Archive | August, 2013

I’m So Tired

28 Aug

IMG_0470

Kindergarten is hard.  There are a lot of kids with a lot of germs who need to learn a lot of things.  Last week, my mom was in the classroom modeling everything she knows regarding 5-yr old behavior management.  Thank goodness, because it’s been a long time since I’ve worked with the little ones.  But after one day of repetitive, non-expressive, repetitive, non-expressive, repetitive, non-expressive… polite requests, they got the hang of it.  Now, we are fully in the swing of things, and school is on a quick upswing towards the rest of the year.

With the beginning of the school year inevitably comes the feeling of fall, football, pumpkin spice-scented candles, and one of my favorite things: comfort food.  I tend to try and create comfort food in a more healthy way, but there are some things that you can’t get away from, like, pasta.  Pasta is awesome.  Although I know pasta can be healthy when it’s eaten in appropriate 2000-calorie serving sizes, blah, blah, blah, but really, how often does that happen?

So that spurred on the Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Pasta.  Easier than you’d think, with all the vitamins of sweet potatoes, the fiber of whole wheat, and the comfort-deliciousness-chewy-goodness-of-everything-you-crave-after-a-long-day-of-Y-E-L-L-O-W-spells-‘yellow’ that is PASTA.

Like I said, I’m so tired.  There are many stories to share, but my throat is already starting to show signs of testing the beginning of the year immunity, and my bed is calling my name.  I’ll promise to do a better job than last year at cooking and posting during the school year, and I also promise to tell the story of Rob and me paddle boarding with alligators.  Until then, make and eat this pasta.  It’s.  Downright.  Good.  Enjoy and goodnight!

IMG_0471

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Pasta
(makes 4 servings) 

  • 2 c whole wheat flour
  • –       plus more for dusting
  • 2 small-medium sweet potatoes, diced and boiled until very fork tender
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

After the sweet potatoes are cooked and cooled, put through a potato ricer, food mill, or shred with a heavy fork. 

Pour the flour onto a clean stone counter, or wood board.  Make a well in the middle, and add the sweet potato.  Making another well in the potatoes, add the eggs, and the olive oil. 

Using a circular motion with a heavy fork, slowly mix the eggs with the potato and flour mixture, adding the outside layers of flour into the middle of the mixture with your opposite hand.  When the mixture starts to come together, start using both hands to combine, and kneed the dough for about 10 minutes.  The dough should be soft, smooth, and elastic to the touch.  Set aside for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, set up your pasta roller (NOTE: if you don’t have a pasta roller, this dough will make a great gnocchi.  Just roll into thin logs, and cut into 1-inch pieces).  Roll until a “4”, and cut through a linguini cutter, or thinly cut with a very sharp knife. 

Boil water with a handful of salt, and boil until the pasta reaches the surface, about 1-2 minutes (fresh pasta cooks much, much faster than dried). 

Toss with a flavorful, light sauce – I like brown butter with freshly grated nutmeg, rosemary, mint, spinach, and a touch of Riesling.  Add some rotisserie chicken for a protein packed meal. 

Enjoy! 

IMG_0472

So It’s Official

13 Aug

IMG_0437

Not that it ever wasn’t, but today, I changed the radio dials in my car to Jacksonville stations.  Big step, I know.  Driving home from work (yes, I’m working – teaching Kindergarten this year), I looked down and decided I needed to take a stand.  Well, at least a rhetorical one since I was driving, but a stand nonetheless.

Whenever I move to a new area, I tend to hold on to these little propensities that I started in the previous state in which I lived.  For example, the radio.  I leave the dials programed to the old stations, and then just use the “seek” button to find the closest working station.  Not only does this take more time to radio surf, but it probably isn’t the safest thing to do while driving, either (I can just hear my mom now. “Distracted driving! Distracted driving!!”).  Distracted driving aside, why am I still hung up on radio channels rather than just plugging in one i-something or other to play music, you may ask?  Well, if you knew me well, you’d understand.  People, I still buy stamps.

Anywho, Rob and I have been cherishing the last bits of our summer with paddle boarding (yes, Clutz McGee [that’s me] can actually stand up!), shopping, and trying to spend the limited time we have together relaxing.  I have been in my classroom almost nonstop transitioning from the mental programing middle school creates, and adapting to the world of vowel sounds and CVC words (a CVC word is a consonant-vowel-consonant word, i.e. c-a-t.  But I digress).  Rob has been doing night flights, thus has been home during the daytime, and often comes home at hours that are only saved for only the best infomercials.  In fact, there have been a few times that Rob has woken me and I’ve talked with him.  This is unbeknownst to me, as I have absolutely no recollection of the conversation the next day.  Sigh.  But such is life at the moment.

Last Saturday, Rob and I had a day – our day – together.  We slept in, worked out, got dressed up, went to a fabulous coffee shop for lunch, and spent the day blissfully shopping and holding hands.  It was great.  And you know what the dang day did?  It made us really miss Oregon.  Funny, hu?  Maybe because it really was “our day;” the old-hat-type things we did in Oregon that we haven’t yet experienced out here.  So as we drove home from Costco, reminiscing about our 2-hour drive to Costco in Oregon, and realizing that Costco just simply always makes one hungry, we needed a good Pacific Northwest meal.  So I went to my go-to.

This salad is barely cooking.  It is so easy, so flavorful, and minus the strawberries, the ingredients are easy to find year-round.  This dish tastes like the earth, the quintessential 6th taste (I think) that is uprooted in the mossy, fresh, emerald world of the Oregon Coast.  Really, just make this and you’ll understand.

IMG_0432

As this is a warm salad, there are a few keys and tips: sauté the onions first until soft, then add the butter and mushrooms.  Otherwise, the pan will go too dry, and you need the mushroom juice (oh man, mushroom juice) to make a nice dressing.  Also, if you toast the lavender, fennel seed, and paprika before crushing it in a mortar and pestle, the flavors will marry more.  Finally, add the spinach absolutely last, OFF the heat.  It will wilt just enough to let out an almost audible sigh, but still retain its integrity.

IMG_0438

We enjoyed our salad with a fabulous Umpqua Valley Pinot Noir, and ate it overlooking our still-feels-new view.  The humidity didn’t exactly remind us of our old stomping grounds, but it was a lovely compromise of old and new.  Like brand-spanking new stilettoes, paired with an old, classic purse.  Too girly?  Ok, try this: it was like using your grandfather’s tools to build a new dining room table.  Actually, since I don’t own a pair of stilettoes (remember, Clutz McGee?), I think the latter analogy works better all around.

So now it’s official – the shiny has worn off, surfacing memories of old, yet creating a whole new environment.  And when we start to get melancholy about our past digs, we’ve always got a Warm Spinach and Mushroom salad at the ready.  As well as programed radio stations – woohoo!

Enjoy!

IMG_0433

Warm Spinach and Mushroom Salad
(serves 2)

  • 16 oz. crimini mushrooms, stems removed, and sliced
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 16 oz. baby spinach
  • 3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (I love Rogue Creamery’s Oregonzola)
  • 3-finger pinch of fresh lavender
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ¼ tsp hot paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • s&p
  • Handful of sliced strawberries (optional)

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil until warm, and sauté the onions with a bit of s&p until soft and translucent.  Then add the mushrooms and the butter, and sauté until the mushrooms soften, and release their juices. 

Meanwhile, in a mortar and pestle, crush the lavender and fennel seeds with the paprika.  Add to the sautéed onions and mushrooms. 

Off the heat, add the spinach, and continuously stir until the spinach slightly wilts. 

Serve in bowls, and top with the blue cheese, and strawberries if using.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy! 

%d bloggers like this: