Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Never eat more than you can lift."

photo from:

I am quite a fan of Miss Piggy.  So much so that I decided to be the lovely Miss P for Halloween this year.

She is much more beautiful than moi, but I tried to imitate her radiant loveliness.   It also gave moi an excuse to bring Kermit to school with me today!  (A gift from Mme P and Mademoiselle de Tavel)
Halloween in the middle school is an interesting day.  Lots of my kids dress up.  We decorated our door.  

Actually, that's the royal we-- Moi had nothing to do with it except for finding colored paper for them.
One young man carved a jack-o'lantern for us.  I am going to take it home with moi and set it out on the porch.

All of the money we raise from our fun and games at school is donated to unicef.  The United Nations Children's Fund is a cause we really believe in here.  I look at it as children helping children.  
I was the recipient of a couple of Halloween treats.  Oui, cuppy-cakes for moi!

The leaves here are finally changing colors.  I was afraid they were just going to die and drop off the trees.  I found these on the sidewalk on my way to class yesterday from an oak.  A fall gift for moi.

To get back to the star of today's blog and the quote of the day,  I found this great tribute to Miss Piggy at Chris Niles' blog while researching (such tough work, I know). Chris has designated Miss P a "Tart Emeritus."  How does one achieve that status, I wonder?
And what would Miss Piggy eat if she would never eat more than she can lift?
In Miss Piggy's Guide to Life, published in 1981, chapter 9 is devoted to food.  Muppet Wiki gives this synopsis--
Piggy suggests that the best food is ordered in.  She covers airplane food, using "Ma Bell's Cookbook" (the phonebook), and making ordinary food more interesting by using food coloring, pinking shears, and paper porkchop ruffles.
So, what would moi suggest to Piggy for dinner tonight?  Obviously nothing with bacon.  Frogleags?  I don't think so.  Ma Bell (or Verizon Wireless these days) will help moi out.  I think that the Ex-Ex and I will order out from China Palace.   A great Chinese place within walking distance of chez moi.  I think that the divine Miss P would wholeheartedly approve.
I showed the kiddies this clip from The Muppet Show.  I was afraid that some of them were not acquainted with Miss Piggy and Kermit.  Poor Kermie.

Bon appétit, Miss Piggy!  Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cooking in French Class: 2013-14 Edition

I have quite a crop of 7th grade chefs this year.  We have sampled meringues, several recipes for mousse au chocolat

madeleines, both lemon and chocolate chip (guess which ones were most popular with the kiddies?)

handmade chocolate-caramel bonbons

and chocolate macarons, just to name a few (another post with pictures will follow).

And it is not just the girls making these treats.  The jeunes hommes are into cooking, too.  They would do well to keep up the cooking thing.  We girlies love men who cook.  One jeune homme brought in a treat that brought back such nice memories.  Sight, smell and taste memories.  Almonds.  Almond blossoms in Villeneuve-lez-Avignon in March 2012.

I keep this soap from L'Occitane En Provence around me just so I can enjoy the smell of almonds whenever I want to.

Jeune homme brought in a Tarte Montepellier that he made himself.

He explained how great French tarte pans are to work with because you can remove the sides.  He talked about the pearl sugar that he sprinkled on top.  He used his school iPad to make a presentation to his classmates about the baking process.  Pretty impressive.  Need to see a close up photo of this deliciousness?  Pourquoi pas?

A slice with my cup of tea would really nice right now...  Mme P has promised me a trip to Montpellier in March.  I've never been there.  Can't wait!
And, by the way, French class isn't just for conjugating verbs (although there is plenty of that-- just ask my students).  There is so much more to learn about and appreciate.  Hook 'em however I can has always been my motto.

Tarte Montpellier
recipe from Nick F.

Filling for tarte--
1/2 c. granulated white sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. almond extract
3/4 c. whipping cream (but don't whip it, just from the carton)
1 c. sliced almonds (flat oval slices)

Combine all of the filling ingredients and stir by hand for 30-60 seconds.  Let it sit for 30 minutes.

Turn oven to 400˚F.  Pre-bake tarte dough or pie dough, if store bought,  until it's light brown, about 10-15 minutes.

To make your own--

1 c. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter slightly warm, but not melted
1 Tbsp. white granulated sugar (not powdered)

Mix all above ingredients with your hands.
Then add, stirring gently so that the crust doesn't get tough:
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. water
1/4 tsp. orange extract

Bake crust for about  15-20 minutes until light brown.  Then add filling and bake for 30 minutes more at 400˚F.  If tarte isn't light brown after 30 minutes, bake for 5 more minutes.

Bon appétit to all my young chefs!  Keep cooking!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Random thoughts from a slack-o blogger

I am not even going to make excuses for neglecting my beloved blog and my writing.  So, instead of grading a stack of tests given on the last day of the first grading period (we are 1/4 of the way to summer vacation, mes amis) by a veteran teacher who should know better, I am going to write/type some random thoughts on this Thursday that feels like a Friday (the kiddies do not have class tomorrow-- it's a teacher workday).

  • I love fall.  Above is the view out of the window where I am sitting right now.  The leaves are changing colors, the sky is blue and the air has taken on a chilly tone.  I could live in fall forever.  I would miss the almond blossoms in Provence in March, but I am only thinking of automne at this very moment.
  • Technology is a wonderful thing until it isn't.  It isn't when kids use a translator to write their French sentences for them instead of using their brains.  It isn't when people talk on their phones or text when driving.  Driving is serious business and should be treated that way.  It isn't when people text instead of talking to the person across the table from them or when parents take their young child to dinner and then prop up the phone or iPad and play a movie.  It isn't when mean messages are posted and hurtful things are said.  It is when you post Zidane is the Personne de la Semaine and I can show my students the infamous head-butt incident on YouTube.  It is when I can see today's photos of Mme P's students and their Vente de Gâteaux at the market in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon.  Muffins, cookies, brownies... Bravo!

  • It is wonderful when Mme P can share videos of the Camargue with me.  Watch this and you will understand why I had the Croix de Camargue tattooed on my ankle.  Well, maybe.  Such beauty.  (I will not think of the big white beast that threw me off his back in 2007.  The kiddies really want to go horseback riding in the Camargue in March...)

  • Life is precious.  Days slip by quickly and turn into weeks, months and years.  Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.  Have some well-deserved fun.  Don't worry so much about all the stuff that needs to be done.  (This advice is for me.)
  • Character counts.  I am tired of athletes and other famous people who say it doesn't.  I want my children and my students to understand that it does.  It's helping others, doing the right thing, working hard, and practicing empathy that counts at the end of the day.  Not how much money is in your bank account or how well you did on a test or where you go to college.
  • Dress up for Halloween (or whenever you feel like it).  Be silly.  I have to work on my costume this weekend.  I DO actually have an idea.  This falls under the category known in middle school as "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."  Halloween falls on a Thursday this year.  And yes, we have school the next day.  Pictures will be taken and posted.
  • Have a guilty pleasure or five and indulge in it/them.  Romance novels involving handsome French pastry chefs and chocolate makers?  Dark chocolate?  Movies on the Hallmark Channel? Singing out loud to the radio in the car on the way to/from work?  A glass of red Côtes du Rhône while making dinner?  Guilty, guilty, guilty.  And a nice way to stay sane.
Okay, after school study hall is over and now I can pack up the tests, stash them in my bag and carry them home.   I have managed to stay awake and get some random thoughts published!  A good day.

Bon appétit to all!  Recipes from my students who love to cook coming soon...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Boots cats barbeque




And just what do those have in common, you are probably wondering.

It has been a long, difficult ten days.  A dear couple whom I have known for many, many years lost their 21 year old son last week.  It just doesn't make sense.  My heart breaks for them and for the hole that has been left in their once normal lives.  But somehow life goes on.  Somehow everyone learns how to cope or at least how to get through the days and nights.  I find that music helps.  It heals. It makes me cry, it makes me sing, it makes me hum or whistle.  It reaches down into my soul.  At school today we had an assembly scheduled.  I didn't know anything about the group coming to play  music for us.  I wasn't looking forward to it, to tell the truth.  I even thought about skipping it, pleading a headache.  However, I headed into our assembly space and was so glad I did.  What a much needed 45 minutes of music.  Project Trio from Brooklyn entertained us.  Three guys who love what they do.  My soul was lifted by listening to them play, especially their tribute to Jean "Django" Reinhart and his gypsy jazz, music that I have just recently discovered thanks to Frenchie and Childhood Friend.  The guys taught the kids the fine art of beatbox, making percussion sounds with your mouth.  Right up the alley of 360 middle schoolers.  And their teachers.  That's where the boots cats barbeque comes in.  Make those sounds with your mouth the right way and you are on your way to beatboxing.  And to feeling your soul lift up and a smile spreading across your face.



Many hugs and much love coming your way, Signora.