Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Break

I'm on spring break this week, and even though it doesn't match my kids' spring break schedules, it came at the right time. Teaching is a great job, but it drains you and those little breaks, the one day holidays or snow days really help get me through. But the nice long spring break is just what I needed to recharge the old batteries.

Of course, I still have to wake up early each day to get the kids off to school. And Nora was home sick with me the first two days of my break. And I've jammed doctor/dentist appointments into this time. But still.

Today is the first day that I'm on my own, no appointments, no sick kids (spit through fingers to ward off the evil eye). When Nora was home I cleaned out the closet in the boys' room and rearranged things somewhat. Filled up a huge bag of clothes that don't fit to pass along to friends. Nora has pleaded with me not to go through her room, that she'll do it herself. Little does she know that we have a date Saturday morning with the trash bag and the vacuum! Today I cleaned out and organized the entry closet, rearranged furniture, and am planning the cubby system for the kids' school things. The Container Store is calling me. I'm also going to cook.

One of my goals for this break was to make a couple of gluten-free foods that I think are waaaay overpriced in the stores that carry these items. Of course, GF flour is ridiculously expensive. There's one mix I buy, the Nearly Normal brand, that I like a lot, but the 4 pound bag costs $21. I wish GF foods fell under the prescription medicine umbrella! I think I read somewhere that it is possible to take the cost of these foods off your taxes as a medical expense (don't quote me on it) but you have to do some serious receipt saving and record keeping, which I haven't done. But sometimes when I'm balancing the checkbook and I see what I've spent at the grocery store, I get stressed.

Anyway, back to the GF foods. The two that I'm going to make this week are GF ravioli, and vegetarian & meat stuffed grape leaves. I don't have a pasta maker, but I do have one of those grid-looking things that is a ravioli press, so we'll see if that works for the GF dough. If not, I'll just hand-shape it. A tiny bag of gf ravioli is 8 dollars in the store, and the recipe I'm looking at makes 30 ravioli for much less than that.

The stuffed grape leaves look pretty easy to make, just a bit time consuming, and time is a precious resource. But they are an easy-to-pack food, which makes them great for school lunches.

The other day I made chicken tikka masala. I found a spice pack by Arora Creations with the recipe on the back (note the GLUTEN FREE, DIABETIC SAFE), so I gave it a try. It was totally delicious, but a little too spicey for the kids' liking. Next time I will use my own spices and turn down the heat a bit.

First you heat up some olive oil in a pan, and saute 1 minced medium onion, 1/2 cup minced ginger (thank goodness for those easy to use jars of minced ginger!), 4 cloved garlic (I always use more garlic) until light brown.

Here it is, cooking nicely and smelling DELICIOUS.

Then you add the spice pack, which has ground
sunflower seeds, coriander, pepper, cumin, chiles, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt, lemon oil, turmeric. I think that when I do it myself, I'll use the same spices, some fresh lemon (added at the end), and perhaps grind up some flax seeds for the fiber & omega 3.

You stir that all around for a couple of minutes until it gets really fragrant.

Next you add an 8oz can of tomato sauce and let
that simmer for a couple of minutes. Then you add the chicken and cook, stirring, for 8 - 10 minutes.

Finally, you add 3/4 cup water, stir once, then
cover and cook for 8 - 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro. Serve over hot rice.

I was going to take a picture of it all pretty on the plate with the cilantro and rice, but it smelled so good and we were so hungry...

On another note, Daniel has been complaining of a low grade stomach ache this past week, sort of since he was glutened by the Milky Way candies. I also bought a bag of mini snickers (which he had at Halloween and he was fine) and mini Reeses peanut butter cups, which have been fine in the past. He wants to give it another week before I call the doctor and start with rounds of invasive tests. I also told him to write down absolutely everything he eats & drinks to see if we can find out what is going on.

Okay. Off to make pasta dough.

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