A family visit

After working for a few months at home in Toronto, I decided to take a break and fly down to LA.  I haven’t been back here in a while, so it feels good being here and sitting on my couch. Yes, I said my couch.  For those of you who know me personally, you know what I’m talking about. For the rest of you, don’t worry about it! heh
As soon as I got here, I started to clean and organize things that my husband couldn’t get to because of his hectic work schedule. It was important that I tackle things as soon as I landed because my family was finally coming down for a visit during the Victoria Day long weekend.  It’s taken them a while to organize a trip down, so I wanted to make everything perfect for them.
After a few days of cleaning and cooking, I was ready to have them here for a wonderful vacation that everyone needed.  I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy that they were finally here. Sad that my father, who had unexpectedly passed away in December 2009, was not here with us.  Alas, God is the Best of Planners and this is what was meant to be.
One of the dishes I prepared was curried zucchini. This recipe is a no-fuss recipe that allows you to complete other tasks as it cooks on the stove top. Prepare all of the ingredients before you start cooking and I guarantee that it will probably be one of the easiest things you’ve ever cooked!
Zucchini Curry
8 thin zucchinis, washed and cut into coins
1/2 cup diced onions
3 heaping tbsps minced garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric
6 Roma tomatoes, washed and diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp lemon juice
salt and red chili powder to taste
coriander leaves for garnish (optional)
In a medium sized pot, warm up the olive oil over medium-high heat and begin to brown the diced onions. Once the onions have changed to a pinky-brown colour (about 15 minutes or so), add in the garlic. Cook the onions and garlic until the garlic has a slight golden colour, then add in the turmeric and tomatoes.
Cook the tomatoes for 3-5 minutes and then add in the zucchini coins. The tomatoes will continue to break down and release their juices which will help cook the zucchini. Once you notice the mixture starting to come up to a boil, add the salt and red chili to taste. Stir for a few minutes and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let the zucchini cook down.   Stir it occasionally until the zucchini is softened, and the tomatoes and liquid have reduced down. Before removing from the heat, add in the lemon juice and adjust the curry for salt and red chili. 
Put the curry into a dish and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with naan or white rice.

Blueberry Explosion Muffins

I have come to the conclusion, and have had it verified by several people, that teachers are pack rats.  We find things that could spark interest in the classroom and have the potential to help us create exciting and invigorating lessons. So what do we do with them? We keep them, tuck them away into a bin or box and have them collect dust until that eventful day, which sometimes never arrives.  And if by chance we open that box and find those precious things so many months (or years) later we don’t have it in us to toss them into the garbage because we end up suffering a “What if I need it later..” moment. This leads us to dusting the items off and making a mental note of their presence, closing up the bin and then repeating the cycle again and again and again. 
Well I’ve decided to take the plunge! I have slowly, but steadily been looking at my teaching resources and purging myself (and my apartment) of outdated and no longer “cool and interesting” stuff. At the same time, I have been transferring paper copies of units and resources that are worthwhile to keep to digital copies. I am literally spending hours at my desk going through the painful transfer process.  I am only scanning about 10% of my resources because I want to be able to manipulate documents at a later date.  I am HOPING that by the end of it, I will have 2-3 jump drives with CD backups of my documents and just a few bins of books. 
To help me keep my energies up, I decided to bake some mouth watering blueberry muffins.  I LOVE how these turned out. The  blueberries stain your fingertips as you unwrap the muffin and then burst in your mouth to release their sweet and tart juices.
The original recipe on Gina’s Skinny Recipes calls for the use of whole wheat pastry flour, but also gives you the options of using a blend of whole wheat flour and white flour.  I just used Robin Hood’s Nutri-Blend flour, unsifted. In the US, the Nutri-Blend equivalent would be white whole wheat flour.  The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of blueberries. Now this works fine in regular muffin tins, but I would cut it down to 1 1/4 cups if I was making these in mini muffin tins.
Blueberry Explosion Muffins
1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
2 cups of Robin Hood’s Nutri-Blend flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  The original recipe calls for 325 degrees, but over the years I have found that my oven works best at 350 degrees. 
Mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the beaten egg, melted butter, vanilla, and applesauce.  Add to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is just blended. Gently fold in the blueberries with the spoon.
Using two spoons, divide the batter in paper-lined muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out crumb-free.  Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack and allow the muffins to cool for at least 10 minutes.