen saver. He'd never forget them.

Will’s computer screen saver. He’d never forget them.

The quote brought tears as it reminded me of how much William and I are alike. The need to remember those who have been lost was as important to him as it is to me. In fact, this blog was born out of my biggest fear that people would eventually forget who William was and what he stood for. Or maybe I am afraid that I will forget…..the sound of his voice, the smell of his hair, the strength in his hug…..sigh.

never wanted to let him go

never wanted to let him go

That the person who has died will be forgotten is a common fear among those who have suffered loss. Here are just a few suggestions to help preserve the memories:

  • create a photo book of memories and publish several to share with family and friends
  • make donations to your favorite charities in your person’s name
  • start a scholarship or fund-raiser that celebrates your person
  • check with your local parks that may allow adding a commemorative bench or an inscribed brick to a walkway
  • offer remembrance flowers to your church’s Sunday or holiday servicecampli0463

When it comes to cooking and baking it is awful to forget an ingredient in the mix. That is why most good cooks use a “mise en place” or set-up to organize the necessary ingredients and equipment before starting a recipe. What helps me insure the perfect outcome of a recipe is this:

  • read the complete recipe before starting
  • check to make sure I own the necessary equipment (can’t make waffles without a waffle maker)
  • prep and measure all ingredients
  • put my ingredients out in order of use
IMG_0028

mise en place for duck bacon spring roll

Duck Bacon Spring Rolls

Duck Bacon Spring Rolls

6 strips duck bacon

1 ounce uncooked Asian vermicelli bean thread noodles

6 (8 ½-inch round) spring roll wrappers

6 small, crisp romaine lettuce leaves (I use the leaves from the heart)

¼ cup thinly sliced fresh Thai basil plus sprigs for garnish

2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint, plus sprigs for garnish

1 small carrot, julienned

1 small bunch fresh chives, trimmed

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 to 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

bottled Thai peanut sauce or sweet Asian chili sauce

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, turning, until crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Cut bacon strips in half. Soak the noodles in very hot water for 5 minutes; rinse under cool water and drain well; set aside. To prepare spring rolls, set out a 10-inch pie dish with 1-inch of warm water. Using one spring roll wrapper at a time, dip the wrapper into the water for 3 to 5 seconds. Lay the wrapper out on a plate. Place two pieces of bacon across the bottom third of the wrapper leaving a half-inch border on both sides. Top the bacon with some lettuce, 1/6th of the noodles, an even sprinkle of basil and mint, and a few carrots and chives in an even layer. Lift up bottom edge of the wrapper and roll over the top. Turn in the sides and continue rolling to opposite side. Repeat with remaining ingredients. To serve: slice a spring roll in half on the diagonal and arrange 2 halves on individual serving plates. In small bowl, stir mayonnaise, sriracha to taste and lime juice; serve with spring rolls. Serve Thai peanut sauce and or Sweet Asian Chili sauce as other dipping sauce options. Garnish plates with fresh basil and mint.