Primary Sources and the New Year

I am a historian, I have always been a historian, and I will always be a historian. I love sifting through documents, texts, and materials analyzing each piece in the hopes of constructing an understanding of events. Although I no longer write historical pieces, I think of graduate school fondly and miss those days greatly. I used to sit on the floor with books all around me, digging through primary sources trying to figure out how to grant women a voice in times where it was often restrained. Oh, how I love it!

I spoke at a conference a few years ago where the keynote speaker discussed the different types of historians. He explained that he believed that there were those who wrote history because it helped them define their own identity and then there were those who wrote history because they wanted to solve the mysteries of the past. I completely identify with the first historian he defined. My work has always focused on gender, Judaism, and choice. All three of these topics I grapple with daily and I believe my work has helped me define how I fit within the larger historical context that has helped construct my personal identity.

Although I am no longer writing, I do get to teach history for 45 minutes a day. My students this year are so enthusiastic and inquisitive. Our class often turns to random topics and quite frankly I adore these moments because my dear scholars are genuinely  very curious about the past. Two weeks before winter break one of my scholars politely raised her hand and asked, “Will we one day be primary sources?” I was enthused to hear that she was trying to understand how she  fit within the larger historical narrative.  I responded by explaining that she is a part of social history and that one day she very well could be needed to understand a time within history. We then began discussing what she might leave behind for historians to use as primary sources.

I often think about the age of digital media and how it will define primary sources. Film, letters, books… they are all tangible pieces.  I wonder if all that we write and produce on the internet will one day disappear because the interwebz archives can not possibly store all of the media we create. Perhaps this comes from a place of skepticism (I don’t trust technology to produce quality over long periods of time), none the less, I worry about the historical record we are currently creating and how it will be utilized in the future. I also often wonder about the volume at which we are producing sources and how historians will be able to negotiate what is a legitimate source and what is not. We currently struggle as a society to define legitimate  sources (i.e. fox vs. cnn), how the heck is a historian going to be to trudge through all of the murky material.

We each create our own historical narrative through memory and documents. I have always saved materials from various events so that I could piece together my own history. As we move into the new year I am going to continue constructing my history through primary sources, however this year I am going to use the ever-so-scary internet. I have created a tumblr to document the year 2013. I will take one picture for each day. I am not creating this tumblr because I believe that historians in 60 years will find it and use it to help write analysis on gender, Judiasm, and choice… I am creating it because I am a historian, trying to construct my own identity.


One of my favorite primary sources in grad school. Jewish girl goes on a wild adventure, only to be tamed and returned to the suburbs.

One of my favorite primary sources in grad school. Jewish girl goes on a wild adventure, only to be tamed and returned to the suburbs.

Holiday Left Overs Done Right

Do you have random amounts of left overs from the holidays? We do and the random odds and ends can be annoying. Last year we discovered the PERFECT way to remedy this situation… Stuffing Quesadillas.

First I have to say that I LOVE STUFFING. My entire life I thought it was gross and I think that’s because it was always a boxed brand that required chicken broth. I no longer have such ill feelings towards this holiday treat. During Thanksgiving I made stuffing from scratch and it was yummy, however the best stuffing ever comes from a bag. I am referencing the cranberry stuffing from Wholefoods. I don’t know what it is about this stuff but HOT DANG… its so good.

stuffing_mixFor Christmas I prepared a 4 course meal. We did not eat this meal though. Late Monday evening we were asked to join friends for Indian food and Jewish shenanigans. We took the offer and put all of the food in the fridge. I was okay with this choice because I did’t put a ton of effort into dinner.

One of the dishes I had prepared for us to eat was the 365 stuffing. I did not use all of the recommended butter and I added Seitan strips to the mixture. The directions on the bag call for the mixture to soak in butter and water. During this process I placed the seitan in the pot so that it would also soak up the flavors.

I took pictures of the finished product however they were accidentally deleted. You must trust that these are delicious!

Leftover Stuffing Quesadilla


  • 2 tortillas (if you are trying to watch your diet I recommend 1 “roll up” for 90 calories)
  • 1/3 c of part skim mozzarella OR brie if available *Ideally you just use whatever cheese you have leftover, however these two compliment the stuffing well
  • Leftover gravy (we made cremini mushroom gravy)


1. Spray non stick pan with organic PAM or butter lightly.

2. Heat pan on medium heat and place assembled quesadilla into pan.

3. Brown both sides of tortilla until crispy.

4. Re-heat gravy while quesadilla cookies

5. Remove tortillas, cut into forths and serve with gravy.

Now that those leftovers have been eatten, clean out the fridge and cleanse yourself of all of the holiday treats (that’s what I am trying to do!).

Protein Frappacino


I recently read on pinterest about adding coffee to shakes and I immediately thought “Why haven’t I thought of this!” I made a protein shake today and added a bit of coffee and the results were delicious. The consistency of the shake was very similar to a frappacino. The beverage was light and frothy… a wonderful mid day snack.

Protein Coffee Frappacino



  • 1/2 c of black coffee
  • 1 scoop of 365 vanilla whey protein powder
  • 7 ice cubes
  • 1/4 c of unsweetened almond milk
  • If you are feeling a bit festive add a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper extract


  • Place all ingredients in blender and set to “liquefy.”

Bar Exam Bars

bar cartoon

Stephen has started studying for the Illinois State Bar Exam. This has been a long time coming and I am super excited for him. He is currently enrolled in a prep course that spans from now until the exam in February. Its an intensive course that will require approximately 8 to 10 hours of studying a day. As you can imagine I am not super excited to see less of him but I am happy he is crossing the finish line of this long journey that has been law school.

Since the weather has been gloomy and friends are out of town I have been baking like mad. I wanted to make Stephen treats to brighten up his study experience. The boy loves peanut butter and chocolate so I figured I would make some Bar Exam Bars.

I created this recipe and am quite pleased with the outcome. As I was making these bars I realized that the texture and consistency reminded me of my favorite Little Debbie… Star Crunch. As a kid I had a star crunch in my lunch everyday. Star crunch makes any boring lunch better and hopefully these bars will make study sessions just a little bit better too!



Disclaimer: I am not going to declare these are healthy in the least but a little sweet treat every now and then is okay… right? 🙂

Ooey Gooey Bar Exam Bars

I had a bunch of pictures and deleted them ALL on accident, tragic.

I had a bunch of pictures and deleted them ALL on accident, tragic.



  • 5 c of Rice Krispies (I used 365 Brown Puffed Rice)
  • 1/4 c of butter
  • 1 bag of mini marshmallows
  • 3/4 c chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp PB2
  • 1/2 c trail mix (I used Trader Joes PB Cup mix) OR assorted peanut mix


  • 1/2 tsp peanut oil
  • 1/3 c white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tbsp peanut butter


  1. Line a baking dish (the smaller the pan the thicker bars) with wax paper and set aside.
  2. In a microwave safe dish melt butter. Pour butter in mixing bowl (something deep enough to use an electric mixer if you do not have a stand mixer).
  3. Microwave marshmallows for 30 seconds. Pour marshmallows into mixing bowl. Mix butter and marshmallows on a medium speed until the mixture becomes very gooey.
  4. In a separate small bowl combine Pb2 mixture with water. Normally Pb2 calls for 1 tbsp of water… add more. You want this to equal about a 1/4 c o liquid.
  5. Slowly pour rice cereal into mixture. Make sure the cereal is evenly coated. Pour pb2 mixture into cereal mix.
  6. Pour chocolate chips and trail mix into mixture.
  7. Spoon mixture onto wax paper. Use a spoon to evenly distribute mixture in pan. Try to get the bars even and the sides in a straight line.
  8. Place the baking dish in the freezer for approximately 30 minutes (you need the mixture to harden).
  9. Take the wax paper out of the dish and flip the mixture onto cutting board. Use a sharp knife or dough cutter to evenly cut bars into squares.
  10. Once the bars are cut prepare the topping mixture. Place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and melt chocolate and peanut butter together. Use a fork to drizzle tops of bar.

Wrap bars in wax paper and secure with tape. Place in freezer until serving.

Pack your bar for studying and enjoy!

Italian Crusted Tofu

I have been a vegetarian for 14 years. When I was 12 I decided to stop eating meat for a number of reasons. I have never really cared for the taste and I have been traumatized by animal veins in my food one too many times.  When I decided to stop eating meat I received a lot of slack for it from my family. During middle school and high school my diet preference was never really considered when our family chose restaurants or made meals. A result of this lack of consideration was me consuming a ton of broccoli, popcorn, and dinner rolls. You can only imagine the results…over weight and not balanced. During college I started to explore vegetarian options, but even then I was scared of foods because I was never taught to try food or explore different cultures. I decided to take control of my health and make healthier choices while in grad school. My tastes have progressed, my culinary skills have improved, and I have lost a ton of weight (a by product of living well).

Did I mention I wore "Meat is murder" shirts in middles school? ha!

10th grade: Did I mention I wore “Meat is murder” shirts in middle school? ha!

I bring up my journey towards healthy delicious vegetarian food because I realize that I was raised within a house that did not understand that vegetarian food could be well-rounded and yummy. I do not think this belief is restricted to my childhood household, I encounter this mindset all of the time. If people dare to think about vegetarian food they often jump to tofu. I will be the first to admit that tofu can be bland. However, if prepared properly tofu can be wonderful. It assumes the flavor of whatever spices it is prepared in.

vegetarian partners in crime

vegetarian partners in crime

I found this recipe on Pinterest and hot dang… it was divine! Husband approves! I can not recommend this dish enough. It would be a great date night meal or dinner party dish. The recipe takes approximately 35 minutes from start to finish.

Italian Crusted Tofu with Spaghetti



  • 1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 14-ounce package firm or extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed (You can drain but leave some residual water, this will help keep the breadcrumbs on the tofu)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup prepared marinara sauce, preferably low-sodium
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


  1. Combine breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning in a shallow dish. Cut tofu lengthwise into 4 steaks and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides of the tofu with garlic powder and salt and then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their juices and begin to brown, 4 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the tofu steaks (2 at a time) and cook until browned on one side, about 3 minutes.


  1. Spoon the mushroom mixture over the tofu, pour marinara over the mushrooms and scatter mozzarella on top. Cover and cook until the sauce is hot and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and serve.
So filling and delicious!

So filling and delicious!


Pair with a red

Serves 4
calculation based on MyFitnessPal
calculation based on MyFitnessPal
*This does not include the spaghetti

Easy as Pie… Chocolate Pie

Every year Stephen’s mom makes him Chocolate Pie for… well… any occasion he requests it. Since we don’t live near his parents anymore, chocolate pie has become a prized commodity. When his folks visited for Thanksgiving his mom brought her worn recipe card with her. She fulfilled Stephen’s request and made him a pie for Thanksgiving. By accident she left the recipe card which has resulted in Stephen getting Chocolate Pie for Christmas despite his mom’s absence.

simple genius

simple genius

This pie is SUPER easy to make. It requires no baking and can be adjusted to have fewer calories. I did not try to make this recipe low calories because at the end of the day, its for Stephen, not I. I feel like I am about to give away a family secret recipe… feel honored 😉

Mary’s Famous Chocolate Pie


  • 10 minutes prep
  • Can make 2 days ahead or let sit in freezer for at least an hour.
  • 1 block of cream cheese (you can use low fat kind)- softened
  • 1 tub of cool whip (I used lite)
  • German baker chocolate  (the whole box)
  • graham cracker crust (buy the kind with a lid, you will need it for freezing)
  • 1/3 c of unsweetened almond milk (the original recipe calls for regular milk however the almond milk works just as well)

*Optional: crumbled oreos (I had leftovers in the cabinet… why not use them!)

  1. Melt chocolate over stove or in microwaves (small intervals). Once chocolate is melted whisk in almond milk.
  2. In a electric mixer whisk cream cheese (fluff it up). Add sugar if you would like ( I used two packs of stevia)
  3. Continue mixing with electric whisk and slowly pour in chocolate.
  4. Increase speed, mix in cool whip. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  5. Spoon mixture into crust. Dust pie with oreo.
  6.  Place lid on pie and place in freezer or fridge. You can make this days ahead and place in freezer and serve within the hour.

Serve chilled

Later than Brunch… Breakfast

Winter Break has been very kind to me. We have slept in, been to two wine tastings, and visited the Nutcracker. I also began my 200 Yoga Alliance Training program and have started logging my hours. I am super excited about all of this!


The Auditorium Theater, Roosevelt (one of my favorite places)

One of the most amazing things about break is staying up late and sleeping in. I love waking up to a clean house, having a fresh pot of coffee and pastry at mid day. It is a spectacular feeling to be free.

stephen b

Stephen enjoying his scone at 11 am (this is the life!)

As of late I have been inspired by our wedding and France… maybe it’s the wine.. maybe it’s the crepes. Anyways I have wanted to eat breakfast pastries and thus I whipped up some scones yesterday (I am aware this is not French). I adapted this recipe, added protein and made it vegan. I love using fresh and in season fruit. Recently, organic oranges have been super affordable and delicious!


Cranberry Orange Protein Vegan Scones

photo (99)


  •  1 1/4 cups  whole wheat flour
  •     1/2 cup brown sugar
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 365 Vanilla Whey Protein Powder (1 scoop = 1 serving)
  •     1 teaspoon cinnamon
  •     1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  •     1/2 cup applesauce
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1 cup oats
  •     1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • orange zest

Orange Cream Cheese Glaze (not so vegan):

  • 4 tbsp of powdered sugar
  • orange zest
  • 2 tbsp of reduced fat cream cheese (if you want to make the frosting vegan sub out with Tofutti cream cheese)

photo (98)

Preheat oven 375 degrees F and spray a round cake pan with Pam for Baking.
Stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, protein powder and cinnamon.
Make a well in the center and stir in  almond milk, applesauce, and vanilla.
Mix well and fold in oats. Stir in cranberries and orange zest.
Spread batter into prepared pan, and flatten so it looks like a cookie cake. Bake for 18 minutes, then cut into 8 pieces when done.
Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
glazed scone for the husband

glazed scone for the husband

perfect morning

perfect morning

Serving Size: makes 8 scones

Nutrition info according to MyFitnessPal (not including glaze)

Nutrition info according to MyFitnessPal (not including glaze)

sometimes you just need to punch some air

Tomorrow is the last day of work until January. Students are taking finals and their stress level is quite high. They want to succeed and do well, which has led to nasty attitudes and my name being called out a 473859345347897439 times. These two moves are a deadly combo and result in mini anxiety attacks on my end.  Yoga Sculpt was the perfect release this evening. When I walked into the studio I told the teacher that we needed to punch some air. Punching air ALWAYS does the job 🙂

When class began our teacher brought up stress. He said, “Stress is something we create, its not real, its not tangible, since we create it…  we can let it go.” I think its really important to keep this in mind and I will try to take this lesson away from my mat.

As we move into the holidays everyone is focusing on giving and getting from others, but I think its important we take a moment and think about what we are giving to ourselves. How we  give to our minds and bodies impacts how we give and impact others. The year is about to end but new lessons and experiences don’t need to start on the 1st, they can start now… how very empowering 🙂


This needs to be said, I need to say this.

Today I stood huddled in darkness with my students in the corner of my classroom. Unsure of what was happening I begged my students to be silent as they nervously texted their parents. The school was on a lockdown because armed gunmen were in the surrounding neighborhood. The school entered a precautionary lock down because of the threat. I was shaken, and quite frankly I still am. When the lockdown finished students and teachers roamed the hallways scurrying to gather their belongings. Smiles were on faces, yet I could not smile… and I am not smiling now.

When the lock down was called some students in my class did not see any urgency in moving towards the corner. In fact, one student said “if they are going to get us, let them come in.” I don’t think the student who said this really meant it, but making a joke did not seem to be a big deal to her or the students around her. I think it was rather easy for her to make this joke because unfortunately my kids live in fear due to the gun violence in their neighborhoods. I can’t direct my anger towards my student for demonstrating her immaturity; however I can be angry at our society, patriarchy and the systemic issues that plague our country.

After leaving school I drove home dealing with several emotions. Was I anxious? Was I scared? Was I mad? As NPR discussed gun laws, the effects of gun laws, the victims of Newton, and the political state of our country, my emotion turned into anger. I am angry. I am angry that we are not addressing the real problem. People are discussing mental health and guns instead of the cause for it all… gender. Every shooting that has happened within Obama’s administration (and lets be real — most of all public shootings) and the violence that occurs on my kids’ streets day in and day out is carried out by men. Not just men but YOUNG men. It is accepted that these men carry out these horrific crimes because they are either “mentally ill” or of color. Everyone needs to stop pointing to the surface-level causes and realize that these boys are growing up in a culture that binds them to an identity that prevents them from showing emotion and seeking help. Boys are taught to demonstrate their masculinity through violence. Boys are taught that if you are not strong both physically and emotionally you are less than a man… you are a woman (i.e. gay). I am enraged by the absence of conversations regarding gender and violence. Sure, we can ban assault rifles, but the reality of it is that people are going to get guns if they want to get them. Furthermore, we can discuss mental health, but the reality of it is that until we begin to accept that boys can suffer from mental health issues and we create a space for boys that is accepting and acknowledges them as people (and not “others”) we are going to continue to see these heinous acts of violence.

We need to start having conversations about how to raise boys in a society that accepts them, all of them.  We need to educate men and women to create spaces that facilitate growth rather than stifle emotion. We must come together as a country and address all children, not just white children, and provide stability through emotional support. If we don’t change the conversation, we will continue to have the same conversation over and over.

how you do anything is how you do everything

photo (95)

Yay Yoga

My favorite yoga teacher said the title of this blog  to our class last week while we were in shavasana. I couldn’t agree more.  Because I try to go to yoga after work I often skip delicious meals. If I go to yoga I end up making eggs really quickly when I get home. I really want to integrate yummy meals back into my evenings… even if I am at yoga. I have been using the crock pot more and more to help ease the burden of time consuming cooking. I love cooking vegetarian pot pie however its labor intensive which means I haven’t made it in forever. I recently found a vegetarian pot pie crock pot recipe and I am so very happy to be reunited with this tasty meal. I have altered the recipe quite a bit and the results are perfect! Enjoy!

Vegetarian Pot Pie Crock Pot Recipe

photo (96)

Calories: 364
Carbs: 57
Fat: 12
Protein: 8


photo (92)

1 cup vegetable broth
3 small potatoes chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
3/4 cup butternut squash, chopped
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup peas
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of sage
1 teaspoon of thyme
1 teaspoon of basil
1/3 teaspoon pepper
2  cups baking mix (I use Bisquick Heart Smart)
just a bit over 1/2 c  cup of unsweetened almond milk

photo (94)

always great ingredients to have on hand


1. In a crock pot, put broth and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, celery, peas, and onion).
2. In medium bowl, whisk together the water, flour, oil, and spices (salt, garlic powder, and pepper) until smooth.
3. Pour mixture into crock pot and stir. Cook on high for 1.5 hours until thick and bubbly.

photo (93)

Let cook without crust for 1.5 hours

4. Mix baking mix and nondairy milk (you could use any biscuit or dumpling recipe) and spread over top of vegetable mixture in crock pot. ( *I take the mixture and take small balls and flatten them out. This makes it a lot easier to cover the top evenly.) Reduce heat to low and cook another 2.5 hours.

photo (91)

cover evenly so broth does not boil onto crust

Preparation Time:
1/2 hour, Cooking time: 4 hours