Saturday Sentiments

Last night, as Joel and I were driving out of Durham, I was ranting endlessly about something stupid that happened at work and was still frustrating me, and Joel stopped me and said…

“I care about what you’re saying, but you also need to look at the sky, because it’s pretty, and I don’t want you to miss it.”

And that’s basically why I married that man.  He has a much better handle on what’s important in life than I do.

I can be pretty doom and gloom at times, especially this week.  And this list is definitely a reflection of that side of me.  More specifically, though, this is a list of things that got me thinking.  They made me stop and go “hmm…”  My only hope is that it would help you do the same.

I’m a little late to be sharing this, but after reading it last weekend (thanks to Joy the Baker), I couldn’t not share.  We’ve got to figure out what to do about all these missing men.

I belong to so many privileged classes in America.  Sometimes, I forget that.  Embarrassing, but true.  Hearing the story of a less privileged person gives me the perspective I need.

I’ve been telling my kids all week that it’s ok to make mistakes.  It’s not ok to not learn from those mistakes.  Please let us learn.

Somebody asked me when slavery ended.  I gave them a funny look.  This is why.

I think we can all agree on how stupid we were in college.  Unfortunately, Mississippi police don’t care.

It’s interesting to read about another person’s struggle to fit into the social aspect of religion.

I very much want to eat all of my broccoli this way.

Breakfast?  Cookies?  Yes, please.

And I’m off to hang out with my mom, grandmother, and nephews.  Peace.

my heart wasn’t in it

Today, with my kids, we discussed the meaning of the phrase “heart wasn’t in it”.  We talked about how “heart” is often a euphemism for love.  It got me to thinking…

I’ve neglected this blog on and off for the past several years, because my heart hasn’t always been in it.  And I’m trying to revamp this blog so that it is a reflection of my heart.  I’ve been talking about things not strictly food related because more often than not, food is not my heart’s desire.

Today, my heart dwelled on a couple of things.  One I’ll put on hold until I fully wrap my head around it.  The other is about poverty and resilience and a whole lot of other things I only partially understand.

1) Kids raised in poverty experience all sorts of trauma (aside from stated poverty) that those of us raised in relative wealth can’t possibly imagine.  Today was the anniversary of the death of a student who attended my school.  He was a classmate and friend to many of my students, and his death has taken a marked toll on my kids.  One student recently had his entire house burned down.  Another, has parents who are splitting up.  And while any of these things might occur to children in any class, they happen at much higher rates to families in poverty.  And all of that trauma makes dealing with life a whole lot more difficult, strains emotions, and makes good choices all the more difficult to make.  Add to that the constant feeling that the police are against you (which is more true than many of us white middle classers can even begin to comprehend), and you get a recipe for something like what happened in Baltimore yesterday.  And while I certainly would never say it’s ok to use violence, I think the situation is more complicated than “you need to not be a @$!%.”

2) Race relationships are complicated and cannot be boiled down a single court case or isolated police altercation.  Additionally, those of us belonging to historically more advantaged races (i.e., white) have an especially difficult time comprehending just how complicated it is.  I’ve only ever worked in a school where I’m the minority race, and every day I learn about some other advantage that I have taken for granted my entire life.  For one, that whole police thing I mentioned before.  I was raised to believe the police were there to help.  And while from time to time, I might have believed they were a little over-zealous in their traffic ticketing, I never once feared them.  I never once felt like they were constantly on the lookout for any possible way to destroy my entire life.  Unfortunately, I know countless African American and Hispanic American children who do not lead such a privileged life.

I’m not sure what any of this means in real life.  Probably just that it’s very important to keep all of this in mind before we criticize others for failing under a pressure that we’ve never experienced, even if that means excusing a behavior that seems otherwise deplorable.  I hate what happened in Baltimore yesterday.  But I hate what caused it even more.  To quote a lesson we learned in our foster parenting class, “Behavior expresses a need.”

Honey Garlic Chicken

I’ve been hard core prepping for prepping my students for our end-of-grade tests this weekend.  Joel kept accusing me of playing video games for how long I spent staring at the computer today.  And pretty much the only reason why I bothered to cook today, at all, is because I knew we needed leftovers to eat for lunch this week.  So I set out to make Honey Garlic Chicken from Just a Taste.  Problem is, I didn’t have multiple ingredients the recipe called for.

The really tricky part was finding gluten free hoisin sauce, which I never did successfully.  When I researched substitutes or how to make your own, several started with peanut butter or bbq sauce.  I had both, and I actually intended on using the peanut butter method.  But then the bbq seduced me with its simplicity.  It worked well, and I like having a recipe that doesn’t need to be complicated.

And while my husband was beating me in a board game and shoveling food into his mouth (that’s how we do), he kept pausing to say, “This is so good!”

And so good it was.  I have no doubt that her version is better.  This version works, though, and I’ll definitely make it again.  Here we go!

Honey Garlic Chicken

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken
Adapted from Just a Taste

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (mine were frozen)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup low sodium gluten free soy sauce
1/4 cup strawberry jam
1 1/2 Tablespoons gluten free bbq sauce
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Sliced scallions, for garnish
Sesame seeds, for garnish

Put the chicken breasts in the bottom of the crockpot.  In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, jam, bbq, olive oil, garlic, onion, and sriracha.  Pour over the chicken.  Set on low to cook for 4-5 hours.

When cooked through, pull the chicken out and shred it.  Put the sauce into a small saucepan.  Stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water.  Add to the sauce and cook over medium high heat until thickened.  Add some of the sauce to the chicken, and reserve the rest for topping.

We served ours with brown rice, broccoli, sesame seeds, and scallions.  It was divine.

Saturday Sentiments

I’ve been distracted this week.  There’s been loads going on at school, and even more going on at home.  This afternoon was the last step in the whole foster license process.  I happened to have a few minutes between getting off work and picking Joel up for the meeting, so I made a run by Daisycakes.  I figured, whether celebration or consolation, we’d need cookies when the meeting was over.

As it turns out, they were celebration cookies, which taste substantially better than consolation cookies.  Our foster care application is complete and on its way to be approved by the state.

In other news, the internet has a lot to say:

For one, I’ve found the neatest way to say “no”.  In general, I’m pretty good at saying “no”, but I love this method above all else.

There’s been a lot of talk about bed-making, an upgrade I was easily able to get added to my husband.  He’s the later riser, so it’s usually his responsibility.  And I’ve learned to let go of my pickiness in how it’s done.  If you’re unconvinced of the importance of the daily task, get on board.

In general, I’m opposed to hard and fast rules.  Here are some nice ideas, though.

Statistically, we’re very likely to have children other than our race placed with us through this whole foster process.  This list helped me think through some things.

I love it when food bloggers I love put together lists of recipes they love.  Also, who doesn’t need some new ways to cook vegetables?

With the pressure off on the whole foster care thing, we’re taking it easy.  I highly suggest you do the same.

Saturday Sentiments

This week has been full of new windows (yay!), pollen (yuck), my crazy stupid brain, yelling at the TV while watching Married at First Sight (but seriously, if you haven’t already, you need to get in on this show), paying taxes, and Elementary Honors Chorus.

Here’s a snapshot:

I’ve been wondering if I’m really an introvert, or maybe just an extrovert who hates most people.  This is partly why.

Tsh over at the Art of Simple wrote a substantially better post than mine about tolerance.  I love how she uses words.

I didn’t know that people didn’t know this.  But knowing how to make old bread taste like new is something I’m extremely skilled at.

Joel and I are basically the most amazing team.  Whatever I don’t know about, he does.  We took this quiz together and pretty much beasted it.  Except for the British stuff.  And the pop culture stuff.

I’m basically the best at brain teasers, and it drives my kids crazy.  I bombed this one, though.

It’s no secret that I can’t handle spice.  This helps.

These cookies, though.

Honey Balsamic Drumsticks are totes on the menu for this week.

23 feminist books every child should read.  Consider this a wish list for whenever we have children placed with us.

Core Values

There’s an organization that I’ve loosely partnered with for some years now and more recently developed a website for.  On aforementioned website, they have an entire page dedicated to their “core values”, which is a phrase I find more than a little amusing, though I’m not entirely sure why.  I guess I just think it’s funny to sort of rank values.  Like, obviously there are values that aren’t core, and are therefore less important.

Through this whole foster care licensure process, Joel and I have really started to notice our own core values.  I often find that core values are made obvious by how we spend our time, energy, and money.  A few worth noting: animals, food, sleep, books.  That last one in particular is one I’ve become acutely aware of.

For one, we’ve already purchased books for our unknown future adoptive children.  That’s not weird.  The furniture in our bedroom is basically just a bed, a dresser, and several bookshelves.  We’ve got even more bookshelves in living/dining area.  And then, we’ve got six crates of books stacked neatly in the corner created by our desk and filing cabinet which sit perpendicular to each other.  Books are definitely a core value in this house.

And in keeping with the idea that our home needs to work for us, we decorate (I use this word loosely) with crates of books.  They sit right by the window, which happens to have the best afternoon light in the whole house.  … so I take photos there.

Over the weekend, I picked up some Boom Chicka Pop Lemon Drop Kettle Corn buried deep within the Easter 70% off bin at Target.  It did not disappoint.  Honestly, this is my first time trying anything but their classic kettle corn, so I was a little bit nervous.  I think it’s safe to say that I have jumped on that bandwagon, now!

 

Saturday Sentiments

This week has been full of silly children, report card prep, and a whole lot of leftover Easter candy.  My sister-in-law is visiting this weekend, and the weather is supposed to be incredible, so I’m looking forward to some long walks with the pups.  In the meantime, here are some things to get you thinking…

Personally, I’d like to be dumped in the ground, no casket or anything.  But since that creates a legal nightmare, I’m very interested in alternatives.  Not to start on a morbid note or anything…

Last night, at Costco, I watched the man ahead of me in line buying the hugest strawberry danish in existence.  Since I can’t have that one, I’m very interested in what Nicole Hunn has cooked up over at Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

Consistency is one of my favorite things in life.  It’s nice to know there’s science that backs me up.

Speaking of science… our neighborhood motto is “save the brontosaurus”, and I think we’re starting to get some traction.

Because the only things that could make peanut butter cookies better are chocolate and bacon.  Get it, Joy the Baker!

Being gluten free, I often have to buy more expensive alternatives.  And the gluten free flours, although used sparingly, still add up.  It makes me feel better to know that I fall within the realm of normal when it comes to grocery budgets.

Since we own 7 of these games and have given 2 more as gifts, I’m pretty impressed by this list.

Go spend some time outside.  Be the neighbor everyone secretly hates because they can smell your food on the grill.  Put off mowing the lawn for another week.  Because you can.

Banana Flax Muffins

If you didn’t already know, I am very much a morning person.  I wake up at 5:30 each morning, without a whole lot of effort.  If you want to keep me up past 10p.m., though, well… good luck.

I’m far likelier to do laundry before leaving for work (which I do between 7 and 7:30 each day) than after I get home from work (between 4 and 6).  I’m far likelier to do dishes before work than after.  And… I’m far likelier to make breakfast than dinner.  Truth.

I’ve got a rotation of warm breakfasts I like: eggs, oatmeal, waffles, but my favorite is definitely these muffins.  They’re simple, and now that I’m comfortable with the recipe, I can whip them up and let them bake while I hit the shower in the morning.

Loaded with ground flaxseed, these give you energy that won’t quit.  And they are incredibly moist despite the fact that they have no butter or oil.  But my absolute favorite thing: the recipe makes a half dozen, so I can bake them in the toaster oven, and it’s not so much that we’ve got muffins around the house all week.

Banana Flax Muffins

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. ground flaxseed
  • 1 c. flour*
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt

Mash the banana, and mix in the egg and sugar.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until flour is just moistened.  Batter will be thick.  Spoon into greased muffin tins, and bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

*I used a cup-4-cup blend I made from Gluten Free on a Shoestring’s recipe.  Other high-quality gluten free flours that measure cup for cup with regular all-purpose flour will do as well.  That said, I’ve also made it with a more typical all-purpose flour blend (King Arthur’s, Bob’s Red Mill, and one I made myself).  All turned out fine, but you will want to go a little lighter on the flour, more like 3/4 cup rather than a whole cup.

Tolerant

Sometimes, your mother tells you things that don’t really seem true at the time, but you figure out that, as usual, she was right in the long run.  One such lesson is “that’s what works for me/my family”.  She tells me I should say this anytime I feel judged.  And she reminds me of this idea anytime I’m tempted to judge others.

Example: I sometimes feel a wee bit judged when it comes to my work ethic or my ability to participate in meaningful outside of work/family activities.  But the thing is, I’m really stingy with my time.  This is mostly because, as an introvert, I am at my best when I spend most evenings at home, and a good chunk of the weekend, too.  My job requires a lot of extroversion, and I need plenty of quiet downtime to recover.  Too much in the way of extracurriculars, and my energy and disposition go downhill fast.  I’ve learned this about myself, so I’ve stopped pretending like it isn’t true.  One outside activity a week, thank you.  And some weeks, even that’s pushing it.  I’m not a shut-in, I swear.  It’s just that I really believe in living life to its fullest, and for me, the only way to do that is to get plenty of alone time.  And then the judgment.  That’s when my mom suggests I just respond with, “that’s just what works for me”.

And obviously, there are plenty of times when I’m prone to judge others, and I have to remind myself “that’s just what works for them”.

On a related note, I’m kind of addicted to the Awesome Etiquette podcast from the Emily Post Institute and the Infinite Guest Network.  Seriously, get on that.  I’m finding that an appropriate response in at least half of all the etiquette questions they feature could be, “that’s just what works for me”.  Geez, mom…

Speaking of being tolerant…

A couple months ago, I was wandering through Costco.  I find this can be a good strategy for discovering new gluten free goodies, but also sometimes wreak havoc on my wallet.  I discovered Tolerant red lentil rotini.  Made with red lentils, one serving boasts 21g of protein and 13g of dietary fiber.  Whoa.

I put it back down, figuring it probably tastes pretty disgusting.  So I hopped on the internet and started reading reviews, which were, surprisingly, overwhelmingly positive.

And then it sat in my cupboard, because who wants to eat red lentil pasta?  During the great kitchen purge of 2015, I felt a twinge of guilt at hoe many expired food items I threw out.  So I finally cooked it tonight with some leftover meat sauce from the weekend.

Tolerant Red Lentil Rotini

I have to be honest, it’s pretty delicious.

Saturday Sentiments

There’s something about spring that gives me all kinds of new energy.  Maybe it’s having a whole week off from school, but there’s a little more bounce to my step, regardless.  I’m just sure of it.

Our yard is positively overgrown with weeds.  I’m having a hard time caring as there such adorable weeds.  Reminds me of a song by Five Iron Frenzy (likely my favorite band in high school): She sees love where anyone else would see weeds.

But a lot has been happening in this brain of mine.  Some of it connected, much of it not.  So here’s my attempt at a new series here on the blog: Saturday Sentiments.  I’ll be sharing the more noteworthy of the random thoughts I’ve been thinking.

Here goes…

Nicole Hunn at Gluten Free on a Shoestring is giving away recipes.  You should seriously get in on this action.

Tracy at Shutterbean will show you what to do with all this grilling weather.  Most definitely on the meal plan this week.

Margaret Feinberg will teach you Why Christians are Wrong about Joy.

I’ve long thought middle class, based on usage, was an incredibly broad term, applied to everyone from those who just barely make ends meet (although they can do that) on up, stopping just short of millionaires.  Pew Charitable Trust takes away a bit of the mystique in their definition.  Obviously, they don’t account for how many people are in the household, but still an interesting guideline.

This interesting piece about whether being able to stay home with your kids is a luxury or not spoke to me.  Perhaps we should amend our definition of “luxury”, as well.  If you’re at middle class or higher (see above) with only one income, it’s probably a luxury, even if it means you sacrificed other luxuries to have it.

Deborah at Taste and Tell showed us how to make the most amazing looking lemon cakes.  Lemon is a taste that exactly belongs in spring, I believe.

It’s not enough to divide the world by extroverts and introverts, labels that are increasingly difficult to pin down around here, as Joel and I both reside somewhere in the middle though for different reasons.  Now, you can also figure out which of the 4 kinds of introverts you are.

I’ll go ahead and say it now that Suze Orman is off the air and won’t publicly judge me for it: sometimes, the full 8-month (or whatever rule you follow) emergency fund can seem a bit daunting.  This helps put it into perspective.