Summer vacation?

Dr. Quentin Lee

This man might be my new hero. He made me laugh out loud. I will need to channel his spirit in a couple of weeks as I will spend a decent amount of time reminding middle schoolers to distance, sanitize, and stay masked. Now, keep in mind that I come from the Ice Ice Baby school. Yep, my head and assistant head of school were those guys who went viral a few years ago. Didn’t see it? Don’t remember it? Here’s a reminder:

Ice Ice Baby by MUS and LH

Over 5.5 MILLION views. Son #2 was in school at UT-Knoxville at the time and came back to his apartment to find his roommates watching the video. He let them know that that’s his school. Sweater Guy has moved on to be a head of school in Dallas, Texas. MUS is our fearless leader through all of this Covid-19 nightmare. The thought of weather cold enough to freeze water is appealing right now in hot, humid Piedmont NC.

There hasn’t been much summer vacation for teachers this year. I belong to enough teacher groups to know that most of us have been very busy trying to learn all that we can so that we are ready to roll. Whether school takes the form of F2F, hybrid, or remote learning, a lot of us have spent hours and hours learning all we can. I have taken three week-long online courses, a day-long workshop for World Language teachers, and countless short courses on all the different features of Google’s G Suite for teachers, Playposit, Flipgrid, Screencastify, Loom, and many other sites/apps. I have spent more than a few hours playing around with a Bitmoji classroom. Here’s one of the results:

Oh yes, just one. I have several. They are interactive! Students will be able to click on Vincent’s painting, the white board, the recipe book, the map of France, the Eiffel Tower and the TV screen to access material in the form of Google docs, websites, videos, Google forms, etc. I also have a Bitmoji locker assignment that the kiddos will play around with to introduce themselves when school starts back. This was fun. I was inspired by one of the groups I belong to. Teachers are so generous about sharing their materials and time. Very inspiring. Old dogs can learn new tricks!

We also formed discussion groups around anti-racism and how to engage in meaningful change. I read White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Dr. Robin DiAngelo. Boy, did that hit home. We have to do better, White People. Not just talk about change but actually do something about it. I have a couple of other books on my to-read list: Stamped From The Beginning and How To Be An Anti-Racist, both by Ibram X. Kendi. Lord, grant me the guts to change what I can. Wouldn’t it be great to see a “Thank you, Jesus” sign and a “Black Lives Matter” sign in the same front yard. I am looking for one. It you see one, please take a picture and send it to me. I will send you a prize. Promise. If it’s in your yard I will be doubly impressed.

The new school year begins August 17 for faculty and classes begin August 24. I plan to close up the computer as much as possible next week and take some time to do who-knows-what. There’s a new Wegman’s in a town a few miles from me. Road trip? Can’t be a leisurely stroll, involving a lot of smelling, touching, and reading labels the way I like (I have a thing for grocery stores, both here in the US and in France). But at least Wegman’s is out of my zip code. I really want to head west on I-40 to visit family, but that’s out of the question. I miss Mama Mildred, The Sisters, and Brother- and Sister-in-Law. And dang, I miss the Appalachian/Blue Ridge Mountains. Thanks for the photos and videos, Brevard Peeps. They keep me going.

So, for today’s treat I decided to make one of my favorite French desserts. Riz au lait.

Kind of like rice pudding, but better than the old recipe I have used in the past. Well, at least I think so. I will find out what the Ex-Ex and Son #1 think. Maybe Mlle K will try some. Hope so! It smells all vanilla-y. Yum. I prefer it warm, but the others like it cold. I had riz au lait in France at Le Scaramouche restaurant in Senlis with Mme M, garnished with pâtes de fruit, luscious little treats of candied fruit- literally fruit paste. Ah oui, I still remember that meal… And the view of the cathedral all lit up at night.


Riz au lait

recipe based on Leite’s Culinaria

1 cup uncooked rice (I have used arborio before but can’t get my hands on any of it right now- I’ve been looking for 5 months- so I went with long grain)

3-5 tablespoons granulated white sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3-1/4 cups milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine rice, 1 tablespoon of sugar, salt and vanilla in a pot. Add milk and stir well. Bring to a soft boil on medium heat. Turn the heat down about as low as it will go, cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and gently simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes (read the directions on your package of rice- it might take a bit more or less time- tasting it is important). Stir the mixture often to prevent it from sticking to the pot. You want it to be thick and creamy, with the rice tender but not mushy, with almost all of the milk absorbed. Remove from the heat. Add the butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar, stirring until the butter is melted and the sugar is mixed in well. Taste. You may or may not want to add another tablespoon or two of sugar, depending on your taste.

Leite’s Culinaria also adds in orange zest and orange juice. I decided to leave that out. You could add raisins, cinnamon, I’ve had it with chocolate shavings on top, you can serve it with whipped cream, garnished with fresh fruit. Whatever your little heart desires. Oh, to have some pâtes de fruit… We made them once in Arles during my sabbatical in 2008. Maybe I will tackle that again someday.

Bon appétit, mes amis et mes amies. Hang in there, whatever form school takes for you or your children or your friends. There is a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel. We just cannot see it yet. Je vous aime.

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