In The Beginning……A Love Story
I moved to Louisville from Western North Carolina in 1994 to attend seminary. I was a single mom with two daughters, aged 9 and 11. I met Paul three weeks after moving here while we were registering for our first semester of grad school. It really was love at first sight. It just took us a few weeks to figure that out. A very few weeks. In fact, we met in the registration line on August 27th. Our first date was homemade pizza (the theme is already developing…..) at my house on November 11. On December 19th we picked out my engagement ring, and on March 26th, 1995, I became the wife of the most awesome man in the world. (That isn't hyperbole. It is the absolute truth.)
Now let me just go ahead and put this out there so you don't start trying to count on your fingers later on in the story. Yes, I am a cougar. At this writing, I am 50 years old. Paul is approaching his 40th birthday in the next few weeks. I attribute our relationship to God's wonderful sense of humor.
Our wedding was a bit ecclectic. We were married in an after-church ceremony in a Southern Baptist church by a woman pastor and an Episcopal priest. We wrote our own non-traditional vows. And we had no music. Which was strange because I was working towards a masters' degree in music. Our reception was a HUGE potluck lunch in the church basement (the theme continues) where we did have a string quartet, our only financial indulgence.
That's Paul, third from the left, and I'm right next to him in the pink dress. (This is the only digital wedding picture I have.)
You may be wondering what the "theme" is here. Well, the day Paul and I were married, our combined weight would have tipped the scales at somewhere close to 600 pounds. Yup. We were rather large people.
To be continued........
Broccoli Rice Casserole
Of course, broccoli casserole is mandatory at any potluck in the south, and especially at church potlucks. Here is my veganized version using Delight Soy popcorn chicken nuggets, which are optional in this recipe but totally delish!
Rice and veggie mixture:
2 - 2 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 c celery, chopped
1 veggie bullion cubeappropriate amount of water, depending on whether you cook on the stove or in a rice cooker
Cook rice and veggies together with the veggie cube either on the stove or in a rice cooker. While it is cooking, make the sauce.
3/4 c flour
3/4 c nutritional yeast
3 c water
2 veggie cubes
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp spicy mustard
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tbs Bragg'sjuice of 1/2 lemon
3-4 tbs Earth Balance
Combine the flour, nutritional yeast, water, and veggie cubes in a pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened. Stir in garlic granules, mustard, lemon juice, and Earth Balance. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Add the following to the sauce:
16 oz frozen chopped broccoli, cooked according to package directions
4-6 oz chopped mushrooms
12-16 oz popcorn chicken, sliced (optional, or substitute chicken-style seitan or even tofu)
Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray and combine the rice and veggie mixture with the sauce. Stir gently to evenly distribute the sauce. If you want to, at this point you can add a bread crumb topping.
Bake for 30 minutes.
This may look like a lengthy process, but it comes together pretty quickly if you have all your ingredients at hand. And oh my, it is so good.
Next time, Our Story, Part 2.