Friday, December 24, 2004

The good pie crust.....

Everything works best if things are chilled. Chill the mixing bowl, spoons, measuring cups,as well as the milk, oil, etc. Not necessary to go overboard but the chilling helps.

Mix 1/2 cup of canola oil (Wesson brand is known to work well.) with

1 1/2 cups of sifted flour and
a pinch of salt.

Then add 5tbs of milk (1/4 cup + 1tbs).

You should derive an "oily-like" ball of dough.

As I received it the recipe then allows for digital manipulation in the pan to form the crust. However, what works best for me is to roll it out between two pieces of wax paper. It is then very easy to fix any wrinkles, cracks, or other damage with your fingers after flipping it into the pan.

Bake it empty at 350 for ~10 minutes. You can put milk or egg whites on it to get the nice browning if you so desire.
If you fill it... depends on the filling what you want to do but, the recipe calls for 375 for ~1 hour.

I like this crust because it is easy, has a good taste on it's own without anything in it, and has a nice flakiness to it.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Playing with Fire

A major theme of the last week's events is "all the stuff I learned about kids and fire."

Lesson Number One - Do not allow the boys to start the schoolhouse fire.

This particular lesson is representative of how slow a learner I am. One particular student prides himself on his ability to start our heating and cooking fires. In all reality the kid has no special skill but a tendency towards stoking the fire to the point where we are cooking birds perched on the roof for lunch. Because of ill-fortune and inadequate supplies, the first time I attempted to build the school house fire, I was not terribly successful. This was not such a bad thing because the weather was not yet that cold. However, this failure legitimized pyro-boy in claiming that I am not capable of building a proper fire. So, the last couple weeks when he has come to school his pattern has been to come to the school house, see that no fire is burning, insist and demand that he be the person to start it, then spend his entire school period playing with the fire instead of working at his math. On another day, another student did the same thing. I have therefore determined that I must be in the school early and have a roarer going before the first kid even thinks of prancing his way down.

Lesson Number Two - Do not allow the boys to sit with the door to the Franklin open during school.

In material this lesson was considerably more costly than the last but was more quickly learned. Once upon a time, I had two of the guys in school. One was sitting in front of the stove and asked that the door be open so he could look at the fire while he was working on whatever assignment he had at the time. Benign enough, I thought. So, I allowed for his wish. The other student in the class, being the type with some real social issues works really hard in awkward and inappropriate ways to obtain the approval of his peers. This student saw the open flames as an opportunity to create amusement for the other guy. Boy, did he exploit that opportunity. In the course this kid has burned the chalkboard eraser twice, a couple of books, and who knows how many writing implements. Now I must confess that sometimes he had to actually open the stove door to burn some of these things. However, the exposed flames have proven too much of a temptation. They even tried spraying window cleaner into the fire convinced that it was flamable despite my protestations otherwise. I usually don't like to argue with the boys over anything because it is almost never worth it. But now, I do fight to ensure that the stove door remains closed unless I'm putting wood in it.

Lesson Number Three - When dealing with extreme behavior problems involving fire, it's probably best to take the fuel away.

In Massachusetts right now it gets dark at around 4:30. I can have my students in school as late as 6:30 on some days so we have to have the kerosene lanterns in the school house. One afternoon a student determined to not do school work took an empty paper towel tube and stuck it in the chimney of his kerosene lamp and lit it on fire. He then proceeded to wave it around like a madman. This waving included getting it dangerously close to my face. Continued refusal to stop and put the thing out prompted me to grab the dust pan from the floor and slap the tube which successfully extinguished the fire. Unfortunately the student took this as a signal that he was to reignite the tube and thrust it into my shirt. It was that nice green army shirt I got at Grunts and Postures. You know the one. Anyway, the sleeve has a few nice little holes burned on the sleeve now. Realizing that extinguishing the fire was going to be inadequate this time, while he was waving the thing, I pulled some judo move where I grabbed his wrist and disarmed him. What remained of the tube found itself shortly consumed in the fireplace, never to be wave in anyone's face again.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Damage a Little Drug Test Can Do

Once upon a time there were some boys coming back to the island. You see they are allowed to leave from time to time for important holidays or other weekends and only on condition of adequate behavior. This one time a special group of boys came back and at least one smuggled cigarettes onto the island.

During this week one of the staff had decided to quit smoking so, his sensitivity to the scent of cigarette smoke was significantly enhanced. Several times during the week he caught a whiff and once even thought he perceived other substances in the air.

On one day, a group of boys behaving rather suspiciously in their pursuit of unsupervised time prompted the shift leader to require urine samples for drug testing. The lot lied quite poorly about how they wouldn't be so stupid as to be smoking and they didn't care what the results were going to be because they were all going to come back clean. This event reminds me that at times the students remind me of a certain Claudius but, I digress. Maybe I've mentioned that before.

Anyway, one of the boys later that night asked if we might be plotting to get him. His claimed supposition was that the school staff were going to manipulate his test results in order to prevent him from taking his next trip from the island. I attempted to assure him that his fear was unthinkable, that the staff's desire was to help, not punish him. He remained unconvinced.

Certain that he was basically screwed, he decided to screw himself the rest of the week. He got himself in trouble via excessive inappropriate (non-academic) sexual conversation. One day, he refused to go to school. Other things he did are beyond my ability to publish for their vileness. Anyway, he put himself at true risk of that which he feared.

Convinced of his completely imaginary fate he may have earned himself the penalty. But then of course I'm assuming that his fate was imaginary.