Thursday, November 27, 2014

NYC Life: Tenement Museum and Eldridge Street Museum

Among a lot of people my age, New York City makes headlines for being the "party capital" or the "shopping capital." As a social studies teacher, I am much more interested in it's "history capital" status! In preparation for our upcoming unit on immigration, I paid a visit to the Eldridge Street Museum and the Tenement Museum, located just blocks away from each other on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

The Lower East Side has been Manhattan's melting pot for generations, the first stop for countless different waves of immigrants. Although usually associated with Eastern European Jewish immigration, the area is predominantly Chinese today. Mandarin/English signage was everywhere. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ms. Enthused

Columbia University Quad
One of my clearest childhood memories took place around 10 PM in my childhood bedroom in our little Massachusetts town. I had piled every single one of my stuffed animals around me in my too-big bed, and was teaching them, one by one, the names of the capitols of all the US states I could remember. My favorite toy (and, coincidentally, star pupil!) was acing it.

I fell asleep when we were halfway through the south.

That wasn’t the last time teaching kept me up late. For as long as I can remember, from impromptu geography classes to revising real-world lesson plans, I’ve squeezed it in between “real life.”

Until the end of May when I just had this feeling. I realized I was searching for ways to increase the time I spent coaching middle school debate. One afternoon, knee deep in browser tabs for “debate coach,” “after-school homework help,” and “college counselor,” something popped out that I wasn’t expecting. Something I knew in my heart of heart was “IT,” but I was honestly terrified to pursue.

I mean, after 4 moves in the past 6 months and 2 different jobs, I was enjoying the stability of the day to day.

Nonetheless, I applied at the very last minute on the very last day (thanks to some gentle reminders insistent tough love) from F.

I heard nothing for weeks, and assumed that it just wasn’t meant to be.

Until it was.

(It was not that simple –I’ll tell you the whole story in person sometime soon)

The short version is: Emma the social media guru is now Ms. Enthused the middle school social studies teacher at a well-known charter school, and pursuing her masters’ degree in education. (not at Columbia -their quad is just so gorgeous).

And I couldn’t be happier.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

(Better) Banana Bread

Anyone going through a major dietary change brings with them both flexibility and a list of recipes they are desperate to recreate.

I've gone back and forth on this point. My switch has also been rockier than many -hampered by a continually growing and shrinking list of allergens. Every time I start to get a handle on it, something changes and I start over again. Maybe not quite from square one, but close enough. And now, as it seems I'm out of the big woods, it's just small things I'm working out now. How many servings of tomatoes is too much for me? How much sugar? Just little tweaks to make me feel happy and healthy all the time.

Banana bread was a staple in my household growing up. So much so that a day in which both morning and afternoon snack were banana bread was the best day ever. EVER. It became one of my non-negotiables.

Ever since my diagnosis, I've been experimenting with ways to make my perfect loaf: lightly sweet, lots of banana flavor, light texture, and able to stand up to heavier additions like seeds or chocolate chips, but also be sublime on its own.

After a good deal of trial and error, (I must have tried at least 5 different recipes over the past year or so) I'm ready to settle on this one.

My Moby Dick

For every cook, there's at least one recipe, technique, something, that defies them. From souffles to petit fours to certain particularly finicky cuts of meat (I'm looking at you, pork chop!), there's a Moby Dick to every cook's Captain Ahab.

Mine, like many other gluten frees was pizza.




After about 23291029 not-quite-right attempts, I finally got it right.

Look no further for the ultimate thick, crusty, chewy pizza crust. The type you get at fancy rustic pizza boutiques where they pile 10 different cheeses and simple homemade marinara on top of a sturdy, crusty, delicious crust.

There's no soggy, dense middle. No extra special techniques. No funny ingredients. No icky sweet aftertaste.

I mean look at this. Just look at this:

And here's how you can make one of your very own. Or, you know, make me one. Mushrooms are my favorite topping. Just, uhm, fyi.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gluten Free Vollkornbrot

When people think of Germany, bread is usually one of the first things they picture in their heads. For most people, it’s salty pretzels, crusty Kaiser rolls, chewy Mischbrot, or tangy rye Bauernbrot that spring to mind.

Few people think of Vollkornbrot. It’s the very dense, strongly-flavored, seed-studded, brown almost black bread that crumbles easily. For the health-conscious Germans, it’s actually an Abendbrot staple. It’s usually paired with savory foods like tangy cheeses such as Swiss cheese or Bergkäse and meats like wurst or cold cuts. It’s less commonly eaten with jam or honey.

I’ve been missing Germany a lot lately, and was craving some Vollkornbrot. It’s not readily available here in the US, and forget about finding a gluten free version! This isn’t the darkest and seediest (hah) of the Vollkornbrot out there, but it’s tangy and grainy enough to count. And it makes the perfect Abendbrot spread with mustard and topped with swiss cheese and ham and served with sliced cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gluten and Nut Free Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

Banana bread was probably the MOST sought after snack in my kitchen growing up. My sisters and I were always so excited for the day that the bananas' browning would outstrip our capacity to eat them and we could turn them into chocolate-chip banana bread. It was even better the second day, moist and soft and sweet.

I haven't had banana bread yet in my post-allergy life. In part, it probably was because I was sure no gluten free bread could compare. Happily enough, my first try produced a spectacular result.

That doesn't happen all that often with gluten free baking :)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chocolate Beet Cake

I haven't eaten something this wonderful in quite a long time. You know those foods that just hit the spot, where you find each bite delicious, complex, and satisfying?

That's this. Beet cake.

I like beets, and I've cooked with them before. They're not only a beautiful testament of nature's power with their luscious color and marbled insides. They have a delicious earthy flavor that adds gravity to everything they're in. I like them best roasted in foil and then sliced and tossed with greens (including their own -don't throw them out!), goat cheese, and vinaigrette.

I haven't baked anything for myself recently, and realized that was just what this cold and drizzly Friday night was calling for. I wanted something simple, wholesome, and cozy that wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. I settled on chocolate cake.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Mug Cake

The picture is terrible, but microwave mug cakes are almost never made and eaten in situations conducive to good photography.  Think about it -you make them in the evening when the sun has gone to bed, and eat them in your pajamas cuddled up in your sheets.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Gluten Free Pizza Crust

Gluten free eating is usually pretty easy. Staples like meat, veggies, and many grains naturally come without that sticky little protein.

But specialty foods are different. Those like brioche, crusty sourdough bread, and fluffy pancakes just aren't easy to recreate.

But pizza crust. That is by far the hardest, and arguably the most important. Bland, doughy, and soggy, all of the ones that I've tried leave a LOT to be desired.

Thankfully, this one manages to avoid those pitfalls. It's still grainy, so a sometimes treat, but one that's usually worth it. With simple ingredients, straighforward instructions, and a plethora of flavors to keep the crust exciting all on its own, this will be a gluten free pizza worth remembering.