Clapping On The Down Beat

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Fear of ….. November 2, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Sharing and Caring — clappingonthedownbeat @ 9:47 PM

So it’s been a while.    Goals are dreams with deadlines, and I have set a few.   I started substitute teaching this fall, just to see if it’s still a love.  I spent a whole week teaching the periodic table to 6th grade science classes.  I loved it.  I guess it had been on the back burner for so long, I didn’t even know I missed it.  But, that may be because I have never really stopped teaching.

I have been in Texas 11 years now.  I decided it was time to actually get TX certified to teach.  Then I remembered all the things I didn’t like about education…… So after many phone calls, on-line registrations, and ordering a review book, I committed to take the Texas Science 4-8 certification exam.

No worries!?

I was an Environmental Science and Geography Major with a specialization in Biogeochemistry.  Although I love science, I haven’t taught in 12 years.   I have had three kids that I think have killed half my brain cells.  I have to do one thing at a time, because otherwise multitasking causes me to forget what I was doing.  I have been doing other things for the past 12 years (teaching group fitness classes, yoga classes, went to culinary school).  Pluto isn’t a planet anymore….

Fear seems to either cause people to not do something, or push people to do something.  Don’t let fear take grip.  Let fear fuel.  Honestly, the fear of failing made me study and focus more.  Nothing has ever come easy for me, I have always poured myself into it and worked at it.  I am not an expert in anything, but I do love learning.

The scope of the test was Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Earth Science.  Some of the subjects I haven’t thought about since undergrad.  Krebs cycle?  Plant and animal cells? Circuits?  Calculating joules, newtons and coulombs?  Balancing equations, calculation moles?  Bowens reaction series?  Yes, the fear of spending the money on the test and not passing (and having to take it again) drove me to study, review, diagram, read, take practice tests, and review again.

And secretly, I liked it.

If there was a paid job for “student”, I would apply.

Last Thursday was the test.  100 multiple choice questions on a computer.  After the test I was told 3-5 business days for scores.  Ugh!  The wait.  The second guessing.  The praying.

Yesterday I got the email.  Scores were in.  I had……….



Try It Tuesday August 30, 2016

Filed under: Meal Planning,Step by step — clappingonthedownbeat @ 7:01 AM

Collard Greens.


Collards are in the cabbage family and is an edible leaf that was also used as an ornamental garden plant (like the popular kale).  I think they are over looked.

Many southern recipes will start with ham hocks and then cooking the collards down.  This is a very delicous dish, but today I am taking an Italian twist.

Start with diced pancetta.  Cook till it is crispy and some of the fat has rendered out.


See all the bown coloring on the bottom of the pan?  That is called fond- and its all flavor.  The best way to “clean a pan” is to deglaze.  Remove the crispy pancetta and set aside.  Add some chicken stock or broth, about 1 1/2 cups- 2 cups and scrape the bottom of the pan. Let the  stock/broth simmer.



Next strip the leaves off the stem of the collards.  I stack the leaves and roll them, then cut into strips.


Wash the leaves really well.  Then add to the simmering liquid.

DSC_0006Let the pot simmer for 45-60 minutes.  Stir every once in a while just to make sure there is a little liquid in the bottom.  If needed add a little more stock/broth.  When its is all cooked down finish with some chopped garlic, about 3 cloves.  Add garlic at the end so it doesn’t burn.  Cook for about 1 minute till the garlic is fragrant and then add the pancetta back in and a few dashes of red wine vinegar.


Makes a great side dish with some pasta, or polenta.  If you take a southern route then serve it with cornbread, mac and cheese and some pan fried chicken.  It is an overlooked, delicous and nutritious vegetable.


Undivided Attention August 23, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Parenthood,Sharing and Caring,travel — clappingonthedownbeat @ 12:44 PM

Today is the second day of school.  Summer is over.

I think this has been one of out best summers.  It seems as the kids get older, the summer gets easier.  We picked a few camps for them to attend- now it’s more sleep away camps.  We planned some down days, and we planned some adventure days.

I have had a list of places I have wanted to go, but time has always escaped.  However, this year I planned ahead.  We did 2 museum days in Dallas.

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Dallas Heritage Village lunch at Angry Dog and then the Frontier Flight Museum

The second trip was inspired by the trip Kate’s girl scout troop made to Austin at the beginning of the summer.  The troop was working on a government badge and we visited the LBJ library, the UT campus, 2 tours of the state capital, Congress bridge bats, swimming, BBQ and lots of fun.  As we toured the LBJ library, I thought what a fun history lesson to connect to Dallas.  SO, I rented the 3 hour long documentary on JFK and we all watched it.  Then we went to Sixth Floor MuseumOld Red Museum and lunch at Klyde Warren Park.

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We also went to Turner Falls, OK for hiking and swimming, Waco to the Mammoth National Park Site The Magnolia Market Silos for lunch and Dr. Pepper Museum

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The best part of all these trips is the undivided attention I have from my kids and they have from me.  We have had some of the best conversations, funniest moments and we have no distractions.  There was one teachable moment that really stood out.

We took a trip to Lawton, OK to get a burger.  (yes, its part of my discovering the 5 best burgers in OK)  It was about a 3 hour trip one way.  Meers store and restaurant used to be a mining cabin, but now serves burgers.  It also serves a lot of service men and women due to Ft. Sills located a few miles away.  As we were eating lunch, we noticed a young man dressed in fomal military attire eating with his family.  The kids asked about him, and I told them that he probably came from the base we passed on the way in.  When it came time to checkout, I told our server that we would pick up the service mans bill.  The owner said that they were nervous about having time to eat since he had to be back for graduation ceremony.

For about an hour of the ride home we talked about creating a ripple effect of “doing good” or “paying it forward”.   Small things that we do for one another can have a great impact.  Just recognizing someone, eye contact and a smile, showing appreciation and gratitude can go a long way.  What is your ripple effect?



Judgemental June 5, 2016

Filed under: Multiple Sclerosis — clappingonthedownbeat @ 9:19 PM

This is a tough post to write.

Have you ever parked in a parking lot a noticed a car park in a handicapped spot and then saw someone who didn’t appear handicapped get out?  Did you ever wonder why they had a tag?

I guess I had a stereotype of the typical person who needed a handicapped spot.

And so having a conversation with my neurologist, I was given forms for a handicapped tag.


Yup.  So now I will be “that person” that I always wondered in the back of my head- “why are they parking there?  Isn’t that for someone who needs it?”

Summers in Texas can get really hot.  My car can heat up and get really hot.  When I get overheated, then I start to feel tingling and numbness in the areas that have nerve damage.

I don’t use it everyday.  I just have it for times when it gets really hot, when I would otherwise have to park a ways away and walk or carry heavy loads far (like for catering jobs, carrying food and equipment…..ect.)

I laugh at myself.  The one who used to have those judemental thoughts, became the subject.


An Ending is really a Beginning May 25, 2016

Filed under: Meal Planning,Sharing and Caring — clappingonthedownbeat @ 9:17 PM


Two weeks ago was graduation.  I actually finished all my course work in Decembe 2015, but they only do a graduation once a year in May.  This had been a long time coming and I decided to go.  I thought it would be fun for the kids to see too.

It was a little bitter sweet.  I think I could have stayed in school and kept taking classes.  But, I got this really cool job as a Chef for Williams Sonoma.  It’s “casual” employment, meaning I get to pick and choose my hours.  I teach cookbook classes, I demo equipment (hello! play time) and I teach techniques classes.  It doesn’t even feel like work.  I get to talk about food and cooking the whole time.  It feels like a square peg in a square hole.

Here’s a few of the fun things I have been doing:

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This is an easy pan roasted chicken with garlic, thyme, rosemary and olive oil.  After 40 minutes in the oven some bread cubes get tossed in to soak up the juices and to use as croutons for the salad.


This was for the cookbook club dinner at WS.  It was served with spiralized zucchini noodles, and a power greens salad and quick vinaigrette.

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For dessert I whipped up a vegan chocolate mousse made from avocado, almond butter, maple syrup, and almond milk.  It was topped with a cashew cream.  I think it was better than the real thing.

Last weekend I taught a technique class on flavors of Mexico.  I cooked Oaxaca black beans, roasted chicken and then made nachos with two fruit salsas.


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Tomorrow I am teaching a class for a friend on how to prepare and cook ahead for the week using leftovers.  Then back to WS Friday where I get to demo the infrared smokeless indoor grill.  I’ll be featuring the WS rubs on pork chops, corn on the cob and making a quick beer bread.

If your in the area, come visit me in the Stonebier Mall!


Oh Sweet Breakfast. May 15, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Sharing and Caring,Step by step — clappingonthedownbeat @ 3:36 PM

I  {L O V E}  Breakfast.  French toast, pancakes, bicuits, coffee cakes, egg bakes, croissants, kringles ……

So here is a new breakfast treat, or dessert. Bostock.

First, make frangipane.

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract

Place almonds and sugar in a food processor and pulse till nuts are finley ground.  Then add softened butter, egg and extract.  Pluse till it comes together as a paste.

Slice a loaf of challah or brioche (thick cut soft bread).  You can brush with a vaniall simple syrup (1 cup water + 1 cup sugar + 1 vanilla bean or add 1tsp vanilla extract when cooled- bring to a boil till sugar dissolves then let cool).  Then spread 1 Tsp apricot jam (or your favorite) over the bread.  Then spoon over 2-3 Tbsp frangipane over the jam.  Place bread on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 13-16 minutes till top is golden.  Then sprinkle with powedered sugar.



Secret short cuts May 13, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Organization,Sharing and Caring,Step by step — clappingonthedownbeat @ 2:21 PM

I usually like soup for lunch, but with the weather warming up, sometimes I like a little variety.  Yes, salads are good, but even salads after a while get boring.

How about a Ploughman’s Lunch?

If you like to nibble or snack, this is a great lunch.  It is a English “farmer’s lunch”.  It can consist of hard boiled eggs, cold cuts, bread, crackers, cheese, fruits (fresh or dried), vegetables, dips/spread and nuts.

Starbucks even has some bistro boxes that look like a ploughman’s lunch.

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I love Machego cheese, crackers, apples, cashews or almonds, hummus, carrots…..the list goes on.

Here’s a quick trick to hard boiled eggs.  I take a muffin tin, either 6 cup or 12 cup, and place an egg in each one.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake the eggs for 30 minutes and then place immediatly into an bowl of ice water.  Let them cool 5-10 minutes and then store in the fridge.


We also eat a lot of oatmeal.  I buy a 7lb bag of steel cut oats at a time.  I can grind up my own oat flour or eat oatmeal.  Steel cut oats take a long time to cook, so to short cut a breakfast, I bring 3 cups water to boil in a pot in the evening.  When I it boiling I add 1 cup steel cut oats, turn the burner off, and cover the pot.  I let it sit overnight.  In the morning, I add 1/2c. milk and heat up the oatmeal.  It’s creamy and perfect and makes for a hearty fast breakfast.  I have one who likes to stire in peanut butter, one who likes raisins and I like dried fruit and a little granola.