Our Boys

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Souper Sunday Week 4

What a great week for football…Bears win and on Monday night, the Steelers won too! (I love when Pittsburgh plays on Monday nights because those announcers are obsessed with the word confluence when referring to the 3 rivers in Pittsburgh and they have NO idea how to pronounce Monongahela) Brett and I have a compromise when it comes to teams…as long as they never play each other, I will always root for the Bears and he will always root for the Steelers. God help us if they ever play each other…

This week Brett and I sort or concocted our own soup – Sausage and Potato – and it was souper!!!

6 large potatoes, cubed, boil for approx. 10 minutes and drain.

Put in crock pot with the following:
2 onions, chopped
1 lb. bulk hot sausage, browned and drained
5 cups water
2 cups milk (I recommend using a can of evaporated milk and supplement the rest w/ regular milk)
2 T parsley
4 chicken bouillon cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook on high in the crock pot four hours and check. We cooked ours too long, so keep an eye on it that the liquid doesn’t disappear. When potatoes are done, mix ¼ cup flour with enough milk to make a thin paste. Whisk into soup to make it thick. Serve with cheese, bread or whatever else makes it a bit unhealthier!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Congrats Nat and Jase!!!

Yesterday was my friend Natalie's bridal shower. Natalie and I became friends shortly after I started teaching at NCHS and became even better friends throughout our two years of graduate school. We would have never graduated had it not been for each other's company every Tuesday night...Panera dinners, gas station coffee, and an occasion cocktail here and there.

Well, yesterday we got to officially celebrate the fact that she is getting married on November 29 to Jason Billings. Jason is a wonderful guy and shares a very unique relationship with Brett. Jason thinks Brett is gay and sends him texts saying some version of the following, "Hi Brett...I saw a rainbow sticker today and it made me think of you." The shower was held at a friend of Natalie's family in Grayslake, IL and it was such a good time. Her friend and her mom went all out and the food and drinks were wonderful. Her friend's mom made the coolest Jeopardy game about her life that we all sat around and played. I think it was the best bridal shower game ever. Natalie got some very nice gifts that will go perfectly in her new house. If you have never met Natalie, she is probably the best person ever to watch open presents. To explain, you put garbage in a bag with a bow on it and Natalie would probably cry when she opened it and sincerely tell you it was the greatest present she has ever received. Everyone got such a kick out of her making the biggest deal about each gift.

Sam and I decided to ride together since it looked as though it would take over an hour to get there. It ultimately took almost an hour and a half and Sam and I got totally lost. At one point we were sitting on the floor of a 7-11 (well I was kneeling on the floor and Sam was sitting ON a map because she would not sit on the floor) trying to read various versions of street maps. We ended up finding our way and got lost on the way home again. As Sam said, "Lets not think of it as getting lost, we'll think of it as an adventure." Sam cracks me up. She also at one point said that she never thought she would be this far North in IL again, that perhaps she should buy a magnet from a gas station to remember all the small towns we drove through.

Brett and I would both like to wish Natalie and Jason a sincere congratulations...we can't wait for the wedding and we can't wait for them to become the new Mr. and Mrs. Leslie-Billings!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Soup-er Sunday Week 3

As I mentioned before, Brett and I enjoy making soup every Sunday during football season. Sometimes we go back to old faithful recipes and sometimes we get a little daring. This past week I was pretty home sick and REALLY wanted my mom's chicken soup with spatzels. It truly is amazing and the best chicken soup I have ever tasted (although everyone probably says that about their moms soup, I really think my mom's is). We decided on chicken and dumplings since there is no recipe to my mom's soup. Another rule to our soup making adventure is that we make it in the crock pot so that we can throw it all together and then it will be ready in between games. We found the following recipe online. It was good...not as good as my Aunt Sondra's chicken and dumplings (I have some pretty good cooks in my family) but it was pretty good. I would suggest to anyone making it truly consider whether or not you want to add the allspice. I think that it adds a very different flavor. I think I would try this one again but replace the allspice with some chicken base.

4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion -- chopped
3 pounds chicken parts -- cut up
2 cups chicken broth
2 stalks celery
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 carrots -- peeled, sliced
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup dry white wine
1 can refrigerated biscuits
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons flour

In a large skillet, brown onion in butter and oil just until tender, then brown chicken parts and place all in a 6-quart crock pot. Add remaining ingredients except heavy cream, flour and biscuits. Cook on high 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or on low 5 to 7 hours. When chicken is done, remove pieces to plate and let cool, then debone. While chicken is cooling, mix flour and cream together, then stir into crock pot. Open biscuits and cut each biscuit into 4 pieces. Drop into crock pot and turn on high. These will need to cook about 30 minutes, until they are firm. Return chicken meat to crock pot after deboning and serve.

In addition to making soup yesterday, Brett and I ventured out to Montana Charlie's, a local "flea market". Back in Pennsylvania, there is a wonderful flea market called Trader Jack's...Montana Charlie's did not quite live up to Trader Jack's, but it was fun. To put this nicely, Brett and I were in the minority as we do not speak Spanish. It was amazing the things that were being sold...snakes, scorpions, underwear, Cubs jerseys, cacti, fake designer purses, porn, dried peppers...it might be the most random collection of goods I have ever seen. I bought some Glade plug ins and an onion and away we went. It wasn't the best flea market for buying but definitely not bad for people watching.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hey Chicago, what do you say?

On Wednesday night, Brett and I went to the Cub game to preview our season ticket seats for next year. Yep, we are the proud owners of ¼ of 4 season tickets. The seats are actually quite good…. As you can see, there is a nice clear view of the field.

Wednesday night turned out to be one of the slower games as of late and ultimately they lost to the Brewers 6-2. In addition we arrived at Wrigley too late to get a Carlos Zambrano bobble head. As with every Cub game we go to though, we had a great time. We sat with a friend of Brett’s from the office (man next to Brett) and his Dad (not pictured).

Afterward, we went to Bernie’s with Greg and Adam (also friends from the office). I offered a man some money to purchase his bobble head but he declined. His friend however offered that he thought there might have another sort of bobble head for sale. Gotta love Cub fans!

Well, the Cubs may of lost while we were there, but they still have a chance to clinch the division in the games ahead against the Cardinals. This is the first time they have clinched two years in a row since 1907 and 1908. We will hopefully be celebrating a World Series win this year for the first time in 100 years…CUBS ARE GONNA WIN TODAY!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nothing Says I Love You Like RA(W) Fish!

I thought it would be appropriate if my first post was centered around my wife and the celebration of our wedded bliss. I figure that way she will be more accepting of my blog contributions or blogtributions (no doubt after she proofreads everyting).

On September 10, 2008, we celebrated our 3rd Anniversary. Let me tell you, time has flown by very quickly. It seems like only yesterday I was in my apartment in Evansville, sitting on my "furniture", making the 5 minute commute downtown to work in the moderate to slow paced legal community where everyone knows everyone. These days the commute is longer, the workload is heavier, the responsibilities are greater, I am virtually anonymous-er and the demands on my time are sometimes overwhelming.

I think everyone can agree that when you meet your significant other, you are changed forever...most times for the better. I am no different. My wife has made me a better man and I know few people would disagree. She shows me everyday how much she loves me so I decided on this particular anniversary that I would try to show her how much I love her...by eating sushi.

After exchanging gifts, she got something made of crystal and I got something made of leather (keep your minds out of the gutter), we went to a restaurant in Lombard by the name of "RA". I guess they thought it would be more appealing to potential customers or trendier to take off the W. Anyway, with the exception of the appetizer (pot stickers), I proceeded to eat a variety of raw fish. Some mixed in cream cheese. Some with avocado. Most with some ginger on it. Almost all wrapped in rice and seaweed. Some had some wasabe on it. Some had fish eggs on it (roe for you crossword junkies). I dipped most of it in soy sauce. For those that know me, you can definitely see the cream cheese and maybe even the rice. I ate mackerel for crying out loud. Isn't that generally what they feed seals or dolphins? Add to it the fact that I actually enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong, steak, or any other cooked meat for that matter, is not in danger of being bumped off my favorites list, but I can certainly say I survived the experience and will probably eat it more frequently in the future.

What goes without saying is that we had a wonderful time together as we always do no matter where we are or what we are doing. To paraphrase Dave Matthews, it turns out not where but who you're with that really matters.

Here's to the first 3 years and to many, many more.

Brett's Opening Statement

My lovely wife started this blog to keep our family and friends in the loop as to what is going on in our lives. I have decided to become a contributor. At the outset, I think she really wanted me to take an interest. However, the more she thinks about it, I think the more gun shy she becomes. Eventually, she will come to regret it.

Ideally, I would like to draft a post or two per week. For the most part, I will stick to the script and try to keep everyone informed as to what is going on in the burbs or life in the big city. I cannot promise that I will not deviate from the script from time to time (or weekly) to use the blog as a creative outlet to rant, to ponder, to discuss, to opine, to joke, to reminisce and/or to rant.

In the event someone decides to read what I write, I certainly appreciate comments...unless said comments are negative or in ay way critical of the content of my posts. With that said, we hope everyone is doing well. We miss everyone and hope to see, e-mail and/or speak to you soon.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Are you ready for some football?

Well after our first weekend of football, I think I am finally ready for a change of season. I love summer, I really do. I am a teacher so of course it is the best time of year as I get to be on my own schedule and not get up for work every day. I hang out with the girls, take the dogs to the dog park, and read fantastic books while basking in the sun. Oh the life! Well, it is over and I am back to reality. I find it much easier to come to work when the weather is a bit dismal and I don’t have to sit inside staring at the beautiful sunshine. With the passing of summer comes fall and that means football. I cannot tell you what a great time Brett and I have every Sunday spending the whole day on the couch, eating phenomenal food, and checking scores to every game to see if we will be ahead in the pool for the week. This coming Sunday we will go back to our traditional cuisine of Sunday Soup/ Chili/ Stew, basically anything made in the crock pot that can cook all day and have the house smelling great.

Brett is doing fantasy football this year, in addition to the office pool that we both participate in. Apparently, I have better karma than a bunch of attorneys and I have made the playoffs the past two years and won the Super bowl last year. Anyway, this past Sunday Brett sat in “his” chair with the TV on and his computer in his lap so that he could monitor every play and every team. He truly looked like a king in his castle. It didn’t last long though because shortly into the first quarter, his first round draft pick was injured and will miss the entire season…yes his starting quarterback was Tom Brady. Poor Tom and poor Brett.

It seems that each year our football watching traditions get better and better. This year’s project is to attempt to build some sort of entertainment center in the garage and hook up our “old, big” TV. Cable right now is still in question. We got the idea from a party we went to last year where the family rented a big screen and had a Steelers watching party in their garage. The door was up, a squares pool was drawn on the driveway, and it was a blast. A bit chilly, but no worse than actually being at the game.

We are both looking forward to a successful season for both of our teams…so far the Steelers and the Bears are 1-0!
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