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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Some Days...

Some days you really just want to put on your coziest sweatpants and your husband's falling-apart oversized ancient sweatshirt.

Some days bouncing out of bed at 6:20 to bake your family breakfast apple cake and then working out seems like a good idea at the time but seems less like a good idea at about 3pm.

Some days you've gotta roll with the punches when, with absolutely no notice, your class of four grade 7 boys becomes a class of five grade seven boys.

Some days you've got to find the strength to stand up for what you believe in even when those above you are continuously trying to squish you down.

Some days you realize that your quest to become a neat and organized person with a decluttered home and classroom feels like you're dreaming the impossible dream and you're really, really frustrated with yourself.

Some days you constantly feel like your fighting a losing battle.

Some days you've got to remind yourself that you do what you do because you love it and it's important to you, and not so that someone will praise you...or even say thank-you.

Some days you give yourself a pat on the back because you got a bunch of grade eight boys to be completely and utterly engaged when you read them a picture book entitled Leonardo the Terrible Monster. Especially since you got applause when it was done.

Some days you feel really embarrassed when you mess up in front of your whole class and you're afraid that one tiny little error will squash the confidence they had in your abilities and knowledge.

Some days you feel really guilty when your 14-year-old son comes home after dark, soaking wet from the driving rain because you could've picked him up at the subway. But you're also proud that he's become so independent that he didn't call and ask you to pick him up from the subway.

Some days you really, really want to read a book instead of watching re-runs of 19 Kids and Counting but you brain hurts too much.

Some days you really, really wish you could shake the tuna salad out of the 30% of your city who think that a lying homo-phobic, anti-sematic, ignorant bull-in-a-china-shop like Doug Ford would make a good mayor.

Some days you look in the mirror at 2pm an realize that you forgot to put on your makeup this morning.

Some days you find yourself so slap-happy stressed out that you end up in a classroom with your best work-friends, laughing hysterically over nothing and everything long after the students have left.

Some days you've got to recognize that your daughter thinks she's eating healthy by choosing caramel rice cakes at the grocery store so you let it slide.

Some days you realize that you should stop being so hard on yourself about not being the perfect super-mom. That all you really need to do to show her that you love her is make her favorite dinner, Shepherd's Pie.

Some days you smile a secret smile because when you were a little girl, Shepherd's Pie was your favorite dinner, too. But you keep it a secret because if your little tweenage girl knew that, she'd probably roll her eyes and never eat it again because "that's sooo embarrassing."

Some days you really, really don't want to make Shepherd's Pie because it's a giant pain in the butt.

But some days, like today, you really, truly need the long and methodical process of making Shepherd's Pie because it's a welcome hour of stress relief when you're forced to focus on nothing but slicing, dicing, spicing, and mashing.

Some days no one fights at the dinner table, they put their plates in the dishwasher without being asked, and they don't argue with you when you say that they've got enough ketchup on their plate.

Some days seem like pretty crappy days but if you dig a little deeper, they're actually not that bad.

Almost Vegetarian...But Not Really At All Shepherd's Pie

based on this recipe by Alton Brown

Ingredients
The potatoes:
  • 4 fist-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup (or more) of milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp paprika
The meat
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 kg ground chicken
  • 1 cup vegetarian ground beef, like TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons  flour
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup frozen edemame (or peas if your kids don't hate them like mine do)
Directions
Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander, let steam dry for a minute or two and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes along with the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth, adding more milk if necessary. When the potatoes have cooled slightly, add the egg and mash until well combined. If you add it when the potatoes are too hot, they'll scramble and be gross

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the oil into a 12-inch sauté pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the chicken, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire, wine, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, and spread all around. Sprinkle the paprika on top of that. Place on a cookie sheet on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown.  Let  cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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