Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quote of the Day

"The great secret...
is not having bad manners or good manners...
but having the same manner for all human souls:
in short, behaving as if you were in
where there are no third-class carriages, and one soul is as good as another."

George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Following Alysha's lead at The Savory Notebook, I'm going to try and flag the recipes I would like to make from CL Magazine. So often after browsing, I end up putting the magazine down and forgetting about it until the next issue comes. This isn't a commitment to make these recipes, but if I actually think about it enough to keep track, maybe I'll try a few new recipes along the way, instead of doing my usual tried and true things.

So, on to the recipes I'd like to try. I've linked to those where recipes are available at the CL website.

Mini Bacon and Potatos Frittatas
Chocloate Peanut Butter Cake with Bittersweet Ganache
Brown Sugar and Spice Cookies
Curried Chicken Salad in Naan
Beer Braised Beef with Italian Salsa Verde

Wow, so there's not alot for me in this issue. There are a few more recipes I would try, but just aren't worth the expense or effort.

Here is a recipe for Chicken and Black Bean Taquitos from CL Nov 2006 that I made last night. I used my leftover chicken and turkey. I also used smoked gouda cheese for half of the choose, because it's at I had on hand. I added a jalapeno for some added kick. I prefer taquitos to be made w/ corn tortillas, but without heating them in oil, it's next to impossible to roll them up without breaking. So, I used flour tortillas. I had a couple of these for lunch today and my coworkers were envious. The rest are in the freezer waiting for a lunch or dinner on the run. I tripled the recipe so have plenty to last me a while. Because Joe at Culinary in the Country is a much better photographer, check out his picture if you must. He used chipotle flavored tortillas. I used plain. This is a recipe I will use again and again. I love having quick, easy appetizers in the freezer, ready to go at a moment's notice.

Mounds Cake

Here's what was left of the Mounds cake I took to school. It wasn't pretty, but I thought was pretty darn good!

1 3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter
3 eggs
2/3 cup cocoa powder (natural or Dutch)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup water, divided

Preheat oven to 325. Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until thoroughly mixed. Add cocoa and vanilla and mix until well-blended. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt (I never sift). Add this mixture to cocoa mixture, alternating with the water. Pour into greased 9x13 pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until done. Mine took about 10 minutes longer to get done.

Coconut Filling:
1 cup white sugar
1 cup milk
24 large marshmallows (I used most of a bag of mini-marshmallows)
1 14 oz. bag coconut

While the cake is baking, stir together the filling ingredients in a pan over medium heat until the marshmallows are melted. Pour over the cake while still warm.

1 cup white sugar
5 TB. butter
1/2 cup milk
12 oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate chips

Mix together sugar, butter, and milk in a medium saucepan. Boil mixture 1 minute, remove from heat, and stir in chocolate chips. Stir until melted and pour over cake.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Something that really pi$$es me off

I saw a graphic on a myspace comment that said "Let's get retarded this weekend" and included a picture of what I presume to be a Special Olympian running to the finish line.

I abhor the use of the word 'retarded' in everyday conversation, but to poke fun in such a careless, callous way as this graphic portrayed? To associate getting drunk, wasted, trashed, whatever--things a person has control over to being 'retarded', something children and adults don't have any choice or control over? To me that is just cold-hearted, narrow-minded, and thoughtless. It really made my blood boil.

Now to any of you reading this. Next time you go to say "Oh, that's so retarded" or some other similarly used phrase, think about what you are saying. Think about the people out there who truly are mentally retarded; what you say is offensive to them, their families, AND to those of us who know, love, and appreciate these people for who they are.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Quote of the Day

"When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere."
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

My first turkey was a success! Nevermind that most of my family doesn't like turkey, won't eat it. I used Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey. It was moist and flavorful. I think next time, I'll use the same brine but have my dad smoke it and compare. I also made Grandma's Dressing (made seperately from the turkey--it's a chicken dressing that uses cornbread and fatty chicken broth that I made yesterday). I also took a cranberry salad, toffee, and fudge. We do dinner at grandma's house, so I had to load up the car and drive the 45 minutes to her house, but it worked out fine. It was much better than the 3+ hour drive I've been making the past 7 years!

Now I think I'm ready to join the Y like I've been intending on doing. :)

I had some visitors Wednesday. "My girls", students from my 2 years in Plano came to see me, with their mom of course. They have family in Oklahoma. It was great to get to see them and get some of those hugs and "I love yous".

I'll add that I spent most of that day on the couch--I've been sick and just needed a day to rest. Seeing their smiling faces was good medicine! They were scared of the dogs at first. You can see Peanut trying to get some loving too. I'm sure I'll be seeing them again soon!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Where, Oh Where...

Did my roasting rack go? Along with the other missing items (though I did find the corkscrews--all 5 or so of them I own), my Williams-Sonoman roasting rack is gone. Also missing is a cookie cooling rack. Presumably they are somewhere hiding out together.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'm still cooking away here--we are doing our big family dinner on Friday. Today was dinner with friends of my parents. Good company, good food. Can't beat that!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mounds Cake

We had a potluck at work today, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use my coworkers as guinea pigs for a new recipe. I found this recipe in Penzey's ONE magazine. It made me realize that I don't often make cakes completely from scratch. I usually do a doctored cake mix (such as Midori Cake--using the melon liquior). Anyhow, I digress.

This was made with a rich chocolate base. The batter was light and fluffy and somewhat thick.

While that is baking, you make the coconut filling of marshmallows, milk, sugar, and a bag of coconut. You cook until the marshmallows are melted. THis is poured over the warm cake.

Finally, the frosting is simply more butter, sugar, milk, and a bag of chocolate chips.

It really did taste like a Mounds! It got good reviews at school, though there was a small bit left. It calls for 9x13, but all I had was an 11x7. I would like it better in a 9x13, as it was a bit too deep for my tastes, but otherwise this recipe is a keeper.

I got a picture of the last pieces--so you can see the yummy coconut layer. I'll try and post later. I'll also be back to post the recipe.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Holidays are coming!

A girl friend came over today and we got busy doing some holiday candy making.
Clockwise from top--
Cocoa Tassies with Peppermint Creme Filling--with a better picture at Culinary in the Dessert, Chocolate Chai Spice Snickerdoodles, Mixed Nut Spiced Toffee, and Creamy Fudge.
Mixed Nut Spiced Toffee, with recipes for both at the bottom of this entry.

I wanted to try the mint tassies to compare them to the Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies I made last year. I like the sandwich cookies better. This are good, but a little too gooey. Joe's (from the blog linked to above) looked much better. If I had a piping bag, I don't think they would have held their shape. Good and nice presentation, but not one I'll repeat.

The Chai Spice cookies are yum! I made them bigger this time--thus the irregular shape as the spread out and ran into each other on the cookie sheet. Maybe that was because they were the last thing we made and we were ready to be done!

The toffee and fudge are old standbys. It wouldn't be the holidays without them!

There was one more item I attempted to make--they are called Gold Nugget Bars. I cooked the 'cake' part for 5 minutes longer than it called for and it was looking as if it was done. Turns out it wasn't and when I went to get it out of the pan, it fell apart. I'm going to try them again this week. It involves a light yellowish bar being rolled in a powdered sugar/milk glaze, and then rolled in peanuts. You then drizzle it with melted chocolate and peanut butter chips. I also hope to make some gingerbread cookies for the freezer soon.

Until next time...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Funny

Conversation w/ a parent of a student today:

Parent: They make these vibrators that he likes; his outside therapist uses it with him.
Me: (thinking, do not look at TA or else you'll burst out laughing. Not that my mind is in the gutter or anything.)
Parent: Oh, that didn't sound so good (looks around).
Me and TAs: Burst out laughing, along with parent.
Parent: He likes it around his mouth.
Us: More laughter.
Parent: SOme of them even have smiley faces on them.
TA: Wow, that's even better!
Me: More laughter.

Thankfully, the parent was laughing with us. Not the kind of conversation you'd expect to find in front of a school. We all got a kick out of it.
You probably had to be there. :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chai Spiced Chocolate Cookies

ETA: 12/13/2008--I got 52 out of the recipe this time.

Oh my goodness, these cookies are WONDERFUL! I found the recipe on the CL Bulletin board when I was looking for a recipe for a healthy apple muffin. Go figure.

My notes: I made closer to 5 1/2 dozen out of this, so mine were a little on the small side. The sugar mixture that your roll the cookie in would be good with some cocoa and milk for a chai spice hot cocoa. My camera is at school, or else I'd share pictures.

2 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup butter -- softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

In a large mixer bowl, combine sugar and spices; reserve 1/2 cup of mixture in shallow bowl. Add cocoa powder to mixer bowl; stir to blend. Add butter; beat at medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat at low speed until fluffy. Stir in flour and baking powder until combined.

Shape 1 tablespoon of dough into ball; roll in reserved sugar-spice mixture. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, placing balls 2 inches apart. Bake in 350 F oven until edges are firm, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

"Dierberg's Everybody Cooks, September 2006"
"42 cookies"

Finally...a Balanced Meal and a Bottle of Wine

Stopped by the liquor store today and got a corkscrew! I tried a new wine last week--A Cabernet from Bulgaria called Veni Vidi Vici (I Came, I Saw, I Conquered) and the Vineyard is Vini. I had several glasses at a get together and really liked it. At $8/bottle, this is a quality wine at a bargain price.

I'm finally getting back on the cooking track. Last night, I made pork potstickers from a tried and true Epicurious recipe. I deviated from the recipe a bit, but the basics are the same. I love making a batch of these (it only takes about an hour including assembly--maybe a little less) and freezing them. I pan fry them in a little bit of sesame oil until partly thawed and brown on bottom, then add chicken broth (@1/4 cup) and put the lid on. I cook them until the broth has evaporated. I then eat them over rice, or in chicken broth for a quick and easy wonton soup. Last night, I ladled chicken broth over brown rice and added 4 dumplings. Heaven!

Tonight was just a pork chop and veggies--nothing fancy, no recipe, but rib sticking good! Tomorrow will be a pork stir fry.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bits and pieces

4 big nuts and bolts

4 medium nuts and bolts

12 shelf pins

Wine opener

The above are among things I haven't found again since I moved. The first goes to my dining table. No biggie, my dad just measured and bought some more.
The 2nd are to attach my the rails to the headboard on my guest bed. I bought replacements.
The 3rd are to a shelf I have in my office. I found some that work at the local hardware store. No biggie. I'm sure they'll turn up sometime, perhaps when I move again?

Now the last. Dammit! I was ready to have a nice, relaxing bottle, oops I mean glass, of wine along with a relaxing bubble bath and a good book. Lo and behold, my opener is nowhere to be seen. Same for the little cheapo ones that you get in liquor stores. They are gone. I'm ticked. I liked that opener. I think it once belonged to an ex-boyfriend. It's irreplaceable.

So, I guess I'm going to go have a snakebite--Guinness and cider. Not the same, but it will do. Cheers.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ever wonder?

What happens when you roast beef jerky over an open fire? It gets even tougher. But, if you dip it in beer periodically as you roast, it's not bad. Of course, if you've been drinking a bit as you do this, it's much better. :)

Also, what happens when you put whole pumpkins on a fire? Nothing really. They don't explode. You don't get instant roasted pumpkin seeds. But you will get cold once the fire burns out.

Just in case anyone was wondering. Ya know.
Oh, the girls were in town a couple weeks ago. We had fun. They are in Cancun now, along w/ a friend of mine from Dallas. No fair. Think about it--they are in Cancun and I'm learning what happens when you put a giant pumpkin on a fire or you roast beef jerky. Which would you rather do?

We froze our tails off at the OU/Colorado game. It was the first in 3 OU/CU games I've attended where OU won! At least I'm not the bad luck charm. :)
Getting ready for a night on the town. OK, so we went to one of my old haunts (In Cahoots, though now it is Club Rodeo) to do some country dancing. It sucked. Not the company, but the club. It's changed for the worse, or maybe I'm just getting old?

We at least had some kickin' boots to wear out. I think we had to have the best looking boots in the place. Mine is on the right. The big one. They were my early Christmas present to myself.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Election Time

I hate elections. I hate having crap shoved down my throat about a person's opposition. Wouldn't it be much nicer if people running could focus on what they are going to do to make a difference, and let us inform our own opinions about the opposition without all of the mud-slinging?

To that note, I had out of state company here a few weeks ago. One did comment on an ad for the current governor, Brady Henry. She said it was a nice ad, focusing on him rather than his opponent. If only they were all that way.

Anyhow, I'm still registered to vote in TX. I missed the deadline to register here because I was working late. I intended to go in that day, but got engrossed in what I was doing and before I knew it, it was 6:00 pm. Who says teachers don't work long hours? So, I'll be watching the returns Tuesday night, but know that without voting myself, I have no right to bitch! Fortunately, I think the incumbent for governor will win and he would have had my vote.

The Evolution of . . . Me

13 years ago, I thought I wanted to grow up and work at a computer crunching numbers, with little or no people interaction. I was a math nerd. Still am in many ways. While I realized that that wasn't what I wanted to do after all, I still harbor some of those same personality traits that you'd imagine a math nerd having. I'm somewhat shy (my opinion), introverted. I'm non-confrontational to a fault. I don't have the best people skills, but that's not true across the board. I am generally good with the parents of my students. Anyhow, lately I still have times where I wonder if I got it right yet. I love working with the kids I do; while I could never have the patience to work with 'typical' children, I can be the most patient person you've ever met when working with children with exceptionalities. I still wonder if I'm the best person for the job. Is it normal to have these periods of self-doubt?

When I try and picture what I'd be doing if I weren't doing this, I definitely do not picture myself in my old world of banking/finance. That much I know. I can't picture myself in administration--again, those people skills aren't a strong point! I think more and more the answer is another degree, the initials PhD after my name, and a career as a consultant/professor. That makes sense. I just don't know if I have what it takes to get from here to there.

When I look at what got me from where I was to where I am, I'm continually amazed at the answer. Because of one child, my nephew Dakota, I realized I wanted to work with children with exceptionalities day-in day-out. One person changed the course of my life. There have been others along the way, of course, but none with the impact he had. I remember getting the phone call telling me he'd been born. I was hoping for a girl--he was my 4th nephew. I remember taking the phone call in my office of employment at OSU--9/11/97. I had a moment of disappointment when mom said it was a boy. Then she told me that he was med-flighted to OKC because of problems and my heart sank. I went to the bathroom and locked myself inside a stall and cried because this child I didn't yet know was not well. Little did I know then that it was the first of many tears I would cry over this precious child. But without him, without all those tears, would I have found my way thus far?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

School Days...and a picture

Here is our chili cook-off picture. Woohoo! 1st place won $100 and 2nd was $75. We are both donating the money back to Santa's Workshop in memory of a long time friend of dad's who recently passed away.

I just finished spending $1,500 last night. It was more difficult than I imagined it would be! I got to buy things for my classroom, courtesy of the district. My classroom is HUGE and there is a ton of stuff in there, but it's mostly a potpourri of hand me downs (so it seems). Some is not appropriate for 3-5 year olds. Some is not appropriate because it's so old and worn out! So, I'm looking forward to reaping the benefits of this little spending spree. From what I hear, the opportunity won't likely happen again in my time!

That being said, I've been thinking a lot about the discrepancy in the school district I am in vs. the one I came from. It's actually more of a state to state thing, though I was in a 'tax rich' district in Texas (Plano). I'm in an old building. I just had original pipes replaced in my room today-lots and lots of rust. Our school is about 40 years old? I don't think it's ever been updated. My former school is 26 is was updated around year 24 and feels brand new. It took me 9 weeks to get a ballast replaced (hence, part of my room was dark) at my new school. My student computers are still running on Windows 95. Granted, I did have some old Macs at my former school, but they had some great software for the level of students I teach. My room smells like funk most of the time. It's just sad. Then I think further back to my days in the banking world. We had art (photography) in our bank that had about a quarter million dollar price tag. It was beautiful to look at, but I think of what that $$ could do for a school! Wow.

OK, so it's not all that bad. We have a wonderful and active PTA who are very supportive. Our principal takes the time to listen and is a strong leader. We have some very caring, giving staff. We even have OU athletes give time out of their already busy days to come volunteer with our students. Of course, the most important reason I am there is for the kids. I'm up to 14 now. Some still try my every day. Some have families that don't hear enough positive about their kids. Some amaze me with the little glimpses they show me every now and then. And all of them now have a little piece of my heart. Poor district or not, high paying job or not, I'm right where I need to be.

Now, does anyone have a working computer they'd like to donate? Need a tax deduction? Have some old dolls that you want to get rid of? Old dress up clothes? I know where you can send them!