Archive for November, 2009

Favorite Things, A Thanksgiving Muse

November 30, 2009

Here it is Sunday evening, the long weekend coming to a close. Monk the pup has had his romp around the neighborhood under parting clouds, glittering stars, Orion standing guard over us tonight.

And I am thankful for so much, even, and especially the struggles of the everyday troubles. Life is rich with wonder, work, mystery, and my favorites: pressure, patience and surprise.

For all my solitary nature I have the best of family and friends. In moments of difficulty I know that tomorrow all will change and to play my part to the best of my ability and let life proceed. I have learned to see the beauty in just about all things. I am learning to use my mind for the great tool it is and make peace with the dark thoughts that come sometimes.

It has been an extraordinary experience to continue to know and grow with my sister. We had a rough beginning and have had the patience, luck, and perception to keep coming closer. She has become my teacher and confidant.

And I am so lucky to have found my sweet heart and made a safe place in the world with him. His heart is huge and beautiful. The best hugs…..gleaming copper pots…….an insatiable appetite for so many things…..courage to change…….finding balance in a violent world…..and he sees me just the way I am.

I get to teach and learn with very special kids. This work is so hard sometimes, letting the right word be spoken, taking advantage of the moment to make space for a kid to grow instead of cramming in one more bit of trivia about the elasticity of albumen. Forgiving them their profanity, being forgiven for my thoughtlessness and vanity.

Lately my mom has been so present with me. She passed away on May 12 of this year. I think autumn will be when I think about her most. She continues to teach me with all I remember…..I had a glorious day in the kitchen with her on Thanksgiving day, making my crackers, putting the turkey in the oven, making stuffing, peeling potatoes, making my cranberry relish.

Here are some pictures of the day.

the crackers, nicoise, morrocan dry cured, and fresh mozz.

the apple tree next door.

our poplar tree

roses on the porch


Olives, Figs, Lemon, Goat Cheese and HomeMade Crackers

November 14, 2009

Last weekend I finally made…..crackers. I have wanted to do this since tasting some at Nell Thorn a while back. I served the crackers with one of my favorite cheeses and a mixture of caramelized onion, green and nicoise olives, figs, and toasted almonds, and a bit of orange peel….the photo shows lemon peel…that’s what I have in the fridge this morning.

the cracker recipe came from 101 cookbooks, a place I go to often to get started with recipes and ideas. In fact, in my work at school when staff asks how to make something I often tell them to just google 101 cookbooks and look for it. I made some crackers with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. I liked brushing them with more extra virgin olive oil and then sprinkling on toppings. I did have to press the sesame seeds in with a rolling pin. I also used the pin to roll the dough out instead of a pasta machine. The pin worked just fine. The recipe does say to stretch the dough out a bit before placing on the baking sheet. One needs to be careful not to handle the dough too much. The first cracker was a bit….tough after baking.

I also want to report that I have purchased the food trays without compartments and have got the china plates washed and am just waiting for the right lunch that can easily be served on real plates!!! for the high school students. My thoughts are that frequent use of real plates might encourage a new level of maturity….kind of like little kids finally getting to sit at the big table for Thanksgiving. I will let you know how this turns out, with pictures.

Here is the photo of my home made crackers, goat cheese, and olive/fig mix.


How We Learn Opening The Pathway to Critical Thinking

November 11, 2009

I haven’t been thinking too much about what to write here for the last month. So much extra work and school activities….you must remember how much drama and excitement pervades the halls during homecoming week. And mid quarter grades, conferences, and the dinner Culinary Arts students cook for staff during conferences…Whew. The spaghetti sauce has been cleaned out of the burners and off the walls.

And I have been thinking. One of my favorite quotes, one I take to heart every day whether I can practice it in tough moments or not, is:

“When people ask about it I say my religion is kindness.” The Dali Lama

So everyday I attempt to meet my students, my world, with kindness in my heart, and kind words from my mouth. Now, sometimes I do have to convey a disappointing bit of news, or ask some difficult questions, state some uncomfortable facts. I can still fulfill these in ways that are honestly understanding and supportive. When the fear of failure is allowed to fade into the background just a bit, the curiosity and risk taking can begin to emerge out of the mental fog.

I think we have to realize that many students come from a home where there is so much scrutiny over grades and behavior that we are a possible small ray of hope for relief…or at least a view into another world where judgment is not so harsh….in fact I am beginning to formulate a new definition of what real true judgment would be a world that operated out of only kindness. Many teenagers are left to their own growing up….parents are too busy or assume that they are smart enough now, or are just too tired to do the potential or on-going battle they see out there with their kids. Some might not care.

One quality that must be present at all times is a sense of calm despite the emotional or mental storm that students can bring into the class room. This is a wonderful practice that I recommend highly.

I don’t care so much about the outcome of some of our class experiments, or the reviews, or answers to questions. The real value is in the process, they are attempting, thinking, possibly inspired. Inspiration is a very good place to get to. Everything else might fall into place once true inspiration is felt. Then thinking becomes more important.

more later. thanks for reading. let me know what you think.