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Real-World Chemistry

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Just the sight of this textbook scares the crap out of me...

Just the sight of this textbook scares the crap out of me…

To me, when I was in school, we spent a whole lot of time on really boring stuff that had absolutely no application to the real world in which we would some day need to survive in on our own. It might also be why so many people ended up just living in their parent’s basements, working part time jobs to try to pay back student loan debt.

Case in point: The metric system.

We don’t have a meter stick at home, we have a yard stick. My husband goes to the lumber yard for a piece of 6 foot drywall or a 2″x 4″, not 6 meters of drywall. Yet in school, they spent all this time [trying to] teach us the metric system and didn’t teach us the U.S. measurement system that is actually in use in regular lives daily. I still don’t know how many feet or yards are in a mile. I was never taught that in school. Good thing I have it on a ruler from a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

Next point: Balancing a checkbook.

In high school, I took math classes up through Trigonometry. Pretty advanced math. I got mostly A’s and B’s. I didn’t understand any of it. When I went to college, I had to take a test to see if if I would test out of all the math classes. Nope. I ended up taking Algebra a second time. I still don’t understand it.

You know what I also have trouble with? Balancing my checkbook. It has to rank up there are one of THE most important tasks you have to do regularly as an adult. When did they teach that to us in school? Formally, never. Informally, during a Junior Achievement exercise in 7th grade. And my mom taught me.

I never took Chemistry in high school. It was taught by a man who had already failed to teach me Algebra and Drivers Ed, and he made my skin crawl. So why would I waste more time in a class with him with subject matter I was not remotely interested in?

When I got to college, I evaded Chemistry class as well. I took lots of Psychology and English classes instead.

But lately, I can’t get this idea out of my head. It keeps popping up in my day-to-day life.

What if they taught a high school class on Chemistry that kids could relate to? That would interest them? Chemistry is all around us in our daily lives. What if we could understand our normal lives better, and not learn about super-colliders, or whatever?

I had this brainstorm while coloring my hair. How many high school girls (and guys nowadays, I suppose) color their hair? Total chemistry. You have to take the one magic bottle and place it into the other magic bottle. What is in those bottles, exactly? Why do they react to change your hair color? Make your scalp burn? Why will it possibly explode if you recap it after mixing? I would love to know these answers!

The other day my husband and I were at a craft show. We had a long conversation with a lady who had a booth full of homemade soap. My husband expressed that it smelled great, but he was afraid that it would dry out his skin.

She went into a long explanation about how the longer the soap sits after it is made, the pH has more time to change. This causes the soap to be less drying. She sounded super-knowledgeable. I had never heard that stuff before. She could have been making it all up just to make a sale.

But, if there was a Real-World Chemistry class, that would be a GREAT experiment! And all the students could have yummy smelling soap that they made to take home.

My husband loves to make homemade silly putty with a mixture of glue and cornstarch. I don’t understand it myself, but he always has lots of fun. EXPERIMENT for Real-World Chemistry!

Yummm.

Yummm. Cinnamon rolls.

The other day I made cinnamon rolls, the kind my mom used to spend 5 hours making me for my birthday when I was a child (I always loved them more than cake.) The kind that you have to put yeast in, let them rise, beat them down, then let them rise some more. It was frustrating to find just the right amount of heat in my kitchen to make it rise. Then I noticed the recipe at one point said the dough should be “elastic and smooth”. Low and behold, over the past several hours and kneading, it had changed to just that. But how?

I find this topic very frustrating. Kids should at least know the basics of the world around them. Isn’t there always a big drive to get girls more interested in science?

HERE IS YOUR ANSWER!

And boys would take the class, thinking it would be an easy A, then accidentally learn something.

I don’t want other kids to avoid the subject altogether as I did. Now I can’t answer clues on Jeopardy. And I don’t understand joke T-shirts and throw pillows with periodic elements on them 😦

Periodic Table T-shirt

Periodic Table T-shirt. Is it funny? I can’t tell!

Periodic table throw pillow

Periodic table throw pillow. Is it a statement about science or texting? Or both!

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Old Family Recipe

Today I will share with you an old family recipe. It is very easy to make. It is a good way to use up leftovers. It can be a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, or dessert. It is delicious.

Have I peeked your interested?

It is frosting on oyster crackers!

What?

Oyster crackers. You know, the little round salty soup crackers. Nabisco Premium oyster crackers are my favorite brand. If you don’t have any oyster crackers, Saltines work too. Using Saltines just makes getting the ratio of frosting to cracker more tricky to get right.

What?

Oh, you meant that this concoction sounded gross? My husband thinks so too. But I try not to judge him too harshly for it. I will do the same for you.

Ta-Da!: I present to you Frosted Oyster Crackers

Ta-Da!: I present to you Frosted Oyster Crackers

My mom used to eat this when I was little to use up leftover frosting. Because, of course, you cannot throw out extra frosting. It is sugar and fat in spreadable form. A precious commodity!

My mom often used chocolate frosting for this dish. I think I prefer vanilla. This is one of my most favorite desserts. Sometimes, if I haven’t had it in a while, I will just buy a can of frosting especially to make it.

I tell you, there is nothing quite like the combination of sweet and salty, unbleached enriched flour and hydrogenated oils (that is for you, LazyHippieMama!). That perfect little dollop of frosting smeared onto the cracker.

Hey, I wonder if I could turn them into a party snack. If I used a pastry bag (a.k.a. Ziploc bag with the corner cut off) I could make an attractive frosting peak on every cracker. Maybe I could run a toothpick into them. I wonder if my in-laws would eat them? That would mean I would have to stop double dipping though. But frosting might make the cracker soggy. Then it would not have the desirable crispiness that is required.

I am not one who usually shares recipes on my blog, and now you know why 😉 I currently have a whole can of red frosting leftover from my son’s caboose birthday cake. My waist line is already expanding. I should just throw it out. Will I?

Well, the jury is still out.

I did have to make up some crackers for the photo for this post.

And Betty Crocker frosting does last in the fridge for 30 days. (Damn it, I thought I bought Duncan Hines. I like DH better.) 6 more days to go…

What I Learned This Week – 10/28/12

The finished product: Spaghetti Squash with Spaghetti Sauce and Cheese

This week I learned that spaghetti squash is pretty good. My friend cooked some up using a Rachael Ray recipe. I found a recipe of Ms. Ray’s (not sure if it was the same recipe) and bastardized the hell out of it. I really only used the recipe to know how to prepare the squash. For final touches, I just put Ragu spaghetti sauce and an italian shredded four cheese blend on it. My husband liked it. My toddler son LOVED it. I thought it was kind of “eh”. But if it isn’t chocolate-coated, that is often my response.

A satisfied customer (And using a fork! So advanced.)


I also learned this week that I don’t seem to be qualified to work as a part time bank teller. It appealed to me because I thought I would still have some time every week to spend with my son and keep the house clean. I interviewed at two different branches. One went with someone with 20 years of teller experience. (My experience in banking? None.) I can’t compete with that.

I haven’t heard back on the second interview yet, but the job description and the manager made it pretty clear that they wanted someone who spoke Spanish. (Alas, more skills I lack.) The recruiter didn’t seemed as concerned by my lack of this skill.

Spaghetti squash have seeds?! But Rachael didn’t say anything about what to do with seeds!


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A Love Letter to Deviled Eggs

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There was a farewell potluck at the church for the Pastor’s family. I asked my asbestos friend what I should bring. Being that I live 20 minutes away, it is a pain to bring something warm and attempt to keep it warm and/or try not to spill it. My asbestos friend suggested I make deviled eggs. And that made me happy.

Work Station: 1.Peel 2.Cut 3.Yolk 4.Whites


I find making deviled eggs relaxing. I know, you are probably thinking I am crazy. How can peeling one (or two) dozen eggs be relaxing? If you use brand new eggs, I have to admit, they are almost impossible to peel and can cause endless frustration. But if you use eggs that have been in your fridge a week or two, they peel better when boiled. And standing at my kitchen counter doing endless manual labor gives my mind a break.

Another relaxing thing about deviled eggs is that I don’t need to use a recipe to make them. Maybe people have a lot of dishes they can make by heart. Deviled eggs would be my only one. I don’t measure ingredients either. I just feel how much should go into each batch with my soul.

Because I enjoy making deviled eggs, I often make them for large groups, like showers or family gatherings. I have two deviled egg storage containers, which hold 35 eggs total. (Whoever invented a deviled egg container which holds an odd number of eggs should be shot. Probably a man.) When my mom made deviled eggs, she used to smash up the yolks with a fork. But then again, she was only making eggs for three people. I have found the most useful tool to use when making a large quantity of deviled eggs is a pastry blender. It is meant to be used to cut (blend) shortening into dry ingredients. I would have no idea what it was if I hadn’t been told in middle school Home Ec class. It works very well to efficiently smash lots of yolks in no time flat. (Ha, flat!)

I am not going to give you my recipe, because it is my secret recipe. And pretty unimpressive. But I will say that I do not believe the school of thought that says bring your eggs to a boil, then turn them off and let them sit for 20 minutes. I believe in BOILING my eggs for 20 minutes. I am a big advocate of food safety. I don’t want to take any chances with my eggs.

Also, if I want to fancy them up, I can put the filling in a Ziploc bag, cut the corner, and fill the egg whites as you would take a pastry bag full of frosting to a cake. But I don’t often do that, as I feel you leave valuable yolk stuff stuck behind in the Ziploc bag. I always top with paprika, although I don’t really believe it has much taste.

Finished Product (I recently melted the blue try, so I had to buy a new one. Ya! No more odd numbered eggs!


And, that is pretty much all I have to say about deviled eggs. I like to make them. They make other people happy. Hey, is it wrong to take “DEVIL”ed eggs to a church function?

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