A completely different realm

In this week’s #TuesdayTop10, guest photographer Bella Kisler takes you to Fredericksburg, a unique Texas town less than an hour away from Austin.

Located in Central Texas about two hours away from Austin, Fredericksburg is known for it wineries, its natural scenery, its German heritage, its great food and much more. In this photo you can see a sign the welcomes visitors as they first cross into the town. The sign says welcome in German, which is established upon entry the German heritage and culture of the town. “From the time you enter Fredricksburg you just feel like you are in a completely different realm, not in Texas at all” said Joe Brickson, a frequent visitor to Fredericksburg.

Trail Closed! At Fredericksburg’s Hill Country State Natural Park, there are countless views that are stunning. At the time that I was there, many trails were closed due to routine maintenance. “The views are out of this world,” Janet Kisler said. “It’s scenery you would never expect from a random town in central Texas.”

On the road again: Fredericksburg is also known for the great views while driving along the countryside. In the photo, you see an old rusty tractor in the middle of nowhere with rusty broken down fence in the foreground. Along with the commonly known town of Fredericksburg, there is also a lot of country roads throughout Fredericksburg and the surrounding areas.

Christmas Time! As for the city life in Fredericksburg, it is always very lively, the streets filled with people, musicians playing on the streets, and much more. If you go in the afternoon, there are many unique shops selling very interesting things. This photo shows the central park of Fredericksburg around Christmas time, when they put up decorations on all of the trees and erect a giant Christmas tree up in the center of the park, along with a temporary ice skating rink.

On the Road Again: Right off many of the Fredericksburg highways in the fall, you can see many leaves on the trees that leads to a beautiful sight while driving down the interstates. The scenery is unbelievable; you can’t even begin to imagine it, miles on miles of orange, red, and yellow trees, that seemingly go on forever.

German Heritage! A restaurant in downtown Fredericksburg called Auslander Biergarten serves authentic German food and offers a very unique environment inside. There are many other German restaurants around the area in addition to this one, that are equally as good. It really shows off the German heritage of the town with all the German shops and restaurants around the area.

Structures of Fredericksburg! There are many beautiful buildings and churches scattered throughout town. This is a photo of one of the churches, located in the middle of downtown. This picture is a very interesting angle on the temple of the church, which leads to making the church look very large and powerful.

The Wall of Pins! There are many unique shops spread throughout Fredericksburg. And this shop in particular decorates their shop in a very unique way. The shop itself is a shop that sells all types of spices, jarred goods and much more. The store is an outdoor store. It is not inside walls and glass; instead, anyone walking by can just casually stop by.

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’ in the river! This photo from Pedernales State Park is of the river leading up to the official Pedernales Falls. It is a beautiful sight, even on a slightly overcast day. On a warm day, it would also offer a great swim.

The MarketPlace! Located down in Fredericksburg, it is the center park of the town. Here is a sign, that again, shows the German heritage of the town. It says marketplace in German, on more example of the German heritage that is woven throughout the town.

Photos and captions by Bella Kisler.

Going out youngsters, coming back stars

42nd Street, starring juniors Daryl Hale, Toshaan Arora, and sophomores Magnus Bohls and Helena Laing, is described by director Joshua Denning as “McCallum’s most extravagant show yet.” Denning also told the company that “most high schools do not do this show because of how big and difficult it is to put on.”  Inspired by the book written by Bradford Ropes, 42nd Street includes many classic musical theatre melodies, performed live on stage by McCallum’s company of more than 120 students including cast, crew and orchestra. The show opened Feb. 1 and will close on Sunday Feb. 10 after two weekends of performances. Saturday and Sunday of the first weekend sold out, and the second weekend looks to be following that trend. 

We’re pleased to share some of our favorite opening-night images of the production as a special-bonus #TuesdayTop10 photo gallery on a Wednesday no less.

Girls varsity extends win streak to 6

In the first of two #TuesdayTop10 photo essays, this week, we are pleased to take you back to House Park to revisit the girls varsity and JV games played there last Friday night.

GIRLS VARSITY 5, CROCKETT 0: In the varsity game, the Knights kept their district record unblemished after three games with a 5-0 clinical takedown of Crockett at House Park Friday night. The win also extends the team’s win streak to six. Mia Gomez scored twice and Gillian Rashid, Avery Miller and Delaney Carter accounted for the other three goals. Carter also had an assist along with Karen Esparza and Anna McClellan. The team hopes to get to 4-0 in district and get consecutive win No. 7 when the Knights face the Reagan Raiders at 7:45 p.m. tonight at the cozy confines of the Noack Sports Complex.

JV GIRLS 0, CROCKETT 0: Freshman goalkeeper Emma Mattie preserved a scoreless tie when she made a crucial save after colliding with a Crockett striker who had broken free and created a chance to win the game for the Cougars. The Friday night draw was marked by good defense on both sides, and the Mac defensive effort was led by senior center back Alison Arteaga. The Knights’ offensive effort was led by senior Emily Matkin who created many scoring opportunities and freshman Lily Dickey who handled many of the free kicks the Knights were awarded throughout the game. The JV Knights hope to resume their scoring and winning ways when they take on Reagan at 6 p.m. tonight at Noack.

A broken family. A broken home. A broken heart.

Shane (not his real name) has been homeless for 6½ years. He has been living in this place for one month now. He has decorated his place with graffiti and things he has found for free rather than typical home furnishings. When Shane got out of jail, he learned that his dog had been given up for adoption, his truck had been impounded and his trailer was stolen along with all of his belongings inside. When I asked Shane why he is homeless, he said “I learned my own lessons, I caused my own problems; my life is my fault; my life is my success, and you can’t enjoy the sweet without the sour; right now, I’m at the end of a sour kick.”


This is where Shane sleeps and stores his belongings. He has put together this room with wood and materials he has found in dumpsters, and he was given a mattress by his friend, Toni. When Shane hit a breaking point with his mental health, he removed himself from the world of professional employment for fear of not being able to keep himself together emotionally in front of clients or coworkers. “I found myself with a bigger hole in my heart than I’ve ever been able to fix,” Shane said. He used to have a dog that he said kept him sane, his “trusty Blue Bell” that was his everything. When he got arrested for selling illegal items, his friend who had promised to take care of his dog gave her to the shelter, and she was adopted by someone else. When he got out of jail, he had nothing. Not having his dog and not having human interaction every day makes him extremely lonely.


A jar full of gold that Shane has extracted and liquefied. He extracts gold from anything that has ever been plated with gold, touched with anodize, electroplated, or dipped in gold. He takes gold from a solid form, turns it into a liquid form, then back to a solid form using different chemicals and heat. He is doing this to be able to earn enough money to buy a truck, a piece of land, and hopefully be able to pay the people that took his things in order to get them back. He also wants to send money to his 15-year-old son whom he hasn’t seen for many years. “That’s my greatest fear in life. I don’t even know how to approach my son and tell him I’m sorry,” Shane said. He learned and continues to learn about extracting gold from researching about it at the public library.


This is the back of Shane’s shack. He put pieces of cloth and wood up with nails and a screwdriver for privacy. Shane’s days don’t run on a consistent clock. “My days are nights, and my nights are days,” Shane said. He doesn’t wake up at 7 a.m., go to work, come home at 5 p.m. and “watch cartoons and eat cereal.” Shane spends his days researching and learning about gold extraction and zero waste lifestyles at the library. He believes “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” He spends his days “lerping,” which is when you are high on drugs and you jump into people’s trash cans looking for things that are of no value to that person. He re-purposes, up-cycles, up-scales, recycles, or turns items into something of use to him. On a daily basis, Shane stays awake for 20-40 hours then sleeps for four to six hours.


Shane is nailing carpet to the wood as an insulator in an attempt to make his shack warmer. Shane has built his “home” from discarded items that he finds in dumpsters and continues to gather materials daily to use for his renovations. Even after spending many weeks gathering materials and working to improve his place, it still doesn’t keep him safe from intruders or the weather. “It’s frustrating to work so hard and still not feel comfortable or safe,” Shane said.


Shane mimicking the face he spray-painted on his wall. Shane paints as a creative outlet for himself and a way to pass the time. Painting is a way for him to express emotion in a positive way. Shane collects paints that other people have discarded and has been given painting materials by his friend, Toni. “I don’t have a lot of money, but I have a lot of time to create things that I love,” Shane said.


Shane is hanging up a stuffed animal he found as a decoration for his living space. He is standing in front of the boxes he keeps his clothes in to keep them from getting wet. Shane has himself stuck in a box, “I haven’t taken advantage of a lot of the opportunities that I would be able to have paid for by the state if I got a formal diagnosis of bipolar disorder.” Shane said.” As an army veteran and someone with a mental illness, he could be eligible to receive monthly financial support, housing, food stamps and health care through government programs if he followed through with the application and eligibility requirements for these services.


This is a view of the train tracks from Shane’s shack that he crafted from leftover wood scraps. He sometimes has to duck when trains drive past because the speed of the trains shoots rocks up into the air. When Shane is lucky enough to get leftover food from restaurants to enjoy, this is where he eats. There is a Starbucks location where Shane sometimes gets leftover food that they would otherwise throw away when they close for the night. Restaurants are supposed to let all of that food go to waste instead of giving it to someone who really needs it, but this particular location is generous and gives it away. Shane has only gone to a food pantry once out of his 6½ years of being homeless. He compared going there to going to a grandmother’s house hungry  and “trying to get the Fig Newtons before your sister does.”


This is where Shane makes his “alcohol.” He uses gel, sanitizer, and sanitization materials and presses them down in a bucket which leaves pure ethanol and ether at the top which he drinks to get drunk. Getting drunk helps to numb his emotions and gives him a break from the stress of his reality. “When you can’t afford alcohol you go out and steal hand sanitizer from businesses,” Shane said.


This is the outside of Shane’s “home.” “Home is something of my past, I haven’t known what home is for a long time,” Shane said. Shane’s family is not involved in his life. He gets an occasional Facebook message from his mom telling him to come see her because she is getting older and she misses him. He and his father don’t see eye to eye and have a strained relationship. Shane said, “I’ve allowed myself to accept the fact that 95 percent of people that are under a bridge are pushing dirt instead of a pillow at night, and they all come from one general common thread and that is a broken family, a broken home, or a broken heart.”

All photos and captions by Maeve Walsh.

Knights win revenge rematch with Raiders

Before a large and energetic crowd in the Don Caldwell Gymnasium on Friday night, the boys varsity basketball team ambushed the Reagan Raiders, avenging a Jan. 2 loss and then some with a 70-44 victory that left the teams tied for third place in District 25-5A.

Dave Winter
Rather than avoiding the tallest player on the court, Takai Satberry challenged him, leaping high to shoot over 6-8 center Josiyah Thorn.

Guard Sam Werkenthin was the player of the game, leading the team in scoring with 20, a total he arrived at by nailing six of eight 3-point attempts (plus a couple of made free throws). Every made 3-pointer felt like an explosion as the large crowd and the Knight bench rose to its feet to cheer loudly every time Werkenthin’s long-range shot touched nothing but net. The junior sharpshooter made three 3-pointers in the team’s 25-point first quarter and another in a 17-point second stanza as the Knights built an unassailable 18-point halftime margin.

While Werkenthin was dangerous from downtown, the Knights’ interior players were also effective. They did not shy away from the Raiders’ big man in the middle: 6-8 center Josiyah Thorn. Rather, the Knight players drove right at the big man on several possessions in the first half, creating open looks for teammates or drawing contact and resulting free throws.

The team also benefited from a great night on defense thanks in large part to the hustle and energy provided by defensive stalwarts Darius Lewis and Jeremiah Ashton.

The Knights extended their lead by six points in the second half for a 26-point margin of victory.

The Raiders routed the Knights by almost the exact same margin, 70-42, on Jan. 2, in a game where the Knights were short-handed.

McCallum’s next test is on the road at Travis on Tuesday. The Knights won the first round between the traditional rivals, 65-56, on Jan. 4.

Shout out to Emmett Sweeney for his continued help with the stats.

Boys varsity basketball thumps Reagan 1-25-2019 (DW)

A Paradigm postscript in 400-plus photos

The MAC stage was transformed on Jan. 12 into a runway for the McCallum visual arts department’s annual benefit fashion show.

Featured student designers, models and directors were given the chance to showcase their work for a sold-out audience.

I find the process of being able to take something from vague sketches to tangible, complete outfits really rewarding, and it’s always amazing to look back and realize like, ‘Oh hey, I did that!”

— Benefit fashion show winner Skel Gracie

The show’s theme, Paradigm, was also crucial to the process designers used to create their looks. Each designer pulled inspiration from a paradigm, a selected archetype, and portrayed it in their line.

Before the show began, VIP audience members were gifted with a special goody bag, access to the VIP room with live music and food during intermission, and reserved seats on stage during the performance.

At the end of the show, the winner was announced for the 2019 benefit fashion show, senior Skel Gracie. Gracie was awarded a prize of $500 and the opportunity for her line to be featured and walked in a professional fashion show.

“My archetype was ‘creature of nightmares’” Gracie told The Shield.

“I drew inspiration from my own, personal nightmares, as well as the common themes of pop-horror like American horror story.”

2019 was Gracie’s second year designing in the fashion show.

“My favorite part about making the line was the creativity I was able to have, such as the problem solving aspect of a lot of the garments.” Gracie said. “I find the process of being able to take something from vague sketches to tangible, complete outfits really rewarding, and it’s always amazing to look back and realize like, ‘Oh hey, I did that!”

The student-run show was led by senior directors Chloe Shields, Elijah Stephens and McKenna Carpenter and junior directors Finn Shehan, Brooke Miller and Byron Kinard.

Faculty sponsors Ana O’keefe, Sarah Hathaway, and Margaret Smith took on the considerable task of replacing long time faculty sponsor Mary Ghazi, who retired at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.

We are pleased to share our exclusive MacJournalism gallery of more than 400 images of this year’s show and dress rehearsal. Photos by Ian Clennan, Risa Darlington-Horta, Scarlett Houser, Gregory James, Caleb Melville, Bella Russo, Stella Shenkman, Gabby Sherwood and Luca Snowhorn. 

One gnarly photo essay

Freshman photojournalism student Henry Sandlin gives you a skater’s view of the Heath Eiland and Morgan Moss BMX Skate Park, a haven for skaters and bikers since it opened in the summer of 2011. In documenting the park and the people who use it, Henry learned that there is a vast array of characters who flock to the place and no single “type” of skate enthusiast.

We are proud to share Henry’s photo essay in the latest of our #TuesdayTop10 explorations of Austin’s most famous and unique places.

Where HOPE once lived

Given the opportunity (and the assignment) to tell a story in 10 photos, many photojournalism students gravitated to a special location in Austin, motivated to use their camera to tell the story of a place. Perhaps no site better typified this type of photo essay than the Hope Outdoor Gallery, the famed Austin graffiti park which closed its Baylor Street location on Jan. 2, very near the end of the fall semester when photojournalism students had to complete a photo essay for their final exam.

I won’t go 10 miles out to do something I can do here.”

— Jose Hernandez

Third-period photojournalism students Lily Dashner and Jacob Kuhlenbeck both went to Castle Hill in an effort to preserve the popular Austin location in photographs before it was no longer there. The graffiti park will live on in a new location, Carson Creek Ranch, next to the Austin airport. The original location, which has housed the gallery since March 2011, will be the site of new homes built by Mid-City Development.

Many of the artists and visitors are upset with the move because the location on 11th and Baylor streets was near the city center and afforded beautiful views of the Austin location.

“The [move] is inconvenient for many Austinites,” one visitor said.

It’s not the place that matters.”

— Robert Lopez

For one visitor, Blake Jones, it’s going to be different. “I think something was lost here,” Jones said.

Not everyone in Castle Hill is upset the graffiti park is going elsewhere.

Some local businesses see the graffiti park’s closure as if a plague has finally been eradicated. One employee said, “The parking’s a mess around here. I’m glad our parking spots are going to be for customers and not [for] visitors [to the park].”

Despite the official closure and eventual relocation, many artists say they will continue to spray paint the original location. “This is the location,” Jose Hernandez said, ”and I won’t go 10 miles out to do something I can do here.”

Other artists are more resigned and said they will support the new venue as a place to continue the HOPE tradition.

”It’s what I do,” Robert Lopez said. “It’s not the place that matters.”

We are pleased to share Lily and Jacob’s photos and captions as a double-feature #TuesdayTop10 this week.

Nau’s the time to remember the past

In the late afternoon, a relic in the heart of Austin is rarely visited. Nau’s Pharmacy opened its doors in 1951 with a lunch counter, a medicinal pharmacy and a front convenience store. Laura Labay, the owner’s daughter, has worked there for 20 years. “My family bought Nau’s in 1971, and my dad started there in 1963. The original owners were two brothers, and they didn’t have any children so they offered it to my parents. The idea is that Mr. Nau had gotten ill and so my parents bought it in the spring of 1971.” Residing for 67 years on West Lynn, Nau’s is still open for business.

Pearl Heinley

An old fixture

Above the ice cream freezer and the display of mirrors, old black-and-white photos show the age and history of the place. The lunch counter runs through staff quickly because of the amount of work the job takes to keep the vintage appliances shiny and the sheer mass of people who come in regularly for lunch. “I think it’s quite unique that we’ve maintained the old fixtures because a lot of films and different people have come in to take photographs,” said Laura Labay, the owner’s daughter. “They’re very well worn but at the same time a lot of other people would have ripped them out because they don’t fit modern-day merchandising, but we’ve kept that original look with all the challenges that come with that.”

Pearl Heinley

High-end or just end

This photo sitting in one of the original salmon swivel chairs is a unfamiliar scene to most, as it depicts Sixth Street in the year 1900, with no cars, no lanes, just people and an old store front. “The cost of living in the neighborhood used to be very reasonable, and there were a lot of little places to rent,” said Laura Labay, the owner’s daughter. “You could get a very, very cheap house, and now there’s just no such thing anymore as cheap rent. It’s like we can’t even afford to live over here.” Even with Clarksville being deemed a historic district of Austin, the price for the family-owned storefront is not small. “It used to be high-end Jeffrey’s and us and the occasional pizza shop that would come and go or something little, you know, but now we have restaurants on either side of us that are competing with us.”

Pearl Heinley

When The Real Choice was the only choice

A Coke machine before Diet Coke was even a thing sits greeting everyone who comes in with a friendly reminder that Coke is “the real choice.” The whole store feels nostalgic for simpler times and soda even if it’s your first time in. “A lot of people would have tried to sell it or lock the door,” said Laura Labay, the owner’s daughter, “but those people have helped us maintain our business all these years. And you know I’ll try and take deliveries to them personally, or I’ll try and bring them something special.” The long legacy of Nau’s has attracted not only new folks looking for a place to have a burger but also a place where old friends meet on Thursdays, and families come in with stories of their parents’ memories of Nau’s. “We really consider our clients family and you know now we have some three generations of in-house accounts,” Labay said. “My father may have met their grandparents or their parents, and now their child is going to college or they come to work [here].”

Pearl Heinley

A colorful scramble

A view from table 13 shows the colorful scramble and order-in-chaos that comes with 60, going on 70, years of experience. With the current owner, Mr. Lambert Labay’s old age, the responsibilities and maintenance are starting to fall more and more heavily on Laura’s shoulders. “We’re having to tear down our family home after many many years, which has been, you know, a very destructive force for the pharmacy,” she said about the West Lynn property, a landmark for the neighborhood, “It’s a little bittersweet this Christmas you know having my dad been sick last Christmas Eve. It’s just a precious time to have everyone together, so the best gift right now would be the gift of health.”

Pearl Heinley

Lucky No. 3

A rusted cash register sits next to boxes of straws and paper cups sporting the lucky number three, permanently. Facing the fate of the historic pharmacy is difficult for Laura Labay, the owner’s daughter. “Well I personally don’t have any children and after, you know,” alluding to the waning health of the current owners. “I have a sibling, but he’s not very interested in the business, so it will eventually have to be sold because I can’t professionally keep it going, so we’re trying to keep it running as long as we possibly can.”

Pearl Heinley

Some things never change

The ornaments hang all year long from the counter’s ceilings, and the menu never changes, sporting low prices and fresh food. The Coca-Cola signs and original shake machines watch over the patrons from their high perch with a series of black-and-white photos. The character of the pharmacy doesn’t, and probably won’t, change, keeping it weird in Old West Austin.

Pearl Heinley

A colorful memory

A basket of fresh onions sits atop a old Coke refrigerator, painted red and white to match the interior of the counter, with its signature Coke red signs and wallpaper. The color red has a history with the Labay family as well. “The first thing I remember, kind of a silly thing, is that there was this nail polish,” said Laura Labay, the owner’s daughter. “I had tried to take it off the display, and of course it had to be red, and young girls are always interested in … makeup and nail polish. I remember that was the first time I think I ever got in trouble. I think I was two or three years old, but … we have those white tan floors, and I cracked it when it dropped. And I remember my dad asking my mom to take the kids home. That is something that I remember distinctly.” The nail polish is now gone, but the now laughed about moment lingers. “My mom said it was a big mess they had to get acetone or nail polish remover. And there’s probably a pink stain still left somewhere.”

Pearl Heinley

The writing on the wall

Peeking over the magazine stand, the view of the coffee maker is keenly obscured, but the signage and many clocks are still on display for any news junkie, or Vogue magazine enthusiast. Collecting objects of interest for the store has been a tradition in the Labay family. “When I was a young child, we would go to gift shows, whether it was Barons in Waco or the Dallas trade mart in Dallas,” said Laura Labay, the owner’s daughter. “It was just fascinating as a child to go up there and see the indoor waterfalls and the koi pond and the trademark hall that they still have.” Laura tells about the visits for scouting exclusive objects for the storefront. “It was just the most exciting thing to go to Dallas; they had tall buildings, and they have freeways and you went into all these places that had really expensive beautiful glassware and back then what they called kitschy knickknacks, and of course they had all this porcelain sculpture and glassware, everything that a child would want to break.”

Pearl Heinley

Service to the counter

The history of Nau’s Pharmacy and counter still stands upright and welcoming for anyone who wishes for those “good old days.” The salmon swivel chairs and teal lunch counter are the original models, and the friend of many a customer over the years. Laura Labay’s service to the counter has been considerable, and the troubles that come with managing all three aspects of the store can take a toll on a person. “It’s so hard to separate yourself from your work life and your personal life,” she said. “And I’m still working on that. It’s so hard to do because, well at least for the last 20 years I’ve always dropped everything to fill in for a cashier or fill in for whatever we have. I’m on call for the burglar alarm and anything and everything that’s gone wrong I’m responsible for, and so it’s been a lot of sacrifices.”

Cowles’ cooking chops are right on thyme

When co-organizers Rachel Murray and Jeff Seckar-Martinez announced that the Friday morning professional development day on Jan. 4 would consist of faculty members teaching their passions to their peers, there were some expected sessions: Natalie Uehara taught tap dance, Carey West taught pottery-wheel throwing, Scott Pass taught juggling, Audrea Moyers taught circuit building, and Seckar-Martinez taught oil panting.

Cooking is all about experience and experimentation.”

— culinary guru Richard Cowles

But some of the sessions had nothing to do with the primary discipline that the presenter taught at Mac. One such class was entitled, “My Favorite One Pot Meals,” taught by Richard Cowles. Cowles is known around campus for his math prowess and his excellent work mentoring the PALS program. But what many in the Mac community probably do not know is that Cowles is a former employee at Chili’s and, more importantly, that he loves to cook.

Science teacher Elaine Bohls-Graham put into words what many observers discovered during the course of Cowles’ 45-minute class.

“We have a lot of hidden talent in our midst,” she said, “and it is great that there is this opportunity to showcase those talents and passions.”

Before teaching his students, an intrepid group of wannabe Gordon Ramseys comprised of 12 teachers and one administrator, the proper way to dice an onion and a garlic clove (see related video), he offered some sage (not the spice) advice about the culinary arts.

“Cooking is all about experience and experimentation,” said Cowles, adding that his time in the Chili’s kitchen was not nearly as valuable as his time trying out and tinkering with recipes to suit his palate.

“There’s no such thing as too much cilantro,” he told his pupils after he had dispatched them to the stovetops in Room 160 to make one of the five can’t-miss one-pot recipes he brought for them to make.

The outcome of his pupils’ culinary adventures are posted below along with the recipes Cowles gave them to guide their cooking.

You can cook really delicious and flavorful meals in less than an hour and it doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, dishes, pots, and pans.”

— aspiring chef Chastity Colbert-Davis

One of his star pupils, math teacher Chastity Colbert-Davis said she took the class because she loves food and likes to cook and would like to be better at it.

“I thought I could learn a few things,” she said. “At first, I didn’t really think we were going to cook. I thought it would be more demonstrations by Mr. Cowles and sharing of our recipes that we cook.  I was surprised that we all got to cook and we cooked different dishes. The class was so well run and organized by Mr. Cowles.”

Colbert-Davis made skillet tamale pie, along with her culinary cohorts, Elizabeth Sanders and Richard Whisennand. Beverly Evans and Jennifer St. Lawrence made skillet lasagna. Joshua Amy and Brandon Grant made Mediterranean style orzo. Katie Carrasco, Shelly Pringle and Georgeann Shockley made Peruvian quinoa and corn chowder. Elaine Bohls-Graham and Larry Featherstone made skillet strata with cheddar and thyme.

The cooking experience was great, but Colbert-Davis said the camaraderie of the class was even better.

“I really liked working with my colleagues and getting to know them better, and eating all the yummy recipes.”

The class decided to eat their lessons before they departed for the second session of the assigned professional development course. After sampling each of the five skillet dishes, class members also tried a candied Meyer lemon peel, which Cowles made beforehand with lemons from a tree in his backyard.

Colbert-Davis said that her dish, skillet tamale pie was her favorite, followed by the Mediterranean orzo and the skilled lasagna. Bohls-Graham had a similiar ballot but was also a fan of the chowder.

“I really liked the Mediterranean Orzo and the Peruvian Corn Chowder,” Bohls-Graham said. “I can see ways that I can tweek these two recipes in a couple of different ways to accommodate different occasions and ingredients. Both make a great base dish with which to start.”

Colbert-Davis added that all the dishes were delicious and that her takeaway was that she and her husband might be able to go for takeout less often in the future.

“It takes me FOREVER to cook at home during the week. My husband and I usually just go out because we don’t feel like spending all that time cooking, and I’m too tired from the day. My takeaway from this class was that you can cook really delicious and flavorful meals in less than an hour and it doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, dishes, pots, and pans.”

Mediterranean Style Orzo

½ teaspoon salt
1 pound lean ground lamb, beef, turkey
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 or 2 cans (14.5 oz) tomatoes
1½ to 2 cups hot water or chicken stock
½ teaspoon dry oregano leaves
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup (about 8 oz) dry rice-shaped pasta
1 or 2 packages (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (or more)

Sprinkle salt into a wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Crumble meat into pan and cook, stirring often, until meat beings to brown (3 to 5 minutes).

Reduce heat to medium, stir in onion, and continue to cook, stirring, until onion is soft but not brown (about 5 minutes). Spoon off and discard excess fat.

Add garlic, tomatoes (break up with wooden spoon) and their liquid, bouillon cube, water or broth, oregano, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, then stir in pasta. Reduce heat, cover, and boil gently, stirring once or twice, until pasta is just tender to bite (10 to 12 minutes; or time according to package directions).

Meanwhile, squeeze as much liquid as possible from spinach. Stir spinach into pasta mixture just until heated through. Serve with cheese to add to taste.

Skillet Tamale Pie

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
Salt and ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 or 2 cans black beans, rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 (6.5 to 8.5 ounce) package cornbread mix and needed ingredients
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, chili powder, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in ground beef, beans, and tomatoes, and bring to simmer, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix cornbread batter according to package instructions.

Stir cheddar and cilantro into filling and season with salt and pepper to taste. Dollop cornbread batter evenly over filling and spread into even layer.

Bake until cornbread is cooked through in center, 10 to 15 minutes.

from America’s Test Kitchen, The Best 30 minute Recipes

Skillet Lasagna

1 pound ground beef, pork, turkey
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and ground black pepper
6 ounces curly-edged lasagna noodles (8 noodles), broken into 2-inch pieces
1 (26 ounce) jar tomato sauce, such as marinara
1 to 2 cups water
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
¼ cup minced fresh basil

Cook meat in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, breaking it into pieces with wooden spoon for 5 minutes. Drain meat and returning to skillet. Stir in garlic, pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Pour tomato sauce and water in skillet and bring to boil. Sprinkle noodles into skillet. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a vigorous simmer, until noodles are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Off heat, stir in half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot heaping tablespoons of ricotta over noodles, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and let stand off heat until cheeses melt, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

from America’s Test Kitchen, The Best 30 minute Recipes

Peruvian Quinoa and Corn Chowder

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup aji amarillo paste
3 tablespoons fresh, or 1 tablespoon dried, oregano
Salt and ground black pepper
8 ounces sweet potato, peeled and cut in ½-inch pieces (1½ cups)
1½ to 2 cups corn kernels
¾ cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
5 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 lightly packed fresh mint, chopped
Lime wedges, to serve

In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the aji amarillo paste, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the sweet potato, corn, quinoa and broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and quinoa are tender, 16 to 19 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Off heat, stir in the cream. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with mint and serve with lime wedges.

From Milk Street, Tuesday Morning

Skillet Strata with Cheddar and Thyme

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, minced
Salt and ground black pepper
6 large eggs
1½ cups whole milk
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
5 slices high-quality sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch squares

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Melt butter in 10-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, swirling to coat skillet, until foaming subsides. Add onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until onion is softened and lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, thyme, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together, then stir in cheese; set aside.

Add bread to skillet and, using rubber spatula, carefully fold bread into onion mixture until evenly coated. Cook bread, folding occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.

Off heat, fold in egg mixture until slightly thickened and well combined with bread. Gently press on top of strata to help it soak up egg mixture.

Bake until edges and center are puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of pan, about 12 minutes.

from America’s Test Kitchen, The Best 30 minute Recipes

Candied Meyer Lemon Peels

• 3 organic Meyer lemons, rinsed and dried (you can use regular lemons too)
• 2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
• Semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

  1. Cut lemons in half and juice Using a sharp paring knife, remove flesh from skin and discard (leave white pith attached to peel). Slice peel into strips.
  2. Place strips into a saucepan and fill with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Drain water and repeat two more times.
  3. After draining the last batch of water, place peels aside. Combine 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar has dissolved and reduce heat to medium-low. Add peel strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and transparent, about 15-20 minutes. Drain (reserve liquid for other use – this lemon simple syrup can be used to sweeten drinks or desserts).
  4. Pour remaining sugar in a bowl and toss strips until coated with sugar. Place coated strips onto a sheet of wax paper and let dry overnight (if you’re impatient, you can dry it in a 200°F oven for an hour, checking frequently).
  5. If you want to cover in chocolate: once peels feel dry to touch, dip in melted chocolate and let dry on wax paper.
  6. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

A Best of 2018 #TuesdayTop10

Because today is the last day of 2018, we are going to break the rules and post our weekly #TuesdayTop10 a day early. Our excuse is that our photo essay today presents the top 10 photos taken this year by MacJournalism photographers. We determined this top 10 by checking our Instagram account for the most liked photos throughout the year.  So as we say goodbye to 2018, we remember some pretty special moments from the calendar year as captured by our MacJ shutterbugs.



Feliz N-AVID-ad

For their final exam to end the fall semester, photojournalism students were tasked with creating a 10-image photo essay that tells a story, documents a topic or makes an argument. We will be sharing these photo essays periodically as our weekly #TuesdayTop10 photo gallery, starting today. Fifth-period photoj student Selena De Jesus chose to document the year-end holiday party that took place in one of the AVID classes on the Tuesday of final exams. We think that her collection of images provides a glimpse into one of McCallum’s most valuable organizations and an understanding of what students get out of being in AVID.

The essay also gives us a chance to wish everyone in the McCallum community a joyous holiday season and the most prosperous of new years.