Hey, be on task!

Nat came over for help with her assignment. Midway through, we were distracted and Pad Thai became the focus.

As you can see, food clearly binds people together. We were so engrossed in our conversation and paid special attention to the ingredients used for Pad Thai. And yes, we shall experiment with Pad Thai soon.

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Shepherd’s Pie with Curried Meat

This is interesting. It has an Asian twist to it with the addition of curry powder and spices such as cumin and coriander (found in Indian cuisine). I adjusted the portion so that it would cater to just the two of us and perhaps, some leftover for tonight. But the hubs kept eating and I think it means the dish is nice and that we’ll have little left for dinner. I’m not complaining. It’s worth all the trouble to prepare the dish when someone can appreciate.

As usual, I don’t like to use broiling because of some bad experiences with using it. The potatoes are not golden brown as can be seen from the pic. Nonetheless, it’s still delish.

Source: The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
Serves 4 to 6

6 white potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
1 1/2 tbsp  curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup crushed canned imported tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp sugar
freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked fresh/frozen green peas
1/2 cup hot whole milk, plus more if needed
3 tbsp unsalted butter

1. Put the potatoes into a pot and add water to cover and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender to the core when pierced with a fork.

2. While the potatoes cook, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted. Add the curry powder, cumin, and coriander, and cook briefly, stirring. Add the meat and cook, stirring down with the side of a heavy kitchen spoon to break up the lumps, until it’s lost to raw colour. Add the tomatoes, broth, sugar and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Heat the broiler. Drain the potatoes and put them through a food mill or a potato ricer (or just use fork!) back into the hot pot. Stir in the peas and heat briefly. Add the hot milk, 2 tbsp butter, and pepper, preferably white, beating with a wooden spoon. If the mixture is too thick, add more hot milk.

4. Spoon the piping-hot curried meat into a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Top with the hot mashed potatoes. Smooth over the top. Dot with the remaining tbsp of butter.

5. Run the mixture under the broiler until the top is golden brown.

Book review: The Book Whisperer

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every ChildThe Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is always precious to hear a practitioner’s viewpoint on various aspects of education and in this case, reading.

Mrs Miller’s thoughts on reading and the traditional practices used by teachers in schools made me reflect on the programmes that we have back in my school. We all know children or even adults need time to read. As teachers, we are acutely aware that if the home environment does not support reading, then the school must, all the more, be vigorous in its attempt to provide such an environment and more importantly, the time for students to be engaged with the characters in the stories. We know teachers are role models and they need to be seen and their passion for reading be felt by the students. Reading cannot be seen as an activity mandated by the school, with all the after-reading worksheets to be completed. This kills the joy of reading. The need to show evidence for student’s reading and achievement with the use of reading logs or tests is a chore and you might want to question yourself of their validity and usefulness.

I question myself. Have I shortchanged my students? Have I done justice by seeing reading as one of the many periods in the curriculum and thus having my students go through the motion? Have I imparted the love of reading to them? Have I matched them to their reading level? Have I caused much enthusiasm in them by sharing good books with them? Have I spent more time discussing the stories or am I too concerned with completing the syllabus?

What about the reading programmes in my school? How are they useful to the students? Are they just “unexamined wallpaper”?

I would want my colleagues to have this book and that we evaluate our reading programmes during Learning Circle, based on the pointers that Mrs Miller gave.

I really appreciate Mrs Miller’s honesty in her sharing. This is a must-have in my library.