Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Differentiating Meals

There's this thing in education - one of the newer fads, if you will, called differentiating instruction.

In theory, it's great. It's basically grouping within a class, but not calling it grouping and actually creating the groups based on interests, learning styles, talents, etc.

I say in theory because every teacher I have ever spoken to about this says it is way too much work to have it happen on a regular basis in a self-contained class. Sort of like creating separate lesson plans for each lesson for each child in your class. Um, nice - in theory.

In reality, we modify it.

It occurred to me that differentiation is rather similar to cooking meals for my family. I start with a base and then change it up to meet preferences.

Just like education today is not the way it was when I was in school, my meal prep is nothing like my mother's.  She was of the I cooked it, you eat it mindset. I have too many horrific memories of struggling to swallow tongue. I just cannot inflict that on my family.

Today's recipe comes via just such a differentiated meal.

My husband was having flank steak. I really wanted a salad that had beets. So I improvised.

 I took some of the flank steak
and simmered it in horseradish sauce.
 I had some beets that I'd cooked and then frozen. I'd planned to use them in a smoothie, but I had the sudden inspiration that they would taste good in my salad.
You can still see the ice in this photo.
The icy beets were delicious.

I plated it with the greens in the middle with the horseradish steak on top. The horseradish acted as a dressing. Then I arranged the beets and slices of orange.

Really, all very delicious. This is definitely a salad I will make again. The flavors really blended together well.

So, the sad news around here is Fenway busted something in his other leg. I fear it's another ripped ACL. We're off to see the surgeon this afternoon.

He is such a sad pup tonight.

But earlier today, something he was dreaming had him happy!

So, what is dinner time like at your house? Do you "differentiate" or "make 'em eat tongue?"


  1. I honestly don't recall ever eating beets. However, I read recently that they are good to help control blood pressure, so I'm looking for ways to incorporate them in my diet. Thanks for the recipe. I love salads.

  2. Hey Rhonda,

    Thanks for stopping by. I am in the minority here at the Cafe, but I love beets. I have two upcoming recipes - one for garlicky beets and one for beet burgers. I'll let you know when I post them.

    For this one, the semi-frozen beets were really tasty. I might even be able to eat them as a mid-afternoon snack!

    Oh, and when I was in Costco yesterday, they had packages of already cooked beets. I prefer to get mine from the market with the greens still attached. The beet greens are super nutritious.

    1. I'm a beet lover, too! I've never tried cooking and then freezing them - that's on my list of things to try. :)

    2. It was sort of a learn by accident thing, Jan. I made more than I could eat so I figured I'd freeze them for a smoothie. Then, when I was making this salad, I remembered they were in there. They didn't defrost as quickly as I expected, but they tasted delicious partially frozen.

  3. Ah, poor Fenway!!! He's having a hard go of it. Loved his happy tail wagging dreaming video. LOL My dogs used to move their paws like they were running...likely chasing squirrels.

    It's all about me, myself and I when it comes to cooking here since I live alone. But when my daughter was home we were all about differentiating since she has multiple food allergies.

    1. Kav, I was actually thinking of you and how I would differentiate this salad for you. Maybe roasted chickpeas instead of the steak in the center?

      Fenway does that with his legs sometimes too. I always wonder what he's dreaming about.

  4. Dogs and their dreams! One time, soon after we had moved to South Dakota...and away from our trees full of squirrels in our Kansas back yard...Wynter was dreaming and woofing her "there's a squirrel!" bark. I asked her where the squirrel was, and she was on her feet and out the door. I'm not quite sure when she woke up, but she was quite disappointed that there were no squirrels!

    Your newest education "fad" makes me laugh. When we were homeschooling, that's exactly how I did my lesson plans. But when you're only teaching four students rather than a classroom, it's an entirely different undertaking!

    I'm going to have to try your salad. It looks delicious!

    1. That's the thing, Jan. Of course it makes sense, but who has the time to do it well for 30+ students each day.

      I know that squirrel bark well. I was afraid chasing squirrels at the window was going to wreck the surgery on the first leg. I had to create an obstacle course so he couldn't charge at the window!

  5. I love beets, too! But I'm not crazy about horseradish. :) However, I love to add beets to salads! Love them fresh and pickled.

    I'm so sorry about Fenway!! My son's dog injured his ACL (CCL) but was able to heal by keeping him crated for a couple of weeks (and on meds). The doc said there was only about a 10% chance to heal like that, so we're thankful! I'm just praying he doesn't totally blow the knee out in the future. The vet has ordered him to lose weight to help prevent it.

    1. Missy, this horseradish isn't the straight stuff. It's a creamy horseradish sauce and is actually a mix of bite and sweet.

      I considered doing what your son did this time, but I'm worried about the stress on the other leg since he's only about 3 months out from the surgery on that one. I'm glad it worked for them.

      Fenway has lost weight on the fish diet I have him on. The vet tech did mention that would help him with his recovery.

  6. Poor, sweet Fenway... I'm so sorry about this. And I agree about beets with anything. I love beets. I can live happily without Kale.

    But not beets and beans. Love 'em.

    Cate, I'm going to keep you and Fenway in my prayers. You've bought some great time with him.... but I know it's a sacrifice and one that's filled with tough choices. :(

    Hugs for you and the pooch!

    1. Guess it's a good thing I shared the salad and not the beet/kale smoothie recipe. :)

      Thanks for the prayers. They are always appreciated.

  7. Mary Cate, my husband tells stories of how he had to eat tongue growing up and of feeding his beets to the cat. When he confessed those things to his mother much later in left, she said, "I thought you like those things." LOL. She had no clue about the cat.

    Dinner varies at our house. Sometimes I cook one thing, other times I'm a short-order cook and then there are times when it's everyone for themselves.

    I hate that about poor Fenway. Such a sweetie. Praying he'll come through this like a champ so he can go back to the beach.

    1. Thanks, Mindy. The silver lining here is that we usually go to the beach in late August. This year we couldn't get the house for those weeks so we took July.

      So, between the good test results from the oncologist and the fact that I'm on vacation for another month, I guess the timing worked out.