Friday, May 25, 2012

Peach Toast

It's been a while, I know. Things have been hectic over here. We are getting ready to move, so we're selling ALL of our furniture (moving to Texas? Need some furniture? I'm selling it all for $250), making plans for our 3 week stay in Paris (!!!), contacting real estate agents in Boston to search for apartments. Overall craziness in the Shah-Hoppenfeld household. 

So hectic in fact, that I actually forgot to go grocery shopping last week. Well, not really forgot. It was a mixture of laziness and the epiphany that we will actually have to eat all the food in our pantry before we leave in about 2 weeks. So I've been trying to get a little...creative. Hence--peach toast! 

Usually for lunch Tyler and I have a sandwich, and we end up with the ends of the bread. I've used these for a few different things--bread crumbs, croutons, but my new favorite is breakfast peach toast. Sometimes the best things in life are simple. Toasted bread, butter, sliced peaches, and a sprinkling of sugar. The toast has been a nice reminder of simplicity that can be pretty, and tasty.

Peach Toast

Slice of Bread 
Square of butter
Fresh, ripe peach, sliced
1 tsp. white or brown sugar. 

Toast the bread in your broiler or toaster. Then spread the butter on the bread and toast for a little while longer. Then place the sliced peach on top of the toast, and sprinkle the sugar on top and viola! Pan avec peaches :-) (Frenglish) 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mistake: Commentary on Douthat's latest article

Everyone makes mistakes. I made one today, I read the Ross Douthat column. My husband saw my hand making a increasingly taunt fist on the table, and immediately forwarded me a funny online comic.

I really shouldn't read them. It's not that I don't appreciate the other view, I do when it's well thought out and does not simply ignore reality. He claims Obama has ignored discussing unemployment rates and the economy in favor of discussing social issues. True, the past few weeks have been flooded with social debates, rather than commentary on the economy. Why though? Because the social issues have been forced to the forefront by the GOP, and what else is the President to do other than to respond? It is a campaign year, and it is a bit ridiculous to fault him for commenting on the numerous GOP foot-in-mouth moments (re: Rush Limbaugh calling a law student a slut).

Yes, social issues have taken over the news coverage greatly for the past few months. Many Republican pundits have lamented that we are talking about these "inferior" issues rather than the main issue facing America--the economy. I could not disagree more. While we are most certainly grappling with global economic crisis, we must never forget that it is more than the economy that affects citizen's lives--the social issues affect us everyday: access to health care, women's health, the ability to have your relationship federally recognized, freedom of speech no matter how repulsive, education allowing for social mobility, etc. These issues cannot be ignored, they are truly the foundation of our country and what makes us still the country where many people would (and do) walk through fire to live in.

Will the President address his economic policy and the unemployment rate in this country? Most certainly, after all, he will be forced to on the campaign trail. Do I think most Americans can understand that this is a global crisis, and it will take time, more than 4 years to pull us fully into the black again? Yes. Do I think most Americans will think we are better off now than in 2008, and realize that going back to Bush-era economic policies would be devastating? I sure hope so. But to endeavor to fault the President for responding to social issues that are critically important, well that is simply foolish and narrow-minded Mr. Douthat.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A lot

A lot has happened in the past few days. President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage, Tyler finished his final class at UTSA, my students took my Biology end of course (EOC) exam, and we went to a great restaurant.

I don't think I'll get to all that in this post. Let's take one thing at a time.

Today honestly felt like nothing I have ever experienced before. Watching my students take the EOC test was a moment that made me understand a little bit what parents probably feel towards their children--an overwhelming sense of pride. I saw them open up their test books, I saw them underline, highlight, star, cross off answers...use all the techniques I taught them. I saw them pick the right answers, I saw them get confused and pick the wrong answer. But they worked so hard, and I just couldn't help the smile plastered on my face for the first 30 minutes of class.

One student in particular, B, came to my tutoring since...February. Any time I had tutoring, she'd be there. During school, after school, heck, even once before school I think. And I was lucky enough to be testing with her today. I feel an unexpected attachment to her and a deep investment in how she did on the test. Just watching her circle the word transcription and write DNA --> mRNA on the paper was just enough to make me understand...remember, realize, why I did Teach For America. I taught her that. I did! Not any random thing, but me...up in the front of a class, coming up with lessons, teaching the general and nuances. Isn't that amazing to think about? If I didn't teach it, they didn't learn it. Sometimes the weight of responsibility becomes all too apparent. I am so proud to have been able to be her teacher, and well, a teacher to all my students--even the ones that make me want to tear my hair out.

There is an indescribable value to having good teachers in this world. Am I the best teacher? By far and away no. But I care about my students, invest time and effort, and if I were staying in the profession, I might I would get there. I hope that something can happen soon in terms of education reform to make it possible for all students to receive an equal and fair education by well trained teachers implementing best practices.

Either way, today has made me thankful, proud, and happy. I feel like I have accomplished something, even just a little. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How To: Learning a New Language

As I have mentioned a few times, Tyler and I will be going to France this summer! So, we decided to try and learn French, in part because I think it would be fun to learn a new language together, and in part because it's respectful to the country and culture we're visiting.

I knew when we started that we would not be fluent by the time we go to France, definitely far from it, but I hoped we'd know enough French to get around and have basic conversation. To this end, we found a French tutor on craigslist, and got started!

Our first French tutor was...well, not good. So we hired another one, and she is great! Bi-weekly, we practice our French conversations and pronunciations with her, and it's been well worth every dollar spent. But, she also suggested that we get an audio-tutor to listen to the French language and learn more daily. In particular, she suggested the Pimsleur Language Program, a set of audio CDs that we could get for free from our local library, and listen to in our cars, while walking the dog, etc.

If you are interested in learning a new language, but you want to hire a tutor, I'm telling you--this is the way to do it. These Pimsleur programs are around 30 minutes each, and they teaching you starting at the very basic level, provide you oral practice each lesson, and build up slowly, lesson by lesson.

I got the French CDs from the library, starting with French 1A, and I've already learned so much! I'm only on lesson 8 right now, but I can have a basic French conversation (albeit, a conversation about how you are, where you want to eat, when you want to eat, what you want to eat, etc.) and it's quite exciting.

So, my suggestion--if you want to learn a new language, check out these Pimsleur CDs from your library. You can even rip them onto your computer and upload them to your iPod/iPhone. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Quick Dinner Idea: Cheese and Bread Edition

So Tyler and I don't really go out to eat much, both to save money and to eat healthfully. But most days, neither of us have the time or energy to prepare an elaborate meal...hence this post! A quick dinner, made while we were both sick and feeling like crap. It didn't take a lot of time or a lot of money. 

Meal Components: Cheese, Bread, Fruit, Butter, Dulce de Leche spread
Protein: Cheese

Cheeses: Le Petit Brie, Stilton, Parmesan, Landaff, Mimolette. I really just picked up two cheeses from the store, and used whatever extra we had in the fridge. The trick is, balance it out: have one brie, one hard cheese like a gruyere or a parmesan, and one stinky cheese like a blue cheese. Or if you don't like blue, try goat cheese! Or maybe a sharp cheddar? 

Butter: Dill butter. I used old herbs I had in the fridge. You can easy just take a stick of room temperature butter and mix it in with dried italian seasoning. 

Fruit: The fruit is great to off set the flavor of the cheese. Try apples, pears, peaches, and even grapes. I also tossed in some Kumquats that I picked up from the store because Tyler loves them. Either way, fruit is a must...because it adds roundness to the meal. 

Spread: You can either buy dulce de leche from the store, or make it at home...either way, it's great, and I'll definitely do a post about it soon. But if you don't want to do that, go with something honey. It's amazing how good honey, parmesan, and a slice of apple are on a slice of baguette. 

Anyways, mix it up! Use the baguette as a vessel and try different layers of the cheese, fruit, and spread to see how things taste. Quick, interesting weeknight dinner!