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Barefoot! Grown Up Mac & Cheese and Patriot Day Tribute

September 11, 2008
Welcome Home, My Love.

Welcome Home, My Love.

I seriously considered not participating in this round for Barefoot Bloggers.  I’m an Air Force wife, and today is Patriot Day.  Seven years ago the world as we knew it changed.  I felt I should write about Patriot Day and what it means to me instead.  I’ve wrapped it all in to one, so if you aren’t interested… scroll down until you see the food pictures.  If you care to go on a short journey with me, continue reading.

September 11, 2001 I found myself wrapping up an extended weekend of floating down the Missouri River in a canoe with a large group of friends.  The whole weekend was consumed with one thing, I was contemplating continuing to see the boy I was dating.  

That morning, five of the twenty or so of us piled into a Suburban and started the six hour trek back to Kansas City.  We were looking for something on the radio to liven the mood when we started complaining about the radio programs in the back woods of Missouri.  “Why can’t they play music?  All they have here is talk radio!”  Right as I reached out to flip the button in an effort to find music, the commentator’s sad voice rose.  “A plane has just been confirmed to have hit The Pentagon.  I repeat.  A plane has hit The Pentagon.”

My world stopped.  I had an anxiety attack to end all anxiety attacks.  An assclown in the backseat didn’t understand what was going on, but my lifelong friend Trish, who was sitting behind me understood.  My brother and his childhood best friend were stationed at Quantico, VA and were known to occasionally go to DC for some training.  Of course, we were in the middle of No-Where Missouri.  Cell phones seven years ago weren’t what they are today.  There wasn’t any reception and I couldn’t get ahold of anyone in my family.  We drove like mad, stopping only once at McDonalds for a quick rest stop and grub.  I wouldn’t eat at McDonalds again until this past year.  

We made it home in record time.  There wasn’t any traffic on the roads and the police weren’t about to mess with us.  I got ahold of my mom, my childhood best friend (who is now married to my brother’s childhood best friend… incest, Kansas City style), her mother and my parents were waiting for me at my parents house.  We sat in front of the television for hours.  The phone rang.  My brother and his friend were on lockdown in the barracks at Quantico.  Unfortunately, they would stay on lockdown for the rest of the week.  “On Alert.” 

Unfortunately?  Yes, for many of our men and women in uniform it is considered unfortunate to not serve their country in Her time of need.  I heard it said once, “A Soldier not being sent to combat is like a fireman who never sees a fire.”  Perfect analogy.  I use it often when I’m asked the ignorant question, “Your husband isn’t going to have to go back is he?”  Yes, he is.  And I’m proud that he will.  

We watched the President’s speech that night in my parent’s living room.  I wept at the news.  I also found myself eternally grateful that we had a President with his head screwed on straight.  He saw what this was, he didn’t hesitate.  He went on the offense… we’re taking care of business so this never happens again.  I couldn’t see how things could move on from that point.  Apparently, for some of the country, they have.  For those of us in the military community, we remember.  Every day.

I said goodbye to the boy I wasn’t so sure about that day.  Of course, I would see him again, I worked with him after all.  I met my husband 36 days after our country was shaken to the core.  I’ve never looked back.  I’m proud of his service to our country… and I’m proud he calls me his wife.  Today might be just another day for some, but it’s the anniversary of our great and mighty country falling victim to terrorism.  It’s also the anniversary of our men and women in uniform rallying to the call of duty.  Thank you, to all the men and women out there that serve our great country as a service member, their wife, husband, mother, father, sister, brother… all of you.  Thank you.

On September 12th US Flag sales skyrocketed.  Flags were being flown on every porch in America.  Off every building.  Is your flag still flying high?

On to Barefoot.  This week’s Grown Up Mac & Cheese recipe was chosen by Heather at Randomosity and The Girl.  I’ve spent the last 2 years trying to concoct The Husband’s and my perfect mac and cheese.  So I made that instead.  Since Operation Be Hot Again has started, I served a small dish of mac and cheese with a simple salad of greens,topped with tomatoes, 5 bean salad and homemade ranch dressing and a ham steak. 

Sorry Ina,  I’m sure your Grown Up Mac & Cheese is great… ignoring the fact that I’m allergic to blue cheese.  

Cat’s Healthy Mac & Cheese
A Cat’s Pajamas Original

1 lb multi-grain rotini, penne or shells
3 T butter
1/2 of a small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 T flour
2 1/2 c milk
1 t chicken base (or 1 chicken bullion cube)
1 (8 oz) block 2% extra sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
5 scrapes fresh nutmeg (about 1/4 t)
Salt and pepper to taste (1/2 t salt, 1 t pepper)

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic (last night I actually just smashed a couple cloves and threw them in) and saute until tender.  Add flour, stirring quickly until incorporated (only about 10-15 seconds).  Whisk in milk and chicken base (I don’t always whisk… I use my trusty spatula), season with nutmeg, salt and pepper keeping over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the milk just starts to boil.    Stir the milk mixture vigorously and let the milk boil for about 1 minute.  Turn the heat to low, add the cubed cheese (last night I used 2% extra sharp and full-fat Monterey Jack) and stir until cheese is melted. 

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Mix pasta and cheese sauce together.  Occasionally I’ll add roasted red peppers, spinach or chopped tomatoes. 

Want more Patriotic Stuff?  Watch this. Or this.  How about this?

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. Trish permalink
    September 11, 2008 09:12

    I love that picture! I love that you used “assclown”…I seriously laughed as loud as I could. That was the longest car ride home in the history of car rides. :). I remember the anxiety….but everything turned out a-ok. 🙂

  2. Trish permalink
    September 11, 2008 09:12

    Oh and I LOVE 5 bean salad!!!

  3. September 11, 2008 10:24

    Thanks for the comment you left and thank your husband for his duty to country as well as the sacrifices you have made in support of his mission.

    A lot of people don’t get what we do, why we do it, or understand what it means if we fail….my goal in life is to ensure my children don’t have to fight this fight….but my fears grow as each passing day goes by with a lessening chance of us attaining that goal before they become old enough to join our fight….

    They were just babies when it began and I am welcoming my first one into adulthood this year…. I am a very apprehensive mom right now….and remain a very scared wife…..I have a story I want to share with you…. I will email it to you when I get a chance, it may help you feel less…..hm…..alone in your situations…..

    my best, as always.

    ~asw

  4. September 11, 2008 11:24

    Our thoughts are with the Americans and all of the others whose lives have been shaken by the attacks, violence and war.
    This was a lovely post. I wish you and yours peace.

  5. nbbride06 permalink
    September 11, 2008 12:14

    It was my senior year of college on 9/11 here in CA. While I was far away from what was happening, I felt so close. Classes were cancelled, my neighbor, who’s mom worked in the White House, spent the entire day trying to get in touch with her. Hubs (we were dating at the time) was in Chicago and was evacuated from his building downtown. When he flew home a few days later, he and his co-workers carried sharpened pencils on the plane, afraid something would happen to them. WE REMEMBER…

  6. September 11, 2008 14:20

    It’s a hard day to forget, but I’m glad we remember still, I think it helps!

    Your mac and cheese looks wonderful and I don’t blame you for sticking with your favorite!

  7. September 11, 2008 15:09

    Beautiful post. It did feel awful today, being light and cheery on a solemn day. I made my post last night to keep myself from having to actually post on this day. I probably wouldn’t have posted at all if it wasn’t a BB day. I love that pic of you and your husband. You look like a gorgeous couple.
    Seven years ago I was holding a brand new baby when I got the news. It’s still sickening to think about it, but I’m also proud of the way our country came together afterwards. I hope it has enough sticking power to last a few more decades at least.
    The food looks great but the commentary was even better today.:)

  8. September 11, 2008 16:46

    Thank you for sharing your story and that beautiful photo of you and your husband. I am so thankful for all of the men and women of the armed forces and all of their spouses and people who love and support them. Good job sticking to a healthier mac and cheese, I could have written your recharged post, I am feeling the same way. Hopefully we can reach our goals and still have some fun cooking up yummy dishes along the way. I have a date with some exercise dvds tonight. 🙂

  9. September 11, 2008 17:58

    Thank you for such a heartfelt post. I had friends and colleagues who were caught up in the NY attacks (thankfully none of them passed away). It was horrendous for those of us on the opposite side of the globe, so I can only imagine what it must have been like for you. Hold close the ones you love.

  10. September 11, 2008 18:42

    Such a beautiful post. This day is always hard for me, a day that is still vivid in my mind, living in NJ I used to be able to see the towers on my way to work. Thank you to all the men and women who serve our country so that we can be safe.

    ps. mac and cheese looks delicious!

  11. September 11, 2008 19:18

    The mac & cheese looks great. I love the pic you you and hubby. And yes, my flag is out this week.

  12. September 11, 2008 19:51

    Thanks for the welcome to the Barefoot Bloggers! I can see that I am in good company;) I loved your thoughts on this historic day. Hugs to all of the wonderful men who serve on our behalf.

  13. September 11, 2008 20:20

    What an incredible, beautiful and moving post. We are all in the debt of your husband and all of the selfless men and women who fight for peace and to protect our country every day.

    BTW–your mac and cheese looks delicious too.

  14. September 12, 2008 00:33

    Thank you for sharing your feelings about that awful day.

    I like your healthier take on this recipe. I left out the blue cheese too, but mostly because I don’t love it.

  15. September 12, 2008 07:41

    I love the picture of you and your husband. Your mac and cheese also looks creamy and delicious!

  16. September 12, 2008 07:44

    Cat:
    I hope you don’t mind that I posted your cajun fries on my blog today. Of course, the credit and glory is all yours! 🙂

  17. September 12, 2008 08:30

    I loved your post. Where would we be in this country without the brave men and women like your husband and you as his wife who sacrifice and selflessly serve so that we can be safe? Thank you. What a beautiful picture of the two of you. I will never forget that day…I had just sent my three children off to school that day, how sad that when they came home I had to tell them the world had forever changed.

  18. September 12, 2008 10:24

    Beautiful post. I love the picture of you and your husband, too. I will never forget every detail about that awful day.

    Your mac and cheese looks great, too! I am going to try your healthier version next time. And blue cheese will never again find its way into any mac ‘n cheese dish of mine!

  19. September 12, 2008 10:37

    What a wonderful story. It’s thanks to people like you and your husband we’re free.

  20. September 12, 2008 11:21

    That was a wonderful story. We are so thankful for people like your husband who are brave enough to fight for our country. Your mac and cheese looks really great!

  21. September 12, 2008 15:29

    Thanks for the welcome to Barefoot Bloggers! Your recipe looks great too. What an amazing pic of you and your husband.

  22. September 12, 2008 17:53

    Thank you…well said. And your Mac n’ Cheese looks divine!

  23. September 16, 2008 18:43

    I’m glad you shared your story with us. Thank you.

    Your mac and cheese looks so yummy! I bet it was delicious!

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