Barefoot! Grown Up Mac & Cheese and Patriot Day Tribute
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.