Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quotables

"I know you're really pissed at me."

OK, that quote along doesn't say much. But if you heard her tone, saw the look on her face, you'd have wanted to laugh as well!

And I wasn't. I told her I was not mad at her, but wasn't happy with the way she was acting.
For the record, this is an 11 year old girl w/ intellectual disabilities. She's been a pill the last two days. Things only got worse today about 15 minutes later. It was interesting to say the least. Thank goodness tomorrow is a new day!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Random? Yeah, That's Me.

Cooking just isn't what it used to be to me. Anymore, it's "I have to eat to function. What can I throw together to at least pretend to enjoy?"
Budget, time, blah-ness (I know, that's not a word), effort...I just don't have it.
Unless I make soup. Soup I can get motivated for. It's usually cheap. The big bonus is it stocks my freezer, allowing me to grab something on the way out the door for my lunch. With an apple, a piece of cheese, and/or celery sticks, it's a balanced meal!

The other exception is when I'm craving something specific. Like tonight. I think it's the cold weather. I am craving Indian food. Not wanting to splurge on the $10 buffet, I came home and assessed my pantry.

Here is what I did (am doing--it's still cooking).
2 small sweet potatoes (one was sprouting--pretty purple leaves. It was time), 1 yellow squash, a 1 inch piece of diced ginger, 4 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup sliced onion, 1 cup green lentils (Yields about 3 cups cooked), a handful of carrots, 3 cups homemade chicken stock (from my freezer).

Sauteed onion, garlic, and 1/2 the ginger and 1/2 jalapenos in a bit of olive oil until my eyes watered.
Added sweet potatoes, cooked for 2 minutes. Added a lot of curry powder, salt, pepper. Added enough broth to coat pan. Stirred. Added remaining jalapenos and ginger. Sneezed.
Added one can of coconut milk.

Meanwhile, cooked 1 cup lentils in 2.5 cups of chicken stock. I had to add a bit more water before they got tender.

I added them to the other ingredients simmering away, along with the squash. It cooked until the squash was tender, and then I ladled it into a bowl. I served it with a piece of whole wheat pita bread and a dollop of low fat plain yogurt.

Yum. Had I been stuffy, this definitely would have cleared me up! Better yet, I have leftovers.

Wow, I can still cook, and can improvise half decently. Who knows if this would pass muster in an Indian cook's kitchen, but it works for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More Soup

As mentioned last week, I made the Meatball Soup (Sopa de Albóndigas) and wow. Just wow. I can't wait to have this when there it is 30 degrees outside and I am cuddled under a blanket on the couch.


Meatball Soup (Sopa de Albóndigas)
6 servings (serving size: 1 2/3 cups)
Ingredients

* 2 teaspoons coriander seeds (I used 2 1/2)
* 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds (I used ground--it was all I had)
* 4 whole cloves (I used 6)
* 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, broken
* 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice (I used medium grain brown)
* 2 tablespoons grated fresh onion
* 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
* 1 pound ground round (I had ground buffalo--much leaner, but worked out fine)
* 1 large egg white
* 1 garlic clove, minced (I used 4)
* Cooking spray
* 3 cups chopped green cabbage
* 2 cups chopped onion (I only had one small onion, so it was more like 3/4 cup)
* 1 cup sliced carrot
* 1/2 cup chopped celery
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 1/2 tablespoons drained chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce (I used 2)
* 2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (I used 4 cups broth)
* 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped (such as Muir Glen) (I used a 28 oz can of muir glen diced)
* 1 1/2 cups cubed peeled baking potato

Preparation

Cook the coriander seeds and the cumin seeds in a large Dutch oven over medium heat 1 minute or until toasted and fragrant. Place the toasted spices, cloves, and cinnamon in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground.

Combine 2 teaspoons cinnamon mixture, rice, grated onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, beef, egg white, and garlic in a large bowl; set remaining cinnamon mixture aside. Shape beef mixture into 24 (1-inch) meatballs.

Heat pan over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add cabbage, chopped onion, carrot, and celery to pan; cook 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining cinnamon mixture, chili powder, and chipotle; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Add meatballs; cover and cook 15 minutes. Add potato; cook, uncovered, over medium heat 20 minutes or until potato is tender.
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My notes:
I have learned that I need to up the spice called for in most recipes, hence the additions above. I wouldn't change it!
I had 30 meatballs, and I thought they were generously sized.
It was spicy--my nose ran. I consider that a good thing!
Maybe a bit busy for a weeknight supper, but it made a TON. The recipe said 6 servings. I got 8, and would have had 10 if I had enough freezer bowls, and I felt like they were very hefty servings beacuse it is all so filling!
I did add extra water at the end because it was too thick for my tastes. The flavors still shown through.

This is definitely one I'll add to my regular rotation--though for me, that's maybe 2x a winter as it fills up my freezer!

Monday, October 13, 2008

An Old Favorite

Though it's not really cold yet, the weather is turning gloomy and overcast.
I didn't have any inspiration for dinner tonight--just too tired from a busy crazy weekend.
I turned to my pantry and realized I had all I needed to make an old favorite--
Creamy Tomato-Balsamic Soup from Cooking Light 2005. I've made this many times over the years and it never disappoints. It's simple, hits the spot, is great left over, and used ingredients I almost always have on hand.

Ahhhh. Comfort food. I love fall.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Magic of a Penny

This is book fair week. Our wonderful librarian has ties to a certain Book Fairy, who bestows $6 book passes to unsuspecting students school wide. Of course, teachers were able to give the librarian suggestions as to who might need the pick-me-up of a free book or two!

I have a student who has been complaining about never getting to get books and oh, how much he wants one. I sent notes home, but he didn't bring any money. So, I enlisted the Book Fairy. I was a little bit late as she hadn't visited him before our book fair visit yesterday. He found books he liked, but was so sad. Our librarian gave him a "lucky penny" and said just maybe, he'd receive the luck of the Book Fairy. Little did she know what she made the rest of my day like.

We discussed how long it takes luck to happen--1 day, 2 days, 3 days, etc. He asked me if luck meant his mom giving him money for the book fair. He decided to wear his good luck penny in his shoe. We were walking down the hall to the computer lab, having one of our many discussions about luck. He stopped suddenly and said, "Now wait a minute. Oh no. I don't really believe in magic!" I explained that luck and magic are not the same thing. Eventually, he quit talking about luck.

This morning during announcements, guess whose name was called? He was in his homeroom, so I didn't get to witness it, but I heard that he was beside himself with excitement. He then took his shoe off and showed everyone his lucky penny. He got his book this afternoon and was just happy as could be.

The Magic of Good Luck Penny. Would he have been as excited if he hadn't connected the thought of getting Book Fairied with luck? Was it the luck that was magical, or just the free book? I wonder.

Monday, October 06, 2008

My Next Soup

Which will probably be after the OU/TX game. I should say my next "New" soup, as I'm sure I'll have some old standy-bys on the menu.
I just keep going back to look at this one.

Meatball Soup (Sopa de Albóndigas)

Anyhow else want to try it first and give me the heads up?

Can You Handle More?

About how my kids melt my heart? They do. They really really do.

Today during 1st period, we were doing math. Like most "typical" kids, my kids are not fond of math. One of them finished an addition sheet I gave him (2 digit no regrouping) and got them all correct with no prompting. During the first week of school, he couldn't add 8+5 and it took him all hour to miss 3 similar problems. Today he finished a sheet with 100% accuracy, and then did more! Of course, now I have to try something else for his portfolio for that standard because he did too well for the first "official" trial for it to count (and my opinions on this I'll save for an entirely different post). Anyhow, once he saw he got 100%, he said he was finished. Ummm, no. There is time on the clock--you are NOT finished for the period. There is always more work to be done. I pulled out a sheet, and he said, "No thank you." Again, "Yes, thank you. You will do THESE problems (I circled the ones he was to do) and then if I say you are done, you are done. Do you understand?" His reply? "I'm sorry teacher. Yes teacher." He then sat down, did what I asked him, showed me, and apologized at least 2 more times for "talking to me that way". My TA whispered to me, "I LOVE our class so much. Last year...." What was unsaid? Last year, I likely would have been met with any of the following:

"You can't tell me what to do. You're not my momma."
"Stupid bitch."
"You're the worse teacher ever. I wish you never would have come here."
"I don't care what you want me to do," followed by pandemonium that might include throwing books, cussing up a storm, tipping chairs, etc.
Silence and refusal to comply
Getting up and leaving the room

This is exactly why I prefer to teach students with intellectual disabilities vs. students with emotional disturbances. Now, students with ID do tend to have behavioral problems, but it's nothing I am unable to handle. Students with ED? I am so not equipped for--patience, understanding, training, and so forth. It's not anything I feel like any education or experiences I have had prepared me for--and I knew this going into it, but didn't really have a say so. And when you mix these two populations of students? It's a double whammy.

I'm so thankful that if this year is my last time in the classroom, it is with the group I have now. They are precious. They warm my heart. They inspire me. They make me glad I became a teacher.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Soup!

I love soup. It calls to me. I don't know if it's because to me, it's the quintessential comfort food, or the ease of throwing everything into a pot and having a meal. :) Though I do make soup during the summer on occasion, I make it A LOT during the fall and winter. The crisp morning air starts my day off with me craving soup!
I came across the "Your Daily Soup" area of the Cooking Light website. They will have a new soup recipe every day of October. Today's soup was a simple Cheddar Soup.
You start with celery and carrots plus a surprise ingredient--a green apply (I used Granny Smith). Cook until tender, add broth and a diced baking potato and simmer until potato is tender. Puree-which is why I have an immersion blender, and then stir in 2 cups of shredded cheddar and a t. of Worcestershire. Simple, good, and perfect for a cool fall evening.
I did goof, of course. I was hungry and not patient. I should have let it cook a bit longer (though did cook longer than the 15 minutes suggested in the recipe) so the potatoes would be more tender. As it is, this soup tastes good but doesn't have a pleasant mouth feel. Cook's error, but it's not so bad that I won't finish the pot off over the weekend. Next time, I'll just make sure I cook it a little longer.