07 Mar

Target Lady vs. Cat Lady

I went into Target the other day to buy cat food.  I saw this lady in the frozen food aisle (which I was only in because Ibotta coupons are hard to resist).  There she was in her birkenstocks, too short pants, and baggy sweater, staring into the lean cuisine case, trying to make important decisions.  And I totally judged her.  I’m not proud of it.  But it happened.  Let’s just be real.

Just a few minutes later, I had gathered my own items and was ready to check out.  I was in one of those everything I see looks good and I have to have it kind of moods.  I bought tortilla chips (because we were out of chips, but not salsa), lemonade (because duh!), and sour gummy worms (because well… you know…).  So there I was in the express checkout with junk food and a big ol’ case of canned cat food… and the target lady judged me.  I could see it in her eyes, her face, that sad look on her face that seemed to say, “You shouldn’t use food to fill the void in your life.”  She thought there was a void in my life!  I tried to flash my ring as I was paying so she’d know that I really wasn’t a crazy cat lady.  Maybe she’d know that my husband and sister were the crazy cat ladies, and I only lived with them.  I don’t think I got my message across.

… and then I think how ridiculous it sounds for me to say that I was judged by the Target Lady in light of the SNL sketches.  Whatever… she wasn’t like that.  She was a teenage girl who was probably super satisfied with her life… about as much as any teenage girl is, at least.

And while I really don’t believe there’s a void in my life that I’m trying to fill with chips, salsa, and gummies (those are all just delicious foods that I really enjoy eating), I have noticed myself picking up some odd habits… becoming a bit more extreme and obsessive in my tastes.

Sunday Morning Couponing

First, there’s couponing.  I have a Sunday morning ritual these days.  I really relish looking through the coupons, snipping the ones I want, going through my stash to discard expired ones… it’s relaxing.  Add some orange juice in a fancy glass, you’ve got yourself a nearly perfect morning.

To make it actually perfect, though, you need to add some doughnuts.

Chocolate Doughnuts

… and every once in awhile that’s what happens.

Buttermilk Doughnuts

Ok, it happens a lot.  But I got this cookbook for Christmas, and my husband would feel bad about his gift to me if I never used it.  Right?

Then there’s Costco, which doesn’t help with my obsessive tendencies.  It’s easy to eat a bajillion servings of something if you can only buy it by the bajillion servings.  Add to that the fact that Costco has their own coupons, and then Ibotta coupons come off after that.  (Have I never told you about Ibotta?  Oh, yea… it’s great.)  And top it off with Costco carrying HUGE loaves of Udi’s multigrain and Ibotta having a coupon for a dollar off two weeks in a row.  That said, I’ve been really into toast lately.

Toast

… I won’t post the pictures of all of the salsa I’ve been eating lately.  But you should just know that it’s approximately Costco sized.

23 Jan

Failure to Thrive

Earlybird Thriving

Earlybird Thriving

I like to listen to podcasts as I get ready in the morning.  This particular morning, I was listening to Judge John Hodgman.  He told of his friend’s child who was not getting enough nutrients and was diagnosed with “failure to thrive”.

It’s interesting because I’ve been thinking a lot about thriving, even if not using that particular word.  My friend Bekah from Pretty Little Snippets sent me a couple articles to read, both were about margins and whitespace in our lives.  And then the Joy the Baker podcast got me to listen to this Google Talk on Willpower.  Kelly McGonigal basically says that if you sleep more and have more rest time in your life, you can boost your “willpower”, or rather enable yourself to make decisions based on long term goals rather than impulses.  Our mental health professional at school has also been talking a lot about the idea of meditation to help our kids out.

… so then I started meditating.  I’ve been using the Headspace app.  My conversation with my partner Joel about it went something like this:

Me: Sorry I didn’t answer your call earlier; I was meditating.
Joel: You mean napping?
Me: No, meditating.
Joel: You mean watching TV?


All this is really new for me right now, so it’s hard for me to express too many of my own ideas.  It certainly has me thinking though.  I look at my students who are often failing to thrive… physically… emotionally.  I think about how I feel so much of the time, and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be thriving.  … so I’m going to keep doing this thing called life, keep listening to podcasts in my slippers and robe, and try to get just a smidgen more quiet time into my life.

… also, if I go down to the kindergarten rooms in the afternoon, this one teacher who is really into ballet makes me plank, which way sucks.  … so sorry guys, I can’t, I’ve got to get a little bit more me time… white space… thriving… you know…

22 Jan

Space and Time

Sometimes in life, you need a little extra space.  Space to figure things out.  Space to do stuff on your own.  Space to bake your stress away.  Sometimes you need metaphorical space, but then there’s also physical space.  You know… a nice big counter without clutter and without cares.

Then there’s time, that which heals all wounds, especially when filled with The Carrie Diaries and doughnuts.  (Did I just say doughnuts?  Oh boy, did I!  But we’ll get there.  All in good time.)  In a lot of ways, I’ve had less of it.  I’ve been busier than I ever imagined possible as a kid.  But then I’m also learning how to slow down, how less isn’t more at all, but just less.  A much better less.

This last year, full of both space and time has been an adventure for me.  I got married.  I moved in with a dude (because The Carrie Diaries says you have to when you get married).  I fell in love with another class of 10- and 11-year-olds.  I’m not sure why, but I did.  I helped my sister moved into college.  I got an iPhone and then quickly became obsessed with instagram.  I got a doughnut pan for my birthday, but discovered it’s hard to find good gluten free baked doughnut recipes for free on the internet.  I got a gluten free baked doughnut cookbook for Christmas.  I made doughtnuts.  I had a cat move in with me (we call her G-molly [pronounced guh-molly] since the other cats’ names begin with G, also because it drives my sister nuts).  I got flowers.  so. many. flowers.  I also got flours.  so. many. flours.  I started making my own cleaning products.  I met my neighbors.  And somewhere in there, I managed to squeeze in baking doughnuts.  I put them on a cake plate from the wedding and pretended to be Martha Stewart.

Evening Doughnuts

Evening Doughnuts

These are the glazed buttermilk doughnuts from Baked Doughnuts for Everyone.  They’re light and doughy with the exact right amount of sweetness thrown in.  They will happen again.  And variations will certainly happen.  Here are a few tips and tricks I learned from the internet along the way.

Gluten Free on a Shoestring knows a ton and helped me out major with the whole gluten free on a teacher’s salary thing.  This post, in particular, helped me figure out what I actually needed and good places to get it from.  I highly recommend any of her cookbooks.  But also, her blog, which is free and fabulous.  And then, when you’re done with that, make some doughnuts.  On the real.

… so what’s new with you?

11 Jul

Fat Cottonwoods

Southern New Mexico is a pretty familiar place for me.  My parents both grew up here.  Both sets of grandparents still live here.  Numerous aunts and uncles live nearby.  I’ve spent a lot of time here.  No amount of familiarity could ever make this view any less breathtaking.

White Sands

White Sands National Monument is a supremely under-appreciated experience.  There are views of the mountains surrounding you, and the white sand seems to go on forever.  The dunes are giant and absolutely amazing to sled down.

IMG_0089_small

I just love feeling the cool evening breeze.  And coming home to eat this peach cobbler afterwards?  It’s just too much!

IMG_0005_small

I cannot tell a lie.  I based this almost entirely off of Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.  I gluten-freed it with Cup-4-Cup.  I may have used more pecans than it called for.

This recipe was stolen from Smitten Kitchen, but inspired by 2-lbs-for-a-dollar peaches and the pecan tree in my grandmother’s back yard.  Please make it.  It’ll make you happy.  Promise.

04 Jul

Let’s talk about…

Let’s talk about summer vacation.

random birdhouses

Let’s talk about traveling gluten free and the beautiful New Mexico sky.

New Mexico

Let’s talk about snow in July and cows in the road.

cows

Let’s talk about nosy aunts and amazing sisters who crouch in random caves.

hannah

Let’s talk about ancestors that watch you while you sleep.

ancestors

Let’s talk about how I’m marrying this guy on August 9th.

me and joel

Or maybe let’s not talk about it at all.  Let’s just put it out there and talk about this lemon cake instead.

yum

My sister-in-law had this cake for her birthday this year.  Tell me you don’t want to marry my remaining single brother so you can get me as a sister-in-law.  Or… you know… you can skip the whole marrying my cranky brother thing and instead make it yourself.  I could give you a recipe, but it goes a little more like this…

White cake mix (GF if you’re into that) + 1 lemon jell-o mix + whatever else the cake mix calls for.  The lemon glaze was just lemon juice and powdered sugar.  The blueberry filling is the real gem, and I’m almost embarrassed to tell you my secret.  This was a variation on my favorite weekday (oh, come on!  any day…) dessert, affectionately referred to as “fruit soup”.

You take any frozen fruit (in this case, blueberries, obvi) and add some sugar and a teensy bit of water (depending on the amount of juice the fruit will give off.  You put it in a pot on medium-high heat.  When the mixture comes to a boil, you add a slurry of water and cornstarch.  Stir until thickened.  Then… you know… eat.

It’s like fruit cobbler minus the the cobble.  It’s easy, inexpensive, and delicious.  I haven’t gotten up the courage to serve as a legitimate dessert to people, but as soon as I find a more respectable name, I’m sure I will.

09 Sep

Sideways Recipes

I’ve been reading Sideways Stories from Wayside School to my fifth graders.  On Thursday, we read my absolute favorite chapter: Maurecia.  It’s all about this little girl who hates everyone/thing except for ice cream, but eventually gets tired of all the different flavors.  Her amazing teacher Mrs. Jewls ends up making Maurecia-flavored ice cream which Maurecia can’t taste, but all the other children think is amazing.  The teacher realizes her mistake: Maurecia ice cream is the flavor that Maurecia tastes when Maurecia isn’t tasting anything.

Debbie-flavored ice cream

Debbie-flavored ice cream

I’m no Mrs. Jewls.  But this is Debbie-flavored ice cream.  At the very least, it’s inspired by her existence.  This blackberry white chocolate chip ice cream is positively amazing.  Sometimes, when you want to make birthday ice cream for somebody, you should really just wander around the grocery store and pick up ingredients.  You’re playing with cream and sugar.  What can go wrong?

Once I had already purchased the blackberries and white chocolate, I went online and started looking for a recipe.  This is backwards.  I’m pretty ok with that.

I came across this recipe, but it wasn’t working for me.  For one, I didn’t have half-and-half.  I also (whoops!) had only purchased one pint of blackberries.  … so I kind of made things up, basing my methods loosely on the Pioneer Woman’s and loosely on what I do every time I make ice cream.  What happened was amazing.  Check it.

Natural light is important!

Natural light is important!

…so I take pictures of my food on the railing of my front porch…  No bigs.

Blackberry White Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

loosely adapted from the Pioneer Woman

  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
  • 1 Tablespoon lime/lemon juice (I used lime because I had it, but I doubt it matters)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Make the blackberry “syrup” by combining the first three ingredients in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes.  Press through a strainer to get as much juice as possible.  Set aside.

Pour white chocolate chips into a food processor.  Pulse a few times to create smaller chunks, but not so much it turns into a powder.

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I’m a firm believer in 1% in ice cream, although all recipes call for whole)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups cream

Pour the cream into a bowl, place mesh strainer over top.  Whisk egg yolks together in separate bowl.  Combine milk and sugar in saucepan.  Cook over medium/low heat until hot and steamy.

Whisk a small portion of the milk mixture into the egg yolks.  After tempering the egg yolks, add to the milk mixture.  Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly.  Pour through mesh strainer into the cream.  Whisk to combine.  Mix in the blackberry syrup.  Chill thoroughly in an ice bath or in the refrigerator.

Right before freezing, mix in the white chocolate chips.  Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

31 Aug

First Days

In the last two weeks, I had my first day at a new job, my first day of school, my first call home to a parent, my first role call… so many firsts.  Did I not tell you this was happening?  Oh yea… it’s happening.

It’s happening in a very real way.  I know because I spent the entire day on my feet, because I’m losing weight despite the extraordinary amount of chocolate I am also eating, because I have an apple on my desk.  No lie.  I got an apple on the first day.  An apple timer, as it turns out.  But an apple, nonetheless.

It’s exciting.  It’s exhausting.  It’s mostly exhausting.  I’m cooking a lot still, and new recipes will be up sometime after I’m home during hours when it’s light outside and can therefore take pictures of my food.  That’s not a weird reason to want shorter hours at work, is it?

06 Aug

Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire?

Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire? What does it mean?  During my first semester of French, this phrase somehow got stuck in my head.  And because I was new to the language, I had no idea what it actually meant.  So then I’d ask myself, “What does it mean?”  These two questions ran around in my head a lot.  And then I found out that the second question was just a translation of the first.  Yea, so that happened…

But sometimes I wonder about myself.  I wonder if this is normal.  Or that is normal.  I wonder what it all means.  Like somehow this totally mundane decision I just made is evidence of something deep and meaningful inside me.  So what if I don’t go into the express checkout line with 11 items?  The sign said 10, not “10-ish”.  I’m a rule-follower, no bigs.  And so what if I felt guilty when an employee told me to go into the express checkout?  This is normal human behavior.  I’m fine with all of that.

But do you suppose it does say something about me that anytime I see a rule that says “don’t touch” or “don’t put your hand here”, I really want to see what will happen if I do?  Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire? It just seems so inconsistent with the rule-follower described above.  What does it mean?

(On a somewhat related note, there’s this guy at work who puts notes on things that he doesn’t want people messing with.  He writes “Do not touch” followed by his name on the same line.  It reads something like “Do not touch Joe”.  We tease him about his missing punctuation, and then he usually adds an exclamation point to the end of it, as though that will fix it.  Punctuation jokes are funny.)

There are lots of things that are totes inconsistent about me.  Like how I’m very particular about lots of things, but not at all in the kitchen.  I like my toilet paper just so (over, if you’re wondering), and I get upset if people stack dirty dishes incorrectly (one of my more charming quirks, I’m sure).  That said, I just got my first set of measuring spoons about a month ago (thanks, Mom).

I’m not fond of measuring, in general.  (Why dirty measuring cups/spoons when you don’t have to?  Not having a dishwasher certainly makes that question impossible to answer.)  In fact, if it weren’t for you, I’d never document anything I make, and I would, therefore, never be able to make them the same again.  And I rather like that I use this blog more as a recipe book for myself than anything else.

I’m learning how to measure, and I really do want to encourage you to figure out how not to measure.  There’s a totally reasonably place to hang out somewhere in the middle, I’m sure of it.

… but mostly, that was just an excuse to tell a funny punctuation joke.  Oh!  P to the S…

me: knock, knock
you: who’s there?
me: to
you: to who?
me: no, no… it’s “to whom”.

23 Jul

Awkward…

It’s a white people word that means almost anything.

But it’s really awkward when you don’t have cable, and the final episode of this season’s Food Network Star airs, but isn’t posted on hulu until Thursday.  Did Justin win?!  I have to know.  Spoiler alert: yes.  yes, he did.  Woot Justin!!!

But what did you do with your Sunday night?  I sat in my living room and prepared for a workshop I’m leading this week.  Oh yea!  I also chowed down on this with one of my best friends:

crispy fried chicken plus biscuits

crispy fried chicken plus biscuits

I got to hear all about her recent love interest.  Sometimes, you just need to eat fried chicken and talk about girly things.  Sometimes.  Maybe a lot of times.

Aside from the fact that there was frying involved, this was some pretty easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy fried chicken.  I did a lot of reading about fried chicken, and the ideal starting temperature for the oil is somewhere around 375.  When you put the chicken in the oil, the temperature is going to drop.  You have to watch out for this.

All of that said, I kind of maybe don’t have a frying thermometer.  Whoops.  But that’s ok.  It just means you have to take it slow and pay attention.  I started by heating the oil on medium, then dropping in a small piece of chicken.  When the chicken was cooked, the breading was too light.  And then I overcompensated for that, so the next piece of chicken was undercooked when the breading was golden brown.  The third piece of chicken was… what can I say… just right.

a well balanced meal, for sure

a well balanced meal, for sure

So here’s how it goes…

Fried Chicken:

  • 2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the eggs and the milk together.  Season the chicken thoroughly.  Coat the chicken in the flour.  Then dip in the egg/milk mixture.  Dip in the flour again.  Then fry that bad boy up.

06 Jun

Key Lime Pie-ish

You just said ‘whoopsie daisy!’ No one’s said that for 50 years, and then it was just little girls with blond ringlets!

Mistakes are the stuff of life.  I don’t mean like the best part of life or anything like that.  But they just happen.  Mistakes are what makes life seem real.

One of the cabinets in my kitchen opens on the wrong side.  I’m fairly certain it was a mistake.  I try to open it from the wrong side every single time.  But you know… that’s real life.

Real life is sleeping through your alarm, accidentally quitting a program without saving your work, biting into a Ferrero Rocher without realizing you’re totally allergic to the little wafer inside it.  It’s all of these things and more.  Mistakes happen.  They just do.  But sometimes, mistakes turn into this:

totally sweet mistake

totally sweet mistake

I like these kind of mistakes.  And due to an unfortunate mistake and an overabundance of egg whites in my fridge (thank you, ice cream), this bad boy isn’t even too bad for you.  I opted for a crust-less lime custard of sorts.  Inspired by key lime pie, but certainly not the same thing.  You could put all of this in a pie crust, but GF graham crackers are not cheap, and honestly, I’m not such a huge fan of the crust in the first place.  The custard with whipped topping was perfect.  You could also add in a bit of lime juice if you prefer something more tart.  I’m a wimp, so this is how I like it.  Anyway, here’s how it went down.

Key Lime Pie-ish

Filling:

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 4 teaspoons lime zest (from about two limes)
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup lime juice (you could juice your own here, but I cheated – true fact)

Topping:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325.  Mix the egg whites and lime zest until the egg whites have a greenish tint to them.  Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and the lime juice.  Now pour into custard dishes.  Place filled custard dishes in a water bath and bake for 15-20 minutes or until set.  Let cool in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours.

When ready to serve, whip the cream with the powdered sugar.  Scoop on top of the filling and serve with a little grated lime zest on top.