Monthly Archives: August 2008

Mad Cow


Last night, I was trolling EBay while watching TV.  I don’t know how, but I came upon an auction for a spectacular painted circle skirt with nopales on it.  It had stains on it, but I kept looking at the great designs I found.  Then, I happened upon the matador skirt.  I impulsively bid on it, but did not make the reserve.  I tried again, promising myself I would stop after that.  I had already bid way too much.

I then sent an e-mail to the auctioneer, asking just what the reserve was.  It was $150 plus $10 shipping. I tried to get her to go lower, but she held firm.  I slept on it (thank goodness pay day is not until Friday) and went to school.  While my students were reading their library books, I surreptitiously took a piece of yarn and wrapped it around my waist.  I then measured it using a ruler on my desk.  I looked at my measurement, then looked again at the waist measurement of the skirt.

Let’s just say they did not match.

That led me to start thinking about painting my own skirt.  Of course I don’t sew, but I could get help from my mother and there were all sorts of helpful tutorials on the internet. This website had a diagram showing where to cut the fabric.  I found another one written by a man who apparently likes wearing skirts (and kilts).  And this one stressed the importance of hanging the panels to stretch the bias before cutting the hemline.

I am sure I will forget about it – I have a lot of projects to keep me busy right now.  Still, I decided to look for a pattern of some pants I saw almost 10 years ago in Paris.  You put them on like a diaper, then tie the top of the pants to adjust the leg openings.  After a bit of mis-Googling, I found out they are called Thai fisherman’s pantsHere was a great tutorial by MediaTinker – with sketches and everything.  It looks so easy…for a person who knows how to sew…  This is what they look like and this is how to put them on.  Maybe I will order a pair before I decide.


Cockroach Cupcakes, Anyone?


So, today I did a bit of wandering.  I originally wanted sushi, but the Marietta branch of RuSan is no longer open on Sunday.  So, I wended my way north and got onto 120 East to take the “long way” home.

I thought I might pick up an etouffee stuffed chicken at Cajun Meat Company, but of course, they were closed, too.  Next stop was T J Maxx, where I picked up a new skirt, a 4 qt. pan, and some stickers.  At Michaels, I was able to find more craft crosses – I pick them up whenever I can because it does not seem possible to order them on the Web.  My last recreational stop was at Party City.

I sometimes stop by Party City to see if there are any small items I can use in my assemblage art.  They also have a lot of cool party confetti in different shapes and sizes.  I found some plastic ball bearing puzzles with clear lids to make more of my Day of the Dead fridge magnets.  Finally I went over to look at the Halloween items – they were not done putting them up yet  So I browsed the Clearance wall.  That is when I saw them: The Harry Potter Cockroach Clusters.  They were on clearance for 50 cents a package (that would be 25 cents per cockroach).  I picked up one that had not been crushed and bought it.  They normally go for $3.00 or more ($1.50 a cockroach).

In the back of my mind was to use the cockroaches as cupcake toppers.  Immediately, I thought of a couple of party themes that are not even Harry Potter related.  Carmen Agra Deedy, a local Cuban writer, has a book out called Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach.   It is based on a Cuban folk tale, sooooo.  Cuban sandwiches, faux mojitos (limeade with mint), and cockroach cupcakes!!!  What about Wall-E?  There was a cockroach there – but maybe it would seem cruel to eat characters in a book or movie…

I did open them and attempt to eat one.  I don’t know what I was expecting – maybe a chocolate covered marshmallow thing?  “Cluster” – to me – implies a nut and caramel thing, but I wasn’t expecting that. It was not either one.  It’s made of orange jellied candy – I could not bite through it and did not try. Here is how the Candy Warehouse describes it:

Have you ever seen a giant cockroach scurry across the floor? Stomped on the poor creatures as they tried to flee to their dark lair? Now these delectable critters want to lay eggs and nest in your mouth! Dare to eat a sweet tasty “bug” treat from the world of Harry Potter! The juicy gummy underbelly is covered with a crunchy candy shell, just like real cockroach wings. Even the underbelly of these candy creatures looks real.

It was just an idea.

Post Script:  While searching for pictures, I came across a recipe or two for home made cockroach clusters:  This one calls for chow mein noodles and chocolate, but I saw one with raisins and pretzel sticks, too.

Melt your chocolate until smooth. Stir in chow mein noodles until the mixture is thick enough to hold together. Spoon bite-sized clusters onto wax paper and let harden in the refrigerator. If you want longer-lasting candy, melt 1 stick cooking paraffin per 12 oz of chocolate before adding the noodles. These can be frozen, just thaw before serving.

It probably tastes good, but they aren’t a spectacular, either!

Canneles de Bordeaux (Secret Recipe)


Tonight, I had my first taste of Cannelés de Bordeaux.   I have lived in France for two years, and visited there several times since.  I visited Bordeaux for the 1986 Jumping de Bordeaux with a friend.  But I did not try the cannelés – they did not have the internet back then, or I might have known!

Here is a description and recipe from The Food Network:
These extraordinary little confections are a specialty of Bordeaux, where nuns were said to have created them more than 200 years ago using the flour they salvaged from the holds of sailing ships anchored in the Port de la Lune. I like to call them “portable creme brulee” because they contrast a crunchy caramelized exterior with a moist, custardy center. This recipe is a bit particular. You really need authentic copper cannele molds and you really do need to coat them with beeswax (which you can find at some health-food store and farmer’s markets). The wax makes the unmolding easier, and – most important ? gives the canneles their distinctive, crunchy crust. Make sure you let the batter rest for the full twelve hours. The best way to eat these is with a cup of strong coffee. You can also serve them as a dessert, cut in half and drizzled with caramel sauce.

3 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
7 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pastry flour
1 extra-large egg yolk
2 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons dark rum
3 ounces beeswax, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

In a small saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla bean, and its scrapings. Bring the milk to the scalding point over medium high heat, then remove the pan from the heat and add the 3 tablespoons of butter. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, eggs and rum. Whisk the egg mixture into the sugar and flour mixture, then whisk in the lukewarm milk mixture. Strain into a container; cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

To prepare molds for baking, melt the beeswax in a saucepan over low heat. Add the remaining 3/4 cup butter to the melted wax and stir until the butter is melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and, using a narrow pastry brush, carefully coat the inside of 18 (2 by 1-inch) canneles molds. (Dedicate this brush to canneles making because the wax will get into the brush.) If the wax mixture starts to set up or thicken, return it to the heat for a moment until it thins.

Remove the batter from the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before baking it.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the waxed canneles molds on a heavy baking sheet with a rim to prevent any wax and butter that melts from the molds from dripping onto the bottom of your oven and creating a fire hazard. Fill the molds 3/4 full with the batter, whisking the batter frequently and well to ensure that the sugar and flour remain evenly distributed.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the surface of the canneles is dark brown. Remove from the oven, being very careful not to spill any of the hot wax on yourself. (It is wise to keep children and pets out of the kitchen during this part of the process.) Using tongs or an old towel, pick up each mold and tap it upside down to remove the canneles. If it doesn’t come out after a few taps, using a paring knife to loosen it from the sides. And…viola! Serve warm from the oven.

Here are a couple of other recipes:

From Tartelette’s Blog

Chocolate, Ginger, and Cardamom Cannelés

Tutorial with great pictures

Let me add that this is one of those delicacies that challenge far better self-taught cooks than myself. You need to find beeswax, for example, to line the tins.  You also need special copper molds.  I found a couple of sources:

Individual Copper Molds – and Williams-Sonoma – expensive, too expensive.  An alternative is the Nordic Mini Bundt Pan.  They make 12, I think.  I actually got one for Christmas, but traded it in for other stuff.

Silicone Cannele Pans are available from and  No need for beeswax or butter, but less authentic results.  But the advantage is that you get molds for 6 to 8 for a fraction of the cost of the copper molds.


(drum roll, please)

You can just buy them from Trader Joes’!!!!!  Yep – they are selling boxes of 6 frozen Canneles de Bordeaux for under $4.  Beeswax and all!  You just pop them in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds, and voila!  France on your plate.  Now, I thought they could use a bit more rum, but that can be remedied.

I can’t wait to serve them at a dinner party.  Maybe one or two on a plate accompanied by poached pears, vanilla ice cream, and that lovely Pear Cinnamon Caramel Sauce from the King’s Cupboard.  Doesn’t that sound divine?

Oh, I just found packages of two Cherry Clafoutis at Trader Joe’s! (11/15/08).

And We’re Off!


Well, if you have been wondering where I’ve been…school’s started.  Enough said?

I returned to school, hoping to find some way to convince my administrators to let me keep my room.  You know, the room that I moved to last year and lovingly decorated and organized in anticipation of teaching ESOL?  Then, I was reassigned to a computer lab teaching Rosetta Stone French.  I got to keep my stuff in the room, but only used it to serve breakfast during advisement and as a refuge during my planning period.

Then, I was told that (good news!) I would again be teaching ESOL (8th Grade), but I would need to move to the room that is set up with computers for the Read 180 program (don’t ask). I decided not to think about it for the summer time.  I had a plan to explain to my powers-that-be that my room would accommodate the Read 180 computers without any great expenditure by the school.  This plan worked, but not until half of my classroom had been moved next door…  After it was moved back (willy-nilly), I spent two days getting my room organized again.  It looks good!

Then, I had a training day and a half on MYP Assessment.  There was some worthwhile stuff there, but it was still too long for a training session.

Okay, they will always be too long.

Our new principal has actually been great about allowing us time to work in our classrooms.  We had an open house Wednesday afternoon so that the kids could locate their classrooms.  We got our rosters, and that was the first sign that the times they are a changin’.

You see, our school system just got approved to become a charter school system.  All of the positive angles were emphasized, and I was even motivated to read the charter proposal to make sure that tenure was still going to be honored (for what that’s worth).  Well, so far, I found out that being a charter school means that we don’t have to follow the state guidelines that limit the size of ESOL classrooms.  In the past, a class was limited to 11 students per teacher – 14 students if we had an aide in the classroom.  Well, I found out about the change last week and added 3 more desks to accommodate 15 students.  I just looked into I-Cue, and I have one class that could possibly have 19 students.  Great.

I also found out that I will be teaching Georgia History to the International Academy students.  The IA is for new arrivals, so their English is limited.  Very limited.  I have counted two so far that were unable to speak English at all.  I won’t go into how annoying it is to find out that, just because a random certification in Social Studies mysteriously appeared on my teaching certificate that doesn’t mean I am “highly qualified” to teach Georgia History (hello?  I am from Louisiana – give me LA history!).  It will all just have to work out.

So far, my kids are great.  I have more Brazilian students than I have had in a while, and two students from Africa (one from the Gambia and the other from Kenya).  I spent some time looking for Brazilian folk art and folk tale resources and found a few.

For the first two days, I gave my students writing, listening, and grammar assessments.  I need to find a reading assessment.  I also showed them how to fold an 8 page booklet from one piece of paper and had them fill it with anything they wanted.  Some wrote a story, some did a picture book, one did a dictionary – it was pretty cool.