Cafe Pasqual

Cafe Pasqual

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We woke up this morning to the sound of rain.  Wonderous.  When Texans get tired of Texas we go to New Mexico.  Our neighboring state to the west is our respite from heat, drought, winds, prairie, and politics.  We go for the mountains and the cool breezes and equally for the cuisine and the culture. Sometimes we stay and we don’t come back.

My favorite restaurant is Cafe Pasqual in Santa Fe.  It is a mecca to many and very tiny so you must make a reservation in advance. The owner or chef is Katharine Kagel and she is known for using old world ingredients. Since I can’t get to Pasqual’s enough, I bought her pretty cookbook the last time we visited and yesterday for breakfast I whipped up RM’s favorite of huevos rancheros.  Here is the link to the restaurant:  http://pasquals.com/Tales_from_the_Luddite_Chef/index.html

While RM didn’t work the cattle ranch yesterday, he did hit 100 golf balls in anticipation of a golf tournament later this week and mowed the yard.

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Inside of the tiny and colorful Cafe Pasqual

The recipe is simple but takes some work to get all the parts assembled correctly.  You need to make black beans, new mexico style, to start.  I used canned black beans (rinsed) and heated in a pan.  I add to one can of beans, 1/2 cup minced onion, two small minced sweet peppers, one minced jalapeno (you can use canned if you must), 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 small bay leaf, two cups of water, and salt to taste.  I add one cup of water and let it cook down, then add another cup and cook it again until the beans are thickened.  Last year, we purchased a bay plant and it is producing beautiful bay leaves this spring which is very handy.  I wish I could get cilantro to grow just as well.

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Thickened black beans – excuse the dirty stove top.

The next step is to make the red chili sauce.  Yesterday, I had leftover fresh tomato sauce so I used that and added some green chili sauce (from a jar) to the tomato sauce and then added mexican oregano and cumin to the mixture and let it cook until thick.  The tomato sauce recipe I use is from Mario Batali:   http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/basic-tomato-sauce-recipe12.html.  You can make a big batch and then store it is a glass container in your refrigerator for a week or longer.  Freezes well too.

Time to cook the eggs.  We like ours sunny side up which I think is traditional in this dish but I guess you could make ’em any way you preferred.

Then, toast the tortillas over the gas flame on your stove.  My friend Babs showed me how to hold them gently over the flame with a pair of tongs until they start to puff up and brown just a little.  They smell toasty.  Make some extras so you can roll them and dunk them in the chili sauce.  Or spread them with butter and roll them up and eat plain.

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Toasting Tortilla

It is time to assemble.  Take one toasted (don’t skip the toasting step or you will regret it) tortilla and place it on a plate, spread it with a thick layer of black beans, place the egg on top, spoon the red chili sauce around the edges of the egg, and sprinkle with cheese.  If you have fresh cilantro, add a few touches of the herb on top.  We didn’t have cilantro yesterday so we skipped that step (I did miss it).  The heat was just right for this wimpy, former Kansan,  so if you want it spicier just add more jalapeno to the beans or you can give your chili head friend, a jar of hot sauce to sprinkle on top.

I think it is time to plan a trip to Bandalier…and to make a reservation at Pasqual’s.

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Huevos Rancheros
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Exuberant Learning

Exuberant Learning

Most folks want to raise healthy children who are fueled more by intrinsic desires than extrinsic ones.  What on earth would make someone a non-learner?  Babies don’t worry about making mistakes or humiliating themselves. They walk, they fall, they get up, and they fall again. What could put an end to this exuberant learning?

The people I know that are the happiest are fulfilled by the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself.  Completing paperwork associated with grant writing may seem like drudgery to many but to my colleagues we derive immense satisfaction from the process.  Can you think of other examples of tasks that may seem mundane but give you a sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction of being part of something bigger than yourself?  Maybe, organizing a trash pick-up day in the neighborhood?  Completing a complicated jigsaw puzzle? Taking a class not required by your employer? Finishing your taxes?  Ok, I went too far with the thought process on that one.

So what are some ways to create more intrinsic desires than extrinsic ones in our children?

Should I give a kid an allowance?  Having a little of their own money (and I mean a little amount depending on age – someone told me no more than a dollar for every year of age) offers the freedom and autonomy over how the money is used as well as life lessons about cash flow.

Are chores good for kids?  Chores help kids learn that families are about helping one another and for nurturing a shared responsibility for the home.  But don’t combine allowance with chores as it creates an “if-then “system that never works out.  RM and I learned that lesson the hard way.  Withhold an allowance for not completing a chore one week, and the next week you have a child that refuses again (and again).  However, there may be ways to incentivize kids.  One time RM challenged his young daughters to find loose nails in the backyard during a home remodeling project.  He told them he would pay them a dime a nail.  The girls designed a magnet connected to the end of a stick and scoured the yard for nails.  Their piggy banks were full and our back yard was nail free.

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C2, Grandma Sally, Blogger and C3 sharing the household duties

How should we praise our children?  Psychologist Carol Dweck offers a how-to list for offering praise:

  1. Praise effort and strategy, not intelligence. Avoid praising your child for being smart because if they encounter a problem at some point in their life that they can’t solve (and they will!), they will feel dumb and will not try again.  Kids who understand that hard work leads to growth are more willing to try.
  2. Make praise specific. Don’t use generalities but tell them specifically what they’ve done that’s noteworthy.
  3. Praise in private. Praise is feedback not an award ceremony.
  4. Offer praise only when there’s a good reason for it. Be sincere – or keep quiet.
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C1 lost in her work in her dad’s shop

Carol Dweck and her team at Columbia University conducted research on 400 fifth-graders in which the children took three tests. The second test purposely was made difficult enough that every child failed. What the scientists found was that kids who had been praised for their effort recovered from that failure by the third test to achieve scores 30% higher than on their first test. Meanwhile, the students who were praised for their intelligence had scores that were 20% lower. Ms. Dweck’s conclusion: You should praise children for qualities they can control, like effort. Those praised for their innate brainpower might develop the sense that hard work isn’t necessary.

If you want to learn more about Dweck’s decades of research then read:  Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success.  She also has a website, http://www.mindsetonline.com.  She offers steps for moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset that sees encounters as opportunities for improvement or what we call the “OFI” mindset at work.

So, I hope this week, in the Lone Star state, as our children complete their first round of mandated state assessments, that we remember as adults to praise their efforts and hard work so that we raise our children with an intrinsic desire for a life of exuberant learning.

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C1 helping to install insulation in our home’s new addition.  She was highly motivated as she shared a room with her little sisters until the job was done.
Jack of all trades

Jack of all trades

Today, my boss referred to me as a “jack of all trades.” I took it as a compliment.  Through lots of experience and many opportunities, I have massed quite a few skills over the years.  I think where I excel best is at integration and bringing my disciplines together in a practical manner.  I am going to ignore the “master of none” negative element of this figure of speech as I always enjoyed the role of a generalist more than an expert.  As I have grown older, I am more purposeful to make my life rich and full and always evolving.  I have learned, with time, to “appreciate the things I have before time forces me to appreciate the things I once had.”

I reflected on the many roles I have held over the years; starting when I was just a little girl:

  • Lemonade stand proprietor
  • Babysitter
  • Assistant to newspaper boys (three older brothers)
  • Swimming instructor aide
  • Flute player, first chair (often second)
  • Church choir member
  • Catcher on the softball team
  • Daughter to a mom who worked outside of the home
  • Folder and bundler of newspapers for the small town paper

In my early teens:

  • Waitress in a truck stop
  • Student and athlete
  • Co-captain of the high school basketball team
  • School club leadership roles
  • Cashier at a grocery store
  • Girlfriend
  • Daughter of a School Administrator in a small Kansas town
  • Clerk at the Kansas State Department of Rehabilitation Services

In my later teens:

  • Waitress in a deli
  • Resident Assistant in a college residence hall
  • Intern in a personnel office (what we called it before it became the Human Capital Management Department) for a psychiatric hospital for children
  • Assistant to the Dean of Student Life at a large university
  • Event planner
  • Clerk in a library
  • Apartment dweller

In my 20’s:

In my 30’s:

  • Special Projects at Lockheed Martin
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Community Volunteer
  • Mentor
  • Home remodeler
  • Entrepreneur and Owner of Clubhouse for Kids Only
  • Party planner
  • Mother of three girls

In my 40’s:

  • Consultant for Project Management
  • Co-owner of small businesses: Marshall Arts and Etch-A-Tech with RM
  • Board Member of a non-profit
  • Traveler
  • Home host for international guests
  • Caterer
  • Graduate Student
  • Grant Writer and Director for a public school district
  • Supervisor
  • Cancer patient

In my 50’s:

  • Project Manager and Executive of Grants Department in a large,urban school district
  • Friend
  • Trainer
  • Cancer survivor
  • World traveler
  • Advisor
  • Leader
  • Empty nester and spouse
  • Volunteer and mentor
  • Blogger and want-to-be mystery writer

I am sure I have left a few off the list but I hope I can continue to be a jack of all trades, master of some with more to come.

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