Friday, April 28, 2017

Creating a monster

Dianthus was not pleased that I did most of the piping of the whipped cream onto the Easter lemon-curd pavlova (I thought I was being very clever when I decided that a lemon curd pavolova is just an upside-down crustless lemon meringue pie-- but was not particularly surprised to learn that many others, including Nigella, have already had similar ideas), because he is going to be a competitive child baker, according to him.

So this morning I asked for his help in decorating pies for the elementary school carnival cake walk.  He quickly volunteered and then asked me to get down the pastry bags and tips.  When that fell apart and the chocolate did not temper, he still managed to smoodge some molten chocolate on-to a rose leaf and make a pretty good impression of the veins.  We were decidedly more successful with the powdered sugar star and opted (wisely, I think) to leave the lemon buttermilk pies unadorned.

For those of you following at home:

April 27 Chocolate chess* (2, one for the carnival, one for my students), lemon buttermilk (2, one for the carnival, one for my students) and leftover chocolate (for my family and friend).

April 16  Lemon Curd Pavlova

and Dianthus did knead the hot cross buns and make his grandparents pancakes from scratch as well.
Notice the rose leaves

A boy and his buns

*Chocolate Chess is amazing and I seem to have zero recipes for it, despite owning four rather large pie books, a bunch of dessert cookbooks and a veritable slew of general cookbooks that include at least one pie.  It was a revelation and will be added to the repertoire.  I also used the Magpie crust and it was excellent and the combination of the Martha Stewart and Sweets buttermilk pie worked with duck eggs.
Chooolate Chess and Lemon Buttermilk

Sunday, April 23, 2017

I carried an earth flag

I've known for a long time that I would march for science yesterday.  As fellow marchers posted their "Why I March" stories and photos of witty poster slogans on social media, I struggled to articulate mine.

I was (and remain) appalled that a march for science is needed.  I suppose it speaks more to my optimism than my intelligence that I am dumbfounded anew every time a politician suggests I am part of a highly paid brain-washing organization or an incoming students tells me that she loves science and plans on becoming a veterinarian (or doctor or dentist) but no, she didn't have any chemistry or physics at her small town high school and really, biology was taught by the coach who let them watch the NFL draft in class.  It still surprises me when a reporter asks gubernatorial hopefuls, "science or religion?" in the same "get to know the candidates" article where they are asked "beer or wine?" or "movie or theater?" as if they are mutually exclusive (and yes, I am rational enough to be bothered the premise for all three of these questions).

Anyway, as of Friday morning, my t-shirt had arrived but my good idea hadn't.  Then I read the headlines of the paper and showed my students the sentence in The Oklahoman that reads something like this concerning cancelling investigation into agricultural chemicals produced by DOW (this sentence from a similar article in the The Denver Post by Michael Biesecker April 20, 2017):
The industry's request comes after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced last month he was reversing an Obama-era effort to bar the use of Dow's chlorpyrifos pesticide on food after recent peer-reviewed studies found that even tiny levels of exposure could hinder the development of children's brains.
The article summed up many reasons I marched.  I was marching because I don't think exposed children have a great chance of funding their own research (see, Flint, Michigan), and somehow see real problems with a system that 1) places the burden of proof on the "people" (consumers, passers-by, or government) to demonstrate that a product designed to harm organisms adversely affects humans, 2) doesn't listen to "the people" in the unusual situation where they have demonstrated adverse affects to humans and 3) intends to de-fund any way in which studies by "the people" could be done in the future.*

Also on Friday a colleague suggested we could carry his earth flag and his green flag.  I sneaked into his office after a long wet (last) field trip on Friday and grabbed the earth flag.  Found the great flagpole my in-laws gave us for Christmas and hoisted up the earth,

No words.  The earth: the big blue marble, our planet, home; flapping in the Oklahoma wind.

Perhaps cheesy, perhaps simplistic, but that is it.  That's my message.

I march for the home of my kids, my cat, some 250,000 named flowering plant species, myriad insects, a plethera of nematodes, and the 7,386,298,636 others of my kind, and science, an extremely valuable tool in understanding and caring for our home.

I didn't take any pictures at the event, but thought I could just direct you to various pictures of the event because even among the 2,000 or so science supporters, my giant earth flag stood out.

This morning, in his sermon, my pastor thanked me for going (he, too, does not see "religion or science?" as a dichotomous choice).  A few images of Oklahoma City made the coverage in the New York Times.  The Business Section of today's Oklahoman is a giant spread about wheat streak mosaic virus (science! and not just any science, evolutionary biology science affected by weather and climate with obvious economic implications for the people of Oklahoma) and the Living Section headline is "Science Show" (about Alton Brown) coming to town and there is not one word in any section about the march.  Meanwhile, someone on social media asked about the purpose of the march and in the midst of a long and thoughtful conversation from the marchers, concluded, "Oh, so you are for teaching evolution in the classroom.  I knew there had to be a hidden agenda."

Our work here is not done.

March for Science OKC from a drone by Toni Klem

*I am not writing about the merits of this case, not being well-read in any of the relevant fields.  I am writing about the apparent process.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Leaks but No Leeks, Leks but No Lek-Off

If you somehow ended up over here because you believe anything I say on April 1, well, welcome, and, of course, most of it is true.

We did have a day without power, the day after the storm, and the kids were sent home from school because of leaking dark buildings.  I am behind.

We did all race a mile this morning in support of a child with cerebral palsy and it was very cold (albeit lacking snow).  Aster is running miles in his brace and is thriving following his surgery.  We also had a soccer game and the pinewood derby.

The theme of my year is pie (see plenty of posts below) and I hope you will congratulate my parents on 50 years of marriage this summer.

I am hosting a Silent Spring read along.

Prairie Chickens do lek (it is their mating dance).

Mister Splashy Pants is named after a Greenpeace-named Humpback Whale.

And well, I do write about leeks in toilets, specialty chocolate, and parties that happen on June 31 every year, that should make them real, right?

Of course I really do want your pie recipes and stories.  And if you have no idea what I am talking about, send me your e-mail address for your very own copy of the annual April First Report.