Kathi’s Curry Chicken Spinach Casserole Comfort

Although my mom can’t take credit for this recipe — she can take credit for popularizing it with many friends and family. She has filled my freezer with it the last two times she came for baby deliveries. It is pure comfort food.

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This recent cold Atlanta weather had me craving it, and I had almost all the ingredients in the house, so I modified, which you can see in my notes below. I believe this casserole is a take on Chicken Divan or Chicken Florentine. It’s so easy to make a lot of, and freezes and reheats so well.

  • 6 chicken breast halves, cooked, deboned
  • 2 pkgs. chopped frozen spinach (I recently used Kale chopped in the food processor — broccoli works too)
  • 2 cans cream of celery soup (cream of mushroom – fat free is ok too!)
  • 1 c. mayonnaise (I used fat free plain greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used greek yogurt here again)
  • 1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. curry powder (or a little more — mmm!)
  • White wine to taste (I cooked my chicken breasts in white wine and garlic)
  • 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese (cheaper the better!)
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs or dry stuffing mix (I’ll let you know when I try flax seed!) 
  1. Cook chicken and cut/tear up.
  2. Cook and drain spinach, broccoli or kale.
  3. Mix together soup, mayonnaise (greek yogurt), sour cream (greek yogurt), grated cheese, lemon juice, curry powder, salt, and pepper.
  4. Spread in a buttered 13 x 9-inch oven-proof casserole dish.
  5. Combine the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, then sprinkle evenly over the top of the casserole.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. (As many casseroles do, it tastes better the next day. I cover with plastic wrap, then foil and refrigerate. I then reheat at 375 for 25 minutes or until bubbly again.)
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Cast Away

Often I find my students presenting their initial ideas in too conservative a way. When I mention their ideas are not far enough reaching, they might say things like, “I didn’t think you would let me do that”.

I often need to remind them that THEY are the art students! They are expected to blow my mind, push the envelope, etc.

I am the instructor, it is my job to reel THEM in. Yet this can’t happen when an idea has not been cast WAY OUT there…

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An Easy Way to Battle Food Allergies

Baby-B is no longer Baby-B. She’s been promoted to B-girl. This is because she has turned three on us this week!

Two years ago, when we were still a family of 5, just with GG living with us and no twinkle of Boy-K in our eyes, we threw B-girl her first birthday party.

It was great. I bought her a ridiculous dress and had the food catered from one of those fancy Atlanta bakery shops. Delicious sandwiches and gourmet cupcakes!

After giving B-girl her cupcake — which she had no interest in — we proceeded to get her to eat the thing for photos and the fun of a 1-year-old smashing cake on their face!!

Not long after she nibbled, she started making wheezing sounds. Soon after that projectile vomiting. Then a rash. Called her pediatrician, they said call 9-1-1 right now!

Oh the excitement!

A few days later we were in the allergist’s office — where B-girl was tested for food allergies. I have a tree-nut allergy, so when they came in to check on her half-way they said, “oh yeah, looks like she’s allergic to nuts like Mom!”

After the full length of time they consulted the chart of allergens on her back and realized that she was NOT allergic to nuts or peanuts, but she is allergic to EGGS!

Poor baby is what I thought. Eggs! One of the easiest foods! Scramble your baby up an egg. Eggs in moderation are so wonderful for you!

So for B-girl’s birthday cakes and treats this year, I found this wonderful brand called Cherrybrook Kitchen®! They use the Arthur characters from the PBS television show (did you know Arthur has a character with Asperger’s) to help explain the stories of children having food allergies.

We sent Arthur Chocolate Cookies to B-girl’s Nut Free & Egg Free Classroom

They have dairy, gluten, peanut, tree-nut and egg free mixes. Most importantly they are delicious! Way to go Cherrybrook Kitchen!

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I Should Have Prefaced — There is Nothing to Mourn

I should have prefaced a few of my previous blog posts about Baby-K the way I started a conversation with a girlfriend the other day, “Baby-K is FINE! He is happy. He sleeps well. He eats well. He is so cute. He has no idea there is any concern revolving around him!”

Our family is as busy and happy as ever. Z-girl is swimming up a storm. The Christmas tree is coming home today. Holiday parties are being attended and B-girl’s turns three in a few days! It’s the normal and wonderful chaos us McGinty-Mocks thrive on.

Yes, I have resigned from many commitments — because we have new and different ones overflowing our cups — but that’s it!

In no way, by sharing some of these life decisions  — do I want anyone to think that Baby-K isn’t well. As his neurologist said last week, “After all these tests and therapy, it may just turn out that he’s on Baby-K time.”

To any parent that makes a lot of sense. With our middle child we so often use the expression, “That’s just B being B!”

B-girl marches to the beat of her own drum. She is fiercely independent. She drives us as crazy with it. So we need to bring this phrase into rotation, “That’s just Baby-K, being Baby-K!”

There is no forcing Father Time when it comes to parenting. It is just because of certain delays (14-months and not crawling being a big one) that a heads-up has been given to us about Baby-K. We are not in mourning. We are forward thinking people who need to live a little more in the moment.

We are so freakin’ blessed.

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It’s Not Open Season on Sharing

I grew up in a family that enjoyed anonymity, even with seven kids running amuck in a small town. I have a feeling we were just the McGintys (and that might have explained enough).

Because of the privacy my parents maintained, as a child, I never had much of an idea of how my parents swayed politically, economically or even socially. I still couldn’t tell you my father’s exact career title. Once he told me he was an ‘accountant’, as an adult I have heard rumblings about his actual job title, but it doesn’t really matter now, as it didn’t back then. As he was my dad back then, I’m thrilled that to my own children he is the COG (Chief Operating Grandpa).

In the classroom I may vaguely mention my kids. Perhaps the note that one has been sick and everyone should wash their hands after I touch their computers or sketchbooks. Rarely more than that. Of course my students can read my blog — and a few may, but not more than that.

I have brought my oldest on a field trip here or there to a museum, or on a social trip to a bowling alley. Once when baby K was really little I took him to a gallery show in a sling so I could see my graduating student’s artwork. I remember a few of the students tickling his toes. They had all been my students while I was pregnant with him. My personal life mixing with my work-life really doesn’t go much further.

Yet this time in my life has me blogging — for all to see. I hope it’s not because we live in such an egocentric world that I’m trying to carve our my piece on the internet. I truly think that I blog because I hope it can help just one other person (probably another mother) out there. If just one other person finds my writing helpful — it was successful.

Blogging is different from journaling — which I attempted when I was first pregnant with Z-girl, 10 years ago — when you don’t have an audience, it’s different. Blogging forces you to write well, edit your work, then rewrite, and edit again. Usually after a post and a few comments, I read it another time and make additional edits.

It helps my writing skills to blog. If I know just one other person, a student, or my parents, are going to read something I have written, I am forced to understand my topic completely before putting it out there. It’s a version of teaching or counseling I assume. It is similar to my belief that deadlines compel focus in design and artwork.

There is plenty about my life that I don’t share. A lot.

I recently saw the writer, David Sedaris, speak, and he was asked how he decides what he shares and what he does not. The person asking the question thanked him for his candor over the years, to which I nodded in agreement.

David noted that you will never read about his sex life and very little about his relationship with his partner Hugh. That it is just the way he writes that makes it sound like he is talking to you about his most intimate thoughts — but in reality you are not privy to those. If you dissected his writing, there would be many personal gaps. I feel the same way about what I choose to blog.

I think about it this way. I don’t write about anything I wouldn’t want my next door neighbor, rabbi, priest, brother, mother, student, child or boss to read. After that it’s open season.

So when it comes now to talking about baby-K’s new journey, it’s just part of his journey, and mine. There will be a lot I hold back — and things I will share.

Similar to when I wrote Jumping-Generations and shared a lot about Don’s grandmother and her last days. There was a lot I never wrote about. I considered going back and telling a more gritty reality of our experience. Yet that is understood when you are dealing with the death of a loved one.

I don’t share any of these things because I want sympathy from anyone. I appreciate the well wishes of my friends who come about my writing on facebook — but it’s not a pity party. It’s all part of my process.

I write about these things because I want just one other person to find my writing one day — and feel comfort in the fact that certain feelings about parenting, motherhood, working-motherhood, are shared — yet they aren’t always the first things we bring up when we meet someone.

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A Feeling of Vignelli

This video interview of Massimo may help my own students understand some things I try to explain to them. 
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The Design Certification Debate

This is a wonderful dialogue my friend Esteban Pérez-Hemminger has been working on as part of his Master’s Thesis at Pratt Institute. As a designer and design educator I can see all sides of this debate…

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Playing Catch-up Won’t Do

When I began graduate school — Z-girl was two. She spent a lot of time back then, alone with her dad. Don is great with that age. I am reminded of this, when I watch Don with B-girl, who will be three very soon.

Back then, I might get up early in the morning and take Z-girl for a walk to Starbuck’s in her stroller. When we returned home I would hand her off to Don, to leave for a day (and night) in the studio. To make-up for the time, I would often spend a long Friday-off with Z-girl, getting caught-up with all she had learned the last week. Catch-up parenting and tag-team parenting worked really well for our well-adjusted first-born.

Jump seven-years later. The mother of three kids now, enjoying the hours professorship has lent me. Weekends are now spent as a busy family of five! We are still tag-team parenting, but only because we now play zone defense.

Since being laid off from my full-time position in April, and juggling classes now at two different colleges, I was thrilled to be offered an interim position at a local liberal arts college for next spring. I would cover classes of the Department Chair, heading on sabbatical. When I interviewed at the school I had a lovely time — I enjoyed meeting all the different fine art professors and it was a gorgeous fall day. Weeks ago I received my contract in the mail and signed and returned it quickly. I was pumped.

Recent events have changed all that.

Today I made a very hard phone call. I mentioned to Don I might be committing professional suicide! I called the Chair. The one planning sabbatical, to say that I was stepping down from my professional obligations for the next year — including their offer. She is  a mother, her children are grown, and she was so kind and concerned — I was emotional and quite honestly can’t remember what I said to her — I remember something about ‘my baby, an MRI, needs much more attention, physical, occupational, speech therapy, seeing a neurologist, need to be proactive’. Ugh.

This will be an interesting time ahead. It will be one step at a time — often two going backwards. My children are the priority and my husband has a greater earning power than I. Plain and simple. I believe if the roles were reversed he would resign.

It was during one of our more emotional conversations of late, when I said, “I think maybe it’s time I stop working and focus on this.”

To which he replied, “I think you should too — but I don’t feel I have the right to say that.”

I know there is a commentary regarding men of my generation and gender roles somewhere here.

I love what I do — the classroom is where I belong professionally. Yet, I will never get this time back. I cannot imagine ever regretting this choice (be it one year, or ten) to focus on baby-K’s development and the lives of all my children. For now, playing catch-up will not do.

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The Day Before Thanksgiving…

The day before thanksgiving has been an historically good day for our little family.

When we were 19, Don and I spent the day in the car, driving home from college, so he could meet my family. I will never forget how Don kissed my hand as we sat on the George Washington Bridge, in traffic, late at night. Very late that night he first met my parents.

When we were 23, Don tossed a little box to me the night before Thanksgiving, and asked me to marry him.

When we were 24, we closed on the purchase of our first house, the day before Thanksgiving.

If I had to guess, I would say Z snuck into our lives the day before Thanksgiving 😉

This year, on the day before Thanksgiving, Don and I were with baby-K while during an MRI. A baby his age needs to be put under for his procedure.

There are some concerns regarding his development — or lack thereof. Currently it is called a global developmental delay, which could mean any number of things, or nothing at all. He is fourteen months old and not still crawling.

Our sweet, and very happy little boy needs his body completely checked out so we can rule a lot of things out and move forward with a lot more physical, occupational and speech therapy.

As we count our blessings and remember all we are thankful for — I hope that this particular day remains a good one for us.

Consider making a donation to CHOA this holiday season. 

Don holds K as we wait for anesthesia.

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Welcome to Holland (Emily Perl Kingsley)

Yesterday a friend of mine brought up this written piece — then today I heard Andrew Solomon interviewed and he mentioned this — so I share it. Thank you Emily Perl Kingsley for putting it so well.

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip — to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around … and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills … and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy … and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away … because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But … if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

 

1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.

 

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