sausage, cauliflower, and kale “pot pie”

I left home this morning at 6:30AM and will sadly not return until 9:30PM. This extra long day of work loomed before me and has created an intense amount of stress for me: How would Henry do without me for all of this time? Will he have enough to eat at home? Will he have an effective sleep routine? Will my parents, who are home today, be all right? Will they have enough to eat? Will they need a break from caring for the baby? Will they be able to take care of the dogs? Will the dogs be all right?  Will the dogs go bananas without us for all those hours?

These are just a tiny fraction of the questions, hesitations, and concerns I have about today’s incredibly long day away from home. Every year we prepare and stay at school for Back to School Night. Every other year, this has been one of my favorite evenings. I stay after school and have dinner with friends and then get to meet the parents of my students in a casual setting as they mill about the building.  Tonight though is different. Now with Henry home I am a bundle of nerves and feeling very fragile about this long stay away. When I take a moment to really think about him home without me all day I feel like crying and  when I come home the little man will be asleep.  It hurts my heart to know I will have missed his whole day. But, alas it is the nature of the beast that is today.

Since I couldn’t physically be there with the little man and my parents today, I decided I could at least cook them a nutritious, belly-warming meal. Through dinner, I would be able to “be there for them.” And, in this case what is more comforting than a warm plate of pot pie? I hope that in lieu of my presence this meal will keep them “sustained” and will give me a small bit of peace of mind heading into my long night on campus. And really, it is just one night, right?

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed and meat broken into 3/4-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup garbanzo flour (a nice protein)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch kale, torn into bite-size pieces (about 10 cups)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 sheets puff pastry
Heat the oven to 400. In a large pot, cook the sausage with the tablespoon of olive oil. Remove sausage and place in glass casserole dish. Add the onions, cauliflower, rosemary to the pot and saute for 5-7 minutes. Add the flour and mix in, add the broth  and vinegar and cook simmering/boiling for 5-7 minutes until it thickens. Toss in the kale and let it wilt. Add this mixture to the casserole dish and mix everything together. Top the mixture with the puff pastry. I just rolled it out into one sheet and layered it on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is light and fluffy looking and the mixture is bubbling. Enjoy!

 

banh mi

That food truck festival left me craving banh mi sandwiches. Seriously, it is crazy how yummy that sandwich was. I can still taste it if I close my eyes, mmmmm. Anyway, instead of pining for it, I decided to try to recreate it. And of course with this goal in mind, Blue Apron has the same recipe as one of their meal selections. While I don’t subscribe to the service right now, I headed out to the grocer to buy the ingredients and whip it up.  What ensued was hilarious.

Overall the recipe was super simple. Since it is a sandwich you sort of create an assembly line for the eaters-to-be. First, I prepared the cucumber and carrot salad then the mayo then the slaw then the toasted breads. Once each of these was lined up in their serving bowl on the kitchen counter, I turned my attention to the chicken. Now the issue with Blue Apron is that they send you spices in the perfect amount. While I can copy their recipes, when it comes to the proportion of spices I have to wing it. We love a good spicy meal so I was quite heavy handed with my “copied” spice blend. I covered each piece of chicken with the blend and started to cook it up in the pan. Suddenly, Henry was sneezing and sneezing in the living room, David started coughing, my mom started to sneeze and cough. Then it hit me and finally all four of the dogs started to sneeze!  WAY TOO MUCH PEPPER got into the air. We were all suffering from this effect, eyes watering,  and sneezing uncontrollably. I turned on the vent and opened a window but the sneezing continued. We were very skeptical at this point about eating the sandwiches but found that they were actually quite delicious, if a bit too spicy. Thirty minutes after the meal we were still sneezing and Henry continued to sneeze even through his bath!  Clearly, the next time I make this we will use about 10% of the spice I originally thought was necessary.  And yes, I do plan to make these again sneezing or no! Hopefully I can convince the rest of the family to trust me again.

Ingredients:

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

2 Carrots

1 P Cucumber

¼ Head Red Cabbage

4 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar

3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce

2 Banh Mi Rolls (we used sub rolls)

2 Teaspoons Sesame Oil

1 Tablespoon Bánh Mí Spice Blend (Chinese 5-Spice, Galangal, Lemongrass Powder, Smoked Paprika & Cayenne Powder)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Peel and cut the carrot into thin matchsticks and cut the cucumber into thin circles. Thinly slice the cabbage leaves . In a small bowl, combine the hoisin sauce and mayonnaise. Completely coat the chicken in the bánh mì spice blend (this is where I went a little too crazy!). In a small pot, combine half the rice vinegar, ½ cup of water and a big pinch of salt. Heat to boiling on high. In a large, heat-proof bowl, combine a dash of the sesame oil, the carrots and cucumber. Once the pickling mixture is boiling, remove from heat and pour over the carrots and cucumber. Cover and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sliced cabbage, remaining sesame oil, half the hoisin-mayonnaise sauce and the remaining rice vinegar. Toss gently to mix and set aside. In a medium pan, add chicken and cook.   Slice the bánh mì rolls in half lengthwise. Place the sliced rolls on a small sheet pan (or directly on the oven racks). Toast 3 to 5 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and warmed through. Assemble sandwich to your particular liking and enjoy!!

food truck festival

Things have been a bit hectic here. My parents moved in while they await the completion of their home 6 miles away. And, we are helping them sort out a bit of paperwork and some home-selling bumps! In order to give everyone a break from the whirlwind this has presented, we decided to take a little short break on Saturday morning before having to dive back in.I don’t know why but everyone seems to love food trucks! The meals are cheap, trendy, and delicious.  Not to mention the trucks always seem to have the cutest names like Chubby Chickpea, Insane-wiches, or Tipsy Taco. On Saturday our suburban community gathered on the common for the Metrowest Fest: a food truck festival combined with live music, bounce houses for kids, and a craft fair. The weather could not have been more perfect. When the sun came out it felt like a warm Summer day and when it hid behind the clouds a cool, crisp Fall breeze came through. The event started at 11AM and was bound to be a zoo, so we decided that since we have our little man it would be best to drive over and find parking early. We arrived around 10:45 and the whole space was ours for the perusing.

 

Instantly my parents knew that they wanted to check out the Lobstah Roll Truck. We were their first order at exactly 11AM. It looked delicious and my parents confirmed that indeed it was just as tasty as it appeared.

David is super lucky. At work each day of the week, one of these scrumptious food trucks parks at the end of the road by his office. So while all these places were new to me, they were old hat for him. Bahn Mi is a truck that David always raves about so I rushed there.

The sandwich was FANTASTIC!  I seriously could eat it everyday. The meat was tender and the sauces nuanced. The bread was toasted perfectly and I only wish I had another one!

We also sampled truffle fries, limeades, bacon grilled cheese, and calamari before we decided that we needed to take a little breather and walk around the craft fair. By then, it was starting to fill in and we were so happy we were able to see our friends: Joe, Nikki, Christine, Carl, Maryellen, Dan, Jill, Jordan, Karyn, Ernie & Annabelle there too!

David climbed the steps of the football stadium to take this above shot, do you see us?

But before we headed home completely full, we stopped at Frozen Hoagie for a sweet finish to a delicious morning. Now some of us are napping as a result of this food fest.

 

coding & history

I have not posted about school in a long time. This isn’t because there hasn’t been stuff to say but rather I thought about separating out my professional life from the blog. Then I did this project with my students and knew that I had to share!

My school has been coding throughout the building in various classrooms since last Fall.  It was a major initiative. Last December, we even synchronized the work throughout the building with a “Hour of Code” project.  It has been both inspiring and challenging tackling this push to code. A history classroom may not seem like the most authentic place to insert coding but interestingly it might just be.  You see in class we are constantly looking at maps to reflect population growth, the spread of epidemics, the movement of troops, and so on and so on. Oftentimes, I find myself projecting a map onto my white board and then drawing over it with the symbols that I need in order to convey some aspect of time to the students. While this works fine, coding has actually allowed us to make our own maps.  Students then are not only learning how to code the program but also learning how best to visualize the data and plot their points for the events we are studying.

At first, the students seemed a bit reluctant but the beauty of coding is that it is instantly gratifying. As students type the code they can immediately see the progress of their work and when they overcome an obstacle in the code they literally cheer.  The energy in the classroom was contagious as students worked in pairs to figure out how to do this or that in the coding language we were using. By the end of our two hour period, each group had a map that they were excited to show their peers. We even brainstormed what kinds of functionality we would like to include in our next mapping project to continue to push the depth and complexity of our coding skills. I am hoping that as the year goes on I can update you with how this is all going. But, I was really really proud of how they all accepted the challenge and demonstrated strong collaboration throughout the mini-project.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 4.31.08 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 4.32.36 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 4.33.02 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 4.33.28 PM

sleep deprivation: it’s real

Remember when I posted about how Henry was a sleep champion? Yea….that’s over. Our little man has decided that he is no longer sleepy and much more interested in the world around him. Of course, this was inevitable but it is still a little sad to say good bye to those beautiful long 4 and 5 hour sleep stretches. Now, I am thrilled if we get 2 hours of consecutive sleep! The decline of sleep coincided with my return to work. Isn’t that how it always goes?  I am left wondering why this is and how exactly this can be “corrected” (if it can).

Really, I just wish I had enough energy to observe our situation more. With Henry, we have discovered that if we observe him and really watch his cues, we are usually able to “crack” the code. Unfortunately, I am just SO tired. It wasn’t so bad after the first week of sleep deprivation but now heading into our third week of inconsistent sleep, I feel it in my bones. My mind is in a perpetual cloud. Things hurt that I never knew could hurt so badly, like my lumbar, my neck, and eyelids. Yes, my eyelids actually hurt, probably because those eyelid muscles are working so hard to keep my eyes open, right? In the middle of the night when Henry cries, my initial thought is, “Whose baby is crying?” Then once the sleep fogs lifts a bit I realize where I am.  But, it is always so funny to me that I forget in my delirious sleep state.

It is amazing how many “second winds” you get in a single day. Just when I think I cannot stop myself from falling head over heels to the ground for a snooze wherever it is I am standing in that moment, then a surge of wild energy hits. Clearly, it is this wild energy that has sustained parents throughout generations of sleepless babies. But you have to be careful about this energy. It fades as quickly as it arrives and while it fades you may find that your mind, thoughts, and speech, which seem sharp one minute, turn to mush the next. Sitting with my advisees, I ask, “Who attended the leadershit conference this year?” Laughing their heads off, they ask, “What!??” and I reply, “What?” Yup, I had no idea that my mouth had forsaken me and in trying to retrieve the correct vocabulary misfired swapping a “t” for a “p”.  There I was thinking I was asking a clear question and starting up a nice dialogue when in fact my body was shutting down and there was nothing I could do to stop it!

Even David is walking around in a zombie-like trance. One minute he is awake on the couch cuddling Henry and the next he too is resting his eyes. So what do we do? Seriously, what do we do? Yes, this phase will pass and as my friend noted: David and I will get accustomed to living and operating “light and lean.” But, I wonder if the issue stems from Henry’s swaddle a.k.a. his sleep crutch. He might be in limbo right now.  He seems to still want to be swaddled in order to fall asleep but he also is fighting against the swaddle.  His startle reflex is still very apparent though and leaving his arms out free wakes him. I think we need to wean Henry from his swaddle and get him to a place where he can fall asleep without his baby straight jacket. And…..we need to practice this whole, “lay baby down while sleepy and not asleep” so that he learns how to put himself to sleep and isn’t also dependent on swinging and swaying. So fellow parents, can you have mercy on the weary and share your sleep tips or advice?