Tag Archives: middle school

Vanilla Almond Frappuccino {Dairy-free}

1 Jan

vanilla-almond-frappuccino-jewhungry-blog

Winter break is almost over.  It’s Wednesday and just the fact that I’ve been feeling this since Monday means I’m not doing so well with ‘living in the moment’.  I needed this break.  I’m not sure there’s a single person on the school campus I work at who didn’t need this break.  I think the day we all had our lock-down procedure run-through (oh yes, because schools have now become a dangerous place to work, we all need to know where to go on campus in case an active shooter is on the premises) the faculty and staff of our school gave a collective sigh and thought, “How much longer until Winter Break!?” I capitalize “Winter Break” on purpose.  It’s very much a proper now in my book.  I need it.  I never thought I’d work at a school.  Heck, I never thought I’d be a school counselor.  Technically, I do not have a counseling degree.  I have my Master’s in Social Work and was originally hired to be a co-director of student life, which meant that I was hired to plan all the events on a private Jewish campus that make it feel a little bit like camp.  I was not 2 weeks into that job when I walked into a meeting that I thought was going to be about working with the kosher food bank but turned into a meeting about the possibility of transitioning into a position as a full-time middle school counselor.  Two years and a half years later, I can confidently say that saying ‘yes’ to that offer was one of the best decisions I ever made.

So now, here I am, in the middle of my third year working at a school in a job I was only semi-educated for and I’m realizing that the end of this Winter Break means the beginning of second semester and facing the reality that I’ll be moving on soon.  I gave myself a break from really thinking about the impending move to LA and start of my position as the Director of School Counselor for a very prestigious private Jewish day school.  It’s intimidating as h*ll.  But, I’m realizing that its time to face the facts that 2014 will be a massive year of challenges and change and boy, don’t I just LOVE challenges and change! (I don’t.  I don’t like either of those things at all).

And yet, it’s Wednesday and dang it, I still have half a week to live this Winter Break OUT LOUD! I’m pretty proud of the hubby and I for doing the majority of the things we said we were going to do during this time off.  We went to the Miami Zoo on Christmas day which, as it turns out, every other Jew in Miami decided to do.  We went to the new Perez Museum of Modern Art .  We also had some epic play dates with a dear friend from work and her insanely adorable daughters.  Mama did a little shopping, an activity that netted everyone some new threads, including mama and got to hang out with the one and only Jeremy Ashley, my co-creator of Jewhungry.  And, of course, I did A TON of cooking.  I also did a ton of coffee-drinking as our sweet little kiddo has decided to start participating in some serious sleep regression. YAY! I mean, who needs sleep, right? What a waste of time! Why would we be sleeping when we could be staring at the clock at 1:45 in the morning and praying to the sleep gds to please return our good sleeper.  Seriously, give. Her. Back.

The recipe below is one I based off a delicious iced coffee drink my local Whole Foods used to feature in the summer.  But since it’s Miami and it’s kinda always summer, I’m curious as to why it’s off the menu.  And since I’m doing a lot of coffee-drinking I figured I do some coffee-drink-making.  It seems like everyone’s got a coffee/chocolate combo but lately, I’ve been really digging on almond-flavored stuff thus, almond-flavored coffee. I hope you enjoy and if you do end up making this recipe, send a little ‘l’chaim’ up my way.

Coffee filtration system from Costa Rica.  It's HIGHLY sophisticated.  :)

Coffee filtration system from Costa Rica. It’s HIGHLY sophisticated. 🙂

Top with sliced almonds if you've got them.  It'll impress all your friends!

Top with sliced almonds if you’ve got them. It’ll impress all your friends!

A photo-montage of Winter Break.  Enjoy.

hair

We hung out at home a lot. The ultimate stay-cation

Who wants to look at gorillas when you can stop for a belly-button search?

Who wants to look at gorillas when you can stop for a belly-button search?

We got new shoes! She got slippers and mama got super-unnecessary-but-definitely-awesome-motorcycle-boots.

We got new shoes! She got slippers and mama got super-unnecessary-but-definitely-awesome-motorcycle-boots.

My little family

My little family

After her bout with food poisoning -- a drive in the car to help induce napping.  She would NOT let go of those pretzels.

After her bout with food poisoning — a drive in the car to help induce napping. She would NOT let go of those pretzels.

The morning-after food poisoning drive that took us to Wynwood.  The kiddo slept while we roamed the streets checking out the street art.

The morning-after food poisoning drive that took us to Wynwood. The kiddo slept while we roamed the streets checking out the street art.

Met up with this incredible guy.  That's right, it's Jeremy, part of the original Jewhungry team. We like to go to outlet malls and pose hipster-like with alligators dressed up like Wonder Woman.  What? You don't?

Met up with this incredible guy. That’s right, it’s Jeremy, part of the original Jewhungry team. We like to go to outlet malls and pose hipster-like with alligators dressed up like Wonder Woman. What? You don’t?

Checking out the new Perez Art Museum Miami

Checking out the new Perez Art Museum Miami

Our NYE ritual -- homemade sushi, Prosecco, an air mattress, all the pillows we have. the balcony + a movie on the laptop.

Our NYE ritual — homemade sushi, Prosecco, an air mattress, all the pillows we have. the balcony + a movie on the laptop.

Props to my girl, Tara, for the awesome W mug.  Also, yes, I know what that filter looks like.

Props to my girl, Tara, for the awesome W mug. Also, yes, I know what that filter looks like.

Vanilla Almond Frappuccino

Ingredients:
Recipe will make 3 – 4 drinks

1 Cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 – 3/4 Cup extra strength coffee (double up on your typical brewing scoop amount but maintain same water amount)
1 Tbsp granulated vanilla sugar (or regular sugar will do)
OR
Instant coffee works here as well – again, double up on what the directions call for in terms of coffee/water ratio
CHILL COFFEE BEFORE USING
1.5 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tsp almond extract
Chia shot – (just to feel a little better about drinking a frappuccino)
2 Cups of ice
Pinch of salt
Sliced almonds for topping

How:

Make double-strength coffee by brewing with twice the coffee required by your coffee maker(that should be 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per each cup of coffee). Chill before using.

Once coffee is properly chilled, combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high-speed until ice is crushed and drink is smooth.

Pour into tall glass and marvel at how you just created a delicious, full-flavored coffee beverage for a fraction of the price.  Pat yourself on the back.

vanilla-almond-frappuccino-jewhungry-blog

Mommy Blogs and Meatballs: A Blogdentity Crisis

24 Aug

This week was an interesting one. A rollercoaster of emotions, if you will. It was the first week back at school with the kiddos so I was up at 6ish every morning and at work by 7ish, which meant I was gone before Siona was awake. I was exhausted but running on buckets of coffee and adrenaline. Though it’s my 3rd year in my job as a school counselor, this was my first time at the first week of school in my job. The first year I was still in my original position as Student Life Director and the second year I was on maternity leave. I was nervous and overwhelmed. I also took over as ‘senior’ school counselor in the Middle School, which didn’t help my anxiety. I was trying to train our new counselor while tending to the needs of my students and colleagues. And though this past week I survived on adrenaline, iced coffee and water, I thrived on being able to be there for my students; being able to be there for one of my new 6th graders who sobbed for over an hour in my office in fear of Middle School and my 8th graders who are already freaking out about high school and college.

One of the many ridiculous things I do for my students -- dressing up as Effie from the Hunger Games for Color War back when I was pregnant.

One of the many ridiculous things I do for my students — dressing up as Effie from the Hunger Games for Color War back when I was pregnant.

While I was kicking a** and taking names in my role as school counselor, this blog wasn’t fairing so well and it was bringing me down. This summer allowed me a bit more freedom to be present for this blog, which made me really happy. I finally was able to interview my friend, Zak the Baker. I made the fried chicken recipe that had been living in my head and I finally was able to write down my own love story. It felt wonderful to have the time to do all that. But this past week brought on the realization that, once again, my free time is extremely limited. And then, on Thursday morning, I received an email in my inbox from a blog I follow (or, now, used to follow). The blogger is an incredible writer and, in my estimation, would fall into the category of ‘mommy blogger’. She writes about her adventures with her young daughters set against the back drop of Montana. Her Instagram account should be sponsored by the visitors bureau of Montana, the pictures are that incredibly beautiful. But that’s besides the point. This post was about her living her dream of quitting her job so that she could be home with her girls. As beautiful and ethereal as this post was, it also enraged me a bit. I felt badly about having these feelings of anger. And, as I like to remind my students, no one can “make” a person feel anything. Instead, we allow these feelings to occur. We give them life and this post was bringing all sorts of life to some not-so-nice feelings for me that I really needed to get to the bottom of.

I don’t know this woman in the slightest. I follow her on Instagram and read her posts but I don’t know her. I don’t know her except what she wants me and the rest of the world to know about her. And please don’t misunderstand me, she seems like a lovely person. It’s not necessarily her that I take/took issue with. I think this post came at the wrong time for me, personally. I had barely seen my daughter all week. I only saw her for an hour on Wednesday, between coming home from work and then having to go back for a parent night. One hour out of 24. And here I was, reading a post about how this woman got to leave her day job and now spends her days going on adventures with her daughters. So yes, bad timing.

She gets me.

She gets me.

I ended up writing a comment about how I thought her post was beautiful but that it was also difficult to read as I too dream of being at home with my daughter but I can’t. She wrote back because that’s the type of blogger she is; always wanting to be there for her readers. But what she wrote back enraged me even more. She responded with all the write buzz words/phrases, ‘walking in the path of your dreams’, ‘walking with your heart and soul’, like a new Oprah for the hipster mommy-set.

And while I appreciate the conversation, what I realized this morning, after finally getting a solid 11 hours of sleep (Gd bless Shabbat), was that not anywhere in her post or in her response did she talk about the privilege of being able to stay at home and ‘live your dreams’. And then I realized that though this blog of mine is technically a food blog, I sometimes delve into the ‘mommy blog’ world, which, I now clearly understand, is not the place for me. My sister-in-law, Caitlin, of The Joy of Caitlin, had a very sweet post published by the Huffington Post this week. She worked really hard to get it out there—posting it all over the place, and she absolutely deserved to have it posted. So I thought, why not follow her lead and try to get more stuff out there. I tried posting the only post I could find in my blog archives that I though would fit into the ‘mommy blog’ or parenting category. I took 20 minutes out of my work day on Friday to post it on various parenting/mom pages and bloggers but it just didn’t fit. Hell, one of them flagged me for spam, which I thought hilarious. But with that notification that someone thought my post was ‘spam’ came the realization of what I was doing. I was trying to fit a pentagon into a round hole. This community is not for me. I love reading my food blogs and I am so appreciative of the community of food bloggers I’ve become close to via the Kosher Connection and Instagram but the circle on mommy/parent bloggers is another realm and though a lot of them speak of light and peace, the general feeling I have is that it’s a competition of who has the most hipster dressed kids and appearance of a near-perfect life. And if you’re thinking I sound a little angry or frustrated, I am. In all my mommy/parenting blog reading, I have not once read the term ‘privilege’. Not once has one of these bloggers spoken about the privilege of staying home; the privilege of breastfeeding; the privilege of eating organic or ‘clean’. Every time one of these parent bloggers posts a meme on their Facebook page about the evils of formula or GMOs or baby cereal or the like, I wonder if they’ve ever thought about the countless moms and dads who don’t have the privilege of buying GMO-free, or organic or whose breasts didn’t quite work out as expected; much less stay at home to be with their children, and what that must feel like for that parent on the other side of their meme. Have they ever thought about privilege? Thanks to social work school, I think about it all the time. It’s a privilege I have this computer so that I can write down my thoughts. It’s a privilege that I have amazing friends and family who support me. It’s a privilege I can afford daycare and still have enough cash to pay rent and occasionally shop at Whole Foods. People don’t like thinking about privilege because they feel they have to apologize for it, but that’s not how I see it. If you can acknowledge it and not take advantage of it or acknowledge it and be self-aware enough to recognize what it means for those who don’t have it, well then, that’s a different story. That I can support.

Late-night blogging.

Late-night blogging.

And so when this particular mommy blogger’s post landed in my inbox I thought if I calmly comment, maybe I’ll get over my feelings of frustration. But I didn’t. In fact, it got a little worse for me. When the blogger responded to my comment that she advocates for the ability to ‘change our minds’, I thought to myself, ‘wow, what a privilege it is to even think that that’s always an option’. I can change my mind until I’m blue in the face but the fact of the matter is that I can’t afford to stay at home with Siona. And what would I miss if I did (besides food, shelter, health insurance and the like)? I’d miss the amazing community of people I’m surrounded by at work. I’d miss learning from them and laughing with them. I’d miss the diversity of thoughts they bring to my life. Some of these people are women with children, some of them don’t have any children. Some are married and some are not. Some of these people are men. Some of these people are white, some black, some Jewish and some Catholic. Some or straight and some are gay and the majority of all these folks are humble and self-aware. And, just like in real, I crave that diversity of mind and spirit in my online world as well. So, I’m giving up on my attempt to fit into the mommy world and instead will just be whomever it is I am . . . just like in real life. I will give time to the blog and let it develop organically (no pun intended) into whatever category it fits into, if at all. I will stop following all these other mommy’s on Instgram whom I first started following way back in the depths of post-partum depression, when I needed reminding that children do eventually sleep and that parenthood can be fun. We just don’t seem to have anything in common anymore. I will stick to food and family and see what comes.

And as for the recipe? Well, these are my most favorite meatballs. They are not gluten-free, but could be. I sometimes make them with veal and sometimes a mixture of veal and ground beef but usually with ground turkey. They are kind of like Thanksgiving all rolled into a delicious ball. I hope you enjoy and I thank you for reading.

For her.

For her.

Thanksgiving Meatballs:

What

1 package of ground turkey
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 pint of button mushrooms, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
Dried bread crumbs, preferrably challah, diced into small chunks (should be bigger than store-bought bread crumbs but not bigger than croutons)
1 egg
Thyme
Sea Salt
Pepper
Rubbed Sage

For the Stove Top*

Vegetable or Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour

*I go back and forth between frying and baking these meatballs . . . depending on my mood. If you do decide to bake rather than fry, bake on a greased baking sheet on 375 for roughly 20 minutes

Those Colors!

Those Colors!

Those Look Like Ping Pongs, right?

Those Look Like Ping Pongs, right?

How:

Pour the olive oil in a deep frying pan with a flat surface. Let sit on medium heat for a few seconds. Saute the onions until transparent. Add the carrots and stir, sauteeing until carrots are golden. Add the garlic and continue sauteeing for another minute. Finally, add the mushrooms an saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the mixture with a dash or salt and pepper, stir and pour into a separate bowl and set aside.

Preparing for Frying or Baking

Preparing for Frying or Baking

In a large bowl, combine ground turkey with the vegetable saute mixture, bread crumbs, egg, a dash more salt, pepper, thyme and finally, the rubbed sage. Stir mixture until well-combined (I use my hands and really get into there). Meanwhile, pour your flour into a small bowl and set on the stove near your frying pan. Also, in preparation, set out a plate with a few layers of paper towels in order to soak up some of that yummy grease after frying. After setting up, roll your meatballs into balls the size of ping pongs and set on a plate.

Post-baking

Post-baking

Hello little friends.

Hello little friends.

Once done shaping your meatballs, place frying pan on the stove over medium-high heat and pour in enough vegetable (or frying oil of choice) oil to cover 1/2 inch of the bottom of the pan. Roll each meatball into the bowl of the all-purpose flour so that each meatball is lightly covered in a flour dusting. Place 5 – 6 meatballs in the pan for frying, making sure to cook evenly on each side, giving about 4 -5 minutes of cooking for each ball. Once done, place on paper towel for grease-soaking.

A Shabbat staple

A Shabbat staple

Sex with a Side of Roasted Carrot Soup w/Coconut Milk (Kosher Connections Link Up, Jan., 2013)

20 Jan

Sex was brought up a lot at work this week. Let me explain. I am a middle school counselor. That’s right. I get paid in nickles and warm fuzzies the big bucks to be emotionally and physically available to middle school-aged children 9 hours a day, 5 days a week (well, I get out early on Friday for Shabbat). It’s not a job I EVER, I repeat, EVER thought I would do much less love but I do love it. I was originally hired at the school as a co-director of student life and then 2 weeks after school started I walked into a meeting I thought was about our kosher food bank program and it turned out to be a “how’d you like to be a school counselor” conversation. I am a trained social worker so it’s not far off. I also love working with youth, which was my concentration in social work school but my focus was in community organizing, not in individual practice (IP). In fact, I distinctly remember somewhat tuning out in the mandatory IP courses thinking, “There’s no way in H*LL I’m ever going to do this.” Ha. Jokes on me. So here I am, a school counselor—–for middle school students. I mean, the apex of awkwardness, ‘drama’, emotions, depression, everything in a child’s developmental life. I have learned so much about young people through this job. Heck, I’ve been asked parenting advice and that was before I had a child. Parents come to me desperate for advice or an explanation as to why their child is behaving the way they are and often I bring up the frontal-lobe/brain development stuff but mostly I tell them that this is normal. Your child is going through a change that is so intense the only ages that match it’s intensity of development is 0-2. It’s amazing the sigh of relief I see when parents hear, “You’re not alone.” Of course, the other side of the job is occasionally recommending continual outside therapy and let me tell you, NO ONE likes the person in the room who is recommending therapy.

Mommy, where do babies come from? Ummmm . . .

Mommy, where do babies come from? Ummmm . . .

So why sex? Well, I run a girls group—-a small group ‘lunch bunch’ of 6th grade girls. Working with girls in helping them feel confident, understood, and healthy is a passion of mine, especially in Miami where the exposure to weight-loss ads, Botox, and the expectation of beauty is so overwhelming I have 6th graders telling me they want to be ‘skinny’ when they grow up. It’s heartbreaking. I had the first two sessions of my two 6th grade girls group this past week and during this time I always ask them what they want to talk/learn about. I get the usual–gossip, cliques, parents, peer pressure, etc. But this time around, someone in both groups said puberty. Last year I ended up teaching ‘unofficial’ sex education when it became very clear that my girls had no idea what their periods are and what happens to their bodies during puberty. I closed the shades, told them that I reserved the right to not answer a question they might ask and then let them ask me any question they ever had about the issue (within reason, of course). It was very “Reading Lolita in Tehran”, except this was “Learning about My Uterus in Jewish Day School” (remember people, its uterUS not uterU). Could I have gotten fired? I’m not sure. But dang it, it’s too important that our girls are educated about their bodies so that they can make educated decisions about what happens to it as they grow up. So now I’m getting permission to officially talk about it in girls group plus I’ve been asked to teach sex ed. in health class. It’s intense but it’s all in a day’s work.

On top of all that sex talk, I was asked to compile a list of resources for a mom who wants to talk about sex with her eleven year-old son but is terrified to do so. And then it dawned on me, ‘Holy shit, I’m gonna have to do this with Siona one day”. And then another thing dawned on me. As a relatively observant Jewish woman, my husband and I practice Taharat Hamishpacha, The Laws of Family Purity, part of which is going to the mikveh every month for a ritual cleansing. One day Siona is going to realize that mom leaves the house once a month all showered, no make up, hair wet, and is gone for about 20 minutes (Gd bless those mikvot that take reservations) and then comes back all hair still wet. She’s going to want to know what’s up with that and eventually I’ll need to be honest about what it is and why mommy does it. It’s kind of a beautiful way to explain the birds and the bees to a child. It certainly beats learning about it from your awkward Math teacher when you’re 10 years-old. I’m still debating whether that was a good thing or a bad thing as in the end, I was terrified of sex for quite a long time. Thanks Mr. H. Maybe that’s why I hate Math so much.

Carrots: Pre-roasting

Carrots: Pre-roasting

This week’s recipe is soup. I’ve started cooking 3-4 dinners/week for a dear friend/co-worker who wants to go semi-Paleo and doesn’t want to cook for herself. It’s such a great opportunity because it challenges me in the kitchen and I get paid. Holler! I was craving roasted carrot soup for myself so went ahead and made it for Dana and then saved some for me. I hope she likes it (and you too)!

Carrots: Post-roast

Carrots: Post-roast

Roasted Carrot Soup with Coconut Milk and Cilantro

What?!

8-10 carrots cut in 1/2 in. rounds
Olive oil for drizzle
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 can coconut milk
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
4 cups of water or vegetable broth
Sea salt
Pepper
1 bunch of cilantro

How?!

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place cut-up carrots spread out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and place in oven for about 30 minutes. About 15 minutes into the roasting, coarsely chop onions and mince the garlic. Place a stock pot on the stove with the flame on medium-high heat. Put coconut oil in pot. Let sit for a minute and then add onions. Sauté until clear, about 4-5 minutes. Turn down flame and add minced garlic. Sauté with onions for another minute or so. Add carrots to the mix once they are done (they should be nicely browned and soft). Add the ground coriander. Sauté for another minute. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the water to simmer and let sit, covered, for about 10-15 minutes.

One Big Happy Soup Family

One Big Happy Soup Family

At this point you can either blend in batches in a food processor or, if you’re really good, you have a hand blender and just blend the crap outta it. I LOVE the hand blender. It’s the easiest way to make any soup. Just roast vegetables, add water or broth and then blend. Once it’s smoothly blended, add the coconut milk and stir. This part is up to you. Taste and if you like the consistency, keep it as is. If you want it richer, then add more. Add a bit more sea salt and pepper to your taste. Top with bunch of fresh cilantro and serve.

This soup is delicious. I’m pretty proud of myself for this recipe. I may or may not have high-fived myself after eating.



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