Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Sweets

Too much to do for a real blog post, but I did want to make note of the baking (and sweet-making) so far this year:

  • Just finished my third batch of spicy pumpkin seed-cranberry bark (substitute dried cranberries for cherries, add a half teaspoon each of cinnamon and chili powder if you like). This one's for us; the others have been (mostly) given away.
  • Spice cookies. Three batches, I think. Nick made the last ones, and they are fantastic. Even better with a few chocolate chips on top and warmed briefly in the microwave.
  • Whole-wheat chocolate chip cookies. I make them small and I got almost 6 dozen out of the recipe.
  • Cranberry thumbprint cookies. These are, sadly, almost gone. Maybe I can make more.
  • Speculatius. This recipe isn't online; I'll try to post it before too long. If I get ambitious, it might be below. They are delicious--and, again, the recipe makes lots.
  • Double chocolate cookies. I didn't chill them twice, though--I mixed the white chocolate chips right in and then chilled them once. It worked out fine.
  • Chocolate-macadamia shortbread cookies. I didn't have salted macadamias so I upped teh salt in the dough a little and they were amazing. Note past tense, alas.
  • Amaretti. And there are three egg yolks leftover from them, so probably by New Year's there will be mocha butter balls as well.
OK, here's the recipe for speculatius, adapted from the Joy of Cooking (1953)

Cream until well blended:
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar

Mix together in another bowl
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Beat these ingredients into the butter mixture alternately with:
4 TBS sour cream.

Beat in 1 cup broken nut meats. (I use walnuts).

Shape the dough into a roll with floured hands. Wrap the shaped roll in waxed paper and chill for 2 hours or more. Once it's firm, cut it into thin slices. Bake them on a greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper) in a 375F oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until done.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A discovery

This year, as I've already mentioned, we joined a CSA. And the vegetables were great. We discovered that we love beets, we ate kale and chard as often as we could get it, and salad turnips were a revelation. During the heat of midsummer we had as many tomatoes, and as much basil, as we could handle, and there were always melons. It was wonderful.

In the fall it became clear that the drought over the summer had done a number on some of the crops. The earliest sign was that there were no zucchini--this was astonishing, as anyone who's ever had to sneak zucchini onto a neighbor's back porch knows. There were no fall beets, and the potato and carrot crops weren't what they might have been. Still there was kale, lovely kale, and there were some winter squash, and those delicious turnips.

And rutabaga. Even the name puts me off a bit. Looking at them, you wonder how anyone ever decided to eat one: they are purple and white, knobbly and hairy, and altogether unbeautiful. My first attempts at cooking them didn't go over too well, either: I peeled and chopped and roasted one along with our potatoes and sweet potatoes, and Nick carefully pushed each offending chunk to the side. I could hardly blame him. It had a bitterness that was somehow sharper, less welcoming, than the bitterness of my beloved fall greens.

So the rutabagas sat in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator, passed over for turnips and squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

The CSA ended just before Thanksgiving, almost a month ago. We have finished the kale, the salad greens are long gone, and last week I used up the last two carrots. There are still a few salad turnips left. And the rutabagas. What to do with them?

Then Lisa, from our CSA, linked to a post about rutabagas. I was unconvinced about the first two recipes (though I will no doubt try them before the winter is over), but the third looked promising. I have a history, after all, of putting vegetables into baked goods. So I tried the cake.

Of course, I was well into the recipe before I noticed that the finely chopped apple that's called for is actually dried apple, and I didn't have any. I had, however, recently bought some chopped dates for baking, so I substituted those. And I was loath to waste good maple syrup on something we might not like, so I used some leftover apple cider syrup that I'd made to go with pumpkin waffles a while back. It was good, sort of like a ginger cake, but Nick was still skeptical.

So this morning I tried again. And I now present to you my reworked recipe for rutabaga-ginger muffins, just as I made them this morning. (Note: I'm not sure I expect you to go out and buy a rutabaga if you don't already like them, just to try this recipe. I bet you could also use grated winter squash, or maybe sweet potato, instead. But if you've got a rutabaga lying around, you might give this a try.)

Rutabaga Ginger Muffins & Bread

1-1/2 cups milk
2 tbl. ground flax seeds
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup molasses

3 cups flour (I used one of whole wheat and two of unbleached all purpose)
4 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 cups grated rutabaga
1 cup chopped dates for baking

2 tbl. maple syrup or apple cider syrup (scroll down)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Whisk together the flax seeds and the milk and put aside to thicken for about ten minutes. Melt the butter if you haven't already. With a hand mixer, beat the milk and flax seeds for a bit, then add in the melted butter, molasses, and honey.

Stir in the dry ingredients, sifting them beforehand if you're concerned about lumps (I'm not). Stir the grated rutabaga and the dates into the batter. It will be thick.

I used this amount to make 9 muffins, baking them for about 20 minutes in greased muffin cups, and one loaf of quick bread, which took about 35-40 minutes. (Half this recipe would make one 9" by 9" cake.) Bake until the sides pull away from the edges and the tops are browned. If you have it, drizzle some syrup (maple or other) over the hot muffins or cake or bread; it will soak in and add a bit of sticky sweetness.

*Note: this recipe is easily made dairy-free by substituting vegetable oil for the butter and non-dairy milk for the milk. It is also gluten-free in its original incarnation. I have never tried it either gluten- or dairy-free so can't vouch for those options.

Monday, December 13, 2010

With a little help from my friends...

...I got my grading done. Or mostly, anyway. Here's the update at IHE.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Not much to say

This time of year is so in-between: classes are over, but there's still plenty to do. Holiday stuff is ramping up, but I'm not quite ready to do it. Here's what I posted over at IHE today:
Classes are over, so I’m breathing a sigh of relief, right? Well, in a word, no. Now we hold all the meetings that could wait until the end of the semester. Now we clean up the mess in the office made by being too busy to do so all semester. Now we grade. Now we get sick (not on my to-do list, but my son spent two days at home last week with a nasty cold, and I fear it may not be far off for me, either). Now people call with questions that have been answered three times already, but not recently. Now it’s time to send out reminders for next semester. Now there’s holiday baking (or knitting, or shopping — or, in my case, all three). You get the idea.

I love this time of year, really I do. There’s a snap in the (very cold for Virginia) air today, and I feel energized by it. Later in the winter it will bring on the desire to hibernate, but it’s early yet. And I like the variety of having different things to do. While my classes this semester were truly a pleasure, it also felt good to wake up this weekend and know that I didn’t have to prepare for them. I wrote a book review instead, fulfilling an obligation that I took on back in September when it seemed as if November wouldn’t be all that busy. I guessed wrong about my workload, but got the work done in the end.

Shifting gears keeps things fresh. One of the reasons I love academe is that it’s rarely the same from day to day or season to season. Classes have their own personalities and rhythms, requiring new approaches even to what might seem familiar material. Next semester I’m teaching a brand-new class. I’ve taught all the material in it before, but never in quite this configuration, and I find myself looking forward to seeing what it says to me when paired up differently.

But first there’s this semester to finish up. The papers will come in soon and the grading will start and blogging may be sparser as first the grading, and then the holidays, consume my attention. I wish you all the variety you can stand, as the seasons shift around us.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seriously, Advent?

Sunday was the first day of Advent, the beginning of the new liturgical year in the Christian church. But it doesn't really feel like a new year when we're in the midst of wrapping up a semester. That's what I just blogged about at Inside Higher Ed.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Once upon a time, this was something of a recipe blog. It's been a while, but I still use it as a repository of my own favorite recipes, and I'm still trying new ones, too. Here's one I tried this weekend and posted about over at IHE. I tried to make healthy muffins; you can be the judge of whether I succeeded.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, melt ½ stick (1/4 cup) butter in the microwave. Stir into the melted butter: ½ cup flax-seed meal, 2 eggs, 1 cup leftover cooked oatmeal, 1 tsp. vanilla, ½ cup brown sugar. (If you don’t have any flax-seed meal, you could use a whole stick — 1/2 cup — of butter.)

Once the wet ingredients are pretty well mixed together, add the dry ingredients: 1 cup flour (I used unbleached white, but you could probably use half and half white and whole wheat if you want them even healthier), 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. baking soda. Add spices if you like—I used about 1 tsp. cinnamon and ½ tsp. ginger.

Stir in ½ cup chocolate chips and ½ cup dried cranberries. Or use a full cup of raisins, omitting the chocolate chips. Or mix and match to your own taste. (Yes, I'm aware of the irony of adding chocolate chips when I just said I wanted healthier muffins. I'm willing to give up some butter and sugar if I can have some chocolate, is all I have to say about that.)

This is a very stiff batter — it takes more stirring than most muffin batters and it can be scooped, not spooned or poured, into muffin cups. This should make 12 muffins, or 6 extra-large ones, if you have an extra-large muffin tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. When done, the tops of the muffins should be golden brown and should spring back when pressed. Mine may have taken a minute or two longer than 20 minutes .(I made the extra-large ones.)

Turn out of the muffin tin onto a cooling rack for a few minutes, until you can eat them without burning your mouth.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I'm counting down to the end of the semester over at Inside Higher Ed...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Teaching, Farming, and Curricular Change

Sometimes two ideas come together and no matter how hard I try, they insist on being yoked. That's what happened to me this week when I faced a mountain of kale and the possibility of some curricular change. Weird, right? You can decide for yourself at the Mama, PhD blog at Inside Higher Ed...

Monday, November 01, 2010

Rally weekend

Did you go to the "rally to restore sanity and/or fear"? Did you watch it? What did you think?

I'm still deciding. But I loved the music and the talk, I really did.

By the way: go vote tomorrow. Don't forget.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Social networking and other things

I didn't publish a link to last week's IHE blog post; it was a little frivolous, so I didn't bother. And then, somewhat weirdly (I thought) the comments exploded. Who knew feelings ran so high about academics' work wear?

This week I saw The Social Network and spent the weekend with Mariah. Here's what I thought about that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Baking

I took last week off from the Mama, PhD blog--I'd had a busy weekend and needed to catch up. But this week I'm on fall break, and I'm spending as much of it baking as I can. So this week I'm reposting the recipe for beet cake that's down below. And, since that feels like it's not really a post, here's another recipe: sweet potato molasses muffins. This recipe is adapted from one I found on; I haven't tried the original, but this adaptation (combining two different comments on the original) is pretty tasty:

Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter (or spray) a 12-cup muffin tin or a 6-cup large muffin tin.

Bake a sweet potato until soft, then scrape out the flesh and mash it with a fork. You'll need one cup of the puree. I recommend baking several and keeping the puree in the fridge so you can make lots of muffins, or add it to soup, or cake, or whatever else you think of.

Now, the recipe:

1 cup sweet potato puree
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup agave nectar (honey might also work here)
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
3 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil

Whisk above ingredients together in a large bowl. Then add:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat bran
3 tablespoons flax seed meal
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the dry ingredients gently into the wet, stirring only until everything is moist--don't overmix, but make sure you don't leave any lumps of flour or baking soda, either--those are nasty!

Scoop into muffin tins--this makes 6 large muffins or 12 (maybe only 11) small ones. Bake 18-20 minutes, maybe another minute or two if you're using the large muffin tin.

These are not very sweet muffins but they are light and tasty. Next time around I'm considering getting some corn meal in there and leaving out the spices to make sweet potato corn muffins--yum!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Failure...

It must be the time of the semester; I just can't stop thinking about failure. (Why, yes, I am grading my first set of papers, why do you ask?)

Monday, September 20, 2010

trying to learn a lesson...

...from the beet cake. Do we learn from failure? I do, sometimes. Read more about it at Inside Higher Ed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beet Cake: Redemption

Last week I made about the worst cake I've ever baked. Except for the first one, baked when I was about 11, which was a crazy cake using Nestle's Quik instead of unsweetened cocoa, and not enough sugar. Seriously, that one was inedibly bad, but this one was almost as bad.

It was a recipe I'd made before, which made it all the more galling. I hate to share the recipe having said it was bad, but really, it's a perfectly good cake--if you do it right. It's this chocolate zucchini cake that I learned about from our wonderful CSA farmers. It's a pretty tasty cake if you do it the way Lisa does, or the way I'd done it before. But I think I made at least two strategic errors with last week's cake. First, I used all beets for the veggies; previously I'd used zucchini, and that was terrific. Second, I threw in a half cup or so of buckwheat flour, which made it heavier than it should have been.

I hate to waste food, so I've been working away at that cake all week. Mark helped some, but Nick flat refused, and I could hardly blame him. Actually, both Mark and I kept eating it in part out of curiosity--was it really as bad as we thought? Maybe it just tasted, you know, like beets--we both like beets, so why didn't we like it? But the fact is, we didn't. Still, I felt that beet cake should work--after all, beets are sweet, right? Otherwise they couldn't make sugar from them!

So I googled around a while, searched out epicurious, looked for vegan recipes, and otherwise explored the possibilities. Most recipes for chocolate beet cake seem to be efforts to create a red velvet cake without red food coloring, but most commenters seemed to agree that it didn't actually work. Jessica Seinfeld had a recipe--and, again, it was hard to find people who were positive about it. And my point wasn't to be deceptive about this at all; I just thought it might be an interesting use for beets (which, again, I quite like), and perhaps a healthier chocolate cake as well.

In the end I took from a number of different recipes and came up with this. It worked, but I'm not sure I can even quite repeat it. One thing about this one is that I had some leftover squash puree in the house so that became part of the veggies in the cake; I think that may have helped reduce the excessive "beetiness" of the first cake while still helping keep the whole thing moist. Another thing is that I cooked the beets and then pureed them with their cooking water, so the beets were a lot moister in this version than the original--and, I think, mellowed by cooking. With those caveats, though, I now give you:

Beet Cake, Redeemed


1 cup cooked pureed beets* and/or squash, cooled. (I imagine sweet potatoes would work, too; your puree can be quite a bit waterier than if you actually meant to eat it)
1/4 cup plain yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream (I had some Greek yogurt and used that)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional


Preheat oven to 350F
Butter or spray a 9-inch square cake pan

Whisk together the first 7 ingredients (puree through vanilla). Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into the liquid ingredients, stirring only until you can't see any more flour. (Don't overmix.) Fold in the chocolate chips, if using, and pour into the prepared cake pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top springs back when pressed lightly. Serve warm with ice cream (or plain) and see if anyone guesses what's in it.

*I had shredded beets left over from last week's disaster, so I put those in a microwave-safe bowl with water and steamed them until they were soft, then dumped all into the blender to puree. The squash was cut in half and the seeds, etc., scraped out, then turned cut-side down into a baking pan and baked at 350 for about an hour, or until soft, then scraped out of the skin and pureed in the food processor.

Monday, September 13, 2010

a new stage in parenting

Over the 15 years that we’ve had children in school, my husband and I have managed not to have latch-key kids. Until now. For years, one or the other of us could be at home in the afternoon when they got home. Sometimes that meant picking them up from school and bringing them up to campus while I finished the work day, sometimes it meant finishing the work day at home, but one way or another we managed. It helped, of course, that we both had very flexible schedules, and that we (and our department chairs) were able to schedule our classes for prime times, so that one of us could get usually home before the school day ended. I did once teach a night class rather than teach during homework-and-dinner-prep time, and I’m in awe of those who do so all the time — that is really not my time of day. For a while one or the other of my kids was often in after-school soccer because it bought us an extra hour before pickup time on practice days—that ended, though, when it became clear that neither one had any interest in soccer beyond the camaraderie, so when the games got serious they gave it up. (And, for the record, no, I’ve never asked a childless colleague to teach late so I didn’t have to, nor has my chair ever made such a request for me. So far — fingers crossed — it’s all worked out fairly easily.)

More recently, my husband has picked up much of the slack, working from home as my administrative load has increased. So now, though I still rarely teach late in the day, I do occasionally have meetings that go until 4 or 5 pm — or even, as today, beyond. (Sometimes I even schedule them myself.) The first few weeks of classes when it was clear that this would become a more regular occurrence there was still no problem — my middle-school son wasn’t back in school yet anyway and was at home with his dad.

But school started last week and his dad’s out of town right now, and I’m solo parenting it for once. And today and tomorrow I have late afternoon meetings. Since my son is thirteen and reasonably responsible, we decided he could have a key and let himself in, and he’d call to announce his return.

I’m waiting for that call right now.

And after reading Susan O’Doherty’s blog post today I’m already counting the ways this could go wrong. A party in Central Park isn’t at all my concern, nor do I expect the cops to get involved, but there are many different kinds of near misses. He left a lunchbox at school last week; did he somehow lose his key? Or is the bus running late? If he missed the bus I would already have heard, I imagine, but what if he just couldn’t manage the rather sticky key in the very old lock?

Of course the call just came and all is well. There’s homework to worry about, and I do still have that meeting to go to, but for the moment another milestone’s been passed and all is well.

I do know I’ve been fortunate in this one. My milestone is a lot of other people’s day-to-day existence, and more parents than not patch together after-school programs, childcare arrangements, swing shifts, babysitting co-ops, and various other maneuvers to make their days work. I’m grateful that we managed to do all right for this long. And, like a lot of other parents every day, I’m glad that call came in when it did.

(cross-posted from Mama, PhD at Inside Higher Ed)

a food post

When I was a little girl my mother cooked dinner every night. Usually it was a meat, two sides, and dessert--at least in my memory--but there were exceptions to that rule. Spaghetti with meat sauce was one--usually served with a salad on the side. And there were other things that we had every now and then that were usually called "caloosapotti," which was someone's (my brother's? Mine?) mispronunciation of "ratatouille." I have no idea how the word "kallusapoti" should be spelled, but maybe you can get an idea of the pronunciation from my two attempts here.

One of the central features of calloosapotty was that it couldn't be repeated. If we liked it--or if we didn't--Mom would say, "you'll probably never eat it again." These were improvisational dishes, dishes that just incorporated whatever was fresh in the garden, or leftover in the fridge, or both.

I came up with one of those improvisational meals tonight and it was so satisfying, I just have to write it down. I may never really repeat it, but I can probably approximate it again. It involved turnip greens (we got little salad turnips in the CSA share on Saturday), and eggplant, and some leftover tomato sauce.

I started with the turnip greens, sauteing them in olive oil with sliced garlic. As the greens wilted, I added a sprinkle of pistachios and some raisins. My favorite way to eat spinach is sauteed with garlic, raisins or currants, and pine nuts--but I didn't have pine nuts so pistachios were my substitute.

While the greens were sauteing I sliced the eggplant into half inch rounds, brushed both sides of each slice with olive oil, and placed them on a cookie sheet in the oven at about 400F. When I remembered, I turned them over and brushed them with a little more olive oil.

When the eggplant rounds were brown on both sides, I piled the greens onto them (removing the garlic slices as I did), then topped each with about a tablespoonful of tomato sauce and about the same amount of shredded Italian cheese (Trader Joe's "quattro fromaggio" blend). Then back in the oven to heat the sauce and brown the cheese.

Oh, my goodness, those were delicious! No, I couldn't get Nick even to try one, but I don't even care--I wanted them all! The turnip greens were surprisingly mild, the eggplant was creamy, and the sauce and cheese were just right. I may never repeat it exactly, but it was delicious. I'm sure it would be great with spinach or chard or kale, with or without pine nuts and without the raisins, if those seem odd in this context, but I've got to tell you, they were really good. I'm sure this dish isn't authentically anything--it's calloosapoti, pure and simple, and it hit the spot.

[edited to add:] The moral of this story may simply be that I will eat anything, given enough olive oil and garlic. I can live with that.

Monday, September 06, 2010

On Not Always Saying No

Is service the housework of academe? I'm not sure, but it certainly takes up more of my on at the Mama, PhD blog at Inside Higher Ed

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mothering at Mid-Career: Cinderella’s Legacies? - Inside Higher Ed

This week at Inside Higher Ed I'm connecting my first-year seminar to some recent blog posts on our site:

Mothering at Mid-Career: Cinderella’s Legacies?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Veggies Galore

This year we joined a CSA, the lovely local Frog Bottom Farm. (Well, by local, I mean less than two hours away.) This past weekend they held a fabulous potluck, and it made me think a bit about how getting a weekly share of produce has lessons for both the teacher and the parent. Here's my IHE blog post about that...

Monday, July 26, 2010

sometimes things go well

We had a great--though very brief--trip to the beach this weekend, and on the way home I got to thinking about how nice it was not to have to hold anyone up over the waves the whole time--or to have to drive home (Mariah drove). These musings coalesced into this week's blog post over at IHE...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mmm, granola...

It's been a while since I posted a recipe here. I decided to remedy that, sort of, by including one in my blog post for Inside Higher Ed...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Probably only of interest to book nerds... the story of how I've been rearranging my office.

Can it really be mid-July already? This summer is going by too fast!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Taking a summer movie seriously...

I'm blogging at IHE today about Toy Story 3D, which we loved. Actually, I'm talking about all three Toy Story movies, just for fun. And it's my 100th blog post over there, too!

Monday, June 21, 2010


I really want to write something about the three Toy Story movies, having just seen the third one this past weekend. But right now I have a lot of other things to write instead, including this weekly blog post at Inside Higher Ed. So for now all I'll say is, yes, it's that rare sequel that lives up to its predecessors.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer Jobs

One of the best things about being an academic is that summer is still really different from the rest of the year, just like it was when I was a kid. I remember some long summers spent reading on the couch, or outside--really, reading wherever I could. But what I really remember most are the various summer jobs I had starting when I was about sixteen. They weren't good jobs, of course--when you're sixteen you've got no skills, after all, and no experience--but they were formative in some significant ways. Now it's Mariah's turn.

Read more about summer jobs at the Mama, PhD blog at Inside Higher Ed...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Sad Stories

I haven't blogged much lately, as everyone who still checks in here knows. The once-a-week gig (more or less) at Inside Higher Ed seems to satisfy whatever need I have to broadcast my opinions to the world. I do miss the recipes I used to post here--but at least the ones I put here are still archived. And I miss writing as much as I used to, but there are other things taking up that time.

If I were still blogging more I have no doubt that I would have had some things to say about the BP spill. And I probably would have had something to say about the heartbreaking loss Katie Allison Granju (mamapundit) has just suffered. In fact I did manage to say a little about both in this week's post for Inside Higher Ed. There's more to say about both--but I'm not sure I'm the person to say it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sick Day? - Mama PhD - Inside Higher Ed

One day I'll go back through old blog posts and see how often I get sick during a break. Or, more likely, I won't--it might just depress me. Anyway, I've got a cold and laryngitis, and in a blatant plea for sympathy I'm blogging about it over at Inside Higher Ed.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Deja Vu all over again

Lately all I do is run workshops. I've done two in the last two weeks and I've got two more before the end of May, then another one in August. It's teaching, of course, but it's also not--I'm facilitating groups of faculty rather than leading groups of students. And it's teaching me a lot about teaching. That's the context for this week's blog post over at IHE.

Blog U.: Mothering at Mid-Career: Teaching and Tae Kwon Do, again - Mama PhD - Inside Higher Ed

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Monday, May 10, 2010

back again

Again I missed one of my posts over at IHE. Last week I blogged about my phone ringing while I was in a workshop (among other things); this week I have a little more to say about that workshop.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's over? Really?

Our semester seems to end weeks earlier than anyone else's, which always feels like a gift in April (though not so much in August, when we start weeks earlier than anyone else, too). This year I had an unusually great last day of class...

Blog U.: Mothering at Mid-Career: Semester's End - Mama PhD - Inside Higher Ed

Last week, by the way, I ruminated about rubrics and spreadsheets and what my job will look like in twenty years--and forgot to put it here. So, a two-fer!

Oh! And, I almost forgot, but the Mama, PhD blog at Inside Higher Ed was named one of the top parenting blogs recently by this neat resource--I love the idea that nurse practitioners are recommending parenting blogs to their patients. Makes perfect sense. Our blog is the top one listed in "specific parenting issues."

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Not yet

So, I don't have an iPad. Yet. Here's a little of my thinking about that.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter, and a quick correction

Easter was lovely, even if our usual houseguests went elsewhere this year. (Ah, who can blame them for going to see our parents, even if I couldn't make the same trip?) We had friends over, enjoyed great food that reprised several earlier Easter menus, and talked until well past dark. But then we had to get up in the morning--or I did--to go to work. (Mama, PhD blog post alert!)

And, just to be clear, I did not really stay up until 5-something a.m. Sunday to finish my various Saturday activities. Rather, my time stamp was still set to Kabul time. It isn't any more and the Saturday post now says Saturday again. Whew!

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Today I made:

I also did three loads of laundry and made a big grocery run. And did a little cleaning. Now I'm knitting and watching basketball (well, I'm about to be knitting). Whew! That felt good.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


For many years I had a clipping up on my door from the University of Richmond's alumni magazine. It was from an interview with a major donor who had made his fortune in a field well outside academe, and in it he was asked what his major was. I no longer have the clipping, but to the best of my recollection he said something like, "I did everything wrong; I majored in English." He went on to explain that his undergraduate major was not career training in any conventional sense, though he was, of course, prepared to learn in whatever field he chose. But the damage, for me, was done: majoring in English is somehow doing things wrong.

read the whole post here

Thursday, March 25, 2010

in bloom

I came into the office Monday morning wondering if the cherry tree would be in bloom. It wasn't, but a thunderstorm roared through later in the day and by the end of it there were pretty clearly a few blossoms out. Today it's out in full, showing off against its usual backdrop of red brick, black leaded glass panes, and grey skies. We're supposed to get temps down to 30F Saturday morning, but spring is definitely here nonetheless.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mothering at Mid-Career: Getting Over It

When I saw the piece on "the other 'F' word" in this week's Chronicle, I have to admit it took me a while before I felt like reading it. Really? I thought, are we still talking about families and the academy? Aren't we done yet?

Apparently not...
(read the rest here)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mothering at Mid-Career: Unknitting

There are some undertakings so overwhelming that, if you knew too much about them before diving in, you might never embark on them. Having children, for example, is way too daunting if you think about the time and money spent, the income and sleep lost — you'd never do it if you drew up a detailed budget beforehand. Writing a dissertation — or a book — is a similarly unmanageable project that might cow anyone who really thought hard about how long it would take for how little reward. Sometimes I think the academy, or the human race, reproduces itself only — to borrow Samuel Johnson's quip about second marriages — through the triumph of hope over experience.

read the rest here...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Blog U.: Mothering at Mid-Career: Talking about Teaching - Mama PhD - Inside Higher Ed

It's an odd thing, writing a blog. Folks I know — or colleagues I don't know, for that matter — can stumble across it in ways they're unlikely to come across my academic work, but they don't often let me know they read it.

today I talk about one time when someone did let me know, and why I'm glad about it...

Blog U.: Mothering at Mid-Career: Talking about Teaching - Mama PhD - Inside Higher Ed

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ps: this piece should really have a link to Becca's recent column on social reading...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

On Getting (and asking for) Help

When my son was about three we took him out to a restaurant where kids were welcome. He sat in a high chair with a tray, and we put things on it for him to eat. I can't remember exactly what it was that he was so intent on, but I do remember him chasing a piece of food around the tray with his fork, trying — and failing — to spear it. "I got it, I got it, I got it!" he chanted. Then, almost without taking a breath — "I need help!"

I feel like that a lot.

this week's post at the Mama, PhD blog at Inside Higher Ed...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February Blues

I'm not a big fan of February, despite Mardi Gras, President's Day...even my birthday. It's just not my favorite month, and this year it seems particularly bleak. Nonetheless I have a fabulous cookie recipe and decided February would be a good time to share it...go look!

Blog U.: Mothering at Mid-Career: February Blues - Mama PhD - Inside Higher Ed

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Monday, February 08, 2010


I'm trying to maintain some kind of balance, but ...well, you can see how well that's working.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A post about knitting, sort of

After blogging at this site for well over a year, I start to fear that I'll repeat myself. And, sure enough, when I sat down to write a post about knitting, I discovered that I'd done it before. That earlier post was a pep talk of sorts, a reminder to myself that I need to make time for things I love that aren't directly related to my work. Sometimes that can be hard, since one of my greatest pleasures, reading novels, is indeed directly related to my work and therefore hardly "counts" as a leisure activity.

But these days reminding myself to knit seems like less of an issue — what I need, it seems, is a reminder to finish what I start. Or, perhaps even better, to start what I can finish.

read the rest here

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Happy New Year in Social Media - Mama PhD - Inside Higher Ed

Yes, Facebook is killing the blog (my blog, at least). So maybe it's just too-too something to blog about it, but I did, anyway.

Blog U.: Mothering at Mid-Career: Happy New Year in Social Media - Mama PhD - Inside Higher Ed

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy 2010

We rang out the old year in fine style last night, with an easy dinner pizza and salad before heading off to see Sherlock Holmes. One of the biggest changes from last year--and certainly from the beginning of the decade!--is that there are now plenty of movies we both can see together as a family and want to. And we had a blast with Sherlock Holmes, though it is ridiculous and over the top and probably nowhere near as Victorian as it thinks it is. Whatever. (We also loved the preview for Iron Man 2, btw.)

We then went home for a belated celebration of Mariah's 20th birthday. Since I'd been at MLA over the real day she hadn't had a cake with candles, and I was happy to oblige. Or sort of. Instead of cake I got inspired by a recipe I found at 101 Cookbooks for a bittersweet chocolate tart. As usual I'm incapable of actually following a recipe, but I did come close. Mariah and I had been out earlier in the day for, among other things, bittersweet chocolate for the tart. I picked some up at Trader Joe's and came home to find that, in fact, it was bittersweet chocolate with almonds. I was about to just sub in whatever chocolate I had when Mariah suggested that the almonds would be good in the tart anyway, so in it went. (If you try this variation at home, use about half of a pound-plus bar of TJ's chocolate.) My tart pan is bigger than it should be, so the tart came out thinner than the one pictured in the original, but I hope you'll agree that it looks pretty good anyway--and it certainly tasted great!

This has been a quiet holiday, for the most part. It's been nice to hunker down at home and enjoy each other's company, and that of our new cat, Sergeant Pepper. Sarge arrived Christmas Eve from the pound and is now officially Nick's cat; after a few days he seems thoroughly acclimated to us and we to him.

I hope the new year brings you all the chocolate, cats, and/or other treats that you hope for.