been a long time gone

for some reason i never noticed that my LJ account will post over to FB. that means i can focus more on longer LJ-type entries again.

we're ahead of schedule for xmas, which is itself a miracle. i fully expect to be sick before tuesday since i'm on vacation.

my beard is coming along. i'm fairly pleased with it's progress. not sure when i'll jump into a competition. i expect that in the next year it will be about where i want it to be and acceptable to actually travel somewhere to compete. i figure i'll be ready for world competition in 2013 :D

i've gotten into this great ww2 game, flames of war, over at a local gaming store, the battle standard. i'm playing the 51st highland division and have a late war and mid-war army. enjoying it immensely. i'll post pics of my painted miniatures sometime this week.

i'm starting to get the larp bug again. between adnd and fow, i'm really enjoying gaming. sometimes you need to return to the basics. as for the larp, i've got an idea. it's percolating. if it sticks, i'll have information out around march.

the brain is also starting to put out more picture book and novel ideas so i'm going to have to bust out my journal and keep it on me from now on. don't know where any of those ideas may end up, but i'd hate to have a good idea and nowhere to jot it down. my story, "the ivory tower", is also starting to occupy more of my thoughts so i think i'll start putting more words into that over the next month and see where it leads. my writer's group needs to get back together starting in january.

i'm really hoping that i'll be able to get into a conducting class next semester. band hasn't had a chance to get going at work so i haven't had real podium time since the summer. i'm going to send in an application for a symposium at west point. i may have to see about creating conducting opportunities outside of my job and school.

well, time to get going if xmas is going to stay ahead of schedule. updates will be happening more often. have a great weekend all!!

you are worthy

when i was a new parent, within the first 18 months of my daughter's birth, i had an experience that has since become an ideal of being to which i aspire to be an example of every day.

i was at my parent's house for one of many family summer gatherings. for those of you who have been to such an occasion you can visualize what was occurring. for those of you unfamiliar with the SOP of such an event...imagine a gathering of 15-20 italians and celts. yeah, you're probably not far off. it's a good time. anyway...back to the point.

i'm not sure of the details of the exchange but my daughter did something and i said something along the lines of, "katy that was great. i love you and you're a great person."

here is what made an impact on me.

my uncle said something along the lines of, "you know, not enough children hear that, that they're good people."

far too often we forget that people are...people. that we need to hear that we are good. that we have value. that we're not a waste of oxygen.

sometimes it's hard. sometimes we're angry. we carry that anger with us. it poisons how we see things.

we're good people. sometimes that's hard to say...but more often it's hard to hear. we're so used to hearing how bad we are, how useless we are. we become deaf to the smallest bit of praise. we're trained to believe that we're not worthy.

we are worthy. *YOU* are worthy.

after far too many misguided years i rediscovered my calling and am a full-time teacher. i look at my students and i can see those who don't hear, "you're a good person," enough...or perhaps, ever. frankly, this is just as true in corporate America. too many people told they're useless.

i don't have a special gift. it doesn't take a unique talent to know when someone is hurting. it doesn't takes a special power, a unique brand of willpower, to go beyond what society tells you that the "norm" should be and reach out. it takes a willingness to open your eyes.

i'll help. start here - tell someone they have value. i'll even make it simple. begin with your own children. don't have children? begin with your friends. show that you care and give a shit about them. tell them that their ideas aren't stupid. tell them that their ideas aren't valueless. tell them that their emotions aren't invalid.

give 'em a hug.

do these things and MEAN IT.

you'll change the world.


i am looking for some recipes for goose. i've got a 12lb goose that will be devoured on xmas day. i've got the standard fare from cook's illustrated and food network. anyone out there got something they've cooked and love? the more traditional, the better (i'm in a "traditional" mood this year).

i find it odd that i haven't come across a single recipe from a domain name! c'mon....xmas of "christmas carol" with me people! i did find a goose recipe from "two fat ladies". it has 50 prunes in it. mental note that if i cook that to stock up on toilet paper :D


a bit more detail on my new job

for those of you who might not know, i was offered a music teaching job yesterday. it's still a bit surreal, but things are starting to sink in.

i'll be teaching full time at the engineering and science university magnet school in new haven, ct. the school is currently 6-8th grade. they are adding one grade each year until it becomes a 6-12 school. it's a wonderful opportunity to build a band program from the ground up which means that i'll be thrown into the deep end and frantically writing curriculum. right now, my classes will include general music, instrumental lessons, and band. i may start up a choral club.

the commute isn't really that bad - 40 minutes door-to-door. i did that for years when i worked in springfield. school doesn't start until 9:45 and i avoid hitting I-95 all-together. if necessary i can take the merritt parkway and cut through town as well.

it's been a long 2.5 years, but things look to be turning around. i'm enjoying my classes at the hartt school immensely. this semester i'm taking conducting. next semester i think i'm taking conducting and curriculum/assessment.

so, that's it for now. kristin and i are beyond excited. there will be a big party soon, most likely the 2nd saturday in october.


here fishy fishy fishy...

i'm getting an early start on the blogging today since i'll be in a germanic food coma later this evening.

the stuffed sole florentine was so easy to make. from start to finish it was probably 40 minutes, including the cook time of 20 minutes in the oven. i've included the recipe here. it's an america's test kitchen recipe. if you are unable to get sole, you could use flounder. tilapia is another option, but i'd use that only if it was the last fish available. you could use 1/2 and 1/2 if you didn't want to use the heavy cream. i wouldn't skimp on the cheese though. i used panko breadcrumbs instead of the ritz crackers.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
2teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about Y2 teaspoon)
2 cups heavy cream
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Table salt and ground black pepper
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
8 boneless. skinless sole fillets. 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
Ritz crackers, crushed fine (3/4 cup)
1 lemon, cut into wedges (for serving)

1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in thyme and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1 3/4 cups heavy cream aid bring to simmer. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream and cornstarch together, then stir into saucepan. Simmer until sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

2. Combine 1 cup sauce, spinach, and Parmesan in medium bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pat fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Coat 13- by 9-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter.

3. Divide spinach filling equally, mounding it in middle of each fillet. Fold tapered end of fish over filling and then fold thicker end of fish over top to make tidy bundle.

4. Arrange fish bundles in baking dish, seam-side down, leaving space between each roll. Pour remaining sauce evenly over fish. 5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Sprinkle fish with Ritz cracker crumbs and bake until all but very center of fish is hot from translucent to opaque and filling is hot, about 20 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

you thought there'd be leftovers?

last night was one of america's test kitchen's beef stroganoff recipes. unfortunately, you have to be a member of the web site to see the recipe, but you can sign up for a 14-day free trial. you could also pick up the 10-year omnibus - which is a great resource.

i've made both of these recipes before and last night's rendition didn't disappoint. i cooked entire dry-aged steaks (which i do myself) with only salt and pepper and after resting for 5-10 minutes, sliced them into strips. this is an important step. unless you like your meat well-done, do not cut it until you've cooked the steaks. it's much easier to control the doneness that way.

i had a cup of leftover au jous from a rib roast i did for kristin's birthday so i substituted that for the beef broth. yeah...that sucked :P

i think i put too much onion into the sauce, but the wife said i was full of...hooey. i may cut back a little next time, but in the end everyone was licking the bowls clean. i was hoping for enough to be left over for lunch today, but there was no chance of that happening.

tonight: stuffed sole florentine


pad thai review

we were unable to cook the pad thai last night so we had it for dinner tonight using alton brown's recipe.

overall a solid recipe. some changes to the amount of ingredients can be made and substitutions work like a charm. we didn't have tamarind paste, but we did have a nice tamarind concentrate procured from a local indian store that worked wonderfully. instead of palm sugar, we used turbinado sugar, also known by it's brand-name "sugar in the raw". we left out the peanuts. partly because we didn't have them on hand, partly because prefer to leave them out in pad thai.

we were able to double the amount of noodles in order to feed the entire clan (and we like rice noodles) without effecting flavor or consistency. if you do increase the amount of ingredients, i would suggest leaving the shrimp at the suggested amount. they're very salty and can quickly turn a mouth of awesomeness into a saline nightmare. the tofu was surprisingly good considering kristin and i are both wary of anise flavor.

my only suggestion is that if you make this, or any pad thai, make sure to have every single thing prepped ahead of time in the exact amount you need it. once you start cooking, the entire dish finishes in under 3 minutes. it's an extremely fast put together.

on a related note. if you like thai food, check out the tom yum goong recipe is to die for.

tomorrow: beef stroganoff


cooking with d. - entry, the first

two lj posts in one day?! i'm a madman! ::cough:: ahem... the only reason this wasn't included in the last post was because this really deserved it's own entry. it's long so i'll lj-cut it.

this blog is about menu planning.Collapse )


regimen for the fall

as i am (still) unemployed, i am going to have to schedule my days so that i am as productive as possible when not substitute teaching. one cannot simply live on soap operas and bon-bons every day :D

to this end, i am going to include the following into my daily routine:

1. job hunting. this is a given, but as there isn't a lot of hiring in the education during the semesters, i don't expect much of this until the xmas break and end of school term.

2. clean house. this should take between 30-90 minutes depending on the day and the amount of laundry needing to be done.

3. score study. at least 30 minutes. will probably end up being 45-60 minutes.

4. writing. i'm going to force myself to sit in front of the computer or typewriter for at least an hour every day to get back in the habit. no minimum word count at first, but i may impose that by halloween.

5. practicing. i might have to bust out my instrument and actually practice for 30-45 minutes. i don't know if i'll be motivated to do it every day, but at least 3-4 times a week. it'll be good for katy and kellan to see me doing it and keep her motivated with oboe and piano. i'll probably do this while they do their homework.

6. walking/biking. i figure a good stretch of the legs will get me out of the house and a reason to get dressed on a daily basis. it might even lead to ::gasp:: exercise!

7. i'm still looking into giving tuba/euphonium/trumpet lessons.

8. i've considered volunteering part of a day each week at my childrens' old pre-school and give music classes to the wee ones. if i do this, i'll need to consult with one of the professors at hartt to research age-appropriate activities.

that should keep me well occupied for the moment.

in case you missed this...

...i just wanted to point out this show, which i look forward to with great anticipation (not that this sentence is redundant in any way by repeating itself about how much i look forward to watching this...)

the choir


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