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Ms. F. And The Jelly Bean Monster

When I was in the second grade, my teacher devised a terrible way of getting us to pay attention.  It was called “The Jelly Bean Monster.”

I should say this: While I like to think Ms. F. went on to play Cruella de Vil on Broadway, she was not an evil woman.  I truly believe she saved The Jelly Bean Monster for times of genuine classroom anarchy–times when a lesser woman would have stuffed her head into the nearest backpack and cried.

In any event, The Jelly Bean Monster became her claim to fame.

This was ironic, because for a second grade teacher she couldn’t draw worth crap.

It didn’t matter.  She slapped that Monster up on the blackboard and assigned each of us a misshapen jelly bean.

And she moved our jelly beans closer to The Monster’s mouth when we misbehaved.

That was basically all she had to do before people started wetting their pants.

The game was scary because the distance a jelly bean traveled for a given infraction was inconsistent.  If I passed a note to a friend on a Tuesday, my jelly bean might advance a few inches.  If I giggled on a Friday, it might go sailing a foot-and-a-half toward its ultimate destination.  It was entirely a matter of Ms. F’s discretion–which we suspected had been badly damaged at some point.

Of course, pointing out unfairness in the rules was a sure-fire way to earn a one-way ticket to monster town.

One way or another, I got there eventually, and down the toothy hatch I went.

Then I’d have to sit there–staring at my banged-up jelly bean in the belly of the beast–until the bell rang and Ms. F. rewarded the good kids with real jelly beans.

To be honest, I’m not sure where I’m going with this.  I just thought you should know in case you were planning to send me a care package full of jelly beans.  Too soon, y’all.  Too soon.  Also?  You should know that I don’t do math, including–but not limited to–basic addition and subtraction.  Turns out second grade is kind of formative in that area, and if you spent the year in a constant state of paranoia, you’re hosed.

I’m also telling you this so you talk to your kids.  Just a quick “hey, seen any jelly bean monsters at school lately?” is fine.  We need to make sure Ms. F. didn’t learn this at some National Teacher Training Academy.  If she did, there could be more of her kind teaching at a school near you.

You know how to reach me.

~~

Savory Peach Tortilla {Download & Print Recipe}

This takes about ten minutes from start to finish.  It’s kind of a fruity quesadilla that’s good for lunch, a quick dinner, or even for brunch when you don’t want to choose between savory and sweet.  The peaches are obviously on the sweet side, but the addition of havarti, basil, salt and cayenne give it a nice savory kick.  This recipe was inspired by a peach + basil popsicle I had at the Farmer’s Market on Thursday.

Ingredients: (shown for 1 tortilla)

1/2 ripe peach

6 fresh basil leaves

dash cayenne pepper

dash salt (preferably coarse sea salt or kosher salt)

1/2 tbsp. butter

1 8-inch tortilla

3 tbsp. ricotta cheese

1/3 c. havarti cheese

Directions:

Cut the peach into small chunks and place in a small bowl or mortar.  Rip the basil leaves once or twice and add them to the bowl.  Sprinkle a dash of cayenne and a dash of salt over the peach mixture.  Using a fork, large spoon, glass, or pestle, muddle the peaches and basil by pushing the mixture up against the sides of the bowl repeatedly for about 15 seconds.  The basil will bruise and the peaches will release some of their juice.  Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  When the butter is hot, add a tortilla and wait a few minutes for it to brown.  When the tortilla is golden brown and a little crispy on the bottom side, flip it over.

With the back of a spoon, spread the ricotta over the tortilla, leaving an inch clear at the edge (like a pizza).  Sprinkle the havarti over the ricotta.  Cover the pan for about a minute, so that the havarti melts, but adjust the heat if necessary to prevent the tortilla from burning.

In the meantime, drain the peach water from the peach mixture (you can use a seive to remove the water, if you like.)  Spoon the peach mixture onto the tortilla and serve open-faced or folded over (like a quesadilla) immediately.

~~~

79 Comments Post a comment
  1. That is genuinely the best ‘getting the attention of a class’ action I have ever heard. I would have weed myself and cried. I’m going to have to suggest it to my teacher friends that cry themselves to sleep every night because seven year olds are mean.

    July 28, 2012
    • Juls, it was truly amazing. We all felt like The Jelly Bean Monster was horrific, but we also felt like we were in the presence of greatness whenever Ms. F. walked into the room. She was not messing around!

      July 30, 2012
  2. For the first time in a while I have all the ingredients needed to make a recipe! Look out dinner! Thanks for the post. Your blog is one of my favorites, puppies and food can’t beat it.

    July 28, 2012
    • Debi, thank you for the kind words! I’m jealous that you have peaches lying around. I’m all out, and I want them TODAY–I don”t want to get them now and have to wait for them to ripen!

      July 30, 2012
      • I just ate the last one so I am out scouting for some more! You are right, these were the perfect light dinner!

        July 30, 2012
  3. I wonder if that would have worked when I was teaching college.

    July 28, 2012
    • Though it pains me to say this, I think the answer is yes.

      July 30, 2012
  4. you got off easy. we had a teacher that threw chalk across the room that would shatter on the wall behind the “bad” kids. there shouldn’t be a good/bad student, kids learn better in one form (audio, visual, reading…) or another. The good teachers can pick up on this quickly.

    July 28, 2012
    • What in the WORLD? Um, that is terrible. Truly terrible. I hope that teacher is no longer teaching. That’s no way to get kids to learn.

      July 30, 2012
      • Think he’s retired now. It was the ’80′s :P

        July 30, 2012
  5. Kati #

    Is Thunder’s toy the lower half of a frog? A green, trippy rabbit head? Mike Wizowski? I cannot figure it out…

    Also, I have a hard time trusting peach quality in a non-peach state? I’m in Southwest Florida, and have been let down time and again on the peaches we get. They smell good, they give a bit to the touch, but they taste like…nothing.

    July 28, 2012
    • Hee hee. It’s the weirdest toy ever, isn’t it? It looks a lot like Mike Wazowski with no eye. What you see is all of it– it’s got two legs and if you have two dogs, they will both grab a leg and pull it like a wish bone. It’s pretty sturdy, which is a huge plus around here. I tend to hurl it into the middle of the blur that is Thunder and Seymour when they’re jumping and biting and playing all over each other. Works like a charm.

      I had nectarines like the peaches you’re describing. They were TERRIBLE. They looked perfect, felt perfect, ripened slowly, and tasted like absolutely NOTHING inside. I had gotten them at the big supermarket, so they were conventionally grown. Do you have a farmer’s market? Maybe someone grows them in the area and sells them there? Thankfully, we have peaches at ours, but I’ve heard peaches in the Southeast were hit really hard by drought this year– possibly the worst one since 1957 or something.

      July 30, 2012
  6. I’m not sure about the havarti in here, but the quesadilla looks lovely and the story is priceless.

    July 29, 2012
    • Ha– yeah, we put havarti in EVERYTHING. It’s kind of getting out of hand. If you didn’t use it here, it would definitely be more sweet and dessert-ish instead of savory (it would be delicious, I suspect) Maybe queso fresca would work, too. Yum.

      July 30, 2012
  7. We had a teacher who would hurl things across the room – chalk, blackboard eraser, her own glasses, a chair… I wonder if she had known about the jelly bean monster if she would have found it a better expression of her rage? That said, it might have been scarier than throwing stuff. The expression on its face is the worst bit. Angry with just a hint of sadness.

    July 29, 2012
    • A CHAIR?? Really? I hate her.

      Also, what idiot throws her own glasses in combat? Then you can’t see and the enemy can get you. Duh.

      July 30, 2012
  8. “Waz Seymour doin’ there? Oh, jus’ squatting’. Back to m’lime chewie.”

    July 29, 2012
    • How do you know these things? She was totally looking at Seymour when I took that picture. She always stares at him whenever he starts to play with one of her toys (or even one of his, for that matter, since she thinks she is The Center Of The Universe.) That’s what she was doing right this instant!

      July 30, 2012
  9. Amy #

    haha, wow what a great idea if you’re a techer! I hope you’re not too scarred from that experience, although I definitely haven’t seen any jelly bean recipes on this blog.

    This looks like a great quick weeknight recipe. I’m also currently obssessed with peaches+basil/mint or watermelo+basil/mint on top of arugula with a sprinkling of goat cheese and some balsamic vinegar. Seriously, try this.

    July 29, 2012
    • Wow, that watermelon mint salad situation sounds awesome. And I cracked up at the idea of jelly bean recipes.

      But I have to say, it sounds like Nate would not have a problem with Ms. F. If he’s down with dinosaurs, he probably would be unfazed by The Jelly Bean Monster. Man, I wish he had been there to talk me through my fear at the time.

      July 30, 2012
  10. I hereby welcome both this quesadilla and the jelly bean monster into my life. I am so going to do that to my kids.

    July 29, 2012
    • You best take that back, Emmy. Take. It. Back. :)

      Kidding. I just worry that you’re going to lose some sleep when your kids start crawling into your bed at night because they think there’s a Jelly Bean Monster in their closet.

      July 30, 2012
      • Well, there is that. And considering that my kids are actually a little terrified of the Tooth Fairy, maybe introducing a new monster isn’t the best idea. Thanks for the level-headed advice. :)

        July 31, 2012
        • No way! Afraid of the tooth fairy? Hilarious. Oh my goodness, that’s funny. Have they lost any teeth yet? I’m often afraid of things until they start giving me money.

          August 1, 2012
          • Oh, you have no idea. It’s better now (the bribes help), but the first time my oldest lost a tooth there was a major freak-out: the tooth fairy’s coming into my ROOM? How big is she? Does she bite? We ended up leaving an apologetic note on the door asking the tooth fairy to please stay out of the room.

            August 2, 2012
  11. My second grade teacher had the check system. Basically, first you got your name on the board (bad) then you got a check (badder) then you got more checks (horrible and really bad and terrible) at some point I think there was standing with your nose in a circle drawn on the chalkboard (one kid puked, it was awesome). There was also “you have to sit in the sandbox at playtime, loser” and finally the principal’s office. We, for real, had an old school guy who used honest to God switches. I never had to see him, but I got lots of check marks. Also, I suck at math.

    July 29, 2012
    • ONE KID PUKED?! That is so great. I bet the kid’s parents were like “he WHAT when you made him WHAT?” I had to go to the principal’s office once and sign “The Black Book,” which was (mysteriously) a big deal. All because I put a bunch of food into my thermous at lunch with some soda and when I opened it, it went all over the place. I mean, COME ON. That’s how you learn about SCIENCE. Geez.

      July 30, 2012
  12. speaking as a teacher, I am totally going to steal that for my rowdier classes. visuals like that are excellent for reminding them how much they’ve been misbehaving on any given day.

    July 29, 2012
    • You are a teacher! That’s awesome. So is my brother (high school history.)
      You are a stronger woman than I. I taught English for a year in a French high school and I cried on my way home from school more than once. They were terribly behaved sometimes. One of them tried to smoke a cigarette out the window once. I was like “I’M STANDING RIGHT HERE, DUDE.” It was not the highlight of my stay in France.

      July 30, 2012
      • JessicaD #

        OK, I know this is a year late, but I’ve just happened upon your blog and was reading through archives, and this post made me laugh so hard, and also I was a teacher (secondary school, Spanish) and I remember having a moment like that: Two students came into my classroom, and one of them muttered that Ms [Teacher whose class they just came from] was a f—ing b—. I immediately interrupted in my shocked-and-appalled voice: David! (name changed)! He blanched and in utter horror said, There’s no way you heard that. There’s no way you heard that! And I’m like, I’m STANDING RIGHT HERE. Of course I heard that!

        Also, I totally threw markers at my (teenage) students. I threw to miss, but still the effect was so rewarding. The shock and awe was totally worth it. Imagine you’re in the middle of teaching, and a student is talking while you’re talking, convinced that somehow s/he is somehow invisible and/or inaudible to you. Mid-sentences you send a marker spinning across the room a few inches from their head. Yeah, the expression is gratifying. I don’t wanna brag or anything, but it made me a legend. (But I generally had a good rapport with them, so it wasn’t like a reign of terror. But if it makes you feel any better, I no longer teach.)

        July 17, 2013
  13. This looks very tasty. We made a dessert pizza last night with peaches and basil (drizzled with balsamic and honey), goat cheese and a dusting of lime zest. A little cayenne and butter would have kicked it up a notch. I’ll have to make a note for myself. Thank you, Nikki

    July 30, 2012
    • Oh how yummy. I spritzed some lime onto some of the peach tortillas I made, too, and I agree with you that it’s a great! I will make a note for myself in return about the goat cheese and balsamic and honey. I always have those lying around–totally up my alley in terms of flavors I love and cook with often. So thank you right back!

      July 30, 2012
  14. Thanks for the tips on controlling my classes this fall. Not my young students. My high school/post-secondary dancers. Because nothing else has worked. And they are obsessed with candy.

    July 30, 2012
    • I love you but you are terribly misguided on this one point. You’re judgment has been off ever since you ate those moth eggs, movita.

      Someone had to tell you.

      July 30, 2012
  15. This post made me laugh out loud. Seriously twisted, Ms. F was. I’m glad you still like to eat non-jelly-bean-related items and that she didn’t ruin you for all foods.

    July 30, 2012
    • I’ve never thought of this before, but it’s possible that my love of food is born out of stress eating on days Ms. F. was especially sadistic.

      July 30, 2012
  16. Ms. F sounds like she was a nun before she was Ms. F. I never have liked jelly beans.

    July 30, 2012
    • Ah, Mad Queen Linda– my parents both grew up going to Catholic school, and I have heard tales of corporal punishment by the nuns. I got off easy by comparison!

      July 30, 2012
  17. Congrats on freshly pressed! :)
    And that was pretty innovative for a teacher!

    Check out my blog too?
    Cheers! =)

    August 1, 2012
    • Ok, your header is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while. I adore it.

      August 1, 2012
  18. This is awesome, love the jelly bean monster! Thanks!

    August 1, 2012
  19. Perhaps Ms F has been eaten by the very monster she used so readily and frequently. I wonder what flavor she was? Probably Phlegm ( yeah I know- dee-gusting.

    August 1, 2012
    • Well said. Often the truth is disgusting.

      August 1, 2012
      • I once was ‘educated’ (using the term quite loosely) by a woman who was so miserable she couldn’t contain it and sadly it spilled out on to her students. But the good news is she’ll NEVER be forgotten. Isn’t that the saddest thing to be remembered for? She was by far and wide the absolute worst teacher I’ve ever known …and I’ve know plenty.

        August 3, 2012
  20. Love the look on the dogs face. Was it looking at some jelly beans?

    August 1, 2012
    • Ha! Not a bad guess, since that’s the face she makes whenever she sees something she wants. In this case, she was looking at our new puppy playing with one of HER toys, and she wasn’t too happy about it!

      August 1, 2012
  21. hello… love the drawings and the psychology behind, ahaha. that must have loomed large in your mind for a long time… congrats on being freshly pressed again. :)

    August 1, 2012
  22. Look at you!!! You’re Fresh Pressed!!! Why am I so freaking EXCITED that you’re Fresh Pressed??? Gather the dogs!! Bring on the jelly beans!! Do the happy dance with Scot! Everyone — EAT CAKE!

    August 1, 2012
    • Whoohooo, Linda! Party at my house! Dogs are invited, too. We’ll finally get a deep fryer and get this thing started!

      August 1, 2012
  23. hilarious! loved your pic at the end, too.

    August 1, 2012
    • Why thank you.

      I’m so glad your cat is back!

      August 1, 2012
  24. this is such a great (yummy sounding) recipe – thanks for sharing! i would have never thought to put these ingredients together; can’t wait to try it!

    August 1, 2012
  25. Michelle #

    yum, I can’t wait to try!

    August 1, 2012
    • Yay! I hope you do because it’s so easy. Take care and thanks for reading.

      August 1, 2012
  26. estherlilysmith #

    thats so funny!

    August 1, 2012
    • Ha–it is NOW, my friend. :)

      August 1, 2012
  27. Too, too funny :]

    August 1, 2012
  28. Where I work, my somewhat older students would see this as performance art, and it would be a useful engagement strategy! Because they live in danger of gun violence at any given time, any jelly bean scenario is colorful and relaxing.

    August 1, 2012
    • Yes, I realize that of all the problems in the world to have, fear of a jelly bean monster was lucky to get stuck with. My brother is a teacher at an inner city school, and I’m sure he wishes that the most his students had to contend with would be something so silly.

      August 1, 2012
  29. Lillian #

    Hahaha! I’m dying laughing reading this. It reminds me of “red light, green light, yellow light” …. I had a teacher that moved clothespins. It was mortifying having you clothespin moved to yellow– unthinkable for it to move all the way to red. That never happened to me… unfortunitaly it happened to my cousin and my aunt pulled her out and transferred preschools the very next day. Scary, uncertain times…

    August 1, 2012
  30. Very clever on Ms. F’s part. :) Fun story; thanks for posting. :)

    August 1, 2012
  31. Love this blog! Do you have a favorite jelly bean favor? http://www.segmation.wordpress.com

    August 1, 2012
  32. When I was in lower school we were split into different classes for different lessons. In English (or ‘literacy’ as we used to fondly call it) we had a teacher who would draw a small, miniscule circle on the blackboard with a piece of chalk. When we were being naughty, she made us sit there, tiny spines ruler straight, and stare at that dot. If we so much as blinked she sent us outside and left us to wander the corridors aimlessly until a teacher found us and jumped.

    Then, in our maths class, our teacher took a lot more imaginative approach. He used to invent this monster called “The Toilet Tiger”, that would eat us if we stepped into the toilets halfway through a lesson. The more daring kids would try and sneak off, only to run out screaming. Turns out there was a hidden tape recorder underneath one of the sinks that started growling every time the doors opened.
    Many a time I cried in school.

    Anyway, I admire Ms. F and her, err, creative ways. Thanks for sharing that story, it’s hilarious :D

    August 1, 2012
  33. Ohhhh, I hate that some mean teacher ruined jellybeans for you. She must have been married to my worst teacher (he was Mr. G) and it was 8th grade language arts. He did his best to make everyone in the class feel like scum; he would get mad and kick desks. Supposedly he was teaching us to think for ourselves–all I can say was that I was in terror every day for 2 hours praying that the class would end. I still don’t like the man.

    August 1, 2012
  34. “the toothy hatch” – that is so cool!

    August 1, 2012
  35. Great sounding recipe…and not a “Jelly Bean” in the entire mix…great job!!!

    August 1, 2012
  36. So cute! I love the jelly beam monster. Of course, I almost never got in trouble in school ;)

    August 1, 2012
  37. Kiya Krier - Runs With Blisters #

    Ha! That. Is. Awesome. Geesh, remember when all the classrooms had chalkboards? Now they’re all white boards & some of the rich schools have giant, interactive, touch-screen boards that run through the computer! They are amazing…

    August 1, 2012
  38. I’m a teacher and the twisted humor in this classroom management strategy is quite entertaining. I’m sorry that it was traumatizing though. However, as a teacher, I can assure you this is not a method I was taught in college. I’m pretty sure we discourage plans that involve monsters of any kind…I’m pretty sure…Although one teacher I know has a desk in the back of her classroom for the “bad kids”. She’s called this desk “Antartica” and has maps all over the desk with a sticker on Antartica that reads, “You are here”.

    August 1, 2012
  39. Love!!!!!! And recipe looks awesome too, ;-)

    August 2, 2012
  40. Very creative! Congrats on freshly pressed!

    August 2, 2012
  41. I am implementing Jelly Bean Monster immediately at work. He will live on my whiteboard daily. I am going to RELISH in the terror it brings to my coworkers. Yippee!!!!!!

    August 3, 2012
  42. HAHAHAH! wait….AHAHAHAHAH!!!!! Oh my god I am instantly putting a jellybean monster into action with my friends and family LOL love it!

    August 4, 2012
  43. That tortilla creation looks awesome. I could eat about three of those in one sitting.

    (And having just read your subsequent post where you didn’t rally enough sympathy with your jelly bean monster story, let me say that I do sympathize. Though I was also pleasantly reminded of a middle school algebra teacher who’d chuck candy at our heads for each attempted answer– Smarties for a correct answer, and a Dum-dums lollipop otherwise.)

    November 3, 2012

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