Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I recently had a conversation with my mom about my experience with school. We were talking about a book Rowan and I had read, in which the main character rode the bus to school on the first day of 8th grade, got off the bus, turned around, and went home. She just couldn't take one more minute of school. The word she used to describe how she felt there was "stupified".

I was horribly, mind-numbingly, stupifyingly bored from the third grade on. By fifth grade (during which year I was often sent to the hallway with an algebra book in what I believe was a well-meaning effort by my teacher to deal with my boredom) I was beginning to feel an overwhelming sense of doom whenever I entered the school building. By high school I was regularly skipping classes, intercepting mail, and changing the grades on my report card. I spent days at the town library, snuck home and hung out in the yard if I knew no one was there, went to friends' houses, went to the beach if I could get a ride. I walked to school, and some days I made it all the way there before the sinking feeling became too much to bear and I turned around not even knowing where I'd end up for the day. If I had missed one more day of high school I would not have graduated. My parents had no idea.

If I was a 'gifted' child no one ever told me, but this paper, titled To produce or not to produce? Understanding boredom and the honor in underachievement (On Gifted Students in School) pretty much sums up how I felt for 10 years of my life. I would have been thrilled in high school to have someone acknowledge the idea that there was honor in my 'underachievement'. Choosing not to produce, to disengage, certainly felt to me like the only way to keep my integrity intact, even at the price of lying to my parents.

Here's a poem I wrote on one of the days I spent at Needham Public Library when I was 15 or 16. Not great literature, by any means, but I can't tell you how clearly I remember this feeling.

Boredom lurks and then it pounces
As I sit, my mind a blank
So I draw a crazy picture
Of a ship that sailed, and sank.
Heading nowhere on a journey
To a place that's far away
Looking back at old, lost friendships
When I left, they chose to stay
In a place that's cold and lonely
While I head for sun and sand
On my ship that's made of daydreams
Sailing to a distant land.

This is not why my kids don't go to school. They don't go to school because they don't want to, for reasons of their own. But I am grateful there is nothing stupifying about their lives.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Recently Rowan and I read The Homeschool Liberation League. One of the interests of the main character is eating food that grows wild. I've been interested myself lately in learning more about what's edible. There's an amazing amount of food growing around us that we think of as weeds or ornamentation.

I always knew roses were edible, but I really didn't know what to do with them. This weekend I tried out a recipe for rose petal jelly. I've made lots of preserves, but this was my first jelly. It's a simple one to start with.

I used petals from the Rose of Sharon we inherited from whoever landscaped our pool area.

3-1/4 cup rose petals or any edible flower petals (be sure they have not been sprayed with anything you wouldn't want to eat)

2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup white grape juice

1 package powdered fruit pectin

3 cups sugar

1/4 cup rose petals

Remove bitter white nail of all the rose petals. Rinse petals and pat dry. Bring the 3-1/4 cups rose petals, water, and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil; reduce heat.

Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for several hours to overnight.

Strain syrup, discarding flowers.

Combine syrup, grape juice, and pectin in a saucepan; mix well. Bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 3 cups sugar; mix well. Bring to a full rolling boil that will not stir down. Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat.

Place remaining 1/4 cup rose petals into 4 hot sterilized 1/2 pint jars (or 2 pint jars, if you're me). Ladle jelly into jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace; seal with 2-piece lids. Drape jars with a towel. Cool to room temperature and store in a cool place.

Yields 2 pints.

All of the color comes from the petals. The color leaches out of them very quickly when you first start to cook them. In the morning the syrup is a beautiful purple (the picture doesn't do it justice), which lightens up to pink as you add the other ingredients. Most importantly - yum.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The other night Dagny and I were super hungry, so we tried this recipe for quick quesadillas. Next time I think I'd use pepper jack cheese, cuz why not. They disappeared very quickly. I'll probably mix up some of the filling to keep in the fridge. Much nicer than microwaving a frozen something.

2 zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 scallions, thinly sliced
15 oz can black beans
8 oz monteray jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Olive oil spray

Drain and rinse beans.
Combine beans, spices, cheese, and scallions.
Put grated zucchini in a collander. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and squeeze out excess water.
Add to other ingredients.

Spray one side of each tortilla with olive oil spray. Place oil side down on baking sheet. Spread with filling, then top with another tortilla. Spray top of tortilla with olive oil.
Broil 1-2 minutes (until golden).
Flip and broil other side 1-2 minutes.

We had huge tortillas and found we had better luck spreading the filling over 1/2 a tortilla then folding it closed. Much easier to flip.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Start with one not-so-pretty bridesmaid's dress. I'm talking puffy sleeves, lace modesty panel, acres of fabric. Add a pair of scissors, a sewing machine, and a Dagny who sees treasure where others see trash.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Reedy's Ratatouille

1 eggplant, peeled and cubed (or skipped completely if you're cooking for Dagny)

2 zucchini, sliced (peel if you like)

1 red pepper, sliced

1 orange pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped

¼ cup oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons salt

pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and cook over medium heat for as little as 15 minutes, or up to an hour. Serve over pasta. Yummy with a bit of farmer's cheese.