Teaching and Tasties

Delicious eats and daring, death-defying teaching feats

Living free part II November 28, 2008

Filed under: Food — tlsussman @ 12:39 am

So I’ve been gluten and dairy free for almost a year now.  Not too long, but long enough to miss certain foods.  In my continued search for places to eat, I have come across what seem to be a rather fantastic website for celiacs, but it seem to be useful for other allergy-free people also.  As someone who likes to travel, eating is a major issue.  It isn’t just about what I can buy at the grocery store, but how many meals I can eat out without writhing in pain.  This site provides lists and links to menus from restaurants all across the US.  Many are chains and can be found in more than one state, but I would think it would help the travels a little.  Although not difinitive (of course) it is rather exciting!

Another great GF restaurant locator is the Gluten Free Registry.  The registry has an interactive map of the US and lists restaurants and is searchable by city.  The registry also includes a lot of chain restaurants, but has locally owned restaurants as well.

Really, I should give up on eating out…it’s expensive and the food is not usually that good.  Somehow, however, the prospect of being able to eat out more comfortably and happily makes eating out seem more worth while…but I will have to really think about that one.

Happy Turkey Day!


Free living November 24, 2008

Filed under: Food — tlsussman @ 5:58 pm

For those of us with food allergies, eating out can be a challenge. I’ve found that as more and more people have allergies, more and more restaurants carry allergy-free foods.  So…I thought I would do a quick review of three restaurants in the Chicago area I visited recently with gluten-free options.

1. Maggiano’s

Maggiano’s does not have a gluten-free menu, but it now offers GF pasta.  The pasta is a corn base and they carry only rotini style pasta.  You can choose from their various sauces, but don’t eat the meatballs – they use breadcrumbs.

My waiter was not so knowledgeable, so I ordered pasta with meatballs.  When the order came, it was just pasta with marinara.  Bummer!  They brought me some meat sauce, but I was totally disappointed by my meal.  I would say that some of the meat dishes are still a better choice, especially because the waiters are not extremely knowledgeable about the whole thing.

2. Graziano’s

Graziano’s has a more comprehensive menue with pastas and meat dishes.  The GF menu takes some of the regular menu items that are naturally GF, but they also offer a GF pasta.  It has been a while, but I remember the food being quite good.  They do not have GF bread for before the meal, but the menu was quite varied for veggies and carnivores.  The wait staff also seemed pretty knowledgeable and were able to offer suggestions and changes to help me pick a great meal.

3. Wild Fire

This was the best restaurant of the three.  Wild Fire offered an extensive GF menu, which included sandwhiches!!  This was a first for me.  The menu took many of the regular menu items and made them GF.  My boyfriend and I ordered a salad and asked for the chicken and cheese on the side.  They brought chicken for him (herbed crusted or something) and a GF for me, without even having to ask!  The waiter also brought me a GF roll to have something to eat while my boyfriend snacked on the regular bread.

The waiter knew tons about what was in the food and was able to give good suggestions about what to eat.  He was also very careful to make sure that we knew which foods were GF and which were not.  It was a really great experience.
There are some other restaurants with GF options in the Chicago area, but I have yet to try them.

– Marcello’s Father and Son offers a GF pizza crust.  (Careful if you have dairy issues – the sauce has cheese)

-Piero’s PIzza also offers the GF pizza crust.

Both of these pizzas are quite expensive (about $15 per pie) and 8 or 10 inches.  It seems that this will be a special treat and I will keep you posted!

If you have any others to add, it would be great to know!


Día de los Muertos November 3, 2008

Filed under: School — tlsussman @ 5:31 pm

As a Spanish teacher, it is very difficult to pass this time of year without talking about Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead.  Of course, many of my students have no clue what this is, but they do know it has something to do with candy and sugar.  Usually at this time of year, the extra credit assignment, after discussing the holiday, is to bake pan de muertos, dead bread, which is usually dry and basically horrendous – mostly due to the fact that it is made by 12 year olds!  This year, in my quest to stray away from foods (less worries of allergies and less wasted resources), I found this really cute idea of a skull pillow (which of course I cannot find again to save my life!!)  Skeletons, calaveras, are dressed up in a variety of costumes and offer resemble people who have died.  Perfect!

My students were instructed to create a small felt pillow in the shape of a skull.  Th

e directions were simple and this was not too costly.  I reminded them that they could use old t-shirts or pillowcases that were going to be donated or thrown out, or any inexpensive fabrics.  This also didn’t involve a sewing machine, as thick thread is used for effect.  The only other requirement was that the skull MUST include something that helped me identify it – a sport the student enjoys, his/her favorite colors, etc.

Out of 45 kids, I received about 15 projects.  This was actually a total shocker…way more than I expected.  Not only were they totally cute, but I could tell that some of the kids really took the time to figure out how to make the calavera look like them.  I even had one student put her dog’s name, as he died this past year.  How thoughtful!

They turned out totally cute and the kids were so excited, they even wanted to share and talk about why they chose to do what they did.  I swear, it was pretty much as close to teac

her heaven as I could get 🙂

Here are a few examples:


Fall is in the air October 28, 2008

Filed under: Food — tlsussman @ 4:28 pm

Well, I was feeling the fall chill as I stepped out of my car and into my house, so I figured it was time to cook up some fall goodies.  Since Halloween is just around the corner, orange caught my eye.  I found a delicious recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen for a Ginger Butternut Squash.

All you need is some squash, lemon juice, ginger, agave nectar, salt and pepper.  I hate to say that I don’t really measure, so your guess is as good as mine!  Cook the squash in the oven at 400° until tender.  Mash in a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until mixed.  Be careful with the ginger.  Since it is strong and the squash is not, too much is overpowering.  It makes for an easy side with a sweet and tangy flavor.  And oh so easy!

Another easy recipe is roasted root vegetables.  I happened to have a turnip, parsnip and beat on hand.  Potatoes, rutabagas, yucca, etc are also great.  The combo just depends on the flavors you want.  The turnip is kinda harsh, but the parsnip and definitely the beat, are a little sweeter.  Basically, peel what you want and cut into large pieces.  Toss with olive oil, sea salt or kosher salt (they give better flavor than table salt) and rosemary.  You can add sage too, if you like.  Spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 400° until soft but still crunchy.  This is SO easy and really delish.  Also very filling.  It makes a great side for a party, too because of the colors.

I was also in the mood for soup, so I decided on a raw cream of mushroom soup from my friends at GoneRaw.  This is a wonderful website for those with alergies…I can eat so many things.  They can also be adapted to a less raw lifestyle!

Put 2 C water and 1/2 C sunflower seeds** in a blender until creamy and smooth.  Add 2 cloves chopped garlic (or more to taste), salt and pepper and 1/2 T nutritional yeast.  Blend until smooth and it begins to warm.  Add 1/2 C chopped button mushrooms and blend for no more than 10 sec.  Pour and eat!  I decided that instead of blending until warm, I would put some in a bowl and nuke it for a few seconds.  It was perfect!

**I used roasted and salted seeds, which have a stronger flavor.  If using this type, use less seeds.

The final adventure is a long-time favorite of mine in the fall – the taffy apple.  Since I can’t eat dairy, I can’t really eat caramel.  So…I used another recipe from GoneRaw.  Combine agave nectar and cocao powder until blended.  Add cocao to taste.  Place a chopstick in the middle of an apple.  Roll the apple in the chocolate sauce and then roll in your favorite crushed nuts.  (I used walnuts.)  Place in fridge to set.

A few thoughts on the chocolate sauce: the sauce was thin and therefore didn’t stick so well to the apples.  I didn’t want to freeze it all because the apples would have been NASTY!!  So…my thought it to freeze the chocolate sauce for a few hours and let it get pretty hard.  Remove from freezer 15-20 minutes before you want to use it.  It should be thick enough for the apples.  When you finish, if not serving immediately, place in the fridge.  That should hold ’em!

Either way, they were absolute delicious!  Easy and tasty.  Plus, they are good for diabetics, since the agave nectar is a slower releasing sugar.



Traveling tales October 22, 2008

Filed under: School — tlsussman @ 1:45 am

So it is almost the end of 1st quarter, and the traveling isn’t getting any easier.  Besides being on the cart and in four classrooms for four periods, I also have to deal with getting back and forth to the elementary to teach the 4th and 5th graders.  I think that traveling wouldn’t have been so bad, except that I was so used to having my own classroom.  To go from having my own space and my own room, to sharing 3 different classrooms is driving me insane!  I am extremely organized, yet I can’t seem to get it together.  Maybe my system just isn’t good?

The other issue is the problem of the elementary school.  While I think the kids are totally cute and we do have a decently good time together (as they find just about EVERYTHING amusing), it is very trying.  I walk into another teacher’s classroom and the kids all of a sudden believe that they don’t have to follow classroom rules.  Besides, I see them for 25 min, 2 times a week.  Not much I can do with that.  In fact, many of them call me the name of last year’s teacher.  Oh well.  I just don’t even know how to deal with them.

I love the middle schoolers – I can be sarcastic and joke with them and we can create a relationship.  I don’t get that with the elementary.  It is just a burden and takes me away from the more important things in my life – the middle schoolers.  I hope that this is not a permanent thing…or I may have to find a new job 😦


Shanah Tovah… October 2, 2008

Filed under: Food — tlsussman @ 8:18 pm

With the start of the new year (5769 that is!) comes some new goodies.  Rosh Hashanah was totally hectic and wonderful this year.  My grandmother is getting older and can no longer really cook for everyone anymore.  So…that left the task to my mom, my two aunts and me – not that I mind.  Since I am so difficult to cook for (yay alergies!), I decided to make dessert.

Dessert #1 needs a little help, but here it is.  Rawish apple pie.  I took the recipe from GoneRaw, although I changed it a bit.

Crust: 1 C dates, 1 C walnuts and agave nectar to taste.  Process until it is crumbly, but still a little wet.  Place in pie tin and refrigerate.

Filling: 3 C apples soaked, agave nectar, cinnamon, 3 dates, 1 tsp lemon juice, raisins

1. Cut apples and soak.  2.  Make syrup: add dates, agave nectar and lemon juice to blender and blend until liquid.  3. Drain apples and add syrup.  Toss well.  4.  Add raisins and spoon into crust.  Voila!

I like my apple pie warm, so I baked the apples for about 10 min in the toaster oven (it cooks faster) at 350°

Dessert #2 – Banana Chocolate Peanutbutter Cream pie (also from GoneRaw with a few changes)

Crust – see above and add cocoa powder or carob powder.  Freeze when finished.


Tier 1 – Peanutbutter and agave nectar.  You can use crunchy or smooth, depending on your taste.  Mix together until well combined. Place in the pie crust and freeze.

Tier 2 – 3 frozen, extremely ripe bananas cut into small pieces and cocao/carob powder. Process bananas until they begin to mush.  Add cocoa powder.  Process until it becomes the consistency of ice cream.  Place in the pie crust and freeze.

Tier 3 – 3 frozen, extremely ripe bananas cut into small pieces.  Process until the consistency of ice cream.  Place in the pie crust and freeze.  You can add walnuts to the top if you would like.

Remove pie 5-10 minutes before serving and place in the refrigerator.  If left frozen, it will be rock solid!!


Obama say wha? September 29, 2008

Filed under: Random — tlsussman @ 4:48 pm

Bilingual education.  Constantly a topic of discussion, and more often, contention.  After spending two years to gain a masters in bilingual education, you would think I have all the answers.  Then I read an article, recently posted in the NY times.  Obama is all for bilingual education (yes!!!) and making sure students are literate in their native language before embarking on their journey into biliteracy.  YAY FOR COMMON SENSE!  If you are illiterate in your native language, you have NOTHING to build on and use to help learn the second.  This should be common sense.  Apparently, however, in some public school in New York, English immersion has worked.  Great.  That is definitely a possibility.  BUT…do they consider the students’ backgrounds?  If students arrive literate, there is less issue (mind you, not NO issue) with English immersion, than if they have never been to school a day in their lives.

We all have a story about a family member or friend that didn’t get special schooling, but still managed to learn English.  Great.  Congratulations!  Research clearly proves that those who receive support in their native language will actually do better in the second language.

Just think of all the immigrants you know.  They are not dumb – in fact, many of them know way more than I do.  They usually just don’t have the words to communicate.  Therefore, it is quite obvious that students could succeed on the math portion of standardized tests, especially if there is little writing.  That does not mean that could not use support in the primary language.  Besides, every child has the right to maintain his native language and culture.  More than a right, this of such importance – it is his identity, his connection to family and a connection to everything he was up to this point.  To take these things away is to tell a child that his background and history are not valid.  By doing that, you already lower his chances of success drastically.

Besides, what’s so bad about being bilingual or trilingual??  In fact, it is an advantage and a gift.  Hells yeah to Obama for pushing bilingual ed.