Today, I Felt Like a Failure

I woke up this morning with a sick headache.

But I went to school anyway.

Because who calls in sick on the third week of school?

I lost count when I was making the coffee, and I made it too strong.

The other teachers were in for a surprise.

I remembered to take attendance.

But I forgot to send it to the office.

I tried to open my web browser.

But I accidentally restarted my computer.

Then Windows had to install updates.

My head hurt.

I was impatient with my students.

I think I forgot to teach one class.

I didn’t grade a single paper.

There is a huge stack waiting on my desk.

I’m pretty sure my weekly newsletter had mistakes.

I know my weekly test schedule is wrong.

I didn’t even bother to answer emails.

I have no idea if my students took the right books home.

I’m not sure I even assigned all the homework.

I didn’t clean my room.

I just left.

Today, I felt like a failure…

…But God thinks I’m pretty awesome.

…So that’s the story I’m going with.

Delight

Darn Good Pasta

Whenever I have a lot on my mind, I go grocery shopping.

I also tend to go when I’m depressed. Or angry. Or bored. So, basically, if you see me in the grocery store, you should probably leave me alone.

Anyway, if I’m working through something, I go to Aldi’s. Mainly because I know that even though I’m not paying attention, I’ll still end up with a cart full of interesting things that I didn’t pay a lot for.

Last week was one of those times. I had some pretty crazy stuff that needed to be sorted out, and my head was about to explode, so I grabbed my reusable bags, and headed to the place where “a quarter saves you dollars.”

Plus, I had been gone for about a month, and the only thing in my fridge was some spoiled milk and a few rocks that used to be mushrooms. I needed food.

All in all, I didn’t do too badly. I came home with a few funky items, but for the most part, I gravitated toward the regular stuff. (If I were into psychoanalysis, I would read something into that.)

So when I looked at the collection of food on my counter, I decided to make pasta. Because I love pasta. And because pasta is my comfort food. And because I make darn good pasta.

Darn Good Pasta

Darn Good Pasta
I used half and half for this recipe because it’s what I had, but you can certainly use real cream. Or even milk. Whatever you’ve got.

4 oz cooked angel hair pasta
1/2 small red onion, diced
3-4 button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup parmesan
salt and pepper
1-2 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 green onions, chopped

In a large skillet, saute onions in olive oil over medium heat until they are almost translucent. Add garlic and cook just until you can start to smell it, then add the sliced mushrooms and continue to saute. Once the mushrooms no longer look raw, add the spinach and cook, stirring, until it has wilted. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer for 1-2 minutes. When the broth has mostly cooked out, add the half and half or cream and return to a simmer. When it has begun to thicken, add the parmesan, cooked pasta, tomatoes, and green onions. Turn heat to low, and cook just until the tomatoes are warm. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

 

Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

I used to watch Hell’s Kitchen.

But after a couple seasons of screaming and swearing, it just became too much.

Besides, how many times can you really watch someone screw up the Beef Wellingtons?

But ever since my brief fandom, I have always had a hankering to try my hand at risotto.

I was never brave enough to give it a try, though.

Maybe because it looked difficult. Maybe because I fear the unknown. Maybe because I always heard Gordon Ramsey’s voice in my head yelling that the risotto is terrible. (In my head, Chef Ramsey uses nice words.)

This past weekend, I plucked up my courage, and decided to try.

And ya know what?

Really not that hard.

RisottoRisotto uses arborio rice, which you can find pretty much anywhere. I adapted this recipe from the one on Simply Recipes, and from the back of the rice package.

Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto
1-2 tbs olive oil
1/4 diced red onion
1 cup arborio rice
4-5 cups warm chicken broth
1/2 pound asparagus
4-6 mushrooms
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Wash the mushrooms and asparagus. Snap the ends off the asparagus and discard. Slice the asparagus into bite-sized pieces up to the tips. Slice the mushrooms.
Heat the olive oil in a 3-4 qt saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the rice and saute for a minute or two until it absorbs most of the olive oil.
Add the warm chicken broth 1/2 to 1 cup at a time, stirring with each addition, and waiting until it is completely absorbed to add more. Keep adding broth and letting it absorb until the rice is tender. (About 20-25 minutes.)
With the last cup of broth, also add the asparagus and mushrooms. When the last of the broth has been absorbed, and the asparagus is tender, remove from heat, and stir in the parmesan.
Serve warm

*If you want to be authentic, you can warm the chicken broth on the stove and ladle it into your risotto. I just measured it into a Pampered Chef measuring bowl, and kept it in the microwave until I needed it.

*You may not need all of your chicken broth. You may need more. Just keep tasting the rice as you go. Whenever it’s as soft as you like it, it’s done. If you run out of broth, use water.

 

Flight Risk

I’ve been traveling a lot lately.

Usually, I prefer to drive – not only because I like having the time in the car to think about things, or sing to myself, or talk to myself.

(Boy, am I glad Bluetooth was invented. Now other drivers don’t look at me like I’m nuts when I’m talking to myself in the car.)

But I really prefer to drive because flying makes me nervous.

It’s not the fact that I’m thirty-five bajillion thousand feet up in a lightning-attracting metal craft that is much heavier than air.

Nor is it that I really dislike sitting super chummy close to strangers that are invariably carrying every strain of flu, but insist that “it’s just allergies.”

It’s not even the fact that I’m locked into an enclosed space over which I have no control.

No, flying makes me nervous because in order to get on the airplane, I have to go through airport security.

I would love to be a confident seasoned traveler, zipping through the airport pulling my smart rolling carry-on in one hand, and confidently clutching my venti no-fat latte and boarding pass with the other.

But instead, I’m a clumsy, fumbling ditz with about as much confidence as a seventh grader on the first day of school.

For some reason, standing in the line for security makes me extremely nervous. I don’t know why. I have nothing to worry about…

…except for that full-sized bottle of lotion that I keep forgetting is in the bottom of my purse. (Only had to go through security three times for that one. And I almost made my flight!)

…or the expired license that I inexplicably keep behind my current one and will invariably pull out by mistake. (“No, my real license isn’t expired, sir. I can explain why I have two IDs.”)

…or the super cute sweater with metallic threads that kept setting off the scanner. (Don’t worry. Getting a pat-down is just like getting an awkward hug from a stranger. Only it’s not.)

So I shift my feet in line, constantly check my ID, and try to avoid all eye contact with the friendly neighborhood TSA agent, all the while chastising myself for choosing to fly.

“Why did I buy a plane ticket?” I wonder. “New Hampshire isn’t that far. It’s only 22 hours. That’s not too bad. I so should have driven!”

 

Grown Up Eggs

My Saturday morning routine usually consists of coffee, sushi, and murder.

(Usually Grimm. But sometimes, I switch it up with The Mentalist.)

On the weekends that I didn’t happen to stop by my friendly neighborhood sushi place, I eat eggs.

Scrambled eggs.

Cheesy scrambled eggs.

With lots of cheese.

Like a little kid.

Occasionally, when I have a lot of time, or when I feel the need to remind myself that I’m old enough to pay taxes and own a car, I’ll make poached eggs on toast with shaved parmesan and roasted asparagus. Or, as I like to call it: “Grown Up Eggs.”

Grown Up Eggs

There isn’t even a real recipe for this. It’s just one of those things that you throw together.

I happened to have a good loaf of bread from the bakery, but sometimes I just used the regular sliced stuff.

Also, I’m new to the poached egg scene (I used to make this with soft boiled eggs instead), so I’m not going to give a tutorial, but you can find a good one here.

The element that really makes this dish is the parmesan. Get the real stuff, not the can. Use a vegetable peeler to shave off short pieces. Parmesan is salty, so you won’t need much salt on the finished dish.

Grown Up Eggs
2 poached eggs
Roasted Asparagus
1 thick slice of bread
Shaved Parmesan
Salt and Pepper

Poach two eggs and set on paper towels to drain. Toast the bread and shave the parmesan. Layer toast, asparagus, parmesan, and eggs. Salt and pepper to taste. Ponder your mortality.