Thursday, April 23, 2009

Caldo Verde

So our CSA experiment is going...okay.

Don't get me wrong, I love it. We get tons of fresh, organic veggies every week and I love finding new recipes to use them in.

However, my a different story. He will try everything I make, but after about ten different sauteed types of greens in as many days, he got a little sick of them.

I've been promising him that the greens are only because that's what's grown this time of year, and soon we're going to get more tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, and other spring and summer produce than we'll know what to do with!

In the meantime, thought, we've found a compromise. I've been using all our greens to make soups. And we found a soup we like that uses tons of greens, and it's sooo good! We both really, really like it.

It's in a cookbook called Recipes for America's Small Farms, which my mom got me for Christmas. Although the recipe may not look like much, it's so good. This is definitely a very simple soup that tastes much better than the sum of its parts.

Caldo Verde
(Because Dan's a Spanish teacher, we can translate this for you - it means "GREEN SOUP" in English! You're welcome!)

1 onion, peeled and minced
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
4 Tablespoons olive oil
6 large Maine or Eastern potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (note from Kristi - I have no idea what these are, I just use regular Texas potatoes and they work perfectly)
6 ounces chorizo, pepperoni, or other dry garlicky sausage, sliced thin (note - don't skip this, although I have to admit my definition of "dry garlicky" has varied wildly depending on what's in my fridge at the time...)
2.5 teaspoons salt, or so
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound collard, kale, or turnip greens (or swiss chard, or spinach..) trimmed of coarse stems and veins, rolled crosswise and sliced filament thin
2 quarts water (I think it tastes better if you use chicken broth for at least some of this)
*Also, I usually add some cumin, and the recipe says that it will taste good with any of your favorite herbs and spices!

Saute the onion and garlic in 3 T of the oil for 2 or 3 minutes over moderate heat until they begin to color and turn glassy. Add potatoes and saute, stirring constantly, 2 or 3 minutes, until they begin to color also. Add the water/chicken broth, cover, and boil gently over moderate heat 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are mushy. Meanwhile, fry the sausage in another saucepan over low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the fat has cooked out; drain well and reserve.

When the potatoes are soft, remove the pan from the stove, and with a potato masher, mash the potatoes right in the pan in the soup mixture. Add sausage, salt, and pepper, return to moderate heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the greens and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, until tender. Mix in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and taste the soup for salt and pepper. Serve accompanied with a crusty bread.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Church Under the Bridge

We came across this church the first weekend we were in Waco. My mom, Dan, and I were driving to the store to buy more move-in supplies and saw dozens of people congregated under a freeway. It's sort of an odd underpass, and the unique structure of the roads somehow leaves a much bigger concrete space than normal - yes, underneath I-35 and in the middle of downtown!

There were lots of people, and we heard worship music, so we figured it must be a church. Gradually, I've learned more about it, as we've met friends who are intimately involved in the mission. Basically, this church meets outside and caters to the homeless people of Waco. It is maybe the neatest church I've experienced, and to be honest, it's probably what Jesus' own ministry looked like!

Anyway, there is a great article that explains Church Under the Bridge more fully on Relevant Magazine's website. I highly recommend checking out this article and learning more about this great ministry in Waco.

Relevant Magazine - Church Under the Bridge

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Simple Life

I've been reading a lot lately about living simply. I think it probably has a lot to do with the recession, which has given everyone a renewed interest in enjoying life without spending a lot. It seems like a lot of blogs and news articles have been focused on how to enjoy a more simple kind of life.

Even in the field of psychology, I've noticed a trend toward focusing on the simple things. There's a lot of recent information about "mindfulness," which is basically being aware and focused on the present moment. It might include noticing all the sensory details of your situation, or explicitly thinking about what's unique each day, or even doing some relaxation exercises to become calmer and more present-focused. Being mindful actually can help people with depression feel better, and there's a lot of other research coming out about its benefits for everyone.

Combining these two, it might be a good idea for everyone to take some time to really pay attention to and be thankful for what we're experiencing right now. It will not only make your day more enjoyable but it doesn't cost anything! :)

The first thing that came to my mind when I was thinking about this is our family's morning routine. Every morning, Dan gets up about an hour earlier than me. (Yeah, that's what happens when you're a teacher and have to leave for school at 7:15!) Sammie usually gets up with him to go outside and eat breakfast, but then she comes back upstairs and snuggles with me. When Dan gets all ready, he comes back upstairs too and we spend about fifteen minutes just laying in bed, talking with each other and playing with our puppy, and just overall preparing for the day. It's small but honestly it's probably the most precious part of my day. I love focusing on just being in that moment rather than worrying about the rest of the day ahead. I think if I was focused on the future rather than the present, I would totally miss enjoying those fifteen minutes.

What about you? Have you been trying to live more simply, or be more mindful? Is it working?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend

Happy day after Easter!

Dad and Diane are gone, and Dan and I are trying to get back to "real world mode" by doing some homework (me) and planning (him).

We had a lot of fun this weekend with our visitors. They got here on Friday evening and we spent a little while just showing them our apartment and letting them get acquainted with their grand-dog. We took them to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Se Cocina, after that and spent the rest of the evening there.

On Saturday, they came over in the morning and we ate kolaches from Czech Stop for breakfast - yum! Czech Stop is legendary in Texas for its delicious kolaches, which are basically pastries that are filled with sausage and cheese or fruit and cream cheese. (Read those "and"s and "or"s carefully or that last sentence will sound was more disgusting than it should.) After that, we walked around Baylor's campus for a while. Then we went shopping! We took them to some of our favorite Waco places, such as Spice, James Avery, and, well, Ann Taylor Loft. That evening, we went to Dan's end-of-semester wine tasting party and got to spend some time with Camden, Matthew, and his parents.

Yesterday, we celebrated Easter by going to church. Dad and Diane got to meet several of our friends, and then we went out to lunch at Panera. In the afternoon, Dad and Dan went and hit some golf balls while Diane and I went grocery shopping and then cooked a delicious dinner!** Finally, we watched The Heartbreak Kid to end the night. It was actually really funny.

**I'm really getting tired of typing all these D names! Maybe I should just start saying D squared, or D cubed, when I'm going to mention them all in one sentence!

We ended the weekend with breakfast this morning at Dennys. I'm sad they are gone but I'm glad they came.

Soo....who's next? :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

And the Guest Blogger Is...Dan!

Let me say first that I am excited to be making my (long overdue) first guest post on The Adventures of Dan and Kristi. I bet a lot of you have been wondering why it wasn’t more aptly named The Adventures of Kristi and Sammie…

Nevertheless, as Kristi has been updating you on our exciting new life in Texas, and all the fun things we have experienced, a huge part of our shared experience has been omitted.

Over the course of the past two years I have shared with many of you about my discontentment as a teacher. This has been a huge struggle for me and is one that is hard to condense into a couple of paragraphs. The best way I can describe it is that I have never felt comfortable as a teacher; it has simply never felt right. While I am sure many you can imagine the various difficulties that teachers face, these didn’t compare with the feeling or knowledge that something just wasn’t clicking.

For the past two years I have been working at a very different kind of school. The Rapoport Academy is a charter school that I believe is one of the few places that is doing education correctly. I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to work there and contribute to the beginning of the high school (it’s in its 3rd year of existence). While it is not a perfect school, I know that if I was going to enjoy teaching it would be at a school like Rapoport.

I decided to return to teach a second year after a difficult first year, chalking it up to the standard right of passage that is the first year of teaching. Unfortunately, while year two has been different in many ways, that nagging feeling that something wasn’t right has never dissipated.

I made the decision in November to begin looking for something new. I starting networking through our church and was able to meet with various businessmen. While the thought of going back to school had crossed my mind, I was dead set on the idea that I had to be earning a salary. This slowly started to change with the various meetings I had and everyone mentioned applying to Baylor’s MBA program. Many times after those meeting I became a bit depressed, thinking that going back to school would be financially irresponsible, but also concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find meaningful work for the two years we have left here in Waco. In hindsight I can know see that God was preparing my heart for what he had in store for me…

As we hit the dead of winter here in Texas (sunny and around 60 in the afternoon) during February I decided I should apply to Baylor’s MBA program, more just to see if I would get in. At this point things had to happen pretty quickly. I had to take the GMAT (a business graduate school admissions test) in early March. This left me roughly 4 weeks to prepare. The most daunting task was the math section. I hadn’t taken a true math course since my senior year of high school. According to Baylor’s website, the average GMAT score was a little over 600. While I knew it would take a lot of hard work, I thought I would be able to get close to that number and still have a competitive application. After studying probably 10 hours a week the test date finally came. Much to my disbelief I scored in the 83rd percentile, and what I thought would be the weakest part of my application become very impressive. I say this not to be boastful, only to show that the possibility of going back to school was now looking a lot more appealing.

A few weeks after the GMAT I went in for an interview at the business school. I didn’t really know what to expect. I was happy with my application, but I had no idea how it stacked up with the other applicants. I went in on a Friday morning expecting a stressful hour of being grilled with questions like “why should we admit someone with no business background”. Thankfully the experience was nothing like that. I had two different interviews, one with the admissions coordinator and another with the head of the healthcare administration MBA (more on that later). Both were very informal, and I came away feeling good about my chances.

At this point I was pretty confident I would be offered a spot in the program. Once again, not due to arrogance, but just a general comparison of my “stats” compared with current students in the program. What was really up in the air was whether I would be offered any financial awards or not. The program has a pretty hefty sticker price, one that I deemed too high to make financial sense for Kristi and I if I was not awarded any scholarships. After crunching some numbers I determined that I above 50% tuition remission I would consider it, if I received 75% (I thought this number was a long shot, but not outside the realm of possibility) I would be going back to school.

The Thursday after my interview I received a voicemail that informed me I had been accepted into the program. Not only had I been awarded an assistantship (I will work for the business school in some capacity and earn a stipend), but I had also been awarded 90% tuition remission. I am really not sure how to communicate how I felt when I heard the news, because it was so much better than what I had been expecting.

As of yesterday I am scheduled for classes, which will begin June 1st. I have decided instead of the general MBA, I will be pursuing a specialization in health care administrations. I will spend the fall and spring semesters completing the MBA core courses and healthcare electives. From May through December of next year, assuming all goes well, I will work in a hospital where I will put my coursework into action. I then come back to Baylor for a final semester of MBA core courses and more healthcare electives. I will graduate in May, the same time that Kristi finishes up her coursework at Baylor as well.

I am very excited for this next chapter and Kristi and I think it will be a lot of fun being back in school together. This is a big change, and whenever there is change there is a bit of anxiousness, but I am sure that will subside. Looking back, I never would have guessed this is what I would be doing, but that is what makes it all the more exciting.

If you want to learn more about what my program is comprised of, check out

Friday, April 3, 2009

1 Bad Thing and 2 Good Things

Next week, I have two exams - yuck! It will actually be the first time I've had two exams in one week since undergrad. I know most of you don't feel sorry for me, but it makes it really tough when you work full days on Monday and Wednesday to take one exam Tuesday and one Thursday. So, think of me next week.

The good news is that after my exams are over, I have Friday and Monday off of work for Easter. (Yeah, we get that here at Baylor - don't you all wish your job was for a Christian workplace!) And Dad and Diane are coming to visit! We are going to show them around Waco, introduce them to their granddog (the most important thing, obvi), and do some shopping and golfing. Can you guess who will be shopping and who will be golfing? (Hint: Dan's been practicing his swing in the kitchen again!)

And finally, I want to let you know that sometime this weekend, there will be a post from a guest blogger! Now I don't want you to get really excited and then feel let down, so I will just tell you right off the bat that it isn't Sammie. She hasn't quite mastered her typing skills yet, and she really doesn't have a whole lot to say beyond "Outside! Food! Squirrel! Bone! Outside!" But there will be a post from someone else who has some exciting news to share with you. You may want to wait at your computer all weekend, hitting the "refresh" button on the blog every 30 seconds or so just so you don't miss it.

Happy Friday!