My usual energy level is only slightly greater than your average thee-toed sloth. This is one of the major reasons that, on this eve of the first day of school, I am relieved not to be teaching first grade again. Having to deal with the thousands of issues that arise in a class of 29 feisty six year olds every day, all day, is the most mentally, physically and emotionally draining job I have ever done. And I had to teach them on top of it all! Putting in twelve hours each day in my unrealistic desire to do everything perfectly resulted in my gradual zombification. I believe that the only thing that I was able to utter in a family or social setting for nine months was, “Uhhhhhh.” And that happened only when the chronic laryngitis subsided long enough for my damaged vocal cords to produce sound.
To say that the munchkins sapped my energy is an understatement. Since I had very little to start with, and conjured incredible amounts for work, I was running on negative when it came to my personal life. It took me several weeks of summer to begin to recuperate and rise out of my stupor. Today, as we get ready to start another school year, I had what was–for me–an impressive burst of energy. My first one in a year. Here is what I proudly accomplished, in addition to my regular daily routine:
- Did yoga in my living room
- Weeded all the vegetable and flower beds
- Mowed the lawn
- Made dinner–the whole darn thing–not just a side dish
- Got a haircut
- Wrote a blog
The garden beds were in terrible shape. We have been up north a lot lately, and so our maintenance of them has been less than impressive. The cucumber vine had withered away to nothing, squash beetles were sucking the last bit of dignity out of the zucchini plants, and the corn is busy turning into the dried-out front porch decorations that they will become next month. Also, weird shit has started to grow. Mysterious flowers and plants have sprung up where they have never existed before. I’m guessing the seeds were dropped via birds, kind of like how we ended up with a tomato plant growing in the dogs’ gravel potty area–unintentionally sown by Dieter, my tomato eating dog.
If you are talented in the identification of plants, could you please help me figure out what these are?
The one shown above is growing up under my June-blooming rose-bush. I think it’s a hibiscus, right? I honestly thought these only grew in Hawaii.
I found this purple one vining its way around my strawberry patch. Is it a type of morning glory?
I’ve posted a picture of this one before. It is growing in the gateway to the alley behind the house. I have been thinking it is corn, but although the stalk and leaves look similar, it is not producing ears, and the tassel on top resembles a squirrel tail. I am calling it Pseudo Corn until I can figure out what the heck it is.
After I got done gardening and puzzling over mystery plants, I went inside to make dinner. I mis-timed my yardwork, however, and due to an impending hair appointment, I did not have the 48 minutes of prep time I would need to make what I had originally planned. So, taking advantage of my continued and unusual energy burst, I decided to improvise: Chicken Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce and corn on the cob. And by George, I was going to make it all in 30 minutes (eat your heart out Rachael Ray). It is this type of overly ambitious thinking that wore me out last year, but tonight it worked for me.
The corn was from a roadside stand, since ours has been done for a while. Here’s my impromptu recipe–portions made 2 servings:
CHICKEN PARMESAN WITH HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE
- Frozen breaded chicken breast tenders or patties
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 – 6 tomatoes
- dried basil and oregano (or Italian seasoning)
- shredded mozzarella cheese, or blend of Italian cheeses
- Set a pot of water to boil (Cover it to make it boil faster. I used the same pot and water to cook my corn).
- Mince garlic.
- When water boils, drop tomatoes into it for about a minute. Take them out and put them in a dish of cold water. Peel off skins, core and run fingers inside of them to expel all the seeds.
- Bake chicken in oven according to package directions.
- Roughly chop tomatoes.
- In a small/medium saucepan, begin to cook garlic in olive oil until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, a squirt of ketchup, and a pinch of the dry spices to the garlic and cook over medium heat until bubbly.
- Take pan off of stove and dump sauce into blender. Puree for about 8 seconds.
- When chicken has cooked, pour sauce over it, top with shredded cheese and put under the broiler until cheese melts.
This was so simple and tasty! I may make more of this sauce and can it for the winter. Click CHICKEN PARMESAN WITH HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE for a printable PDF of this recipe. I posted the directions for my homemade meat sauce earlier, but this is much quicker, with fewer ingredients.
Whew! Now I only have a few minutes left before bed. Time to relax and look forward to being a part-time reading support teacher this year. Oh, and doing educational consulting and sales. And some volunteering. And taking classes toward a second master’s degree. Hope I have enough energy for all that…