Kobe

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My brother’s dog provided the inspiration for this post.  He’s everything you want in a dog–fun, playfulness, friendship.  Mike takes him out on his ultra-marathon training runs in the mountains and parks near Denver, where he lives these days.

This dog has no shortage of energy.  He loves to run.  He loves to play and get dirty.  He especially looooooovvvveesss  fetch, but there’s one catch. (Ha, ha…get it?)

Kobe, like many other dogs (so I hear), absolutely despises letting go of his frisbee for his master to pick up and throw for him.  He will run like the wind when his frisbee or other toy is tossed into the distance, dutifully bring it back to his master, but then…does he simply drop the toy so his master can throw it again and keep the game going?

Of course not!  Kobe has to hang on, clutching that frisbee between his big, sharp teeth so tightly, I don’t know who other than my brother can dare try to wrench it away.  (Although I’ve been fairly impressed at my parents’ audacity and courage–even at their age, with four replaced limbs between the two of them, they play wholeheartedly with Kobe).

I guess it is all part of the game, to a dog.  Part of their excitement is directly tied to the epic battle between dog and human.  Who will emerge the victor, holding the frisbee?  It’s clearly not all about the throwing and retrieving.

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Kobe in action

Unfortunately for the dog, many humans will grow frustrated/nervous/tired of the battle to get the frisbee away from him to throw again.  Thus the game ends all too soon.

I wonder if  Kobe realizes in his little doggie brain that he’s shooting himself in the foot.  Does he inwardly understand that the more he struggles, the less likely he is to get what he wants–another toss of the frisbee and another chance to run and fetch it?

I feel like the answer must be no…otherwise, why wouldn’t he catch on and realize he has to play by human rules (and their pesky need to keep all limbs intact)?  Then again, perhaps it’s more an issue of wanting two things at once.  Kobe wants to run and fetch the toy.  Kobe wants to hold on to the toy, triumphantly.  Both of these goals are singularly important to a dog.  Thus, he refuses to back down.  He is tough.  He is strong.  He is playing with his master.

The only problem is, Kobe can’t run and fetch the frisbee if he continues refusing to drop it.

You are probably wondering, why am I rambling on and on about someone else’s dog?  Cute as he is, Kobe is not the point of this blog post.

No, Kobe is a creature that shows me something God may have been wanting to teach me for some time now.

Kobe is much like me.  I, too, want what I want, when I want it.  I, too, find it hard to focus on anything else at the moment I want something.  And I, too, stubbornly cling to MY way of doing things, even when it doesn’t lead to what I wanted in the first place.  Even when what I thought I wanted turns out to be unsatisfying.

Sound familiar to you, perhaps? No? Please, don’t tell me I’m the only one who hovers in the land of selfishness.

I hold on to my Frisbee, whether it may be a relationship, a sense of security, a financial gift, whatever, thinking that eventually, I will get everything I want.  Perhaps, while I’m waiting, so utterly frustrated that God isn’t acting to bring me something else I desperately desire, He is simply waiting for me to drop whatever it is I’ve been clinging to.  Perhaps he just needs me to let go, so he can be free to give me the other blessings that have been available all along.

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Mike and Kobe

 

Cheesy Ham-and-Potato Casserole

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I’m not a “food blogger”, but here is a great recipe I wanted to share anyway.  If what you’re craving is a simple, homey, soul-warming meal on a chilly fall evening, then look no further!  This cheesy ham casserole is the very definition of comfort food.  It can fill up the hungriest bellies, ease the worst of days, and maybe even provide some great leftovers for the rest of the week (that is, if you can manage to leave any for tomorrow!).  I usually can’t stop at any fewer than two big helpings of this stuff, and not just because I’m pregnant, although I’d love to use that as an excuse.

The great thing about this recipe (besides the awesome stick-to-your-ribs taste) is that it uses fairly common ingredients that many of us keep stocked up all the time.  Ham, potatoes, onion, milk, cheese…pretty much staples in our house, anyway!  I use the thick pre-cooked ham steaks for this recipe.  For potatoes, whatever type you have or like, although I’m partial to the red ones.  Most people probably prefer them to be peeled, but whatever your crowd likes is allllllright.

Probably the most time-consuming part of this recipe is the chopping of ingredients and making the cream sauce.  Hey, busy folks, no judgment here—if you want to sub in a couple of cans of cream-of-onion-or-whatever-soup you have in the pantry, I imagine it would taste just about as good!  I do adore the way this creamy from-scratch mixture blends in and soaks the potatoes in its yummy flavor, so if you have the time, I’d highly recommend trying it.  It really only adds about ten extra minutes onto the total prep time.

Once your creamy onion sauce has a nice thick texture, you’re ready to layer everything how you like it, then bake!

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 tbsp butter

1 c minced onion

3 tbsp all-purpose flour (or cornstarch for gluten-free prep)

1 tsp salt

Few twists freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ cups milk

4 medium potatoes, sliced thin

2-3 c cooked, diced ham

1-2 cups chopped fresh or frozen spinach, kale or broccoli (or vegetable of choice)

1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. (Many commenters on cooks.com suggested 425 degrees instead, so the potatoes will fully cook in the time suggested.) Melt butter in medium saucepan.  Add onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper until blended.  (Be careful not to scorch.)  Gradually stir in milk.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens.  (It should eventually resemble a creamy soup.)
  1. If using fresh greens, simply chop or tear them and sprinkle in among the layers. If using frozen veggies, let them thaw a bit at room temp (or microwave a minute or so) and pat dry. *This is an easy ingredient to omit if you are feeding pickier eaters; however, if you can sneak even a little bit in there, you’ll feel a lot better about the nutritional value of the dish!  Even my toddler, who shuns almost everything green, gobbled this up, broccoli included.   There’s so much creamy cheesiness that they’ll hardly mind the healthy stuff!
  1. In a 2-quart casserole dish, layer half the potatoes, vegetables, ham cubes, and sauce. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cheese. Bake, covered with foil, for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown.  Makes 4-6 servings.

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I forgot to include a picture of the pan right out of the oven, so try to picture it with a nice golden-brown cheesy crust!

*Feel free to use different varieties of cheese to change up the flavor.  We’re partial to Cabot extra-sharp cheddar at our house!

*Lower-fat options: use reduced-fat cheese (or less of it), lessen the amount of butter in the onion mix, use skim or lower-fat milk.  I can’t vouch for the taste results, but play with the ingredients and quantities and see what fits your needs.

This recipe has been adapted from cooks.com.