Friday, August 29, 2008

What's for Dinner? A Food Meme

I found this at Cathy's Grace Notes:

This is fun, and everybody's doing it. Andrew put together a list of 100 foods he thinks any good omnivore should have tried at least once. Andrew is British, so his list doesn't include some things this Yank might believe to be must-tries.

How the Omnivore's 100 works:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Optional: Post a comment at Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

My theory is: I'll try anything once.


1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (I have had alligator, though)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PBJ sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (rhubarb, and black current wine, most recently)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (not the cigar, though)
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat, (grilled, though, not curried)
42. Whole insects (I'm sure I've eaten parts, not purposely!)
43. Phaal
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV Oh, yes, try 14%
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. kaolin -
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (how 'bout all of them?)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers(nasturtiums, violets, pansies, roses)
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

What about you?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Finished my Nantucket Jacket

It took me just over one month to knit this:

This is Norah Gaughan's Nantucket Jacket. I really enjoyed knitting this. It was actually easy. The fit is pretty good. As usual the shoulders are a bit too wide, but everything else is good. This next photo isn't a good one -- the jacket kept swinging as I tried to photo myself. Someday when there's another photographer around, I'll try to get a better picture.

While I really like the double crochet scalloping along the collar, I don't like it all the way down the front. I think I will redo the edging, leaving the sides with just a single crochet edging. The colors are little grayer in the picture than in real life.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday Five - On Saturday Morning

From the RevGalBlogPals, courtesy of RevSongbird:
Here are five things to ponder about dates. I hope you'll play!

1) Datebooks--how do you keep track of your appointments? Electronically? On paper? Month at a glance? Week at a glance?

I mostly keep dates in my head. This is getting a little more difficult as I age. I also use a little pocket calendar that I get courtesy of my local education association. At home we have a regular wall calendar with boxes big enough to write on. I love searching for the perfect calendar - it has to have beautiful photography, and the photos have to suit both my husband and me. So no tractors or trucks, no joky or cartoons, no advertising, etc. I usually go with wonderful travel photography, national parks, flowers, or my favorite - a calendar featuring a Psalm quotation and a photo of God's glorious creation. I used to use a Palm Pilot, but then forgot to look at it. For school, I use my plan book to note things like assemblies, field trips and deadlines.

2) When was the last time you forgot an important date?

Last spring. I totally spaced a meeting of the local education association executive board. I finished up at school earlier than usual, and decided to take advantage of the "free" time, and went home early for a change.

3) When was the last time you went OUT on a date?
Date? What's that? To be honest, my husband and I never dated, if you can believe that! We met in college and spent a lot of time together as part of a group. None of my friends had a car on campus. He was a couple of years older, working on campus, and he had a pickup truck. He used to take a bunch of us out on Saturdays to a local pizza place. He and I spent a lot of time talking on the phone, getting to know each other that way. We joke that our first date was after we got married and went to a movie together. I guess I could say that the last time we went "out on a date" was last May when we went to see the newest Indiana Jones movie. If you asked my husband, he'd say our last date was grocery shopping together though.

4) Name one accessory or item of clothing you love even though it is dated.

I have a pair of culottes that I live in when it's hot. I have no idea how old they are, but definitely in the 10-15 years old era. I also have a knit dress that is equally as old, but doesn't look dated. It's got an empire waist, and is sort of A-line with short sleeves. I love this dress, but it's wearing out. It's very flattering too --- looks great when I'm thinner, but still looks good when I'm not-thinner.

5) Dates--the fruit--can't live with 'em? Or can't live without 'em?

I LOVE DATES! My mom used to make the best date bars, but I can't find her recipe. We used to have stuffed dates at Christmas too -- stuffed with cream cheese and/or walnuts.

Tick, tick, tick . . . .

The hours of "freedom" are speeding by. The freedom of setting my own schedule, dawdling in the morning, staying up late if I choose to, sitting on the porch knitting in the afternoon, are over as of tomorrow. It's back to the hectic routine - leaving the house at 6:30 am and returning at 6:30 pm. Then the chores, then phone calls to parents, then maybe a really short knitting session before I head to bed to start all over again. I will miss the summer.

We were finally allowed back in the building this past week. Due to renovation and construction, the building has been off limits all summer. I spent 3 days of my free time this past week - 3 glorious, sunny, warm, beautiful days -- in my classroom trying to make sense of a new space with no storage. The room itself is decently sized, and it's a regular, almost square room, with lots of natural light. I get the sun from dawn to just after noon, so it's quite a warm room. We have brand new windows too, across an entire wall; however in their infinite wisdom, only 2 of them open. At 2:30 Friday afternoon, I'd managed to unpack and arrange the last of the boxes. At 2:35 Friday afternoon, 11 more boxes that had been in storage since January, arrived. I have no place for the materials in these boxes. Two of them I pawned off on another teacher since they contained resources for a subject I won't be teaching this year. (More about that later). Two of them I lugged down to my car since the contents contained personal items I had collected for the subject I won't be teaching. The rest contain project supplies --- beads, feathers, cellophane paper, clay, paints, etc. I have to find storage for these items. One of my grade level teachers in the other wing has offered me some shelf space in her closet but unfortunately the boxes are too big for the shelf. I will have to unpack them. I don't know when this will happen. Monday is our first contracted day and most of it is scheduled with meetings. Monday night is the annual ice cream social for our incoming students and families. Tuesday has more meetings/trainings scheduled and then the students arrive on Wednesday. I haven't had time to even consider the 'decoration and beautification" of my space --- it's all business right now.

I'm more stressed out over the fact that I am teaching a new subject this year instead of the subject I love, trained for, and have taught for 15 years. I haven't been trained in the new subject, and do not have the background or wealth of knowledge that the students deserve. I will truly be "one step ahead" of my students this year and that makes me genuinely sad and unhappy. I will do my best, but I fear my students will be short-changed. I'd be happier about this if I had had the chance to discuss this with administration, but that never happened. The overriding concern was that it was decided that "small learning communities" are better for the students, even if it means 3 of us are teaching outside our areas of expertise. On the plus side, I am thrilled to be working with the teacher I'm going to be teamed with. He's a really good guy and great teacher. He's young enough to be my son so our kids will get the benefit of two generations!

So as the year starts, I'm not a happy camper. I am trying to get over the negativity though, and I do look forward to meeting all my new students! I could use a few prayers and good thoughts sent my way though!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Final Countdown

The last week before school starts is here. It's incredible how slowly the last weeks of school creep by, and how quickly the last weeks of summer fly by. (Sort of like Mike Phelps!)

I haven't accomplished many of my summer goals. My house still is completely unorganized, I've lost control again with my diet, we still don't have a home office/library set up. . . . but I did get some knitting accomplished and oh, how I've read. I've kind of lost track of what # book I'm on. I think I just finished #73. I've got my complete list of 2008 books here at Goodreads. The weather this summer has been extremely wet, and relatively cool. We've had a only a few unbearably hot, humid days so I am grateful for that. We've had over 30 days of heavy rain though since June 1st which is really unusual. Normally we get around 45 inches of rain per year, and in mid July we'd already reached almost 40!

So this week looks rather busy:

1. A day trip with a good friend to Green Mountain Spinnery, Basketville/Putney Winery, and L.A. Burdick - yarn, wine, chocolate, what could be better? These are all in the same neck of the woods, and only about 45 minutes from where I live.

2. Into school to start unpacking the boxes that have been moved to my new room. Our school has undergone major construction and renovation, and I had to move out my wonderfully spacious, though oddly shaped room last April to one of the brandnew huge classrooms, and then repack for a move to a freshly painted, tiny "old" classroom with absolutely no storage. Not only to I have to unpack, I have to figure out how to set up this classroom for maximum efficiency. I will be teaching language arts (as I've done for the last 15 years, and science which I taught once 16 years ago at another grade level.) I have no science supplies, and tons of social studies resources which I will have to sort through, passing on the school bought resources to the teacher who is teaching social studies for the first time. This change is not of my choosing at all! This will probably consume most of my free mornings this week.

3. A new teacher luncheon/workshop on Thursday is on tap. I'm part of the local education association executive board and will help host the new teachers and help them understand the benefits of joining the association.

4. I have to get a copy of the science curriculum and GLE's (grade level expectations) and familarize myself with the textbook. And somehow figure out what I'm doing with science. Of course, I have to start planning the details for the activities of the first 2 weeks of school. We have a general outline, but I have to nail down the specifics of things like "Getting to Know You" activities, preparation for our first field trip on Sept. 3rd, and introducing our 6th graders to the middle school.

5. Finish my Nantucket jacket, block it, sew it together, and hope it fits! I've got one more sleeve to do.

6. Assist my husband with last-minute administrative details for his start of the school year. I do the bookkeeping and secretarial work for his school transportation company. In my free time, of course!

So, all in all, a busy week.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Girl with No Shadow - #69

Wow!! What a novel!

The Girl with No Shadow: A Novel The Girl with No Shadow: A Novel by Joanne Harris

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is definitely one of my "best books." It's a sequel to Chocolat, picking up the story of Vianne Rocher. She's in Paris now, in a new identity, and she has abandoned her magic, and instead has concentrated on "fitting in." Into her carefully constructed life, comes Zozie de L'Alba who turns everything on its head with her hurricane life. Joanne Harris tells the story from 3 viewpoints - Vianne, Zozie, and Anouk, and weaves an intricate tale. Identity and seduction are the main themes. What are the costs of living as your true self? The costs of living a lie? What is worth having? What is true safety? There are several threads woven into this story: mother/daughter conflict; adolescent rebellion; a love triangle; identity theft. Joanne Harris descriptions of the Montmartre neighborhood bring it to life, and I could smell and taste every confectionery, as well as see the cobblestoned streets, and Zozie's bright red seductive shoes. I didn't "read" this book however, I listened to the Harper Audio version. I honestly think that I experienced this book more deeply listening to it than if I had read it. Listening forced me to slow down . . . I couldn't set the pace myself. Sometimes I think I miss subtle nuances when I read because I read so quickly. I know that I have a very well-constructed and fleshed-out visualization of the setting, and if I could draw, I could create a vivid picture of the chocolaterie and the Montmarte neighborhood. This is making me think about how I teach reading in my classroom. I've always done a lot of read aloud, and knew it had value beyond sharing a story.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Book #67 and #68, I think

I read 2 more Aunt Dimity books this week. I'm still listening to The Girl with No Shadow which I hope to finish later today ---- Here's some commentary about one of the aunt Dimity's.

Aunt Dimity's Death (Aunt Dimity Mystery) Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Aunt Dimity's Death is the first book in a long series of cozy mysteries. Actually "mysteries" is probably not quite accurate. The stories are more like puzzles that the protagonist, Lori Shepherd sets out to solve. So far, only one of the books involves a possible homicide. Most of them seem to involve tracing missing relatives. I finally found this first installment in a used bookshop and read it after reading about half of the series. It didn't seem to matter. I enjoyed the "back story" as it were of how Lori and Dimity "got acquainted." If you haven't read this series, you need to know that Aunt Dimity isn't really Lori's aunt, and in fact, Dimity is dead. She is a spirit who communicates with Lori through a journal, giving her advice and suggestions. Lori inherited Dimity's cottage in the Cotswolds, as well as Dimity's Westwood Trust that supports a huge charitable empire. These books are full of gentle humor, "slice of life" episodes, and I find them thoroughly enjoyable.

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The 2nd Aunt Dimity book was this one:
Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin (Aunt Dimity (Paperback)) Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin by Nancy Atherton

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love the Aunt Dimity books by Nancy Atherton. They are gentle stories, with humor and just enough puzzle to keep me reading. I haven't been able to find all of them at my library and I've been reading them out of order. But I don't think it matters. Aunt Dimity is actually a spirit who communicates to her adopted niece, Lori, through an old journal. Lori is an American who inherited Dimity's cottage (and fortune) in the Cotswolds and lives there with her American lawyer husband and their twin boys. Nancy Atherton, the author, depicts village life with its positives and negatives, and also creates a not-quite-so-perfect heroine. They are somewhat formulaic, but that's part of the appeal! This particular addition has a main character who dies early in the book, leaving a puzzle for Lori to solve. It seems very like the first book in the series which introduces all the characters.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Veggie Goodness

I planted a small garden this summer as I do almost every summer - cherry tomatoes, some large tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, pickling cukes, and green beans. The last few years, I've planted mostly in vain, and this year started off in a similar pattern. I planted beans 3 times only to have the deer consume all the tender young leaves. Then the rain came, and came, and came. Meanwhile, a CSA farm (Community Supported Agriculture) was started a few miles down the road from us. All early spring we watched former pasture transformed into rows of neatly trellised peas, orderly greens, broccoli, etc. One day there was an article in the local paper describing the farm, and a contact number. To make a long story short, we paid for a share in the farm, and now every Friday, I receive an overflowing bushel basket of the week's harvest. Meanwhile... back at the ranch . . . (there was a kids' book my sons loved that used that repetive phrase) my usually ailing garden took on new life and is producing cukes and squash and tomatoes in the blink of an eye. So, . . between the two veggie sources, my larder is stuffed.

In my CSA basket this week I received the largest head of green cabbage I've ever seen. It must weigh 10 pounds. I also got a smaller head of red cabbage, several eggplants, jalapeno peppers, a bunch of carrots,3 green peppers, 2 heads of leaf lettuce, a pound of green beans, 4 large tomatoes, a basket of cherry tomatoes, a huge bunch of kale, 10 heads of garlic, a small personal watermelon, more pickling cukes, and yellow squash. . . oh and cilantro, basil, and curly parsley. In my garden this morning I found 2 baseball bat sized zucchini (from my ONE zucchini plant) 2 baskets of cherry tomatoes, a dozen pickling cukes, and about 7 string beans. I gave my neighbor some of the tomatoes, some cukes, and half my head of cabbage!

Needless to say we are enjoying this great bounty!

A great cole slaw recipe: This fills a 13 cup square GLADware container.

Quantity of stuff is variable! I do this in my food processor with the thin shredding blade for the cabbage, and the small grating blade for the rest.

Shredded cabbage (about a medium head of cabbage)
2 shredded carrots
1/2 of a large Vidalia onion shredded

Mix in a large bowl or container.

Dressing: (I start with these quantities and adjust seasoning to taste)

In a small bowl or measuring cup:
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup buttermilk

OR 1/2 cup half and half

Add 2 tbs white wine vinegar and 2 tbs fresh lemon juice.

Let stand for 5 minutes. Then whisk together until thick and foamy.

While it's standing:
Mix together:

1/2 cup real mayonnaise (not the light version)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp celery seed

Combine milk mixture with mayo mixture and whisk together. Adjust sweetness by adding more sugar, tartness by adding more vinegar or lemon juice, and thickness by adding more mayo ---whatever suits your palate! Pour over cabbage mixture and thoroughly mix salad. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.


Does anyone have any good eggplant recipes? I've grilled it and sauted it, and baked it so far.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Taking Stock

It's hard to believe that in 2 weeks, the school year starts again. Summers just seem to get shorter and shorter and shorter. We've had a lot of bad weather this summer too. According to the local news, it rained 17 days in June, 16 days in July, and so far, it's rained 5 days in August. Definitely a wet summer, with not a lot of sun.

I haven't accomplished much in the way of organizing my house or de-cluttering it, either. I have done a lot of reading and knitting, which are both ways I de-stress. Unfortunately, I've had a lot to de-stress about. For most of the summer we were on pins and needles as to what was going to happen on our team at school. That decision was made, and now I'm stressing over the fact that I can't teach what I'm good at teaching (and qualified to teach!) and I will be teaching a major content area that I'm not qualified to teach. What's really making me nuts right now is that I don't even have access to the textbook til the end of this coming week!

Yesterday marked the 3rd anniversary of my mom's death. Three years ago I spent my summer caring for her during her final days at her home in another state. My husband stayed here, and I spent the summer 1000 miles away. I feel blessed that I was able to give my mom the gift of being able to die at home, supported by her children. I really miss my mom -- I still catch myself heading to the phone on Saturday mornings to tell her about a book she has to read, or to ask for advice on what to do with the mountain of cabbage and eggplant I received in my CSA share this week. And there have been lots of reminders of her this week -- from the mountain of veggies that she always knew how to can or freeze, to finding a copy of a book by one of her favorite authors featured on the "favorites" shelf at the library.

I had my annual physical and eye exam this week too. A mix of positives and negatives. Positives include the fact that my glucose levels are better than they've been, my good cholesterol is REALLY good, and my blood pressure is really good. Negatives include the fact that my weight hasn't budged, my bad cholesterol hasn't changed, and I need a new prescription for my glasses. That means new frames too, since they can't use my existing frames for my new lenses. I hate trying to pick out new frames too. My husband was out of state on business, so I had to rely on the office staff at the eye doctors and my own sense of what looks good to pick out new frames. I hope I chose wisely --- the office staff was split on the 3 frames I narrowed it down to! I went with the first pair I'd tried on and kept coming back to. They were the cheaper frames too. Now I just need to get a decent hair cut and color and I should be set!

Friday, August 8, 2008

#65 Another Middle School Novel

The Mysterious Benedict Society The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this novel. It deals with some serious ideas -- media control, "big brother is watching", etc. It reminded me a bit of the Wrinkle in Time trilogy, particularly when Charles Wallace is on Camzosz(sp?) I don't think it will have wide appeal to my students; while there is quite a bit of action, it's long, has an involved plot, and is definitely written for very strong readers. I will be interested in reading the subsequent novels in the series.

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Monday, August 4, 2008


Water for Elephants Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a good story that compelled me to spend the better part of a weekend reading it. I thought the author evoked the time period and the circus setting well. Circuses have always attracted me and repelled me,almost simultaneously, and I had a similar reaction to the book. Although I am quite biblically literate, I found no parallels to the Jacob story. I liked the way the story was told, from Jacob's perspective at the end of his life, and I loved the relationship that developed between Jacob and Rosemary.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008


It's August and in my world it feels like Sunday night. School starts for me in 3 weeks and as a teacher I always feel that July is Saturday morning with the whole long weekend ahead, while August . . .well August is the "tomorrow is back to school" feeling. It's been an unsettling summer as far as school is concerned. When I left in June, there were 7 teachers on my team. As of this week, there are only 6. Due to low enrollments and fears of fuel costs, a teacher has been moved to another grade level. The teacher that was moved was my teaching partner which left me dangling. I am now going to teach with a wonderful young man. I was his mentor the first year he taught, and he has grown into an amazing teacher. So far so good. The downside to this is that I have to give up teaching the one subject that I love with my whole being, and teach a subject that I only tolerate. For all of my teaching career, I've taught social studies and was instrumental in changing the curriculum emphasis to ancient civilizations. I have built up a huge library of resources with my own money, and in fact had just purchased some great books for my Mesopotamia unit (with my money, of course.) I have always identified myself as a social studies teacher first and foremost. Now I'm not. I have to teach science (which I have done in the past) but I just don't love it. On top of this, I have to familiarize myself with the curriculum in just 3 weeks. To make it even more unsettling, I can't get into the building to get the textbook or materials until at least August 15th due to construction. I have contacted the other science teachers at my grade level who assure me that I will have no problems, but nobody has a textbook at home. I will also be teaching language arts, which I do enjoy, so it's not a total loss, but I feel like my identity has been ripped away. I keep telling myself, it will be okay, but I don't believe it yet.

So, three weeks left . . . .

Book #63

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Theodosia Throckmorton is a plucky heroine who must attempt to to save the British Empire from an evil Egyptian curse. I really enjoyed this adventure and I think that a lot of my 6th graders will enjoy it also. There is a sly humor about the writing that appealed to me, reminding me a tiny bit of the Lemony Snicket books. I also like the fact that Theodosia is a strong female character who does what she feels she has to do, even if she doesn't want to do it. I will be interested to read more of this author's books in the series.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Book #62

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4) The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Percy Jackson's story continues in this fourth installment. It's another exciting adventure that will appeal to my students. This time Rick Riordan focuses on the myths of Daedalus, King Minos, and the labyrinth. The tension of the series builds also, as characters from previous books return and are more heavily involved in the overall quest to save Olympus. And there is a startling resolution to one character's quest!

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