Archive for the ‘Food Talk’ Category

Spring Breaking

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

There was a lot of fear among teachers that with all these snow days, we were going to lose our spring break.  Such was not the case.  And while I’m sure I’ll wish differently on June 11 when I’m still at school with 24 delightful 5th graders, I’m pretty happy about it right now.

A large portion of my spring break plans had been awhile in the making.  I purchased a popsicle mold that I was dying to put to use.  I know my crazy couponing is less than interesting to you, but you should know that I purchased said popsicle mold with an amazon gift card recieved from SavingStar.  … so… you know… that’s cool.

I knew takeamegabite had loads of good popsicle recipes, but when I started browsing through them, they seemed a bit much for my first try.  I wanted something simple, something I couldn’t mess up.  Though Smitten Kitchen is hardly the place I go looking for easy recipes, she does have a simple pink lemonade popsicle recipe that fits my lemon obsession exactly right.

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The colors from the just the preparation had me swooning.  But my first lick of the finished popsicle beat it, hands down.

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In truth, the first taste was just a bit too tart for my liking (though my husband thought it was perfect).  The second and third tastes, though, were exactly right.

I really wish I had loads of interesting recipes for you.  I promise that I’m working on a divine Mr. Goodbar Pie which I’ll share sooner or later.  But the rest of my spring break has been spent redecorating or vacationing.  More on the vacation, udis muffins, how inspiring glutenhatesme is, and an amazing gluten free restaurant in Beaufort, NC later.  For now, check out my totally rad living room project from the week.

New Couch

We bought a new couch from the Trosa yard sale.  I’m basically in love.  I don’t really put cookies on a tray on the couch like that.  Ramona would eat them.  I put them in a fancy cake plate on the table, duh.

But the new couch really got me to want to fix up the other living room furniture.  A trip to the Scrap Exchange gave me exactly what I needed.  I bought loads of cool fabric for recovering two chairs and making beautiful accent pillows.  One of the chairs and the pillows will have to wait until the summer, but this chair needed some TLC.

Chair - Before and After

Obviously, the left is the before.  The right is the after.  This chair belonged to my husband’s grandmother.  He has very fond memories of sitting in that chair, reading his grandmother’s Tarzan books (the collection is now kept in the bookshelf to the left).  So when Ramona tore apart the cushions (that’s why they aren’t pictured), he didn’t want to just throw it out.  Personally, I think it has a pretty groovy shape, so I was happy to recover it.  The results are far from perfect, but I’m more than satisfied.  And even though I eventually do want to paint and recover the other chair in the living room, just changing this and the couch have made a huge difference.

Finished Chair

I’m hoping to do a complete before and after look of the living room, but I will tell you that we’ve already rearranged a tad.  Now the chair is positioned in front of a really cool vintage reading lamp from the Habitat ReStore.  I love having tons of good local resources for purchasing cheap (gotta love that on a teacher’s salary) recycled/repurposed items for our home.  Especially since I moved into a home that my husband had already purchased when we got married, it’s fun to go shopping together to create a design that belongs to both of us.

Just like that…

Monday, March 31st, 2014

I woke up before my alarm on Thursday morning.  Thursday was our grade level planning day, and I always try to bring the team a little treat on these days.  I almost always end up baking my favorite double chocolate muffins.  I call them muffins so we don’t feel bad eating them for breakfast.  They’re basically cupcakes.  Cupcakes without frosting.  That makes them better, right?  While we all love these “muffins”, I was itching to make something new.

New recipe was a feeling I hadn’t had all week.  The thought of cooking dinner was just too much for me to handle last week.  So feeling inspired to make something was a pleasant surprise.  And boy howdy, America’s Test Kitchen really came through for me.  I made their simple cinnamon streusel coffee cake using “Better than cup4cup” flour from Nicole Hunn of Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

The results were spectacular.  I had gluten-loving coworkers asking for the recipe.

Simple Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

… and just like that, I was back into it.  This weekend, I was back to my normal cooking habits.  The husband and I made an absolutely divine baked pasta with italian sausage, roasted tomatoes, spinach, and (of course) a generous amount mozzarella cheese.

Baked Pasta

Sunday morning, I was inspired by half a block of cream cheese sitting in my fridge and Marlow of Gluten Hates Me to make cream cheese stuffed french toast.  Since I didn’t have bananas or syrup, I created a mixed berry syrup.  the combo was… like… whoa.

Stuffed French Toast

And then there were the sloppy joe’s.  You remember them from before, I’m sure.  I combined the sandwiches with roasted potato wedges sprinkled generously with ranch seasoning.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

And then I finished them off with some gluten free peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (full explanation/recipe/whatever to come).

… but after all of that (and especially all of the eating out last week), I’m in need of a serious detox, or, at the very least, vegetables.  Hello green smoothies and salads!  And the weather is just right for them this week, too.

More on Meal Planning

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

This week has hit me like a mack truck.  This past weekend was great, but full of activity.  The husband and I got out in the yard on Saturday and created a walkway to the driveway which I am super proud of.  We hauled 1 truckload of topsoil in our yard and 2 truckloads of stones.  We did a ton of heavy lifting, and I was worn out by the end of it.

Work Gloves

I had a plan for dinner, but after all that work, I just couldn’t bring myself to do more.  We needed a hearty dinner out, and Red Robin was calling my name.  It pretty much maxed out our restaurant budget for the month, but it was worth it.  This bacon cheeseburger hit the spot.

Red Robin

Sunday, I woke up sore.  My legs and back were very angry at me for all the lifting the day before.  I was generally pretty lazy, but I still managed to spend the afternoon with my husband, sister, and mother.  We had lunch together, then decided to go see Divergent (which is super great, if you’re wondering).

I also did my regular Sunday meal planning thing.  I made a list.  I went shopping.  I couponed like whoa and managed to save over 50% off my groceries.  That’s always my goal, but it can be hard without feeling like you can’t buy the stuff you want.  This time, I got everything I wanted, and still saved tons of money.  I had a plan.  It was healthy and tasty and affordable.

… and then Monday happened.  I’m trying to find the words to communicate this.  It’s not even a full moon, but I’m telling you what… these kids are something else.  Amidst all of the drama/terror/whatever that was happening in my classroom that day, one of my students decided to write b**** on the walls of my bathroom.  Twice.  He was pretty upset with me.

I came home, exhausted.  Snuggled into bed with Netflix, but was a little distressed by the static noise I heard in my bedroom.  Was it coming from the wall?  The floor?  What was that?  Google “static noise from crawlspace”, and you might discover that apparently snakes can make this noise when they’re under your house.  That was certainly less than reassuring.  After much hunting, however, my husband and I were able to discover it was some sort of water leak beneath the house.  And we’ve had the water on minimally since then.  The plumber should be here tomorrow.  Yay homeownership!

And then today, the kid did it again.  Twice.  I don’t really understand… because he got caught, and he had to have known that he would.  I did, afterall, enlist the help of a “bathroom monitor” today, who checked the bathroom after every person used it (certainly a less than glamorous duty).  And this is the stuff about my job that people don’t get.  And if that were the only stuff I dealt with, I could probably deal with it with substantially more grace than I showed today.  But then there was the plagiarism… the three different girls in tears for three different (and completely unrelated) reasons… the boy drama (oh god, how I hate it)… the talking back… the whispering to a friend during a lesson and the screaming “I didn’t even do anything!” when caught.  Grace was something I surely didn’t possess today.

And somewhere in there, the plan went out the window.  I know that it’s especially important for me to eat healthy on days like this, but when your only goal on a “day like this” is to not cry in front of your students (because crying when they go to P.E. is pretty much inevitable), concessions must be made.  At least, that’s what I tell myself.  Because sometimes, the plan becomes stress inducing, and I’m dealing with enough stress outside of it.  … so we’ll see what meals happen this week… and what meals get replaced by canned soup and gluten free chicken nuggets from Costco… and what meals get pushed to next week.  All I know is that food is supposed to enable me to live life to its fullest, never detracting from it.

Sometimes, it seems like there’s a war between “regular working folks” and “people who cook all the time”.  Their lifestyles don’t seem to mesh.  Phrases like “I just can’t do all that” get thrown around, and it bothers me, because most days, I feel like I get to be both.  And I really think other people can/should be both, as well.  But right now, I’m feeling more like a regular working person, and less like a person who cooks all the time.  And I think I’m just going to be ok with that.

Because sometimes you don’t get a snow day when you really need it… because you’ve got water leaking into the crawlspace under your bedroom (which totally doesn’t even make any sense because there is zero plumbing on this side of the house)… because sometimes the things you love most about your job also require more emotional energy than you can really muster… because sometimes people you care a lot about call you a b****… and sometimes, you don’t even have a reason… it’s just because.  And that’s ok too.

Browning Butter

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

People have been talking about this whole brown butter situation for awhile.  And to be honest, I was unconvinced.  Why on earth would I spend time at the stove carefully overseeing the browning of butter when I could, you know, not?

I gave Joy the Baker’s brown butter doughnuts a try.  Obviously, I had to make them gluten free, so I smushed together my two basic recipes.  I substituted brown butter for the oil from the buttermilk doughnuts in Baked Doughnuts for Everyone.  It definitely added a more complex flavor which I really dug.

Browned Butter

This is what brown butter looks like.  I didn’t know.  I also didn’t know that 2 tablespoons of butter, browned is different from 2 tablespoons of brown butter.  You live.  You learn.  I’m still not sure if this is going to be a regular activity for me, but I will acknowledge a difference in flavor.

Doughnuts Overhead

The real trick with baked doughnuts is letting them cool completely before you eat them all up.  It’s tough, but it must be done.  Scoop those babies out with the cutest little spatula you can find.  Then let them chill out for a bit.  In an ideal world, this would happen on a wire rack.  I don’t have one of those.  Whoops.  But I do have a platter that exactly fits 6 doughnuts.

Doughnuts Cooling

Joy’s chocolate glaze was basically divine.  They’re not nearly as heavy at the chocolate peanut butter doughnuts from last week, which makes two of these exactly the right amount.

Stacked Doughnuts

The husband and the little sister woke up to the smell of these Sunday morning.  I got more than a few bonus points.  Make these for yourself, and you’ll be a very happy camper.  Make them to share, and you’ll be loved forever.  That’s my strategy, at least.

The Weekenders

Monday, March 17th, 2014

There was a show on ABC on Saturday mornings when I was growing up.  It was part of their “One Saturday Morning” program, and it was called “The Weekenders”.  Every episode started Friday after school and ended Sunday evening.  They had this pizza place they went to every Friday evening for dinner, but it changed ownership (and therefore name and decor) every week.  They had a routine.

I liked that show more than I really should have.  But I really like weekend routines.  I like doing things the same way over and over again.  I like the rhythm, and I really like the predictability.

Unfortunately, this last weekend had me off my routine.  It started with a totally epic field trip to Carolina Beach.  We road a boat and explored Masonboro Island, and I got sunburned like whoa.  The kids were generally really well behaved.  In truth, I probably had fewer behavior problems than I would have on a regular day in the classroom.  But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a 12 hour trip.  A 3.5 hour bus ride there, and a 3.5 hour bus ride back with 40 fifth graders.

It was a lot.  So much that I went straight to bed when I got home.  No dinner.  Just sleep.

Saturday morning was great thought.  It was warm and sunny out, so Joel and I hit the farmer’s market.  Before that, though, we stopped by the ATM.  That’s when we came across this.

Carnival

Armed with cash and reusable bags, we hit the farmer’s market.  It was packed.  The nice weather really draws the hipsters.  Then there was breakfast at DaisyCakes.  I get the biscuits at DaisyCakes way too often.  But this was the first time I had a full breakfast there.  We sat at a teeny tiny table outside.  It was white.  The side of the building was white.  My husband was white.  I was having trouble keeping my eyes open because it was just too bright.

Daisycakes Breakfast

But boy was it amazing.  Their three potato hash was A-MAZING.

After some yard-related errands, I hit naptime hard.  Then the little sister came over.  I liked that she stayed with me as endcaps to her spring break.  We watched really terrible television and ate way too many fruit by the foots (fruit by the feet?).  Sunday morning included couponing and doughnuts (recipe to come).  More naptime.  And then video games.

I didn’t do nearly enough in the way of chores, which is why my house is a disaster right now.  Along those lines, I was really hoping for a school delay today (yay wintry mix!), but alas…  While I’m so over this winter, I’m also not even remotely close to being ready for this week.  Here’s to sleeping 37 minutes past your alarm and caffeine.