Thursday, July 7, 2011

"I love you too, baby girl!"

No, I'm not on a writing frenzy this week. Sorry to get your hopes up, but I wanted to add some pictures of food (as always) and the Rachel Carson trail challenge (as requested).

I don't have a bus story for you, but I do have a walk-story with similar characters. As always, there is a young (yet emanating maturity) blonde and a more-than-interesting man. When we come upon the man, he is pulling a messenger bag out of a bush (?) and calling out "baby girl! baby girl!" Seeing as there is no one else on the street outside of a car, I respond with a hello.
"Guess what, baby girl?" He says. "I forgot my bag!"
"I'm glad you remembered it then."
"Can I tell you something?" (He is walking furiously about 5 paces behind me to catch up.) "How old are you?"
"You're not supposed to ask a lady her age!" says I, ever the lady. (Did he hear me humming VeggieTales? See me skip over the curb?) But at this point, I have to turn, and he, it seems, caught on too late, so he still has to walk straight.
I give a slight nod of the head. "Well, have a good day!"
"Thanks, baby girl. I love you too."
At this, our blonde cocks her head to the side and her eyebrows (look at her face!) show that she is confused.

I used my cast-iron skillet (still love it!) to make a vegetable tarte tatin. It's a good summer vegetarian main dish (read: not super filling) but could also be a good appetizer. (Recipe easily adaptable from "The Cast-iron skillet cookbook.") It takes a little work (some refrigerating and rolling of the crust, but the cast-iron skillet makes it worth it.)

For the crust:
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
6 T chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 T chilled vegetable shortening
5 T ice-cold water

Mix the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse in the processor until the mixture has the consistency of small peas. Add the water, 1 T at a time and pulse quickly just until the dough sticks together and can be formed into a ball. Do not knead the dough. Form it into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

To prepare the filling... take lots of root vegetables. Carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, new potatoes, yellow onions, for example.  And chop them all. (Bigger pieces are better, especially for the onions. You might even trim the root end but leave it intact.

If the veggies take different cook times (onions are quicker to soften than a lot of the other named vegetables), cook the other vegetables beforehand, and then add with the onions to a large bowl.
2 T olive oil
1 t chopped, fresh rosemary/ 1 t fresh thyme (or 2 t fresh herbs, any kind you like)
1/4 t nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
Stir until everything is thoroughly coated.

Scatter tiny pieces of 1/4 c butter in the cast-iron skillet. Place over low heat until the butter melts. Stir in 1 t Pernod, if you know what that is (ignore it or add 1 T white wine if you don't) and 2 t sugar. Add the vegetables to the pan, but do not stir them! Move them to fill in any empty gaps and occasionally press down while they brown and caramelize (about 5 minutes), but letting them sit brings the caramelized goodness. Remove from heat.

Roll out the pastry dough into a 10-12 inch circle (approximately a little larger than the size of your skillet. Lay the dough on top of the vegetables and tuck in excess dough around the edges... or eat it. Let's be honest. Melt a little more butter (or use a whisked egg white and 1 T water) and lightly brush the top of the crust. Make four 1 inch cuts in the top to vent steam.

Place the skillet in the over and bake for 20-25 minutes at 400. (No preheat warning - remember who is giving you the insructions!)

Place a large plate upside down on top of the skillet. Protecting both hands with oven mitts (important step), grasp the skillet and the plate firmly, flip over and invert the tart onto the plate. Slice into wedges and serve.
And some pictures from the Rachel Carson trail challenge that I did with some friends a couple weekends ago. You can't really see the mountains, but they were most certainly there.

Friday, July 1, 2011

summer time!

In the near future, the current daily refrains of "It's too loud!", "There's already two friends here!", and "I don't like it when you push me into the wall and put soap on my hair" will be replaced by "When am I ever going to use this?"

That's right. I accepted a teaching position at an inner-city Christian high school in Grand Rapids (see:'ll be teaching math: although I haven't seen an official schedule, I was told that I would have two sections of Algebra II, one of Pre-calculus, a geometry section (which, in future years, will turn into a section of AP Calculus), and then a math help period for some Algebra II students. I couldn't be more excited!
Well, I probably could be, if I was told that I could wear sweat pants every day... or also get paid to swim and run... or thought that 100 percent of my students would absolutely love me as a teacher. Aside from those thoughts, I probably couldn't be more excited.

The math teacher who is leaving shared all of her lesson planning documents with me, along with a majority of small classroom expenses that really add up (notebook paper, pens, post-its, etc.) - that will be really helpful. I am deciding how I want to decorate the classroom and make it my own at the moment. I am thinking about some applications of math (e.g. blueprints of buildings, charts about water pressure for scuba divers, graphs in the news, etc.) If you have anything that I could put up on the wall or as a background to a bulletin board, I'm happy to take it off of your hands. Other things that will help me stay organized would be empty coffee cans or binders. Once I learn more about students and get into class, I will try to put up some projects on, but I'll wait until I can learn my students' interests to get some project ideas.

In recipe news, I made this Vegetable and Chickpea curry the other day (but not in a crockpot, so the flavors might not have been as enmeshed). And we received a bunch (literally, a number of bunches) of green onions in our CSA this week, so I made some green onion pesto with it. A different taste than a normal pesto, but I liked the little tastes that I had!