Friday, October 09, 2009

Food Philosophy

When I start to talk food with the average Joe/Josephine, he/she starts to back away. I can see the wheels turning: Whoa Nelly!

But even the average Joe has heard enough information nowadays to become an informed consumer. Local ways of eating are all around us. In fact, where I live, we are singularly blessed to have 1) legal raw milk, and 2) a community that does their part to support local agriculture and businesses. And I am incredibly blessed to have my own source for goat's milk, cheese, pastured organic eggs, grass-fed ground beef, and (sometimes) chicken in the same farmer. I love my farmer. She's incredibly good to my family.

I get on this kick of telling others about it every blue moon--usually when I haven't talked about it in a while. Like I said, when I start talking food and local and real fat, people start getting a little scared. Or offended? Something.

It's not a matter of being better. It's not even a matter of loving to cook, which I do. In fact, I'd love to cook even if I weren't a crazy health food fanatic (in a very traditional way) trying to once again convince my daddy to try raw milk. (Really, we just let it slide. At least he drinks it in his coffee.)

I also recognize the need for convenience in food, especially since I teach and go to school and have a busy life. I've consumed waaayyy too much McDonald's mocha to say too much about it. But the principle of the matter remains the same: America's food problems stem from the over-industrialization of its food sources. Fake food does not a healthy population make.

So, what do I do, on a consistent basis, to make my family a healthier and happier group?


  • When Mama heard about Mad Cow Disease a couple of years ago, it scared her away from beef. Now we mostly use ground beef from my local farmer. We know what these cows were fed, in fact, I even visited them at the farm. I'm starting to get closer to my food.
  • Local sausage: There are several meat processors in our area that do a lot of processing for local hunters and farms. One makes sausage which our local grocery store sells, and on the package it advertises "No MSG". I don't know about the quality of the pork, but at least I know it doesn't have MSG.
  • Chicken: Our egg lady is out to do some serious good. She not only provides almost my entire family with eggs, but every once in a while she will process birds specifically for her customers. I'm really thankful; it makes it easy to get clean (soy-free) meat. I'm still experimenting to get a true grasp of cooking these birds perfectly, but high-heat roasting in a covered dish really works well. (My Thanksgiving turkey also came from her last year!)
  • Venison: I'm excited about this one! Our next-door neighbor loves to hunt for the sport, but doesn't want to see the meat go to waste. It looks like we'll get our venison without being hunters ourselves; we'll just pay the processing fee and have plenty of natural meat for cheap. (And if any body knows what to do with it, I'd be mighty thankful for some recipes!)
  • Eggs: of course. Why else would I call my farmer my egg lady? :)
  • LARD: I'm about to make it again--perhaps I'll record the process this time? It's very easy, and even easier when you chop it in the food processor, and make it in the crock pot! I think I saw this recommended somewhere; I don't remember. A friend of mine tried it and says it worked like a charm. What I do know is this: It makes wonderful fried anything, biscuits, and pie crust. I get my fat from Eden Naturals Pork.
  • Butter: Right now is the time to stock up on Organic Valley's cultured butter: it's a brand/ style that Sally Fallon mentions in Nourishing Traditions. I'm waiting for it to go on sale at my awesome local grocery chain, which really does a good job on the organic and local side of things.
  • Animal Fats: When we buy bacon, we usually buy the expensive kind: organic or natural, without nitrates. We save the fat, and use it for all kinds of things: vegetables, morning fried eggs, onions--whatever. We probably have too much in our fridge right now, but that's okay by me.
  • Olive Oil: organic, extra-virgin is our standard. I'd like to get some less flavorful oil for other situations, but right now this is what we have and use.
  • Coconut Oil: can too much be said about this wonderful stuff? What else can you cook with, and also use as the best-ever moisturizer? It's not only amazingly good for you, but it also is antiviral and antibacterial.
  • Peanut Oil: because it's natural, it fries well, and it's mild, we also keep this on hand.
  • I've probably said enough about this already, but here goes: local, grass-fed goat or cow's milk. Usually cow's milk is what we get.
  • Raw cheese (most of the time)
  • I should buy local ricotta, but I don't usually.
  • Yogurt. I should make it at home, but I've not done it in a while. We do (usually) buy organic, usually Stoneyfield Farm.
  • I'm kinda off the freshly ground whole wheat bread thing. I still love the taste, but I'm afraid it's not as good for you as I originally thought. I usually buy Ezekiel Bread, which my dad won't touch. (He eats that awful white wheat stuff from the store--bleck. Of course, he says the same thing about my Ezekiel bread.)
  • Any pastries, biscuits, cookies, or quick breads coming from my kitchen usually end up being any where from 50-100% freshly ground soft white flour. It's still better for you than plain ole' bleached white!
  • My daddy doesn't really care about this, but his apple juice is organic. So is the sugar he puts in his coffee. And most of his baked goods (when he gets them from our kitchen) have organic and/or local ingredients in them. We also keep sort-of local raw honey, sucanant, and stevia on hand.
Fruits and Veggies:
  • We tend to stick to this article on what to buy organic in the grocery store: onions, lettuce, carrots, apples, grape tomatoes. We don't always buy peaches an other fruits organic, though we should.
I think this post is long enough, but I want to add one more thing: this didn't happen overnight, and the process is still continuing. I think my next big purchase I'll make (other than my recent birthday present to myself--more on that later) is going to be a dehydrator. You need one if you want to make crispy nuts, sprouted flour, and certain soaked grains the right way. And I do.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Noelle--9 months

My niece's legs are bread dough,
Smooth and elastic with just the right strength.
I cannot resist kneading her sweet kickers.

Her chubby hands wrap around her mother's shoulders
as she moves from place to place, gliding
stretching towards walking.

She loves her brother; immitates his every emotion
Reaching towards words, laughing at every every antic,
Tasting his hair in affection

Her eyes tell it all, pleasure or pain
She has the ability to tell off someone
With a single, flashing glare.

My niece, not yet One,
Has the quiet focus of her father,
The fun streak of her mother:
The best of both worlds.

And she just took her first steps yesterday!

Friday, October 02, 2009

No Sugar Challenge

I haven't linked to this blog on my sidebar yet, but The Nourishing Gourmet is currently hosting a No-Sugar Challenge! It's perfect for me right now-- I feel the need to detox/balance out my sugar consumption--so I'm gonna do it. Any takers?

Here's the link.

God Bless!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Upon forgetting to buy my daddy a card...

I went to the store
in search of a card
I walked out the door
After looking hard

I thought I grabbed it--
I really did!
I searched long and hard

for one without "DAD"

Alas! I'd forgotten
the most critical part:

To buy a card,

It most go in your cart

So I'm sad you're cardless

today of all days

But know I'm not heartless,
just a little dismayed.

Yes, this really happened today-- I walked out of the store with three cards in my hand, just as I should have. However, I somehow ended up with two "Happy Birthday Mother" cards, a sister-birthday card, and none for Daddy. I think it may have had something to do with the dearth of cards which said "Daddy" instead of "Dad". My dad hates to be called "Dad". You can claim him as such in casual conversation with others, but you call him Daddy.

This poem was the result of my mistake, written on the way to the picnic shelter where we opened (sometimes hilarious) presents and ate too much food.

And the picture? It's of Daddy, sporting his "Toad Poem" look.

God bless! I hope your weekend was as good as mine.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Puzzle Piece

My life is made up of pieces that should be a cohesive whole--but they're not. The pieces feel like a puzzle thrown in a box all which-a-way.

As a teacher, I nurture others, pulling my students into stories and writing, cajoling them to learning. This life requires more of my time than the others. It's where I earn my daily bread--working to form lives and minds. But there's a tug-of-war between work and life.

As a friend, I talk and love and sometimes come out to play, though not as often as I used to. Most of my girlfriends are concerned with their families and new-found lives, so our conversations have more to do with where I'm headed than where I am now. The exceptions are my sisters. Both understand the balance that is easy to loose when you're a teacher.

As an artist, I'm barely there. The creative drive is still exists: projects fester in my mind, but rarely leave, stifled by the demands of paperwork and students' needs. I look in awe at others who work full-time, yet still have the time and energy to create every day.

As a daughter, an aunt and a sister I'm connected to those who have lived my life with me. Our relationships haven't changed much over the years--I'm still the aunt who buys candy at Cracker Barrel, the sister with the crazy, flighty ideas. What changes is the deepening of experiences, stretching through time.

As a child of my God, my life is the closest to complete. It's where I find the mistakes I've made and the changes I need to make. It's where I dedicate my life daily to the Cross. It's real-life, real-time, real-close, though that's not always apparent on the surface. It's also the one I struggle to put first. This is where I see the patterns echoing between the pieces, even as their shapes constantly change. I want a stronger vision. I want the puzzle of my life complete, strong and resilient.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

After the storm, the leaves murmur and shake themselves of the attached raindrops
like ladies who, knowing their beauty, seek perfection

And the sun comes out to illuminate their new-found gloss
Spotlighting the new, clean colors again.

Happy first day of Fall!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Flourless Chocolate & Vanilla Marble Cake

One word: YUM.

Serves sixteen
Yields one 9-1/2 inch cake

For the vanilla batter:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate batter:

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
5 oz. (10 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. dark rum or espresso
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch table salt
Cocoa powder for dusting

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease a 9x2-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.

Make the vanilla batter: In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until well blended and no lumps remain. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until blended. Set aside.

Make the chocolate batter: In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate and butter in a large metal bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. With a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs, sugar, rum or espresso, vanilla, and salt on medium high until the mixture is pale and thick, 3 to 4 min. With the mixer on low, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture and continue beating until well blended.

Combine and bake: Spread about half of the chocolate batter in the bottom of the pan. Alternately add large scoopfuls of each of the remaining batters to the cake pan. Using a knife or the tip of a rubber spatula, gently swirl the two batters together so they're mixed but not completely blended. Rap the pan against the countertop several times to settle the batters.

Bake until a pick inserted about 2 inches from the edge comes out gooey but not liquid, 40 to 42 min.; don't overbake. The top will be puffed and slightly cracked, especially around the edges. It will sink down as it cools. Let cool on a rack until just slightly warm, about 1-1/2 hours. Loosen the cake from the pan by holding the pan almost perpendicular to the counter; tap the pan on the counter while rotating it clockwise. Invert onto a large flat plate or board. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the parchment. Sift some cocoa powder over the cake (this will make it easier to remove the slices when serving). Invert again onto a similar plate so that the top side is up. Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight, or freeze.

Tips: To slice the marble cake neatly, use a hot knife (run it under hot running water and dry it). Wipe the blade clean between slices.

Sprinkle cocoa on the bottom of the cake before inverting it onto another plate; the cocoa will keep the cake from sticking when you slice and serve it.

Make Ahead Tips

Wrap the cooled cake (unmolded as directed in the recipe) in plastic and refrigerate until firm and well chilled. Slide the cake from the plate and wrap it again in plastic. Freeze for up to a month. To serve, unwrap the cake and set it on a flat serving plate. Cover with plastic wrap and thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or at room temperature for an hour or two.

From Fine Cooking 54, pp. 54

December 1, 2003

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Phone Call

When I call my sister on the phone, the murmur of childrens' voices fills the background. Her voice smiles, and I can see her blue-grey eyes shining in my mind.

When I call my sister, I return to the days of our childhood when we made radio shows, played ridiculous duets on the piano, and laughed and fought our way through. I talked and she listened; she did something crazy and I helped pick up the pieces.

When I call my sister, I hear music in her voice--the music spills out of her words. I hear the clean, deep bass notes followed by the thick thatch of middle chords that finish soft and high. The music pulses like waves through our conversation.

In my sister's voice I hear the echoes of what I once was, and what I am, and what I hope to be.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sewing Analogy

Thread through needle~ sandwiching layers of fabric together. What threads will I use to stitch my classes~ my colorful pieces~ together?

One is brown and worn, frayed in the corner. Another is pristine-white with starched crisp corners. Another is loud and crazy, with the rhythms of neon colors dancing across the background. Yet another stripes like soldiers, lined up for parade.

And these are only a sample of my fifty-four swatches to stitch this year. Perhaps my thread will begin with the pale blue of love and switch to the dark cerulean of learning. But always we will come back to that pale azure sheen which is so ephemeral in the chaos and drama of sixth grade.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This has been percolating for a week...

I meant to post while it was still summer, but time got away from me. Despite being in school all summer long, I had a wonderful summer. A trip to visit a great friend and a visit from two other great friends climaxed the summer. I really, really need to post some pictures here!

But now that school has begun for the next school year, a new idea has been percolating: the idea of being content with your situation.

I'm an idealist--and I don't like things unless they match up with my ideas of how things should be. And--well, teaching was never part of my plan for life (despite me getting my bachelor's in Elementary Ed.) I thought I'd be on to greater stuff for now. I thought I'd be living the typical Message girl's dream life. For the past four years, I've not been happy to simply do my job, and content to let the Lord lead me onto a higher calling.

My current contentment started with a comment by another teacher. It was simple enough advice: "Be Excited." Be excited to be there for your students and to teach them. (And stop worrying if life isn't exactly the way you thought it would be.) That one small phrase has made the hard job of teaching sixth graders a pleasure--and it's freed me to be more of the teacher I want to be.

I still don't plan on doing this the rest of my life. But I do plan on enjoying the ride, as long as it lasts, until it's time to change.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer 2009

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Grandmother R's Ice Cream

My grandmother's ice cream days are not quite over, but she's started to pass the torch on. I think I'm starting to get it right.

Grandmother R's ice cream was one of those summer memories sacred to our childhood. The hum of the ice cream churn in the background of supper meant good things. Plain was heaven; gilded with sweetened peaches made it sublime. Her recipe is custard-based, which means you can make it in a sorry ice cream churn from WalMart (like mine), and it's still creamy and delicious.

I'm making this for our fourth of July, but I thought I'd give anyone a day or two in advance so that they could also try their hand at it. I'll add pictures later so everyone can see my ugly pink churn. :)

Grandmother R's Ice Cream (with a few changes)

this recipe came from Grandmother R's mother, G-Grandmother W, From Charleston.

For a 4-Quart Churn:
1/2 Gal. Whole Milk
6-8 eggs
2 c. sugar (though if you're watching it, you could get away with less-- 1 1/2- 1 3/4)
a rounded 1/2 t. or 3/4 t. salt
1 T. vanilla extract, or 1/2 a vanilla bean
1-2 c. whipping cream

OR--- Per Quart of Milk: (If you have a larger churn)
3-4 eggs
1 c. sugar
a rounded 1/4 t. salt
1 to 1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. whipping cream

Rock Salt
Lots of Ice

(My grandmother said that if she were making a whole gallon of ice cream, she could cut the eggs to 1 dozen and the sugar to 3 cups. Just don't skimp on the vanilla and the cream and everything's safe.)

I usually churn ice cream outside. It's pretty messy, and the salt-sludge isn't good for your pipes. I pour it out somewhere in the yard where I don't want anything to grow.

Traditional Directions:

Mix together milk, eggs, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Cook until thickened. Take off heat; mix in vanilla. Place in refrigerator until cold, 6-24 hours.

When ready to freeze, place ice cream mixture in churn. Mix in whipping cream; follow manufacturer's directions for freezing in your ice cream churn.

But-- most basic ice cream churns--the ones with the motors on top, and a bucket for ice/salt sludge--work like this:

Layer ice, then salt, in a ratio of 4 parts ice to one part salt. (This is more of a general direction than specific; I usually just layer in the ice, then heavily coat it with Rock Salt.) Repeat until area around churn is filled. Check ice often; when level of ice and salt is down, layer more ice and salt. When churn stops running, ice cream is "soft-serve". At this point, you have two options: 1) Dig in, or 2) make your ice cream firmer.

If you wish to have firmer ice cream, you can empty the ice sludge from around the ice cream bucket, once again pack it with ice and salt, and let that sit for an hour. Or you can wipe off the ice cream bucket and throw it in the freezer for an hour.

RAW Variation:

If you're like me and have raw milk and want to keep it that way, you can still make custard ice cream. Instead of mixing the entire 2 quarts of milk into the saucepan, mix 2-3 cups with the eggs, sugar, and salt. The custard will be a little less stable. You'll have to watch it more carefully, but it's worth it to get raw ice cream! After you've made the custard, add in vanilla, and place in refrigerator to cool.

When it's time to make the ice cream, get out the remainder of the two quarts of milk as well as the cream. Mix both into custard. Churn as directed above.

Vanilla Bean Variation:

Start out with 1/2 a vanilla bean per quart of milk. Cut the vanilla bean in half; scrape the insides to release the beans inside. Place both beans and pod in custard mixture before cooking, and exclude other vanilla. Cook Vanilla bean and outside pod in custard. Pull out the bean pod after cooling, just before you mix milk/cream/custard in churn. Test before churning-- you might want to add a little more vanilla extract for extra oomph.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Where I'm From

Based on the children's book Mama, Where Are You From?

I'm from a knee-high grass field full of weeds and wildflowers. Chasing my brother and sisters through the harsh grass; chasing fireflies while the sun sets.

I'm from the sewing machine which made patched doll clothes, and where I made my first dress. From pricked fingers and ripped-out seams.

I'm from bluegrass and gospel played in the car on a country road. I'm from Bach and Mahler and Copeland--shaking the house with the blare of symphonies and string quartets and sonatas.

I'm from the land of bumps and bruises, scrapes, cuts and gashes, thanks to good ole' clumsiness.

I'm from the family who thinks the right word--no matter how big--is important. I'm also from a book which manages to state everything important in life in the small words of the common man.

I'm from grace--both in my teaching and in my life--because I would not be teaching still if it were not for the Grace of God.

I'm from a hot kitchen, stirring, simmering and baking my way to sanity after a long day.

I'm from frustration to giving up--in the good way. Realizing that I cannot do it on my own--I must rely on the Holy Spirit in order to get me through. Realizing the control I so carefully construct is nothing; the creator of Heavens and Earth is the real guiding force.

I'm from God, who before the foundation of the world called my name. I know because I hear His voice calling me now.

Reflection--on lotsa stuff

I'm sitting in class watching my prof develop another blog--just when I'm trying to minimize and downsize! The worst part about switching from Xanga to Blogspot is that I've lost the comments--so I don't think I'm going to close down my xanga site. I'll leave the link up so that anyone who wants can search through the old posts.

It's been an interesting experience, looking over my old blog posts. I was either a lot more cheerful than I am now, or I was afraid of appearing too somber. I know I was a little afraid of being too honest. (Who wants their faults and failures spread across the 'net, anyway? --Despite the fact that everyone has them... ) Either I don't care as much, or I don't plan on tons of people looking at this? I'm not sure which.

I know I'm different than at the beginning--you can't go through four years of teaching and not be a different person from when you started. (Not unless it's your 20th year.) But how have I grown? I hope it's in ways that matter, but I can't guarantee it.


Today Rebecca was trying to talk me out of Master's classes. I don't blame her; I've been pretty miserable. It's worse during the school year. I feel as if I simply have too much to do and not enough time to do it all. My teaching suffers from it also--and pray tell, which is more important? Your JOB, or your sort-of education? I'm not so miserable now--but things keep happening to me-- a "B" when I should have gotten an "A", a misunderstanding with the professor (actually accused of cheating)--difficulties which make little or no sense. It seems the signposts would be pointing in the direction to quit.

But I'm struggling with the idea of quitting. I didn't know this before now, but I'm not a quitter. I may not like something, I may complain, but I usually don't quit--especially in things which may affect another person's (a.k.a. principle's) opinion of me. I don't care about the money, but I do care about how my betters view my work.

And then I run across this from the New York Times: an article on what a Master's Degree is worth. Not much unless you're a teacher, according to them. And for most teachers, it's the money that draws them in.

So where do I go from here? Pray, and wait. I'll finish up the summer courses, file my "bachelor's plus eighteen" hours with the state department, and hopefully, somewhere between now and August, the answer will become clear.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


This quote came from a brother across Facebook... and I needed it. I think I'll always need it.

But when God came to His own temple, the church, the--the people... When He came to them, He filled it, the temples that were dedicated, just like He did at Solomon's temple. He filled it not with creeds, not with denominations, but with Himself. He filled the temple with His Shekinah Glory. So did He do on the day of Pentecost. He filled them one hundred and twenty temples that was up there with Hisself, with the Holy Ghost Itself. The Shekinah Glory broke through upon them.
And then, what Nimrod failed to do, built a temple where every man spoke contrary to what he could understand, God came down, and with one Galilean language, made every man understand what He was saying, and what it was. So there's God to His temple: God to His dedicated temple, not to a man-made achievement, not to what man done; but what God did Himself.

E-40 Oh, it's silly to the people. They don't get it. They were born not to get it, so they won't get it. The Bible says so. All right. God always fills His temple. At the day of dedication He fills His temple. He fills it with Hisself. The same thing today, God will fill every temple that will thoroughly dedicate itself to Him.
Any persons that will... The temple is not this little building here. The temple is not the one in Salt Lake City. The temple is not the one in Rome. The temple is you. You are the temple that God wants to dwell in and express Hisself through it, that all nations might know Him. You are living images of God that God wants to work through.
And any time that any man, or any woman, will forget all the falsehood that they've heard in the world, and come back to the line of the Scripture, and will keep in line, just like Solomon did to what Moses did, Moses did to what God did, God always respected it...

E-41 And if we will come back to the original dedication, and will open our hearts, and empty ourselves, God, in dedication as we give it to Him, will fill our temple with His Shekinah Glory. Then the living God will be moving in a living church, among a Living people and will spread forth His glory. Then together someday, one being this way, and one this way, and one in one part of the country, she'll come together to make the Bride. We'll be caught up in the air to meet Him.
Now, this lovely church, this building that the people with their tokens of their livelihood, with their love for Christ, the worshippers has dedicating today this place of worship, that people could come and worship. Now, my sincere prayer is that every worship will--worshipper will dedicate his own temple to worship in the temple that's being dedicated for worship. That's the real dedication.

E-42 So as our time is gone, but God has no time. Let us remember. How late is it? I'm looking at old people, and it may be later than you think. I'm looking at young people, young girls. Look at these little kids was found cut up the other day, them little girls ravished. How many of them die every year? Thousands with heart attacks, cancer, polio, anything that can kill them, accidents on the road. We don't know how young or how old. When is the time going to come? When's your card going to be called from the rack? No one knows that but God. That's right.
So while you are here today in the dedication of this material here, that worshippers are coming to worship the living God, why not dedicate ourselves to the worship of the living God, and let Him fill us with Himself? And then we shall see the Shekinah Glory return again to the house of the living God, which is the human body, the church of the living God, together in a great revival that would sweep through this country, and around these towns, and all out through here. There'll be such a noise, why, they--they couldn't stop it. There's no way of doing it.

E-43 Do you think you could stop Stephen? Why, he was like a--a house on fire in a high wind. Why, you couldn't stop him. Even the Sanhedrin couldn't stop him, and you know even death itself didn't stop him. He lived on, and he lives today, and he always will live because he had Eternal Life and a house dedicated to the service of God.
I think the thing for this church to do this morning in respect of all that's been done, as we offer God the building for service, let's offer ourselves also.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Getting Back into Blogging...

It's been a while, no matter where you look at it-- I haven't blogged for almost a year. Xanga account included--I'm about to archive my old xanga posts here, on this blog, so they'll be consolidated. One blog is much simpler than two--what was I thinking?

It's been so hard for me to write much of anything this year. One reason is that I'm in Master's classes at the Uni again, and I can't say I'm enjoying the journey. I'm a year into the program and have two to go, but I don't really want to continue. It's just not enough emphasis on true learning, and way too much emphasis on "intellectual didactic pondering". I really don't like the attitude that we're smart, and we know it, and because we're smart we're going to act like you owe us something. That's kinda the attitude this particular school has--and has always had.

Another reason I've not been blogging: HARD SCHOOL YEAR. I was really stretched this year, especially where the attitudes of my students were concerned. The kids were smart, but many were blatantly disrespectful. That's pretty exhausting to deal with for five days a week, 36 weeks out of the year. I'm glad it's over.

I can't say I'm ready for a new beginning yet-- I'm ready for recuperation and revival. That's all I can really say.

On a happier note, my annual Amazon order is all in--it's almost a yearly tradition for myself--and I'm so excited about some of the books I got in! Here are most of them:

  • Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning, from the gardeners and farmers of Terre Vivant-- this book is a compilation of traditional preservation methods from France. I've just started it, and love it so far.

  • Weekend Sewing, by Heather Ross-- It's pure eye-candy, and it's full of beautiful, easy sewing projects. Just don't forget to check the errata from her website.

  • Ratio, by Michael Rhulman--This book is for cooks who don't want to have to use a recipe every time inspiration hits. It's right up my alley--even though I love a good recipe, I'm often a throw-it-together kinda gal. This book is all about throwing it together well--and why it works that way.

  • Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes, by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne-- This book was recommended by one of my favorite food bloggers, Smitten Kitchen. She's an amazing cake baker--I've never had one of her recipes to fail--and she's made many cakes from this book. It's got instructions for wedding cakes as well as wonderful-looking, show-stopping triple layer cakes for any occasion. Right now it's eye-candy, but come birthday and holiday season, it'll be more than that.
I'm also loving Barbra Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Mineral right now--but it's not part of my latest Amazon order. My sister bought it for me last October for my birthday, and I'm just now reading it. That's how busy I've been.

I don't know if I'll get around to reviewing all of these--or if I'll actually will get a chance to read them all this summer. But sometime, hopefully, I will.

Oh, and if anyone has a good hushpuppy recipe, I'd love to have it. I tried the one in Joy, and meh. Not so great.

God Bless!