French people are hardcore, they eat pain for breakfast

Welcome to my final post about my learning project. As you know, I started out with an idea to improve my baking skills.  I was already a pretty good dessert chef and I posted a video to show off my skills, making a cake without a recipe. Here is the video, just for reference.

From there, I decided to make a series of French desserts, hopefully scaling upwards from easiest to hardest to make. I chose ten different desserts: Chocolate Mousse, Crème Brulée, Napoleons, Gascon-style Flan, Chocolate Truffles, Madeleines, Macarons, Chocolate Soufflé, Fruit Tarte and Croquembouche.

I was able to make 8 of these 10 recipes. The two I was unable to make were the truffles and the croquembouche. The rest were tackled and went extremely well!

I will now rank them based on difficulty (1 is easy, 10 is hard) and deliciousness (1 is gross, 10 is delicious.)

1) Chocolate Mousse
Difficulty: 6
Deliciousness: 6

2) Crème Brulée
Difficulty: 3
Deliciousness: 9

3) Napoleons
Difficulty: 5
Deliciousness: 4

4) Gascon-style Flan
Difficulty: 5
Deliciousness: -10

5) Madeleines
Difficulty: 2
Deliciousness: 8

6) Macarons
Difficulty: 10
Deliciousness: 9

7) Chocolate Soufflé
Difficulty: 10
Deliciousness: 6

8) Fruit Tarte
Difficulty: 5
Deliciousness: 8

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The two best and easiest desserts were, by far, the Madeleines and the Creme Brulee.

There you have it! I had never made any of these recipes before attempting to learn about them through this class. Now I have a whole French baking skill set!

Merci beaucoup!

Welcome to Baking with Ellen!

Here is my summary of learning for EC&I 831.

I decided to theme my summary of learning to correspond with my learning project.

I took the recipe for the cupcakes from this blog post. I actually wanted to use a different recipe, one that I had tried before, but the recipe I had originally intended to use was a little more complicated and therefore harder to film.

The recipe remained the same, but I altered the ingredients to reflect either the tools of the class (wet ingredients) or the class content that I really enjoyed and connected with (dry ingredients.)

Mix together (in our main Zoom web conferencing tool):

2 cups of Google+

2 interactions on Twitter

1/2 cup of Feedly

1 cup of Twitter chats

1 cup of our Blog Hub

1 teaspoon of Wikipedia

In a separate breakout session, mix together the course content:

3/4 cup of videos by Michael Wesch

2 cups of the Open Education Movement and Aaron Swartz involvement

2 teaspoons of The Power of Networks by Manuel Lima

1 teaspoon of Felicity Duncan’s Why Kids Are Leaving Social Networks

1/2 teaspoon of John Oliver

Slowly combine the course content (dry ingredients) to the tools we used (wet ingredients.) Once the knowledge and ideas are finished, it’s time to add the icing to the cupcake (blogs and how our knowledge and ideas are presented.)

I used a recipe that I had made before – actually the original cupcake recipe that was too difficult to film. The icing, however, works perfectly and is very delicious.  The recipe is from Ming Makes Cupcakes and is cupcake 24 on the website.

The icing ingredients are:

1/2 cup of WordPress

4 cups of good content

1/4 cup of neat pictures

1 teaspoon of videos

1 tablespoon of citing things properly (using Compfight)

2 tablespoons of an interesting title

And there you have it! Cupcakes that represent our learning in this class!

They're delicious, too!
They’re delicious, too!

Photo Credit: markus spiske via Compfight cc

For the video, I used sound from BenSound, specifically this track.

A big thank you to my husband for his help with filming and editing this piece.

All in all, I’m really happy with my summary of learning (although I wish I had scripted a more complete ending.) I hope you enjoyed it, as much as I enjoyed our class!

Slacktivism. Or, “Wow, That Sucks.”

First time’s a charm.

The first time people encounter something new – from tech to people to ideas, first impressions are often key. Its true for a wide variety of things and I believe that it is also true for slackivism.

The first time the event trends, people seem to care. Jumping on the bandwagon, maybe? While it’s good to raise awareness, it seems as though in order for the trending item to gain momentum, people have to DO something about it. (We’ll come back to the “doing something” issue.)

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Photo Credit: Truthout.org via Compfight cc

In the articles we read, two of the examples highlighted were changing Facebook profiles with filters for support and #BringBackOurGirls.  Both of these examples are fairly recent, the hashtag was in 2014 and the filters started with marriage equality pride in 2015.

First, the filters. As mentioned in our class, it seems odd for the filters to be a sign of support. It doesn’t take much effort and really looks like jumping on the bandwagon.  Like Alec said, it was able to raise some awareness, especially on the conversation that the recent filters, available for both France and Belgium but, only for European countries? When Facebook first shared these filters, it seemed like everyone used them. I remember my Facebook feed being full of people with rainbow flag filters. With the attacks in Paris, a new filter. Still a large number of people, but less than the rainbow filter. And with the latest attack, in Belgium? Even less.

The first time the filters were introduced so many people used them. By the third filter (that I am aware of – there doesn’t seem to be a concise list of the various filters that have been offered) it seems as though fewer people were inclined to take the half a second to change their profile picture.

Now, let’s look at #BringBackOurGirls. #BringBackOurGirls raised awareness, for sure, shedding light on an issue that many in the Western world didn’t know about. But, like the article said, the girls were not brought back. 

The example of #BringBackOurGirls is heart breaking. I fully agree with the idea that the hashtag helped shed light on a terrible situation. But! After people shared the hashtag, how many actually did something?  And, when people did something, what ended up changing? Even influencial people shared and cared, but… it still didn’t help.

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Photo Credit: Michelle Obama via Twitter

The hashtag gained a lot of popularity and did so quickly. It trended again a year after the kidnappings, and helped spread awareness to people again – a lot of whom had forgotten. The first time that the hashtag trended, so many people were part of the conversation.  In the first three weeks, the hashtag was shared over a million times. Since then, it has trended again, but not to the same extent as the first time.

So, back to slackivisim.  With these two examples, we can see that people are quick to jump on the bandwagon. People enjoy being a part of things and definitely enjoy showing that they care. However, the problem with slackivisim is when a person shares to participate in the trend and then does nothing more.

(See? I told you we’d come back to the “doing something more” issue.)

I agree that just sharing and then doing nothing more raises awareness. But, I think that in order to be a true activist, you need to do something more than just spread awareness. Doing something is widely different, depending on the issue at hand. Sometimes doing something is signing a petition, other times it is donating money. Doing something can be volunteering or writing a blog post or a tweet about the issue. Doing something also means continuing to fight for the cause or uphold the issue even after the spotlight goes away.

I think that an activist continues to fight until their cause is won or the issue is solved. A slackivist shares and moves on.

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Photo Credit: Eric.Parker via Compfight cc

So maybe we can define slackivism as supporting an issue or a cause when it first comes to light, but not continuing to fight or help once the trend dies down.

To be an activist is to continue to fight, help, talk about the issues that you believe in, wholeheartedly.

Your thoughts?

Olé, Olé, Soufflé

This week, I attempted to make a soufflé.  I say attempted because it did not go well.  This was the second of my “most challenging” section of French desserts and challenging it was.

At first, when reading recipes on Pinterest, I thought that the soufflé wouldn’t be terribly hard.  Honestly, I am trying to approach all of my desserts from a growth mindset, which is that it isn’t hard – it’ll just take some extra time.

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Photo Credit: Carol Dweck via Reddit cc

This is the video that I decided to take my recipe from:

Although I used the recipe from the video, I cross referenced it with this recipe, which is very similar.

Now, although I was trying to approach this from a growth mindset and not think that this dessert was too hard, something went incredibly wrong and my soufflés did not turn out at all.

But! This was an opportunity to try again. Mistakes help me learn! So, I watched the video again, searched for helpful soufflé making tips (along the way, I found a video on how to separate the egg yolks from the whites, which would have been incredibly helpful at the start of my learning project, months ago.)

After watching the video again and searching for tips, I tried again and it turned out really well!

Final Verdict: WOW!

Maybe I’m overselling it. My soufflé certainly didn’t rise as much as it was supposed to.  But my husband and cousin liked them! I forgot to take a picture when I pulled it out of the oven, and then you have to eat it right away. But, here is a soufflé that looked similar to mine.

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Photo Credit: stu_spivack via Compfight cc

Fruit Tart

This week I continued onward on my quest of learning French desserts. I was able to move from the intermediate portion of my desserts, to the harder portion.

The first dessert I made from the harder section of my French dessert list is Classic French Fruit Tart.  I’m not quite sure why I put this dessert in the “hard” section of the list, I believe that I watched an episode of MasterChef once where the challenge was a fruit tart. It looked difficult, based on that episode and, obviously, if I was in the same room as Gordon Ramsey, I would think that the task was even harder as I tried to impress!

Nevertheless, this week’s challenge wasn’t too much of a challenge.  I found the recipe for a Fruit Tart on Pinterest, from Rainbow Delicious‘ blog.   The recipe originated from a cookbook by Ina Garten.

Before making the fruit tart, I watched a couple of videos that described the process.  My favourite was this one, which made the process seem simple.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnAtFz-BFLg&ab_channel=JoyofBaking

These are the ingredients for the Fruit Tart:

Crust
  • 1 1/4 C flour
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 8 T unsalted butter
  • 3-4 T ice water
Custard Filling
  • 3 extra large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 6 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 T cornstarch
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T heavy cream
  • 1/2 t cognac or brandy (or vanilla)
  • Toppings
  • Assorted fruits*
  • 1/2 C Apricot Jelly**

The crust, I think, was the trickiest part.  I have to admit, I had help at this point.  My husband worked in a bakery for part of his high school career and I usually get his help when it comes to dough.

We followed the recipe, until it got to the part where you have to “cut in the butter with a pasty knife.” I do not own a pastry knife and so, upon googling the answer, found out that you can use several regular knives in place of a pastry knife.

Here is a video of that process:

The pastry cream was very similar to another recipe I tried, earlier in the semester, that of the Mille-Feuille.

The last step was arranging the fruit. I have to admit, I didn’t really think this step through and, instead of creating some sort of pattern so that you could have multiple fruits in once slice, I arranged them so that you really just had one fruit… Something to work on for next time!

Final Verdict: Amazing!

The fruit tart turned out amazingly well.  I was able to serve it to a friend (unfortunately her husband has Celiac’s and was unable to try it, due to all the terrible gluten in the crust) my husband and one of my roommates.  The tart got a thumbs up from everyone who ate it!

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Scary, Scary Internet: Part Two

When I think of the Internet, I think of it as a useful tool.  I use it every single day, for personal reasons and for professional reasons.  So far, I have not had any negative experience online, which is honestly shocking, when you know just how prevalent it is.

Our readings for the week had us looking at online harassment and trolls.

Not these trolls
Not these trolls

Photo Credit: Pablo_JFT via Compfight cc

Most of our readings were along the same theme.  There were accounts of online harassment becoming a norm, doxxing women who speak on “issues they shouldn’t” (as if having XX chromosomes means that you aren’t allowed to discuss video games or violence toward women gamers) and how online comments are apparently on their way to becoming a thing of the past – or, anonymous comments are, at least.

In regards to that last article – CBC announced on March 17th that they would no longer be allowing anonymous comments on their articles, and if you look at the comments on the article itself, within the first two comments, someone mentions that the CBC is “killing Free speech.”

I assume what the commenter meant is that, in trying to get people to use their real name on the CBC website in order to comment, people would no longer be able to freely speak their minds.  Which is frustrating, because using your real name shouldn’t alter what you would like to say, should it? If what you have to say is within your rights to free speech, it shouldn’t make a difference if you are saying it with your real name or a pseudonym.  (Or, am I wrong? I definitely don’t want this statement to be along the same lines of “oh just don’t take naked pictures of yourself, that’s how you won’t get revenge porn.”)

Although, I can see why people would like to be anonymous online.  Not everything you do needs to be entirely connected.  I don’t always use my real name online and I have several different email addresses that I use, depending on what site I’m on. Amazon knows my real name, Imgur (I think) does not.  However, I am using neither site maliciously.

As I stated earlier, most of our readings for the week were along a similar theme. However, there was one that was a little different.

In this video, James Veitch describes, hilariously, how he essentially trolled scammers who were trying to extort money out of unsuspecting people.

The video is amusing, honestly, but it also illustrates a point.  In this, Veitch clearly knows that he is trolling someone disreputable. We, and his audience clearly agree. You can see how the audience is accepting of his tale – there is clear “what will happen next” in their expressions.

The internet is filled with stories like this. You can find listicles like the 7 Most Awesome Internet Trolls of All Times.  Within that list, is my personal favourite, that of David Thorne and his spider drawing.

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Photo Credit: Spider Drawing via David Thorne cc

The email chain is funny, as are his other pranks and essays.  However, I’m wondering, is there is a fine line between the humorous trolling that Thorne and Veitch are masters at and the hate filled trolling that so many experience online?

The causality might not be there – not all funny people are also awful trolls. Certainly not all awful trolls are trying to be funny people. But perhaps some of what is happening online, can be attributed to people trying to be funny? I’m sure that this excuse is used far too often and we can all safely say that it’s not funny. (And to please stop.)

The rest of the people, the ones who are threatening to kill or hurt people online, or post the actual addresses of people who they disagree with online so that others can threaten to kill or hurt them, what about them? What can we do to stop them? I definitely don’t have a solution, but having some sort of law in place so that victims can more easily seek justice is the first step.

And, as I’ve learned from John Oliver, (I’ve now binged watched nearly every segment available on Youtube, because I probably have the same crush as Brittany.) After talking about something terrible, you need to end with something a bit lighter. So, with that in mind, here is a flock of pretentious flamingos:

Privacy Online

This week’s readings were incredibly interesting to me. Sharing online is something I think about often.  Internet Privacy is a topic that is coming up more and more often, whether at home or at school.

So much of our lives are lived online now, that Internet Privacy has a real impact in our day to day lives.  In a recent survey, it was reported that we have grown our internet consumption by 105% in the last five years.

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Photo Credit: via Quartz cc

This chart doesn’t specify what the numbers started at and what they’ve risen to, but it is still accurate to say that, in general, we spend way more time online than ever before.

I know that I am online a lot. I use the Internet before going to work, I use the Internet at school often (attendance, marks, teaching tools/aids, classroom blogging, etc.) When I come home, I am, again, often online (websites, twitter, email, class, reading, etc.)

When online, a lot of the time I am sharing. We have, as a class, been trying to create our digital footprint.  Here’s where things get dicey: when we are trying to create our own digital footprint, we have to be careful to not step on anyone else’s footprint.

This is a tricky thing and, I admit, I am guilty of taking photos in my classroom.  I have a classroom blog, (in linking to it, I hope that I am not overstepping my own boundaries) which parents give permission for me to post photos on. I have a classroom blog that is updated daily. I include what we did at school and often have pictures of kids at school.

My goal for the blog is to get parents engaged in what is happening in our classroom. Too many times I’ve heard ‘when I ask what they did at school, I get a shrug, or they can’t remember.’ I started the blog as a way for parents, who are often apprehensive of starting French Immersion, to know what is being taught in the classroom. I often have a sentence saying ‘ask your child…’ or ‘get your child to show off their skills at…’  But then, you read about how “in the good old days” kids could go to camp, or school, without parents needing to know every little thing about them.

Most of the time, at least in the past couple of years, I have found that kids love showing what they are doing at school.  I often have kids coming up to me, with their work or something they created at centre time, and ask for me to take a picture to either put on the blog or to share with their parents.

This definitely got me thinking.  There is a fine line, to be sure, between sharing and sharing too much.  One of the articles we read this week was kids telling parents “don’t post about me online.” I completely agree, if a student in my room does not want his or her picture taken, I do not put it online.

Perhaps a blog where most of the readers are parents (and sometimes grandparents) of the students in the class is not a good marker of privacy. The readership of my blog is very minimal, it is certainly not made to induce ‘fame‘ in my students.

Maybe what is needed is a checklist, similar to this one:

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Photo Credit: via Helen cc

Before posting pictures online, perhaps we need to think about what we are posting and how it will affect students in the future, with their own digital footprint.

As an aside: I do not have children yet, but my “checklist” for sharenting is this blog (strong language, beware!)

Making Macarons

This week I attempted to conquer one of the hardest French desserts out there:

The Macaron

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Photo Credit: julien haler via Wikimedia cc

These super pretty and very tasty treats take a lot of time to make. There are also so many recipes, all with very pretty pictures to match.

To start, I figured I would try a simple recipe, and I found one titled Basic French Macarons. The recipe is pretty simple, actually.  Combine 2/3 cups of almond flour with 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar. Sift.  Then, in a separate bowl, beat 3 egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form, add 1tsp vanilla. Mix the flour/sugar mixture in with the egg white mixture and – Voila! You have macaron batter.

The next part is where I kind of messed up. I’m bad at guesstimating the size of things and I definitely made my first batch of macarons too small. They were adorable and still turned out well, but way too small.

With the second batch of macarons I made, using this recipe, I corrected this mistake and piped them a lot bigger. But! I forgot the crucial part to making the perfect macaron the second time: let the piped macarons dry for 15 mins on the counter before cooking them in the oven.

Due to this oversight, they did not all turn out the way they were supposed to. Luckily, I was able to find a blog that listed all of the problems that I could possibly have with my macarons and ways to maybe fix them.

Problem Possible Issues Fix
Egg whites don’t seem to stiffen Egg whites have too much water Age egg whites at least overnight.  I leave a tupperware of egg whites in the fridge at all times.
Added flavorings or coloring too early. Never add any flavorings or color until the very end. Not even spices as some have oils.
Egg whites seem to flatten or liquefy when mixing in the powdered sugar and almond meal Too much flavoring, color, or additional liquid source. Don’t add so much! Easy does it! If my flavoring has oil (often does), I add just a few drops just prior to piping.
Beating too hard. Fold the egg whites gently. After adding coloring and flavorings, I fold no more than 10 times.
Egg whites weren’t whipped long enough. Whip egg whites until very stiff peaks. Then whip for another three minutes.
Egg whites sat without movement for too long. Don’t waste time between steps.  Get a move on it.
Top of Macaron seems bumpy or blemished. Too many chunks of almond meal or flour  in the batter. Sift the almond flour before using.
Too many chunks of almond meal or flour  in the batter. Process the almond meal in a food processor for a longer period of time.
Macarons maintain a stiff peak after piping and baking. Batter too stiff. Fold a few more times or add just a few drops of liquid (flavoring, coloring, or water).
Batter too stiff. Rap the bottom of the pan on the counter to flatten.  I heard macarons are particularly fond of Sir-Mix-A-Lot.
Macarons liquify after piping.  They can also run into each other and hold hands. Too much flavoring, color, or additional liquid source. Don’t add so much! Easy does it!
Beating too hard. Fold the egg whites gently. After adding coloring and flavorings, I fold no more than 10 times.
Egg whites weren’t whipped long enough. Whip egg whites until very stiff peaks. Then whip for another three minutes.
Batter got warm or over-handled with piping Pipe macarons quickly taking care to not hold the piping bag in your hands too often.
Piped batter too closely. Pipe macarons further away from each other.
No feet develop. Batter is too wet. See the liquefying problem.
Air was beaten out of the batter. Gently fold the batter.  Quit messing with it!
Too much flavoring, color, or additional liquid source making the batter too wet to rise. Don’t add so much! Easy does it!
Luck. Sometimes, things just happen.
Macarons crack on top when baking.  There are two types of cracks.  1. Macaron is too delicate. 2. The foot develops on top creating a large bubbly crack. Shell too delicate because the batter was too wet. See fixes for egg whites flattening.
Macarons did not dry to form a shell on top prior to baking. Allow macarons to dry for longer periods of time.  Heat up the oven to dry out to the room or use a hair dryer to dry the macarons.  Or turn on the heater or air conditioner to dry out the room.  The top of the macarons should be very dry to the touch prior to baking.
Temperature too high when baking in humidity.  Humidity kills. Lower oven temperature when higher humidity levels. In dry weather, I bake for 11 minutes at 350. In medium humidity, I bake for 12 minutes at 325.  In wet weather, I bake for 13 minutes as 305 degrees.
Macarons stick to the bottom of the pan.  Perfect ones will pop off cleanly. Baking surface was a bit dirty. Make sure baking surface is thoroughly clean prior to piping.
Silpat is old or cheap. Go for the gusto and buy the expensive stuff. Some people use parchment, but I’m a huge believer in the silpat.
The bottoms are not fully baked. Bake for a while longer. Check every 45 seconds.
The tops of Macarons come off, but the bottoms remain stuck to the pan. Baking surface was a bit dirty. Make sure baking surface is thoroughly clean prior to piping.
Silpat is old or cheap. Go for the gusto and buy the expensive stuff. Some people use parchment, but I’m a huge believer in the silpat.
The bottoms are not fully baked. Bake for a while longer. Check every 45 seconds.
Luck. Fill the tops with extra filling and stick them together anyways. Scrap off the bottoms and eat them.
Macarons are inconsistent. Some are perfect, some are terrible. Uneven airflow. Bake only one pan at a time.
Uneven airflow.  Make sure to rotate the pan halfway through baking.
Uneven airflow. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door cracked.
Temperature change in batter or over-handling in piping. Work quickly and don’t mess with the batter.
Luck. Sometimes, things just happen.
Macarons rise and then deflate. Removing from heat before fully baking. Leave them in the oven until they are done. I’ve accidentally taken macarons out of the oven when they are only needing to be rotated.  That’s how I learned this lesson.  Re-baking them does not fix the problem.

Final Verdict: Really Good!

I was able to make very decent tasting macarons. They didn’t look the best – the first batch wasn’t the best, due to their small size and the second batch didn’t develop “feet” like they were supposed to. But, all in all, it went pretty well for my first attempt at this tricky dessert! I’m happy and will probably try this again sometime soon!

Here is my picture of my pretty macarons, both big and teeny tiny!

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Here is a link to my live tweeting of this macaron adventure!

 

When Data is Out of Date

Last week’s readings were connected to the idea of Open Education and the idea that barriers should be removed between the learner and the thing that they are trying to learn.  Sharing information helps others gain knowledge. It’s a simple statement.  If you are able to share what you know, others can benefit and, more than likely, synthesis that information and create something new with it. (Which is the goal, according to Bloom’s Taxonomy, right?)

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Photo Credit: mrpetersononline via Compfight cc

It’s also true to say that Open Education is aided by the technology available today.  It’s easier to share ideas and information now, more than ever. And that information can help others out enormously.  When I was watching The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, (which was an incredibly sad story) I saw, near the end, proof that Aaron Swartz had the right idea, that information should be free. One of the speakers talks about a boy, Jack Andraka, and how he used online journals that Aaron Swartz had publicized to create a test for early cancer diagnosis.  So, I looked up more about Jack Andraka and found a TED talk where he describes the process of creating this test for pancreatic cancer.

It’s incredible. He was intrinsically motivated to create something brand new and was helped and further motivated by the information that he could access online. From this we can see that there is merit to Open Education, to our ideas and knowledge being shared as soon as we can.

There is also the fact that a lot of our current data is out of date.  As Chayln said, “as an educator, sometimes our materials are out of date, as we have to track down many of our own resources to use in the classroom” What is widely available within our schools and in our libraries is not always the best, up to date information. That’s why it’s so important to have current data. It can change so much over the course of a couple of years, or even a couple of months.

While wasting time on one of my favourite websites, Imgur, I came across a post of Hans Rosling arguing with a newscaster. It was this video:

But, on Imgur, there are only gifs or pictures, so the orignal poster had taken screenshots that you could read through his arguements about the fact that the news media is not reporting the actual facts.  From there, I googled Hans Rosling and found his TED talk. Admittedly, it is from 2006 and is now ten years old. But it still illustrates a key point.  Our worldview, and our current data available within our classrooms is out of date. When you actually look at information available online, you can develop tons of other ideas. Rosling ends the TED talk with a hope that more information will be able to shared and that we will have new and better ways of sharing, which links back to Aaron Swartz and what he was doing just a few years after this TED talk was published.

Rosling’s TED talk also illustrates what happens when data is out of date. With out of date data (essentially the wrong information) we can draw the wrong conclusions.  We need to have correct, up to date, information widely available for our students to be able to create new and exciting ideas.

Classic French Madeleines

This week I made Classic French Madeleines for my learning project.  As usual, I had a lot of recipes to choose from.  I’ve talked about this before, but I was thinking it over as I decided between the different recipes.  I know that my decision wasn’t a big one, it probably won’t even be the biggest I make this evening!

Turns out, having too much choice is not a good thing and can create anxiety.  Before choosing which recipe I would go with, I read about why having too much choice is making you unhappy and why too much choice is stressing us out. Both articles seem to point out that the internet is one of the causes of having too many options, allowing us to see all the possibilities and then, finally, not choose them.

Anyway, back to the madeleines.  The recipe I decided to go with is a Classic French Madeleine recipe from Julia Child. My friend at school happened to have a madeleine pan that she let me borrow, so I didn’t need to buy one just for this recipe!

The recipe was actually quite simple, in comparison to other things that I’ve made so far.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon All purpose flour (Maida)
  • 140 grams unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
  • pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Slightly beat the eggs in a bowl. Measure ¼ cup of eggs into a bowl.
  2. Then beat in the sugar and the cup of flour. Add little more egg ( a tablespoon at a time), if the batter is too dry. When thoroughly blended, set aside and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a sauce pan, bring it to the boil, and let it brown lightly. Set aside.
  4. Place the 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl and blend in 1½ tablespoons of the browned butter. Paint the Madeleine cups with the butter-flour mixture. Set aside.
  5. Stir the rest of the butter over ice until cool but liquid. Mix the butter with the last of the eggs along with salt, lemon rind and juice and vanilla.
  6. Add this mixture to the resting batter and stir well. Allow the batter to rest for 10 more minutes. If you want a big hump in the middle which is so characteristic about Madeleines, allow the batter to rest for one hour at room temperature or couple of hours in the refrigerator.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 F, and set the racks in upper and lower middle levels. Divide the batter into 24 lumps of a generous tablespoon each, and drop them into the Madeleine cups. Bake in the preheated oven, 20 minutes, until the cakes are slightly browned around the edges, humped in the middle, and slightly shrunk from the cups.
  8. Un-mold onto a rack. When cool, turn shell side up and dust with confectioners sugar for serving. (dusting is optional). They will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two in an airtight container.

Sounds simple, right?

I followed the directions perfectly and made, even if I’ve never had them before, decent madeleines.  However, during the process I was a little frustrated. The pictures on the websites never look like what I am creating. On the blog post the pictures of the batter showed a very liquid batter. Mine, however, was very dry and looked more like cookie dough than cake batter.  (Not to worry, in the end, my madeleines turned out really well!)

What got me thinking, though, is how difficult it is to learn a new skill on the internet without an expert around.  I’ve been using the food bloggers as my experts, as they’ve usually tried the recipes that I am attempting.  It’s wonderful to be able to cross reference their pictures and opinions with other pictures and videos as well.

Luckily, most food bloggers are not looking to troll others trying out their recipes and therefore they can be mostly trusted. (I hope!)

However, if you are trying to learn a skill without a clear expert, sometimes you have to spend a lot more time researching and verifying that your ‘expert’ is, in fact, the read deal. Or, you can use different websites to check out your source!

And, to finish this blog post, here is the end result of my madeleines! (Final Verdict: Delicious!!)

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