Sunday, March 30, 2008

Brownie Pudding

My big dessert weakness is usually ice cream, and 9 times out of 10 I race to Publix to buy some chocolate-based treat like Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk or Edy's Rocky Road. But every once in a while I need something a little more substantial, something baked or saucy or sweet to the point where I can feel my teeth starting to crumble a little bit.

Such was the case last week. I wanted cake but I didn't want the added aggravation of going to the grocery store--you see, I had no eggs. Kinda limits your cake options.

And then I remembered this golden nugget from my cousin Mary. I hadn't made it in a couple of years and now I scratch my head and wonder why?! It's easy, the ingredients are all staples that you have in your kitchen anyway, and the end result is a warm, comforting, and delicious treat. Crispy edges like a homemade brownie with a rich fudgy sauce, better than any pudding I've ever tasted.

Now go buy some good quality vanilla ice cream and get to work.

Brownie Pudding

1 cup sifted flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cup nearly boiling water

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, 2 tbsp baking powder, and salt. Add the milk, oil, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour into a greased 8x8 pan.

Mix the brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Pour the hot water over the entire batter.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Scenes I Hope To Remember

As I enjoy a rainy thirty-first birthday, I think about how lucky I am. I've experienced some amazing food, travel, and, most of all, people in my short time here. A handful of the many things I hope never to forget:

  1. Dad's face when he told me I won the pony
  2. Hearing that I had a baby sister
  3. Meeting Slugger for the first time
  4. My first telephone conversation with Marc
  5. Mom teaching me how to make tartar sauce
  6. Mom taking us to the bookmobile
  7. Playing at The Rock with Mart, Beth, and Alisha
  8. Riding the see-saw at the Mitchells house
  9. Hearing my name called at graduation
  10. Dad telling me he had talked to my principal and they were going to let me take violin
  11. Flying in a plane over Alaska
  12. Riding in a convertible for the first time
  13. Hearing Marc repeat his wedding vows
  14. Dancing in Myrtle Beach with my 3 best friends
  15. Hearing Mart tell me about his new baby
  16. Tubing on the Green
  17. Buying my first margarita legally
  18. Playing violin at my grandparents' anniversary Mass
  19. My first view of the Eiffel Tower
  20. Feeding kangaroos in Tasmania
  21. Crying on the beach, admiring my new engagement ring
  22. Riding in a pick-up truck to get Katie's wedding dress pressed
  23. Hiking at Multnomah Falls
  24. Playing kazoos at Thanksgiving
  25. Unwrapping wedding presents at my bridal shower
  26. Cosmic bowling in Columbia
  27. Chatting with Guster band members
  28. The Dr Seuss ride with Amy
  29. Eating homemade brownies with Katie and Shareen
  30. Laughing at The Melting Pot with Marc, Mom, and Dad
  31. Trying to drive a stick
  32. Gazing at waterfalls at 2AM in Findley Park
  33. Climbing a tree to pick mistletoe
  34. Getting my bellyring
  35. Seeing The Producers from the third row
  36. Taking my students to Mirabell Gardens and singing the Do Re Mi song
  37. Walking to school with TR, Eric, and Jason
  38. Singing in the 7th grade assembly
  39. 80s music video nights with Marc
  40. Snorkeling in the Bahamas
  41. Acting out Beauty and the Beast with Sara while working 3rd shift
  42. Winning my first 5k award
  43. Feeding the deer at Hollywild
  44. Baking Christmas cookies
  45. Having the girls over for lasagna and salad
  46. Riding the boogie board
  47. Playing Marco Polo at the Kendalls
  48. Watching him ride his bike on Mackinac Island
  49. Opening my apartment door to a dozen roses
  50. Picking blackberries for Mom and Dad's famous ice cream

Friday, March 21, 2008

"What did you do at school today?"

This is my eighth year of teaching. Today may have been the most ridiculous day of my career.

For many,many years my school district has taken Good Friday as a holiday. Sometimes Spring Break coincides with Easter so it's not really an issue, but this year, in the interest of being "politically correct," our school board made it a point not to include Good Friday in our days off. We will have a full week of vacation in April, but regular classes were scheduled for both Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Apparently a lot of employees--teachers, staff, and even bus drivers--were unhappy with the school board's decision to work today. Many were generally upset because of their religious obligations, but most of the angry people seemed to care only because this has always been an off-day in the past and now they had to work. (We receive our district calendar about 18 months in advance; this new schedule may have been inconvenient but it was no surprise.)

The craziness started late last week when it became clear that many of these employess would be taking a personal day. The media ran with it, and daily there was paranoia that kids wouldn't be served lunch and schools would be full of substitutes. Some schools told their high school students that the absence wouldn't count against them so they "shouldn't bother coming."

Parents got wind of all this (it was all over the news this week) and by Thursday it was obvious that we were going to be making some adjustments. But nothing would have prepared me for the attendance today.

I usually teach 106 students on Friday. Today I saw a grand total of 13. My high school with a normal enrollment of 2400 kids? Attendance today was 138. And this was pretty much the standard throughout the district. The rough estimate was that district-wide we saw about 10% of the kids.

On the other hand, all the hype about the teachers skipping school turned out to be a huge overreaction. We were missing 12 teachers at my high school and only 8 at my middle school. But those of us who got up at 5:30, showed up on time with lesson plans prepared? We couldn't teach because these parents chose to buck the system and keep their kids home. I cleaned my classrooms, ordered some supplies, went out to lunch, and chatted with other teachers while our students watched movies and played outside. Your tax dollars at work.

A lot of people are upset with the school board, blaming them for scheduling school in the first place. But what's wrong with these parents? How can this many people just look at the calendar--keeping in mind this is not a federal holiday, most people had to work today--and tell their kids "screw it, school's not that important."

This kind of thing makes it harder and harder for me to set that alarm clock every night.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Treasure Island, Indeed

Last week I brought my orchestra students to our state contest. Actually they no longer call it "Contest," instead it's the Music Performance Assessment. The ensemble performs 3 prepared pieces for an audience and a panel of judges. Then you migrate (silently!) to another smaller room and sightread a fourth piece, again in front of an audience and one judge. The kids played extremely well and despite a couple of major transportation snafus it was a really nice day. For lots of reasons, but the biggest one being we earned straight Superior ratings.

Field trips are always a big headache, which is why lots of teachers no longer organize them. You have to find the money, the chaperones, the transportation, the itinerary and meals, and then go through all the paperwork of clearing their absences from school and making sure you have their medical and insurance info. Because I'm a music teacher, I also have the added treat of making sure the students have their instruments, music and other paraphernalia, and double-checking that they're dressed in their proper concert uniform.

Through the chaos of getting the kids organized and on the bus the other day, I failed to notice that my Principal Second Violinist came nattily attired in a pirate shirt.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Humble Pie

There are few positions more vulnerable than standing in a bathroom with your pants down as a stranger accidentally walks in on you.

Unless you're a teacher standing in a bathroom with your pants down as your principal accidentally walks in on you. That's probably worse. I think.