Monday, November 30, 2009

Toffee Fantastique

I know I've posted a lot of recipes lately...but this one is fantastic, has a short ingredient list, and it's most difficult part is watching a candy thermometer for a few minutes.
3 sticks of butter (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup cranberry trail mix (cranberries, coconut, assorted nuts)
3/4 cup pecans ground/finely chopped

In a heavy pot, begin melting butter. Add sugar and stir. Continue to stir occasionally until candy mixture boils and reaches 295 degrees on your candy thermometer. Watch it carefully. The temperature will rise EXTREMELY fast at the end. I think I was 5-10 degrees over, which may be why my toffee separated a little and had an oily sheen, but after refrigeration, it was just fine.

Pour the boiling candy into a greased foil-lined 13x18 pan. Let it cool 10 minutes, and then sprinkle on the chocolate chips. The heat from the toffee should melt the chocolate so it's spreadable. Spread it and sprinkle with the nuts or whatever topping you prefer. Allow to cool to room temp. Then lift out the foil and smack it on the counter to break it into bits. This part is strangely satisfying. I'm keeping mine in the fridge, but if your chocolate sets, feel free to keep it at room temp for a week.Wait, one...two...three? Yes, we had an extra puppy this week. So everywhere I go THREE puppies follow. It's like having my own entourage. One that licks you if you let them.

Friday, November 27, 2009


For thanksgiving, I got to make the pie. In years past, if a holiday meal was at my house, I did the lion's share of the cooking, got stressed out and was generally a cranky little elf. But this year it really was a family effort. My dad smoked a huge turkey (delish)! My mom-in-law made her famous dressing, and my sister in law made the mashed potatoes, with gravy from her husband's restaurant. So that left me with dessert and extras. Excellent. Now, my Nana always said there has to be something green on the table, so I roasted asparagus. And as there were two Frenchies there...there had to be a cheese platter. :-)

But onto dessert! The first pie was a Cheesecake-Swirled Pumpkin Pie. (Recipe by Libby's: here)
It was the favorite of the two Meyers' boys, made extra-pretty by crust stencils that Cindy (my mom-in-law) gave me. And the other pie, though not as pretty, was really fantastic. A Chocolate-Chip Pecan Pie.
I used dark brown sugar and golden syrup with this recipe. I think I probably added 1-1/2 cup each of pecans and chocolate chips. The "goo" part was rather thick, which I prefer. I can't stand gloppy pecan filling oozing out my pie...*shudder*. I used to hate pecan pie because of that. But there's nothing to hate in this pie. Pecans + chocolate + crust = all things Southern and tasty. Dad ate two pieces. Casey says he wishes it was more oozy and gloppy, and if possible would like a direct IV-drip of gloppy pecan-pie filling. There's no accounting for taste.We just put up the Christmas tree and other decorations, and we've got tickets to see the Nutcracker next Christmas is in the air!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Teaching Teachers and Other Good News

Today I presented at a Foreign Language Summit at the TEA Center for North Texas. There were teachers there from all over DFW, and I presented in two session of about using technology in the classroom. I showed them some interactive sites, forums, how to download and use podcasts, with some cool news podcasts to use, and also showed them how to download videos off youtube and some cool ones and how to use them. Neither one of my sessions were full, but they seemed to really like it. I got lots of thank yous, one lady gave me a hug, one said mine was the most useful one and how she was really excited about using my ideas with her students, and another actually asked if I would do an in-service for her district!
So, wow, I'm glad I did it. When our language coordinator asked me if I could present at the conference, I really hesitated, 1) because I hate leaving my classroom 2) I didn't feel qualified as a newer teacher. But I figured technology is something I do know a fair amount about and might have some fresh ideas to share because I would hate to waste my time and theirs showing them something they already knew or wouldn't use. But it was a neat experience. I mean, I'm a teacher, but I've never taught a group of my peers like that...and it was fun.

Also, I got my new French 1 students, and I'm really pleased. They are sweet and are eager to learn. I had forgotten how cute 9th graders can be. They're like the kindergarteners of the high school world. Squirrelly as all get-out but sweet. The only blight was one kid that obviously had serious emotional problems, but I only saw him once as they took him out of my class. Excellent. So, I really feel like I have good things ahead of me. I'm blessed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Setting a Date

I scheduled the surgery for my knee for December 23. I've gone round and round, been hot and cold, but now is the time. I did the month of therapy, tried to go easy, but it's not getting better. Yesterday, I was limping going up and down stairs: the same thing I was doing in March after the initial injury. A healthy 28 year old shouldn't limp if it can be helped.

So, I'm having surgery. Don't want it but I'm back to where I was in March, and that's too long.

Also, we start a new term on Monday, and I'll meet my new French 1 students. I'm always a little nervous at the beginning of the term, and I'll miss Thursday, as I'm giving a presentation for teachers at Region 10 on using Technology in the French Classroom. It's interesting to be teaching other teachers, and I really do have ideas to share when in comes to technology, so I have it'll be productive.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Beer Bread and Halloween

Oh, yeah...if you see in the corner...indeed, it's beer bread! I think the melted butter poured over the top was the clincher though. It took maybe two minutes to put together and was ready in 40 minutes. Fantastic. I used white whole wheat flour and half the butter of the recipe from Ezra Pound Cake.

Go! Make bread now! Jesus says that man doesn't live by bread alone...Here's the host with the most, Tom, or Captain Ahab, for Halloween evening. Tom transforms his home for the years' theme,and this year was Horror in the Library. Casey and I were Truman Capote and Harper Lee (see: I'm holding To Kill a Mockingbird).I have no idea why we're both tilting our heads. Totally unintentional. But isn't the backdrop cool? Normally, that Tom's front patio, not a library! It was also Casey's 30th birthday, and I think he had fun being such a flamboyant character. It was fun.
But my favorite costume wasn't technically literature, but can you read "Fight Club" on the baby's onesie? Love it! Casey and Erin Gooden really nailed their costumes. (And thank you Casey G. for sharing your pictures).