Sunday, November 23, 2014

Work + Stew.

The makings of a delicious stew.

I survived my first week back in the ER taking care of patients, giving medications and even putting in a few IVs (it turns out my brain didn't turn to mush after having a baby). I did have a moment of panic, however, as I sat on the couch after my first shift, legs aching and mind racing, regarding my sudden loss of complete freedom that I've enjoyed the last two years. My life and the life of my family will now be planned out around my weekly and rotating three 12-hour shifts.

Days. Nights. Weekends. And holidays.

It felt good, however, to get on the bus bright and early before my shift, coffee in hand and NPR in my ear. It felt wonderful to exercise and stretch my brain in ways I haven't in years. And it felt strange not to see my little girl awake as she was already asleep when I got home and was still sleeping when I left the next morning.

It also felt strangely nice to miss both Alice and Lee.

One thing that feels differently this time is how I chose to eat while at work. My eating habits have changed drastically over the last few years and I intend to keep healthy eating a priority, especially during the dreaded night shift when my self-control seems to waiver. Packing good food will be paramount for me to be successful in not falling back into old habits, making meal planning on my days off so very important.

So since I will be working the next three days, today I am making stew! My dear friend Ashlan gave me a rough template for a stew she made and, after making it a few times and tinkering with an ingredient or two, I've decided it's the best stew that I've ever made. This stew is made in steps over a few hours and while that may seem tedious, your time will be rewarded with mouth-watering smells and a soul-warming dinner. Here you go.

Bacon & Carmelized Onion Beef Stew

  • 1 lbs stew beef
  • 5 or 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 or 5 red potatoes, cubed
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups kale, ribboned
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 cups broth, homemade if you have it (super easy recipe here)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 rind of Parmesan (optional)
  • Salt & pepper
  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When it is melted and before it starts browning, add the onions and a pinch or two of salt. Stir the onions to coat and then let them do their caramelizing magic, continuing to stir occasionally, for 35 to 45 minutes. The goal is not to burn them but to cook them until they are golden in color and smelling divine. Once they are caramelized, remove them from the pot and cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and pour out the bacon fat.
  2. In a bowl, toss the stew beef with a few pinches of salt and a couple cranks of fresh ground pepper. Working in small batches, brown the beef in the same pot as you cooked the onions and bacon. When finished, deglaze the pan with the red wine and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes before adding the bacon and the caramelized onions back to the pot. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and stock and bring it to a boil. Toss in the Parmesan rind and then cover the pot and reduce to a simmer for about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on when you are planning to eat. (Side note - The rind helps to give a deeper, more robust flavor to stews. I learned the rind-saving trick a few years ago and now I never throw one away!)
  3. About 30 or so minutes before serving, add the potatoes. Twenty or so minutes before serving, add the carrots and celery. And then finally, 5 or so minutes before serving, stir in the kale.
  4. Grab some bowls, fish out the bay leaves and the Parmesan rind and dish up what might just be the most delicious stew ever. Make it and let me know what you think.
Weekend Workouts: Saturday - Nothing. Boo. Sunday - Family run! 5.2 miles/46 minutes/404 ft elev gain. I did a 7:05 min/mile and it felt so good!

 

Having a fit about her cold hands but refusing to put on her gloves. Oh, toddlers!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New Job(s).

Weekend snapshots: Trying out the sleigh // Alice's Thanksgiving 'decorations' // The beautiful Wasatch Mtns.

I am officially employed. My first day back at work was spent warming a chair in a conference room while listening to different people speak about hospital policies, fire safety, employee benefits and the like. It was interesting! And it was probably the first time in two years and almost 9 months that I've had the opportunity to sit still! By myself! Without a toddler pulling on or whining at me!

Who knew hospital orientation could feel so luxurious.

My days feel busy lately, which is to be expected, of course, since I've started a new job. But adding to that busy feeling is that I have also started the process of becoming a volunteer with the Volunteers of America organization here in Utah, specifically volunteering with the homeless youth. I had an experience a few weeks ago with a homeless 19-year old living behind the dumpster of our building that brought me to tears. I'm looking forward to starting my experience with them but I am also laughing at the timing of it all and how I've had pretty much nothing going on since Alice was born and now my schedule feels full to the brim.

And grad school hasn't even started yet (the grad school application anxiety is still very much a problem).

I don't know with what regularity I will continue blogging but I intend to keep writing as much as my time will allow because it is such an outlet for me and it has become the way I document our experiences, my feelings and our lives.

And all of the millions of pictures I take, too.

Lastly, one of my mommy friends who, over the last year, has become one of my best friends, graciously gave me permission to share a few of the birth photos I took for her family last month. It was such a beautiful and surreal experience and I felt honored to have been chosen to be there with them in that intimate and life-changing moment. Luckily she loves the photos and she even thinks I have a new career on my hands!

Which, coming from the professional photographer that she is, means so very much.

Weekend Workouts: Saturday - None! Sunday - Trail run in the cold and ice to Mt Wire. 5.2 miles/1:00/2,306ft elev gain.

Just a few moments from that beautiful day.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Getting Dirty.

I'm still learning to allow the mess-making.

Like all toddlers, Alice loves doing things all by herself. And as she gets older and more capable, I am learning to let her try doing things on her own without helping all while staying patient with the time and attempts it can take for her to complete something.

Not an easy task for an impatient person like me.

At her preschool, Alice is encouraged to do as much by herself as possible, like pulling up her pants after going potty or putting on and taking off her coat or opening the containers in her lunch box. Her teachers are there to help her if needed, of course, but their philosophy is that all children are capable when given encouragement and when given the chance.

I am amazed at what she has learned in the short time we've had her in school.

So today, I let her plant paperwhites. It took much longer than had I just done it myself and there is dirt all over my floor but the look of accomplishment on her face when she finished planting those bulbs was worth the time and the clean-up on my end.

And lastly... a very happy 42nd birthday to my husband. Thanks for putting up with us, both your opinionated wife and your fiery daughter. We love you!

Happy weekend! What are your plans?

Weekly Workouts: Monday - Driving day. Tuesday - Another driving day! Wednesday - CrossFit! Hero WOD: 10 RFT of 5 thrusters (65lbs) + 10 pull-ups (blue band) + 100 meter sprint with 1 minute rest between rounds (averaged 1:14-1:17, total time 23:04). Thursday - CrossFit! 3 rep max bench press (100lbs), the 3 RFT of 5 HSPUs (2 ab mats) + 7 dips (red band) + 9 shoulder to overhead (65lbs) = 5:09. Friday - Insanely sore. Rest day!

The paperwhites joining my growing collection of succulents.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Currently.

Frost on my car windshield. Hello, winter.

Currently... experiencing a shock to my system waking up to temperatures in the 20s this morning in Salt Lake City. It was 80F while we were in Napa! Winter is officially here.

Currently... annoyed that I was overcharged at Whole Foods on the grassfed beef steaks I bought today. They were $7.99 a pound. I got 1.33 pounds. And when I got home, I looked at my receipt and then the package of meat and realized he'd charged me $17.99 a pound for lamb loin chops! Ugh. There is a lesson here: When the Whole Foods cashier asks if you want your receipt, you always SAY YES!

Currently... excited to watch our pot of paper whites grow! It'll be Alice's first "plant" and my first time growing bulbs inside. Wish us luck.

Currently... paralyzed on the graduate school admission paperwork. I've only nailed down one of three professional references and every time I think about logging in to work more on my application, my stomach knots, anxiety kicks in and I quickly think about something else. That January 15th deadline is rapidly approaching, too...

Currently... bummed that our FLOR carpet tiles we bought last week didn't work out (they were bright blue but didn't match with the grays in our living room). So we shipped them back! But only to be exchanged for a new, more dramatic color. Stay tuned for what that color will be!

And currently... only four days until I go back to work!

What are you currently doing?

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