Sunday, December 1, 2013

94 and 47

The 8th graders recently started their France countdown.  It is now only 94 93 days away.  I have 18 of them traveling with me this year.  My dear friend, Joan of Arc worshipper/Iron Woman JC will make her debut as co-chaperone.  Arles Lucy retired from teaching and has taken up house repair instead due to the massive limb that destroyed her house back in June.  Who said retirement was going to be dull??
My personal countdown to France is 47 46 days.  Ah oui, mes amis, I am set to return in January for 10 lovely days sans élèves.  Hopefully without the snow that fell last year, too.  I witnessed two grand snowfalls in Paris in 2013.

In January

and in March.

Please, none of that in 2014.  S'il vous plaît.  But it is beautiful, no doubt about it.

My 7th graders have finished their Paris projects (and I have almost finished grading them) and here is the map that we made.  (Oui, that is a sparkly Eiffel in my classroom-- a gift last Christmas from a dear friend-- merci encore!)

I tell them that they work for the Paris Chamber of Commerce and that they need to put together a presentation to convince tourists to visit their spot.  They draw names out of a hat (or coffee mug!), each student gets a different place, they research using their iPads and my many guidebooks (they have to have at least one book reference in their bibliographies), and they put together a presentation for the class.  I do really use these to plan the January and March trips.  I visited the Panthéon for the first time a couple of years ago based on one of these presentations.  This year, I am going to venture up to La Défense, I think.  I am going to show several of the presentations to my 8th grade group during our club period.  Just to get them even more excited about what they are going to see.

I will be in Paris for three days over the MLK. Jr. long weekend as a guest of ACIS and then I will hop on the TGV to head south to spend a week with Mme P and my friends in and around Villeneuve-les-Avignon and Pujaut.  (Merci, New Head of School.  Maybe you realize this is the way to keep me sane?  It's the best professional development / therapy I can think of.)
Mme P's daughter, AP, has asked me to teach her to make a cheesecake while I am there.  She's never had this wonderful American dessert.

So, I will pack up a springform pan and figure out how to get enough Philadelphia Cream Cheese over with me and gladly get back into Mme P's kitchen.

La Blonde et la Brune will be reunited once again!

I decided to practice while Son #2 was home for Thanksgiving.  He loves cheesecake.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I made a pumpkin version that I found on-line at Plain Chicken.  The caramel sauce didn't turn out right so I found Pioneer Woman's version.

Ritz Carlton Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce

Preheat oven to 325˚F.

1 1/2 c. gingersnap cookie crumbs (can use graham crackers)
5 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 c. melted butter

Combine all ingredients and press against sides and bottom of 10-inch springform pan.

1 1/4 c. sugar
5 tsp. corn starch
30 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
5 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend sugar, cornstarch, and butter.  Add cream cheese, beat until soft, scrape bowl well.  On first speed, add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition.  Scrape bowl well.  Add cream and vanilla.  Add pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice to the cheesecake batter.

Pour in pan (there will be leftover batter-- I made mini-cheesecakes by lining a muffin pan with foil muffin liners, placing a gingersnap in the bottom and filling the muffin cup 3/4 full.  Bake these for 25 minutes.).  Bake for 45 minutes, rotate, bake for additional 15 minutes or until cheesecake has risen and feels firm on top.  (I put a baking sheet under my springform pan after I realized it was leaking... You can also line it with aluminum foil before putting the batter in, but I didn't do that.)  Remove from oven, cool.  When cool, remove the sides of springform pan.  Refrigerate if not serving after cooled. Drizzle with the caramel sauce when ready to serve.

Caramel Sauce
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. half and half
4 Tbsp. butter
Pinch salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

 Mix brown sugar, half and half, butter and salt in sauce pan over medium heat.  Cook while whisking gently for 5-7 minutes, until it gets thicker.  Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off heat.  Cool slightly and pour into a jar.  Refrigerate until cold.

Bon appétit and merci to Stephanie Parker and Ree Drummond for the recipes!