December 2013 archive

international date line

By Kristina

Screen shot 2013-12-11 at 2.53.21 PM

Facebook Status of friend living in Geneva, Switzerland

When I used to wear a Timex Ironman watch set to 24-hour time, students would ask me “what’s 13:41?” when they saw it. I got a “fancy business lady” analog watch and soon forgot my European time and dates, even to the point that I messed up my International Baccalaureate Information System account when it kept asking me to enter the date…in the day/month/year format. I appreciated when a friend posted this status today…it’s good to think beyond our little world spheres!

night-into-day: dan dan noodles

By Kristina

Some dresses are marketed as “day-into-night,” meaning that they’ll take you from work into an evening out if you add some pretty heels, lose the cardigan, and freshen up your makeup. Rather than plan my attire for dancing the night away, I’m looking for “night-into-day” dinner dishes that, when you add some tupperware, will take me into a 20-minute lunch break the next day. Salads that wilt or sandwiches that require the toaster oven need not apply.

I saw dan dan noodles on Little Miss Runshine‘s blog the other day and thought they would be a good night-into-day choice. I decided to soak the egg noodles and then cook them in the skillet, so this recipe only required one skillet, one knife, one chopping board, and one food processor.

1/4 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup raw peanuts
1 small jalapeño, minced
1 small garlic clove, halved
One 1/4-inch slice of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha chile sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Kosher salt
12 ounces chow mein noodles
Cucumber matchsticks, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, sesame seeds and lime halves, for garnish

1. In a large skillet, heat the peanut oil. Add the peanuts and fry over moderate heat until golden, about 8 minutes; let cool slightly. Transfer the peanuts and oil to a food processor. Add the jalapeño, garlic and ginger and process until minced. Add the soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, Sriracha, sugar and sesame oil and process until smooth. Season generously with salt.
2. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the noodles until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water; pat dry. Toss the noodles with the dressing and mound in serving bowls; top with the garnishes and serve.

photo (4)I opted to go with carrots, scallions, and lime for garnish today. I give it an A+ and will be taking some to school tomorrow!

gettin’ potlucky

By Kristina

One of my fellow grade team leaders has started a First Friday Breakfast tradition to build camaraderie among staff. Bringing a potluck dish to our school is somewhat of an engineering challenge compared to bringing a potluck dish to a typical office building. Our teachers’ lounge has a small sink with lead in the water and no garbage disposal, a microwave, and a small toaster oven. We could be like our 8th graders at a potluck and bring things like Pop-Tarts and bagels, but those don’t fuel you for teaching the way a home-cooked breakfast can.

My original idea was breakfast tacos or burritos, but the multiple components and make-to-order nature of those foods wouldn’t work for “drop off at the teachers lounge”…unless I got up at 4:00 a.m. to individually wrap 30 burritos. I sought to find a breakfast dish that could be pre-made, served warm, and required minimal cleanup, which led me to a breakfast casserole with cheddar, hash browns, scallions, and sundried tomatoes.

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Doesn’t that look ready to get gobbled up by hungry teachers?

Preparing it the night before didn’t even take as long as an episode of The Big Bang Theory. I made two (one in a glass Pyrex dish and one in a disposable foil pan) and reheated them for about 35 minutes the next morning before driving them to school. I will definitely use foil pans in the future–they save the soaking & scrubbing that you’ll need to do if you have to let your regular casserole dish sit at school all day.

One day I will figure out how to make this waffle bar (spotted at a recent Cambridge Running Club long run) happen for our staff.

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weeknight dinner party: greek

By Kristina

Last month we had our officiant over for dinner along with another Tufts professor and his wife. A few years ago I wouldn’t have attempted to throw a dinner party during the week, and I’ve been working on ways to be more efficient with my cooking so that dinner parties and school life can coexist peacefully. Pre-bought appetizers and two simple recipes from The Clothes Make the Girl made it happen!


Lemon & garlic olives from Whole Foods
Celery and carrots with Whole Foods peppadew dip and tzatziki sauce

Deconstructed Gyro Salad
Herb “Rice” Salad

We prepared the lamb the night before in a dutch oven and reheated it before serving. We also split the chopping for the gyro salad and the herb cauliflower rice, so we were done with plenty of time to spare before dinner time, and we were able to relax with our guests rather than run around fussing over last-minute cooking. We did end up with lots of leftovers though. The lamb and herb “rice” kept very well, as did the veggies and dip. The salad did not–my new goal for dinners is to properly forecast the amount of salad consumed.