Monthly Archives: August 2008

Transition

Sunday Stroll

August 31, 2008

Walking around this morning, I couldn’t help but notice that we’re in transition.  While some views show a bountiful summer, others make me realize that we’re leaving summer and heading to fall.

The roses are more abundant than ever before.

The roses are more abundant than ever before.

Clear blue skies and a bright yellow sunflower.

Clear blue skies and a bright yellow sunflower.

Prolific sunflowers.

Prolific sunflowers.

Morning glories blooming on top of each other.

Morning glories blooming on top of each other.

Frilly red lettuce.

Frilly red lettuce.

Bright green and blue-green lichen.

Bright green and blue-green lichen.

Warmth this winter.

Warmth for the winter.

An old antler that appeared on the edge of the woods.

An old antler that appeared on the edge of the woods.

 To see who else is strolling today, visit The Quiet Country House.

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Filed under Gardening, Home, Outside

Butternut Squash Pie

Finally! This is the recipe I’ve been waiting to post since I began Farmer’s Daughter.  I’ve been making this pie for about 6 or 7 years, and I feel like it’s my best recipe.  My Great-Grandma Rose always made her pumpkin pie with butternut squash, saying it made a better pie.  So, I tried this recipe from my Fannie Farmer cookbook (incidentally, my grandmother Mema gave me that cookbook when I moved into my little apartment over my parents’ garage).  I modified and left things out, like mace (I don’t know what that is and didn’t have any, so I skipped it), and brandy (because, hello! I don’t drink, so I don’t have brandy hanging around the house).

Now my Butternut Squash Pie is made extra special by the fact that we grew the butternut squash this year! I only got two before the bugs destroyed the plants, so the pie is the best way to use them!

Butternut Squash Pie

Split 1 butternut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and remove the stem.  Place squash cut side down on a baking pan and bake at 375°F for about 1 hour, until soft.  Allow to cool, then scoop pulp into a food processor and puree.  You’ll have more than you need for a pie, so you can make a couple of pies or sprinkle the remainder with cinnamon and butter and serve as a side dish.  Or save the extra for more baking, like butternut squash bread.

  • 1 cup squash puree
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pie dough for one 9-10″ crust

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Line a pie pan with the dough and crimp the edges.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk until smooth.  Pour into the pie crust and bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 300 and bake for 50-60 more minutes until the filling is slightly puffed and the bottom crust is golden brown.  I use a glass baking dish so I can monitor the crust, and if it’s not browning nicely you can put it on the bottom rack of the oven for 10 minutes.  Let the pie cool completely so the filling will set before you cut it.  I think it tastes even better on the second day when it’s cold from the fridge.

One more funny story before this post is over…  A few years back I decided to enter this pie in the Guilford Fair, since everyone who tries it loves it.  I made two, so I could enter one and keep one for us.  We dropped one pie off at the fair, and then later that night I cut slices of our pie for Ed and myself.  Ed tried his first and said “Ab, it’s really bad.”  I laughed, thinking he was kidding.  He wasn’t kidding.  I tried a little bit and knew immediately that I had forgotten to add the sugar! I was upset that my pie wouldn’t do well in the competition, but I was more upset because I had been looking forward to eating it! When we went to the fair, I was completely shocked to see that my pie won Honorable Mention.  Don’t ask how, but the judges must have been sympathetic.  This year, I’m going to enter my Butternut Squash Pie again, with the sugar, and we’ll see how it does!

Update- This pie won Best In Show at the Guilford Fair in 2008!

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Filed under Food, Gardening, Recipes, What's for Supper?

CD’s to Save Paper

School starts tomorrow, and I’ve spent the last hour and a half burning CD’s.  This is the second year that I have burned CD’s to hand out to my AP Environmental Science students.  Last year, as I began handing out CD’s instead of the regular syllabus, students were excited to see something new.  They liked that the CD’s came in colored envelopes, and the green ones became the big hit! Everyone wanted a green one, as they were fitting for the course.

I’ve mentioned a few times in the past that I hand out these CD’s, but I decided to write a whole post about them to describe what they contain.  Let’s start at the beginning.

Three years ago, there was a big initiative to reduce paper usage and photocopying in our school.  I have witnessed such creative ideas from my students, so I decided to let them brainstorm ways to reduce paper consumption for the AP Environmental Science class.  I felt then, and still feel now, that it’s our responsibility to lead the way in paper conservation.  My students came up with many ideas, from posting more assignments and links on my website to projecting assignments using the LCD projector and Walk&Talk (like a Smart Board) in my room instead of handouts.  Then, someone came up with the idea to give CD’s instead of handouts.  That, I thought, is a great idea!  So I set to work.

Now, for those of you who are teachers, you know what a big undertaking it is to plan for a year’s worth of learning.  It probably took me about six months to get the files ready.  I made a folder on my desktop, and as I used documents that I thought would be appropriate for a CD, I saved them to this folder.  By the next school year, I was ready to burn CD’s.

At this point, you’re probaby wondering what is actually on the CD.  Here’s a general list, with a few specific examples.

  • Articles: for example, The Tragedy of the Commons, which is an essential read if you’re interested in the environment.  The articles are in PDF format, as everyone can download a free Adobe PDF reader.  If I can’t find PDF versions online, I scan them.  By putting important articles throughout the year on the CD, it saves both a lot of paper and a lot of time that I would have spent at the copy machine.  Some students read the article right on the computer screen, while others are better able to read it on paper and will choose to print it.  When it comes to how students learn best, sometimes they have to have paper.  The choice is up to them.
  • Study Guides: Study guides for each chapter of reading, complete with guiding questions and key terms, are on the CD.  These will help students to better understand the reading.
  • Review Sheets: When it comes time for a test or quiz, instead of copying a review sheet handout, students already have it on their CD.  That means that students can refer to it at any time throughout the chapter, not just right before the assessment.  For example, students will benefit from the review sheet for their summer reading test, on the first 5 chapters of the text and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.
  • Lab Handouts: By reading the handout the night before, students are better prepared to do the lab in class.  I will project important directions, so it is up to the student whether he or she prints the handout.
  • Lecture Notes: All of my notes are in the form of a PowerPoint.  Students have access to it, including the diagrams, on their CD’s.  Some students choose to print the outline ahead of time and take notes on it, while others don’t print them and use the PowerPoint later to review.
  • Project and Lab Report Rubrics: Ever have this experience? A project is due tomorrow, and the sheet that explains exactly what to do is lost! With a CD, it’s easy to find the directions again.  Parents are especially appreciative!
  • AP Exam Review Materials: Students can look over practice exam questions, along with the scoring information.  This is a great way for students to practice for the AP Exam on their own.

If you’re going to do something like this, it’s essential that your files are organized.  I have a folder for each unit, which makes it easy to find documents.  Also, it’s important that the titles of documents are descriptive.  For example, “Document 1” is NOT descriptive, and students will have a hard time finding what you want them to read if your titles are unclear.

It’s also important that all of your students have access to a computer.  Most students do have access at home, but those that don’t need to be able to get to one at school or at a library.  I’ve only tried this CD idea with my AP classes, as they tend to be highly motivated students that will go the extra mile to complete their assignments.  I’m honestly not sure as to how this would work in other classes, but I’d like to try it in the future.

I’ve finally finished burning and labeling the CD’s and putting them in their colored paper envelopes.  They’re all lined up like a rainbow on my coffee table right now, ready to be distributed tomorrow.  No matter what colors the kids choose, they’re all GREEN.

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Filed under Sustainable Living

School Days

I’m back at work.  Yesterday was our first day back at school, and the students will begin on Thursday.  I have to say that I’m in pretty good shape for the start up, with my syllabi ready to be handed out, summer reading tests ready to go, and plans for the first couple of weeks done.  Here’s what I’ll be teaching this year:

  • 3 sections of Advanced Placement Environmental Science (full year)
  • 1 section of Environmental Science (full year)
  • 1 section of Botany (half year, in the fall)
  • 1 section of Honors Botany (half year, in the spring)

As I said to my department coordinator today, this is pretty much as close to my dream schedule as I have come in the 6 years that I’ve been a teacher.  I’ll miss teaching sophomore Biology, but I’m happy to have the ability to focus on these classes.

We’ve had professional development for the last couple of days, and it leaves me anxious to get back to the normal schedule.  While I’ve found the work we’ve done to be important, being back in my classroom makes me look forward to meeting my students and beginning our journey of learning together.

I have high hopes for this year, as I do for every year.  I want my Botany students to transform the empty greenhouse into a beautiful learning area, allowing the other classes to use the space as well.  I want to ignite a passion for the environment in my E.S. students, or maybe fuel a fire that’s already there.  I want to go on field trips and do projects and laboratory investigations, read articles and discuss hot topics.  I love to take my students outside to learn, and I know they enjoy it, too.  I’m excited for the school year to begin.

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Filed under Outside, Sustainable Living

Open House Picnic

Yesterday was a beautiful day.  I was so happy to see so many family members and friends, and I had such a great time giving tours of our home.  The food was great, too!
Our house on this beautiful, sunny Saturday.

Our house on this beautiful, sunny Saturday.

Backyard seating for our guests.

Backyard seating for our guests.

Haybales and quilts made great additional seating.

Haybales and quilts made great additional seating.

The boys cooked clams on the grill.

The boys cooked clams on the grill.

Appetizers and beautiful flowers that were grown and arranged by my sister in law Melissa.

Appetizers and beautiful flowers that were grown and arranged by my sister in law Melissa.

My friend Sasha and me.

My friend Sasha and me.

My mom's friend Patty and my mom.  (No, they're not sisters.)

My mom's friend Patty and my mom. (They're not twins.)

Me, high school friends Alicia, Sasha, my dad, Gina and Maria (they are twins).

Me, friends Alicia and Sasha, my dad, friends Gina and Maria. (They are twins).

Alicia and her husband Vinny.

Alicia and her husband Vinny.

Ed's cousin Becky, his sister Kate, Becky's husband Mike, and Ed's Mom Marie.

Ed's cousin Becky, his sister Kate, Becky's husband Mike, Ed's mom Marie.

My friend and colleague Julie and her daughter Hannah.

My friend and colleague Julie and her daughter Hannah.

My cousin Mark with his girlfriend Joanna.

My cousin Mark with his girlfriend Joanna.

Ed gives a tour of our garden.

Ed gives a tour of our garden.

My colleagues and family.

Everyone enjoyed the food and conversation.

My brothers Jonathan and Nathaniel with our cousin Avery.

My brothers Jonathan and Nathaniel with our cousin Avery.

Ed and his cousin Gary.

Ed and his cousin Gary.

My cousin Alden helps make burgers.

My cousin Alden helps make burgers.

My brothers and me.

My brothers and me.

Thanks for coming to our home!

Thanks for coming to our home!

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Filed under Home

Our Picnic is Tomorrow!

I’m so exhausted and should be picking up in my kitchen… but I’m so excited about our picnic tomorrow! Our house is probably as clean as it will ever be.  Some of the seating is set up outside.  Most of the food is made.  I’ll be sure to post pictures, probably on Sunday, because my mom has volunteered to be my photographer, as always!  I have to say that I’m really appreciating moms this week, with both my mom and Ed’s mom helping by lending me stuff, setting up, ideas, FOOD, and support! I’m so thankful, Mom and Marie!!!

Off to pick up and then time for bed!

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Filed under Home