Friday, October 15, 2010

Time to Re-Group

Sooo, it was the end of the quarter at my high school last week, and even after nearly twenty-five years, it almost did me in. If teachers, English teachers, at least, are honest, they will admit that they cannot possibly accomplish half of what's expected of them by administrators, most of the time. Strike that, most administrators don't care much about actual education, so the real problem is that teachers with a conscience, who want to truly educate their students, have to balance real teaching with fulfilling often mindless, time-consuming, state requirements. Most of time, I do pretty well with keeping my sanity, but this week, I didn't. I took today off, and I feel much better. When I was a little kid, I loved Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes." I keep expecting someone with authority to say about the current educational testing culture, ".. they have nothing on at all," but that will never happen because the "tailors" out there in education-land are making a fortune pretending that they're weaving cloth when they're actually full of crap.

On a happy note, it looks like our doggie may make it after all. You can see in the picture how his legs were shaven for his I.V.s.  His eyes are still bloodshot, but he's himself otherwise: lazy, ornery, and hungry much of the time. I really did appreciate the good thoughts that so many of my blogging buddies sent my way when I was so worried about him.

I've been working elegant empire sweater intermittently in the past couple of weeks, and I've felt a little apprehensive as I've come closer to finishing the second side. There was just something about the left side that didn't seem right. I figured out why I was feeling that this afternoon. Finishing the right side, I tried to match up the two sides of the back, and I realized that they don't match up. I'm off by at least ten stitches. I don't know what I did, but there's some unraveling in my future. Ravelry knitters rate this as an easy sweater, but I guess I'm just not careful enough. Oh well, when "knitting failure" happens, I look for quick success--a bunny. I called my last bunny a little amateurish, but I'd be falsely modest if I said that about this one. I love it. I used Julie's head pattern from her little Easter bunnies egg cozies, but I used Barbara Prime's  bunny pattern for the body and legs, with a few of my own alterations. This is the most satisfied that I've been with any of my bunnies. Now, I guess I better get to unraveling.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Back to School--Cooking School, That is

I got up at 6:30 this morning, a Saturday, and drove an hour to Bakersfield College. That's quite an accomplishment for someone who hates starting her Saturday's too early. I'm going to take pastry classes at the Levan Center at B.C. for six weeks. Bakersfield College offers a degree in cooking, but our class is more for people who are interested in enrichment. A friend of mine, who loves cooking like I do, is taking the class with me, and we had a fun time. All six sessions are just $130. My cooking friends and I have spent $80 for one session several times in Los Angeles. After our orientation, we made some "Peanut Butter 'n Jelly Thumbprint" cookies. I would categorize myself as a pretty good cookie baker, but today I learned how much I had to learn. First of all, "Chef Ray" reinforced something that I already knew, that your ingredients should all be at room temperature. Secondly, he taught us another thing I also kind of knew, that when you add your flour mixture to your wet ingredients that you should just barely mix them together.  As I say, I knew these things, but I have rarely adhered to them. I think I will try to from now on because these were some of the best cookies I've ever baked. I learned some other neat stuff, but I'll share the recipe instead of rambling on too long.

Peanut Butter 'n Jelly Thumbprints

3/4 cup Chunky homey-roasted peanut butter, divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup jam or jelly
1 egg

1. In a large bowl, comgine 1/2 cup peanut butter, the sugars, butter, and egg. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat at low speed until soft dough forms. cover with plastic wrap. chill 3 to 4 hours, or until firm. (We didn't chill our dough, and our cookies were perfect.)

2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Shape dough in 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Indent top of each cookie with thumb. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until set.

3. Immediately indent cookies again. Spoon 1/2 tsp. each of jelly and remaining peanut butter into each thumbprint. Cool completely before storing

I still have not knitting to show off. I've been working on my elegant empire pretty steadily, and continue to make no progress, as I am still unraveling mistakes. I'm not discouraged really, but it has put me in the mood for some instant gratification. I made this little pumpkin ornament from Prairie Point Junction this afternoon. I'm planning to make six or seven of them and hang them from our mantle this month.