There’s More for Your Life

I’ve emerged from my hiatus to share a rant about Sears. Sears, who sold my mother-in-law a refrigerator on Monday and delivered it to our home yesterday. This same Kenmore refrigerator, purchased at Sears…DOES. NOT. WORK.

I came home from work today to find the ground chuck in my freezer a rather unappetizing shade of gray. A service tech (not a Sears employee) came to my home this afternoon–after many hours of phone calls–and confirmed that the appliance is, in fact, not working. As if the smell of rotting food didn’t give that away. The refrigerator is registering a balmy 68 degrees which, as those of you in the food business may know, makes the food housed therein unsafe for human consumption.

As I write this, my mother-in-law is trying to get them to deliver a new refrigerator to my house. The earliest estimates for delivery are Friday. Friday, people: as in two days from now. They are also unwilling to compensate me for the food that is now rotting and unsafe for my children to eat. What they did offer was a $100 Sears gift card. Are you kidding? Like I want to spend more money there?

I have taken to my Twitter page, my Facebook account, and any other media to share my frustration at both the sub-standard product I received and the cavalier attitude of company representatives with whom my MIL has made contact.

If mama’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy. If mother-in-law ain’t happy, well…you know the rest.

Update: The social media folks from Sears saw my tweets and have since made contact. As of right now, the new fridge is scheduled to be delivered on Friday; they have also agreed to mail us $100 to go towards the cost of the spoiled food. Fingers crossed, you guys.

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People of the Internets, there is big news around here at Casa Flamenco. Big news as in…wait for it…I got a new job! As if that wasn’t exciting all on its own, the job I speak of is a teaching job. Finally! After years of longing and preparation, the time has finally come.

I am teaching 6th grade Language Arts at a new school scheduled to open in just a few weeks. I am so thrilled to have this opportunity to work with students, and I’m thrilled to have found a placement at a school where the administration is very supportive of its teachers. My AP taught for this particular school management company (at a different site), and both she and the principal expressed their belief that I would make a good fit at the school.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be in training classes and working on lesson planning in preparation for the start of the school year. I’ve got lots of prepping to do, and I cannot wait to hit the ground running. Whoo-hoo!

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It’s Official: I Suck at This

Whew! Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can move on.

Kind of.

I haven’t posted on this blog in a LONG time. Why? I’m not entirely sure, but I guess the short answer is that I guess I felt I didn’t have anything to say. I kept waiting for a time when thoughts, feverishly percolating within the hat rack above my neck, would cry out for release. As one would expect, it didn’t happen. And it didn’t happen because the act of writing is a craft that needs to be practiced constantly. If you’re not writing all the time, you’re going to get rusty–and it’s going to get a lot easier to concoct any number of ridiculous excuses for not writing. Like having to organize my closet, pay my taxes, and steam the carpets.

When I originally started blogging, the focus of my work was on food. Zoe’s dietary needs dictate that we proceed carefully when cooking–and I wanted to share what I had learned with others. And I still want to do that. :-)

Then, I started moving in a different direction, talking about books and other stuff–things like school and family trips, etcetera. I started to get too wound up in the idea that this blog should have one very well-defined focus and that’s it. But then I started to feel suffocated by that idea, and then the words just stopped.

So, I think it’s time that I just write about the stuff I want to write about and remove those self-imposed limitations. Because at the end of the day, I want to know that I put what was on my mind and in my heart on a page (or server, as the case may be). It may not fit into any of those neat and convenient tags or categories I’ve placed on my blog in the past, but I’m okay with that.

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My husband can attest to the fact that I have really good memory. That skill can be a mixed blessing. When you need to recall something quickly, you’ve got it. On the flip side of that, you are challenged by not being able to simply forget things you’d rather see fade off into the recesses of your gray matter.

Back in November of 2007, I made my first attempt at Thai Chicken Coconut Soup. And the results were less than stellar. In fact, I recall sharing with the internets the fact that my kitchen (and my senses) were smacked upside the head by the intensity of a certain ingredient:

“The good news is that my kitchen smells like lemongrass.

The bad news is that my kitchen smells like lemongrass. And only lemongrass. And now all I can smell is…lemongrass.”

Yeah, so that didn’t go so well. But I’m a determined little bugger, and I never quite gave up on the idea of successfully executing this dish.  I’d revisit the recipe, toy with some of the ingredients, and try again. I just wouldn’t let it go. I couldn’t forget my earlier failure, and I was obsessed with getting this darn thing right.

Well, Peoples of the World Wide Web, I have finally done it! Today, I made the soup…and it was FREAKING DELICIOUS. The creaminess of the coconut, the brightness of the LEMONGRASS, the saltiness of the fish sauce, and the spiciness of the Thai chilis: everything just came together beautifully. I’m still planning to play around with some of the seasonings, but I’m pretty darn happy about how things turned out. Once I’m done with nailing down precise measurments, I’ll be sure to update this post to include the recipe.

Posted in Home Cooking, Raves | 1 Comment

Getting My Book On

I took a short (yeah, right) hiatus from my quest to read all 100 books on Newsweek’s Meta-List, but now I’m ready to jump back into the proverbial saddle. I should point out that I did read a few other books during the break.

Possession by A.S. Byatt is, I think, the best book I’ve read this year. If you’re into metafiction, this is definitely one to check out. Since I am a lover of the Victorian novel, I really enjoyed how Byatt was able to incorporate elements of the Victorian into modern times. I understand that a film version of the book exists; however, I’ve heard from numerous sources that the movie is not good, so I don’t think it will be added to my Netflix queue anytime soon.

The other book I read is Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. I wanted to love this book: I really did. A former instructor of mine, whose opinion I value greatly, suggested that I read it. Sorry, but this book did not do anything for me. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that it’s set in Paris in the ’50s and it deals with questions of morality and love and, well, it’s pretty unconventional stuff. I think reading it right after Possession may have been a bad decision on my part. I’ll give Baldwin another chance, but it’s gonna be a while.

So now I’m ready to tackle something else. I was fortunate enough to receive a Barnes & Noble gift card for my birthday (thank you, brother-in-law!), so I picked up a few books. I still have a stack of books on my desk to read, but I was in the mood for something else. Today, I’m starting Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I’ve heard lots of positive feedback about this novel, so I’m looking forward to diving in.

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Eating on the Run, GFCF

Last week I took my kids camping. In the woods. With no electricity. And nary a flush toilet in sight. Those who know me were quite shocked to find out that I was VOLUNTARILY embarking on this trip: I’m just not what one would call the outdoorsy type. To add to the shock factor, I actually went out there sans hubby; Flamenco Dad wasn’t able to join us until we were well into Day 2.  I packed up all our gear, loaded up the kids and the grub, and ventured out into the wilderness.

What we encountered once we made it to the campsite was not what I expected. I didn’t realize it ahead of time, but we were in for what experienced campers would call “primitive camping.” When we arrived, we were informed that we could not drive to our campsite, instead having to hike over 1/2 mile whilst schlepping our gear. By the time we made it to our campsite it was dark out, meaning I had to assemble our tent in the dark. It was the first time I ever assembled a tent on my own, never mind the fact that it was hard to see out there.

I’ll save the rest of our camping adventure for another day, but you may be wondering why I’m sharing all this. It’s because with all that packing, hiking, and tent building, I also needed to be mindful of what we were going to eat out there.

Three days of no access to refrigeration (save for a medium sized cooler) and only a small camp stove make for some unique food challenges.

Dining on the run (or away from home) can be difficult, especially when one has to be mindful of food sensitivities. It’s not like I can just walk into a 7-Eleven and grab whatever’s on the shelf. Besides Zoe’s gluten and dairy intolerance, that stuff it usually just plain icky and otherwise unhealthy. So when it came time to prepare for our camping trip, I needed to be ready with healthy foods we ALL could eat and enjoy.

What I did was modify a recipe for banana bread that I found in Carol Fenster’s Cooking Free. The result was a not-too-sweet, tasty, and healthy pumpkin bread that was out of this world. I gave myself props for not using any refined sugar and giving my kids a breakfast/snack that was chock full of Vitamin A (courtesy of the pumpkin puree).

Pumpkin Bread (recipe modified from a recipe in Cooking Free):


1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/8 tsp. baking soda

2 large eggs

3 Tbs. canola oil

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups of your favorite gluten-free flour blend (I made my own)

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 ripe mashed banana

1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 3 mini loaf pans. Combine syrup, baking soda, eggs, oil, and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to the egg mixture, alternating with the pumpkin and banana. Divide the batter among the three loaf pans, then bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into loaf comes out clean. Cool thoroughly before cutting.

Posted in Dining Out, Home Cooking, Vacations | Leave a comment

Books, School, and GFCF Stuff

So, I had to put Middlemarch down for the time being. It’s not because I’m not enjoying the book; in fact, I was enjoying it a lot. The problem was that with my teacher certification classes (complete with lots of assignments), studying for certification exams,  and lots of busy days at work I wasn’t really able to give the novel the time and attention it deserves. But I will revisit George Eliot very soon. I am finally starting to like her, after all. I need to give that relationship the warm fuzzies it needs to endure.

Gosh, I am such a dork.

Anyway, I just picked up Wide Sargasso Sea yesterday, and it’s going well so far. I know what you’re thinking: “Well, if she doesn’t have much time to read for pleasure, why the hell did she pick up another book?” And that is a valid question, one for which I have a pretty good answer. I’m not trying to take anything away from Jean Rhys (the author) by saying this, but I don’t find Sargasso as demanding a text; therefore, I am able to read it without feeling like I’m sacrificing much time and effort. In other words, I’m approaching this book in a much more casual way than I did with Middlemarch. Does that make sense to anyone else besides me?

In other news, I passed the first of three certification exams I need to take in order to get my teaching certificate. I’m quite relieved. While I didn’t think the test was going to be too difficult, I still had a bit of nerves as test day approached. I’m glad I got over the first hurdle.

I have also started doing fieldwork in local schools, and I gotta say, I really love it. The kids are great, and I had a real “a-ha” moment on my first day of fieldwork. I looked around at the students and was taking in everything going on around me, and it occurred to me that the classroom is really where I belong. It was exhilirating and scary when that moment of recognition finally happened.

This blog has been seriously lacking in GFCF stuff, and I do apologize for that. There just hasn’t been much time; and we’ve really settled into a rhythm with feeding Zoe this way, so there hasn’t been much new to say. I do have some products to write about that we recently sampled, and I’ll try to get on that ASAP.

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