Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pear Custard

If you haven't recommended a book for Jake, please do so on the previous post. If he's going to sit at home while I slave away at the high school (ha!), at least help him be less bored.

I made a delicious pear custard a few weeks ago, and I may make it again tonight with a modification. It comes from my favorite cookbook, Great Food Fast by Everyday Food (p. 256, in case you have it handy).

Pear Custard Pie
1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pie dish (you can also use cooking spray for the "plus more")
3 ripe but firm Comice or Bartlett pears (I used Bosc, and they worked just fine), peeled, halved, and cored
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 c. milk
1/4 t. salt
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350, and butter or spray a 9-inch pie dish. Slice the pears 1/4 inch thick lengthwise. Arrange the slices, overlapping slightly, in the dish.

In a blender, process the melted butter, granulated sugar, flour, vanilla, eggs, milk, and salt until smooth.

Pour the batter over the pears; bake until golden and firm to the touch, 40-45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature (warm is better, and it microwaves just fine to reheat), dusted with powdered sugar.

MODIFICATION: During the last 5 minutes or so, generously sprinkle cinnamon sugar over custard. This adds some flavor and will make the top just a little crunchy. Enjoy!

Friday, November 27, 2009


I'm going to have about 10 days free in the middle of December and I'll probably spend most of that time reading. Right now I'm not exactly sure what I'll read, but I need to reserve them about now at the library. I'll probably just see what's selling well on Amazon. There definitely will be one or two economics books. I read mostly non-fiction, but I'm considering Battlefield Earth as well....

What do you recommend?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


A few weeks ago, I got a delicious surprise in the mail. It had been over a year since I was told I would receive it. It was this:

I'm sure you've realized by now that I'm a total sucker for nearly everything Orson Scott Card has written, and while he didn't write this book, I still own it. I did not purchase it, however, because I'M TOTALLY IN IT and got it for free!!!

That's right, I'm sort of published. While I was teaching at Riverton, OSC had a place on his website where people could tell about their experiences with the Ender's Game series. I immediately thought about my recent experience teaching the book to my seniors. In a few paragraphs, I described how my classes changed and how much fun we had reading a book they could actually enjoy. Weeks later, I received an email from OSC's agent asking for my address so they could send me a copy of the book when it was released.

Fast forward: I moved to Chicago and had been living here for over a year when I finally got my book. In all this time, I wasn't sure if my story would be in it. I'm sure there were far too many entries to go into the book and never knew what exactly the deal was. But I came home one day and found a package on the stairs with my name on it and Orson Scott Card as the sender (thrills!). I tore open the box, glanced at the table of contents, and flipped open to the last section, titled "Friends of Ender." There, on the second page of the section (pg. 394, if you want a peek), the third story began. And at the end of it was my name.

I never imagined seeing my name in print would be so exciting. I enjoy blogging, but it's pretty vain. I know I'll probably never write a book (although that book of horror stories from dating in Southern Utah has been writing itself in my head for years), and I'll certainly never get published for real. But it's nice to know that someone thought my little story was not only worth reading but also worth sharing with others.

Here is the link to my review on

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Saved by the Hale

I had an awful, I mean AWFUL, 3rd period today. Kids were constantly talking, more pictures of an obscene nature on my sign-in sheet (I may need to change the procedure for this period), kids talking back to me, refusing to do any work. In short, a mess. During 4th, one of my free periods, I went into the staff lounge nearly in tears with exhaustion and frustration. I managed to pull myself together and channel Abigail Adams's toughness. I sat down to continue reading Forest Born, the fourth book in Shannon Hale's Books of Bayern series. I read through the climax and was just beginning the denoument when I stumbled upon this gem:

"[Not marrying was] no loss, she thought to herself. One time her brother Sten imitated the sound of a squirrel emitting gas, and all six brothers had laughed to tears. Honestly--to tears. It made Rin wonder about the sanity of her brothers' wives, since they chose such boys as mates."

I laughed out loud. It made my day. And now I have only two and a half periods to go (plus 30 minutes of detention to preside over) before I can pick up the next disc of The Office from Blockbuster and my Queen Victoria biography from the library. Thanks Shannon Hale for making my awful day so much better.

PS: The rest of the book was lovely. Of the four Bayern books, this one had the protagonist with whom I identified most. Go check it out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Random Thoughts

  • Leggings ≠ pants
  • Schools require a parental consent form for students to receive a flu vaccine, but not to receive an abortion.
  • Why do teenage boys have an obsession with drawing their own privates on any surface they find, including my sign-in sheet?
  • Gold pleather leggings ≠ pants (really!)
  • Being back in a high school tends to bring back my own insecurities as a student. Why do I care if they think it's weird I crochet or that my clothes aren't cool? Shouldn't I be past that?
  • Of course I would rather be loved than feared. When that is not an option, I would much rather be feared than mocked.

On the book list

Superfreakonomics is on my to-read list, but I noticed an article here in Chicago that specifically attacked it.

If you read the book, then you know in the first book the authors go after Chicago school teachers and proved that they cheat by filling out the right answers on pupil's exams. It seems the authors came back to Chicago to explain a bit more corruption. The authors assert that "a prostitute in Chicago is more likely to have sex with a cop than be arrested by one."

Here is the Chicago Sun Times' article with testimonials for and against.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In Soccer News...

Just in case you missed the semi-finals like me (Thanks Caleb!):

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Today's bad movie is...

The Proposal. I think I need to rinse out my brain... with an episode of John Adams.

Curses to all those who told us The Proposal was a good movie. May the god of bird droppings look down you. That includes the entire 43% at rottentomatoes. At least Knowing gave us something to make fun of.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Incentives incentives incentives...

Econlog has been on a roll lately. The following is from CATO via Kling.

Basically, if you participated in every welfare program for which you are eligible, you're better off making $15K/year than $38K/year. Economists usually call this the welfare or poverty trap. If you work more and make up to another $20K/year, you'll be worse off, so you choose to not make any additional money to reach the point where you would actually be better off by working and making more. This is why most economists would prefer to give cash rather than other forms of handouts.

Figure 1

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Senior Moment

I was sitting in the Kellogg computer lab waiting for Ashley to finish tutoring, when I glanced at the clock and realized that I was going to be late picking her up. I ran out into the parking lot and ran to the car. I pushed my key into the lock and for some reason it was a little bit difficult to turn, but it still opened. I jumped into the car and looked at the passenger seat and asked myself, "What happened to our SpongeBob seat covers?" ... ... I was in the wrong car. My key unlocked an identical car. My car was another row down.

This story has two morals. First, all keys are not unique. Second, get SpongeBob seat covers when you're old and having real senior moments.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Why can't I have a classroom full of kids like me? My life would be so much easier. But probably much less exciting.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Today was much better than yesterday, but mostly for the fact that on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have far fewer students.

After reflection, I realize that much of the problem is that I am not really a teacher. And what I mean by that is that the only interaction I have with my students (the other study hall "teachers" also operate like this) is to get after them when they aren't on task or to sign them out when they have a pass to go to another area of the school, such as the math study center. There are no grades. I feel like I have only negative consequences at my disposal. For all but one of my classes, I share the large study hall room with another teacher, so in politeness to them and their students I can't have long explanations or start new programs. The only power I hold is my stack of referral slips, and maybe a phone call home. But so many parents would brush me off. I called very few parents as a real teacher; I'm even more reticent to call parents as a fake one.

I will be moving some students and probably roping off certain areas, like the back corner. I've often said that I don't have the energy or the inclination to be one of those teachers they make movies about, and this has definitely not changed my attitude. I recognize the need for such teachers, especially when I hear stories of what goes on in these kids' homes, but I'm not ready to take on that kind of responsibility.

I know much of this is kids trying to test my limits. I'm the new teacher, the fresh meat, and they need to figure out what behavior pushes my buttons. (By the way, those behaviors include but are not limited to refusal to respond, laughing when I'm serious, and outright defiance.) I'm trying to stay chill but firm, like a good Jello salad, but with some classes and students am failing miserably. I don't want these first two weeks to be a precursor of what the rest of the year will be like.

Monday, November 2, 2009

To All You Educators

What do you do with a kid for whom there are no deterrents?

Move to a new seat: *"I won't move. This is my assigned seat." It's not your assigned seat. You need to move. "Not gonna move. You can't make me."

Detention: "I'm not going to serve them." So then you won't graduate. "I'll go to another school."

Calling safety officers: "Been there, done that."

I don't give grades, so I can't take away points.

And this room is freezing. Grr. Any advice would be appreciated.

*Direct quotes from today's class.