Thursday, October 29, 2009

Of Soup and School

Wow, it's only Tuesday and I already feel beat. A good thing I did (with J) today was vote at the local election for school trustee, mayor, and various propositions to be passed in state government, I guess. And as we parked, we saw the twinkling lights of downtown in the distance. Classic Houston moment: beauty amid lack of zoning laws.

But I digress. As a backgrounder, I work at a public school's Montessori program as a teaching assistant, but given the nature of Montessori classes, and the added plus of my pretty good rapport (touch wood!) with the teacher I assist (Ms. T), I am a teaching assistant acting more like a co-teacher, which is great experience. It started out that I was only to work in the classroom, but now I act as cafeteria co-marshall, then after a brief lunch, work in the office/administrative part of the school, making my work experience pretty well-rounded. Tiring? Yes. Informative? Most definitively. I think--and hope--that it'll pay off in the end. Heck, last week there was a district-wide mandated online testing requirement for teachers/salaried staff called ASPIRE, and even as I'm hourly, I was pulled to do it! It was mind-numbing to say the least, but I will say again that I (still) count my lucky stars. So all these experiences have been shaping me to hopefully be a better teacher: this week in particular found me especially stern with my class of kids. I love them, but they need to follow protocol! Man oh man, suffice it to say two kids had a curtailed recess period today. After being nice to them all morning, a stern Ms. S was a shock for them, and one of them in particular, who I've been especially encouraging with, rebuked me, saying "you're mean!" And I said, "I like you, but you have to make better choices; you know better!" to which he reluctantly nodded his head, even a tad ruefully. But I hated being stern and firm, to which end Ms. T patted my shoulder at the end of the day and said, "Be strong!" Indeed; the trials of a teacher continue. But as long as one of my 20 kids learns something, hopefully more than one; then it will all be worth it. I have hope yet.

In other news, I made soup last week.

You heard that right, I who doesn't cook, made soup--not the kind from a can, but since I like to do things all the way, I made soup from scratch. Soup made of fish and clams and shrimp and saffron, to name but a few ingredients.

Ok, so that's more like a stew than soup.

It all started when J and I went to Central Market with J's intention of getting some fish to make this little Asian islander happy. Well, yours truly had a sudden flash of brilliance: why not make a rustic bouillabaise of some sort? So we bought redfish, shrimp and clams, much to J's chagrin. To soothe his quiet alarm, I called my mom for guidance. Well, mothers know best, at least most of the time, and this time was no exception. Of course we Filipinos don't really use measurements, but rather do the "rough eyeing, taste-testing measurement." Voila, my mom's rough recipe. Note: this should only be done in 1 pan, making clean-up hopefully a bit easier!

1. Heat pan; cover pan with olive oil (maybe 1/4 c)
2. Saute 1 whole garlic (minced), 2 whole onions (chopped), and 3 chopped tomatoes.
3. Add fish one at a time: 1/5 lb. redfish, 1/5 lb. shrimp, 1/2 lb. clams*; brown.
4. Drench mixture in white wine (better half of a bottle; don't be stingy!), add 1 small can of tomato sauce* to mixture.
5. Add 2 bay leaves, 2 pcs. anise or equiv. 1/4 tsp., 1 Tbsp. saffron (I used 2 sachets); 1 pinch equiv. of 1/4 tsp. of sugar; add salt and pepper to taste.
5a. Optional: add red peppers (in can--small can), or 6-8 olives (black preferably), or chopped potatoes, or garbanzos/chickpeas, or all of the above for a heartier stew
6. Simmer, 30 minutes or a bit longer.
7. Serve and enjoy!

*tomato paste can also be substituted: just use equal parts water for tomato paste: stir and add into the pot!
*clams must be soaked overnight in ice and a bit of salt for the sand to be removed from the clams: they will spit, even when dead! Keep shrimp in shell, as well as clams, though DO clean clams beforehand to remove the sand; skin and chop the fish into pieces.

Serve stew with either garlic bread or garlic fried rice, latter's recipe below:

1. Steam rice.
2. Heat olive oil in pan
3. brown some garlic
4. dump steamed rice in (older, leftover plain rice is preferable)
5. add salt; stir-fry
6. Serve and eat!
*measurements are up to you: Filipino style!

This is most of it from my end: we had leftover soup from this recipe for tonight's dinner, as well as leftover pizza, and organic buttery popcorn for dessert, as well as coconut maple-pecan ice cream and blood orange sorbet, topped off with some red wine: trashy meets gourmet, hello! Next paycheck, I would like to buy some merchandise from this website.

Whee! Goodnight y'all! Enjoy the (hopefully) cooler weather! For those in the US, it's time to fall back; don't forget to get some rays to avoid getting SAD!