Friday, October 22, 2010

A Busy Girl

Things are busy right now. I made a hard decision this week to not continue my graduate assistant (GA) position into the next semester. Right now, it's just plain difficult to find the time to commit to the hours. In conjunction with the time now, I'm considering what I'm realistically going to need to do to graduate within the time line I want, and I'm also interested in trying to fit in some psychology counseling courses that would allow me to get certified as a family and marriage counselor, or a sex therapist after graduation if the doctorate program doesn't work out. This could be for any variety of reasons, but good to have a back up plan, right? Plus counseling skills can't hurt... can only make me better at my current position at GreenPath and whatever future endeavors take up!

I made the decision to not renew my contract when I realized what my time actually looked like. And it's insane:

Monday: Work on GA stuff in the morning, GreenPath from 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM, work out when I get home for 30-45 minutes, dinner with Ian, a few hours for homework.
Tuesday: GreenPath from 8:30 - around 4:00 PM, class at 5:30 - 8:10 PM, work out, dinner with Ian, homework.
Wednesday: GreenPath from 8:30 - around 4:00 PM, class at 5:00 - 7:40 PM, work out, dinner with Ian, homework. (Notice a pattern yet?)
Thursday: Homework/GA stuff in the morning, GA hours 12:00 - 5:00 PM, class from 5:30 - 7:10, work out, dinner with Ian. But I don't do homework on Thursday nights. Thank the good lord.
Friday: Work from 8:30 - around 4:00 PM. 2-3 hours of GA work, RELAXATION.

The weekends have a little more space in them usually. We do our errands and shopping on Saturday and usually sleep in a little. Sometimes I'll do a few hours of work, but usually I save Sunday as my crunch day. Overall what I realized is that without the GA position, I work on average about 30 hours weekly, have 9 hours a week in class as it is plus homework time. I'm usually going from 8:00 in the morning when I leave the house until after 8:00 when I get home, and then it's more homework and exercise and eating and sleeping. Plus, I'm not getting enough sleep, which means I'm crabby and weepy, which makes me a bad partner for my baby, this (somewhat) perfect man cooks and cleans and rubs my back and says encouraging things, even when I get weepy-mascara goop all over his shirts.

So I sent my adviser and the department head my decision tonight. It's been on the table, and really, the GA position has been the thing to fall behind, my classwork and my job are too important to me to not put full effort into, and I don't always have the energy and time for the final hours. So I'll finish out the last 7 weeks of the semester and then have a little more time to deal with things. At least, that's the hope!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Roasted Eggplant Soup

The motor for our blender and food processor pooped out this week. Ian and I were planning to make a roasted eggplant soup with our last farm share veggies. and then realized this evening we had nothing to make it creamy and delicious with!

Enter trip to Target for the IMMERSION BLENDER. Our good friend Em whipped out her immersion blender out at a jam-making party a few weeks back, and I must admit I was terribly jealous at how fast and mess-free it was. Boiling pears and sugar into pear sauce in mere moments with no messy back and forth between blender and pot? I believe I will!

So we picked up this little dude. Exciting, right? And red (yes mom, red) to match my standing blender. Because Ian spoils me rotten like that.

Our vegetables are currently roasting away for our soup, so I can't tell you how the soup turned out yet, but here is the recipe for Roasted Eggplant Soup at Also see Smitten Kitchen's beautiful pictures, my original inspiration.

I'm off to make some Gruyere croutons for the soup. Nomnom.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Butternut Squash Gratin Recipe

It's fall!

Ian and I made my favorite fall dish, Butternut Squash Gratin. This is my fifth fall making it, and I've gradually worked out a recipe that is pretty darned delish.

Butternut Squash Gratin
Smaller butternut squash have more flavor. It's more work to cut up a few of these, but the results are worth it!

3-4 small-medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp. butter
2-3 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
several sprigs fresh sage, minced and divided
thyme (fresh or dried)
rosemary (fresh or dried)
4 slices high quality bread
olive oil
2-4 oz. grated Gruyere cheese (or a nice Parmesan)
1/2 - 3/4 cup milk, warmed (recommend whole milk)

Toss the cubed squash in the flour until well coated. Salt and pepper, and set aside.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the onion and garlic, along with half of the sage and a pinch of thyme. Saute until the onions began to caramelize and brown. Add the broth and increase heat to medium-high. Stir occasionally until almost all of the broth is absorbed and very little liquid remains. Take the onion mixture off of the heat and spread in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish.

Reheat skillet over medium heat with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. When the oil is hot, place just enough of the squash cubes to cover the pan in a single layer. Cook, tossing gently every minute or two until squash begins to sizzle and starts to nicely brown, about 7 minutes. Place cooked squash on top of onion mixture. Repeat until all of your squash is cooked, usually 2-3 batches depending on your pan size.

Time to make your breadcrumbs! Run the bread through a food processor to make crumbs. Return your non-stick skillet (wiped clean) to medium-low heat, and, if you want, heat a small amount of butter or olive oil. Add the bread and 1-2 teaspoons rosemary, and some salt and pepper. Toss the breadcrumbs and continue to cook about 5-7 minutes until they begin to brown. Set aside.

Sprinkle the cheese and the rest of the sage evenly over the squash mixture, then pour over the warm milk. Cover with tinfoil and cook at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Uncover the squash and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the dish. Continue cooking for 15-250 minutes more, until the squash is browned and sizzling.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nothing Terribly Exciting

I feel bad not having contributed to the blog in about three weeks. I'm very busy and having lots of thoughts. Unfortunately many of the ideas I'm learning about and mulling over... wouldn't be very interesting for anyone else, save a few people from my department, who I'm pretty sure don't read this. See, aren't I considerate in saving you from reading boring things?

I'm really struggling to develop a schedule and succeed in time management. Too often I suddenly realize it's one the morning (or later!), and I haven't finished my reading or the paper due the next day and have been wasting time on facebook or doing kenken or any other number of unproductive activities (but kenken is supposed to make you smarter - so there!). And on reduced sleep, I'm not as good a counselor, don't think as clearly in class, can't study as effectively, and am a crabbier wife.

This all said, I pushed myself so hard last weekend and this week, Ian and I spent some really nice time together last night after class. We got a burger, had some wine, and just hung out for a few hours. Guilt free. We're trying to at least spend 30-60 minutes a day together for some "us" time, whether that's cooking a nice dinner together, or reading before bed.

Well, I've got email a million students and make some phone calls.
Happy Thursday all!