Sunday, December 16, 2012

Monday, December 17th

I don't want to go to work tomorrow.

I don't often say this.  I love my job.  I love teaching kids.  I love feeling like somehow, in some small way, I am helping to make a difference in their lives.  

But I don't want to go tomorrow.

To be honest, I'm a little scared.  School shouldn't feel like a prison.  It should feel like a safehouse.  And Newtown does nothing if not remind us that even our safehouses aren't impenetrable.  I recognize that this fear is irrational.  That even on Friday, hundreds of thousands of kids went to school and came home safe.  And hundreds of thousands of teachers too.  But 20 kids didn't, and neither did 6 teachers.  And tomorrow, even though I'm not walking into Sandy Hook, I'm walking into a building onto which so many people project their own demons and fears.  And my kids are walking into their schools, and I don't want to drop them off.  I want to hug them and never let go.

I didn't go into education to figure out how to keep kids safe from an armed attacker.  If I wanted to do that, I would have become a police officer or a sniper.  I became a teacher because I wanted my students to know that I believe that they are good at something.  That they can be something.  That I truly believe in their ability to succeed.  But I also know that I don't reach every kid.  Hopefully every kid has someone who does reach them.  But I know they don't.  And I wonder if every kid is even reachable.  By the time kids get to high school, are some of them too sick, too damaged for us to truly make a difference?  And what then? 

And I am frustrated, no, angry, that as I sit here thinking about how to be teacher, social worker, and police officer, there are so many people out there who think that I deserve less.  That teachers are underworked and overpaid.  That we are union hacks out to indoctrinate children against their parents.  I ask: who is on the front lines?  Who catches the mentally ill kids in need of service so that they don't become Adam Lanza?  Who comforts the children who are tormented by their peers and also try to systematically address bullying so it doesn't happen to someone else's kid?  Who locks the door and huddles in the dark during the lockdown to make sure that your children are as safe as they can be?  And who does all of this while trying to instill a love of learning and also get kids to pass the test?  Who tries to catch up the kids who are behind and challenge the kids who are ahead while pitching to the majority of the kids in the middle? 

Tomorrow, I will worry all day about my two kids, who, by the grace of anything that is good in this world, will be safe in their schools tomorrow.  I will leave them in the morning and go off to meet the myriad needs of other people's children.  And I will tell myself that they are safe, and that I am safe, and that tragedy sometimes just strikes.  But what I know is that something is horribly wrong here.  Maybe it's guns.  Maybe it's mental illness.  Maybe it's something else.  But if I, a person who has committed herself to a lifetime of being an educator, don't feel good about going to work, and I don't feel good about sending my kids to school, the system is broken.  I don't know how to fix it.  But it must be fixed.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winter Soup

It's getting cold out there (sure, it's going to hit 60 tomorrow, but that's just a tease).  And I know now that it's December, that's what it is supposed to do, but that doesn't mean I'm 100% thrilled about it.  The real problem with winter is that it makes me want to eat carbs and stew until I can't button my pants anymore.  I like being able to button my pants.

 Speaking of wearing things, here's my fancy new apron that I got as an early Hanukah present.  
I love it!

But winter also bring good things, like birthdays and the millions of holidays and get togethers that occur around those things.  We just celebrated my father's birthday with a very nice brunch (that I did no cooking for).  

 Helping Bupa blow out the candles on his cake(s)

 We're looking forward to Hanukah and latkes and Christmas and Chinese food : )

 It's a little hard to tell here, but this brave night in the pope hat is busy taking our shelf-elf for a ride around on the motorcycle.  

This picture is appropos of nothing, but it's pretty awesome.  
And yes, she will likely be horribly embarrassed by this later in life.  
I realized the other day that she gets really flustered if I sing in the grocery store.  
Prepare yourself for my vocal stylings.  
Embarrassment is the greatest of the parental paybacks.

We didn't eat both of these this past week, but I had some leftover pictures and so I thought I'd get these up here.  I've been big into soup lately, which is weird, because I don't normally like soup.  Maybe it's the fact that we always eat it with grilled cheese.

French Onion Soup
Seriously, so easy.  Just takes some time.  100% worth it.

4 large sweet onions, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups beef or vegetable broth
1 generous teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
4 thick slices of bread
1 cup grated gruyere or swiss cheese

Over low heat, saute the onions until very soft and slightly browned, stirring periodically.  This will take about 35 minutes.  Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half.  Add the broth and the thyme, and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Toast each slice of bread, then top of the bread slices with 1/4 the cheese, and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly (watch it, because it burns very quickly).  Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the cheesy croutons.  

I served it with this really good salad with blue cheese, bacon and chopped hardboiled egg.  The bacon was the precooked stuff from Trader Joe's, chopped up.  Highly recommended for salads and sandwiches.

White Bean Soup
This is an epicurious recipe that I modified to be more pantry friendly and a faster cook.  We had it tonight and it was pretty good.

1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, cleaned and cut into rounds
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cans of canellini beans, rinsed and drained
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tbsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream (don't skip this, it really made the soup so much better)

In a medium pot, saute the onion, carrots and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion is soft and almost translucent (about 10 minutes).  Add the beans, broth, and herbs and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Puree the soup, either by using an immersion blender or by carefully transferring it to a regular blender in batches.  Return to the pot and assess for thickness - if you like your soup on the thin side, add a little more broth.  If you prefer it on the thicker side, simmer for about 15 more minutes.  

When you are ready to serve, stir in the heavy cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.

I served with grilled brie sandwiches and salad.

Coming up next - things to do with leftovers/an empty pantry.