25 November 2006

Clips of My Autumn-- Marbled Pound Cake too...

Flowers my mom gifted me; fish cakes A. made, studying with gigantic chocolate chip cookies that I made....

The last photo will, I hope, explain the lack of posting this fall!

I finished my first practicum (4 weeks) about a week ago at Riverdale CI in downtown Toronto's east end--it was a lot of work teaching English for the first time. I managed to teach the grade nines "The Chrysalids," the grade tens "Lord of the Flies" and the grade elevens "Brave New World"--I also created a media literacy unit for the grade elevens in which I crammed way too many concepts in way too few lessons! I guess when you make mistakes you actually learn more....at least that's what everyone tells me!

I have come to question the way English is taught at the Secondary school level as well, and am starting to do my own investigations into alternative conceptions of the literacy classroom--something called the reading and writing workshop where the central material is the stuff of the students' lives. "Covering" or "teaching" pieces of literature, where the teacher is the ultimate authority on the truth, changes instead into using texts and poems and memoirs as jumping off points for the students' own thinking and writing, and students work consistently toward a meaningful project of their choice, working in "writers' notebooks" and exploring different writing types and styles.

Hmmm--this career is going to take a lot of work/patience/revolution/dedication..... It's funny though because I finally feel as if I'm working toward something that is meaningful to me. I think when it comes to a career, I needed something that requires a constant pushing, thinking, improving. The contact with the students is at times the hardest part of the job--but it is also the most satisfying.

In the kitchen: I recently made a basic "pound cake" loaf and marbled it with chocolate--it was perfect because, if you reduce the sugar just enough, you are left with a buttery, chocolaty, creamy flavour. It worked really well--unfortunately I don't have a photo but will include the simple recipe anyway--ideal for a snack when studying! Adapted from the "Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts":


-9 X 5 loaf pan

-1 cup butter at room temp
-3/4 - 1 cup sugar
-4 eggs
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
-1/3 cup milk

-4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour the pan
2. Over a pot of gently boiling water, melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl, stirring occasionally
3. Cream the butter until light, adding the sugar then the eggs one at a time until incorporated
4. Add the vanilla, salt, and baking powder, mixing well
5. At low speed, mix in the flour until just incorporated, then add the milk and blend for another minute
6. Remove half of the batter, placing it in a small bowl
7. Add the melted, somewhat cooled chocolate to the remaining batter and mix until incorporated
8. Layer the chocolate and vanilla batter in the baking pan. Run the tines of a fork or the tip of a knife through it to marble.
9. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, and cool in the pan on a rack before serving.