Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!

Dr. Seuss didn’t invent rhyme – that was probably Mother Goose – but he knew how to teach a generation to read with his couplets.  The Cat in the Hat may be one of the most popular felines around, and now his plan is extending to science.

On Labor Day, PBS introduces “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!” – with great explores into honey-making bees, migrating birds, and more – based on a new Random House series of science books for children.

Dr. Seuss had the right formula – based on science. In a research study, McGlone and Tofighbakhsh from Lafayette College found that participants in their study tended to believe that rhyming statements were more accurate than those that did not rhyme.  Advertisers use this tool all the time – If you buy the car, you will go far.

in  Theodore Geisel’s words:

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

The Freshman Five – How to Survive in College Without Really Trying

Getting into college is hard, but staying in really is a piece of cake.

Having been on both sides of the podium – as a student from a sheltered life thrown into the pre-twitter mire, and then as a prof (without Glen Beck’s chalkboard) gazing out – it seems the survival  rules are still the same and pretty simple.

  1. Mostly, to keep those profs thinking you care about learning – even when your priorities are not academic – you just need to show up in class, look a little interested, read the assignment now and then so you can ask a decent question.  Steer away from:  “Is this going to be on the test ?(the prof won’t tell you anyway); I missed the last class – did you do anything important? (it doesn’t matter – you missed it anyway).
  2. Do the assignments and hand them in on time.  Incompletes can pile up, and you’ll never want to do them anytime – might as well get it over with.
  3. Sit in front of the class.  It’s a good place to hide – most profs project to the back of the room, and look for those asleep behind sunglasses in the last row. You’ll hear better, see better, and get out of the room faster.
  4. Be on time to class. Grand entrances are better saved to impress others.  Besides, some profs lock the door after starting –  all get annoyed.
  5. Finally, listen and be present.  Your glassy-eyed stare as you plug into an Ipod, Iphone, Ipad won’t fool the prof.  If you’re going to put the time in anyway, might as well be there.

As a guide to learning, I remember being assigned Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.  The path to enlightenment makes more sense much later in life.  For now, survival…

A Convict’s Peach Pie Recipe

From Joyce Maynard’s Labor Day (see review in No Charge Bookbunch)…

Frank, the escaped convict, teaches his captives – Adele and her son, Henry, how to make a peach pie in Maynard’s novel – Labor Day.   Henry grows up to be a pastry chef.

In addition to his homespun tales of his grandmother, 3 cups of flour, a little salt, lard, butter, and ice water, Frank’s secret ingredient is Minute tapioca scattered over the crust before adding the filling –

“just so it looks like salt on a road in winter, when there’s ice – and you’ve seen your last soggy crust.  This stuff soaks up the juices for you, without that cornstarch flavor.”

I decided to give the secret ingredient a try with a pie recipe from Grandmom’s secret stash and Frank’s simple rules and ingredients…

Never overhandle the dough; as little (ice) water as you can get away with; keep all ingredients cold

Grandmom’s Crisco Single Pie Crust (double for 2 crusts):

1 ½ cups sifted flour; ½ tsp salt; 1/4 cup Crisco; 1/4 cup butter; 3tbs cold water

Sift flour before measuring.  Spoon lightly into remaining cup and level without shaking or packing down.  Combine flour and salt into mixing bowl.

With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in Crisco and butter; mixture should be coarse. Sprinkle with water one tablespoon at a time; toss with fork. Work dough into firm ball with your hands.  Press dough into flat circle with smooth edges.  On lightly floured surface, roll dough to a circle about 1 ½ inches.

Frank’s Peach Filling:

  • 3 lb. peaches
  • 1/3 cup  sugar (or less, if peaches are sweet)
  • 1 tbsp quick-cooking tapioca

Add sugar to peeled and sliced peaches.  Sprinkle tapioca on bottom crust. Add filling.  Cover with top crust, cutting slits for steam and crimping edges.  Put pie plate on cookie sheet to catch drips.  Bake in 350 degree oven for about one hour.  Cool before serving.

Hawaii Little League Almost There… Again

Third time is a charm and this is the third time in Waipio’s history that the Little Leaguers have made it to the World Series.   In  2005 and 2008 the Waipio Little League became the World Champions, and Hawaii is looking for it to happen again.

Big game today – the winner earning one of four berths in the Championship Weekend of the Little League Baseball World Series.

Watching Little League is like watching baseball the way it used to be – just fun, only a little politics – Little League is a big deal…

Little League World Map

but no steroids.   Batter up!

5 Ingredient Butter Crescents

From Grandmom’s Secret Stash…

Grandmom always liked one bowl easy clean-up and keeping it simple – nice when it tastes good too.

1 stick butter (Earth Balance will let you feel virtuous); 1/2 cup powdered sugar; 1/2 tsp almond extract; 1 cup flour; 1/2 cup chopped nuts (almonds are good but walnuts work if that’s what you have on hand).

Mix all together. (Be sure the butter is soft). Shape into small crescents, pinching the ends. Arrange on ungreased cookie sheet (easier to clean up if you use foil).

Bake about 15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack and store in airtight container (unless you eat them first).