Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Salon - November 18

This past Friday afternoon when I left work, I felt like a huge burden had been lifted.  I had reached that point where writing teachers feel as if we're slipping into the abyss of essays that need grading.  The essays are not all graded, but at least I have a break.
I'm a slow grader...not even gonna try and make excuses for it.
I'm not a snooty teacher...I promise...but I can only read so many student essays at a time, especially if the students write about the same essay topics over and over again :(  Please imagine hundreds of essays comparing and contrasting dining at home vs. eating out.  Really, after two or three essays, tops, there's just not that much original material left to talk about :/ 
I try to encourage my students to write about something original, something that they know a lot about...I know that they will write a better essay on a topic like that, but I also know the essay will be easier for me to grade...a quicker read in many cases bc I'll actually be interested in what I'm reading.
Heavy sigh.

My friend and colleague, Missie, sits down with a stack of essays as soon as they've been turned in.  She mechanically grades that stack right then and there.  She won't even talk to the rest of us if she has essays to grade.
I've tried.
I can't.
It just wears me out.

Our Thanksgiving break is the best week of my year...I get to be Mommy, my house gets cleaner than any other time of the year, and I get to cook for days.  I've got my menu made and the turkey is already thawing in the fridge.  I stick to the same basics, especially the family traditions (canned cranberry sauce, no discussion), but each year I might add a new recipe to the mix just to see how things go.  One Thanksgiving issue that bothers me is when I reach that point of the meal prep where it seems everything needs to be in the oven or on the stove at the same time.  
Do you know what I'm talking about?  
The cornbread dressing and sweet potato casserole are the two main sides that really throw me for a loop each year.  They are both so big and need to cook for the longest...and that's AFTER the turkey is finally finished cooking.  I always find myself juggling pots and pans in and out of the oven for the last couple of hours before mealtime.
I stumbled upon a website just yesterday that lauded using crock-pots for both of my main sides.
I never even thought about the crock-pot as an option!
I then googled both cornbread dressing and sweet potato casserole in the crock-pot to see what other people said, and all I found were positives.  I think I'm gonna try it...I'm a little nervous...what the heck will I do if they turn out yucky?  
My other questionable recipe for this year is Giblet Gravy.  I struggle with gravy.  For the life of me I do not understand the idea of making gravy out of a turkey's neck and innards :p I used to eat it with no problem...until it became my job to make it.  I usually just give in at the last minute and make a simply brown gravy or turkey gravy from one of those McCormick packets, but I found a recipe and step by step instructions yesterday that I might can handle. 

The Best Books of 2012 lists have started popping up.  This was the first one I've run across:
Some good stuff here, but I always find it interesting what some folks think is "best."  Of course, I guess we'll be having this conversation for as long as there are readers in the world with differing opinions.

I'm participating in the Gratitude Giveaways this month, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not a Writer.  Check out my list of gently read books for optional prizes and then check out the list of over 100 blogs participating in the hop.

Unless you've been under a rock, you know that Hostess has filed bankruptcy.  That means no more Twinkies, no more King Dons and no more Wonder Bread (amongst a whole bunch of other stuff).  
It's kinda sad to see iconic American products reach the end of the road, isn't it?
Even sadder though are the people and families who've found themselves without jobs.
I can't even imagine.

I found a couple of other articles I think are worth sharing.  The first one is about 80 year old author Phillip Roth who has decided officially to retire.  It's interesting to read about what his life as a writer entailed and how he is using these last years of his life in such different ways.

The other article is about a child who was diagnosed with an inability to feel pain.  Did you think that only happened in the movies or on tv?  Me too.  This article really brings to light some of the day to day dangers of living with the disease.  Sadly, not many children survive to adulthood.  Imagine having an inflamed appendix (which should hurt, but doesn't) but never knowing you were in danger until it killed you. Imagine that being your child.  Very interesting stuff.


  1. I've been stressed with work, and holidays coming as well. Thanksgiving Dinner at own house and time for a good house cleaning as well. I only have to work Mon and Tues then off for 5 so happy about that.

    Hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving Patti.

    1. You too, Diane! Here's to some much needed time at home! :)

  2. The neck and giblets give a depth of flavor you wouldn't get from a packet. Originally they were used because NOTHING went to waste. All parts of an animal that could be eaten were eaten. Anything that could be used for any manner of nourishment was used until the animal was reduced to nothing. We've gotten away from that.

    1. I'm going to put on my big girl panties and give it a try, Patty. I'll let you know how it goes :)

  3. Grading all those papers definitely sounds like a drag. I took some chances in college and twisted my paper topics into some really off the wall things, because hey, *writing* papers about the same boring crap is also a drag. Now I think maybe I understand why my professors appreciated things like my reasoning behind creating a monument to my bed (sure your grandma's great, but so is everybody's grandma - why not make a monument to your bed instead?) and the economic properties of cheesehead hats. More fun for everyone, good grades for me! LOL.

    Good luck with the rest of your grading and Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Oh Megan, I would soooo love it if more of my students "got it" like you. I try to tell them; I really do, but I swear they think it's some kind of trick :/

  4. I can see why reading those essays would be taxing. Good luck with the crockpot recipes! As for Hostess, Raspberry Zingers are one of my favorite desserts of all time - sad but true. I've got ten left and am trying to have a positive attitude about the whole thing. I hope someone buys the recipes and starts cranking out those unhealthy desserts again soon. :)

    1. Wonder Bread is the comfort food of all comfort foods for generation anyway. So soft and fluffy...just melt in your mouth. I don't buy it for my kids bc of all the processed stuff but I sure remember begging my mom to buy it. My dorm roommate in college and I bought King Dons out of the vending machine in the lobby...that and a big cold glass of milk never met a problem that couldn't be solved :)

  5. My saving grace during those crazy days of cooking ten different foods is the oven in my outside grill! I don't use it much, but it has come in handy. Plus crock pots, plus my mom's oven next door, plus the electric skillet. If my parents were down here, I would cook. But not this time. Seems sacrilegious but we are doing it anyway! And good luck with all that grading. I would probably plow through them like your friend, but I'd probably have to drink a bottle of wine after.

    1. I don't know why it's never occurred to me before to use the crock-pots. I have 2 so one will be for dressing and the other for sweet potato casserole. It's a perfect way to keep everything warm as well.
      I'm going to try and plow for about an hour this time of the semester, I know the bad ones from the good ones, so maybe I'll just pull out the best ones first. Of course, then, that leaves me with a stack of really bad ones to claw through later :(
      I've already decided that I'm taking those worn out topics off the approved list for next semester. I just can't read them anymore.

  6. Crock-pots. DUH!!! The only time I've used a crock-pot when entertaining (other than to make a roast) is when I hosted a graduation party and needed to cook a zillion (or 10) potatoes. I couldn't even tell you now how I did it. But great idea!

    And I hear you on the grading. As a grad student I worked with the English department to grade the freshman papers. I was able to move into the classroom after so many hours of courses (think 18?) but until then I was just able to grade their online essays. OMG WAS IT PAINFUL. I don't remember if I was paid for the time or the essay but I remember dreading sitting down to read through them and then provide the feedback. I do miss aspects of teaching, but I suck at grading. ;)

    1. I am sooooo slow, Trish. I just can only do so much at one time. I hate it; I really do, but I guess it's just me. Our students upload their essays to an electronic system where we can grade online. It does help me to return papers just as soon as they're graded one at a time instead of the entire class having to wait until I'm done with everybody's papers.

      I've still been googling to make sure there isn't something I'm missing about the crock-pot Thanksgiving...I'm a little anxious...but we should have plenty to eat no matter what :)