Thursday, September 18, 2014

Finally Rain!

The earth breathes a sigh of relief today; rain has finally found it's way to my homestead! My coffee and I are soothed today by the sound of gentle raindrops as they fall outside my window. Yes. Rain is a good thing.
Our past few days have been a bit hectic as I my time in local schools increases. Funny how I can't remember how things got done last year. When did I wash laundry? Did I cook every night? When in the world did I mop a floor?
Work is not my only distraction; our sweet grandbaby is here to delight us with gurgles and giggles. Who wouldn't rather stroll under the tree tops or curl up with a story instead of scrubbing a floor? I must say, she and I do spend a good amount of time feeding the goose and swinging under the big oak tree. Fortunately she loves the outdoors and a good book as much as I do!
Rain is a gift. It causes us to slow down; to breathe; to rest.
Finally, rain!

Monday, September 15, 2014

September's Garden

September finds us in 'clean up and clear out' mode;
old is pulled and tossed away
soils are turned and amended
hope springs as we think forward.
It has been a struggle to find my place in the garden-
the work gardens
the children's gardens
my three home gardens.
There just isn't enough time for all the gardening I need/want to do!
Last weekend brought a cool front to our area affording us relief from the heat and a chance to get ourselves into the gardens.
Our county gardens are once again being cleaned and readied.
School gardens are filled with students learning the in's and out's of garden care as they set seeds.
My home gardens are slow work in progress as I eek out a moment here and a half hour there to clean, amend and plant. This weekend I managed to work the greenhouse in hopes of transplants and some propagation starts.
The garden has always been my resting place- the source of my connectiveness- my place of peace and refreshing. In the garden I hash out my frustrations and grieve my deepest sorrows. There I pray, finding renewal and grace in the midst of His glorious creation. It is where children find me and share their hearts; their hurts; and their deepest secrets. We find inspiration, information, and the source of amazing wonder.
September's garden is set with transplants: broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. There are seeds going in: greens of every variety, roots of various design. Some areas are left to rest; our fruit garden is up for a deep clean out and a time of rest- clovers will grow offering nitrogen to the depleted soil. Other areas need a hearty amount of sweat and prune; the rose and herbal garden has grown out of control this year and desperately needs a severe trim.
Tonight finds me refreshed and quite worn out as I stand, hose in hand, considering all I have done and all I still have left to do. Gardens are organic things; living, growing, and always changing.
September's garden finds me peaceful- the dirt under my nails makes me feel like myself again.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Taking it out on the Meat

     It started with a mindless 'coffee in front of the TV' moment. Jaimee Oliver was 'whizzing' up a 15 minute meal (which I was only half paying attention to). Over the rim of my cup the sight of him 'swacking' a few chicken breast half to nonexistence caught my eye. Mmm. I could do that. I could totally take a few pieces of meat and beat them into submission; therapy and you get dinner. Now that is cooking!
      Later that day I grazed the internet, once again considering the violent notion of dinner pounded and put in a pan. A few sights seemed to offer up flavorful options along side some malicious beatings. That settled it; it was time to grab some breasts and get the mallet.
      The scene was set: four thawed chicken breast, patiently waiting their demise; a cutting mat placed in a baking sheet, perfect for catching the gory mess; a metal mallet formerly belonging to my grandmother, excellent for the dirty deed. Lacking in 'cling film', which I thing we all call Saran Wrap,  I opted to just do it outright and accept the mess. The cast iron skillet was heating as I took every bit of frustration out on that poor helpless bird. It was liberating and oh so soothing.
       Unfortunately, cling film was not the only thing not in stock- so was crackers, shallots, or fresh sage; items from the two recipes I was leaning toward. No worries. I improvised seasoning my beaten meat with smoked paprika, Cajun blend, and black pepper- blackened, beaten breasts seemed fitting for the evening.
       Let me just say, this is not only therapeutic, but a great way to get dinner done in 1/4th of the time; two minutes in the pan and done! I tossed some green beans in a small wok with a few almonds to accompany; it was delicious. Of course, I can't just pound poultry- no, steaks work just as well. I do believe I have discovered a new frustration buster (and a quick dinner plan).
Garlic Chicken 
  • Cajun Spice
  • black pepper
  • smoked paprika
  • 4  skinless chicken breast          
  • olive oil
  • Put a square of plastic wrap over each one and bash a few times with the bottom of a pan until the breasts flatten out a bit
  • Season liberally with each spice - both sides
  • You can either bake or fry the chicken • If baking, preheat your oven to its highest temperature (475˚F), place your chicken on a sheet pan and cook for 10 minutes • If frying, put a frying pan (mine was heavy cast iron) on a medium heat, add a few good lugs of olive oil and cook the chicken breasts for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through, golden and crisp
  • Thursday, September 11, 2014

    Something's Gotta Give

          Exhausted. Dumbfounded. Frustrated. I sit here tonight utterly lost in the cosmic nonsense. Issues that have been pushed back and tucked away but never fully addressed have shoved themselves front and center, boiling over like a cauldron. Something has to give. Where is the revelation, the flaming arrow, when you need it? Some things seem so clear as if where I am is exactly where I am meant to be, yet there are other things that just can't seem to find resolve.
    relationships that just don't work
    personalities that grate
    projects I cannot complete
    broken habits
    sleep I can't find
    time that just doesn't exist
             No great words of wisdom have been found. Comfort hasn't come. Some stresses just don't have
    I love my family
    my job
    the little munchkins that cross my path
    the idea of 'better'
    the fantasy of problems solved
    and rest
    Tomorrow is a new day- and it has great things promised for it, yet in the corner of my eye the reality of unresolved issues looms. Is what I do worth it? What is it that will give?

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    It's Finally Time!

            The anticipation has been building; nervous energy courses through my veins. It is finally time to get back in the kitchen with the kids! We have had a nice long break- four weeks to be exact- long enough to let me breath- long enough to remind me how much I'd rather not be in the office- long enough to make me miss those rowdy monsters:)
             This week finds me back with my team introducing kids to the concept of growing- not only food but in our knowledge of food, eating- old foods in a new light and new foods with an open mind, and going- outside or in, getting our bodies off the sedentary and on the go, go, go! So what does that mean?
              Growing: Preparing gardens for fresh fall plants; participating in learning concepts teaching us how plants relate to each other and the world around them while showing us how we relate to plants and the world around us. My specific lesson this week: parts of the plants/plants we eat. Professor Go gets her overalls, hat and muckers on!
               Eating: In the kitchen, Professor Go and Chef Plate are whirling up some green smoothies complete with baby greens and frozen fruits! Who doesn't love a slushy, purple drink on a hot Texas day?
               Going: It's time to walk, hop, and crawl as Super Jenni shows the kids her Wonderful WAT obstacle course and challenges them to best themselves as they do it all again.
                Yes, it is finally here. The moment my team and I have been waiting for; preparing for; packing and planning for. It is time to get our groove on and get back in the kitchen with the kids!