Monday, October 22, 2007

food fir thaught

Gum Mwum. Mabaho. Gordon Jump. Umlauten. Ga wee.
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The hands be sore. The hands must be sure. In this contrived penance.
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To rest. Long day at school. Last full day to listen to “Me” Projects and Johari Windows, both projects I plan to use as a middle school teacher. Much thievery afoot intellectually. Copies galore. The bottom drawer is where I keep the booty.
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This brain is tired, is seeing static and little gray walking hunched over men in fedora caps when I close my eyes. Ah, yes, Symphonie Fantastique, March to the Scaffold, Hector Berlioz composer, from my Classics from the Crypt disc. I think the Phantom Regiment did this once. Andrej would know the year. It’s lively enough to revive. Two-valved marching tympani fun times. I could be a codger about today’s drum and bugle corps. Damn bandos’ve taken over! Back in my day dey was two valves and tuned to the key of C, so’se you had to do a little transposition to get the fingerings straight cuz bando brass instruments’re tuned to B-flat. So now drum corps brass are three valves and tuned to B-flat.
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I‘m sure no drum and bugle corps has done “A Worm‘s Life“ by Crash Test Dummies, my favorite Winnipeg band.
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“A worm’s life can be easy
If you lay low, out of sight.”
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Pressure cooker cooking is fun, getting that bobber to spit and gurgle just right, is an art. Made a big batch of chili. Put dry beans and a pound of turkey burger just defrosted enough to wriggle out of its plastic wrapping with chili powder mix and about a cup and a half of dry pinto beans. Turn the heat on to high until the bobber got gurgling and then down to medium/medium low. In the 20 minutes it takes me to dice a green pepper, medium sized onion, and four Serrano peppers, the beans and turkey are ready.
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I put the pressure cooker in the sink and run cold water over the top of it for a minute or two before using a dishrag to lift the bobber off. Unscrew the lid and break up the meat with a fork. With a large spoon I stir up the contents, throw in two 16 oz. cans of diced tomatoes and all chopped vegetables and let it cook on medium to medium low heat for another hour, and then on low for another couple hours. Of course, a test bowl is required after the first hour. Like anything else, I modify with whatever is on hand. I’ll use squash, corn, TVP (soy protein), and a wide variety of beans.
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Today was a perfect day to make chili -- cold, gray, rainy, wet, leaf falling, windblown fall day. That or tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
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I’ve made about three homemade pizzas in the last month. Nothing too special, though I love the roasted garlic taste I’ve gotten with some of my garlic topping. Another thing I do is slice the onions really thin, and apply them in ovals as a base layer above the sauce.
But for me, the fun part of the pizza is making the dough. I like the tactile glee of kneading the dough and pounding it into the table, then letting it rest and breathe, before pounding it again. I don’t toss it like I’m supposed to because I just use a cookie pan and don’t need to have it round. Someday a stone. Hell, someday a wood fired oven on a brick-paved patio. There. That’s thinking like a capitalist.
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Not that long ago I made flour tortillas. I used the tortillas for everything from tacos to peanut butter and jelly. They are super easy to make. The only trick is getting the sides cooked all the way because my wok pan is not flat enough for the whole thing. It requires the hassle of rotating the edges into the center of the pan, or just dealing with doughier, chewy edges.
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Another beloved treat is the pasty, though its high fat content is a guilty pleasure. Simple lard, flour and water, mixed by hand, rolled into balls and stored in the fridge for at least half an hour (oftentimes I make the dough the night before). I then roll them out into a disk and put a handful of meat and chopped potato and a whole slew of meat and vegetable combinations on one half , fold the other half over, dab milk where the dough rejoins, and crimp with a fork. Cook in the center rack oven at 425-degrees F. for 30-40 minutes. Yum.
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What kind of hidden criteria did I have in mind listing these three flour-based foods -- pizza, tortilla, pasty -- in the order I did?
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A: Pizza requires yeast as a rising agent, tortillas requires baking soda, pasties no rising agent.
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Let’s get this straight from the top, okay. You’re the lieutenant. You’re supposed to look regal and carry yourself with a certain air of authority. Can you possibly conjure that attitude, Philbert?
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Mmm.. Possibly.
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Okay, let’s take it from the top. Remember, Philbert. This is your entrance. This is the first time the audience is seeing you. And don’t fall off that mechanical horse. Props, are you ready? Check. Philbert, are you ready?
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Yes.
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Bill and Torville, you guys ready?
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[nods of assent from the two men in soldier’s garb, rifles resting in the crooks of their arms.]
Okay, let’s take it in 10-9-8-7..6..5...4...3.[pointing backstage to Philbert]
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Whoa, ho. Easy girl. What are these two tracks leading off through the snow? Are they friend or foe? Ah, this, the keen edgy awareness of warfare.
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Gawd, it’s late. No steam. Just dream, droop lidded heavy dozing little gray fedora men walking with their brief cases. Called parents on the slackers. Tired of presiding over lunch detentions until they finish their “Me“ Project. Such is the disciplinarian side of things, the holding of feet to fire, behavioral problems, etc. I’ve been lucky, skilled, or whatever to not have any class get out of control. Part of it is my professionalism, preparedness, and keeping them busy and engaged the entire class. Part of it is they are a good group of students.
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There’s a whole slew of theories to good classroom management, but the big ones are carry yourself with authority and expertise, and never lose your cool. If they see you lose your cool, they’ll do anything sometimes to get a repeat performance. Middle schoolers are piranhas. They’re keen for blood.

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