Monday, September 5, 2016

The End of Summer and the Beginning of Everything Else

Susan (my sister), Cate and Jamie

Somehow in the blink of an eye, we went from the independence seeking terrible 2's to the independent demanding almost 15-year old.  I know that sentence is horribly grammatically incorrect (as is this one), but that is the only way to describe it.  Cate (aka Dear Daughter) has entered high school with a vengeance  - loving every moment of it, relishing in the independence that was not afforded her last year in her Catholic middle school and feeling mighty grown-up.  While some her friends, who have only attended one school  for the past 8 years, are floundering a bit with the fact that yes, there are other kids from other schools attending this high school...Cate has embraced it.  I know that she does not get this trait from me but she is incredibly social and loves the fact that she is making new friends.

So, the helicopter mom in me wants to make sure that she is eating well both for breakfast and for lunch and while I keep telling myself that she is old enough to make both of herself, you can still find me in the kitchen each morning making her first two meals.  She has never been a "leftover" person so imagine my surprise last week when her response to my, "What do you want for lunch tomorrow?" was met with, "Do you have any more of that pasta that we had tonight?  We have a microwave in the cafeteria and I can heat it up."  Sad to say, but I was ecstatic.  She is eating leftovers and is heating them up at school. In my book, that means I have taught her well!   I did check her lunchbox the next day and the container was empty.  So she is either dumping the contents or actually eating the meal!  For my sanity, she is eating the meal.

I cannot believe that my dear Catherine is a freshman in high school.  Wow...we talk about boys, about driving, about college.  She seems, to me, to have a maturity that is far greater than what I had at her age...she is comfortable in her own skin, confident, and has a special way with her friends.  Frequently, when I try to step in, she tells me..."I got this, Mom," and she does.  I know that there will be uphill battles and we will have to continue with the boundaries that we have set, but I can see that she is already moving away from "needing" us in the way that she did as a kid.   She will need us in different ways as she continues to mature, which means that we will have to adapt once more as parents.  As parents, it is scary...and exciting.

So, Cate ventures into a new world, confident and happy.  I, too, have ventured into a new world...moving into a new job and for the first time since we returned from Europe, I feel settled.  How many companies would tell you that they want you to work for them...either full time or part decide.  So I am, once again, back in education...working 30 hours a week for a charter distance learning school.  I am super busy, loving it and it still affords me to have those car rides with Cate each afternoon when I pick her up from school.  Because, you know...That is when you learn all the stuff!

So no pictures for this dish but it is super easy and it super nutritious - just what a high schooler needs midday.

Pasta with Sausage, Cannelloni Beans and Kale


8 ounces cooked pasta
1/4 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
8 ounces Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
pinch crushed red pepper
3 cups chicken broth
one bunch kale (stems removed, coarsely chopped)
1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 rind of Parmesan (optional)

1.  Cook the pasta.  Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid (which I never use....but just in case).
2.  Drain tomatoes in a small sieve over a bowl, reserving 2 tsp oil; slice tomatoes.  Heat a pot over medium heat.  Add tomatoes, tomato oil, onion and sausage to pan.  Cook 10 minutes until sausages are brown; stirring to crumble.  Add garlic and cook one minute.  Add Italian seasoning, red pepper and broth.  Stir in kale and Parmesan rind.  Cover and cook 10-15 minutes, until kale is tender.  Add beans and pasta.  If the sauce has reduced too much, add reserved pasta broth as needed.  Discard Parmesan before serving.

Note:  You can make a batch of this without adding the pasta.  This is what I do.  Then in the morning, I cook up one serving of pasta...which could be penne or farfalle or even tortellini.  I add jus the needed amount of "sauce" and place in a reheatable container.