Coconut Cream Gooey Butter Cake
A definite perk of being a teacher is that you never stop getting excited for school breaks. Spring break is usually glorious, since it ushers in the best time of the year. Everything is weaving thoughtfully and productively toward the luxurious summer.
It's usually glorious. But this past week was my spring break, and I was sick for over half of it. Like, someone's-stabbing-my-tonsils-repeatedly sort of sick.
I shouldn't complain. I had a fantastic winter break and winter breaks are notoriously awful for teachers -- right smack in the middle of the most depressing point in the school year when no one is quite sure that anything will work out, everyone has the flu, and pocketbooks and patience are stretched thin.
Thanks to Philadelphia Cream Cheese for sponsoring this post.
Coconut Cheesecake Breakfast Braid
So many holiday mornings of my childhood were spent climbing into the car with my dad to drive over to the French Bakery. I think it had an actual name other than “French Bakery,” but that’s all we ever called it. We drove down Sharon Amity Road and turned right onto Albemarle. From there it was a short trek to the little strip of shops out in front of Eastland Mall where the bakery entrance was situated under a big arch. As soon as we walked in I was transported to France.
Really, I had never been to France and didn’t know much about it. But Elliott Erwitt's iconic print, Provence 1955, hung on the wall and I knew that was quite French. Just look at the bicycle! The baguettes! The beret! And the ethereal perfume of freshly baked pastries — not just any pastries, but the ones with the dark golden sweet crunch on the outside and perfect flaky layers on the inside — was undoubtedly French! So what I mean to say is, I was transported to the France of my imagination.
Almond Coconut Pastry Braid
Even though I teach middle school, I forget how critically embarrassed middle school kids can be. I don't even mean how embarrassed they can be when something embarrassing happens. I mean just their every day basal level of embarrassment. If the general population is on ground level, they're up on the 25th floor of Embarrassment Tower. And probably hiding in a closet.
I'm sure there are some kids who don't struggle with this, but there are plenty who do. Even the ones who are outwardly thriving will privately acknowledge the ways social anxiety affects their choices. It's normal and thankfully it fades away by college, where you realize that singing "Hakuna Matata" while dancing around the student union in your duck pajamas won't make your friends look at you funny -- perhaps because they're in their Ninja Turtle pajamas and singing Pumbaa's part. But in middle school, every kid is watching the dude next to him, trying to decide what's normal.
Willow Bird Baking's Best Recipes of 2014
No-Bake Coconut Icebox Cake
Since I started my teaching career at a low-income, inner city school, I've been on a journey to understand my own privilege. I'm a white, middle-class Christian in a place and time when that identity confers benefits on me that I didn't need to work for. It's not my fault, per se, but then again this isn't about blame: it's about educating myself, making the inequities transparent, and being purposeful about correcting them. It's not my fault the system is flawed, but if I ignore it and continue to profit from it, I'm complicit. That doesn't sit well with me.