Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tasty Tuesday

After my fried butter post, I’m feeling a little bit hypocritical about this week’s Tasty Tuesday.  But really that post was more a slam on the Republican hopefuls (in case that wasn’t clear) than the butter (even though it just sounds disgusting). 

My friend Elana found this recipe in an airline magazine this summer.  I just had to try it, especially with some really good tomatoes I bought from Forneris Farms last weekend. 

Roasted Tomato Confit with Bacon Fat
3 pounds tomatoes
6 large cloves garlic
12 sprigs thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sliced bacon
Salt ?

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise, and place them, skin-side-down in a roasting pan. Scatter the garlic and thyme sprigs over the tomatoes, and season with several grinds of black pepper, or to taste.

stuff 291 I wanted to eat the tomatoes just like that, but I controlled myself and continued cooking.
3. Layer the bacon over the tomatoes, placing the strips, one at a time, over the tomatoes, slightly overlapping them if necessary.
4. Place the roasting pan in the oven and roast for 1 hour.
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5. Increase the heat to 400 degrees and continue to roast until the bacon crisps and browns on top, an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat.
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At this point the house smelled amazing!

6. Carefully remove the layer of bacon (save the bacon for snacks or set aside for another use). Taste a bite of tomato and check for seasoning. Sprinkle over 1 teaspoon salt, or as needed (I didn’t need to add salt.  Saltiness will vary by brand of bacon, and more or less salt may be needed for the tomatoes). Gently turn the tomatoes over in the pan (cut-side down), and place the pan on the stove. Bring the liquid around the tomatoes to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes to distribute the seasoning and flavors. Remove from heat.
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7. Place the tomatoes in a glass jar or bowl. Cover with the remaining liquid, gently pressing the tomatoes down so they are submerged. Set aside until cool.
8. Cover and refrigerate the tomatoes until ready to use, and then warm on the stovetop before using. The confit will keep for up to 10 days, covered and refrigerated.
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The recipe recommends that the tomatoes be served on crostini or over pasta.  I did warm and serve over pasta.  It made for a very simple tomato sauce with fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano.  I thought they might be flavored overwhelmingly with bacon, but they weren’t at all.  They just had a very nice flavor.
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My favorite though was serving them cold in a wedge salad with bleu cheese and crumbled bacon pieces. 
stuff 300 I had this salad three times for dinner last week.  It was so good!

Thanks for the recipe Elana!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

50 Years!

Last night I attended a 50th anniversary party.  The couple went to elementary and high school with my dad and actually introduced him to my mom.

As with most events I attend, I hoped I would end up with some good blog fodder by the end of the evening.  I thought I might explore the juxtaposition of a 50 year wedding anniversary and the 50+% divorce rate in this country.  As it happens this bloody heat has zapped every ounce of intellectual thought from my brain, and so I’m forced to just share two of the night’s funniest conversations.

I attended this party with my “Aunt” Betty, a dear family friend.  Since my dad is gone and my mom is in Hawaii, the two of us were happy to make an appearance together so we’d have someone to talk with.  Betty is a retired teacher, as is the wife of the happy couple, as were most of the people in attendance.  Upon arriving, Betty spotted many people that she had taught with or had known over the years in her school district. As these retired district employees are getting up there in age, health (mentally and physically) is a challenge for some.

#1 - Marion, another dear family friend passed away last year.  However, when one of these retired teachers saw Betty she said, “Oh, I hear Marion is here.”  Um, no, Marion passed away last year.  “Are you sure, someone said she was here?”  I’m sure, she passed away.  “Did I know that?”

#2 The husband of one of my former teachers approached Betty at our table to say hello.  He started off the conversation with, “I  was surprised  to see you here.  I'd  heard you'd  died.”   Apparently this man keeps a social security list and crosses off names when people die.  He said he’d have to go home and check his list for Betty’s name.

I think about how most of the friends I socialize with nowadays are those I work with.  Last night was probably a peek into the future.  In another 30 years or so, I may be celebrating a friend’s 50th anniversary when someone asks me if I’m dead.  Sounds like fun!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I’m Melting – Update!

weatherAt this time every year, I wonder why the heck I live here! Blech! (I did see a forecast that said 108 on Friday and Saturday, but couldn’t get the picture to save.) The rest of the year is nice, but this is NOT!

July was gorgeous while the rest of the country was sweltering. Now they are gearing up for fall, and we still have 2-3 months of this. {weeps}

I just don’t function at full capacity when it’s hot. That’s all.

stuff And it WAS 108 today! I think I need to move to Alaska or something.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Being the first week back to school last week, it was nice getting to know my new students without the added pressure of having to shove curriculum down their throat.

One conversation was particularly funny…

I spot David walking in the class line to recess with his eyes closed.

Miss Delight – David, why are your eyes shut?

David (with a smirk) – I’m trying to see if I can walk without looking.

Miss Delight – What happens if you run into something?

David – Then I can’t I guess.

Miss Delight – Good point, but do be careful.  I’m too busy to pick up pieces that fall off of you if you crash. 

David – (smirk turns to a smile)

So far so good.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

And the Answer Is…

A record player!!!!stuff 035

I loved all the guesses.  My favorite was The Blonde Duck’s camera answer.  How cool would a giant camera be!

My first three years of teaching were spent at a different school than I am at now.  That school had just been modernized, but most of us were still using the outdated equipment.  Somehow, I acquired this record player.

Eight years ago, the school I am at now was built, and I moved there.  The year before I moved, I was a rover which means I moved classrooms every month (another brilliant idea in education). I think that year did something to me mentally as I became very protective of my “stuff” since I never had it.  So that summer I packed up my belongings and headed to the new school.  This record player was stored in my roving cupboard, so I took it with me.

That same year, my mom retired from teaching after 37 years.  I inherited most of her “stuff” including her children’s record collection.  “What fun!” I thought.  I planned on using those old-school records, records that I once listened to, in my classroom.
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Like Hap Palmer! 

Unfortunately, the record player was put inside a cupboard along with the records.  The new school is equipped with TVs, DVD/CD players, and electronic white boards with laptops.  The only time I ever pull out a record is when we read a story in class that mentions records.  I show it as an example because most 7 year olds nowadays have no idea what an LP is.

While organizing my room these past few weeks, I pulled this baby out to make some room.  Nostalgia took over so I played a little Hap.  

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The sound is pretty bad and finding the right song is a lot harder than it is now on my ipod.  After eight years, I decided it was just in the way.  I needed to get rid of it.

Since it is a school district record player, I emailed our media services person.  I was told that they didn’t want it…it was too old!  So I contacted my principal and asked him what to do with it.  He came in just the other day and picked it up.  I was hoping he would simply put it away in storage, but instead he said it would be disposed of.  It broke my heart a little as he walked out of my room with it.  I can’t keep that giant thing anymore; space is so valuable.  But, chances are I’ll probably never see a record player again.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What’s In the Box?

Let’s see who is up on their vintage culture…

All week I’ve been giggling about this box.  It has been in my classroom for the last eight years.  I pulled it out last week because it’s  becoming a storage nuisance.   

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Any ideas?

Monday, August 15, 2011

The End is Here

Summer vacation is over!  How depressing is that?  After a paid, kid-free work day today for meetings and working in our room, the kids start school tomorrow.

“How nice,” you must be thinking.  “Those rich, part-time teachers even get a half day to get their room ready before the kids start school.”

And you’d be right.  We ARE given a half day to prepare our classrooms.  Unfortunately, that’s not nearly enough time when your classroom looks like this after summer is over.

stuff 024 stuff 022 stuff 023 You see, when the end of the school year finally arrives, we are required to take everything down and put everything away so summer cleaning can take place over vacation. 

On a side note, this is how clean my classroom was when I first visited about 2 weeks ago…
stuff 025Yah, those are two dead flies on my windowsill.  Clean as a whistle!

We pretty much have to move into our classroom again before the year can begin.  In fact, during my first visit about two weeks ago, I spent the entire day just setting up the furniture, putting things away, and finding things I had to shove in a cupboard or drawer before leaving on summer vacation.  To put that in perspective, I watched the entire season 2 of Sons of Anarchy while working and continued to work about 2 hours after the series was over (wishing season 3 would come out on dvd already).  And that was just setting up the room.

A few days after opening the doors for the new year, I went shopping for school supplies.  Luckily, my school district does provide paper and pencils and the biggest necessities.  However, there are a lot of things that I need but aren’t provided.  stuff 026I spent about $100 on crayons, folders, glue sticks, ball point pens, pencil boxes, name tags, and other odds and ends to get us started - that’s even before the school year begins.  Thank goodness I’m so overpaid!

The following week, I spent a day working with my team.  We worked on preparing some upcoming units.  After finishing that, I had a couple of hours left to put posters and charts up on the wall.

Just this past Friday, I went back in for about four more hours to organize the supplies and to plan for the upcoming week.
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Today was our first required day back to school as teachers.  We returned for a couple of meetings that promised to be weren’t short at all and then had the remainder of the day to work in our room.  I prepared name tags, made the seating chart, got student desks ready, and finished some last minute things to make sure I was prepared for tomorrow. 
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After a few hours, a few days, a few weeks my classroom is physically ready for new kiddos to arrive first thing tomorrow morning. 
stuff 032 stuff 031Now if only their teacher were mentally ready.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Straw Poll

This weekend the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa took place.  A cross between a Republican convention and a state fair, the Straw Poll is an informal polling of Republicans in Iowa with the hopes of making a prediction of which candidate will represent the republicans in the upcoming election.

The state fair part comes with the candidates setting up in booths, handing out buttons, talking with the crowd.  Some have popular musicians on stage for them while others have games and rides for the kids that might stop by.  While serious voters roam through the booths, they are tempted by all sorts of tasty (and by tasty I mean fried) state-fair treats that are available in each candidates area. 

This year’s newest treat made an appearance at the Straw Poll.  Sarah Palin even tweeted about her excitement to try this culinary phenomenon.
deep fried butta1 deep fried buttaNope, that’s not a corn dog or a deep fried twinkie.  That is deep fried butter my friends.  Deep!  Fried!  Butter!  Butter fried in butter!  Not only does it just sounds bad, the butter alone, before being dipped in breading and fried in fat, is over 400 calories. 

Which leads me to wonder…Why is Iowa picked as the state that predicts our country’s future? Do the people who eat deep-fat fried fat have enough sense to make a decision that is taken so seriously?

Michelle “Hoot-Smalley Tariff Act" Bachmann was the apparent victor in the Straw Poll. 
deep fried butta4  My point exactly!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Photo Fun

I am addicted to the photo apps on my iPhone.  A few weeks ago I downloaded Instagram and can’t stop playing with it.  It is a free app that makes photos look old with filters that change the colors, over or underexpose, and add borders or scratches. 

It’s kind of ironic that I have a real camera that takes amazing pictures, but when I go out it sits in my car, and I shoot with with my much more convenient iPhone.  Then those pictures are adjusted to look like photos from years ago before the expensive digital cameras were even invented.  Oh well, it’s fun anyhow.

Cherry Picking 

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The Big Irish Fair – Irvine Meadows, 6/18/11 

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stuff 040     stuff 039

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The Farmer’s Market 
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stuff 064Around the House 
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stuff 374 stuff 375 stuff 376   
I’m digging the vintage look! 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Crafty McCraftster

Crafts are not usually something I like doing.  Drawing, painting, collage, and photography are more my cup of tea.  The most crafty I get is I do like to make cards.  Making cute, handmade things is the last thing I need as we saw in the hoarders decluttering posts.  In my case, craft = crap.  I don’t need anything else in this house.

That was until this past month.  I didn’t have to go into work and didn’t have any substantial plans for a few days.  With some upcoming get togethers with friends and family  at my house, I decided to get a little crafty.

First, I made some luminaries out of mason jars.  stuff 020

I had everything I needed in the art room except the mason jars, so it was a really inexpensive project. stuff 005I found some  colored tissue in the wrapping paper box and tore it into pieces.

Using an old paint brush, I spread YES pva glue on the inside of the jars.
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The tissue was placed onto the glue and secured using the other side of a the brush. 

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In some cases I had to spread the glue over the top of the tissue as it wanted to lift a bit.

stuff 036 stuff 038I liked how they turned out, but there was something missing. 
stuff 080So the tops were painted with coordinating acrylic paint.  They look really cute scattered about the yard with battery operated tea lights.  So easy…I’d like to make 24 more!

Later, I made some wine gift tags.  Some friends and I got together for a wine and cheese party at my house.  It turned into a wine and cheese competition, and these were the prizes.  Unlike the luminaries, these went home with my guests and aren’t cluttering my house.
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For now I’ve had my fill of crafts.  With only two days of vacation left, it’s time to begrudgingly get back to work.  Booooooo!