Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Perfect Storm

So I have to admit, I'm kind of looking forward to Hurricane Sandy.

I do wish my boy was safely home with me instead of in Seattle for work, but my sister is here and that's an excellent second.

But, I'm looking forward to an extra day of sleeping in and grading papers and planning for the week.

Did I mention this on here?

I'm a second-grade teacher now.

I was assigned a long-term sub position (so no contract yet, for those of you who understand such things) for the rest of the year in a second grade class at one of the other elementary schools in our district.

It's totally awesome, I love my students and I'm completely overwhelmed. So this chance to recoup for an extra day. This job is totally a matter of pacing myself and trying to accomplish as much as I can without making myself crazy. As my best gal says, "there's always more you can do." But after ten hours in my classroom (and I mean ten hours in my classroom--eating lunch in there, only leaving to take the kids to special and go to the bathroom or ask for help with something), I realize that it's time to go home. So I'm pacing myself. Last week I started guided reading; this week I'm going to tackle author's workshop. After that I'll start improving my centers.

But I can't do it all at once.

So a day off is very much appreciated, just extra time to rest and recharge, think and plan, grade and assess.

We've got plenty of snacks, all the electronics are charged up, some extra water in bottles, and nowhere to go. Gas tanks are full, jobs are closed, puppy is ready to snuggle.

Bring it on.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sweet Potato Soup

Sorry for the long stretch,'s been busy! In case anyone is unaware, I was assigned to a long-term sub position at Fort Washington Elementary (another elementary school in my district). This means that I'll be teaching 2nd grade for the rest of the year! I'm super excited and have been really busy. I came into an awkward sort of situation, so there's a lot of work to be done getting the classroom organized and running smoothly.

It's a great challenge, and one that I'm really looking forward to!

In the meantime, I'm going to share with you a recipe of my very own design. I love potato soup, but the recipe I've used in the past always comes out closer to the consistency of mashed potatoes. Plus, if I make a big pot of soup, I'm going to be eating it for a while, and I'd rather have some nutrients.

So, I came up with this little gem.

The picture is not particularly enticing, due to my extremely amateur photography. Trust me, it's delicious. 

Sweet potatoes are loaded with all kinds of good stuff, beta carotenes and whatnot. Add in some cauliflower puree and onions, and chicken and bacon for texture and protein. This soup was beyond my hopes, really delicious with great textures, and hearty without being super heavy. Next time I'm going to try adding some celery and carrots too, just for some more veggies.

Note: I've worked in various classrooms for over two years, if you add up all my stints, and packing lunches is the bane of my existence. I hate it. I'm terrible at coming up with delicious, healthy food that fuels my long days, and I'm lazy. Soup is the perfect answer, because it's easy to make one big pot and eat it all week, and I can pack it full of veggies and other nutritious things. Plus it's warm and soothing, and we all know I'm big on comfort food. Nothing like a steamy cup of soup on a cold winter's day.

Here's the recipe.

Sweet Potato Soup
2-3 medium sweet potatoes,
2 regular potatoes (I think I used russet?)
1/2 an onion
1/4 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 can of chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
4-6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
2 tbsp butter
Salt, pepper and ginger to taste

To cook the meat, I poached the chicken for 10-15 minutes, and shredded. Place the bacon on a baking sheet (I line with aluminum foil for easy cleanup) and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes, flipping at least once.

Chop all your veggies! Cauliflower can be cut into bite-size pieces; potatoes should be about the same. Dice the onion.

Steam the cauliflower until very soft; puree in a blender until smooth and set aside. This will form about half the base of your soup.

In a large pot, melt the butter and add the onions. Sautee 3-4 minutes, until soft and tender. Add the potatoes, the can of broth, and about 2 cups of water. Boil for about 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork (if you want a smoother consistency, puree in a blender, but I like the chunky texture) and add the half-and-half and cauliflower puree. Let simmer for 10 more minutes or so, to let the flavors marry.

Stir in the chicken and bacon; add salt, pepper, and ginger (for some heat!) to taste. I just like a bit of warmth, so I didn't go crazy with the ginger, but do whatever floats your boat! You can also try some nutmeg, I'm sure that would be delicious.