Spring’s Splendor

My graduate school experience and this tulip have a lot  in common.  We enter the new phase in our lives excited to experience the sunshine of academia.  We often forget the long,  cold  winter that must first pass before we can show our splendor. We walk in the doors of our glorious institutions and find ourselves humbled by the vast ocean of knowledge we must cross before graduation.  Exams and snow storms challenge our confidence.  Critical critiques make us certain that the sun will surly not rise again high in the sky to warm and refresh us.  Finally, just as we feel our strength is gone completely, we find that through that season so filled with despair, we have gathered a wealth of knowledge that has provided the nutrients needed to emerge gloriously in the spring!  We burst through our suffering renewed and refreshed as we see how far we have come.  We spend time lavishing in the sun renewed.  Knowing we can conquer the final hurdles.

Then our energy begins to wane.  All the passion put into final papers leaves us feeling exposed, weak, and vulnerable.  Our petals begin to droop.  The search for the next career move feels overwhelming and we feel the need to hide again.   To all my dear graduating friends, remember that you are capable.  The last two years have prepared you well.  You have grown in your ability to communicate through writing.  You are likely the expert on the healthcare system among most of your family and friends.  You are a capable leader.  Do not hide like Ms. Penny here, show your face to the sun once more.  Stretch your petals and be prepared to grow once more.

Now.  It’s time for the important stuff.  School has pulled me away from cooking and blogging for too long.  Make this dinner.  Share it with your neighbors.  Be renewed and strengthened.

Almond Crusted Chicken Cutlets

Purchase an appropriate number of bone-in chicken breasts for your family.  Thinly slice cutlets off the bone and save the bone for future use (I froze mine.  Chicken soup, perhaps?)In a large skillet, warm enough oil to cover the bottom then add slightly more.  My stove was set to medium heat and was warmed through in about 5 minutes.  I used safflower oil, but any high heat oil with a mild flavor will work.

Place 3 plates on the counter.  In the first, cover with brown rice flour, salt, and pepper.  In the second, place milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond milk).  The the third, add almond meal.  I purchased a bag of pre-made almond meal (in the gluten-free section of the grocery store).  This is an expensive investment at more than $10/pound, but the results are well worth the expense.  If you have a food processor that can grind almonds well or a coffee grinder, those may be preferred methods for your kitchen.  Note my almond meal was made using non-roasted, non-salted almonds.

Cover a cutlet with the rice flour, then milk, and finally the almond meal.  Test the oil by dropping some almond meal in.  If it quickly begins to “fry” you are ready.  Place the cutlets in the oil and cook until browned on both sides, 3-4 minutes each side.

I covered them with chopped fresh parsley and served to my happy customers.  Tell your children these are “chicken tenders”.  I am pretty sure they will lick their plates clean.  And you will certainly enjoy the satisfying crunch and delicate almond flavor of this intensely satisfying meal.

Tomato, Asparagus and Basil Pasta Salad

This is quick and easy to make.  Simply choose a gluten-free pasta and cook according to the directions in well-salted water.  Rise the pasta well as soon as it is finished cooking and toss with olive oil.

In the  meantime, grill one pound of lightly oiled asparagus on the grill.  You could also boil it with the pasta or steam it above the cooking pasta, if you do not have a grill and would prefer not to turn on the oven.  After grilling, I cut the asparagus into one inch pieces and tossed with the salad.  My grocery store had lovely tomatoes on the vine that actually tasted good!  I chopped a few and added them as well.  Cherry tomatoes or diced, canned tomatoes would also be good choices.  Finally, I thinly sliced about 1/4c of fresh basil and added it to the bowl.  A helping of salt and pepper and dinner was ready to serve.

How are you renewing your energy now that the sun is out and the weather is toasty?

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