I had a feeling that July 2016 might be one of my best. And when I wasn’t coerced into attending a fireworks display early in the month, I knew there’d be a happy ending come the 31st.
Sure, I managed some bucket list stuff this month – riding the Amtrak from Texas to Chicago, staying in a historical hotel on the Magnificent Mile and watching my Texas Rangers play at Wrigley Field – but July has been a blast for more important reasons.
For starters, the love of my life finally made her move to the Jimmy Rockford. We’re as cramped as we can be, and the only way to privacy is by locking myself in the car with the radio blasting. Still, I’ve long missed waking up next to her and having our all-too-common squabbles about what’s for dinner. Not to mention, her eyes look so much better in person.
And though her arrival brought me contentment when I needed it most, it was two simple words that brought me as much joy as I’ve ever experienced. Catherine uttered them somewhere between St. Louis and Chicago.
‘I passed,’ she softly said as I dozed in our tiny room on the train. ‘I passed.’
Even without my glasses, I could read the disbelief and jubilance on her beautiful face. Her eyes were wide with elation and her grin involuntary.
As the story goes, my love will begin a new career in about a week — as a teacher. Not only did she pass the state exam to teach medical occupations to high school students (she is a career nurse who earned her bachelor’s degree this past December), she also passed the certification exam to teach elementary-aged children through sixth grade. She worked to make her dream come true and I have been blessed to watch her journey from the front row.
I could write a book detailing her challenges through the years. It would include at least a handful of chapters on raising a family, working multiple jobs and experiencing plenty of self doubt. But it would have a very happy ending, indeed.
Sure, I’ve been known to believe that baseball is life and that Wrigley Field is Mecca for such rabid horsehide fans as myself. But Catherine is my life, and the success she experienced – along with those two little words – have made this July one I’ll fondly remember.
My train traveling and jet setting ways as of late have allowed me a lot less time in the Jimmy Rockford’s tiny kitchen. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because prepared foods have come a long way. This recipe combines some prepared (frozen) meatballs and Stubb’s Sweet Black Pepper Anytime Sauce™. Toss them in the slow cooker on your way out to work and you’ll have the makings of a seriously delicious sandwich when you arrive home. It tastes even better with homemade pimento cheese, but use cheddar or even American, if you prefer.
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Sweet Black Pepper Meatball Sandwiches
- 32 oz – Frozen (plain or 'homestyle') meatballs*
- 1 – 12 oz bottle Stubb's Sweet Black Pepper Anytime Sauce™
- ½ cup – Water
- 8 – Submarine or bolillo rolls
- In a slow cooker, place meatballs, Stubb's Sweet Black Pepper Anytime Sauce™ and water; toss gently.
- Cook on 'low' setting for 8 hours, or on 'high' for 5 hours.**
- Serve on rolls with other toppings, as desired.
** - If you're using ½-inch meatballs, cook on 'low' for 6 hours, or on 'high' for about 3 hours.