Thursday, June 18, 2009

Teachers' Pet

I have never been good at the teacher gift thing. When M "graduated" preschool, I managed a bouquet of flowers for each of his teachers. Then I found out that his friend's mom bought them gift cards to a local spa. Ouch. But I did provide the vases (rummaged out of my cabinet) and I did stop the car on the way out of our driveway to run out into the field and cut wild irises and buttercups and ferns. Way lame, I know. But I had one-year-old twins for Pete's sake! It has become clear, however, that the infant twins excuse no longer holds water, especially now that said twins are nearly old enough to go to school themselves. After reading Sara's post on teacher gifts last week, I felt duly chastened and determined to give something good. But what? And to whom? In addition to M's classroom teacher, there is his math teacher, his music teacher, his art teacher, his library/computer teacher, his P.E. teacher, his gifted and talented teacher, his bus driver, oh, yeah, and his baseball coach. That's a lot of something, but what?

Sunday, while shopping for my duvet fabrics, I did have a brief moment of selflessness and picked out some fabric to make M's classroom teacher a shoulder bag. Then Monday, as I was sewing the duvet, I found myself craving banana bread with chocolate chips and ginger, thanks to a book I just read (more on that tomorrow) and thought, A-ha! Mini loaves of banana bread! I had a bunch of foil mini loaf pans that I bought for some project a long, long time ago and never ended up using. I checked for the ingredients: ripe bananas, check, sugar, check, eggs, check, ginger, check, chocolate chips, check. Yogurt--no yogurt. But did I just go ahead and bake my usual Joy of Cooking banana bread recipe (perhaps throwing in a few gratuitous chocolate chips)? No, I decided to make yogurt. Which takes six hours to set. So, I heated the milk to almost-boiling and returned to my duvet as it cooled. Just before picking M up from the bus, I mixed the cooled milk with yogurt starter and put it in the cooler to do whatever it is yogurt does (ripen? ferment? yogue?).

After the duvet was finished and dutifully admired, I started cutting out the bag from this tutorial, which I like very much. I offered M the option of drawing a picture on some muslin for the pocket, but he said he thought the fabric looked better (and he wanted to get back to his Lego action, I'm sure). I got about halfway done before dinner, then put kids to bed, talked on the phone to my sister and started the banana bread. It took six bowls. Plus the blender. In the future, if I want to quadruple a recipe, I think I will make two double recipes separately, because no bowl I have would contain all six cups of bananas, eight cups of flour, two cups of sugar, one cup of yogurt, eight eggs, etc. Also I think I would bake them in two batches as well--is there some rule about not crowding your oven? If not, there should be. The loaves looked pretty done when I took them out round about 11 p.m., but the next morning one had a sink-hole and was pretty darn doughy (good thing I had made 11, but we only needed 9, unless we decide to give one to the principal, too. What do you think?) I put a couple of the glossier looking ones back in the oven for an extra 15 minutes that morning. I know this doesn't actually work, but it made me feel better. In any case, banana bread dough is mighty tasty anyway...just not very slice-able.

I had M write notes for each one, which all read: "Mrs. ------, Thank you for being a great teacher, M." and "Mr. ----, Thank you for driving me to school," and "S---, Thank you for teaching me how to play baseball, M." So simple, so straightforward, no unnecessary words or extravagant emotions. On the math teacher's note he wrote a math problem (which I think he solved wrong, but at least it teaches her what he needs to work on next year!).

While the loaves baked, I finished the bag. As I worked, this fabric grew on me until I was quite smitten. Isn't it gorgeous?

I copied Sara's wrapping job

and we delivered bag and bread Tuesday morning (ringing in my head as we approached the school was a steady chant of "brown-noser, brown-noser!") before the one and only field trip of the year (a gorgeous day at the ocean's edge, scavenger hunting for flotsam and jetsam--I think there may still be a dead crab in my shoulder bag in the mudroom).


  1. Lovely! I'm a teacher and I would definitely love some banana bread! Really, though, a sweet note from a student/family is always a wonderful gift. I would be unhappy if my students spent money on me as they've little to spare, but I love the cards they make on notebook paper (that they borrow from me).

    When I can afford it, I do sometimes get gift cards as teacher presents for the girls' teachers, but they have so many teachers that these must be very small cards - like coffee shop gift cards of $5 each - that will get them one fancy coffee, anyway. Sometime the LSG makes potholders for her teachers. I think homemade potholders made of those little loops are so cool. I do not have your skills, obviously(:

  2. Of for goodness sake-- you made your own yogurt for your homemade banana & ginger (yum!) bread. pul-leez! you definitely should not feel chastened ever about your efforts. amazing. i hope m's teacher knows you MADE the bag. gorgeous.


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