Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Euki dressed up as a resident of San Diego County.

Yesterday was the first day back to school. It was so dark when I left for work, and we're still on daylight savings time. It's amazing how much the light level changed in just a week. I'm not looking forward to leaving when it is still dark out. Of course, that won't last too long. Two more weeks (one of which is a four day week), then a week off for Thanksgiving, followed by one more week of class and a week of student presentations. All the teachers are practically counting down the days until the end of the semester. It's so close!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Recipe Review: Apple Butter

Ever since the scrubby tree in my backyard came into bloom, I've been thinking of how I would use the apples. They're not good for eating, nor, as an experiment with a friend's apples demonstrated, good for apple tarts. I wound up fixating on apple butter, but unfortunately I didn't have enough time when the fruits first appeared. Thanks to the fires, I've had time this weekend, but the birds had already gotten most of the apples. Still, the tiny batch of apple butter I made is quite tasty. Next time, I might use a crock pot.

Apple Butter
adapted from Culinate

  • 1/2 lb. apples
  • 1/8 c honey
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1 clove

1. Wash apples and remove stems, but do not peel or core. Cut apples into small pieces and add to stockpot. Cover with water and let simmer until apples are soft.

2. Let apples cool, then press them through a food mill.

3. Combine apple pulp with honey and spices in a saucepan. Cook slowly on low heat until a heading spoonful is a thick, rounded mound (this may take several hours, but it took me about an hour with the small amount I had). Stir to prevent sticking; this dish can burn easily, so make sure to check it often. If butter is too thick, add water or apple juice.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Our sorry educational system

teacher shows to much cleavage - Is this anything like "star shows to much applause?"

learning wedding - You're making me cry.

all about my teachet - Your "teachet" wants you to learn how to spell.

teacher uses alive models for sexed class - You know, I think there is a Monty Python episode where this happens.

thank you letter to teacher - Somehow, I think your teacher might possibly want a letter that you came up with.

i hate teaching sixth graders - Me too!

The world is a strange place

cucumber dildo blog - This is not the blog you're looking for.

funny butte picture - This is the kind of opening bloggers dream of.

woo things to do at walmart - Woo woo? You shouldn't be doing that at Walmart.

warcraft mangos falling - I don't even know what to do with this one.

when life throws - Is life throwing stuff at you? Tell life to knock it off.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why the student health center at my university sucks

While R was at the optometrist on campus (getting a pair of very sexy computer glasses), I decided that it was high time I went to the student health center to get some blood work done. Needless to say, all did not go as planned. By the end of my visit I definitely wanted to cry.

I arrived hoping to get a quick blood test and go. Seeing as I was already known to be on statins, I figured they could just tell the doctor I was here for the blood test I needed and send me down to the lab. No such luck, though, and the soonest appointment was in nearly an hour. I accepted it, then went back to have them cancel it, at which point in time they were able to have a doctor see me immediately.

So I go and talk with the doctor (actually an NP, but it's pretty much the same thing), and while explaining why I was there I asked if, while we were testing my blood we could also test for celiac disease, seeing as I was recently diagnosed with IBS and the former is often diagnosed as the latter. She told me that there wasn't a blood test for it! I didn't know what to do, seeing as I didn't have any papers with me stating the contrary. She's the professional, after all, so I shouldn't know more about this than her. Of course, she was also confused as to why I wanted my liver enzymes tested (because that's required every 6 months or so when you're on statins, which she should have known), so perhaps I shouldn't have been so shocked. When I move onto R's health care I'm definitely going to get tested, seeing as the condition has been linked to miscarriage and infertility (and I'll be wanting to be having kids before too long).

On top of all that, I had to deal with a rather unpleasant lab technician when I finally got my blood tested. Having had lots of experience getting blood drawn, I asked that the phlebotomist use a butterfly. I was then berated by the technician for coming to get my blood drawn dehydrated, having had problems with getting my blood drawn in the past, and making her use the butterfly, which takes more time. Well, I'm sorry, I like not having bruises. Last time I came to the student health center for a blood test they had to skewer both my arms. I just have tiny veins! I'm definitely looking forward to going back to my old phlebotomist. She was very gentle.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Safe (for now)

The fire closest to where I live seems to have died out in my area (though it is still burning other areas). Here is a map of the fires' locations.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Recipe Review: Carrot and Rosemary Miniature Scones

Yesterday morning, watching the news, I was filled with the urge to do something. The news was scary and dramatic, but we weren't being ordered to evacuate. All we could do was wait, and it was making me crazy. We were trying to say off the roads and off our cell phones, as requested by emergency services, so the only thing left to do was cook. I made Carrot and Rosemary Miniature Scones. I happened to have all the ingredients right with me, which is probably why I chose to make them. They're fine, but not great. I don't think this will be a recipe added to my repertoire.

Some friends of ours who live a couple of miles from our house were evacuated and are staying with us. My sister has also been evacuated. She went up to my family's house, which is now in a voluntary evacuation area. The place I live is right next to a mandatory evacuation area, but for now is still a tiny peninsula of non-evacuation. Today is another day of waiting. What I'd really like to do today is make apple butter, but I don't have a food mill and we're supposed to try and conserve power, so I probably shouldn't heat up the house like that. Perhaps I'll just scrapbook.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Only the important stuff

Last night as we were lying in bed, R and I worked out our game plan in case of evacuation. The fire was far away, but we still wanted to be prepared. This morning I awoke to find that the freeway I take to work was closed. I decided not to go in to school, seeing as it would be rather hard to get there, with the fire in between me and the school. Twenty minutes before school was supposed to start, they finally closed the school for the day. Seeing as most of the teaching staff aims to arrive at that time, you'd think that they would have decided this a little sooner.

The area North of my house has been evacuated. For now, we wait, watching the news with a sense of urgency.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Under an orange moon

San Diego is burning.

Well, not San Diego proper, but parts of San Diego county. Still, the whole of San Diego is covered in clouds of smoke, and tiny flecks of ash are falling from the sky. Having lived through the Cedar Fire and residing at the foot of a hill that has already caught fire this year, the smell of smoke that is filling the air just makes me anxious. I think the rest of San Diego is feeling it, too. The freeways were moving very quickly and had fewer cars on them this afternoon, as if people didn't want to leave their homes and were being driven by a sense of urgency to get wherever they were going.

The blowing Santa Ana winds are not helping the firefighters. While watching an episode of "Heroes" a gust of wind suddenly rattled the vertical blinds in the kitchen. We all stepped outside to see one of the pine trees arcing over the gazebo out back, though none of us could remember if it had been like that before. By the smoke-filtered light of the moon, it looked quite foreboding.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Happiness is...

Running into R on the stairs as he leaves work and I arrive for class, conveniently in the same building, allowing us a couple of moments together. I'm so busy that I find myself missing him. It will be nice when this year is over.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Every time a bell rings...

A new blogger gets their wings.

I think it goes something like that. A fellow intern in my teaching program (and very good friend, to boot) has just started a blog. She is of the English-teaching persuasion, so she will probably wind up writing more eloquently than I do. Check her out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reading at the ninth grade level

Unintentionally, I've been following along with the ninth grade reading list. The first book, The House on Mango Street, had been in my Amazon shopping cart for a while, but apparently I needed the impetus of several classes of preteens to get me to finally read it. Saturday, while at Barnes and Noble for teacher appreciation week (still going on, my friends. 25% off!), I happened to spot The Good Earth on the shelf, looked over the first few pages, and haven't been able to put it down since. Buoyed by these successes, I've decided to continue following along with the reading for the year. Since the books are at a level intelligible to ninth graders they are fairly quick reads, which is just perfect for a busy intern like me. The English teacher I carpool with has promised to get me a copy of the English department reading list, so I foresee much enjoyable and edifying reading in my future.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Recipe Review: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Blueberry Muffins

"I'm going to make muffins."
"The recipe with the cranberries you've had open on your browser all week?"
"I won't be eating them."
"Cranberries don't belong in food. Muffins with blueberries and chocolate chips are better."
"That sounds pretty good, actually."
"I still won't eat them, though, because they have oats."

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Coconut & Lime
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 c old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1/3 c dark brown sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • chocolate chips
  • dried blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line or grease and flour one 12 well muffin tin.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oatmeal, egg, oil, buttermilk, and sugar. After it is thoroughly mixed, add in the flour, salt, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir to combine. Fold in the remainder of the package of dried blueberries you have been snacking on all afternoon. Add enough chocolate chips so that the batter looks well-studded.

3. Divide evenly among the 12 muffin wells. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, serve.

As long as you aren't completely against oats, these are really delicious muffins. The ones I brought to school today disappeared quickly. Bringing food is definitely a good way to make friends.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Recipe Review: Beer-battered Cod and Onion Rings

Yesterday, on our drive back home from Universal Studios (whose slogan could be "We like to squirt you with water at every opportunity"), R mentioned that he had a hankering for onion rings. I recalled to him that I had a recipe for beer battered fish and onion rings, and so the great onion ring making event began.

Okay, so it wasn't an epic journey. Still, it took about an hour and a half (with R and the roommate pitching in), which is somewhat epic in terms of the cooking that goes on around here, and involved a pan of boiling oil. How did the beer-battered cod and onion rings turn out, you ask? Quite nicely. The batter probably could have used a bit more seasoning, but this recipe will be staying in the cook book.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Recipe Review: Onion and Pancetta Quiche

This quiche is one of the suggested variations on the Onion and Cumin Quiche, as found in the Chocolate & Zucchini cookbook. Aside from cooking the onion, it was a really fast recipe (especially since I used store-bought puff pastry for the crust instead of making my own), so I'm thinking I need to find a quiche recipe without onions. Nevertheless, very tasty.

Onion and Pancetta Quiche
Serves 4-6 as a main course, 8-10 as a starter
From Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen
  • Puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
  • 1 T olive oil, plus 1 t for greasing the pan
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, about 6 medium, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 t fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 c light cream
  • 1/4 t ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 c grated Comté, about 5 oz (substitute Gruyére)
1. If you want to make your own crust, do that now. Otherwise, set the puff pasty out to defrost.

2. Heat 1 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with 1/4 t salt, and stir. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onions are soft and translucent. Remove the lid, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until most of the liquids have evaporated. (This can be prepared up to a day ahead.)

3. Preheat oven to 350oF. Grease a 10-inch ceramic quiche pan with 1 t olive oil. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough in a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough into the pan, prick the bottom all over with a fork, and press on the sides with your fingers so the dough will adhere. Bake for 7 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven (leave the heat on) and set aside. Meanwhile, sauté the pancetta until crisp.

4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream. Season with the remaining 1/4 t salt and the pepper. Fold in the cheese, onions, and pancetta, and pour into the tart shell.

5. Bake for 35 minutes, until the top is golden and the center of the quiche is still slightly jiggly. Turn the oven off and leave the quiche in the closed oven for 10 minutes, until the filling is set. Serve warm, with a salad of butterhead lettuce. You can make the quiche a few hours or a day ahead and reheat it for 15 minutes in a 350oF oven to revive the crispness of the crust.

One additional note--if you ever want to quickly and thinly slice a pile of onions, get yourself one of these babies. I couldn't believe how easy it made things (I'm such a gadget freak).

Friday, October 12, 2007

A short talk about my butt

I just found out today that I have irritable bowl syndrome.

Okay, I kind of figured I had it ever since a friend of mine brought it up last May, but today a doctor finally confirmed it. I can't describe how relieved I feel to know that there is, in fact, something wrong with me. My body is odd for a reason.

So far, knowing hasn't changed much. The doctor didn't want to put me on low dose anti-depressants, which apparently also affect the intestines (I wouldn't have wanted to go on them anyway), and was wary of all the other medications used to treat IBS, as they have all been taking off the market at various times for having nasty side effects. Therefore, my treatment is basically avoiding the foods that make my intestines upset, which I was doing anyway due to said problems. The doctor gave me some medication to stop intestinal spasms, but that won't really prevent anything. I did start taking acidophilus pills, at the doctor's recommendation, to improve my intestinal flora. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday night doodles

My arm, the Zen garden. I definitely needed a bit of Zen, too. A whole day of parent-teacher conferences, while better than a week of them after teaching, is still a grueling ordeal. Particularly when you have as many failing kids as I have. Fortunately, most of the parents were fairly understanding. Seeing as their kids were turning in incomplete work, or none at all, most of the parents accepted the situation and resolved to make their kids make up the work (I'm pretty sure that's why they give the students Friday and Monday off after the conferences). I did have one parent, though, who really tried to shift the blame over to me. Yes, the majority of the class did fail the last test. However, it only tipped the scales to failing if the student already had a poor grade in the class, which meant that they weren't turning their work in previously, which explains why they didn't do well on the test. Hmm... whose fault is that again?

In any case, I think the previous test was really a case of the students figuring out what I expected of them (namely, to know the covered material), and the next one should be better. Coupled with a bit of in-class review and a study guide (plus the packets of make-up work that should be arriving from some students after the weekend), test scores should be on the rise.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Parent-teacher conferences are this week. I can hardly express the amount of dread that I'm feeling. My experiences with parents have been, for the most part, very good; however there have been a few bitchy apples that have ruined it for the bunch. I work at a charter school. These parents chose to enroll their kids here. They knew our program was rigorous and demanding. Why are they getting mad when their kids have homework or are failing when they don't do anything in class?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Slip of the evening

"My handwriting is awesome. I mean awful."

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Recipe Review: Mint Chocolate Brownies

Brownies are awesome. Brownies with stuff in them are even more awesome. If that stuff happens to be mint patties, all the better.

Mint Chocolate Brownies

From Everyday Food (you should all be subscribing to this magazine, it's awesome)
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 25 small peppermint patties
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter foil (I forgot to do this, but it worked out fine). Set aside.

2. Place chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally just until melted, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar and salt until smooth; whisk in eggs. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa powder just until smooth (do not over mix).

4. Spread 1/3 of batter in prepared pan. Arrange peppermint patties on batter in a single layer, leaving a narrow border on all sides. Top with remaining batter, and smooth surface. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 55 minutes.

5. Cool completely in pan. Use foil to lift from pan; peel off foil and discard. Cut into 16 squares (4 rows by 4 rows).

Even though I slightly overcooked mine (I need a new oven timer. Mine beeps once, very quietly. If you're not in the same room it is essentially silent), this was still delicious. Other reviewers agree. Definitely keeping this one in the recipe book.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Spots and sax

As you can probably tell, last night's class wasn't nearly as bad as last Thursday. I still get squirrelly once we start into the third hour, though. I'm fine the rest of the evenings that I have class, but apparently I just don't have the stamina for it Thursday evening.

Speaking of needing mental energy, today was annoying parent day. One had to meet with me this morning--couldn't wait until parent-teacher conferences next week. Really upset with me for not contacting her about her son's missing work. Since this class started later than the rest of the school, I had only seen the kids for not quite three weeks by the time progress reports roll around. I hardly even knew them! She was quite peeved that, because of this F, her son can't do track. She's also annoyed that being on time to class doesn't count in their grades. Look, lady, being on time just means that they don't get detention. I shouldn't have to reward them for being where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. I also had an e-mail from another parent complaining about the fact that I give homework over the weekend. Homework!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The butt-crack of dawn

I would hardly have thought it possible, but I've found the one job that could make me think that getting up at 6 am would be nice. 6:30 am would be downright luxurious. I suppose 5:30 am isn't really the butt-crack of dawn--that reserved for 4 am, when I had to get up for crew competitions--but it is still horribly early. At least with a carpool I am able to sleep for another 40 minutes during our drive in (on the days I'm not driving, that is).

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sowly changing

Teaching has been changing me. I used to be so shy, but I'm so much more confident and sure of myself. Today, when I was going to buy a parking permit, I didn't quietly and politely inquire what the lines leading up to the parking office were for. Many people were doing that. It is what I used to do, but now I simply, loudly stated my question and knew I would be getting an answer from someone, somehow. I looked people in the eye, and someone answered. It was... different. Nice.