Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bandwidth

We use the Internet quite often at school.

My school is Title-1 (which basically means that most of my students get free and reduced lunch - this makes the school entitled to more federal funding), so we've been able to get our hands on some really cool technology in the past few years.

My room has an interactive board, three computers, and a television with a VCR/DVD combo.  My projector died, so my current projector is kickin' it old school on a cart, but I feel confident I'll get a new projector by 2013.

When  my school first got some of this technology, energy was a problem and some rooms had to be re-wired to sustain the power.  Now, we're having problems with the Internet.

This is a big problem.  It's an even larger problem when I've become so technologically dependent that I get upset when I can't pull up a YouTube video of Lester Maddox chasing people with guns and axe handles (it's truly classic and makes it point, though - the kids love it!).

I took my Internet concern to my grade level meeting to address it, although I figured I would be pretty certain of my response.

"Is anyone else having trouble with the Internet?"  I asked.

A rousing chorus of enthusiastic echoes ensued.

A few people tried to explain the situation, but our instructional coach explained it the best.

She moved her arms about into a box-like shape and said (and I paraphrase),  "Let's pretend that this box represents our allowed Internet usage....well, our box is always full.  And if our box is always full, our connection is really, really slow."

And that night, as I thought about that nebulous Internet box of usage, I couldn't help but think about my connectivity to God. 

My box of access seems awfully full these days.  Jeremy is coaching soccer and doesn't get home until later, so my days are filled with work and my evenings are spent taking care of Amelia.  Work is always insane at this time of year.  It seems I'll never, ever get caught up on my grades. I thought about all the box-stuffing things I wanted to accomplish.  How I wanted to a: good mother, good wife, good family member, good teacher, good exerciser, good housekeeper, good choir member, good child of God...

And even as I thought through that list of "good things," I knew and continue to realize that nothing good ever came from me.

I started a daily devotional called "Jesus Calling" with some of the ladies in choir.  It takes scripture and writes it as a message from the perspective of Jesus.  I've really enjoyed this devotional, because it usually speaks to where I am in my life.  As I've shared with the ladies, it has been comforting and yet amazing to see how some of the same troubles and issues bloom and unfurl within all of us, and how this scripture speaks to us in different ways.

Today, I got hit with a whammy of a devotional.  It says, "In order to let go of something that is precious to you, you need to rest in My Presence, where you are complete.  Take time to bask in the Light of My Love...As you release more and more things into My care, remember that I never let go of your hand." 

I get frustrated when I cannot connect to the Internet - and yet I don't connect with God nearly as much as I need to.  Yet, there He is, always patient, always loving - always ready to talk to me.

Wednesday night, I realized that I've got to work on my bandwidth issues, and today's devotional just reverberated that message.

I have to work to eliminate worry, frustration, and busyness and to replace that with His Presence, with trust, and with thankfulness (if we spent our day being thankful to God for what we have, what negative things would that eliminate in our lives?).

In my box of access, some issues will always vie for my attention, taking up more bandwidth than needed.  Through trusting, seeking, and thanking, I can connect to God and others to relate a message of unfailing love.  Instead of being a full box of connectedness, I can be a conduit of the love Christ gave so unreservedly to me.

Amen.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Alfredo Epiphany

I've made Alfredo for years.  I normally made it the way some people make their gravy, except I add cheese.  I made a roux out of butter and flour, added copious amounts of milk, brought it to a boil, added salt, pepper, and lots of good Parmesan cheese. .

I've often found that my Alfredo lacked...well, something.   The texture was a little off (most likely due to the lack of cream) and the taste was a little...bland.  I added cream to the sauce on special occasions, and that helped, but I still felt like the sauce lacked the oomph factor.

A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany.  Jeremy likes garlic cream sauce, soI thought, "why not make up a roux with olive oil and garlic?  It'd have to taste good."

So, I used olive oil and garlic and made a roux.  The first time I did this, I thought it would be a big disaster.  The roux was green and runny!  I poured in my milk and thought, "this is going to be such a big mess...I'd better tell Jeremy to call Domino's."

After my sauce thickened like traditional Alfredo, I thought, "maybe I'm on to something here..."



After I tried it, I haven't made Alfredo in the "old way" since.

Olive oil and garlic roux is yummy and flavorful.  Plus, olive oil is better for you than butter, you can add milk to this sauce and it still feels decadent.  The garlic softens in the milk and adds a mild and yummy punch of flavor to the sauce.  It has a feeling of roasted garlic cream sauce without the time or energy it takes to make the full-fledged version. 

Basically, this is a lighter, simpler take on a classic Alfredo, and Jeremy loves it.

So, here's the recipe for Epiphany Alfredo (I realize the name of this post is "Alfredo Epiphany," but that make sense for the post, while "Epiphany Alfredo" makes more sense for the dish...I digress.)

Epiphany Alfredo

Serves four

4 tablespoons, olive oil
4 tablespoons, flour
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups milk (you can use low-fat, but I wouldn't use skim)
Splash of cream  (optional)
4 ounces, grated Parmesan cheese (use the best you can find)
Salt and pepper

1/2 box, cooked, drained pasta

Heat deep saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Once your saucepan/dutch oven is heated, add the olive oil. Once the olive oil is heated through (it will start to "move" in the pan), add the minced garlic.  Saute the mixture just until the garlic begins to turn light brown.  Once the garlic is a light brown, add in the flour and whisk the mixture thoroughly for a minute or two until the flour cooks.  The roux will be greenish and looser than a traditional roux.

The garlic/olive oil roux.  It really is green, although it's tough to tell in this picture.
After the flour has cooked through, add in your milk, splash of cream, and plenty of salt and pepper.  Continue to whisk the two mixtures together occasionally, until the sauce thickens.  Once the sauce starts to bubble up, add in the Parmesan cheese and melt the cheese into the sauce.
Here's the thickened sauce before the cheese was added.


Add in your cooked pasta and serve immediately with extra cheese and pepper on top!

Note: Cubed rotisserie chicken works well in this, or this works well as a side dish for grilled or baked chicken.  A little crushed red or cayenne pepper would add a Cajun kick to the sauce as well.  

The end product: