Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ole Posole!

Outside, the sky is gunmetal gray and the temperature is barely older than me. If I still lived in Florida, I’d be sporting flip-flops and a tank top and considering whether to buy a Chocolate Elvis smoothie from Planet Smoothie. (If you don’t enjoy the ice-cold blend of chocolate, banana, and peanut butter, you are no doubt from another planet, maybe even one ironically called Smoothie.) But here in Maryland we’re in the midst of perfect soup weather, and since I fatefully named this blog after soup, I will honor its namesake by recommending one of my favorite recipes.

Being a teacher is emotional fulfilling and draining at the same time. Soup is only fulfilling, so it’s a great medicine to administer for the draining part. It’s warm, (usually) nutritious, and one recipe often makes a butt-load of extras you can save or freeze for another day. Butt-load is an actual measurement. It’s in the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living. Ok, I’m lying. I’ve never had time to do anything in the Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Real Simple magazine – that’s another story. I’ve made many of their recipes, all of which have turned out quite good. I’ve burned instant rice, instant potatoes, and managed to cook a pre-made rotisserie chicken WHILE IT WAS STILL PACKAGED, so “quite good” is a testament to RS’s recipes. One of my early favorites was a recipe for Chicken Posole that ran in the Oct. 2009 issue. Thanks to the magic of the interconnected tubes, here’s a link to the original recipe:

A few notes and tweaks from my experience:

1) If you buy a pre-made rotisserie chicken, don’t put it in the oven to stay warm. Three hours later you will pre-heat your oven to make rolls and, well, you know how that ends up.

2) Purdue makes a great uncooked rotisserie chicken you can cook yourself. Doing so adds an extra step, but for only a few dollars more than the pre-cooked, you end up with a butt-load more chicken.

3) I am not keen on kick, at least in my food. (David Beckham? Kick away with your fine self. A Tribe Called Quest? Yes, you can kick it. My soup? No, thank you.) The crushed red pepper called for may only be 1/4 teaspoon, but I lowered it to about 1/8. My husband can add more if he wants.

4) Everything is better with pasta. And goat cheese, but there’s really no room for that in this recipe. I highly recommend adding pasta to give this soup a little more umph (here, being used as a synonym for carbohydrates). Wagon wheels are my favorite, but any shape is good. If you choose to add pasta, add more of the chicken stock because the pasta will soak that junk up like an alien enjoying his first Chocolate Elvis smoothie. You can cook the pasta in the soup or separately – your call.

5) I interpreted RS’s inclusion of the lime slice as their secret message to enjoy this soup with a Corona.

Let’s be real – the third nine weeks is a bitch. Everyone’s annoyed that winter break is over, teachers feel overwhelming pressure to cover material before the Testing Season opens, and spring break is a loooooong way off. Soup doesn’t solve any of those problems, but it should at least make you feel warm and full, which is a start. Enjoy!



New Year for Teacher Soup

I considered deleting some of my previous posts because they represent my halting attempts at launching this blog. But then I reconsidered. Probably because I’ve spent too many years reading O Magazine and definitely because I’m on a self-confidence kick brought on by reading Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please. Poehler shares words of wisdom from one of her mentors, Del Close, who wisely advised everyone, “Don’t think.”

“Don’t think” sounds like the opposite of good advice, especially when read by a former high school English teacher who relishes the analysis (re: tearing apart) of a 19th century poem or an episode of Downton Abbey (Just one more week people! One week!). We of the over-analytical mind sometimes stop our own progress with mental moats. We stand on the banks of “How Do I” for far too long, instead of just jumping into the water. Now that I live in Maryland and don’t have to worry about Florida alligators, this advice sounds much more reasonable. (Disclaimer: I do not advise people to jump into Florida moats. Seriously. There is some weird shit growing down there.) So I’m leaving the previous posts as a reminder that I can’t let a few moments of regression stop me from moving forward. Onward, I say. Onward!

My husband gave me a long-desired birthday gift and one I had to move hundreds of miles to receive: a subscription to The Washington Post. (To the people in their 20s, yes, I realize I could have gotten a digital subscription years ago, but I am also a former journalism major who loves the snap of a fresh page of newspaper, so when Kindle/Apple/BillGates can reproduce that effect, then we’ll talk.) The Post is a goldmine of teaching material, so expect to see lots of links and ideas from that source.

I love a good laugh, and we have far too few of those in our classrooms today, so I’m starting the new year with a link to a funny cartoon called Frazz that ran in the Post on Dec. 21. Since I don’t want to violate any copyright laws, I will provide you the link:

Great teachers know how to take ideas from other teachers and adjust the ingredients according to their students’ needs. Here’s a potential recipe (lesson plan) from my kitchen (theoretical classroom, if I still had one). Don’t you just love analogies?


  1. Print out comic and have it displayed on your document camera before students arrive. (Or copy the comic onto an overhead transparency and then ask your students to bring in baked goods so you can host a fundraiser to buy a document camera.)
  2. Once the bell rings and the kids have all read the comic, open up the discussion. “What do you notice?” “What’s funny here?” Honestly, those questions are probably all you’ll need to get the kids to start discussing tone, diction, imagery, and organization.
  3. A few elements to discuss in case they don’t arise organically from discussion:
    1. How do we know immediately who “they” is in the first frame? Why didn’t Jef Mallet (the comic) use “adults” or “parents” instead? What is the effect of the use of “they”?
    2. Discuss choice of phrase “hopped up.”
    3. Discuss organization of frames. How does the bubble in the middle help or hinder the flow of the comic?
    4. Bonus points for kids who get the allusion to 1984!!! Teachable opportunity for all those who don’t!
    5. What is the full reason for why the boy on the bike isn’t worried about discussing “Big Clause”. How do we know and how would the humor be affected if the little boy explained his thinking fully.
    6. Mini-mini discussion on punctuation and purpose:
      1. the colon in the middle bubble
      2. use of telegraphic sentences in last frame
  4. In my kitchen, this activity would be considered an h’ordeuvre. No need to fill up an entire period with it, and don’t worry about every last crumb. My main objective would be to wake those little brains up from their holiday stupor, get them to pay attention, laugh together, and learn a little something.

So there it is. Just add students and you’re ready to get cookin’. Ok, after three cups of coffee, but you know what I mean.

Happy Halfway Point in the School Year!