Monthly Archives: October 2009

Chocolate Monday: With a twist

Ok, so I’m taking a little break from chocolate. Not that I don’t still love it, but in the spirit of fall and Halloween, I want to mention a seasonal favorite of mine: caramel apples.

Now I have been a fan of this delicious mixing of fruit and candy since the first time one was put into my hand in early childhood. I have fond memories of my mom buying caramel apple kids, which were basically large circles of pressed caramel and sticks. She would also buy several apples and we’d come home, lay out the caramel disks, wrap our apples up, stab ’em with sticks and indulge.

I didn’t have to have my caramel apples on sticks either. Once, after going to a church alternaween celebration (basically kids games in our churh parking lot where we still got to dress up in non-scary costumes and win our candy along with religious tracks about the evils of Halloween) and winning a ton of caramels, I got my mom to cut apple slices for me and alternated between taking a bite of caramel and a bite of apple. Not quite as joyous as the one on a stick, but it worked in a pinch.

In my teen years I sort of  forgot about my childhood treat. They weren’t around anywhere and I never went out of my way to combine them. I’m actually not sure I had one between the ages of 14-22. It wasn’t until an ex took me to a pumpking patch (something I’d never actually seen during my childhood in Southern California). It was there I rediscovered caramel apples.

My yearly trip to the patch meant not only a great pumpkin to carve and a slider slushy (bees optional), but also at least one piece of caramel heaven.

This year I not only got my regular apple at my usual patch, but had one brought to me by a student from another local patch. Then, since I got so many apples to make cobblers and cakes with, I also grabbed a tub of caramel dip made by Concord Foods.

One thing I’ve never understood about people who make caramel apples is why they would use red delicious or other mealy apples underneath the actual caramel. It ruins the whole taste. All good caramel apples should be made from tart apples. And yet, it always amazes me when I bite into an apple and it’s, well, not even a bit sweet.

So this time, my first apple was pretty good. I was a bit worried when I looked at the bottom of the apple and saw it was red. Red apples often spell trouble in the taste world. However, it did have a hint of sweetness to it that saved it. While not the best apple I’ve ever had, it was pretty tasty. I was, a little disappointed with the amount of caramel that stuck on the plastic wrap, but I fixed that by basically eating the caramel off of it.

The second apple was definitely a tarter apple. The problem with this one is that almost half the caramel came off in the wrapper, which was basically like a cupcake wrapper. Who wraps caramel in paper? That just isn’t going to work. Once again, I found myself gnawing through paper to try to get all of the caramel off. It didn’t work.

The biggest disappointment to me though, was the cut up apple and dip. The dip was great. Good caramel flavor. Nice and creamy. The problem was the apple. Despite being labelled a golden delicious, it had no hint of tartness to it. It didn’t ruin it exactly, but it definitely put a damper on my caramel apple experience. I’m hoping that at least a few of the other apples I have in my bags will be a bit sweeter. If not, I might have to make a trip to the store.

The best part about the dip is that my caramel apple experience gets to continue for at least another week or so. Plus, there’s always next year.

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Toddling on my last nerve

I’ve never been a fan of corporal punishment, but my two year old is making me rethink my entire belief system. Now I’m not trying to start some sort of debate about the pros and cons of spanking. I am not writing to praise or villify any parent. I’m only speaking from my perspective, and all I can say is that my patience is wearing thin.

I don’t really remember being physically punished as a child. I can count the number of times either of my parents raised a hand to me on one hand, with fingers to spare. If I got spanked more than the once I remember, well, I don’t remember it. My parents were always bigger on punishments like standing in the corner, grounding and the dreaded “talking to”–which, with my dad could last an hour or more. Granted, most of these punishments were when I got a bit older, but they are the ones I remember.

My husband, on the other hand, got spanked. And often from what I can tell. I think there may have even been a belt involved. I haven’t asked many questions. He knows I’m a pretty strong believer in not hitting kids, and he hasn’t really pushed the issue. He remembers his spankings, very well.

To spank or not to spank, isn’t really the issue here. My issue is with an amazingly willful two and a half year old. He can be the sweetest child on the planet. He loves cuddling up with me under a blanket and reading or watching Sesame Street. He wraps his arms around me for big hugs and tells me he loves me. He has no problems giving me (or most people he knows well) kisses. He laughs, he jokes, he’s great…like 80% of the time.

Then, there’s the other 20%, like tonight. We had a great day. I picked him up from the sitter and he was so excited to see me he wrapped those tiny arms around me and just hugged. We talked and sang all the way home. At the grocery store he helped me carry the basket and stayed right with me, no problems. We snuggled and watched Thomas the Train. We ate a great dinner. We even made it to Lowe’s to get paint for his new room.

All was well until it was time for bed. Usually he puts up no fight. When his timer goes off he heads back and we get teeth brushed, jammies on and stories read. Sure, he may lay in his bed and talk to himself for an hour, but he’s fine with it. Tonight he ran from us. We had to pry his Play-Doh out of his hand and I had to pick him up and carry him literally kicking and screaming to his room.

When I tried to change his diaper on his bed (I’m four months pregnant and getting up while I’m not really showing, I’m starting to feel pregnant and getting up and down off the floor is not so fun), he threw a real whopper of a temper tantrum. I tried explaining that I was hurting and couldn’t change him on the floor. It only seemed to raise his ire. He screamed and yelled. He told me, “you will not change me here.” My husband had to hold him down and even then I barely managed to get another diaper on him. It was awful.

My husband finally squirted a little water on him in an attempt to break the tantrum, which kind of worked. He forgot about his diaper issues and was, instead, balling because he got wet. Then he clung to me and sobbed for a few minutes. We spoke soothingly to him, rubbed his back and he calmed down. He even let me put him right back on the dreaded bed to get his jammies on. He brushed his teeth with no fuss. He was even excited about stories with my husband.

I have no idea what happened, but for about five minutes, a demon inhabited my home.

This is true at least once a day. Usually I’m lucky and my husband is home to help with it. Sometimes he throws a fit like that in Khol’s (after he’s been grabbed and carried because he decided it’d be fun to run away down and hide in the aisles). He’s taken to saying things like “I’m tired of this” and “You don’t talk to me like that” in very loud and harsh tones. Just like all two year olds, he’s also fond of the the word “no.”

Maybe I’m just taking this all too hard because I am pregnant and exhausted 90% of the time. I see other kids his age and their behavior seems equally attrocious at times, so I know it’s not just my kid. I just worry that this lovely phase is going to outlast my fairly cool level headedness. I’m getting a tad bit hormonal and I’m not sure how that’s going to manifest itself. Last pregnancy I just had obnoxious students to take it out on. This time around I have those and a toddler who thinks he’s a teenager.

Sigh…someone tell me this will pass.

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Chocolate Monday: Godiva Berry Boats

godivaI have a weakness for fruit. When you add chocolate to that fruit, well, I’m in heaven. One of my favorite treats from Godiva is a chocolate “boat” filled with fruit. The idea is simple. Make a little cup of chocolate–theirs comes in dark, milk or white chocolate. Then, while it’s still firming up, they stick in a variety of fruits. They have boats with just raspberries or just blueberries, but I prefer the one with the mix of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Then they drizzle chocolate all over the top of it.

My favorite way to eat the treat is raspberries last. They’ve always been one of my favorite fruits. Now, I love them when they are dried and covered in chocolate, they are even better when completely fresh and surrounded by chocolate. Even when I’m trying to be unbiased, I have to say, these little goodies are AMAZING.

The boats are a nice departure from Godiva’s truffles, caramels and filled treats. Although Godiva’s centers always taste good, there is something extraordinary about the freshness of real fruit.

Appearance: 10/10

Taste: 10/10

Value: 9/10 (a bit pricey at $4.50 each, but so tasty I can live with it)

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Chocolate Monday: Rock Bottom’s hot fudge cake

I really, really should be grading right now. I don’t have time for this post at all, and yet, I’m feeling a tad bit guilty about not posting in over a week. I’m also feeling bad for not sticking to my pseudo-promise of actually doing a Chocolate Monday post once a week.

To be honest though, between work and my current pregnancy, chocolate is not high on my list. Yeah, I know, this sounds ridiculous. Afterall, my love affair with chocolate has been long standing. Right now I have half a shelf in my fridge full of chocolate from all sorts of great companies, and yet, I don’t really want to eat any of it. I’m really hoping this is just a temporary thing. I mean sure, for my waistline losing my addiction might be a good thing, but man, I don’t want this pregnancy to change my love for the creamy heavenly treat. That’s like changing me.

As usual though, I digress.

Despite letting my chocolate on my shelf gather rather than gobbling it up, last night I decided to try a little chocolate fix. Rock Bottom has a fall special of sorts. Like a lot of chain restaurants trying to stay afloat in this day an age, they are offering three course meals for lowered prices. They have a selection of about 6 appetizers, 6 entrees and 4 desserts. I decided on the spinach dip, chicken pot pie and the mini hot fudge cake.

Due to some horrible service, our meal took over 45 minutes to get to us. Thankfully it was really tasty, but after being in the place for close to an hour and a  half, my two year old was getting antsy, so I got my cake to go.

I didn’t get to eat it until an hour or so later, so my hot fudge wasn’t really hot. I thought about heating it up, but didn’t want to melt the whipped cream that came in my little container. So, I risked it and ate it cold.

Even cold, the fudge was good. The cake was moist and fudgy. It reminded me just a bit of these Little Nemo pudding cakes I used to buy when I first started teaching. The fudge was just sweet enough…not too rich. The whipped cream wasn’t quite as amazing as the stuff I get on my drinks at the Border’s cafe*, but it was the right finishing touch.

Since the meal had been so filling, I didn’t have much room left for dessert. I’m glad I did get it to go because it might have been wasted at the restaurant (or I might have had to share). However, it was so good that despite not feeling like my stomach could take anymore, I kind of wanted more. It was the perfect size for the meal though.

While I’m not a huge fan of chains, I do have to give Rock Bottom some major props. The chicken pot pie was flakey, creamy and full of veggies (including pea pods). I kept eating long after I should because it was so good and still had enough leftover for lunch. And the cake was fantastic, almost worth the rotten wait to get it. Next time I might try a different starter, but overall I call it a success.

Appearance: 7/10 (not much to look at, especially when taken home)

Taste: 9/10

Value: 10/10 (if purchased as part of the meal deal); 8/10 if purchased on its own.

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The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

So I realize I didn’t get an entry in for Chocolate Monday. Sorry about that, but despite having a fridge full of chocolate (it really does fill about half a shelf in my fridge), I just haven’t been in a very chocolatey mood lately. In fact, the last two weeks or so, I’ve just sort of been in a mood. And not a good one either.

I’ve had a headache on and offf again for awhile now. I’m trying not to take too many pills for them, and the only thing that really seems to work for any extended period of time is sleeping. At least when I wake up in the morning, it’s gone. Usually though, it comes back.

Today was no exception. Of course, it might have been brought on by some students who decided today was the day to cross lines.

First period started off ok. One computer program gave us a tad bit of trouble and my kids seemed to think that meant they didn’t have to do anything. I had to remind them the internet was still working, so they could do the first part of the assignment. When I began the short lecture I got the usual mix of interest and drooping eyelids. This doesn’t bother me so much. Twelve years have helped to accustom me to interest mixed with apathy.

It was when they had time to practice the lesson that I got annoyed. Most of them were done, so they started talking. I can handle a little talking if the work is done. It’s the subjects I was distrurbed by. Several of my freshmen girls decided my class was the best time to talk about their sexual prowess. The upperclassmen did not join in. In fact, a few of them made comments about how wrong they thought it was (not in an overly moral way, but in a “hey, that’s really slutty” way). I don’t know why it is, but as the years go by, it seems the kids care less and less what teachers know about their lives. They don’t seem to realize that I don’t want to know about their sex lives. Nor should I.

I tried to talk to them about the reputations they were making for themselves both with their peers and their teachers. One decided to be cute as she walked out and announce that she really doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about her. Now, I know this will sound fuddy duddy of me, but I never would have wanted my teachers to think I was a slut. I talked to my friends about personal things either on the phone or when we hung out. I didn’t do it in class where anyone could hear me.

Things just got worse as the day progressed. My second period class, who are always squirrelly were in rare form today. They were loud, obnoxious and uncooperative. I realize grammar isn’t really exciting, but it was one of three activities and they couldn’t even kind of focus. They had comments for everything. They were trying to talk across the room. They were just rude and I got sick of it. So I stopped teaching. I assigned pages and told them to teach themselves the skills. The room was pretty dead silent after that, but it didn’t make me feel better. It made me more upset.

I had a confrontation with a kid who has missed 13 days of school and keeps asking to go to the nurse. I was told not to let her go unless she was puking, so I told her no when she asked. She pulled major attitude, stomped off to her desk and threw a hissy.

Then I was so stressed by the rotten behavior and parent emails I had to catch up on, that I forgot to do the one thing one of my best friends (who was out for a conference) asked me to do. I remembered after lunch, but luckily her kids figured it out. They picked up the slack for me.

I got stuck at school longer than needed trying to help another teacher with a computer issue.

By the time I was close to home, I was done. I just wanted to sink into my chair and watch hours of Veronica Mars. Since I knew that wouldn’t happen with a two year old, I did the next best thing: I decided to have a comfort dinner. I made a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up a bag of Lay’s salt and vinegar chips to complete the meal.

So tonight, after playing with my son in the basement for about an hour (which actually consisted of me laying on the futon while he rode his little train and watched Bee Movie), I headed to the kitchen to cook up some generic Steak ‘Ems. Now, I know the box has what looks like a Philly cheesesteak on the front, but that’s not how I roll. Long ago, in a galaxy far, far less nutritious than my current one, my mom made up a Steak ‘Ems sandwich. Well, I don’t know for sure she invented it, but I have yet to meet another living soul who eats this, so I’m giving her credit.

The sandwich is simple: one to two Steak ‘Ems (there are two layers per slice, so I separate mine), mozzarella cheese and pita bread. Cook the meat and microwave the pita for 30 seconds. Cut a small piece off the top of the pita so it can be opened up like a pocket. Stuff in first layer of Steak ‘Ems. Top with cheese. Then add second layer of meat and another of cheese. Top with ketchup (and continue to add ketchup as needed when it vanishes from the layer you are eating. Simple. Fattening. Disgusting sounding. But tasty!

Coupled with about 1/4 bag of Lays salt and vinegar chips and a side dish of spinach (with lots of butter and salt), it was the perfect terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day dinner. It was ready in under 5 minutes. It reminded me of simpler times and it tasted great. Especially when washed down with a Cherry Coke.

I have to admit, it did make my day just a hint better. It also made my headache go away. At least for a little while.

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