Friday, December 31, 2010

A French Cooking Experiment: Bouchées à la reine

Though a small village, Kandern sports three grocery stores, and there are annual debates among English-speaking ex-pats as to the benefits and savings that are to be had at each. One thing can be said about Hieber's, Penny and Lidl this time of year: they are stocked with delectable holiday treats!

I have seen these little pastry pie shells ("Königin Pasteten" or "Queen's Pies" in German) for years in boxes on shelves and in bakery windows. In December, the meat section is filled with varying brands and recipes. My friend Sharri had raved about them our first year teaching here together, but I had never tried one. So Thursday, on a whim, and perhaps partly due to having not eaten a snack before grocery shopping, we picked up a box.  

There are lots of variations. Mine didn't end up looking quite this picturesque.
Today, I felt up to the task of preparing the filling after a morning trip to the recycling center. Yum! Isaac approved, and our plates were clean. The recipe is rather simple and a fanciful make for the holiday season. Enjoy! 

Königin Pasteten: Agnes Sorel
4 Pasteten shells
5 oz mushrooms, washed & quartered
5 oz lamb, cooked & cubed (I used leftover Christmas turkey, but you could try chicken or pork as well.)
1 T. butter
2 T. lemon juice
1 cup Béchamel Sauce (see recipe below)
2 T. white wine
1 T. Worcester sauce
fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Make Béchamel sauce.
  2. Saute the mushrooms in butter briefly over low heat.
  3. Add meat, wine and Béchamel sauce and heat through.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Pour into shells and sprinkle with parsley.

Béchamel Sauce: Makes 1 cup
2 T. butter
1 T. flour
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. cream
  1. Melt butter in pan.
  2. Add flour, milk and cream quickly.
  3. Bring to a boil and whisk constantly (around 5 min).
  4. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more milk. Likewise, if it's too thin, add a bit more flour. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Carol of the Bells

One of my favorite things about teaching is watching a student move from "I can't" to "Oh, wait, I can!" A few students this semester had this realization, and this class had a couple of them. So proud of these guys!

Another Suzanne Micheals original arrangement.

Linus and Lucy

Though not especially Christmas-sounding, this song has become so associated with Christmas due to Charles W. Schultz's 1965 Peanuts Christmas special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Peter, Elle, Simon and Jonathas perform one of my first attempts at arranging for four pianos.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Meaning of Normandy

Each year the Junior class at Black Forest Academy takes a trip to Normandy, France to tour the D-Day beaches and museums. I have been in the process of taking over the leadership of the trip and this was my second year helping to lead. It always ends up being a great time of learning about an important and meaningful event that help shape Europe and and the United States. The students come away with insights not just about the war, but about the meaning of courage, sacrifice and heroism.
I often think about how blessed I am to be able to be involved in teaching these kids such important lessons, but I am even more amazed at how the work Suzanne and I do here affects mission work around Europe. After the trip I received several emails from parents telling me how much their child learned and how the work we do here allows them to continue their work. One parent wrote to say: "We are very grateful and see you as God´s provision for our daughter´s needs and your ministry has enabled us to stay put here in Spain. This year our ministry is flourishing and we would have been sorry to have had to leave... a new beginning of a church has birthed, a baptism and baby dedication soon to happen, a ladies retreat for 200 women of southern Spain, time spent with many unsaved people who have no other contact for knowing or hearing of Jesus."
Your prayers and financial support are so important to not only our work, but also the work of many others around Europe. Thank you for all you are doing in support of the gospel.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My students' STOMP-inspired Performance

Watch "CHOMP: The Christmas Stomp" below. My Music Appreciation students put sooooo much work into this number, and it was a hit! They composed most of the rhythms themselves. Congratulations, guys! :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Trip to the Opera

Our delightfully-dressed-up entourage.

"What's the difference between recitative and aria?" The students in my Music Appreciation class were able to answer this question after an outing to the Freiburg production of Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. Students spent two class periods before the trip listening to the overture (melody highlight reel) and acting out the plot line for Humperdinck's little masterpiece.

Check out a fun interactive (and shortened) version of the opera on USC's nonprofit radio website: Hansel & Gretel.

Theater Freiburg is playing Wagner's Ring Cycle this month as well. We opted for something a little lighter.
The class-voted most surprising event of the evening was realizing the witch was played by a man. (They had been mercifully prepped for Hansel's part being played by a woman). The famous duet prayer "Abends will ich schlafen geh'n" (definitely click & go listen to that one) was a highlight and all decided it was entirely too short!

And while many had gone on the optional field trip to hang out with their friends, more than a couple were pleasantly surprised by this mythical beast called opera. One was even overheard to have said, "I may have actually enjoyed that." Mission accomplished.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All In A Day's Work

Land Duke van Baden showed up in AP Euro.

Suzanne and I have begun to settle into the school routine and are still figuring out what that should look like as we are now doing this together.

So, in order to give you a feel for a “typical” day in our new married life, I have put together a snapshot schedule for you the curious reader. Not everything below happens every day, but you should be able to see that the teaching schedule is filled with various activities for most of our waking hours.

 o 6:30-Suzanne’s alarm begins to play the sweet melodies of American pop tunes spiced up with German “Nachrichten” (news) and commentary

o 7:15-Isaac’s alarm, which is rather more grating and thus much more able to drive us from our slumber, sounds and finally rouses us

o 7:30-Isaac makes the coffee for Suzanne, the tea for himself, and the lunch for the both of us. Never knew I was a morning person, but I have assumed the role

o 7:45-Suzanne heads off to a meeting with other school department heads having run down the stairs, grabbed her coffee and been bidden “Tchuss” (bye) by Isaac

o 8:23-Isaac enters school, and prepares for AP European History. Today the class is learning about 18th century French Salons, during the "Enlightenment". I am dressed as close as I can be to an 18th century gentleman and one student has also gotten into the spirit and come in period correct costume. The conversation is illuminating and educational.

o 10:40-Suzanne begins her Piano I class of four students by having her students warm-up with various routines with strange musical titles I am incapable of explaining. Something about A flat on a minor tempered clavier…

o 12:35-Isaac and a fellow history teacher begin lunch duty by walking the halls, kicking out the students who have once again found some reason to eat their victuals outside of the designated areas and making conversation about some arcane historical subject

o 3:05-Suzanne begins her Music Appreciation class. Being a new Mac user, she projects a “Keynote” presentation which compares the Marsalis and Bach families, both of musical fame. In spite of the technical savvy of her students, she manages to awe them with her lesson. So much so that a student comments to Isaac that his wife’s computer “owns” his.

o 4:00-Suzanne introduces an after school recital by some violin students to an eager audience of parents while Isaac is mired is AP essay grading and planning for the new US history class he is teaching this year.

o 6:00-Suzanne prepares dinner, while Isaac plans for his sophomore guy’s small group. The new crock pot they received as a wedding present has saved the young couple time and energy and provided many a good chicken meal. Plates are cleared and washed just in time for the young men to arrive.

o 8:30-Isaac is in the midst of his small group and the discussion has turned from soccer to girls to school to prayer. It’s all part of a process…

o 10:00-Isaac and Suzanne are making last minute changes to the next day’s lesson plans. It’s all in a day’s work.