Recipe Swap, Harvest Edition

by Honolulu Mother

We haven’t had a recipe swap post for a while!  Since it’s late summer and most of you are experiencing a seasonal bounty of produce, let’s focus this one on ways to use up all of those gorgeous fruits and vegetables — what are your favorite recipes for zucchini, basil, corn, other produce?  All recipes are eligible, though, you’re welcome to post your hearty winter fare or pantry-based staples too.

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I’ll start us off by sharing one that’s primarily pantry-based, though it does use some fresh basil.  And it’s a worknight quickie for the Instant Pot!
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Penne Alla Vodka for Instant Pot
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(adapted from Instant Pot Italian by Ivy Manning)
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2 TBSP unsalted butter
3 medium garlic cloves, sliced or squeezed through a press
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes (or diced)
1/4 cup vodka
16 oz dry (uncooked) penne
pinch of red chile flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup or more fresh basil leaves, torn in small pieces
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Put the butter in the pot, select saute, and adjust to normal / medium heat.  When the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook till fragrant, 45 seconds.  Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown, 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and vodka and simmer for 1 minute to boil off some of the alcohol.  Press cancel.
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Add the rigatoni, red chile flakes (if using), 3 1/4 cups cold water, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper.  Lock on the lid, select the pressure cook function, and adjust to low pressure for 6 minutes.  Make sure the steam valve is in the “Sealing” position and that the “Keep Warm” button is off.
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When the cooking time is up, quick-release the pressure.  Remove the lid.  Add the cream and stir to combine.  Let the pasta stand in the pot, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the sauce to thicken.  Stir the cheese and basil into the pasta and season with salt and black pepper if needed.
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78 thoughts on “Recipe Swap, Harvest Edition

  1. How do you get your IP to come to pressure with so little liquid??? Every time I tried a recipe like this one, my pot refuses to go to pressure. When I post on the giant FB list for IP, asking about it, everyone says “not enough liquid!!”. The mantra seems to be at least 1 cup on non-thick liquid to make any recipe work (non-thick meaning not milk, not tomatoes).

    I pretty much have given up on the IP for anything but beans, soup, and collard greens because of the need to add liquid. I don’t like pasta in really wet sauces.

  2. We are in tomato season, so we eat tomatoes every night – mostly sliced with garden basil, salt, pepper and EVOO. I also did Greek style pole beans last night – braised with lots of garlic, rosemary, basil, and chopped up uber-red tomatoes and a little white wine. The beans were pretty large so I braised for 30 minutes. I added Kalamata olives and feta cheese on top

  3. Great idea!

    I am trying two new summer recipes this weekend – tomato corn pie from Smitten Kitchen and peach cake from America’s Test Kitchen. We’ll see how it goes.

    Mostly we are just eating a lot of BLT’s and caprese salads, plus corn everything. Tomato season is so fleeting! I made a huge batch of corn chowder last weekend & it was delicious. Instead of adding any dairy, I puree corn to thicken. I like it better that way anyway because the corn flavor is even more pronounced.

    I have eaten quite a few “dessert tomatoes” over the past few weeks — meaning I eat the extra sliced & salted tomatoes from all those BLT’s and caprese salads after dinner instead of something sweet. And you know what – they are SOOOO good, but it always makes me laugh at myself thinking of the Totebag. DS, on the other hand, goes for the Haagen Dazs ice cream bars which were on on sale at Costco a few weeks ago.

    I am confused as to why you would want to make Penne A La Vodka in the IP vs. on the stove. Including the time to come up to pressure, release pressure, and standing time, it seems like there is zero time savings between this recipe and boiling water on the stove and making the sauce while the pasta cooks, is there?

  4. Also, with pasta, I feel like the one-pot methods never quite turn out as well as boiling the pasta separately and then letting it cook just the final few minutes in the sauce like in a lot of the one-pot pasta recipes or “skillet” pasta recipes. I don’t know why that is. The texture and flavor always seems a little off, but maybe that’s just me.

  5. How do you get your IP to come to pressure with so little liquid???

    3.25 cups of water isn’t enough?

  6. Dang. I got rid of my pressure cooker (the old kind, that I could never get to seal properly & was always worked was about to explode) in a recent purge, and I like pasta vodka.

  7. MM How do you get your IP to come to pressure with so little liquid??? Every time I tried a recipe like this one, my pot refuses to go to pressure.

    I’ve never run into that problem. But as Rhett said, there’s quite a bit of water that goes in. It’s listed in the instructions but not the ingredients — a quirk of the cookbook that I didn’t change.

    Ivy — you don’t cook the pasta separately. The dry pasta goes in with the other ingredients and it all cooks together. And it was in fact faster than doing it on the stovetop — a bit under 20 minutes start to finish for me.

    I know it can be tricky to get the ‘throw the dry pasta in with everything else!’ recipes right, but this one works beautifully for me, fwiw. Big hit with the kids, too.

  8. @S&M – The one that I usually use for penne a la vodka was from The Totebag! I don’t remember who posted it or if it still exists somewhere. In one of these threads, I C&P and printed, and it is in my recipe binder.

    @HM – I understood that it all cooked at once in the IP. I just wasn’t really seeing the time savings from cooking on the stove in 2 pots, if that makes sense.

  9. I didn’t think I still had the Word doc where I C&P’ed, but I found it! I usually skip the prosciutto because I tend to make this when we are eating vegetarian. (We do vegetarian weeks every so often or “Meatless Mondays” and the like)

    Penne alla Vodka
    Serves 4-6
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped (optional)
    1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
    1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (I like chef’s cut)
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
    2 teaspoons sugar
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/3 cup vodka
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1 pound (16 ounces) penne pasta
    Parmesan cheese, for serving
    Chopped parsley, for serving
    Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4-5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
    Reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and cook until softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic, stirring to combine, and sauté for 2 more minutes.
    Stir the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, sugar, and salt into the onion mixure. Stir in the vodka and increase heat back to medium-high. Briskly simmer for 8 – 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the alcohol flavor has cooked off. Reduce heat to low and whisk in heavy cream.
    While making the vodka sauce, bring a large stockpot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water before draining. Gently fold the cooked penne and reserved prosciutto into the vodka sauce and continue cooking on low heat for another couple of minutes. (I actually use a little less than one pound of pasta because I like mine very saucy, but it is easier to just cook the pound and add it to the sauce to taste.) Toss with a bit of pasta water if sauce is too thick.
    Season with additional salt and red pepper flakes if desired, and serve with fresh Parmesan and chopped parsley.

  10. I’ve been relying on Cooksmarts to do recipes for me, so I really have nothing to share. I eat whatever I get out of my garden whenever (dessert or appetizer tomatoes are a thing in my house). And I’ve been loving the sea salt I have from Portland ME (and hoping to pick more up in Oct when we are in ME), so I’ve been using that in everything. Still cooking with kosher salt, but if I need salt to taste, I grab a little of the sea salt.

    BUT (since it’s Friday and after 2pm in RI), I do have a recipe for a great horror story: https://www.npr.org/2018/08/16/632779706/click-if-you-dare-100-favorite-horror-stories Just listen to NPR and pick something off this list… I’ve read a few already and am thrilled I have new ones to add!

  11. I rarely make pasta for dinner – I will if I’m making only for the kids, but I don’t like to have pasta late in the day bc it makes me feel fat the next day.

    We’ve been having caprese out the wazoo lately – the tomatoes are SO GOOD (although I still have actual dessert, maybe a half a cookie? LOL)! I don’t like to make corn into anything – it’s so good if we eat the same day we pick it up from the farmstand. Sometimes I’ll make corn chowder or the smitten kitchen corn pancakes but not often.

  12. So envious of all the good tomatoes. They’ve been the worst around here – mealy and just not that rich tomato-ness. Not sure if it’s been too hot or too wet or too dry but none of the farmer’s market stands have had good ones. Peaches on the other had have been the best they’ve been in years.

  13. Hi, Jack:

    Passport question: standard passport (28 pages) or extra large option (52 pages)? Is there a downside to getting the extra pages, other than being thicker?

  14. I don’t like to do anything to corn except steam it and drench in butter. Like artichokes and asparagus, it doesn’t need any gussying up.

  15. Our kids have the passport card and passport–it serves as a second form of photo id.

  16. We only have the passport.

    With school starting I have only been cooking the old favorites to help ease some of the grumpiness. (Not working.) No new recipes here.

  17. What Houston said about using the passport card as an extra id.

    I’ve been lightly sautéing zucchini and corn, either together or separately, in oil and butter as an easy vegetable dish.

  18. I do zucchini and those skinny Japanese eggplants as a stir fry. I start with ginger and garlic chopped in the minichop, as well as Thai dragon peppers. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, then dump in the zucchini (sliced into batons) and the eggplant. Stir fry for a few more minutes until there is some browning, then add soy sauce, lime juice, and basil.

  19. We’ve been eating a lot of cherries this summer. I don’t know if it is the heat in the northwest, but the cherry season is long this year and the cherry prices are inexpensive.

    The tomatoes are great, and I hoping to take home some Jersey tomatoes and peaches when we leave the beach. There is a farmers market in our town so I am going to load up on fresh stuff when we head back home.

    I don’t have any recipes to share because everything has been so good that I’ve just been adding some EVOO or grilling the veggies.

  20. Get the passport card. One can keep it in your wallet at all time and it has its uses, especially for air travel. A man who uses a fanny pack or man purse does not have to worry about the thickness of the passport. If you plan in the next ten years to do a lot of travel to countries that require visas and/or contiguous clean pages for stamping you in and out (Africa is know for that), get the fatter one.

  21. “we are drowning in basil ”

    Any good pesto recipes?

    We use macadamia nuts when we make pesto. Locally at least, it’s about 60% the cost of pine nuts, and it supports our local economy, and we like it.

  22. Here’s the recipe I make whenever fennel comes in our produce box:

    Finocchio con Latte al Forno (Fennel Baked in Milk)

    3 medium bulbs fennel, fronds reserved
    4 cups milk
    4 TBSP unsalted butter
    1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed (tbh I usually skip this)
    Salt and pepper to taste
    1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

    Heat oven to 475 degrees. Remove tough outer layer of fennel, halve bulbs lengthwise, and cut into 1/2″ wedges. Combine fennel, milk, and 2 tbsp butter in a 4 quart saucepan over medium high heat [actually I usually do it a bit lower than that] and cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is just tender, 30-45 minutes. Add fennel seeds and season with salt and pepper. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fennel to a 2 quart oval baking dish, pour 1 quart of the milk mixture over it. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, dot with the remaining 2 tbsp of butter, and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve garnished with some of the reserved fronds.

  23. I don’t use recipes very often, but I have been favoring middle eastern flavors this summer. sauteed onions, garlic, Penzey’s berber (hot) or turkish (earthier) mix or similar spice blend, fenugreek leaf (Persian market), Bayberries (Persian or Armenian market) or currants, a little broth, chopped peppers, thick yogurt to finish. You can use tomatoes too, but I wouldn’t add yogurt in that case. For usually I use bone in chicken parts, but really anything works. Or eggplant and similar veggies (but I hate them).

  24. Another way to use basil is in soupe au pistou, e.g. https://www.davidlebovitz.com/soupe-au-pistou-french-vegetable-soup-recipe/ . As I understand it you’re ideally supposed to use fresh shell beans, so if those are available use them in place of the dried beans. You can swap out veg for whatever is fresh and available for you. And for what it’s worth, using a generous portion of pesto (e.g. the Costco stuf) in place of making your own basil and garlic paste has worked out fine for me.

  25. MooshiMooshi, you make that smashed cucumber salad, don’t you? I think it was you who introduced me to it, but possibly that was indirectly via a Fuschia Dunlop book I’d checked out on your recommendation.

  26. Another thing I do. I get some yummy jarred spicy sweet pickles from a farm stand or such, eat them up, and then use the jar with the juice for the rest of the summer to pickle my own sliced cukes or jalapenos. I add a little white balsamic as it gets low. For the last batch I’ll do radishes. Maybe everybody does this, or doesn’t have two of the minicukes about to go bad out of every pkg of six.

  27. Yes, I do the smashed cucumber although even more commonly, I make sichuan pickles from cucumbers, radishes and carrots.

  28. I am not a huge fruit eater but boy do I love cherries in season. I also love apricots

  29. We ate a ton of fruit when family visited instead of dessert. Figs, cherries, apricots, peaches and mangoes. In fact DH took visiting family to a peach farm today where they returned with fruit and corn among other things. My friend makes excellent jam so all the jam I had this summer was made by her.

  30. I just bought cherries tonight and had to take out a small loan. They are never cheap here.

    What can I do with eggplant that isn’t gross and is quick and easy? We usually end up throwing it out or giving it away.

  31. Lemon, I like to fry/steam eggplant in a little oil and some garlic ( I keep the pan covered, so it both steaks and fries) and put it in sandwiches.

  32. I slice the eggplant into rounds (if skinny) or chunks (if one of those big fat eggplants) and stirfry it on very high heat with flavorings – garlic and basil, or ginger/garlic/chiles. I often add zucchini as well. Or I might combine it with chickpeas and Morrocan spices. The trick is to use high heat and work fast. You can also roast it and scoop out the pulp and puree it with lots of garlic and olive oil to make a great dip

  33. I recently started using berbere spice a little and it adds a great taste. I may need to up my spice game beyond my current regular choices. Good suggestions from everyone!

  34. You can halve eggplant, brush it with olive oil, pour over a blend of plain Greek yogurt, feta cheese, and your middle-eastern seasoning of preference (I use a Turkish blend), and bake that.

    You can brush slices with olive oil, broil them, and then layer onto a half or thick slice of crusty bread (1) marinara sauce, (2) the eggplant, (3) more marinara, (4) provolone or one of those 4-cheese Italian blends, and bake / broil the whole thing. An easier alternative to eggplant parm.

  35. Here school starts next week and I am feeling a bit sad to see summer pass. We just said good bye to DH’s aunt who visited and my parents will be back from their Alaska/Canada trip next week. It will be truly back to the routine. The school years are now whizzing by.

  36. Hi guys — West Coast college tour update for those who may be interested (hi Finn). Short version is each visit was better than the last, all would be good options, but all are likely too far away, as she wants to be an easy drive or plane flight away to come home for long weekends or holidays when you don’t get a week off school.

    Harvey Mudd: I think she was turned off by the buildings/campus, and by feeling uncomfortable in the clothes she wore. They have an unusual approach for an engineering school: 1/3 core courses, 1/3 liberal arts, 1/3 major-specific; in addition, each cohort takes certain core courses at the same time, so the professors in different classes can integrate their lesson plans. She was concerned that that approach wouldn’t give her enough specific technical knowledge (she *really* didn’t like the General Engineering degree, even though that is the same as Wake, which is currently her #2 choice). OTOH, she was very interested in the research one of the professors is doing, and the idea of being one-on-one with professors at the undergrad level was awesome (they have an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio, all of their professors are either tenured or tenure-track, and all of the tenured professors are required to have their own labs (and tenure-track are encouraged to). So there is a huge opportunity to follow whatever path interests you and do cutting-edge research as an undergrad; they also offer a senior project, where you spend the year solving real-world problems for a company. You can also take classes at any of the other 4 Claremont colleges if HM doesn’t have exactly what you want. All in all, not her favorite (I think more for fluffy reasons than legitimate ones), but she probably liked it enough to apply.

    UCSB: This was the surprise. We almost didn’t do the tour, because she doesn’t want a big public school. But we did, and the more we walked around the gorgeous campus in the gorgeous weather, the more she loved it. It also didn’t “feel” overwhelming: turns out almost all of the Freshmen dorms are right next to the engineering and science buildings, so she could take her time learning the other parts of campus. It was also a smaller engineering school (@1000-ish students) and 90% undergrad, so good research and internship opportunities. Finally, they guarantee housing for all four years if you want, which was a big thing for her. But in the end, she wasn’t quite sure about their program in her desired area — they are apparently starting a bio-engineering program in a year or two, but the presentation made it clear it can be pretty hard to switch between majors, so she was worried about having to declare a major on her application and then being stuck with it if she didn’t like it. Interestingly, they do not have a quota/limit for in-state vs. out-of-state and said they review the applications equally. At the same time, their GPA calcs hurt out-of-state: they consider only 10th-11th grade grades in certain core classes; they give an extra point for all AP classes; but for honors classes, they give an extra point only to specific CA-approved honors classes (which, by definition, are limited to in-state students). And since many of the 10th-grade classes are necessarily honors (because they are leading up to the AP classes), DD doesn’t get the extra point for those, but in-state kids do. She is still above their cutoffs, but it’s annoying. Also, they have a quarter system, which she is not so hot on. On the plus side, everyone bikes everywhere, and they have a Subway, Starbucks, and Panda Express on campus (I am surprised she didn’t drop an application immediately on seeing Panda Express). I think DD is definitely keeping it in mind for grad school, when she will likely be more comfortable living away from home (she has said that directly several times).

    Cal Poly: Oh boy would I be going there in a split-second if I were DD with her interests. They start the tour pointing you to a 3-4-story building and asking you how many classrooms it holds. Answer: none. It’s all workspaces and labs that the kids can use, for school projects or just for fun. Stop 2 is the lab where they build prosthetics and assistance devices for injured vets — for fun. It’s a school club, not a class. They have a wind tunnel; they build mini-satellites that go into space under a contract with NASA; they build canoes out of concrete and race them; they have an entire CAD and 3D printing lab, including a metal 3D printer; they build race cars from scratch, again for fun; the first week of class, it’s “let’s go to the casting lab and learn how to cast stuff”; as we’re walking around, the guide points out an example of a senior project: it’s an entire building, built to test seismic strength of various things. Etc. etc. etc. OMG. This has DD written all over it. Except: same quarter system, and she is worried about managing 4-5 classes + 2 labs in 10 weeks. She would have to declare her major and then hope to change if she didn’t like it (which they seemed to stress was much easier than at UCSB, as long as you were changing within engineering and not trying to get into computer science, which is massively over-subscribed). She was worried about the sheer number of specific classes needed to graduate and the possible trouble taking interesting liberal arts classes just for fun (I have tried to help her understand that *all* of the schools are going to require the same amount of work — it’s just that schools with a specific bio-engineering degree lay them all out for you, whereas HM/Wake leave it more up to you and the professor to figure out the precise classes to suit your particular area. And you can’t kvetch about not being able to fit in liberal arts classes and then say you don’t like HM because they make you take liberal arts classes!). But all that aside, I am pretty sure this would be her #2 choice behind Olin if it were closer. And they are a little more liberal in calculating GPA (9-11th grade “core” classes, but every honors class gets an extra point). And she would be able to satisfy many of her “general ed” classes from her AP tests: they give some version of credit for many AP tests if you get a 3 or above, so DD would be able to get a bunch of her non-engineering requirements out of the way. Oh: and far and away the best town. School is about a mile from downtown; when we showed up, we couldn’t park anywhere, and finally discovered that it’s because every Thursday night they shut down the main street for a big farmer’s market. Had some great food, and the town seems like a lovely town for college kids, with a number of shops and bars and variety of cheap-to-fancy food, and delicious ice cream. Oh: and they have a Starbucks on campus as well.

    Anyway, happy to answer questions if anyone is interesting in specific things about those schools. I was really impressed by all of them, in different ways. Olin remains her One True Love, but I could see her being happy at every one of these three.

  37. Sounds like a good trip Laura! I’m sure she’ll end up doing great wherever she goes!

  38. LfB, since colleges I’ve heard of rarely get discussed, I enjoyed your review of West Coast engineering schools. For most people who attend Harvey Mudd, the bachelor’s is not intended to be the terminal degree.

  39. LfB, thanks for posting that trip report. I enjoyed reading it.

    Should we be considering campus visit reports as a subset of travel reports?

  40. I love reading the college tour posts. I have an odd, enduring love for college tours. Thanks LFB.

  41. HFN — Congrats! Is #3 your youngest child? If so, do you have any particular plans for the empty-nest stage? New hobbies? Travel? Just chillin’?

  42. I like college tour posts too. It’s a way to step on a campus from my armchair. I have been to a couple of beautiful locations if not the actual campuses, so I can imagine four years in some fanasatic campuses. Putting aside the requirements of grades and money required, it’s so exciting to be going around looking at colleges.

  43. Thanks LfB. One of the most valuable things about the Totebag all these years is reading report from folks 2 – 4 years ahead of us.

    @ HFN, I also want to hear about the empty nest and how it goes!

  44. Thanks LfB. WCEs comment is correct. Harvey Mudd prides itself on being a top engineering program embedded in a liberal arts college. Sounds like it hasnt changed in 20 years, either. I took the DD who ended up at Stanford to visit both Harvey Mudd and Cal Tech. We both crossed the latter off the list immediately, not right for undegrad, and she did apply to Harvey Mudd but without enthusiasm and only as one of the lets see how the scholarships come in. I never could figure out what exactly did not float her boat.

    When the dust settles, if your daughter does not want to go far from home, I suggest that she apply to a maximum of one school outside her geographic range. There is absolutely no reason to apply to double digit number of schools for any child whose family can pay full freight, and for the mom child pair of you with high anxiety and rumination levels fewer apps and decision points will equal less stress.

  45. We spent a day at UCSB a couple of years ago because I have a college friend with a son that goes to UCSB. We really liked the campus too. My friend’s son just graduated and he loved it there, but they’re from northern CA so it wasn’t as far to travel.

    DD visits a few colleges with her sleepaway camp. They tend to visit at least one school during each trip. I’m assuming it is for the swag, but she’s been to UCLA, Stanford, GW and Penn with camp.

    My neighbor moved to SV and works for Stanford. We visit her whenever we’re out there and DD/her son used to pretend to be professors when they were younger. She would take us into empty classrooms in the business school on the weekend. It’s an incredible campus and there is so much money that is invested in every corner of the campus.

    Our schools start in two weeks, but it’s already so competitive even though the kids are just starting ninth grade. For 9 years, our district does not allow any changes once a student is assigned to a teacher. That policy doesn’t apply in the HS and some of my friends are scrambling to get their kids into the classes with certain teachers. I think it’s going to be a long four years for some of these people.

  46. Not sure whether relief has hit Westchester County yet, but the high heat and humidity summer has finally ended in my zip code. Another week until the humidity finishes its reset downward, but the AC is off, the windows are wide open and we slept like babies in the breeze last night.

  47. I came across a couple of articles in the paper today related to totebag topics of discussion.

    – It appears that Rhett’s trickle-down theory of housing prices doesn’t actually work – https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/in-expensive-cities-rents-fall-for-the-rich–but-rise-for-the-poor/2018/08/05/a16e5962-96a4-11e8-80e1-00e80e1fdf43_story.html?utm_term=.33ec8280ef52

    – Later high school start times are effective, even just moving to 8:20 – https://www.denverpost.com/2018/08/19/cherry-creek-schools-late-start/

    Related to the HS start times, SIL said their HS is shifting the times this year. The HS is on the same campus as the elementary/middle school, and parents are totally up in arms about it. The “problem” is that some families have their HS kids walk/drive their ES siblings, and previously the ES got out 10 minutes earlier and it wasn’t a problem for the kids to hang out on the playground for that time. But now the ES gets out 30 minutes earlier than the HS, and apparently that is just too long for the younger kids to have to wait.

  48. I was still at the Jersey shore and it was still very humid. We had to use our wipers in the car last night even though it wasn’t raining. I think the very humidity is finally coming to an end.

    I hate returning from vacation in late August. We had a great time at the beach. It feels like a long Sunday night until school finally starts and new routines take hold.

    DD seems nervous about HS. It’s not an enormous change because it’s still essentially the same kids that she’s been with since K, but it’s different socially because kids finally start mixing with other grades in lunch, gym and sports. They knew how to navigate the middle school from visits for various activities, but she rarely enters our HS.

  49. DS1 is finally home from his summer camp job and we have 9 days left to get him ready to move to college, and nothing has been done. Ack! And I have a major work project to wrap up, and the other two have to get ready for school. And I have to get ready for the semester too.

    We ordered DS1’s laptop through the univesity program because it is a lot cheaper and he gets on campus support. But we just learned it won’t get delivered until 2 days AFTER he moves to campus. I think we will be driving to Newark one of the days of Labor Day weekend.

  50. We are also trying to repaint DD’s room in the midst of the chaos because she has new bedroom furniture that we bought last March, which still hasn’t been set up yet

  51. “If so, do you have any particular plans for the empty-nest stage? New hobbies? Travel? Just chillin’?”
    Yes, this was our last son to leave home. Hoping to do some of all of the above. But last night we were watching netflix and spreading peanut butter on hershey bars, while checking our phones every 2 minutes to see if he texted us (he didn’t), so not an impressive start!

  52. “But last night we were watching netflix and spreading peanut butter on hershey bars, while checking our phones every 2 minutes to see if he texted us (he didn’t), so not an impressive start!“

    LOL. This is our last night of the college tour, we have like 18 hrs to take advantage of Chicago (directly to the airport from the last visit tomorrow AM), and what are we doing? Curled up in bed with room service, Netflix, and a facemask for DD. Laziness ftw. 😀👍

  53. I watched StayHere on Netflix which is just as the show puts it – a perfect combination of travel, some history, redesign and business potential. Loved the show. So relaxing, this traveling virtually !

  54. “We ordered DS1’s laptop through the univesity program because it is a lot cheaper and he gets on campus support. But we just learned it won’t get delivered until 2 days AFTER he moves to campus.”

    That would seem to work out perfectly IF the delivery is to him in his dorm.

    I wouldn’t worry too much, especially if he already has a credit card. He really doesn’t need all that much stuff when he first moves in, and where he is, there are a lot of places from which he can buy stuff with free delivery. If you don’t already have Amazon prime, this might be a good time for him to get a student account for half the price of a regular account, that you can also use.

    DS bought a lot of his school supplies and books from Amazon. I got him a Target Redcard on our account, and he also used that to buy some of the stuff he needed early in his first semester, e.g., extra socks because running out of clean socks was the limiting factor governing how long he could stretch out the interval between laundry loads.

  55. Mooshi, hopefully with one kid out of the house your school/work schedule becomes or at least feels lighter.
    I was LOL at the peanut butter on the Hershey bars and Netflix watching.

  56. The delivery is to our home because that was their instructions and I don’t want to change it now. He does not have a credit card. He just got a real bank account with an ATM card (took 2 hours on Saturday to complete this transaction which shouldn’t have required more than 10 minutes but Citibank’s customer service is awful). I am setting him up with an Amazon account – they have a mechanism to set an allowance via gift card
    https://www.amazon.com/b/ref=surl_allowance?ie=UTF8&node=11453461011

    I don’t have a problem with driving the laptop out to him. It is important for a CS student to have the laptop during the first week of classes because that is usually when all the setup of specialized software is done in class. Sometimes we get students who don’t have their laptop the first week, and it seems like they always have trouble catching up. Plus it gives me an excuse to go visit.

  57. LfB – great report! So interesting to learn about the stuff your DD likes – I would have been totally uninterested in all the science and engineering stuff when I was that age, but suspect our kids will be more evenly split (DH’s influence).

    We are up north for another week (DH and I still working) and then back next week, and the kids start school next Weds. I have to change #1’s orthodontist appt to put the braces on since it is on the second day of school – another few weeks won’t make a difference.

  58. I was in Las Vegas for a few days, with temps 106 and 109. Made it easy to decide on lounging at the pool in the shade sipping on a pina colada, taking a dip every thirty minutes, reading and people watching. The heat is not really a problem because almost everything is indoors anyway, but strolling on the strip during the daytime is not for wimps. Only a few steps wiped me out. I’m out of shape!

  59. July – Looking forward to your trip report on the National Parks bit of your trip. I think that having a few more permanent site pages for material that people may want accessible is great, and will partially respond to the folks who did NOT vote for a short default retention period. Totebag challenge could be put in cold storage. As long as the original poster agrees to the admin making a copy or is willing to edit out the more colorful sections not intended for posterity and repost to the permanent page. It is not something that the readers may do for their personal retention needs.

  60. I am looking for a non beach Spring Break destination. Was thinking of the mountains somewhere in the West that is not too cold in late April. Looking for ideas….

  61. Louise, we visited the Rock National Parks (Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, we skipped Canyonlands/Arches) in late April several years ago. I thought it was an ideal time for those parks. Not all snow is melted from higher elevations depending on year.

  62. Lauren – I agree the shore (Ocean City) was particularly humid last week. I didn’t mind so much when there was a breeze.

  63. LfB – we went to the Thursday farmer’s market at Cal Poly too – so fun! Cal Poly was high on my list of “fun places for me to visit as a parent.” It tied with Tulane for me (on my ranking of where would I like to visit).

    Funnily enough, my DD has the opposite opinion of yours re: the quarter system and thinks it’s far superior to the semester system (which is what my college was on). I’ve explained that both the quarter system and the semester system take a year’s worth of math and then divide it up either into two or three chunks – but she’s convinced the quarter system is superior. Which I guess is good since that is what she’ll be on.

  64. July, I really want to go to Vegas next summer. I want a hotel with an over the top pool, so I can swim in the heat.

  65. SSM, my kid also preferred one of the quarter system schools he looked at – WPI – but they do it differently. They cover more material in a quarter but have the kids in fewer courses. For my son, that would have been ideal – he can learn really fast, but has trouble handling the details of many courses at once. Unfortunately, not enough financial aid….

  66. “The heat is not really a problem because almost everything is indoors anyway”

    It’s the humidity that gets me in Vegas in summer. It’s already very dry, and then most time is spent indoors in air conditioning, which further dries the air.

    I need to frequently apply lip balm and vaseline.

  67. “I am looking for a non beach Spring Break destination.”

    Ditto. We’re thinking of going skiing somewhere in mid to late March, preferably near a major aiport. We’re thinking of places like Vancouver, Utah, and Colorado.

    “Was thinking of the mountains somewhere in the West that is not too cold in late April.”

    The Waianae and Ko’olau mountains are typically not very cold then. The Santa Cruz, San Gabriel, and Tehachapi mountains are closer to you but may get colder.

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