Monday, September 26, 2011

i'm still here ... and the chowder was yummy!

even though i've been MIA for awhile ... funny how that happens, huh? i guess life is life and we all get caught up in it.

our little ohana has been BUSY! panda's been swamped with work - the start of the fall semester is always a killer for her, but it seems that lately the craziness has been stepped up ... if only we got the memo and the ability to deal with the increased insanity before it all happened. shortstack is settling into a school rhythm. repeating kinder was definitely the RIGHT decision, but there has been some adjustment that has needed to happen. after all, the first part of this semester has been a repeat of skills that were mastered last year. but the maturity that is happening right now is amazing ... and a privilege to watch. as for me, well, my family's craziness is mine ... and then we top it with insanity from work, trying to get my thesis done, prepping for graduation in december and our wedding in january ... well, you can likely imagine how all of that keeps us more than a little busy!

so, in the midst of that craziness, we do our best to maximize our family time ... which  is far too short (i really do think that we should start a movement to advocate for 4-day work weeks!) so weekends are filled with shortstack's soccer (THAT is a whole nother post!), volleyball and football games (yay! for fall collegiate sports - but don't quote me on that! i got an image to maintain!!), dinners with friends, late-night reading, sporadic house cleaning, recipe experimentation, vegging nights with the family curled up together ... life is pretty ideal if just a bit chaotic.

panda's been asking for corn chowder for a while now. let's keep in mind that we live in hawaii, so it's never REALLY soup weather in our little slice of paradise, but soup is a favorite for the adults of the house. so, last night i threw together a quicky chowder and, after a slight char on the soup contents, it came together pretty darn well and definitely worth sharing ... if only i actually took pictures (i'll get better at that some day!)

corn/potato chowder ... (use whatever leftovers or aging veggies you have on-hand)

1 medium-ish onion
2 stalks and all the leaves of the celery bunch
1ish tablespoon whole wheat flour
1/4 cup roasted balsamic garlic paste (recipe here)
4-ish  cups stock (whatever you have in the pantry)
1-ish cup white wine (optional)
1 1/2 cups milk (i used a mixture of coconut and 2% - if you want it to be richer, use heavy cream)
1 can corn kernals (or 2 cobs of corn de-eared - yes, i'm making that word up)
1 large baking potato (russet is fine, or you can used already cooked potatoes. i had leftover breakfast oven-roasted potatoes in the fridge that i chopped and used)
1 good sprig of rosemary chopped
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of sage (just because)
a handful of shredded cheese

sautee onions and celery in olive oil and  a pat of butter until soft and translucent (pat size depends on your interpretation). s&p to taste

add in a tablespoon or so of flour and cook for a few minutes til it smells toasty

if you're using wine, add it now and then pour in 2 cups of broth and stir until all lumps disappear

add in garlic past and last 2ish cups of broth

allow this to simmer for a couple of minutes

at this point, dump in the corn and the potatoes. add a bit more s&p, add the chopped rosemary and an pinch of sage (or whatever spices float your boat)

stir in the milk

at this point, leave it alone and let it do its thing. DON'T walk away and leave it boiling though ... that is simply not a good idea! i'm talking from experience here!

let the soup reduce to your desired consistency. i tend to like thick soups (think a cross between a soup and stew ... i've see it referred to as "stoup") so i let that sucker cook for a bit. right when it makes the whole house smell yummy and my tummy is growling, i add in a handful of shredded cheese (again, whatever you have on hand).

serve in a couple of coffee mugs topped with a bit more cheese (i just want to make sure you're getting your daily dose of calcium). you could be healthy and serve this with salad ... or you could be like us and serve with garlic-butter-drenched bread)

no matter what you do, i highly encourage it to be eaten curled up on the couch, surrounded by your favorite peeps, watching nemo make his way home from sydney as the last, lazy moments of your weekend slip away ...


oh ... and here's a peek from our weekend - football saturday afternoons at aloha stadium!

UH vs. UC Davis ... umm, we left at 1/2 time because the score was 47 - nothin' ... but i can vouch for chillin and grilling time tailgating simply rocks!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

exhale ... inhale ... don't hit anyone ...

yep. that's where we are today. taking down the simple foundations of life: breathe. stop. do it again. be nice.

this is "fall rush" time at the school i work at. this is a time when students are scrambling to get registered for classes that they failed to get into earlier. this is the time when we hear whining, excuses, demands and just plain bad behavior. the "thank you's" are few and far between. the appreciation of those students who take their role as student seriously shoots through the roof. and, as an educator, i have to restrain myself from jumping over the slab of wood that separates me from my student, shaking them til their teeth rattle and yell into their ear - "this is YOUR degree! have some ownership! have some accountability!! HAVE SOME INDEPENDENT THOUGHT!!!!!!!"

after dealing with another challenging patient student i realized that i NEEDED to take a step back and refocus this frustrated school-hating energy ... i haven't succeeded completely at doing that yet. thus the reason i'm writing this ... but that is the goal for this afternoon ~ find a way, find a path to take this insane energy and channel it into change that i want to see.