Teaching and Tasties

Delicious eats and daring, death-defying teaching feats

Back to School August 27, 2008

Filed under: School — tlsussman @ 1:12 am

Well, tomorrow it’s official!  Back to school I go.  I think I am excited, but like every other first year, I am SO nervous.  After two days of professional development, I still don’t think I’m ready.  Of course, it doesn’t help that the computer lab will be absolutely, completely booked for three weeks for MAPs testing.  Gotta love the state and its’ testing.  Really.  So…I have to figure out what to do about my most amazing wiki project ever…OK…maybe not most amazing, but I was really excited about it.  I think that I can find a way to work it out, but, as always, a pain in the butt.

I had a bit of a spat with the French teacher, as she thought the fact that I was giving “Welcome Back Sacks” to my 6th graders would be divisive within our department and would cause trouble in the school.  Whatever.  I’m pretty sure she is just a bit crazy.  Once I explained everything, all was well.  Too bad she is almost 50 and still acts like she’s 12.

Since I don’t have a classroom this year, I have a great cart with all sorts of drawers and such.  I am not excited about not having a classroom, but my cart is pretty rockin’.  If nothing else, I will make the best of it and see where that gets me.  Between travelling to our elementary schools to teach and roaming the school on a cart, I am on my way to a great year.  If this was a high school, I think I would be more understanding…but in a middle school?  And I’m the only one!!!

Well, here’s to the start of the new year!


Beading Extravaganza August 21, 2008

Filed under: Random — tlsussman @ 9:48 pm

In my attempts to make up for wasted time this summer, I have spent the past few days beading.  It has become an extravaganza – I think I made 5-10 pieces!  The first few I made looked like I had never beaded before.  Although I am no expert, they were boring and simple.  My mom said, “You are more creative than that!”.  So in my attempts to impress her, I spent a few hours at Ayla’s buying and creating.  It is nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and ensure that what I am attempting is not totally crazy.  They also have a huge selection of interesting beads.

Today, I was once again bit by the beading bug and created three new necklaces.

I found the bead in a vintage store in St. Louis and never really knew what to do with it.  It was so unique that I didn’t want to create something boring.  I thought, for a change of pace, it would be cool it the focus of the piece was not in the middle but to the side.  Not only that, but it clasps at the bead, rather than in the back.

My dad recently took a trip to Thailand and returned with this jade elephant on a black chord.  Somehow I ended up with two (one of which must belong to my sister) and so I decided to jazz it up a bit.  I tried to find beads that looked Thai (if that is possible), so the silver is Thai silver and the others are just pretty 🙂

I also found this pendant in the vintage store.  I think it was actually to hold a scarf in place or something like that.  It’s got this great mother of pearl on the front that shines in so many colors.  I love these beads, because the black beads actually have purple sparkles that really shine with this pendant and the green pears make it all look softer.

I always forget how much I enjoy creating these things and how proud I am when I finish.  Although it isn’t anything fancy, I am pretty impressed with myself.  As much as I like them, I know I will never wear them all.  I think I would actually like to try and sell them at some point, but who would even buy them?  Maybe I will save them as gifts.  Oh well!  I’ll just keep making ’em and see what happens!!


Eight Ball in the Corner Pocket August 18, 2008

Filed under: Food — tlsussman @ 9:03 pm

On today’s grocery shopping adventure, I came across some good looking squash…or zucchini…or both!  I found eight ball zucchini squash.  They are totally cute and perfect for stuffing!  I am so excited to find another vegetable to stuff…it somehow makes eating a whole lot easier.  These could be great for a side dish (the smaller ones) or an entrée depending on what you stuff them with.

Aren't they cute?!?

Aren't they cute?

So I didn’t really know where to go with this, so I made it simple:

Cut the squash in half around its belly and scoop out the center with a spoon – leave about a quarter inch around. Your spoon should naturally find its way around the center.  Boil enough salted water to cover and parboil for two minutes.  Remove from water and place in a pyrex or another oven-safe dish.  Dice the squash inside, along with onions (I used shallots), garlic and anything else you like.  I toasted some pinenuts and cut up sundried tomato for some extra flavor.  Pumpkin or butternut squash would be delish to add some flavor.  Sautee the onion and squash (and any other veggies you decided to add).  Once mostly cooked, turn off stove and add in pinenuts and tomato.  Mix and then fill each half of the squash cups with the mixture.  If you aren’t a lactard, add some parmasean or other hard cheese.  Bake at 375° for 10-15 minutes until warm and the squash is just a bit soft.  Enjoy!

These are so cute and I think they could be used for all sorts of goodies.  They would make great bowls for appetizers like a small quinoa salad or a melange of grilled veggies.  Try using them as bowls for a thick soup – pumpkin soup or lentil soup would be amazing inside!  A wonderful opportunity for creativity!!!


On another note…I found this really cool website, the Cook’s Thesaurus, that talks about all sorts of fruits and veggies AND tells you how to make substitute sugars and other cool things.  Check it out!!!


21st Century Learners August 16, 2008

Filed under: School — tlsussman @ 2:43 pm

A friend of mine recently finished her professional development days for the start of school and was totally inspired by the things her principal and superintendent talked about: 21st century learners, teaching our students to think and not just take tests and more. I can appreciate all of these sentiments and know that the more we teach our students to think the better off we are. She sent me a link to an interesting youtube video

I can appreciate the desire for kids to use technology as much as possible. However, I don’t think we should lose the value of paper and pencil. What is the good of having students write on the web if they don’t know vocabulary or sentence structure? There is certainly value to creating videos and podcasts, but the basic fundamentals need to exist. Kids need to be reading literature and not just blogs, they need to learn how to compose a letter and not just an e-mail. I am all for technology (I wiki, blog, use facebook, etc), but our students need other skills as well. They complain of not being engaged, but I believe some of that comes from the fact that they expect everything to be glam and glitz. That isn’t necessary and it isn’t good. Their lives are (hopefully) not going to be constantly and always filled with technology.

This is not to say that technology is not important, but there has to be a balance. Without a balance, I think we actually do a disservice to our students as we tell them that technology is the world. I know that tech plays a huge part in our lives, but there is definitely more to life than tech.

The other issue is with the time to educate and create using technology. As with anything else, it takes time and resources to integrate these things into the classroom. While many kids know how to use technology, many teachers do not. There is not only time and money to teach teachers, but I have found that most kids have a very limited skill set when it comes to technology. While they think they know how to make a PowerPoint, they really know how to make a pretty background and add cool effects. In order to start a new technology project, the teacher needs at least one class period to teach how to use the program and then has to closely monitor to ensure that students are concentrating on content instead of colors and images. While all these things ARE important skills, it often takes so much time to teach the skill that it is frustrating and feels that we are losing important teaching time.

Do the kids remember these skills afterwards? Do they take the time to read the handout that details step-by-step instructions on how to use the new tool? Kids are so dependent on others that they are unwilling to explore and try without asking for help.

I don’t plan to stop using technology, but perhaps I need a better way to teach the skills and keep the kids using them. If I want my kids to use the wiki all the time, I have to constantly come up with ideas. Using moodle? It has to be updated all the time, along with my school webpage that is required by the administration, the report cards and progress reports, etc. When do teachers find the time to be technologically advanced and encourage 21st century learning among all the grading and lesson planning?



Filed under: Food — tlsussman @ 2:10 pm

I woke up this morning, sick of the normal breakfast foods. No more gluten-free cereal, no more smoothies. Breads by Anna to the rescue. I made a delicious pumpkin bread that cooked up in just an hour. It is incredible.

mmm...pumpkin bread!

mmm...pumpkin bread!

I was thinking up all sorts of yummy things to put on it. Peanut butter and jelly was my first choice, but it seems a bit too sweet. I don’t have any apple butter, but I bet that would be good too. Of course, pumpkin bread on its own is delish too.

I also made chocolate chip banana nut muffins. The recipe came from the back of the Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes box. It’s not a bad recipe, but a little tasteless. The chocolate chips help, but maybe an extra banana would be good. Here is the recip:

1/2 cup Quinoa Flour

1/2 cup Quinoa Flour

2 Tbsp Agave (substituted for honey)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 ripe bananas

2 eggs (I used egg replacer)

Preheat the oven to 400. Mix all dry ingredients. In a separate bow mix together the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until blended. Pour into greased muffin tins and bake for 20-25 min.

The agave is not as sweet as the honey, so it could probably use some extra. They are great in the morning since they have some extra protein, but it is also a little dry. Some applesauce may help also! They didn’t come out very pretty, but they are quite good.

Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Muffins

Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Muffins

Good for a quick snack, which I am always looking for, or a quick bit in the morning. I made mine mini so I feel like I am eating more.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Pie August 14, 2008

Filed under: Food — tlsussman @ 2:21 pm

So I had a request for the recipe for a chocolate peanut butter pudding pie I made…so here it goes! Keep in mind this is as allergy free (minus the peanut thing) as I could get!

Starting with the crust, you have a lot of options. I chose the non-homemade way with a pie crust mix by Breads by Anna (http://www.glutenevolution.com/products.html#glutenfree)

There are all sorts of great breads that are gluten, yeast, corn, dairy, soy, nut and rice free – a godsend for a person like me. Her breads are moist and easy!

I made the pie crust and placed it in the pie plate. I baked it at 375° until the crust was golden brown.

Next step – peanut butter!!! I used an all natural peanut butter, but any would work. You can either microwave it to make it more liquid, or simply spoon it into the warm pie crust and let it melt. I prefer the latter, as it is a bit more natural.

While the peanut butter is melting, make the chocolate pudding (originally from http://www.goneraw.com).

Easy Chocolate Pudding

1 avocado
2 tbsp cacao (carob) powder
6 dates, pitted
water to keep everything moving in the blender

Put 1/4 cup water blender. Add avacado & blend slowly until creamy. Blend in cacao powder & dates (adding extra water as needed). Add more dates if needed to adjust sweetness. Blend until smooth & creamy.

    While the recipe was good, I doctored it a bit. It tasted too much like avocado, so I added more carob powder. I read other recipes with young coconut meat, which may work as well.

    Smooth the peanut butter in a layer over the pie crust. Spread chocolate pudding on top. Freeze and serve!!!


    Techie Camp Day 2 August 13, 2008

    Filed under: School — tlsussman @ 7:28 pm

    After 12 hours of techie information, I think that my brain is fried. Despite that fact, I am gaining momentum to start the school year and to do some really cool projects. Today we talked about wikis – just like wikipedia. This is a great tool to get kids communicating with others in the school, teachers and peers from around the world. Unlike a blog, a wiki is less of a journal and more like creating a book. Everyone can add information and their ideas. While I thought about using a blog to keep in contact with a friend in North Carolina, perhaps a wiki would be better. Instead of writing “letters” back and forth, they could do all sorts of activities together. I was thinking that, for example, my students could write directions on how to draw something and send it to our friends in NC. Then, the kids in NC draw what they read. They post their drawing (via kidpix or some other program) and then the original pics are posted as well. Students can then discuss the differences and/or change the directions to be more clear.

    Students could also write short essays/paragraphs and post them to wiki. Their partner can then edit and help with the grammar/spelling/content. Instead of merely relying on their peers in class, my students could use their bilingual buddies to help. Each student could have his own page to help keep track of everyone.

    These are just a few ideas, but I am sure I can come up with more. I always get excited about technology, but it ends up taking too much time or not working out how I want it to. I hope that I can focus on one project this year and really make it work. I think this wiki thing would be great. There are so many options and the ability to work with kids from all over the world.