A healthy dinner (?) and healthy distraction

Argh. Right now my mind probably looks something akin to an urban war zone. For TFA folk, it’s Institute season, and it shows all over my Facebook feed. During the last few days of school, I deactivated my account temporarily to avoid the sense of soul-crushing defeat, watching all of these (not much) younger people accomplishing something great. I see this as improvement: rather than being stubborn, I just avoid what I know will be a reason to belittle myself.

The point here is that, while trying to swallow this bitter pill of failing at the TFA model and teaching in general, I am happy to say that crafting will make a suitable distraction, and a productive one at that. This week on the docket: finish my frame project, repaint the miniature mentioned in my previous post, read a freakin’ book, and start working on Eric’s birthday gift, since he is in Chicago for a few days.

That being said, today, for some reason, I am feeling particularly wounded about teaching. Maybe it’s because I spoke to a former student this weekend? Either way, my mind keeps wandering to Patton Oswalt (we want a failure pile in a sadness bowl!).

Short post today, admittedly, but tomorrow is Twofer Tuesday, so I have to get to work to ensure I have something to showcase.

So…last night, I made chicken parmigiana. Funny thing is, I didn’t have any mozzarella. No worries! I had string cheese, so I shredded that a bit and used it instead. It was kind of authentic Italian meets hillbilly Flatlander. It came out tasting just fine, and I’m telling myself and you, dear reader, that it was perfect healthy.

A New Recipe, and I Want to Scream

Life really likes to throw curve balls. No. That’s not right. Life likes to throw knuckle balls and spit balls, then follow up with a fast ball, and finally throw a curve that swings in low and knocks you on your ass. That is what life likes to do.

And normally, I am standing at the plate, bat at the ready, my eyes focused on the prize.

Lately, though…lately, it has been too demanding. I cannot continue to juggle all of these required, important, necessary things. Not everything can be so required, important, and necessary. Not everything can take priority.

At work, my boss is consistently unaware of what is going on, preferring to let me do the work for the department. Then he asks for an update and plays boss for a while. When he is unhappy with a decision I have made or work I have done, I suggest ways for us to combat the issue -perhaps I should direct such decisions to him? But the minute I suggest that, he says “no, no, I want you to learn and make the decisions”. Translate: I like it that you do all the work, and I can just play boss when I am bored.

Fine. Whatever.

At home, E and I talk about work. And we spiral down the “whose position in the company is worse” road, until we both have nothing but one word answers for each other. We answer questions with “nothing” and “okay”. We don’t find peace or comfort because we just feed into each other. And then we end up resenting one another because we don’t feel heard, and awkward, silent nights pass by with nothing good brewing between us.

Today it was even worse because, due to winter conditions, we both worked from home, so our frustration of work that is usually confined to the office spilled out into our living and dining rooms. Now not only are we unable to be supportive of each other, but we’re having our work frustrations right out in the open. There’s no screen between the work and our slightly-less-frustrated time at home. To borrow a line from Frodo, we’re “naked in the dark.” This has resulted in a lot of angry, short responses from both of us. “I wasn’t paying attention, what did you say?” “Nothing.” “Okay, fine.”

I am so frustrated, and I am so unhappy.

But then just now I received a call from an unknown number, and it was a woman calling me about my resume on Career Builder. She said she thought I would be a perfect fit for the job, and I regretfully declined, since I am hoping to move back East. It meant so much to me just that she wanted me…it made me feel more confident.

So I decided it was time to write a post!

Earlier this week, I decided to make something with some frozen tortellini that I had bought on sale. I didn’t want a lot of sodium, so I opted out of a traditional sauce, choosing instead to just saute some vegetables for a light sauce.

1 package of tortellini, 3 roma tomatoes (diced), 2 zucchini (sliced), 1 can of white beans, 1/2 cup of cheese

While the water boiled, I threw the zucchini in a tbsp of olive oil and another tbsp of balsamic vinegar to cook for a while. Just before the rolling boil, I threw in the tomatoes and beans and some minced garlic. These were heated in the pan while the tortellini started to cook, and the tomatoes made a nice watery base. Once the tortellini was cooked and drained, I tossed it in the pan with the veggies, mixed it all together, sprinkled on some cheese, and took it off the heat.

It was a simple and filling meal, with a little bit of everything. E was happy with it; I was happy with it, and the ultimate calorie count (since I’m counting those things now!) was not too high.

Some days I wish I could just cook and craft. But I am grateful to have a job, and I’m even more grateful that that job makes me an ideal candidate for jobs just like it! Ha ha. Here’s to new recipes, and the ability to refrain from screaming. And to be wanted!

Forgot to mention: pair this recipe with a nice Cab Sauvignon, and you’re all set.

The final outcome of tortellini stuff


Sunday Meat Market

A little background here, before I start discussing my meatballs:

When I was almost 10 years old, my mom made a medical decision with her doctor to stop eating meat. It was a trial separation from animal products. She started making herself separate meals without meat, and cooking an extra meal or two for my dad and I. My dad and I are both picky eaters sometimes, and my dad was working late in the newspaper, so she was making a LOT of meals.

I felt bad. I told her to stop worrying about it and that I would eat a vegetarian diet as long as she did. We still ate fish and dairy products –we weren’t strict, classic, die-hard vegans or anything.

This went on for about 13 years. I had gone so long without eating meat that I didn’t really crave it anymore, and I was afraid that eating it would make me sick, anyway.

Fast forward to last year, 2010, and my doctor told me that I needed to try eating meat! Alright, I thought, we’ll start slow. I started with poultry, and I am happy to say that it did not make me sick in the least. I slowly worked my way up, and I had my first steak about two months ago (first one after 14 or so years).

Let me also preface this by saying that I buy free-range and humanely treated animal products. I have no illusions about what I am doing, and although sometimes I feel bad, I really have felt better since reintroducing meat into my diet.

When I was first testing different recipes that were non-vegetarian, I made a batch of turkey meatballs. They were pretty good. E was happy to have anything that came from an animal, and I was able to partake in a traditional Italian meal of sorts.

Now that I am able to eat beef, I decided to make real meatballs.

Mmm. Italian.

Without giving away my secret, this is what I threw together one night with what I had in the freezer and pantry:

1 lb of ground beef

1 lb of ground Italian sausage

Breadcrumbs (I didn’t measure. I eyeballed it)

Basil, parsley, thyme, and I think I threw in some tarragon as well

I baked them for almost an hour and served them with spaghetti and mushroom tomato sauce (mushrooms sautéed in oil and balsamic vinegar, a can of diced tomatoes, and a small can of tomato sauce).

I have never seen E so happy when eating some I put in front of him. Except maybe the apricot chicken or my almost famous risotto.

For me, it was like returning to an old friend. It brought me back to being a kid at grandma’s house and digging in to some of her amazing Italian food. It made me think of Christmases and summers when I would visit her for weeks at a time.

I give this recipe a 4 star rating with plans to revive them again for a Sunday dinner.