Sharon has two,

by Thursday, January 28, 2010
This week I have been musing a lot on how I got to where I am today. What have my roots been? How do those humble beginnings and tentative steps still inform who I am today as a dancer, as a director, as a teacher? So I have been running down the list in brief of all my dance mommas and aunties. I have taken many many workshops of course--and there are many dancers who I have had limited contact with (due to distance or time in history), yet still had a profound effect on me from afar--but I am confining this to teachers I have studied with or been influenced by directly over a significant period of time.

HabibHabib - Habib was my very first bellydance teacher. A friend of mine brought me to the class insisting it would be a good time, but I was going rather reluctantly. In one class I was ready to come back for more. Habib taught a lot of basic Egyptian technique, which she had learned from Delilah and Cassandra, both of whom she had studied with extensively. I loved the challenges of moving in new ways each week. And her BellyMetal was the first real example and encouragement to try my own modern fusions. She was just so cool, and so humble. So exotically beautiful she seemed unreal. I still feel a little flustered when I run into her all these years later. My first Momma.

Elizabeth DennisElizabeth Dennis - A locally beloved performer, she always blows people away wherever she goes. She is incredibly graceful, and her fusions always flow so naturally with her strong bellydance technique. She only teaches on and off (off more than on), but we got a lot of time with her back in the days when I used to be a part of Goddess Squad - a weekly rotating instructor forum comprised mainly of bare beginners, sweet older ladies, and total hippies. Every evening ended with cheese and wine and hanging out. Those were the days. Elizabeth gave us some tastes of her interpretation of group improv, which we performed at the Women of Wisdom Conference in 1999. It was from that experience that I met my first troupe mates! The fact that she fought breast cancer and won only endears me to this woman all the more, for her combination of strength and grace, in dance and in life.

AleiliAleili - Aleili was an original member of Troupe Yaleil "back in the day" with Jenaeni Rathor, and is godmother to Ansuya. Despite only studying with her for a couple of years, her old school American Cabaret style, mixing in various folkloric influences, was a big influence on who I am today. That love for old school styles still runs in my veins, and learning to play various finger cymbal patterns while dancing classic choreographies was a treat for me and is a skill I have built upon over the years. It was through her classes that I developed an appreciation and greater understanding of yoga as a tool for bellydance strength and flexibility, and in her troupe I got more stage experience, and met my next troupe-mates. My American Cabaret Momma.

Hasani - Hasani likely doesn't really know what an influence she has had on me. I only took a couple workshops from her early on, but she is the epitome of grace and confidence on stage to me. Of course, seeing her stunning performances since my earliest baby dancer days, and host her own quarterly haflas and workshops since forever, something she continues to do to this day, also was a big influence on my desire to produce my own events and contribute to the community in some small way. She inspires me on and off stage. My Community-builder Momma.

Cassandra - Cassandra teaches at the Oasis Dance Camps around the US. I got to study with her for five days annually for seven years at Oasis West; which isn't much really, but she has had a profound effect on my dancing and teaching. She instilled in me a great passion for drilling, and in playful experimentation with movement, finger cymbals, and floor patterns. One of my technique Mommas.

Paulette - Paulette is my first Tribal Bellydance Momma. While I had the FC videos get me started, she was my first in-person tribal workshop instructor, and was for many months during my early tribal development. She was the one who really lit the fire in me for group improvisation, and kept it lit through her continual encouragement, kindness, and mentorship. She believed in me, gave me opportunities and pushed me forward even when I wasn't sure I was "ready", and made me proud to call her my Momma. She lead by example on what it means to build a community and nurture connections with others through the dance. She instilled in me a strong desire to develop my own voice as a dancer and teacher. She never expected me to be a copy of her, and gave lots of positive reinforcement as I grew and evolved myself and my troupe. Her playfulness, fearlessness, and creative spirit lives within me today, and always.

Carolena - Feels like coming full circle in many ways to call Carolena a mentor and Momma today. Her videos were the first that made my friends and I say "THAT is the bellydancer I want to be". "Tattooed One" looked like US to us. Now I have been trained more extensively and personally by her, and I feel I am getting a chance to do greater justice to those heart-centered dreams I had a decade ago. Training with her in the past few years has shifted a lot of my approach and philosophy behind movement development and thoughtful creativity within my dance. I feel in touch with a source of this art that I wasn't fully in contact with before. It gives greater context to my experiences and more guidance for my instincts to be working at the root. Her incredible openness and encouragement throughout the process has been a pleasure

HULA CLASS! Begins this Thursday!

by Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Hello lovely dancers!

Just a reminder that the eagerly anticipated Hula series begins this Thursday, January 28th, 8:30-9:30 at Phinney Center. I am so excited to share this class with you, via the fabulous guest instructor, Kathy of Hokulani Hula! I took classes with her for a while until she had to change her teaching night, and I could no longer attend. So I am bringing her to US for one special 6-week session of Hula and Polynesian Dance. I can't recommend her enough!

Kathy will be bringing handouts for the class, and needs to know approximately how many students to expect. So if you plan to sign-up online, please do so in the next day or so at and choose the Level 2b drop-down. If you were planning to just show up and pay the first night of class, please e-mail me right away to let me know you will be attending, so I can add you to the headcount so everyone can get a handout.

About Kathy:
"Kathy Hokulani De Aguiar is truly a star in the sky, a beautiful lady with a magnificent personality who is also one of the best Kumu Hula in this area!" - Northwest Hawaii Times

Kathy was raised in Kailua, HI. Her dance group, Hokulani Hula, is comprised of energetic male and female dancers who perform dances from Hawaii, New Zealand (Maori), Tahiti and Samoa.

About the Classes:
You do NOT need to be a current bellydance student of mine in order to attend these classes. In fact, you need no dance experience at all! These classes are open to EVERYONE who would like to come and learn, all ages, all dance experience levels.

$60 for six weeks of Hula and Polynesian dance classes
Dress comfortably in clothes you can move in as you would for any dance class. We will learn more about appropriate/dress costume for these dances from Kathy in the course of the series.

Looking forward to dancing with you!

Blast from the past: vintage Raqs al-Hamra

by Sunday, January 24, 2010
A blast from the past! Sorry, there was no embedding was available that I saw:

Our first foray at The Northwest Folklife Festival, back when we were Raqs al-Hamra before we changed our name to inFusion Tribal.

This was our first choreography, ever. Done to Cybele, no less:

And while we're at it, BOOTILICIOUS! Our first real hip-hoppy fusiony piece. We loved it so much. Makes me cringe and laugh at the same time. :)

Our first sword choreography (version 2.0 with floorwork laybacks)

Our first year at Capitol Club, when only Renee, Michelle, and I were doing it every month. And one of my first solos there:

And for contrast, a few years later at the Northwest Folklife Festival:

January 22, 2010 Newsletter

by Sunday, January 24, 2010

Registration is open now for all classes, including the new special session of HULA! Yes, Thursday nights we will be learning Hula and Polynesian Dance with guest instructor Cathy of Hukalani Hula. She is a warm, engaging, and knowledgeable teacher, and I can't wait to share her with you all.
8:30-9:30pm Thursdays.


*Please note, Kathy's guest-taught hula class does not qualify for multiple
class discounts, so you must register for it separately and not as part of a
multi-class registration.

Lots more after the jump...

If you are a small business owner as I am, then you likely saw a downturn in business in the past year and are vowing to find ways to make up for lost ground in 2010. I would like to do my part to help my students reach their business goals in the new year, and the first step will be to add a Student Business and Resource Directory. This will be a section on my website which will allow students to be listed in an online business directory, which will be readily available to your fellow students when they are seeking a particular service or item.

I am hoping this will increase our opportunities to network within our dance family, to help support one another in our endeavors outside the classroom as well as in.

A basic listing will be absolutely free to anyone who wishes to participate. So if you are interested, please get in touch with me and let me know your full name, business name, service/items you offer, contact information including phone and/or e-mail and website and I will start to compile the
directory. Here's to a successful 2010!

In 2009 I began a dance-related blog over on Blogger, to offer my students, fans, and friends a peek into some of my dance thoughts and life adventures. Not only will I be posting class and local event related info there, but I will be blogging about my performance experiences, dance musings, costume and make-up tips, inspirational video clips, links to favorite web haunts, new favorite recipes, knit and crochet patterns, and offering up ideas for discussion which I would really love for you guys to be a part of. Please drop by and check it out from time-to-time (or you can get it fed via RSS or Atom to your favorite reader, like Google Friend Connect).

I will also be giving shout outs on Twitter when a new blog post goes up, and will be using Twitter as an additional way to keep up on class and workshop happenings and random dance musings and tidbits. I am @TheTribalDancer if you want to Follow Me!

2010 is already turning out to be a busy year for inFusion Tribal Bellydance. There are a few opportunities in the next few months to come see the inFusionistas shake our groove thang, including THIS WEEKEND!

Seattle Tribal Vibes Book Release Party!
Sunday, January 24th 4pm-6pm

*FREE* All ages!
Event includes performances by local dancers that are published in the book.

Skin Deep Dance Studio
2524 16th Ave S #311
Seattle, Washington 98144

Alauda - An Evening of
Freeform Bellydance
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 7:30-8:30pm

FREE All Ages
Skylark Cafe
3803 Delridge Way S
Seattle, WA 98106

6th Anniversary Party and VERY Last Pyramid Lounge Monthly Show "SUPER
Monday, March 1, 2010 8pm

Raqs Serpentine has invited back all the featured artist to take the stage for 5 min each in a whirlwind spectacular of unmatched pageantry and mayhem. This is a DRESS-UP party.
Suggested donation $10 - $15 at the door

High Dive
513 N 36th Seattle, WA 98103

inFusion Tribal guest performers at Capitol Club
Thursday, March 4, 2010 8:00pm

Enjoy unusual cocktails and a Spanish Tapas menu in a lush Morrocan atmosphere. Multiple guest dancers come together and gear us up for Cues & Tattoos!
21+, no cover
First show starts at 8pm.

The Capitol Club
_414 East Pine, Seattle
21+, No Cover


Cues & Tattoos Festival
Seattle, WA
Sunday, March 28th


FesTribal du Quebec
Quebec City, Quebec
June 11-14th

PLEASE NOTE: I had to cancel my workshop at Tribal Fest this year due to scheduling conflicts. If you would like to see me back next year, please let Kajira know! Write to her hubby and partner Chuck at to let them know!

Sirloin in Blue Cheese Sauce w/ Spicy Sugar Snap Peas

by Thursday, January 21, 2010

YAY for dinner of sirloin in blue cheese sauce, spicy snap peas, herbed potatoes, and a glass of delicious pinot gris that only adds up to 11 points total! Recipe and my changes after the cut.

Below these notes is the WW recipes that inspired what I made last night. But first! What I changed:

1) We split one small sirloin, a really really tender cut, so we had half of a usual serving of meat, but the richness of the flavor more than made up for it (and if you want tips on how to make the prefect steak in your oven, I can hook you up with Alton's magically simple instructions!!) We both felt satisfied.

2) For the sauce I only used 1.5 Tbsp low fat sour cream (and less than they called for), 1 oz. blue cheese, a tsp. of dijon, and a smattering of chopped parsley--no mayo no Worcestershire sauce. Since I was already doing "spicy snap peas", I didn't feel the need to have a spicier sauce on the meat. As a little final boost, I put the mix of sauce ingredients into the pan after taking out the beans, which put some of the garlic flavor into the sauce and melted it down into a nice creamy texture.
Note: I have made the meat/sauce recipe as-is before and it was delish, so using the recipe as-is is great if you don't want to try my changes.

3) For the beans, I made the WW "spicy sugar snap peas" recipe (listed below the first recipe). It was a huge hit! I have never seen Chris so eagerly "snap up" those peas!

The original meat recipe includes the beans in the points, so considering the smaller meat and less mayo/sauciness in the blue cheese sauce, I counted it as 8 points total.

4) I made a side of a boiled white potato with a 1/2 Tbsp of butter and a sprinkle of Mrs. Dash (our go-to spice is Garlic Herb, no salt added!), which we split. WW calculated it as 1pt.

5) Glass of wine: 2pts

SIRLOIN IN SPICY BLUE CHEESES SAUCE - 10pts per serving - 6 servings
2 pound(s) lean sirloin beef
1/3 cup(s) Dijon mustard
1/3 cup(s) reduced-fat sour cream
1/3 cup(s) reduced-calorie mayonnaise
1 Tbsp store-bought horseradish
1 Tbsp blue cheese, crumbled
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
6 cup(s) green snap beans, steamed


* Preheat oven to 425°F.

* Coat beef evenly with mustard and place in a baking pan lined with aluminum foil; roast for 35 minutes for medium doneness, or longer until desired degree of doneness.

* Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; chill until ready to serve.

* Slice tenderloin into 1-inch thick slices and drizzle with blue cheese sauce. Yields about 4 ounces of beef, 2 tablespoons of sauce and 1 cup of green beans per serving.

SPICY SUGAR SNAP PEAS - 1pt per serving, 4 servings
1 tsp olive oil
4 cup(s) sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 large garlic clove(s), minced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1/4 cup(s) canned chicken broth
1/4 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

* Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir in sugar snap peas and garlic; increase heat to medium-high and stir in red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until peas are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

* Add broth, salt and pepper to skillet. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until broth is reduced to a glaze that just coats peas, and peas are cooked to preferred degree of tenderness, about 3 to 5 minutes. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

Toilet Squirrel - A Story

by Monday, January 18, 2010
So I am a member of the Ravelry community, and each year they have the BOB Awards, which is an excuse to call to light some of the best patterns, best projects, best yarns, best contributors, and in this case, the best or funniest threads in the forums. This is one of the contenders for 'Funniest Single Post'. I loved it and had to share!

Oh and hey, if you're also on Ravelry, I would love to friend you!

Enjoy. :)

"Yes, Virginia, There Is a Squirrel in My Toilet. You May Not Believe How It Got in There, but Here’s One Way to Get It Out
By Beth Nabi

It wasn’t December. It wasn’t my chimney. And it sure as snowballs wasn’t Santa.

It was a steamy July day, and it was a squirrel. In my toilet. I’ve told this story as many times as you’ll hear “Feliz Navidad” on the radio this winter, and I think people would be less incredulous if I were to claim I actually had seen St. Nick sneaking down my smokestack.

I have two cats that are good for exactly two things: un-decorating my Christmas tree and, apparently, alerting me to when there’s a rodent using my restroom. No-No and Get Down, kitty had been acting a little – er, squirrely, all morning. I found the pair in Sphinx-like poses on the bathmat, staring intently at the toilet and not about to miss the show getting ready to go down. Tiptoeing somewhere between curiosity and dread, I explored the tiny room – looking under the cabinet, checking behind the toilet, peeking around the shower curtain … unsure what I was looking for, and very afraid I was going to find it. There was just one place left to look. And I didn’t wanna.

I lifted the toilet lid and, in the same heartbeat, slammed it down. What the – ?! Is that a – ?! Did somebody eat a – ?! Wait, is that alive? Did I just see that? Did it see me? What does it want? And then, the question everyone wants answered: How did a squirrel get in my toilet?

My mind and my heart racing one another, I shooed the cats out of the bathroom and shut the door. After a five-minute pep talk with myself, I got on my sweaty hands and shaking knees, eye-level with the toilet rim, and slowly cracked open the lid. There, just inches away on the other side of the cold white porcelain, beyond thick bristly whiskers and a mess of wet gray-brown fur, was a big, black, wide eye staring back at me. I slammed the lid down again.

There are certain bathroom situations I can deal with. I can jiggle the handle to stop a running toilet, I can plunge a clog, I can say “ballcock” at The Home Depot with minimal giggling. I’ve even been known to move the roll from the top of the tank and onto the holder when company’s coming (loose end hanging over, of course). A squirrel in the toilet left me bewildered and blank.

I called a friend who was my rescuer in a previous pest-related incident involving a Rodent of Unusual Size. Mike had fashioned a makeshift shovel out of a dustpan duct-taped to a broomstick to help me evict an 18-inch rat that had keeled over in my water heater closet. I’m pretty sure the behemoth choked when he was popping d-CON bon-bons and swallowed one the wrong way. Mike lived 600 miles away, but I thought he might have some advice. It was his birthday, and while I’m sure he was expecting an excited “Happy Birthday!,” all that came out when he answered was, “THERE’S A SQUIRREL IN MY TOILET!”

“There’s a what? In your what?”

“A squirrel! In my toilet!”

“How’d a squirrel get in your toilet?”

“I don’t know! How do I get a squirrel out of my toilet?”

He stopped laughing long enough to suggest I call Animal Control, but I wasn’t ready to make Toilet Squirrel a taxpayer concern just yet. We hung up and I decided to take my problem next door – to Evan, the World’s Greatest Neighbor. He has fixed everything in my house, including the kitchen sink. He keeps his garage stocked with thingamathings and whatchamajobs to solve any problem. Surely, he would know how to handle this.

I knocked. He answered, “Hiya, Beth!”

“Hi, Evan. Um, there’s a squirrel in my toilet.”

Unfazed by my absurd string of words, and without so much as a “How’d a squirrel get in your toilet?,” he immediately grabbed the most logical toilet-squirrel-getter-outter tool – the Nifty Nabber Reach Extender – and said, “Let’s go.”

We marched back into my house, up the stairs and into the bathroom. Evan lifted the toilet lid as readily as if he were going to use the john, and slammed it right back down.

“There really is a squirrel in your toilet!”

I don’t know if he thought I’d been lying or was just crazy, but I was happy to now be sharing this preposterous predicament with someone else. I may have had a squirrel in my toilet, but there were no bats in my belfry.

“Do you think we could just flush it?” he asked.

I suggested that, to keep both the squirrel and my plumbing intact, maybe flushing should be a last resort.

From a safe perch on the bathtub ledge, I watched Evan take a single swipe with the metal pincher, which sent Toilet Squirrel into a frenzy of sloshing and squealing as he whirled into Phelps-esque laps around the bowl. While the Nifty Nabber Web site guarantees that its wide, rubber-coated, grooved jaws “easily grab and securely hold out-of-reach objects,” the product had obviously not been tested on animals.

Evan headed back to his house to re-strategize, while I followed Mike’s original counsel and called the Leon County Animal Control Division. I missed their office hours by about one minute, and got a recording that said if I had an animal-related emergency, call the Sheriff’s Department. Convinced this qualified, I dialed the number.

“Hello. What’s your emergency?”

“It’s an animal-related emergency.”

“Go ahead.”


“There’s a squirrel in my toilet.”

In the silence that followed, I wasn’t sure if a patrol car was being sent to haul me away for prank-calling an emergency number, or if the officer had dropped the phone in a fit of laughter, or if maybe, just maybe, she was checking the handbook for squirrel-in-the-toilet protocol.

She said there wasn’t much she could do, but wished me luck. Sounding more eager than precautionary, she told me to call back if anyone got bitten, because if rabies were involved it would fall under the Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdiction. I thanked her for not arresting me, and was headed back over to Evan’s to find out what Plan No. 2 was when I saw Alan, another neighbor, roll up on his bicycle. Evan had called for back-up.

I stood in my garage and watched these two Social Security-aged citizens stride across the driveway fully equipped and ready for combat. In my head, they were marching through a slow-motion Armageddon-Independence Day-Top Gun hero shot, with an epic action-adventure score playing. Alan wore three pairs of heavy-duty rubber gloves and had a rubber mallet slung over his shoulder. Sunlight glinted off the tin garbage can Evan carried, and an old, vinyl, flower-patterned shower curtain was tucked under his arm.

As our bizarre but intrepid trio climbed the stairs, the rescue squad briefed me on the plan: slide the shower curtain through the gap between the lid and the bowl, creating an impenetrable squirrel-human barrier; lift the lid, reach in and grab Toilet Squirrel; transfer him to the tin can; secure the garbage lid with the mallet. I was relieved to hear that’s how the mallet would be used.

The two entered the bathroom and closed the door. I would give up all the presents on this year’s wish list – including the concert tickets I’m hoping to get to the New Kids on the Block reunion tour – to have visual documentation of the mêlée that occurred on the other side, but was instead left standing there listening to the shrieking, clawing, splashing, thrashing, knocking, banging and clanging, and finally, the victorious shouts of two grown men who had just fished a 1-pound vermin out of a commode and relocated him two feet to a garbage can: “We got ’im!”

They emerged from my water closet, each holding a handle of the tin can, looking very much like the Ghostbusters carrying out Slimer in a ghost trap. In the backyard, we removed the lid and all peered down at the poor, drowned-rat-looking thing. I tipped the can over and watched Toilet Squirrel go bounding out and scramble up the nearest tree. I wasn’t sure who’d been more scared: him or me. I wonder if he’s told the story as many times as I have.

The Squirrelbusters then started to theorize: How did the squirrel get in the toilet? Most people, affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age, want only to believe it came in through the front door – as if he rang the doorbell while standing on the step, legs crossed and doing the pee-pee dance, begging to use my bathroom.

I assured Evan and Alan that the toilet lids stay vigilantly closed, to divert the cats to the one legitimate water bowl in the house. I have no doubt the aforementioned R.O.U.S could have lifted the lid himself and hopped in, but Toilet Squirrel had to have used the back entrance. Evan pored over the diagrams in his home-repair book while I feverishly Googled “How’d a squirrel get in my toilet?” (and found a surprisingly large Web community of toilet-squirrel veterans). We finally concurred that Toilet Squirrel had entered through an uncovered plumbing vent on the roof, found his way into a pipe, suited up in his little squirrel scuba gear and somehow made it through the closet bend and the S-trap. We think. Kind of like Santa Claus – no one actually saw it.

But I believe.

Beginner vs. Advanced

by Saturday, January 09, 2010
I have found that one of the largest differences between a beginner student and an advanced student isn't necessarily what you are able to achieve, but what you *believe* you are able to achieve. It comes from a combination of willingness to try, confidence in your strengths, and the ability to roll with your struggles, push through with grace, and try again.

Other than raw ability, what do you find are some differences between beginners and advanced dancers?

ATS Boot Camp and Dance Jam - Jan 11

by Friday, January 08, 2010
Kicking off the new year right with a kick-butt pair of workshops offering a good workout, and a lot of laughter and fun!

Not a current student of mine? Anyone with ATS foundations, regardless of whether or not you study with me regularly, will find these workshops valuable for refining technique and exploring some new ideas.


If you are a student of mine who has been away for a while, these workshops will be a fantastic way to return to the dance, brush up on your skills, and be introduced to some new changes and concepts since you last danced with us.

Monday, January 11, 2010
Phinney Neighborhood Center
6532 Phinney Ave N, Room 7

7pm-8:30pm Foundations Boot Camp - $15
8:30-10pm Dance Jam - $10
>> or pre-register for BOTH for only $20! <<
$25 for both at the door

ATS Foundations Boot Camp
Get back to basics with this wham-bam THANK YOU MA'AM! refresher course. After a brief warm-up, we will review all the ATS foundation skills from the ground up, rockin' through the entire Level 1 course material to get the new year off on the right foot. Refine the foundations that are integral to becoming a stronger, more confident dancer at all levels.

If you are not a current student of mine, this workshop will be of particular value to get a feel for me as a teacher and for the class culture, to see if we would be a good fit for your further studies in tribal bellydance. We'd love to meet you!

Tribal Dance Jam
This workshop is ideal for Level 2 and up dancers, but is *open to all level dancers* who are interested in the challenge of trying new things. We will be focused on different formations and collaborative relationships within the dance, including duets, trios, one-two-triplet, and open chorus. ***We will also be reviewing the NEW foundation formation we will be using beginning in 2010, based in ATS tradition. You don't want to miss this chance to get a head-start on the changes!***

Registration and full details at

Sorry for the short notice, m'dears. Please register or let me know as soon as you can if you plan to attend!!

The next session of regular classes begins the week after MLK holiday, the week of the 25th. In addition to our regular classes, we will have a special session of HULA on Thursday evenings. You don't want to miss out!

Happy New Year everyone!

Almond-Garlic Crusted Chicken Breast with a Mushroom-Basil Cream Sauce

by Thursday, January 07, 2010
Okay, so since we're expanding what goes in this journal, I will share with you a recipe I made last night, which Facebook peeps were asking about. I made it up, and I don't remember the EXACT proportions of everything, but I will do my best!

I have never written down a recipe that required multiple things going on at once, so forgive me if this isn't as clear as it could be. In writing it, it sure sounds/looks more complex than it was. I mean, timing the three parts to it can be tricky, but since I was making it up as I went along, I just turned heats up/down as needed to speed up or slow down as I went along. I managed to do a load of dishes somewhere in here as well--not by choice, but a couple things I needed to cook with were in the sink mid-stream, so I unloaded and then loaded the dishwasher, then cleaned the things I needed and dried them. So if there was time to adjust for doing some dishes in the middle, it can't be that hard, right?! If you try this recipe, let me know what you think, and if you made any changes what they were and how they turned out!

Almond-Garlic Crusted Chicken Breast with a Mushroom-Basil Cream Sauce
2 servings

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 egg whites (or just 1 egg if you prefer)
Handful of almonds (maybe 15), chopped finely
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
4 oz mushrooms of your choice, cut to your desired size (I quartered fresh creminis)
1 tsp dried basil
Dash or two of garlic salt
2 servings of fettuccine (whatever you prefer for a side dish portion)
Grated parmesan to taste.

1. Pre-heat oven to 350.

2. Place chicken breasts between saran wrap layers and pound to about a 1/2 inch thickness.

2. In a saute pan, heat oil and butter over medium-low heat.

3. Add garlic and mushrooms to pan and cook gently for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until garlic begins to brown slightly, and the mushrooms begin to soften, but do not brown mushrooms.

4. As mushrooms and garlic cook, mix together flour and almond bits and put in shallow bowl.

5. Dip chicken in egg whites, then dredge in almond/flour mixture, coating evenly as possible and gently shaking off excess.

6. Turn up the heat on the mushroom/garlic pan to medium-high, remove mushrooms and set aside in an uncovered bowl for later.

7. Place dredged chicken breasts into pan with liquid and garlic bits from cooking the mushrooms and cook each side about 2-3 minutes, until the coating stays put and the chicken exterior is lightly browned. You will smell the almonds beginning to brown, and that will be a good sign it is about done on that side.

8. Line a small broiler pan with foil and place the wire rack on top. Put chicken on the rack and in place center of oven with meat thermometer in thickest part of one of the breasts. Cook approx 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature is 180 degrees. This may go faster or slower, depending on how thin or thick your chicken breasts ended up being.

9. Put saucepan of water on stove and begin to bring to a boil for fettuccine

10. Turn heat down on saute pan to low/medium low and add cream, gently stirring it frequently to reduce it slowly as the chicken is cooking, mixing in any bits of garlic and almonds that are left from the chicken and mushrooms.

Add dried basil and garlic salt (and parmesan if desired - I like to add maybe 1/8 cup of finely grated parm for flavor) and continue to reduce. Do not let this get too hot/reduce too fast. It should just gently bubble in the center to have it reduce at a slow rate and be finished at the same time as the pasta and chicken. If it gets done too soon, just turn to warm and stir it occasionally to keep it ready until the rest is complete.

During the last few minutes of reducing the sauce, add the mushrooms back in to heat them through and boost sauce flavor once more. Keep warm until chicken and pasta is ready.

11. When water comes to a boil, drop in fettuccine and salt the water. Cook to desired doneness. Drain.

With tongs, make a nest of fettuccine in center of each plate. Place chicken breast on top, then pour mushroom sauce over the top. Sprinkle parm and a pinch more dried basil on top if you like. Serve immediately.

I should add that it was a hit for both me and hubby--two yums up!--and his only feedback was

a) he wanted the mushrooms cut smaller (he doesn't like em fat and juicy like I do), and

b) he wished I had lightly tossed the pasta in with the sauce before nesting it on the plate, so they were at least coated some before the chicken went on top and the sauce was poured over all.

Hope it y'all like it!

Passionate teachers...

by Tuesday, January 05, 2010
I have been thinking a lot over my holiday break about what it means to be truly *passionate* about something, and in particular, what it means to be a passionate teacher. It is more than showing up and conveying material in a clear and professional manner. It is conveying an EMOTION, it is about building enthusiasm, and demonstrating that enthusiasm, in the work you do and share with your students. And they in turn reflect that joy and commitment in their expression of what you have taught them.

Greg Breniburg is such a teacher. "Mr. B" as he is called by his students at PS22, is a true inspiration not only to his students and fellow staff members, but to the world at large. And personally to me as a teacher, I find him an amazing example of the teacher I want to be. He has taught kids more than music, and demonstrated more than what it means to teach. He is an example of *passion at work*, and I am duly moved. Enjoy!

Tourtiere - a family tradition for Christmas

by Monday, January 04, 2010

My paternal grandfather was from French Canadian descent. He married my grandma who was very very Italian. We had some weird mix of foods sometimes at dinners, but it was because they were into honoring traditions, which I adore them for.

Every Christmas, grandma would cook up a traditional French Canadian meat pie, called tourtiere. Grandma pronounced it "tootcare", but that is clearly not the French pronunciation. Maybe she picked it up from the way we kids would say it as children. In any case, my siblings adored it, though I never liked it and still don't eat it. But I am pretty sure that when and if I have a family of my own, I will be making it for them. And so it goes...

Since grandma's passing, my sister Evelyn has taken up the mantle of making it for our family holiday gatherings, and the recipe she uses is from memory from Grandma. It still isn't quite perfect in its implementation, and needs more tweaking. But if you Google for "tourtiere recipe", you will find many more examples of this traditional French Canadian dish to cross-reference to find the perfect balance for your palate. Recipe behind the cut.

3 lbs ground pork shoulder
2 large russet potatoes
1 large yellow onion
1 to 1 1/2 tbl. Summer Savory (roughly)
2 tsp. Salt (roughly)
1/2 tsp. Pepper (roughly)
Pie crust (separate recipe)

Dice onion.
Combine pork onion, summer savory, salt and pepper.
Cook on medium to high heat for 10 min.
Reduce heat and cook for an additional 30 min

Pre-heat oven to 375
Prepare pie crust and pre-bake the bottom crust
Peel potatoes and cut them into small cubes
Boil until tender but not soft
Strain then add to pork mixture
Cook for an additional 15 to 20 min

Strain off about 50% of the liquid and place in the pie crust.
Place top crust on pie and vent the top crust.

Bake for 30 min or until top crust is fully cooked and browned.

Your 2010 Wishlist!

by Friday, January 01, 2010

So a new student and friend, Kelly at Seattle Yogini, called me to action with her idea of a 2010 Wishlist. Oh I love this! A 2010 WISH LIST! I, like Kelly and I am sure others, resist the idea of resolutions, because they have become something to almost be mocked because they are so often broken. I don't want to make promises to myself I won't keep, which feels like a further self-defeating practice. Wish Lists sounds like goal setting without breaking promises! Thanks, Kelly, for the great inspiration!

As for my list, I will have to meditate more on it, but however cliche, I know being more healthy is high. I have eaten and DRANK wayyyyy too much in the latter half of this year, and my continued issues with my knees, foot, and back are surely exacerbated by weight gain. I want to feel strong again, most of all, and more fearless! Those were things I always valued in myself throughout my life, and I want to preserve that "Sharonness" through my late 30's, 40's and beyond!!

I also want to re-examine the role of my dance in my life, both in teaching and in performing. I know I adore it, but identifying more specifically what I adore about it, and how I can keep those aspects of my love for it without burning myself out. I want to help my students stay enthusiastic and connected, and that relies on ME staying enthusiastic and connected. Finding the right boundaries and creative motivations, and knowing when and how to let go seems the key.

Being more organized is always on my list. I can be stubborn with myself, and resist "busy-work" when it comes to my home and my finances. I would like to nip that in the bud with some new daily habits for self-care and simplifying.

Spending more time with new friends, and specifically friends who are creative, childlike, and fun-seeking like me, is another goal. I have loved nurturing my crafty relationships in the past couple years, and feel my dormant creative self re-awakening as of late, and I want to keep that momentum going, both inside and outside of dance.

Okay, now you!! What is your 2010 Wish List?


On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:

I hope you will enjoy both my sites. Thanks for visiting!
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