Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has successfully used the turnaround strategy with two historically struggling schools, Sherman and Harvard elementary schools. The turnaround approach has brought about an entirely new culture and climate to schools, with higher expectations for academic performance. These schools are managed for CPS by the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL). Now AUSL and the CPS Office of School Turnaround are partnering to replicate that success in two high-poverty neighborhoods. Turning around two chronically underperforming elementary schools and one high school in each neighborhood, CPS seeks to ensure that these preK-12 children are surrounded with opportunities to succeed.
Teach Chicago Turnarounds calls on Chicago’s most talented educators to put their skills and experience to use for students who need great teachers most. Teach Chicago Turnarounds is a recruitment initiative that matches high-caliber teachers to positions in six historically low-performing schools. In the turnaround model, the school has a new team; every position in the school is opened up to be newly staffed with teachers specifically selected to work as a team to meet the turnaround challenge. Turnaround teachers will collaborate on the improvement of schools that have long struggled to offer students more than the bare minimum. Starting over with new leaders, new faculty and a new vision, the Turnaround Schools offer accomplished veteran teachers and passionate novices an opportunity to take the next steps in their careers while giving students the opportunity to succeed.
Knowing that every teacher brings a unique skill set to the classroom, Teach Chicago Turnarounds aims to facilitate strong matches between teachers and schools. Talented teachers are needed in all grade levels and subject areas, particularly in math, science, special education and bilingual education. Following a smooth and efficient hiring process, all Turnaround teachers will receive a regular Chicago Public Schools salary and benefits, a greater voice in shaping the culture of the school, a range of professional development options, and the opportunity to be part of a dynamic instructional team. Help reverse a history of failure:
Change schools. Change lives. Teach Chicago Turnarounds.
The turnaround model for public education reform has gained national attention and support as a potential approach to improve performance rapidly in underperforming schools in high-poverty neighborhoods. For more detailed information on the turnaround model and the growing national movement, see research by The Mass Insight Education & Research Institute.
Terrance Little, Principal
Morton School of Excellence is committed to ensuring high academic achievement for every student by delivering the highest quality education that prepares students for the full range of opportunities in their future. The focus is on the whole child: academic, social, and emotional development.
Principal Terrance Little is cultivating a learning community of teachers who strive to improve their instruction through reflection, collaboration, and innovation, with the goal of increased student achievement. Beginning with 5 weeks of professional development prior to the start of school, teachers work as a team, not only to push Morton’s students, but to drive their own continuous development as educators.
As a Morton teacher, you will:
- Have the opportunity to focus on standards, not on test prep
- Gain access to relevant and timely data to tailor instruction to student needs
- Work with a variety of educators and resources to incorporate both academic and social/emotional learning standards into your curriculum
- Be part of a supportive school family that is working hard together.
Morton School of Excellence is at the forefront of the new civil rights movement – the right of every student to receive the highest quality education, despite the challenges they may face in life. Everyone at Morton – educators, students, and families alike – will be challenged to become the best they can be in an environment that sets high expectations and values personal growth. If you are an exceptional teacher, focused on student achievement and committed to creating new futures for urban students, explore the possibilities and Morton. Be part of the solution.
|Morton School of Excellence is managed by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), a nonprofit organization selected by CPS. All teachers and staff at AUSL-managed schools are employees of the Chicago Public Schools and paid on the salary schedule of the Chicago Teachers Union collective bargaining agreement. For more information about AUSL, see www.ausl-chicago.org|
Is there a special contract for teachers at Turnaround Schools?
No. All teachers at Turnaround Schools are employees of CPS and the terms of the CBOE/CTU collective bargaining agreement shall apply.
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What are the benefits of teaching at a Turnaround School?
Turnaround teachers will benefit from enhanced professional development opportunities, additional mentoring for teachers, and the chance to influence a school’s culture, climate and academic excellence. Turnaround teachers will work with a team of like-minded colleagues who share the goal of delivering the best education possible to every student.
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Is it safe to work at a Turnaround School?
CPS is committed to having all schools be safe places for children to learn and for teachers to work. Every school has plans in place to help ensure a safe environment, and teachers will be part of the planning, development, and implementation of these plans in their schools.
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Will there be an induction or orientation?
Yes. Turnaround Schools will have paid professional development time prior to the opening of school in order to train and develop their new staff members. This time will focus on building school unity and beginning to develop the culture of success that will be crucial for Turnaround Schools.
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What kinds of professional development will be offered?
Turnaround School teachers will benefit from special professional development and support which will vary based on the curriculum adopted at each school. Examples of the resources and partnerships that will be made available are the Chicago New Teacher Center and the Erikson Institute.
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Will I be hired by the principal or by some other entity?
The principals make the decision whether or not to extend an offer for a position.
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Where can I find more information about CPS?
For general information regarding the Chicago Public Schools district, visit: www.cps.k12.il.us
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Where can I find more information about the Turnaround Schools?
Click on a specific school on the list to the left to learn more about individual schools. Information is also available at www.cps.k12.il.us.
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What is an AUSL school? How are AUSL schools different from Turnaround Schools managed directly by CPS?
CPS has selected the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) to manage three of the six 2008-09 Turnaround Schools: Howe School of Excellence, Morton School of Excellence, and Orr Academy High School. AUSL is a nonprofit organization with a two-part mission: to improve student achievement in Chicago Public Schools by preparing and retaining Chicago’s next generation of exceptionally effective teachers and school leaders; and to transform chronically failing schools into schools of excellence by opening and managing Turnaround Schools, capitalizing on the strengths of its pipeline of AUSL-trained teachers.
AUSL already has led the turnaround of two Chicago Elementary schools. The Sherman School of Excellence opened in Englewood in 2006, and the Harvard School of Excellence opened in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood in September 2007. In addition, AUSL manages six other CPS schools (two high schools and four elementary schools) as training sites for its Urban Teacher Residency program. Over the past six years, AUSL has trained nearly 250 teachers who serve more than 5000 Chicago Public School children from low-income backgrounds.
All teachers and staff at AUSL-managed schools are employees of the Chicago Public Schools, hired by the AUSL school leadership team, and paid on the salary schedule of the Chicago Teachers Union collective bargaining agreement.
For more information about AUSL, see www.ausl-chicago.org.
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Has the Turnaround model been successful in the past?
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has used the turnaround strategy with two historically struggling schools, Sherman and Harvard elementary schools. This approach brought about an entirely new academic culture and climate. These Turnaround Schools are managed by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL). Now AUSL and CPS’ Office of School Turnaround are partnering to replicate that model in six more schools.
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Does CPS have a residency requirement?
Full-time Chicago Public Schools employees are required to be actual residents of the City of Chicago within six months from the day their employment begins. This requirement includes principals. Each prospective employee must complete a Sworn Residency Statement by the time his/her employment begins.
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Are exceptions made for teachers in high-need subject areas?
Yes. Exemptions from the residency requirement must be applied for at the time of hire. Subjects that the district deems “high-need” can change, but most often include special education, math, science, bilingual education and physical education.
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Does CPS provide housing assistance?
Yes. CPS teachers can receive up to $7,500 towards housing costs if used within the city. This includes money for purchasing a home and discounted rates on apartments throughout the city. For more information visit CPS’ Teacher Housing website at:
Soothe coughs and soften the mucus and also have sedative properties of bronchial spasms, are effective as dry cough or cough with expectoration, in both cases it will improve the conditions of the sufferer, especially in crisis bronchial asthma or processes.
There are different syrups useful and easy to prepare for getting rid of a cough:
– Syrup of red onion and lemon
-It Takes Two large red onions and cut into thin rings, add 5 tablespoons dark brown sugar and put over low heat, to extract all the juice from the onion juice is obtained dark subsequently seep and add the juice of two lemons. keep it in the refrigerator and take 4.5 tablespoons per day or in cases of very persistent cough. red onion cough syrup
– Lemon juice and honey is squeezed a lemon and add a tablespoon of honey, the mixture is quenched, so stay tuned liquid and is taken every morning fasting. – Syrup of figs cook for 5 figs in a glass of milk over medium heat until mixture thickens. Take 4-5 tablespoons a day.
– Apple juice and lemon juice 2 apples with some lemon juice natural and add 1-2 tablespoons of honey, the cough bout accumulations of mucus in the bronchi.
Also eucalyptus vapors of 50-60 gr. / Liter of water, covering her head with a cloth and inhale its fumes are beneficial for coughs, besides being expectorants. The baked potato poultices on the chest and applied to the chest are useful in cases of bronchitis and persistent cough. Also during the processes of dry cough and bronchitis, should be to drink plenty of fruit juices and vegetables and plenty of water, which help to soften the secretions and clear the respiratory system.
Sports drinks rehydrate your body and replenish electrolytes, carbohydrates, sodium, potassium, and other nutrients lost from sweating. Professional athletes and people who perform intense workouts like running often rely on these drinks. They are designed for consumption before, during and after a workout. The effects of sports drinks on exercise performance consist of making sure you can maintain your workout capability.
To understand how sports drinks affect exercise performance, you need to know the function of electrolytes and glucose. The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that electrolytes, minerals in the body affect your water levels, pH balance, muscle action and other internal processes. When you sweat, electrolyte imbalances occur. Electrolyte imbalances affect sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and other nutrients.
Carbohydrates, stored as glucose in the liver and muscles, are the body’s primary energy stores. When you exercise, you expend about three to four grams of carbohydrates a minute. Exercising more than two hours without proper hydration reduces your performance capacity. Lack of glucose production causes some athletes to experience muscle cramps. Athletes who can’t eat before exercising consume sports drinks to fill their carbohydrate needs.
Dehydration can be dangerous if you are working out for a long time, especially in the outdoors. The physiological effects of dehydration worsen the longer you workout without replacing fluids. These effects include impaired performance, muscular decline, heat exhaustion, hallucinations, the collapse of your circulatory system, and in worse cases, heat stroke. Drinking the right kind of sports drink relieves dehydration.
There are three types of sports drinks-isotonic, hypotonic and hypertonic. Each of these drinks serves different purposes:
Isotonic sports drinks contain similar proportions of salt and sugar found in your body. These sports drinks provide carbohydrates and replaces fluids lost from sweating. Because the body prefers to use glucose as its energy source, isotonic drinks work well with athletes who participate in team sports like football or do middle- or long-distance running. These drinks have a six to eight percent concentration of carbohydrates. Isotonic sports drinks include High Five, Lucozade Sport and Boots Isotonic. These drinks are good energy sources during an intense workout.
Hypertonic sports drinks have more sugar and salt than that found in your body. The carbohydrate content is usually higher than eight percent and causes water to move from the bloodstream and into the stomach. The process causes you to become dehydrated. These kinds of drinks are marketed only toward athletes and not advisable for general exercisers. Hypertonic drinks consumed during work outs have to be consumed with isotonic sports drinks to adequately rehydrate the body.
Hypotonic sports drinks contain lower concentrations of sugar and salt than that found in the body. These drinks absorb quicker in the bloodstream than other kinds of sports drinks. Athletes who need the fluids without carbohydrates drink this kind of sports drinks. These athletes include jockeys and gymnasts, people who exert short bursts of energy.
Sports drinks improve exercise performance in athletes because they prevent conditions that lead to dehydration. Dehydration causes mild conditions that negatively affect performance, or this condition leads to permanent damage or even death. Athletes, though, must pick the right sports drinks because they are not all created equal. Base your sports drink choice on the type of workout you are performing and length of your routine.
Tired of all the holiday cooking, but you still need a great dessert for New Year’s Eve? Here’s a fool-proof cake recipe that is so simple, yet a certified hit every time it is made. The following is the ingredients and directions to make the most moist and tasty chocolate cake:
Easy, Super- Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe
2 c. flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. cocoa
1 c. oil
1 c. hot coffee
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine all ingredients except black hot coffee. Mix. Add hot coffee. Batter will be thin. Pour into 9×13 pan. Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Once the cake is finished and cooled it is time to ice it. I highly recommend the following peanut butter icing for this rich cake, but the cake is so wonderful, that it is just as good topped off with store bought vanilla icing.
Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup milk
Directions:In a large bowl, beat butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in 1/2 of the confectioner’s sugar. Mix in 1/4 cup of the milk.
Beat in the remaining confectioners’ sugar. If necessary, add a little more milk until the frosting reaches a good spreading consistency. Makes enough to frost one 2 layer 9 inch cake or one 9×13 inch cake.
After you have iced the cake, sprinkling it with lovely, large sugar crystals will give it a little shine to ring in the new year. Pick a color that is similar to the icing color to create a classy cake. For example, large, clear sugar crystals on vanilla icing or large caramel-colored sugared crystals on peanut butter icing. Or, if the dessert is for young guests, sprinkle it with a bright, cheery color or mix-up a few different colors to make it really fun.
Corelle dishes were first introduced about forty years ago in 1970 by R&D scientists at the Corning Glassworks Business. The dishes were made up of three layers of glass bonded together. Starting with a glass core center that is enclosed by top and bottom layers of “skin” or glazed glass decorated by different enamels. The enamels beam through the different glass dinnerware to show the beauty of the patterns created. This method makes the Corelle dishes durable and scratch resistant.
Even though Corelle dishes are advertised as unbreakable and chip resistant, a few dishes do break or chip. There are many places to search for replacement dishes of the discontinued Corelle pattern. One place to start are the multiple websites. Here are a few websites to search:
*http://indoor.pricegrabbers.com/DinnerwareSets list discontinued Joelle patterns. This site list places where you can locate them (Ebay.com, JCPenney, Sears, etc.)
*http://replacementsltd.com is another such website whose business is physically located in Greensboro, NC. It was founded by Bob Page in 1981. The business can be contacted by email or call at 1-800-REPLACEMENT (1-800-737-5223). It is located in Greensboro, NC and is opened 7 days a week until 10 pm ET. For them to help you locate your pattern, you will need to supply it to them. The business is in to buying your discontinued Corelle dishes as well as selling them.
*http://www.corelle .com is the official website for Corelle dinnerware. The patterns are listed alphabetically. It also reminds customers that the Corelle dishes are durable. The dishes are made of a substance called Vitrelle that helps make the dishes chip resistant, microwavable, tempered glass to keep the Corelle dinnerware break resistant. The Corelle dishes are made lightweight so they are easy to stack and store and dishwasher safe. This site has a special discontinued pattern showroom, which makes it easier to locate your discontinued pattern.
There are still many more websites you can research to find that elusive discontinued Corelle dishes pattern.
Beside websites, discontinued patterns of Corelle dishes can be found:
*At Thrift Stores
*Garage and Yard Sales
*Discount Outlet Stores
*Department stores clearance sections
The prices at these type of places are usually less expensive than at the websites. One reason is there is no shipping and handling charge to be paid. Be sure to inspect each piece of Corelle dishes you wish to purchase for any flaws in the patterns, chips, cracks and craze marks from lots of use.
Buffet-style restaurants are establishments where the customers serve themselves. The food is generally stationed in a central place and diners can peruse the offerings and fill their plates with the kind of food they want to eat.
There are a few different types of buffets, and depending on the restaurant, the foods can be a variety of ethnic types or centered around a singular culture, such as a Chinese buffet, or a theme, such as pizza or steak.
Restaurant buffets that follow the model of all-you-can eat operate in a pretty systematic way. Customers usually pay at the door a fixed price and then help themselves to the food that is provided. Many all-you-can-eat buffets offer a lot of choices, which can be overwhelming. The menu usually do not vary, although new items may be offered from time to time.
Some restaurants only operate buffet style for certain occasions. Usually Mother’s Day is a popular time of the year where people head out to restaurants that offer brunch buffets, although some restaurants may offer buffets on other holidays.
In a cafeteria style buffet the food is generally prepared ahead of time and placed on shelves. Customers come through the line and choose what they want; sometimes the food comes pre-wrapped. Pricing is often by the piece (i.e. a sandwich, drink and side dish). Customers select their foods and then carry their tray to the register to pay.
Pay-by-weight buffets charge per pound at a set price. Often set up similarly to all-you-can-eat, customers put their food in a container and it is weighed at checkout.
Some restaurants are traditional sit and order from a menu types, but on weekends may offer a special buffet that is only open during the breakfast hours. These restaurants may start early and end during “brunch”.
The ‘combo’ restaurant
There are those restaurants that may offer a menu and a buffet. In the U.S., there are several restaurants that have a tradition menu, but one of the options may a buffet. In these restaurants, which are often offered by chains, the buffets are typically smaller than the all-you-can-eat model with a limited number of different foods offered.
According to Lorri Mealey, About.com Guide, the concept of buffets originated in 16th Century France. With the popularity of the buffet in modern times, this type of restaurant has clearly stood the test of time. Buffet restaurants in the 21st century are often a popular option for diners as some people like choice and the ability to have seconds without paying for an additional plate.
There are many kinds of crabs, including a few land dwelling species. On the west US coast, the most sought after are usually either the Dungeness crab or the Alaskan king crab. In many respects, they are similar. In other ways, they are vastly different.
Both of these crabs prefer cool water. The king crab lives in very frigid water, however the Dungeness also lives in the quite cold waters off the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington, Canada, and Alaska. Both crabs are also scavenger feeders. They will eat live food when it is available, however they will also eat almost any flesh that is decaying.
Both also scuttle about on the bottom of the ocean, and these habits are quite similar. However, it is about at this point that the similarities stop, except that they both look like crabs.
The most noticeable difference is the size. Alaskan king crabs are commonly more than six feet from claw tip to claw tip. The body is also slightly larger than with a Dungeness. However, compared to the body, a king crab has much longer legs. A Dungeness, which commonly measures less than a foot across the shell or carapace, seldom has legs that would double that size, from claw tip to claw tip.
A king crab, on the other hand, has a small body for the spread of its legs. Though it is a crab, it is similar to a ‘daddy long legs’, in having a small body and extremely long legs. This makes a huge difference when the crab is processed and canned. Most of the crabmeat from a Dungeness comes from its body, while most of that for the king crab comes from its legs.
It is no mistake that this is why king crab legs are often sold, while with Dungeness crabs, usually the whole crab is sold. This affords the person, in the latter case, to get the succulent flesh from the body of the crab.
An Alaskan king crab also more often feeds at deeper depths than does the Dungeness. Dungeness crabs at times work to deeper depths, but they are often caught off jetties and piers. The same can rarely be said of the king crab, though it does happen on occasion.
King crabs tend to live and feed in deeper water where the often-stormy seas don’t have much of an impact on them. Dungeness tend to live closer to the low tide mark, though they can live in deeper water, because severe storms are not as common.
In flavor, there isn’t a great deal of difference, though many people prefer the taste of Dungeness to that of king crab. This amounts to a personal preference, rather than one being actually better than the other.
The difference between Dungeness and king crams is most easily seen in the difference in size. However, there are also other differences as well. Ultimately, it falls on the individual to decide which they prefer. It can be a tough decision, because both taste great!
This is a recipe for Chinese chicken sir fry. It is very easy to prepare and can be made and served in less than half an hour. It is inexpensive to make and yet is a delicious, mouth-watering meal that is perfect to serve to your family, and ideal for that special meal for company. It is low in fat and calories, high in fibre and nutrients, and most of all, high in taste and excellence.
Stir fry meals are fun to create and delicious to eat. Once you know the basics, you can add and change the ingredients a dozen different ways to suit your personal taste.
Four large chicken breasts cut into cubes
1 large onion sliced into rings
1 green pepper sliced into rings or just sliced
1 red sweet pepper sliced into rings or just sliced
2 cups mushrooms sliced
1 cup celery – sliced
2 cups Chinese noodles
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cups of sweet and sour sauce
2 tablespoons Teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons of butter
Things you will need
One large wok, a mixing spatula or wooden spoon and a large cooking pot
1. Melt the butter in the wok on low very heat so as not to burn it.
2. Once the butter is melted, add the meat and mix it into the butter with the wooden spoon. Cook the meat mixture on low to medium heat until the meat is thoroughly cooked throughout.
Stir the meat mixture often because you don’t want the meat to brown or get crusty. You want it to remain soft.
2. Add the Teriyaki sauce and the spices and then mix them together.
3. Add the onions, the celery, the mushrooms and the red and green peppers. Mix them all together with the meat mixture, and continue to cook on low heat for about ten minutes. Stir occasionally.
4. Fill the separate pot with water and a pinch of salt and bring it to a boil. Add in the Chinese noodles and cook on low heat until tender. Stir occasionally. It should only take a couple minutes.
5. Add the sweet and sour sauce to the meat mixture and then leave it covered on low heat for about five minutes.
6. Drain the noodles and then add them to the meat mixture. Stir the noodles in carefully mixing all the ingredients well.
You can leave the meal in the covered wok on very low heat for about ten minutes before serving, but it is best not to wait longer as the ingredients will overcook and become limp.
Serve hot with a dish of fluffy rice and enjoy your delicious Chinese Chicken Stir Fry.
There’s probably no sweeter or prettier natural food source found on earth than honey. Ever since prehistoric people first raided a beehive to collect the translucent amber liquid (paying for their sweet treat with numerous bee stings) history has found ways to use the substance for more than merely food.
Honey is a soothing remedy for sore throats, especially when mixed with a little bit of lemon juice and hot water. The high fructose and carbohydrate content provides a quick burst of energy. It has potent antimicrobial properties because of its low water content, and was first applied to wounds in biblical times to help seal out germs and speed healing.
Honey’s medicinal characteristics aren’t lost on modern doctors, either. A 2004 study published in the Journal of the International Academy of Periodontology found that chewing gum made with honey may help treat gingivitis. Scientists are also buzzing (no pun intended) about preliminary studies suggesting that regularly ingesting honey can help decrease cholesterol and alleviate seasonal allergies.
All of these are good reasons to incorporate honey into your daily diet. Using it in place of sugar to sweeten coffee and tea is a good start, but here are some other simple ways to cook with honey and reap its sweet benefits:
* Use plain honey as a condiment by drizzling it over yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal, cereal, nuts, fruit, and even cheese. Substitute it for maple syrup on pancakes and waffles, and squeeze it onto toast and peanut butter sandwiches.
* Use it in glazes for fish, beef, lamb, chicken, and roasted vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, squash, and sweet potatoes. It’s also a fantastic ingredient to include in barbeque sauce.
* Make salad dressings and dips with honey. There are numerous recipes online for classic honey mustard dressing, or you can make a delicious low calorie dressing by whisking two tablespoons of honey with 1/4 cup of balsamic or white vinegar, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
* Since honey is already in liquid form, it dissolves easily in beverages. Use it in place of sugar in drinks such as lemonade, iced tea, and smoothies.
* Make breads and pizza dough that include honey in the recipe.
* Substitute honey for sugar in your favorite baking recipes by following a few guidelines. The American Honey Producers of America recommends substituting honey for up to one-half of the sugar called for in a recipe. Because honey adds moisture to baked goods, it’s also advised that you reduce the amount of liquid by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used, and you should reduce your oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over browning.
One note of precaution: remember that honey should not be given to children less than one year old. They can develop botulism, as their digestive systems are not mature yet to process the natural endospores found in honey.
Need recipes and more ideas? Visit The National Honey Board’s site at http://www.honey.com. Including something so good for you as part of a healthy diet was never so sweet.
Vietnamese cooking is known for its exotic blend of flavors which combine spicy, sour, salty, sweet and bitter elements. These flavors are often used in conjunction, creating unique Vietnamese dishes. There are some common spices used to create these flavors. The two most prevalent are ginger and garlic. Lemon grass, kaffir lime and cinnamon are also frequently used to create delicious traditional meals.
Seafood as well as braised dishes often contain ginger with its distinct and potent flavor. In other recipes it is incorporated into soups and one cannot forget Mt Gng, which is candied ginger – a favorite Vietnamese snack by itself. Vietnam does not produce as much ginger as its neighbor India, but Vietnamese ginger is arguably the best in the world, so it is no wonder it is prevalent in so many dishes.
Along with ginger, garlic is considered one of the two staple spices in Vietnamese cooking. It can be found in almost every dish from main courses with meat and vegetables to sauces, often combined with ginger or lime. It is also present in a number of Vietnamese soups. Quang Ngai Province’s Ly Son Island is fondly known around the world as the “garlic kingdom.” A recurring presence in traditional as well as westernized Vietnamese dishes are the famous garlic noodles, which are infused with the spice’s amazing flavor.
Chicken and pork dishes are frequently flavored using lemon grass. The subtle lemon flavor is both sweet and sour, making for zesty entrees. Lemon grass is native to other Asian countries and is also present in a lot of Thai dishes as well. The yellow center of fresh lemon grass stalks are added to meals as they cook to introduce the flavor and then removed before serving. Curry was originally popular in India, but it eventually spread to Vietnam where it is more often flavored with lemon grass.
A number of Vietnamese sauces are made with lime and kaffir limes are a unique lime species that is commonplace in Vietnamese cooking. Not only is the juice of these indigenous limes used, but also the leaves from the trees. The flavor of the leaves is described both as citrus flavored and floral, both tangy and sweet. Kaffir is also added to sauces along with soups and some varieties of curry. As with lemon grass, the tough leaves are removed from the dishes before serving after they have imparted their flavor.
Cinnamon is often present in Vietnamese soups, stews and of course desserts. It is a main ingredient in all spice powder, along with anise, fennel and cloves to create a unique flavor combination. Saigon cinnamon, a specific variety of cinnamon native to Vietnam is of particular note. It has a more complex flavor than other types of cinnamon and is required for the broth of the Vietnamese soup known as pho. It is sweeter than typical cinnamon, but also has a hot kick aftertaste.
Whether watching TV cookery programmes or reading recipe books, ‘pancetta’ is a type of food that is becoming more and more common in savoury dishes, especially Italian recipes. Pancetta is simply an Italian dry-cured bacon, but NOT a smoked bacon. It is made from the belly of the pig, and it is treated with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and other spices; then rolled, tied and left to dry-cure for around 12 weeks. The flavours in pancetta vary from region to region where different seasonings and methods of curing are used; but whichever region the pancetta is from it always has a very strong and rich flavour and just a little of it adds a great deal of flavour to meals and makes the other meats used in the dish go a lot further.
Pancetta purchased in Italy usually comes in large pieces; however, in other parts of the world it is usually purchased sliced, in a sausage-like roll or diced into cubes or lardons. While many supermarkets and delicatessens do stock pancetta, there are areas where it can be difficult to find. If faced with a recipe that calls for pancetta but it is difficult to find, there are some alternatives that can be used instead.
Probably the best alternative is another Italian meat product – prosciutto. Prosciutto is actually the Italian word for ham. It comes in two varieties -prosciutto crudo (uncooked) and prosciutto cotto (cooked). The prosciutto comes from the rear leg of the pig and is salted and then air-cured; it is, however, ham and not bacon, like pancetta. Prosciutto is a lot more expensive than pancetta and saltier, but it is a perfect substitution for pancetta, although care needs to be taken to ensure that the recipe is not too salty due to the added salt in the prosciutto. It can be used either cooked or uncooked in recipes.
The other excellent substitute for pancetta is regular bacon. It is advisable to use unsmoked bacon, but if only smoked bacon is available, cooking it in water for 2-3 minutes will reduce the smoked flavour and make the bacon more like pancetta. However, the very best alternative to pancetta is to use an equal mixture of unsmoked bacon and prosciutto.
While prosciutto and bacon are the best alternatives, it is also possible to replace the pancetta with pork tocino (mainly used in cookeries in the Philippines or Caribbean), salted pork, smoked sausage, smoked ham, or smoked ventrèche (which is similar to pancetta, being belly pork, but is meatier and smoked).
There is, of course, another reason why an alternative to pancetta is required – and that is if cooking for vegetarians or for people who cannot eat pork. Naturally it is impossible to simulate the taste of pork or bacon, but crispy cooked vegetarian ‘bacon’ can be used, or alternatively olives will add the saltiness gained from the pancetta and they do also add a degree of ‘meatiness’ to the dish.
Consequently, it is clear that there are satisfactory alternatives to add to dishes calling for pancetta; however, there really is nothing that completely matches the wonderful taste that it gives, so if pancetta can be found, buy it. Pancetta has a good shelf life and will keep for several months in the refrigerator, or longer packed in bags in the freezer.
Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) grow all over the world. They are sometimes the bane of fishermen, hunters, hikers and people just out sightseeing. Very few who have brushed against a stinging nettle will forget the experience. Yet, stinging nettle is one of the most flavorful of wild plants, and it is extremely high in iron and vitamin C, as well as other minerals and vitamins.
The sting of nettles
Stinging nettles have developed a protection system of very tiny specialized hollow hairs all over the stem and leaves. These hairs are made of silicon (the same mineral that glass is made of) and at the base of each hair, and inside each, is a little pocket of liquid that contains formic acid, a histamine, acetylcholine and serotonin.
At the end of each “hair” is a little nodule that can break off easily, injecting the victim with the fluid, which burns in a similar way to a bee sting or poison ivy. However, these chemicals, and the hair that contain them, are destroyed by heating or drying.
To collect stinging nettles, wear gloves and clip them off with scissors or pruning shears near the base of the plant. It is also a good idea to wear long sleeves shirts and pants when doing this, too. Place the clippings in a paper bag.
The best time to harvest these plants is early in the year, when the plant is less than eight inches in height. When the plant gets taller and older, the silicon usually forms grainy nodules that give the cooked product a distinctly gritty texture, much as if sand has been added.
When cooked, they shrink down as much as chard or spinach do, so collect enough to allow for the shrinkage. A half gallon of fresh nettles will normally cook down to less than a quart once it is heated up.
To prepare, wash thoroughly first. You can use kitchen tongs for this to avoid contact with the stinging hairs. A strainer or colander can also be useful for the cleaning and you should be aware that the hairs can trap a lot of debris.
Nettles can be cooked over medium heat, like you might do with any potherb, using only the water clinging to the branches and leaves and steaming them. You can also start out by steaming them, and then add milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste, for a very pleasant ‘cream of nettle’ soup. This can even be pureed, if desired.
Additionally, there are a great number of other recipes that feature nettles. This wild plant is about as versatile as spinach and it has a good flavor as well.
Nettles are tasty, they have a lot of nutritional value and with reasonable care, they aren’t particularly difficult to collect. This plant can also be used in quite a few recipes. Don’t be put off because the plant can sting you. If it has bitten you a few times, why not bite back for a change?