Thursday, September 03, 2015

My Boy Turns 22!

Last night we sat around the fire visiting and making S'Mores. Before I excused myself for the evening, I wished Ethan a happy last day of being 21 as he turns 22 today. A year ago he was on The Boat, and though I am sure he would be happy to still be there, I am happy to have him home with us. I am so proud of the good, honest, hard-working man of integrity that my son has become.
It has been a rough year and we are all still dealing with Grandpa's death. However, those hardships have been an opportunity to see how amazing Ethan is. He set his own exciting and fun life aside to help Grandpa end his with dignity and grace, surrounded by love. Ethan is a strong and steady force, especially when we are dealing with the stuff left behind from that life. He takes that on even though he could have turned away and made himself unavailable. He did not. He faced it head on, make careful, thoughtful choices and did a lot of heavy lifting.

He continues to be a steady influence in his sister's life. I am so thankful for that. The two of them have a special, strong and supportive relationship. Sometimes he has the special magic that helps her. Often he can work that magic when I cannot.

Ethan is willing to take on tasks to improve our lives, like rewiring the crazy electrical job in our front computer room so that we can have a really fun and very bright light. (I love bright light!) He also makes dinners and bakes wonderful bread - those are delightful and such a gift to me when I come home after an extra long day at work.

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Ethan brings fun to make things. He is often a lively spark at a gathering, always thinking about and discussing interesting things.

Ethan often amazes me with what he knows. He has a large store of useful and sometimes random information. If he does not know something, he will seek it out, if he is interested in learning about it.

Ethan has done some soul searching that has resulted in his changing the course he thought he was going in his life. He thought that he was going to become a miner, and he might still do that, but he is rethinking that. Mining is hard on a man, physically. He has resigned from his job at the open pit mine and is preparing to take a new direction. He is thinking about starting college in the spring. And we are there to cheer him on.

My boy, all grown up, you are so loved. Happy 22nd birthday.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Doctor Jones, I Presume + Grilled Lemon Yogurt Chicken, Honey Garlic Chicken & Veggies and Marinated Flank Steak Recipes

The beginning of the school year is in full swing and still very intense. I have been going to work an hour early and staying a few hours (or more) late every night. I am thankful that the kids have been able and great about stepping in and helping by making dinner a few times, though it was weird not to have an First Day of School photos to take this year.

Ethan and Ellie have made some wonderful dinners that were plentiful enough that I was able to take some to work the next day for lunch.

We've also been busy trying to get our home more organized. We've finally begun to fix some of the things that needed repair or replacement for a while. This includes our new faucet. It is pretty fun. Larr and I put the kids in charge of picking one and installing it.

We did the same thing with the new light in the room near the kitchen. Ellie reorganized the space and picked out a new desk. It makes the space feel significantly less crowded and I love the new location for the printer.
They also picked out a new lighting fixture that Ethan installed. It is very different from our traditional 1970's style ceiling fan that was there before. It was a good bit of work for Ethan to install. The previous owners of the house had done some creative wiring. Ethan got Uncle Doug on the phone and the two of them figured it all out. I like them a lot. They transform the space. I kind of feel like I am in the office of Indiana Jones (from the Indiana Jones movies). I feel like I should have a leather hat and whip at the ready. The kids thought that was strange. Whatever, I love how it reminds me of the Indiana Jones ride at Disney Land. As you wind through the line to get onto the ride, you walk through several scenarios, one of which is his office. I even hear the theme music in my head, just a little bit. The kids are pretty sure that is weird. But then again, they don't appreciate how Larr and I can come up with a few lines from a song for most the topics that bring up. That drives them a little crazy. Oh the fun we have around here.
We are going to get more retro style bulbs, and then it will be even more like I. Jones' office.

I've also spent some serious time reorganizing my art supplies cabinet. Here are the before and after photos. It looks worse in the photo than it felt to me when I stood there and picked out art supplies.

Ellie says that she is proud of me for getting rid of some stuff and making the items so much more accessible. It amazes me that I got rid of two whole, large trash bags of stuff from the cabinet, and it is still full. I am hopeful that this system will work well. Time will tell.
Larr was busy in the workshop integrating and organizing his tools. He incorporated the tools he received from his father into our tool collection. He also organized the tool cabinet that is not shown here.

Whew, that was a lot. Next, I need to clean out the built in closet in my art room. I decided to take a break and make some art before I make another mess. The mess that I made to organize that cabinet was a bit frustrating and stressful. The piles seemed to multiply like gremlins.
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Here are some of the things we will have for dinner this week:
I made a lasagna. I also made some flavored rice. This will speed things up during the week.

Grilled Lemon Yogurt Chicken
via: Allrecipes.com

1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (5 pound) whole chicken, cut into 8
pieces

1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Harissa
1 pinch salt


1. Whisk together the 1/2 cup yogurt, the juice from 1/2 lemon, lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, paprika, herbes de Provence, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Pour into a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken, coat with the marinade, squeeze out excess air, and seal the bag. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

2. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil the grate.

3. Combine 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and harissa in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. Remove chicken from bag and transfer to a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels. Pat chicken pieces dry with more paper towels. Season with pinch of salt.

5. Grill chicken, skin-side down, on the preheated grill for 2 minutes. Turn each piece and move to indirect heat.

6. Grill, turning often, with lid down until well-browned and meat is no longer pink in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).

7. Serve chicken with the yogurt Harissa mixture on the side.


*** Harissa is a North African chili paste. If you don't have it, you could make a paste with
1 t. sriracha or chili garlic sauce
1 clove of crushed garlic
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. salt.

This makes a very moist and flavorful chicken. I marinated for about 6 hours and it was perfect.

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Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies
(Crock Pot Recipe)
via: Damn Delicious

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
16 ounces baby red potatoes, halved
16 ounces baby carrots
16 ounces green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
FOR THE SAUCE
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup ketchup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, honey, ketchup, garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and pepper.
Place chicken thighs, potatoes, carrots, green beans and soy sauce mixture into a 6-qt slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, basting every hour.
OPTIONAL: Preheat oven to broil. Place chicken thighs onto a baking sheet, skin side up, and broil until crisp, about 3-4 minutes.
Serve chicken immediately with potatoes, carrots and green beans, garnished with parsley, if desired.

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Marinated Flank Steak
via: Pioneer Woman

1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 cup Cooking Sherry
3 Tablespoons Honey
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
2 Tablespoons (heaping) Minced Ginger
3 cloves (to 5 Cloves) Minced Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 whole Flank Steak

Combine all ingredients in a glass or ceramic dish.

Remove flank steak from package and give it a quick rinse. Coat both sides of the meat with marinade. Refrigerate for at least 3 to 6 hours.

Remove the steak from the marinade and place on a plate while you heat up the grill pan. Make sure to turn on your overhead exhaust fan as the cooking process can be quite smoky.

When the pan is extremely hot, place the steak on a slight angle as this makes for more appealing grill marks. Cook without touching for about 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Rotate the meat about 45 degrees, keeping it on the same side, and cook for another 1 ½ minutes.

Now flip it to the other side. Cook using the same method on the other side, cooking for 1 1/2 minutes, then rotating it and finishing the cooking process. I cook the flank streak to medium rare, which usually takes about 5 to 7 minutes total cooking time. Remove the meat to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing.

When you’re ready, thinly slice the meat against the grain. That means find the directional striations/lines in the meat grain and slice perpendicular to it.

Controversial Optional Sauce: Before grilling the flank steak, strain the marinade into a small saucepan. Discard what stays in the sieve. Add ½ cup of water to the marinade. Boil the marinade while heating the grill for the meat AND add an additional 10 minutes. The point of boiling, obviously, is to take away any risk of bacteria from the marinade. Also, by boiling for ten to fifteen minutes, the sauce will reduce and slightly thicken. Then just spoon a little into a dish and use it as a dipping sauce for the meat.

(I think we will serve this for our family dinner.)
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Friday, August 21, 2015

The First Full Week of the School Year

The student's first full week of the school 2015-2016 year is finished, and I am exhausted, but happy.

Even though I have been teaching for more than 20 years, I think this might be one of the most difficult starts I have experienced. This year I am teaching four different subjects and all grades in my grades 7-12 school. I also teach in three different rooms and have an office in a temporary building outside that does not have any temperature controls. We also need to align everything we do to the IB standards. Two weeks ago I was not sure it would be possible. Now, I see that I can do it, but it will require very long days. I've worked 12-14 hours a day every day this week.

However, many of my students from last year have stopped by to greet me and check in. My 7th and 8th grade students are enthusiastic. Many of my high school students seem posed to have a successful year.

I'm working on getting into a groove where I don't have to stay so late to get everything done. I am hopeful, too, but exhausted. Thankfully, I love what I do.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tie Dye Team Building, Puppies in the Pool + Slow Cooker BBQ Pork,Grandma's Best Cornbread, World's Best Lasagna, Slow Cooker Beef Broccoli, Easy Garlic Chicken, One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies & CHICKEN ALFREDO BAKED ZITI Recipes

The school where I work went from a grades 9-12 school to one that offers grades 7-12. As a result, we went from a staff of about 90 to a staff of about 180. It is a big jump, and so there have been activities to help the staff members from both schools begin to feel like a team. My favorite of there activities was the one that involved making tie dye shirts that we will all wear next Thursday once all of the kids from all of the grades has reported to school. A few people from the science department took this one on:
I am excited to see what mine will look like once I unwrap it and wash it. I will share that with you later.

I spent much of Saturday on school work, but Sunday I moved into regular Sunday mode. On the way to the dog park, Remmie and I discovered that it was a doggie swim day at the pool, so of course we joined in. Remmie had a grand time, though he is still unsure of the big pool. Never mind that. He made friends with a 13 week old German Shepard puppy.

I thought that would tire him out. It did not. However, Ellie and Kohlton came home with new toys from the thrift store, so life was extra fun for the K9 on Sunday.

The 7th graders show up tomorrow and I am shifting into school year mode. My school is starting an hour later now, which means that I get out an hour later than before. As a result, I have asked for help. Ethan and Ellie have agreed to be responsible for cooking at least one meal a week. This will help us get dinner on the table at a more reasonable hour and I will be able to work out more often. I also had Ellie pick out the recipes for the week last week, and that worked well, so I had her do the planning again. Here's what we will be having for dinner:
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Slow Cooker BBQ Pork
via: Kludgy Mom Blog

4 pounds pork baby back ribs (I used country style ribs)
1/4 cup of barbecue sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar

First, you make your rub. It’s a nice blend of spices like paprika, chili powder, white pepper, oregano, sugar and brown sugar. (I triple the batch so I have more for next time)

You slap that rub right on the ribs after you rinse them. We normally use baby back ribs, but we’ve done spare ribs too and they’re just as good.

Stand your ribs on the long end and place in slow cooker. Cook on low for about 6 to 7 hours (my big slow cooker usually has these done in about 6). They smell AMAZING and are falling off the bone.

Brush your favorite BBQ sauce on the ribs, place ‘em on a foil lined cookie sheet, and let the sauce bake onto the ribs for 5-10 minutes. Serve them up. Be everyone’s instant BFF.

* Originally from About.com.

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Grandma's Best Cornbread

via: Allrecipes.com

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.

2. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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World's Best Lasagna

via: Allrecipes.com


1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

* We will serve salad with the lasagna.
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Slow Cooker Beef Broccoli
via: Creme de la Creme blog

1.5 pounds flank steak, thinly sliced and chopped into 2 inch pieces
1 cup beef broth
⅔ cup low sodium soy sauce
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
4 cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons corn starch + 4 tablespoons cold water
Learn Basic Steps for Safe Cooking

Grease the inside of a slow cooker. Add steak, beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and chili flakes. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low 4-5 hours.

Minutes before serving, uncover the slow cooker. In a small bowl whisk corn starch and water until dissolved. Add to slow cooker and stir. Cover and allow to cook another 20-25 minutes.

Just before serving, place broccoli in a large Tupperware, fill with ½ inch of water, and place the lid on in an off-set manner so that the container can vent. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Drain, stir broccoli into slow cooker, and serve.

NOTES
For a bit of a spicy kick, add a full 1-2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes!

* This will be served over rice.

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Easy Garlic Chicken
via: Food.com

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
additional herbs and spices, as desired

Preheat oven to 450°F Line a baking dish or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil.
In small sauté pan, sauté garlic with the oil until tender.
Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Add additional herbs and spices as desired.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. .Place breasts in a prepared baking dish and cover with the garlic and brown sugar mixture.
Bake uncovered for 15-30 minutes, or until juices run clear. Cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken.

* This will be served with roasted Brussel Sprouts with a balsamic vinegar glaze.

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One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies
via: Cooking Classy Blog

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Italian salad dressing (I recommend using Kraft light Italian it's the perfect consistency for this and it's what I used)
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 1/4 lbs chicken breast tenderloins
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed of tough ends, chopped into 2-inch pieces (look for thinner stalks. Green beans are another good option)
1 1/2 cups matchstick carrots
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

In a mixing bowl whisk together salad dressing, balsamic vinegar, honey and red pepper flakes, set aside.

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then place chicken evenly in skillet. Cook about 6 - 7 minutes, rotating once halfway through cooking, until chicken has cooked through (meanwhile, chop asparagus and tomatoes). Add half the dressing mixture to skillet and rotate chicken to evenly coat. Transfer chicken to a large plate or a serving platter while leaving sauce in skillet. Add asparagus and carrots to skillet, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer veggies to plate or platter with chicken.

Add remaining dressing mixture to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes to chicken and veggies and drizzle dressing mixture in pan over top (or return chicken and veggies to pan and toss to coat).

Recipe source: adapted from BHG

* We will served roasted red potatoes with this meal.
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CHICKEN ALFREDO BAKED ZITI

via: Gimme Some Oven Blog

CHICKEN BAKED ZITI INGREDIENTS:

12 ounces ziti (or any pasta shape)
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
1 batch alfredo sauce (see below)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 2% low fat)
(optional toppings: additional shredded Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley)

ALFREDO SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup low-fat milk (I used 1%)
3/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE CHICKEN BAKED ZITI:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of well-salted boiling according to package instructions. Drain. Return pasta to the stockpot and add chicken and alfredo sauce. Gently toss to combine until the pasta is evenly coated.

Pour half of the pasta into a greased 11x7-inch or 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of cheese. Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and serve immediately, sprinkled with additional toppings if desired.

TO MAKE THE ALFREDO SAUCE:

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute one minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Sprinkle with flour, and stir to combine. Saute for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.

Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth. Whisk in milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Of Paper Ship Progress, Camping and a Bunch of Recipes for the week

Things have been a bit wild and busy, so I have not had time to post an update. Today is the first day of the school year, so this will be brief.

I've worked a lot on the paper tall ship. I wanted to create a design that highlighted several different decorative papers, and something that is eye-catching. Here's what I have so far. I've installed tiny LED lights, which means that the cabins light up. I love adding lights to my creations. The switch is hidden inside of the time building on the deck. It lifts up to give access to the interior space. I am even thinking about adding lights to the mast. When I floated that idea with my family, I got a very mixed reaction, so I am not sure. I thought it might make it more magical since it will be displayed in the winter when it gets dark pretty early. I am hoping to work on the yards and the sails today.
{Paper Ship in progress}

I also spent a lot of focused time putting together a workshop that I will teach next summer, but then the subject and age group changed, so I am back to needing to do a lot of planning, sourcing, etc. The new workshop will be a lot of fun, I just need to wrap my head around it and come up with some fun, funky and creative projects to go along with teaching art history to young kids.

I also spent some of the weekend camping with some of the families from AVS. One of the families owns part of a valley near Boulder and they have a summer house on part of the land. Remmie (the dog) and I were there from Saturday afternoon until lunch time on Sunday. It was wonderful to finally go camping. I have been wanting to go for the last two years, so it felt good to be out in the wild. I would have liked to have some of my family with me, but they simply were not available.

We did a lot of visiting and eating. The highlight of the camping trip was when we saw a Moose family (buck, cow and calf) just a short distance away from us. The buck kept running back and forth in the river. It seemed strange. We heard that there was a big cat in the area, so we guessed that the moose was trying to distract it so that the big cat would not attack the baby. Later in the evening I set up my tent near that area. I slept lightly that night, slightly worried that the moose would return, or that the big cat might show up. Neither one did, though I could hear some sort of rodents eating grass throughout the night.

{Camping}

The next morning Remmie and I spend a while sitting outside of the tent, being calm, quiet and watching the sun peak over the mountains. I brought along some of my art materials and had a few people add images to my social sketching books. I had hoped to do more art, but that just did not happen. I am hopeful and prepared like that a lot.

The first couple of weeks of the new school year is always super busy, so I prepped a lot of food for the week. Here's a few of the recipes I will be using:

Magic Custard Cake
via: White on Rice Couple

1/2 cup Butter, unsalted
2 cups Milk
4 Eggs, separated
4 drops White Vinegar
1 1/4 cups Powdered Sugar
1 TBL Water
1 cup Flour
1 tea Vanilla Extract
Powdered Sugar for dusting


Preheat your oven to 325°F.

Lightly butter a 8"x 8" baking dish.

Melt the butter and set aside to slightly cool.

Warm the milk to lukewarm and set aside.

Whip the egg whites and vinegar to stiff peaks. Set aside.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until light. Mix in the melted butter and the tablespoon of water for about 2 minutes or until evenly incorporated.

Mix in the flour until evenly incorporated. Slowly beat in the milk and vanilla extract until everything is well mixed.

Fold in the egg whites, 1/3 at a time. Repeat until all of the egg whites are folded in.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes or until the top is golden. Allow cake to completely cool before cutting and then dust with confectioner's sugar *see Note 1.

Note 1: For faster cooling you can place the cake in the fridge. Even after fully cooled, it will still be slightly jiggly.

Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

* The kids really enjoyed this one, especially Kohlton. I liked the fact that it was not too sweet. I think I could leave off the powdered sugar topping and make it into a breakfast item.

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Cajun Style Grill Packets with Corn, Potatoes, Shrimp and Sausage
via: Favorite Family Recipes

8-12 pieces of corn on the cob (4 full cobs cut in half or in thirds)
4 red potatoes, washed and cubed
20-30 uncooked shrimp (peeled or not, it's up to you)
1 Lb. smoked sausage, cut into chunks
melted butter (or olive oil), to taste
1/2 c. chicken broth (you may not need that much)
Cajun/Creole seasoning (we like to use Tony Chachere's brand), to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions

(Makes 4 grill packets)

Heat grill to 400-degrees (you can do this in your oven, too, at the same temp.).
Evenly distribute corn, potatoes, shrimp, and sausage between 4 heavy-duty foil sheets (appx 12x18 inches each).
Drizzle melted butter and about 2 Tbsp. chicken broth over each foil packet.
Season evenly (and generously), to taste with Cajun seasoning and salt and pepper.
Tightly seal foil packets by folding up the sides over the contents and tightly folding up the ends over the seam.
Grill 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender, flipping once half-way through (be careful opening the packets to check for doneness, the steam inside is VERY hot)!

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Stick of Butter Rice

via: Thirty Handmade Days blog

1 c. uncooked white rice (NOT instant)
1 (10 oz) can of Condensed French Onion Soup
1 (10 oz) can of Beef Broth
1/2 c. of butter, sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a 9x9 inch baking dish combine rice, soup and broth.

Cut butter into slices and place on top of the mixture.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove cover and bake 30 minutes more.

This can be doubled or tripled to feed more. Optional: small can of drained mushrooms can be added as well.

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Lemon Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Chicken and Broccoli
via: Cooking Classy
Yield: About 6 servings

Ingredients

12 oz dry fettuccine pasta
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled and sliced into strips
4 cups broccoli florets (from 1 lb broccoli crowns)
2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp flour
1 3/4 cups milk (preferably 1%)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 oz. light or regular cream cheese, diced into cubes
1/2 cup (1.5 oz) finely shredded parmesan, plus more for serving
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1 Tbsp lemon zest, plus more for serving
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Prepare pasta in salted water according to directions listed on package, adding in broccoli during last 5 minutes of boiling pasta (so they will both boil together during last 5 minutes, then drain them together. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water just in case you want to thin sauce, I didn't use it but I always save some just in case).

In a large and deep skillet or pot, melt butter over medium heat then add in garlic and flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. While whisking slowly pour milk into flour mixture, then cook, whisking vigorously to smooth lumps until mixture begins to thicken. Add in cream cheese and parmesan and whisk until melted (it will look lumpy at first but will begin to smooth). Mix in cream and season with salt and pepper to taste (I liked this with a fair amount of pepper). Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice.

Toss drained pasta and broccoli into sauce mixture along with chicken (thin with reserved pasta water if needed). Serve warm topped with additional parmesan, lemon zest and pepper as desired.

Recipe source: Cooking Classy, inspired by my Light Fettuccine Alfredo

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Chicken Tikka Masala
via: All Recipes

1-1/2 cups yogurt
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or garam masala)
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoons salt, or to taste (adjusted)
4-1/2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
6 long skewers
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons butter
1-1/2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1-1/2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 4 teaspoons salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat a grill for high heat.
Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.
Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 3 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro.



Honey Glazed Salmon
via: Damn Delicious


4 salmon filets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 lime

FOR THE BROWNED BUTTER LIME SAUCE
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

To make the browned butter lime sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the foam subsides and the butter begins to turn a golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, honey and lime juice, salt and pepper, to taste; set aside.

Season salmon with salt and pepper, to taste. Dredge each salmon filet with 1 tablespoon flour and drizzle with 1 tablespoon honey.
Heat olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, add salmon to the skillet and sear both sides until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Place into oven and bake until completely cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

Serve immediately with browned butter lime sauce and lime zest, if desired.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Cardboard Shipwright + Korean Style Pork Chops & Pork Carnitas

I am so excited to tell you that I am creating the Two Hands Paperie holiday window display and I am super excited. I feel so thankful and fortunate for this opportunity. IT will be a fantastical night sky with a tall ship, a castle on a cloud and a 1915 style man on the moon. Each of those main pieces will light up. There will also be tons of stars and maybe more clouds. Although it will not be hung until November 22, I am working on the hard, intricate parts now. I love making things with paper; I always have.

Right now I am building the ship. It is slow, but fun. There are not any patterns or books that tell you exactly how to make them, so I am figuring it out as I go. I am very inspired by the handmade boats that Ann Wood creates. I bought the book she wrote, and considered her advice, but what I want is more complex, so the patterns that she sells did not work for my purpose. Here's an example of her lovely work:

{This boat was created by Ann Wood.}

I was going to make my ship out of wire, but I could not get the wire to behave in the way that I wanted it to. After a lot of fusing and thinking about the wire idea, I ditched it and went with cardboard. It is much more familiar for me to work with. It took me about two days to fashion the skeleton as I had to think a lot about proportions, flow and strength. I want the ship to be pretty. I want it to hang gracefully and I want it to last. I don't want it to sag. Thus, I put in a lot of support, especially for the masts.
I made the deck as a separate piece to allow for adjusting or changing out the lights. I am employing a 4' string of tiny LED lights that are powered by watch batteries. This means that you need to have access to the battery part to change them out. To accomplish this, I built a tiny house like structure (that would be the way you get into the belly of the ship) that can be lifted off to gain access to the batteries.

I also made the deck slightly raised so that it does not sit directly on the lights. I also covered the windows with clear plastic (cut from packaging) and then a layer of yellow tissue paper to diffuse the light. Without the tissue paper you ca see the wire and the lights, which is not the look I am going for.

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The next challenge, which I am working on now, is to create a skin for the hull. I have applied strips of paper that are hot glued and taped in place. This surface will be covered with the decorative papers. I am just trying to figure out the best way to do this. Should I create a paper mache surface first? Will several coats of Modge Podge be the right product? I am going to have to think about this a bit more, though not too long. I would really like to get this piece done before I return to teaching on Monday.

I love these kinds of challenges. They are a sort of puzzle to me. I told my kids that I maybe in my next life I could be part of the teams that make the model building or bigatures for the movies. They replied that they are tired of my putting my dreams on hold and that I should go for it. I reminded them that I would have to live someplace like Hollywood in order to make those. They said that it is time for me to find a way for me to make those dreams happen, even if it is not in Hollywood, that perhaps I could make the stuff and sell it. It is wonderful that they are so supportive. I think they have the idea that I have put all of my dreams on hold while they were little. I reminded them that being a mom was a dream of mine, too, and that raising them is a wonderful thing. I reminded them that we can have many dreams. I am thankful that my family is so supportive of the art I do.


Now, I need to get back to figuring out the proper way to decorate the hull.
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Korean Style Pork Chops
via: Jo Cooks

4 pork chops
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce, low sodium
2 tbsp honey
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp ginger, minced
2 tsp sriracha sauce
black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
In a medium size bowl whisk together the soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and sriracha sauce. Pour over pork chops and let marinade for about 20 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet for medium high heat. Add pork chops, without marinade, and cook for about 5 minutes for the first side, or until it gets a nice brownish color. Flip the pork chops and pour the remaining marinade over them. Cook another 5 min on this side.

Place the skillet in the oven to finish cooking them. Roast for about 10 minutes, or until pork chops are completely cooked through.

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Pork Carnitas
via: My Kitchen Escapades

(recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

4 pound boneless pork butt, fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tb fresh lime juice
2 C water
1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat to 300 degrees. Combine all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven, (this is my favorite one!) including the spent orange halves and juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered. Once it simmers, cover pot and transfer it to the oven. Cook until the meat falls apart when prodded with a fork, about 2 hours.
2. Remove the pot from the oven and turn on the broiler. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan and place it on a large foil-lined jelly roll pan. Remove and discard everything from the pot except for the cooking liquid. Place pot over high heat on the stove and boil until thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes. You should have about 1 C of liquid remaining when it is finished.
3. While the liquid is reducing, use two forks to pull each cube of pork into three equal sized pieces. Once the liquid has become a syrup, gently fold in the pieces of pork into the pot. Try not to break up the pork any further. Taste and add additional salt and pepper.
4. Spread the pork back onto the foil lined pan and evenly spread the meat around so there is a single layer of meat. Place the jelly roll pan on the lower middle rack of the oven and broil until the top of the meat is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, flip the pieces of meat and broil the other side until well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately in a tortilla with all your favorite toppings.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Jeffco Open Space Trail Stewardship Season - Ellie's Crew and Colleagues

The trail stewardship season ended with a fun picnic and a few prizes yesterday. I thought you might like seeing what it was like:

The crew leaders are in blue. The kids on the crews wear yellow. I've also included pictures of Chuck and Amanda, the supervisors for the program.

In the morning they would meet at the central office and then ride a bus to the work location. I am pretty sure that they only worked at White Ranch this year, which is unusual since they usually get to several parks in a season.


Ellie really enjoyed being a crew leader and was thrilled when one of the boys on her crew won the silver pick award, especially since only six kids win awards of this nature.
Ellie had fun and she also learned a lot. I would imagine that she would like to be a crew leader again, if she is not already employed doing something else next summer.