Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Working Mama's Dinner

On Tuesdays I work evening shift at the hospital. I tend to love Tuesdays for several other reasons, one of which is we have claimed them as Pajama Days and no one gets dressed before lunch. I make coffee while the babes sit at the counter and eat bananas and granola bars and yogurt. Then we head to the couch for snuggling and movie watching and more coffee. About the time I need to take a shower and get ready for work, the babes go to their rooms for "rest time"/furniture rearranging time and I head out at 1:15 when our fabulous babysitter arrives.

I love my job. There are very few professions that allow a woman who has chosen to stay home and raise children to stay involved in her career, and nursing is one of them. I feel uniquely fortunate to be working in a field that I love and not have to choose between being a Mama and being a Nurse. I do both. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing either job well enough to keep juggling, but it is (almost) always worth it. I come home from the hospital energized after a break from parenting, and actually ready for more dirty diapers and a million preschooler questions. And I head out the door on Tuesdays ready to tap into a part of my brain that only gets turned on when I am taking care of cardiac patients who depend on my ability to explain mitral valve prolapse.

Our Family Mantra
Part of the juggling process when working two jobs, or working at all outside of the home, is food. I hate when I forget my dinner, or didn't have time to prepare one. Cafeteria food is not my favorite and all the fabulous bistros around the hospital close at 5p. I am motivated to think ahead.

And my favorite dinner to go comes courtesy of my friend Lydia who made this fantastic dish for me during one of our rainy day playdates. She whipped it up while chatting with me, setting up the chalkboard for our babes, wiping noses, helping put a puzzle together...typical octopus behavior that seasoned Mamas have admirably developed.

It is a Roasted Green Bean and Mushroom Farro Salad with Feta Cheese and Thyme. And it is delicious. It keeps well, is good hot or cold, the ingredients are finished cooking at the same time ready to toss together... in other words, is a perfect addition to my Meals to Make With Babes Underfoot collection.

First, a run to Trader Joe's. The key to an easy recipe is good ingredients and the 10 minute Quick Cooking Farro, the pre-sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms, and the bag of Hericot Verts are brilliant. The other flavors come from olive oil, dried or fresh thyme sprigs, and good feta.

First, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the mushrooms and beans (snapped in half) on a seasoned cookie sheet, cover with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and thyme sprigs.

Second, bring the water and farro to a boil. Follow the instructions on the bag, but basically once the pot is boiling you can reduce the heat and cover for 10 minutes. With the 10 oz package of mushrooms and bag of hericot verts, one cup of dry farro is just about perfect. After 10 minutes of simmering, let sit for 5 minutes then drain.

Third, while farro is cooking put the veggies in the oven and roast for 10-12 minutes. Shake once or twice during the time, but mostly just leave them alone to get slightly caramelized and delicious.

Lastly, dump everything together in a bowl and toss. Once it's cooled slightly, throw in some feta cheese. As you can see, I like feta.

This recipe is hearty and delicious and keeps me full at work. And because starch, veggie and protein is in one jar, dinner is simple enough that even if I have the sort of shift where I shove it in my mouth while standing at the nurses station, I feel like I have nourished myself well.

Trying to ignore my coworkers watching me take a photo of my dinner.

So well that the handful of chocolate chips from the freezer that I have when I come home after work is no worries. Make this recipe next time you are juggling two jobs or one toddler or a dirty house or soccer practice or just yourself. And send some love into the universe for Lydia, like I do every time I make this salad.

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