The day started well: the sun shone bright and orange on the autumn color in the trees, the frost was thick on the vehicle windows, the temps in the high thirties. But dark clouds loomed overhead in the east - dark, purple-grey - looking all too much like storm clouds (or SNOW clouds, shut your mouth:-)
I had a couple of errands to run in Brighton, and I got out the door by 8:30 or so. The trip to town was pleasant - quiet and prayerful. I got to Meijer by 9:30 and you would have thought it was well into mid-day by the number of folks there! MSU - U of M gameday! And Brighton sits about twenty minutes north of Ann Arrogant on US-23 and about forty minutes east of East Lansing on I-96.
Everybody at the bank, and about 90% of the folks I saw at the packed Meijer were geared up one way or the other. Young, old, big small - almost everybody was geared up in either Green and White or Maize and Blue. And the funny thing was I saw so many couples made up of one Sparty and one Woverine! How fun :-)
I had also hoped to find an inexpensive stack of wood for the weekend, as we had not yet been in touch with our firewood guy, and I was praying that God would so provide. As I left town, I immediately saw the deer-that-is-to-me-the-sign-of-God's-love and I praised His Name.
Within a mile, on the left, there was a 'FIREWOOD' sign with a phone number and I noticed several stacks near the barn. Three very generous stacks of seasoned mixed split wood with a sign saying $20 per stack welcomed me and I thanked God. I loaded one stack into the back of the Grape, but could not find a box to put the money in, so I drove over to the house and paid a nice young man who had been kicking a soccer ball around the back yard. I left elated and thankful - thankful for the birthday cash I had received from my parents which allowed me to get a few things at Meijer to make soup with, thankful for the huge stack of wood, and eagerly anticipating the big game with my bride, some warm soup, and a fire in the fireplace.
I got home and backed up to the deck to stack the firewood. As soon as I got out of the Grape, the MSU fight song was blaring through our front door, courtesy of my super-fan wife. In an even better mood now, I stacked the wood, and got to work in the kitchen. Chicken soup with vegetables and pearl barley AND pulled chicken with my favorite Rachel Ray barbecue sauce were the agenda of the day.
I harvested what I could from our herbs on the patio (parsely, garden sage, pineapple sage, rosemary, Mother of Thyme and lemon thyme) and threw those in a huge cook pot with water, the chicken thighs, bay leaves, an onion, half an apple, salt and pepper, celery and carrot bits, and a couple of bouillon cubes. Two hours on the boil and the chicken was reading about 175 and I called it good enough. I removed the chicken to cool, and poured the stock through a fine mesh strainer. The taste of the liquid at this point was perfect. I let it cool for a bit and tried to skim off some fat from the top.
Meanwhile, I made the barbecue sauce for the pulled chicken and had that ready to go into the crock pot.
When the chicken had cooled, I removed and discarded the bones and skin, and added half to the soup stock and half to the crock pot on high with the sauce.
To finish the soup, I added a couple more bullion cubes, a cup of shredded cabbage, a chopped up onion, about a cup of chopped carrots and celery, and about half a cup of pearl barley. This last ingredient seems to really add another whole level of flavor to the soup. I let the soup rolling boil for another hour, taking us right up to game time.
I let the chicken and sauce go in the crockpot on high all day, until it was bubbling. I shaved up some apple and cabbage and mixed it with Miracle Whip, EVOO, salt, sugar, pepper, and just a shot of diet Mountain Dew for a slaw to top the chicken sandwiches with.
By game time, we were well fed, warm, and had found the Spartan radio network - with George Blaha getting ready for the play by play.
The recap of the game and its miraculous ending are detailed elsewhere.
|Little Liam in Cheyenne is our youngest grandchild, and considers himself a Wyoming Spartan|
|Pulled chicken with Rachael Ray sauce, slaw, and pickles, on an Aunt Millie's seeded enriched Kaiser roll|
|Our Joslin Mia spelling M-S-U, as cute as can be|
|Gramma still in pain from two tooth extractions, Otis is singer in the band|
|Drew and Mason show their spirit on game day|
|Connor Cook celebrating with his fellow Spartans in their corner of the Big House|
|Coach Jim put your name at the top of his list|
|Four post game images|
|The pile up on Watts-Jackson|
|The statue of Magic defaced by losers|
|Paul Bunyan com ing back home to East Lansing|
|Yep, pride always comes before the fall|