Monthly Archives: July 2008

My Life as a Role Model

I take my job as an educator very seriously.  Even though it’s halfway through the summer, I was talking to Ed tonight about an idea I had for a project for my Environmental Science class.  (It’s very cool… I’m thinking about having kids design their own eco-dream house… I’m still in the beginning thought process…)  Whether my students realize it or not, I am a role model to them, although they’d probably name their parents and athletes or celebrities as role models before they’d name me.  However, I spend a lot of time with my students, and I know that as teenagers they’re very observant.  The see what I wear, how I behave, and what I do both in and out of the classroom.  If I go to a football game, it’s a guarantee that at least a quarter of my 100+ students will tell me they saw me there.  If I go to a restaurant in their town, I see students working or parents having a night out.  If I go to the movies, I see students. 

When I first started teaching five years ago, I wanted to be a good role model.  A lot of that was just in being myself.  I value education.  I have respect for everyone.  I’m patient and kind.  I realize that as an educator, I’m held to a higher standard than the general public.  Because of that and because of my own ethics, I do not drink, I have never smoked or done drugs, I don’t go out to party, I wear my seatbelt, I’m pretty much a goodie-two-shoes.  Which is who I am, but I make an extra effort to be someone that I think is a good role model, because I know that I am a role model to my students.

When it comes to living sustainably, I have realized that actions can speak louder than words.  My students see me carrying around my SIGG water bottle.  They like to pick it up, ask what it’s made of, ask me why I carry it.  My students see that I hand out CD’s that contain the important documents for the year, and that I use my website to link to articles instead of xeroxing them.  My students see that I don’t have piles of paper as big as other teachers have.  They see that I encourage recycling.  They see that I carry reusable bags instead of plastic bags.  They hear me encourage them to respect nature, and then they see me model how to respect nature when we go outdoors. 

Some of my biggest achievements as a teacher come from seeing changes in students’ behavior.  Many of my students now carry refillable water bottles, instead of buying a new bottle at the cafe every time they’re thirsty.  The CD idea actually came from students a few years ago, when we brainstormed on how to conserve paper.  The Environmental Club decided to order 100% organic cotton T-shirts.  Students encourage other students to recycle, making posters and announcements.  I see students beaming with excitement when they take home cucumber and tomato plants to transplant into their parents’ or grandparents’ gardens.

Then I wonder, Am I a good enough role model?  Students ask about my energy use.  Yes, I have opted for the 100% clean electricity option.  But what do I use for heat? (I’m embarrased to answer: oil, with supplements from a wood stove).  No, I don’t drive in a way that will cause me to burn excess gasoline.  But what do I drive? (Embarrassment again: 1997 Ford Explorer).  I could be so much better.

The imperfection is part of what makes me a good role model for my students.  I’m not afraid to admit that there are areas that I’m still working on.  There are questions that I still don’t know the answers to.  I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect them to be perfect.  The self-reflection that it takes to realize I have faults and what it will take to improve upon them is one of the most important lessons that I can teach my students.  We can be proud of what we do well, but be humble enough to realize there’s still more work to be done.

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The Growing Challenge

The Growing ChallengeI just recently joined Melinda’s “The Growing Challenge.”  Although it’s a little late to join, turns out I’ve been playing all along and didn’t even know it! Here’s a synopsis of the rules (but follow the link if you want to know more):

1.  Grow something new, from seed.

2.  Write a post about gardening once a week.

3.  Check in at 1 Green Generation.

If you enjoy Farmer’s Daughter, then you know that I’ve grown lettuce, carrots, peas, green beans, tomatoes, basil, parsley, chives, sunflowers, summer squash, crookneck squash, pickle cukes, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, sugar pumpkins and Stella Blue pumpkins, all from seeds!  I also pretty much post about gardening or what I’m cooking with my garden’s bounty at least once a week.  I’m looking forward to having a look at other people’s gardens and also hearing about their trials and tribulations as well as successes.

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Yankee Paella

I know, “Yankee Paella” is a strange title.  But I think that’s what it is.  I’ve never had real paella, instead sticking to what I make at home, so I’m not even sure what the real stuff is like.  However, I do know that Ed and I both love this supper, and love that there are lots of leftovers.  I started making paella in the winter, and tonight’s paella was the best I’ve made yet.

Paella with Chicken, Scallops and Chorizo

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper and smoked paprika for seasoning
  • 2 chicken thighs (you could do 4 if you’re making it for more people)
  • 2 large links of Chorizo or Linguica sausage, sliced
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5 minced cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups Valencia or Arborio rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock, water, or a combination of the two
  • 3 large garden tomatoes, chopped, or 16oz. canned tomatoes
  • 1 lb sea scallops
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • handful chopped parsley

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.  Brown in the olive oil in a Dutch oven (or paella pan if you have one, but I don’t).  Remove from pan, and brown the sliced Chorizo.  Add onions and saute until transparent and slightly browned.  Add the garlic and saute a few minutes.  Add the rice and saute until golden, stirring the whole time.  Add tomatoes and cook until they start to release their juices.  Return the chicken thighs to the pan.  Add 2 cups of chicken stock/water, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until the liquid is absorbed.  Add the last 1 cup of stock/water.  Season the scallops with salt, pepper, and paprika, and add to the pan.  Bring to a rolling boil, then place in a 350 F preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Stir in the peas, and bake another 4-5 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

I think tonight’s paella was especially good because the onions were from Chris and Melissa’s garden, and the tomatoes, peas, and parsley were from our garden.  I’m not a big fan of peas, so sometimes I omit them.  You can also add wine or beer, just substitute it for part of the stock/water.  I don’t drink alcohol, so I skip it. 

Ed doesn’t like meals that are cooked all in one pot.  I don’t know why, but I think it’s a Yankee thing because both my dad and his dad are the same way.  Ed will eat this if I separate it out on his plate.  He loved this meal!

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Aunt Dot’s Corn Fritters

My Aunt Dot sent me this recipe way back during Corn Week, but I didn’t get a chance to try making them until tonight.  With maple syrup and a fried egg, these are the perfect breakfast for dinner!

Aunt Dot’s Corn Fritters

Cut and scrape kernals from 5 ears of sweet corn (about 2 1/2 cups).

Place corn and pulp in a large bowl, then stir in:

  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Beat in another bowl until peaks are stiff but not dry:

  • 2 egg whites

Fold the egg whites into the corn mixture.  Heat in a large nonstick skillet on high heat until hot:

  • 2 Tbsp butter or vegetable oil

Drop in the batter, a heaping tablespoon at a time.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes.  Turn once, do not pat the fritters down.  Cook the second side until browned.  Take care not to overcook them.  Serve immediately.

Delish!

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August Challenge

I just signed up to participate in Chile’s Discretionary Eating Challenge.  Click the image above to learn more about the challenge.  Here’s what I’ve committed to:

  • CAFE-  100%; I will not eat at restaurants for the month of August, and will instead cook at home.
  • LITE- 50%; I will remove 50% of the refined foods from my diet, and will instead cook from scratch.
  • SUGAR- 50%; I will remove 50% of the sugar from my diet, and instead will only use natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey.  However, I will continue to use sugar to can, but I’ll look for recipes with honey first and see where it goes.
  • SOW- 50%; I will try my best to only eat seconds when hungry.  Notice that I only committed 50% to this one.  I like food, as you can probably tell from the amount of recipes I post.
  • BUZZ- 100%; I will remove the stimulants like alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate from my diet.  (Since I don’t drink alcohol or coffee, it’s only chocolate that I have to tackle.)
  • VEG- 0%; I won’t be joining in on being vegan or removing animal products from my diet.  I usually only eat meat at 1 meal a day, and I’m okay with that.  I don’t morally see anything wrong with eating meat or dairy products or eggs.  Clearly some people disagree, but that’s my opinion.  Besides, I’m doing a lot to remove the other bad habits I have.

So how many more days do I have to eat as much chocolate as possible??? Wish me luck!

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Independence Days Update, July 28

Plant something.  

  • too rainy last week, didn’t plant anything…

Harvest something. 

  • parsley
  • basil
  • pickle cukes
  • greenbeans
  • yellow squash
  • crookneck squash 
  • chives
  • my first couple of (small) tomatoes

Preserve something. 

Prep something

  • Ed built shelves and hangers in the garage.  We organized our gardening stuff.

Cook something new.  

  • maple/mustard breaded baked pork chops (my invention, but forgot to take a picture… I’ll post pictures next time)
  • bacon and onion pizza using Chris and Melissa’s onions
  • Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe from Animal Vegetable Miracle)

Manage your reserves.  

  • used some of the pesto I froze earlier this summer 
  • organized freezer

Reduce waste.

  • reusable shopping bags
  • Sigg water bottle 
  • made pickles out of the plethora of cukes from our garden and Chris and Melissa’s garden

Work on local food systems

Learn a new skill.

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Sunday Stroll, July 27

Rainy Day

Not such a great day for sitting in the Adirondacks. But a wonderful day for my garden.

All the rain creates a lot of deadheading in the petunias. This bloom is pretty with the droplets.

Pretty pink rosebud covered in raindrops.

This is my first year growing cosmos. I'm happy with the results and I think I'll plant more next year.

My favorite hydrangeas. Though it's time to remove some of the spent flowers, they're still popping out new blooms.

Zinnias and snapdragons from my sister-in-law Melissa brighten the rainy day. I got them from her at the farmer's market, and rather than let me pay, she wants me to teach her how to make pizza dough.

To see who else is strolling today, visit http://quietcountryhouse.blogspot.com/

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