This weeks Cooler Challenge was Chili, no restrictions…

….and there were some great submissions!

With no particular order in mind, here they are!

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Well, there was an order of sorts, this Is Nancie’s chili we made on Saturday. Good stuff! E-mail me for the recipe!

mary walter mokowski chili

Mary Wolter Makowski……

woo2chili

Woo Brower…..

steven j perry chili

Steven J. Perry.

Lauri Polunskychili

Lauri Polunsky.

Brooke Brickman chili

My favorite pic of the week. Brooke Brickman!

NormaKnepp chili

Norma Knepp, who makes the best pizza this side of the Rockies!

Aaronn Bretveldchili

Aaronn Bretfeld.

Lindamir3echili

Linda Mire.

traci bump 5

Traci Bump.

Sherri Medley

Sherri Medley.

Katy O'Donavon Peterson

Katy O’Donavon

Madelyn Rodriguez veggie

Madelyn Rodriguez veggie chili!

That’s a wrap!

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Here’s my rant, take it for what it’s worth.

When I started teaching 27 years ago (5th grade), in May we’d give the Stanford Achievement Tests. 4 days, maybe an hour a day and done. The tests would be mailed out, and the results would come back and you’d have a reasonably good idea of how kids stacked up against each other. Never had to leave the class.

Fast forward to 2012 (last year). In September, I’m out of the class for 2 days doing Fountas and Pinell assessments , even though the same kids had them done in May.

Then the reading intervention teachers have to do a Dibels baseline on Oral Reading Fluency, which takes a week. And they take another week at mid-year to do the same, so the kids aren’t getting any instruction.

Then at mid-year, I take another day to do more F & P testing to determine how much growth they’ve had.

In the Spring, there’s the ELA and Math exams which take up a full week.

Then, we teachers, have to score the exams before they get sent out to be given a magic number by State Ed. and if we’re lucky, we get the results by September.

I was out of my class 9.5 days last year for testing and test scoring. Multiply that by 2 or 3 teachers per grade level, factor in sub costs, and lack of instruction, unless your sub is a retired teacher, which is rare.

The Governor wants to extend the school year? Why? So we can give more tests?

I could go on and on about the implementation of APPR and why introducing new standards and evaluations simultaneously is too much for a teacher with kids who need instruction is ridiculous, but I’ll stop.

Our school has become all about test prep and it makes me sad. We have incredible teachers and they are being instructed to teach to the test. In the past week I’ve had at least a dozen e-mails about test prep and it makes me want to puke.

I don’t want to play this game and I won’t.

Kids need to be nurtured and taught based on their own strengths and weaknesses.

Testing them constantly does not reflect their potential, especially when they’re 10 years old. We’re killing creativity with kids and their teachers.

The system is broken, Albany is on Pearson’s payroll, and our kids suffer. And sadly, like lemmings going off the cliff, the majority of school administrators drink the Kool-Aid and follow.

It’s sad kids, it’s sad.

 

He’s in the rolls this time.

My good friend and blogging buddy Dr. Fugawe, is about as experienced a bread maker/baker as I’ve ever met (I’d love to get Doc and Dhorst together!)

He’s also an incredible writer  Every time I read his blog I learn and this post is no exception.  His comments on sticking with one recipe and repeating it over and over with minor tweaks and adjustments makes so much sense.

He makes the breads that I aspire to make, but for one reason or another have not committed myself to yet.

A fear of failure, perhaps? Maybe, maybe not.

More like I’m a world class procrastinator (or just goddamn lazy) and it’s on the list with 100 other things I should be doing last week.

At any rate, do yourself a favor and check out his post  on Nut Milk Club Rolls.

http://drfugawe.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/a-baker-journey-bread-time-and-nuts/

If you’re a breadhead you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s a pic of the finished product. Killer.

Docs nut milk rolls

This week it was profiteroles,  Wicked looking dessert cream puff style edible yummies.

Not a lot of takers, but those that did, my god, I’d pay right now to have a half dozen of each!

Up first! Woo Brower!

Seriously, if that pic doesn’t make your saliva glands go gaga, you need to see the Doc!

woo brower

Next!

Casey Fisher. The drizzled chocolate alone makes me want to scream, “I’ll have two!”

casey fisher 2

Here’s a pan that Casey Fisher made!  Send some here please!

casey fisher profit

And….

 Kel Hinkle in her own words- “Ugliest profiteroles on the planet made into the most amazing profiteroles on the planet. How, you ask? By filling them with Nutella mousse! =)”kel hinkle

Finally, Sheryl Wolter, who makes ’em like my mom used too. Those were the days!

In her words, “Lemon curd profiteroles! Yummy.”

sheryl wolter  profit

And that concludes this weeks Cooler Challenge. Thanks for playing and see you next week!

This past weeks Cooler Challenge was Babka.

Babka has strong Eastern European roots, and there are a lot of variations.

In Polish it translates to Grandmother, and is traditionally an Easter bread.

It’s sweet, and as such can contain dried fruits, chocolate, cinnamon, or many other ingredients.

Below are some fabulous pics from the Cooler crowd.

am3babka

Here’s Anne Marie’s dough with lots of chocolate!

am2babka

Anne Marie’s fished loaf.

AnneMariebabka

Crumb shot from Anne Marie.  I was the recipient of a slice and I can attest that it was outstanding.

sheyrl Wolter1

Sheryl Wolter finished loaf.

sheryl Wolter 2

Sheryl Wolter crumb!  Layers of yum!

jill astmann2

Jill Astmann braid. How cool is that?  That is art!

jill astmannbabka

Jill’s finished loaf. Love it.

brooke brickman1

Brooke Brickman ,Savoury babka with onion, pepper and smoked sausage filling — baked and sliced!

renne vom meechow

Renee Von Meechow. Sweet!

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DM Cavanagh. 3 loaves at once! DM used  Here’s what he had to say-“These were a real “challenge”, a lot of effort when into them along with over 2 pounds of chocolate, 5 sticks of butter, 5 eggs, 2 cups of sugar and a struggle with my food processor.”

dm crumb

DM Cav’s crumb shot. Yes, yes….

casey fisher1

Casey Fisher, fruitilicious!

And if you’ve never seen this, it’ll make you giggle…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i78azsi7M94

That concludes this weeks edition of The Cooler Challenge, stay tuned to see what happens next week!

Remember Marlon Brando in the Godfather? When one of his soldiers asked him how he was going to get some guy to do what he (The Godfather) had ordered, he said, “We;ll give him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Well, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse yesterday.

In the morning Nancie said, “We’re going to Lake Placid after work.”  She wanted to hit the outlets, looking for sweaters, since we still have another 3 or 4 months of winter.

My immediate thought (which I didn’t verbalize) was, “Oh great, The Gap, Bass, Van Heusen, and tons of tourists in their Uggs.”

As soon as I thought that, she said, “And after you can pick a restaurant to go to, any one, for your birthday.”

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

So, then I had to decide. I tend to procrastinate when faced with mighty decisions, but this wasn’t so difficult. I briefly considered Steak and Seafood on Main St. It’s an old standby and serves a solid meal.

l and s menu header

But then I reconsidered, there’s been a lot of buzz about Liquids and Solids. This is a restaurant co-owned by Tupper Lake native Keegan Konkoski.

I went on line, looked at the menu, paused, and said, ” that’s it.”

Liquids and Solids.

http://liquidsandsolids.com/

Many of my co-workers have been there, and they all rave about it. So I had to see for myself. I’ll tell you this, it didn’t disappoint.

So, after Nancie’s sweater hunt (Oh yes, she scored some sweaters, but that’s another story) , we arrived just after 5 PM. It being a Friday I was worried that it would be packed, but there were a lot of good seats available.

The seats were high back stools, on a raised table, very comfy.  The lighting is toned down and the music funky, but you can carry on a conversation with no problem.

We received menus, which are on standard print paper on clipboards. At first glance kind of weird, but from a recycling point of view practical, and really, who remembers the thing you ordered off of?

They source a lot of their food locally, and that’s cool.

Our waitress was sharp, informative, and busy.  That said, she was attentive. She delivered water, and took our drink order.  Nancie ordered a 7 & 7. But, no Seagrams, and no 7, so she settled on a bourbon and ginger ale. No problem.

Me, I ordered a Mother’s Milk Stout. http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/6980/16385It was on tap, and made in Kingston, NY.  I’d have had another but the beer menu wouldn’t allow me too.

For my second beer I ordered a Trois Pistoles, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Once again, I was amazed at the flavors one liquid could hold. This is a beer you savor, and drink like a wine. http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/22/30

Next we ordered an App. Fried Brussel Sprouts. A lot of my friends said you have to try them, and damn they were awesome. I could have consumed a ton. Seriously, one of the best apps I’ve ever had. If you don’t like Brussel Sprouts now, you will after you have these.

Then, the menu. http://liquidsandsolids.com/solids.html

I ordered the Kale and Goat Cheese ravioli with Oxtail Ragout.

It was fabulous. There were three large raviolis with the ragout on top, and my oh my it was delicious. The flavors blend and meld and it was another dish I could have just kept eating forever. The portions are perfect, you can’t get stuffed, which allows for more eating!

Nancie ordered goat sausage on polenta with eggplant and apple. I tried the sausage, it was to die for.

For dessert Nancie had Creme brulee and coconut canoli. I sampled both and they were killer!

I brought home a maple marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker tart  w/ maple syrup.

Suffice it to say it was consumed in one sitting. Outstanding!

We finished off the evening with  a Maple and Spice. Bourbon, Maple Syrup, Cayenne pepper lemon juice and apple juice, with a big slice of apple on top.  Uh, really, pepper and apple and maple syrup?

Yes, really. Keegan is a master of flavors and this just flat out works. What a way to finish the night.

Dinner for two w/ drinks, before tip was $87 which quite frankly, is a bargain for the quality of the liquids and solids we consumed.

If you’re a meat and tater kind of person, the menu may not appeal, although there is an awesome burger on the menu.  That said, if you’re sick of the same old, same old, you have to go here.

Was all the buzz about Liquids and Solids correct? Hell, yes.

I’ll be back.

The latest challenge we’ve had in the Cooler was pizza.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Cooler, it’s a FB group comprised of folks that like to eat.

On a semi-regular basis we have a challenge where said folks can take the theme and run with it. The only rule is to have fun.

It’s a great opportunity for the new and experienced bakers to experiment and share.

The pizzas below display the talent of the home pizza maker, and man there are some outstanding pies.

If you have any questions about any of the pies leave a comment and I’ll get the answer!

Without further ado, here they are.

amy klein2

Amy Klein Detroit Style, above and below.

AMy Klein Detroit Style

Rose Strong, above and below.

rose strong2

heather ryan 1Heather Ryan

sheryl wolter1Sheryl Wolter

judy k dawson2Judy K. Dawson

norma knepp

Norma Knepp above and below.

norma knepp2

norma knepp detroitNorma Knepp’s Authentic Detroit Style Pizza. Norma’s got it goin on!

suzanne b snyderSuzanne. B. Snyder

meYours truly.

katie mireKate Mire

brooke brickman cheeselessBrooke Brickman Cheeseless

traci bumpTraci Bump

sharyl wolterSharyl Wolter #2

lauri polunsky sliced eggplant, purged with salt, broiled and topped with sauce, pepperoni and cheese.Lauri Polunsky-sliced-eggplant-purged-with-salt-broiled-and-topped-with-sauce-pepperoni-and-cheese.

mauritta ploofMaurita Ploof

dmc 1Dave Cavanagh

tslamb2T.s. Lamb

sharyl wolter2Sharyl Wolter

mary mistretta polovinukMary Mistretta Polovinuk

d horst stuffed turtle pieDiana Horst Stuffed Pizza-Isn’t he cute!

casey fisherCasey Fisher

steven j perrySteven J. Perry

steven j perry 2Steven J. Perry 2

AML 1Detroit Style we made at Jack and Anne Marie’s Friday night

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAYours truly #2.

And that wraps it up, quite a collection of pizza, I’d do ’em all!

Next weeks challenge-Babka!