ya know why i love my job…….

because teachers have students but lunch ladies have kids.  and i have two very special types of kids that i’m responsible for this year.  last year and this year i’m responsible for the allergy kids, aka the kids who are allergic to anything and everything eatable.  in the morning i make up special little breakfasts for them that are put in sacks with their names.  at lunch they go through my line so i can make sure they haven’t picked anything that might have something they are allergic to.

the second group i look after are a couple of kids that are red flagged because they are homeless. i have to make sure they come through the line everyday and that they do get food, no matter what.  these two really put things in perspective for me.  it made me think about what i used to do, working for hallmark, where i’d have to track down information like “when was the first barbie keepsake ornament?!”  or file away the Hall Family’s personal christmas cards every year. my kids have made that all seem very meaningless. i wake up at 4:30am because i love the special ed students that come through my line and tell me to have a good day or so i can go make chit-chat with the “at-risk” 8th grade girls homeroom, which has now gotten them all eating their breakfast i deliver to them.   i might work 20 times harder for a lot less money but knowing that at the end of the day my kids got feed maybe they only meals they’ll get all day, or they got peanut free food and had their orange juice instead of milk is much more satisfying and makes me glad to go to work every day.

cafeteria style

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

baking, hip hop, and whiskey

apron ready

my favorite way to spend an evening is to put on some good hip hop, fix me a glass of whiskey and find a yummy recipe to bake up.  lately all i have been wanting to do is to bake up a batch of cookies.  this would be because i have been given my grandma’s cooking jar.  ever since this cookie jar has arrived in my kitchen i have been wanting COOKIES.

this jar says “cookies please!!”

to create the right atmosphere for the night i turned on my cow that supervises the kitchen and i believe when turned on provides good “mojo” to the cooking process.

i have a light up cow, steph a light up ice cream cone. don’t ask just accept it

because i had all the ingredients for it i decided the honorary cookie to first occupy the cookie jar would be “dream cookies.”  you might know them as “no bakes”  but growing up we always called them dream cookies.  mom would make them and then dad and i would stand looking into the fridge waiting for them to set-up.  i of course of changed up my recipe a bit.  my dream cookies over the years have found whiskey in them but the latest additional flavor is chili pepper.  chocolate goes so well with spicy.  when the whiskey is poured and the hip hop is on the baking can begin!

when you drink from a tea-cup no one knows what might be in there

RECIPE:  CHILI PEPPER DREAM COOKIES

makes 2 dozen

dream cookies

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup coco powder

3 tsp cayenne pepper

1 TBSP butter

2 cups peanut butter

2 cups quick oats-oatmeal

*in a large sauce pan bring to a rapid boil the sugar, coco powder, pepper, and butter, mix well.  add in peanut butter stir till all the peanut butter has melted, remove from heat.  add in oats, mix oats till coated with chocolate and peanut butter mixture.  on wax paper place a spoonful of oat mixture, refrigerate over night.

 

 

 

meatless monday: lets do dinner!….II

the second “lets do dinner” meatless monday bash was an all ladies night affair.  the guest list included the gray sisters: emmy and jess, cynthia and cassie.  all us ladies went through middle school and high school together.  so after a brief catch up on what every one is doing now, the topics of conversation included…..creepy middle school teachers we had, favorite foods from the cafeteria, why cassie went vegan, and the crazy happenings at a cat clinic.

the ladies are ready to dine

on the menu:  roasted eggplant and spinach muffalettas, coleslaw, homemade sweet potato-potato chips and for the non-vegans homemade coconut-chocolate chip ice cream (cassie brought her own vegan ice cream)

the food ready to serve

the muffaletta was in one simply phrase “to die for.”  the sweet potato-potato chips on the other hand were at the opposite end of the spectrum with a “oh so sorry i probably shouldn’t have made them the day before i swear as i cooked them they were crispy.”

the chips that were a disaster

 

the ice cream that redeemed the chips

 

look at them beans!

when trish and stan were in town over the summer they were on a quest, a quest for beans.  they love a jarred beans called “randall beans.”  when they discovered that HyVee carried them they just didn’t buy a jar or 2 to take home, oh no, they bought 6 cases that had to be special ordered and delivered to the store. in total 48 jars of beans.  of course they gladly gave me a jar to try.

great northern….mmmmmm

the time came to crack open my jar of great northern and cook up some dinner.  i doctored them up a bit, adding in some cooked bacon, okra, and creole seasoning.  along with it i baked jalapeno-cheddar corn muffins.  and to balance the meal out some coleslaw, can’t go wrong with coleslaw.

a plate of YUM

the conclusion on Randall Beans…….they were damn good.  i’m sold.  they made a quick and yummy dinner.  i think from here on out i’m always going to have a jar in the cabinet.  i might have thought you guys were crazy, trish and stan, but thanks for introducing me to Randall Beans!

RECIPE:  JALAPENO-CHEDDAR CORN MUFFINS

makes 9

1 cup flour

1 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup honey

4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 eggs 1 cup milk

1/4 cup shortening

1 cup shredded cheddar

2 TBSP jalapeno slices

*preheat oven t0 425, grease cup cake pan.

*stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.  add in eggs, honey, milk, and shortening.  use mixture to mix well, batter will still be slightly lumpy.  stir in cheddar cheese and jalapeno slices.  for full large muffins add 1/2 cup batter to tins, for smaller muffins 1/3 cup (this will also give you 12 muffins)

*bake 15 minutes

 

 

meatless monday — a peachy quesadilla

melty yummy goodness

i feel like i go through phases of making quesadillas all the time and then i’ll realize it has been a year and i haven’t made a single one.  when examining my fridge for dinner options at first glance i thought i had nothing for a quick meatless monday dinner but then i say tortilla shells, black beans, an avocado, plain yogurt, and peach salsa……QUESADILLA!!!!  the tricky part is always flipping the quesadilla without all of your ingredients falling out.  i know the trick is to use lots of cheese to hold everything in place but i have yet to perfect this flipping action.  beans, cheese still come flying out, it is just hit and miss on how much comes out.

 

“did you see the menu for the first day! biscuits and gravy for breakfast and mac and cheese for lunch! Ya know how many pans that’s going to take!!?”

the first day of school was on wednesday, meaning i’m back at work.  lunch ladies enter the kitchens one week before the first day of school.  we have to clean the kitchen, track down all supplies that got moved around during summer school, order groceries, and my kitchen has a new manager which means each lady gives her the low-down on the dynamics of the kitchen.

in true public school fashion access to paper work and computers was not available till the afternoon before the first morning.  for our kitchen that meant chaos because we had no paper work on the infamous “breakfast in the classroom” that we were going to have to prepare first thing in the morning.  no student count, no class list, no updated teacher homeroom list.  600 servings of biscuits and gravy would be ready with nowhere to go.  i decided the best mind-set to be in was that the first day was going to be an all out disaster and if that didn’t happen then well it would be a good day.

breakfast wasn’t an all out disaster but it was pretty chaotic. and then came lunch……….263 6th graders this year who all looked terrified and thought that the cafe was an all you can eat buffet.  at the end of the line i had a stack of confiscated pizza next to my register.  7th and 8th graders are required to eat in silence till they can prove that they are the young adults they think they are.  the silence is actually a little spooky.  yet at the same time oh so lovely!

the new kitchen manager has only had one emotional breakdown so far…..”i’ve been in kitchens 11 years and i’ve never been so stressed out…..its all that breakfast in the classroom mess”  i told her it be all ok. i cried the first week i did breakfast in the classroom feeling the exact same way. she said she wasn’t quitting just yet.

meatless monday —- lets do dinner!!!

 

after finishing my first year of meatless mondays i decided to share my love of this day with others.  this month begins a dinner party series called “lets do dinner!!!”  twice a month i have planned meatless monday meals.  i sent out the menus to friends and people i just want to see more of, and had them sign up for dinner.  the first monday was a latin based dinner.

the menu:  black bean and mango salad, tangerine baked tofu, guac and chips,

and jalapeno-key lime pie with tequila whip cream

my favorite part of the meal

 

my plate loaded and ready to go

topics of conversation included……..vegan baking techniques, why i have so many bicycles, what exactly is the process of how to laundry money, and awkward blind dates

elise ready to dig in

 

ingrid in mid-chew

desert was a total experiment.  1 i made a key lime pie, which i have never done before and 2 i tweaked it by a lot.  i infused the key lime juice with jalapeno and added tequila to the whipped cream.  it was …….a complete success!!!! we decided it even kind of tasted like fruit loops.  ingrid and elise may or may not have had 2 pieces each.

the pie experiment

 

RECIPE:  BLACK BEAN & MANGO SALAD

serves 4-6

1 mango – peeled and diced

1 red pepper – diced

1/2 cup scallions – chopped

1 TBSP cilantro – chopped

2 TBSP red wine vinegar

2 TBSP olive oil

2 cups quinoa – cooked and cooled

1 15 oz can black beans – drained and rinsed

 

*combine in a bowl the mango, pepper, scallions and cilantro, add red wine vinegar and olive oil.  stir well.

*fold in black beans and cooled quinoa.  allow to sit 20-30 minutes.  serve at room temp or cold, either way is delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

Closing Ceremonies- the leftovers for Sunday Night Dinner

We closed out the Olympics last night with a veggie Wellington that I dug out of the deep freeze. We call it an Artie Wellington in honor of my Dad who I made it with and was suspicious of a vegetarian Wellington to begin with…

The potatoes, Yorkshire Puddings, and brussel sprouts all came from the deep freeze too. I think it was semi-fitting to have leftovers for what was left of the Olympics, don’t you?

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And of course a Guinness was involved too.

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there’s another cook in the kitchen

when you love cooking for yourself and others it tends to be a rare thing to have someone show up in your kitchen to cook for you.  i think for me it has happened only handful of times but i always gladly hand over my kitchen to those individuals and accept the role of sous chef.  when justin was in for a visit he took control of the kitchen and cooked up a yummy feast.

honorary chef in the farris kitchen

on the menu was a spaghetti with a chunky vegetable bolognese sauce topped with fresh mozzarella pearls………

i think i could have just eaten the sauce with no pasta, so good and chunky

and  toasted garlic bread

you really can’t go wrong combining butter, garlic and bread