Summer Reading – for English Teachers
Summer has always been a great time to catch up on reading. During the school year my leisure reading time is pretty scarce, and this last school year it was even more so with my little toddler keeping me busy. I barely kept up with the magazines I get, let alone finishing books. I found myself reading lots of anthologies and collections this year, mostly because I only had time for short bursts of reading. So I resolved to do lots of full book reading this summer, especially professional books.
However, as soon as summer hit, I found myself dying to just read for fun, not for work. I have a stack of novels I received at a fundraiser that I have been going through. I have requested copies of the latest in the “In Death” series by J.D. Robb – my personal guilty pleasure. I have also been reading some young adult novels that a friend passed along from a conference. What I am realizing is that all this “fun” reading has an additional benefit. As I am reading I a noticing interesting ways the writers set scenes or describe characters. I am finding myself thinking of specific students who would enjoy these books. I’ve decided that reading for fun is turning out to be just as important as professional reading. One of my goals next year is to put a TON of interesting and thoughtful writing in front of my students. This is going to require lots of excerpts and short pieces that we study in class, which will also, hopefully, inspire some students to want to read more (i.e. the whole book) of whichever pieces I’m sharing with them. This may seem obvious, but I’m excited to “discover” that reading for fun might actually be more beneficial to both me and my students than professional reading. So, bring on the beach books! It’s going to be a fun summer of reading!
As we continue to get great veggies and fruits in our CSA farmshare we are still trying to be creative with our meals. We have been getting a fair amount of beet greens (occasionally with some super tiny beets) and so we decided to make one of our favorite dinners: greens and caramelized onion pizza. This dish was inspired by the recipe from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau in The Vegan Table. We usually like to have this pizza on cornmeal crust that we buy at Whole Foods, but we have been trying to cut down our spending, and at 4.50 for a pack of two, the cornmeal crusts were seeming a bit extravagant. So, this time I looked on-line and found a recipe to make my own. It came out great, at a fraction of the cost! The G-man and I were both excited to move our greens and caramelized onion pizza from a “treat” dinner to a weeknight staple!
Greens and Caramelized Onion Pizza on Cornmeal Crust
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
4-5 tablespoons olive oil divided
2 large (or 3 small) onions. Sweet ones, like Vidalia are a special treat here!
1 large bunch of beet greens or swiss chard, washed and chopped.
1. Slice the onions into thin 1/2 moons.
2. Heat 2-3 TB of olive oil in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add the onions and stir to separate. Cover and continue to cook on medium heat stirring occasionally, until the onions are brown and caramelized. This will take between 20 and 40 minutes depending on how dark you like them.
3. While the onions are caramelizing, prep the greens. Then it is time to make the crust.
4a. Food processor crust directions: Put the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in the food processor and pulse for 2-3 sections. Pour in the water and 2TB of olive oil in with the dry ingredients and run the processor until the dough sticks together in a ball. Then, pull out the dough and knead on a floured surface until it is smooth – about 1 minute. Roll out the dough into a 12 inch circle, and pinch the edges into a crust.
4b. Basic crust directions: Place the polenta, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the water and olive oil. Stir until the dough sticks together and then turn it onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough is elastic and shiny.
5. When the onions are caramelized, add in the greens and stir until wilted (about 2-3 minutes). Then transfer the onion and green mix to the crust using tongs (to avoid transferring too much moisture).
5. Bake the pizza at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes – the crust should be light brown and crispy.