The End of the Line…For Now

What a season, what a season. If I were in person for this blog, I’d probably applaud myself and cheer rather pathetically, as is my style.

This blog post is designed to be your one-stop shop for all of my learning project posts in case you ever need to lose a few hours to me bumbling around, trying to find math in the most interesting places. All baking related, of course. I learned a lot in the ten posts that I made during this project, and I got to eat and share a lot of yummy things, too!

My friend, my sister, and I made pies this weekend, and I instructed both of them on how to properly mix the custard-y fillings, and how to make whipped cream. And how to separate eggs, so I really did feel that I made progress in my cooking. My sister even said, while we were baking, that she thinks I have come along way because I no longer look terrified when I am baking something. So that’s a plus! Below are the blogs I made wherein I learned to bake.

 

One-Stop Shop for all Your Blogging about Cooking Needs

  1. Intro – the first thing I did was decide that I was going to bake for this project. Honestly, I mostly just wanted to eat tasty things and tell everyone it was for a class. I didn’t expect much from it other than that. I added in the mathematical knowledge on top of it, for two reasons. As I mentioned in the post, I did do a baking project with my Grade 8s (I saw all of them a week ago, it was amazing, but also sad because I missed them so much, and I wish I could just stay there, but alas, I have to Film Festival it up, yo), but also because I wanted to prove to myself that I could find math in anything, and make it tangible and worthwhile to me and to my imaginary students.
  2. Salted Caramel Cookies – in my first post, I started with cookies becuase I thought it would be easiest. But it turns out I actually learned a lot from the experiement. I learned that cookie dough thickens depending on the temperature and the amount of flour proportionally, and that caramel like, evaporates in heat. For this math lesson, I did Grade 8 proportions, based on those two learnings.
  3. Salted Caramel Cookies – Revised – this post was more for me to actually learn from my mistakes of last time, and to try something new. That is, to put more caramel in smaller balls of dough. Not a complete success, but definitely an improvement.
  4. Cheesecake Brownies – I learned that my biggest impedement to cooking is my self confidence, as evidenced by my being wayyyy too stressed about how long to bake the brownies for. I decided to then make the math lesson revolve around Grade 9 linear realtions so students could find ways to graph and understand those baking times I struggle with.
  5. Cupcakes – This was when I made so many cupcakes it was like, the worst decision, there were 60 cupcakes, send help. The learning I did here was incredibly valuable, because it helped me gain confidence in my baking skills. I had to work hard and perservere when my recipe for the fillings didn’t turn out. And I learned to trust my judgement and not be afraid to try new things. Once again, my math lesson revolved around my learning and mistakes, with it being Pre-Calc 20 linear inequalities, and working with adjusting amounts of variables in an equation to make the best baking even if the recipe asks for different numbers of cups or amounts.
  6. Cake – Super fun one where I baked with my Mom. I love my Mom, she’s great, and she was a big help in me making the cake that I always make her make me for my birthday. Not much learning here, except again, gaining that confidence with baking times. I decided that the math could fall into Workplace and Aprenticeship 20 or 30, with surface area and volume. Mostly because it facinates me that the poke cake increases it’s surface area with the holes, but decreases its volume.
  7. Cooking Videos – The week of no kitchen because my parents were doing renovations. So I watched some videos to help inspire me for weeks to come. This blog will forever be known as The Time that Sarah Decided She was going to Separate an Egg and Talked about it for Literally a Million Years before She Actually did it. I hope I capitalized appropriately there.
  8. Pie – Probably where I learned the most, to be honest. I learned about how pie filling thickens, and to trust the recipe when it tells me these things happen. I learned about how meringue is formed by egg whites, and I learned how to make every part of a recipe from scratch. This lesson was for pi day, and so I used Pre-Calculus 30 as my lesson, as I thought it would be kind of cool for students to use a pie to introduce and look at the unit circle. Not because of any actually mathematical relevance the pie would have, just because it would look cool and be fun to cut in to.
  9. Brownies – The time I lost a bet and had to blog about it, because it involved baking. The best part of this blog was that I got to take one of Carmelle’s awesome suggestions and make it – which was the best idea! The Oreos in the recipe made me think it would be cool to ask Grade 7 students how many cookies could possibly fit into the recangular shape without losing any part of the cookie. Of course, you can break the cookies and reshape them. But in my math class, we don’t waste any of that cookie, it goes on that brownie.
  10. Mousse – The be all end all of the project. I learned to separate an egg (I DID IT) and I learned how to fold in ingredients. It was a super fun part of the project, and I felt like I had actually learned a lot when I got to this point. Especially in the way of confidence, because though I thought I had failed, I just kept trying, and working at the recipe, where in January, I would have just given up and asked someone to just do it for me. So that was the biggest step of all for me. I also learned a little bit about baking and how air is useful in baking. I am still not 100% sure how mousse is made, but I do have some better ideas due to the beating of the eggs and heavy cream.

So that’s it! There’s the whole project! I hope you enjoyed being a part of the learning, and I hope  you try out some of the recipes yourselves. If you take anything away from this experience, I hope it’s what I learned the most – to be confident in yourself and just keep trying, because failure is not the worst thing.

Oh, and also, math is totally everywhere, I bet you can find it. Learning is everywhere, I bet you can find it.

 

Have a great, amazing, splendid, and worthwhile day, you are all wonderful humans, probably.

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Birthday Week 1 – Cupcakes

So my birthday is in two days and anyone who knows me is aware that I like to celebrate my birthday for the entire week before and after the day because then I can boss my sister around and make her do stuff for me because “it’s my birthday”. It totally doesn’t work, for the record, but we’ll pretend it does.

I had my birthday party this year in Yorkton, as you do when you’re from Yorkton and it is the best place in the world, and you are totally not 22 so of course you need to have a birthday party where all you do is play Jackbox Games and Overcooked and horror D&D (which is not really D&D and my best friend gets mad at me when I call it that, but most people wouldn’t know what I was talking about if I said ‘we played Dread’).

Of course, when one is hosting a birthday party they must include food for said guests, including pumpernickel bread and that’s about it because I love pumpernickel bread more than my life. But I also decided I would try my hand at baking some goods for the party. Usually I just get an ice cream cake and call it that (I did that, too, but I also baked) but, seeing as I am learning to bake, I figured I may as well make some cupcakes.

So, on the day before the party, I sent my loyal minions, sister and friend who plays video game with us and totally cheats, to the store to buy me ingredients for cupcakes. I thought I would continue the trend I had and work on honing a single skill before moving on to more complex baking, so I asked for boxes of cake mix again. Vanilla and chocolate, as I decided I would learn to fill my cupcakes and have those “filled cupcake” things (turns out, spoiler alert, you don’t bake the cupcakes with the filling inside, so I kind of failed at honing my baking fillings thing, but I did learn a ton about baking, as you will soon see). They came back and said “so we bought three packages of cake mix. Because did you want vanilla or rainbow sprinkle batter, Sarah, we didn’t know so we bought both even though we know you LOVE rainbows so clearly there is a winner here”.

So I made 60 cupcakes.

I still have cupcakes and I made them on Saturday. So many cupcakes. I still have like, at least 15, if not 20. There were only 13 people at my house, what was I thinking, 60 cupcakes????

But that is neither here nor there. The point is, I made the cupcake batter, which was pretty easy. I did learn a bit about how to bake better cupcakes from The Food Network, which is also where I found my filling recipe. I didn’t use all of the tips, but I did learn about how the time you spend mixing is important, because you need to spend enough time to let air in and make the cake light and fluffy, but not too much or else it becomes tough.

I didn’t take any photos of the cupcake batter because that was the easy part. None of that caused me any issue, so I am a pro at box cake and brownies now!

Then came the fillings. I used the Food Network website to find my recipe, as I said, and I chose to make three different fillings that looked yummy and exciting – cookies and cream, cookie dough, and banana. This is where things go bad, worse, and then better.

So I followed the instructions on all three, the cookie dough, banana, and the cookies and cream. The cookie dough looked okay, but the banana was not doing the “make stiff peaks” thing that was in the instructions, and instead was just a sad, goopey mess.

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And the cookies and cream just looked awful.

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And I was like, I am not serving this to my people, they will laugh at me and I will be fired. FIRED.

And then I was like, time to quit, Sarah we are throwing in the towel, have a good day, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

But as the mountains of cupcakes on my counter slowly got bigger and bigger, I was like wow, I have way too many cupcakes. But also, I was like I have so much free time, no one is getting here until five and it is 3:00. And then I was like Sarah, you can do this, be the Little Engine that Could and think you can….

So I tasted the fillings to see what was wrong with them.

The cookies and cream one tasted like butter cookies. I knew I needed more sugar. So, I added more confectioner’s sugar, but it’s a kind of short and sweet sweetness to that sugar, where it doesn’t feel like it permeates the baking so much as a flash in the pan it’s done sort of thing. So I also added some brown sugar because it was there, so why not?

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It tasted way better after that. And looked better, although I don’t think you can quite tell in my photos I took.Then to the banana which just tasted like sour sadness. And I thought, what kind of dessert do I like that has banana in it? Maybe I can make it taste something like that? And  you know what I like? Banana cream pie. I added more banana to overpower some of that sour taste, and I looked around my house for some kind of graham pie crust. And I looked all around my house and found corn flakes. And I was like, “Can’t get any worse”, so I crushed some of those up and added them in. And threw in more sugar for good measure.

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That looks like a thing you’d kinda want to eat, maybe! Trust me, it had a much better flavour, so I was pleased.

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Now, to wrap this up, I’ve been talking far too long, I made the cupcakes, decorated mine (everyone could decorate as they wanted) and the one I took a photo of had the cookie dough in it.

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It was real good, so I count that as a success!

Next on the list for me is to make myself my birthday cake! I think I’m going to use a family recipe, so I will learn some baking tips from my family!

As for the math lesson, I am really very pleased that so far all of my learnings and failures in the project have coincided nicely with some mathematical thing I could see it being applicable for. With this project, I thought of how I had to adjust the quantities of things in the recipes, and sometimes add my own strange ingredients in order to make it taste just right. So I thought about linear inequalities with two variables.

Outcome: P20.9 Expand and demonstrate understanding of inequalities including:

  • one-variable quadratic inequalities
  • two-variable linear and quadratic inequalities.

And how, if I were to adjust a recipe to make sure it tasted the best, I need to make sure that I am still keeping it within the bounds of proper taste and structure (so you can’t just not have any banana in a banana recipe. What if you were to make a formula that included the base instructions for the ingredients you’d want to adjust (2 tbs of sugar=2s, 1tbs of salt=t)  and you’d want to make sure your recipe stayed under however many tablespoons or something altogether. So like, you don’t want to have more than 20 tablespoons of either (2s+t ≤ 20).

Now, let’s be perfectly clear here. I don’t think students are going to learn much from this lesson. I don’t think this is the sure-fire way to help students understand inequalities with two variables. But I do think that this is somewhat of an extension of the first lesson I thought of, with adjusting ratios of one ingredient, now we’d be working with changing multiple ingredients, and completely messing up any ratios. I think at the end of the day, it’d teach students more about baking than math. But I think the lesson I’d want them to take away is that math also involves trial and error. Not all attempts are going to succeed, but we can try new things and keep throwing out suggestions, and maybe, even if we don’t come to the perfect answer, we’ll come up with something that leaves us more satisfied than when we started with a goopey mess.

Learning Project

For my learning project this year I am hoping to learn to do two different things. One that I think will really benefit my future as a teacher. And the other because it will also sort of benefit my future as a teacher.

First off, I am going to learn how to bake. Because I honestly really enjoy it, but have never gotten past the stage of cupcakes from a box and stick it in the oven and they don’t cook long enough so my Mom saves me and makes them better and thanks Mom I am a failure. The reason this will sort of benefit my future as a teacher is that I made baking for my students once for a birthday (well, my family really saved the day, mine weren’t that great), and I really enjoyed the idea of having rewards and fun little things like baking for my students really helped me feel like I developed a relationship with them. Bribery does wonders, haha.

Seriously though, it was more than that because it was a student who told me her birthday was on Monday so she off-hand mentioned that she could like a birthday snack, and so I made cupcakes. And to see how excited she was that I followed through with my promise when she didn’t expect me to was amazing. I always see a lot of exciting desserts and snacks on all of those blogs online (where I just looked at a few to find some ideas for my post and now I want to make all of the snacks), and I’d like to expand my knowledge and ability in baking to things far more diverse and interesting than just cookies. All the cookies. So many cookies.

 

Secondly, what I am going to do with each recipe, is find a way to incorporate an outcome and make a basic, bare bones lesson plan that I could theoretically use in a classroom. Because I did a very basic cooking assignment in my Grade 8 class involving baking that I really liked and I wished I could have expanded and made the lesson work better. So, I am going to prove to myself that I can make real life math applicable and fun for students. And they would get sweet food out of it, too. My goal is to have a different math class for each recipe, and give a brief description of how the math was involved and what I did with it when I was doing my baking.

I am excited to try this because I found that, in my internship, I tried to do a lot of fun and interesting things, but most of the fun and exciting things I did were not in math, but in other classes instead. I still need to up my inquiry learning game, but I thought a good place to start would be with just finding those connections to real life and to prove to myself that you can incorporate anything into at least some part of your math class, you just have to be creative and actually put in some effort. Which can be a standing metaphor for anything you’d want to incorporate – be it Treaty Ed (which I did do), inquiry, math games, etc.

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