Cooking and Composition

adventures in discourse and dinner

Thesis Writing Recap — May 29, 2013

Thesis Writing Recap

thesis wordleSo, apparently this is my thesis in a nutshell.

Today, I wrote over 5000 words and then sent a completed thesis draft to my chair. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. In some ways, I feel very proud and accomplished. At the same time, I feel like there is still a long way to go before the thesis as a whole is “final.” That’s not so much intimidating as just mentally exhausting. I also still have a lot of reading to accomplish over the next month before my thesis defense.

As a whole though, it feels really good, and makes me feel pretty nostalgic. I was looking back at the first paper I wrote about transfer, long ago in Histories and Theories of Composition in the Fall of 2011. My first semester of graduate school feels so long ago! It’s kind of weird to look back at that writing, in which I proposed a pilot study of transfer my instructor (and now thesis chair) to tell me that it was a bit too ambitious and would have to be pared down to be realistically done. In some ways, even my thesis project was a bit too ambitious. I still have a lot of data that I would love to dig further into, but it’s just not going to happen at this point. But it’s also very rewarding to realize that even then I had a fairly clear picture of what I wanted to study and how I wanted to study it.

With the exception of two seminar papers, everything I’ve written in my graduate program has had to do with transfer in some way. It’s almost hard to believe how immersed I am in this part of the field. At the same time, I can’t imagine being as invested in any other topic at this point in my life. It’s a nice feeling to realize that I really do love what I do. It’s not surprising to me at all that “students” is the most-used word in my thesis; they are really the focus of my teaching and my research.

Reflecting on Reflection — May 26, 2013

Reflecting on Reflection

I have known for a long time that the introduction is always the hardest thing for me to write (this blog is a case-and-point–or is it in point?–this sentence is the first thing I wrote), so I should not be surprised that I’m struggling so much with writing the introduction to my thesis. Even though I know exactly what this project is about, I feel like my writing about it so more scatterbrained and haphazard than scholarly or interesting. Even though I teach this assignment, I wonder. . .why is writing a reflective narrative so hard?

For me, I think one issue is that I was never really asked to reflect until I got to graduate school. Even though I had done it informally for years–especially when assessing my own writing for revisions and edits–I had only once been explicitly asked to reflect on my own writing, and I had not taken that very seriously. I actually remember it quite well: a short cover sheet that was to be turned in with the final paper. I was supposed to fill in some boxes, explaining what I would do differently if I had more time or what one “thing” I wanted the instructor to look for when grading. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t care about this activity. I just never found it very helpful to write things like “I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to use a source in a X genre paper.” Looking back on that, I used theoretical viewpoints and ideals to stand in for genres. Not a very smart move.

So when I started teaching in a program that required reflections with all student writing, I didn’t use them very well. I didn’t understand their purpose or potential. It took over a year of reading about transfer scholarship and research in student self-assessment to really find meaning in reflections. And even after doing a lot of theoretical readings, the results of my own research on the activities I’ve been using only show that these new reflective genres need more refining to be effective. Truth be told, I kind of like that because it means I need to keep reflecting on myself, and I think that’s going to make me a better teacher of reflection.

Readers: do you do a lot of reflecting? What do you reflect on? Why do you do it?

Off the Box: Sweet & Spicy Baked Shrimp Tacos — May 24, 2013

Off the Box: Sweet & Spicy Baked Shrimp Tacos

Brought to you by Land O Lakes Unsalted Butter

Prep time 15 min; Total time 20 min

Makes 8 tacos


Spice Mixture

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 TBS firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 TBS all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBS plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 TSP ground allspice
  • 1/2 TSP course ground black pepper
  • 1/2 TSP ground red pepper
  • 1/4 TSP garlic powder
  • 1/4 TSP ground ginger


  • 1/4 cup Land O Lakes Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1 package (16-oz) thawed, uncooked medium shrimp


  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 TBS lime juice
  • 2 TSP chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 TSP chili powder


  • 16 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
  • 2 cups coleslaw mix


1. Heat oven to 500 degrees F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

2. Combine all spice mixture ingredients in small bowl. Dip shrimp in melted butter and then in spice mixture. Place onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until shrimp are pink and coating is bubbly.

3. Meanwhile, combine all sauce ingredients in small bowl.

4. To assemble tacos, stack 2 warmed tortillas onto each individual serving place. Top each with 1/8 of total baked shrimp and 1/4 cup of coleslaw mix. Drizzle with Sauce





Off the Box: Sugar Dipped Butter Cookies — May 17, 2013

Off the Box: Sugar Dipped Butter Cookies

butter cookies cover

Brought to you by Land O Lakes Unsalted Butter

Prep time 25 min; Total time 1 hour

Makes 5 dozen cookies


  • 2 cups sugar, divided use
  • 3/4 cup Land O Lakes Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • 1/4 TSP salt
  • Water


1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine 1 cup sugar and 3/4 cup butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.

2. Add egg to sugar and butter mixture. Continue beating until well mixed.

3. Reduce speed to low and add flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat until well-mixed.

4. Place remaining 1 cup sugar in small bowl.

I added some food coloring to make the sugar pretty.
I added some food coloring to make the sugar pretty.

5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Dip top of each ball in water, then in sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

6. Bake for 8-14 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned.

They were pretty cute pre-baking!
Off the Box: Bacon, Tomato, and Avocado Quesadilla — May 10, 2013

Off the Box: Bacon, Tomato, and Avocado Quesadilla

Brought to you by Land O Lakes Butter

Prep time 30 min; Total time 30 min


  • 4 10-inch flour tortillas
  • 2 TBS Land O Lakes Butter, softened, divided use
  • 8 (3/4 ounce) slices Land O Lakes Deli American Cheese
  • 8 slices (3/4 cup) bacon, crisply cooked and chopped
  • 1 large (1 cup) tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced


1. Spread 1 side of each tortilla with 1.5 TSP softened butter.

2. Place tortillas, buttered side down, onto large cutting board. Place 2 slices cheese onto half of each tortilla. Top evenly with bacon, tomato, and avocado. Fold each tortilla in half over the filling.

3. Heat 12-inch skilled over medium heat. Place 2 quesadillas into skillet. Cook, turning once, until golden brown on each side and cheese is melted (5-6 minutes). Repeat with remaining quesadillas, then cut each into 4 wedges.

This is what it looks like. . . — May 6, 2013
Rolo Cracker Cookies — May 4, 2013

Rolo Cracker Cookies

This is how excited I was when making these.
This is how excited I was when making these.

I found this recipe Pinterest (of course) from Recipe by Photo, which linked me to Lick the Bowl Good. This is seriously one of the easiest and fastest recipes–kind of like the pretzel-hershey kiss-m&m snacks (that I’m sure I’ll share eventually, once I make them again). If there are two things I have loved my entire life, they are Rolos and Ritz-type crackers. So this recipe had my name written all over it.

Rolo Cracker Cookies

ingredientsThe ingredients are pretty self-explanatory. You only need Rolos and Ritz crackers. All I could find at the store were Rolo minis, but they worked out well! I also bought wheat crackers to pretend like I was being healthy. It counts, right?


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place some crackers salty-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet (every time I bake anything like this, I use foil because clean up is so easy!)

step 2 add rolos

3. Put a Rolo in the center of each cracker. If you use the minis, they taste OK with just one, but the flavors are a little better if you use two Rolos. I tried both the first time around, and I think I enjoy eating the fuller ones a bit more. The chocolatey-caramely taste is a little stronger and balances much better with the salty cracker.

4. Bake for 3-5 minutes.

5. Squish down the Rolo(s) with another cracker, salty-side up.

step 4 add second roloTry not to eat all of them before they cool. They are seriously so good! The ones in the center have two mini Rolos, while the ones in the outside row have only one. You can see the chocolate starting to ooze out the side of the center ones. This makes them even yummier.