Archive for October, 2009

Just bought plane tickets to Iceland!

October 29, 2009


pumpkin whoopie pies

October 25, 2009

While these aren’t quite as round or quite as beautiful as Martha’s Stewart’s, I adapted this recipe from her site.


Whoopie pies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream cheese filling

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar (*Next time I might try using only 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


>>Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

>>Makes approximately 12 whoopie pies

1) In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and oil. Then add the pumpkin puree, followed by the eggs and vanilla.

2) Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves until fully combined.

3) Scoop the batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper; set the pies approximately 1″ apart. You can use an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, or, as I did, use two spoons to scoop the batter out. Then use the back of one spoon to smooth the batter out into the desired shape. You won’t be able to fit all 24 on two sheets, so you will have to do two batches.

4) Cook the pies for 17 or so minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the pies are starting to crack on top.

5) While the pies are cooking, make the filling. Beat the butter until smooth, then add the cream cheese. Next, add the confectioners sugar and vanilla, beating until well combined.

4) Once both batches of pies are complete, scoop filling onto one half, then smoosh other half on top. Keep the whoopie pies refrigreated until they are consumed.


October 25, 2009

Friday night I threw a surprise party for David, whose birthday was the Friday before (his birthday coincided with our five year anniversary). I invited a bunch of our friends from Hampshire and David’s brother, Brian. I’d been planning the party for weeks and there were a lot of close calls–David reading over my shoulder as I opened my email account to a new message from someone about the party, etc.

Our friends arrived at one of our favorite restaurants, Blue Taleh, at around 6:30. The plan was for us to leave the apartment at 6:45, but multiple people got lost so I kept getting phone calls and text messages warning me not to come. I pretended that my mom kept calling but had bad reception so she kept losing the call. When we got to the restaurant David was totally shocked. It was an awesome night. After dinner, everyone came back to our apartment for pumpkin whoopie pies (recipe to follow) and drinks.

David, Johnna, and Josh.

David, Johnna, and Josh.

Josh, Ross, Jenny, and Julie.

David & Josh.

David & Josh.

Brian, Julie, pumpkin whoopie pies, and Johnna.

Brian, Julie, pumpkin whoopie pies, and Johnna.

David & Brian.

David & Brian.

David & me.

David & me.

Julie, Jenny, & me.

Julie, Jenny, & me.

I love surprises.

two new eggers books!

October 21, 2009

It’s difficult to fully convey the excitement I feel holding two new books by Dave Eggers in my hands!

The Wild Things, a novel loosely based on Maurice Sendak’s children’s book

Zeitoun, a nonfiction story of one man’s experience after Hurricane Katrina

nog season is here!

October 19, 2009

Instead of writing about my terrible day, I would like to share with you that today egg nog season has officially begun! David and I just had a toast to the first glass of the season!

snow! in mid-October!

October 18, 2009

This is the second time it’s snowed. Last week it was only flurries–today it’s coming down pretty fast and the snowflakes are big!

Keene Pumpkin Festival

October 18, 2009

Yesterday, David and I went to the Keene Pumpkin Festival, a huge festival with more pumpkins than I’ve ever seen before. Each year they have over 25,000 carved pumpkins. We walked around, looked at pumpkins, enjoyed seeing lots of cute Halloween costumes, and ate a lot of not so healthy food. We enjoyed fried pickles, which were sold by the girl scouts. Admittedly, they sound a little disgusting, but they were so good!

Here's David in front of the giant display of pumpkins. Shorter displays went down the middle of the street for blocks!

This is my absolute favorite pumpkin. I call in The Veggieburger. The sesame seeds on top of the bun are pumpkin seeds.

Here's the veggie burger next to the snowman. It might seem out of season, but today it was snowing really hard, though it didn't seem to stick. (It's only October!!!)

Oink, oink.

Lots of beautiful foliage.

I loved this tree pumpkin.

MA Poetry festival

October 18, 2009

On Friday, I took 14 students (Nine 11th graders, two 10th graders, and three 9th graders) to the Massachusettes Poetry Festival’s High School Poets Workshop. A month or so ago, a coworker had sent me info about the festival, knowing that I live in the area. On the website I discovered that they were having an all-day workshop designed specifically for high school students. I contacted the organizer and was thrilled to be able to bring a group of students. Since they couldn’t accommodate entire schools, students who were interested in coming had to send me an email explaining why they wanted to come and what they hoped to get out of the event.

We left at 8:45 from the school. The day started with an assembly of all the students from different schools. There were probably 150-200 people, from at least 10 different schools. There was an opening poem, remarks from the organizers of the festival, the superintendent of Lowell Public schools, etc.

Students then headed off to workshops. Students had signed up in advance for the two workshops that interested them the most, out of the ten being offered. A poet who I’ve admired and loved since I was in high school, Regie Gibson, taught one of the workshops. Workshops ranged from how to use imagery and sensory language in your writing, to how to read your poetry out loud/perform it, to creating rhythm in writing. In one workshop, students worked on voice, writing poetry from the perspective of someone close to a celebrity (What would Beyoncé’s hairdresser have to say about her famous client’s last hair appointment? Angelina Jolie’s personal trainer about the way the movie star works out?”).

After the workshops we received bagged lunches. My students were incredibly excited to talk about their workshops and what they’d done. Whenever I spend time with students away from school, I am amazed by how important it feels. I get to know students in an entirely different way. They open up more, they seem to feel much more free… One of my professional goals this year (we have to set three each year) is to make more connections between my curriculum and our community. I want to really work on bringing in guest speakers and bringing my students outside of the classroom! It’s so much work–this event took weeks of emails, creating permission slips, contacting the bus company, etc.–but absolutely worth it. During lunch, and on the bus ride home, students kept thanking me. They met writers from other schools, worked with and learned from well-known poets, and had a ton of fun.

After lunch, we then headed to a large assembly where there was a poetry competition. Each school had nominated one student before the event to compete. The top two winners got to read with Robert Pinsky on Saturday. The student who read on behalf of our school didn’t win, but did an amazing job! The event ended at 3, and we headed back to school.

Apple crepes

October 18, 2009

Last Monday, Columbus Day, David and I went apple picking again. I used a few of the apples to make crepes.

>>Makes four 8″ crepes


  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

For the filling:

  • 3 medium (or larger) apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon


  • Cinnamon to sprinkle on top
  • Whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or french vanilla yogurt


1) Whisk together the eggs, milk, and melted butter.

2) Add the flour and sugar.

3) Heat an 8″ frying pan over medium heat. Pour the batter in so it covers the pan–not too thick. When the underside is light brown (the dough has formed into a circle, and the crepe can be flipped), flip and cook on the other side.

4) While cooking the crepes, warm a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the apples and sugar. Toss the apples in the sugar, and sprinkle the cinnamon on top. Toss and cook for 5 minutes, or until the sugar has melted and the apples have softened. Add the melted butter. Cook until the apples are of the desired consistency.

5) Divide the apple mixture between the crepes. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or yogurt. Sprinkle cinnamon on top!

Lime Polenta Cake

October 12, 2009

Last weekend David and I went to my grandfather’s and made him lunch. We made sweet potato risotto and this cake. The recipe comes from Easy Vegetarian: Simple Recipes for brunch, Lunch, and Dinner. It’s very tangy!

>>Preheat oven to 325 degrees
>>Serves 8-10


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups ground almonds (I used slivered almonds that I crushed in the food processor)
  • Zest and juice of 3 limes
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Lime Topping/”Crust”

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar


I made this whole recipe using my grandfather’s food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you could use an electric mixer.

1) Put the butter and sugar in to the food processor. Mix until light and smooth.

2) Add the eggs, then the vanilla extract and the almonds. Mix until the almonds are ground up fairly small.

3) Mix in the zest, lime juice, cornmeal, and baking powder.

4) Pour the mix into a buttered and floured 10″ springform pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 325 degrees F, or until golden brown.

5) While the cake is cooking, mix the lime juice and sugar in a bowl for the topping.

6) When the cake is cooked, use a toothpick to prick small holes all over the surface of the cake. Pour the lime juice mixture over the top of the cake. Let it cool inside the pan for 15 minutes.

7) Serve warm! We ate ours with lemon sorbet.