Confession No. 114 — The things I’m not thankful for

I don’t typically hop onto social bandwagons. If you want to work or shop on Thanksgiving, who am I to say you should be at home? If you think you deserve $15 hourly schlepping fries at McDonald’s, good for you. And if you want to list to your world of virtual friends all of the things you’re thankful for, go right ahead.

But I have a few wrinkles of my own.

Trendy catch phrases
Gone are the harmless days of humor-filled phrases such as high colonic (Hollywood-speak for enema) and Kobe beef (now referred to as Waygu – neither are generally available outside Japan). These days, we get to hear healthcare and bullying in every other news story. Or so it seems.

I’m neither brave nor smart enough to touch the plethora of healthcare issues that we see in headlines, on TV and in social media. But I am more than qualified to say that I’ve heard the word enough for my lifetime. The same can be said for the sudden widespread use of the b-word.

Nowadays it seems that bullying is used to describe every situation in which one person crosses another’s path. Someone calls your kid a name? Bullying. Someone shoves you? Bullying. You get called out in front of a crowd? Bullying.

Bullying definitely exists in the world. Always has. If we want to stop it, we first have to identify it. Right now though, our use of the b-word is akin to calling every disease cancer. It’s counterproductive and annoying. Enough already.

Newsworthy naming?
Speaking of catch phrases, we seem to be attaching monikers to an increasing number of newsworthy events. By we, I mean our mass media.

I first noticed it a few years ago in 2008 when the Associated Press began using The Great Recession to describe the U.S. economy. Then it occurred to me that we’ve had more -gates than one can shake a stick at — Troopergate (Gov. Palin), Spygate (NFL Patriots), Weinergate (Rep. Anthony Weiner) … the list goes on. And now? Our friends at the Weather Channel have decided to name winter storms.

Trust me when I tell you that all of this naming is a bunch of hogwash. It’s primary purpose: search engine optimization, social media and sensationalism.

Unfortunately — and I’ve seen it up close — there are too many people who enter the teaching profession for only three reasons: June, July and August.

For those who had half-ass history teachers (more on that later), the whole gate thing comes from the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. Long story short, the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate office complex (in Washington DC) was burglarized. Soon thereafter, President Nixon walked off the job in shame. The complex was named for the steps near the Lincoln Memorial that lead down to the Potomac River. So, why all the gate stuff every time a scandal rears its head? You tell me.

The same can be said for The Great Recession. The U.S. has been through no fewer than 45 recessions over the past couple hundred years. Why now?

Finally, winter storms? Seriously, Weather Channel? Despite the TV network’s assertion that such names will be more easily remembered, many meteorologists disagree. So do I.

If you and I meet tomorrow, chances are that I won’t remember your name in a week. But I’ll definitely remember that you smoke only Honduran handmade cigars and prefer your Scotch neat. Same thing with the blizzard of ’96 — before naming came along. I clearly recall shoveling snow, only to have 40 mph winds blow it right back at me. And I could never forget talking to my father in Texas at the time and hearing him say that it was cold there too — to the point that his birdbath froze.

By the way, I couldn’t name the past five hurricanes that blew over Texas. Even if you held a gun to my head.

Half-ass teachers
Now, I’m not one to bash the teaching profession. I still believe that the American public education system is the best in the world. But there are some bad apples out there who seem to care only about the final bell.

Unfortunately — and I’ve seen it up close — there are too many people who enter the teaching profession for only three reasons: June, July and August.

I’ve witnessed teachers take multiple (cell phone) calls; post status updates on Facebook; and work on their own masters degrees — all during class time. There are others who send children to the nurse’s station when they don’t want to deal with them; or remove them from class entirely for not wearing a belt. Never mind that the kid without a belt lives in a homeless shelter (true story).

Fact is, children are our most valuable resources. If you don’t believe in them or are apathetic in any way about working in a classroom — go find a job in a factory somewhere. Our kids deserve better.

Want to receive notifications of my Confessions in your email? Just click here.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. I’d also love for you to join me on Facebook (click the ‘like’ button), Pinterest and Google+. — Special thanks to Megan E. ‘Water Ain’t Just for Drinking’ Hawkins at The Underground Writer  for editing this piece.

One never knows where inspiration might come from. This past October I picked up a bag of Milky Way Caramel Apple minis. I mean, Milky Way is good enough on its own, but with apple-flavored caramel? Wow. It took me a few tries and a few thousand calories, but I’ve created a grown-up version in the form of a tart. The cinnamon-scented pecans are optional, but such an excellent finish to this rich gooey dessert.

Chocolate Apple Caramel Tart

Chocolate Caramel Apple Tart. Throw out the diet and dig in.

Chocolate Caramel Apple Tart. Throw out the diet and dig in.

The Crust
1 ½ cups – All-purpose flour
1 ½ sticks – Butter, softened and sliced
1/2 cup – powdered sugar
2 TB – Heavy cream
2 tsp – Ground Cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and combine until mixture resembles a ball. Press dough evenly into bottom and sides of (an 11-inch) tart pan. Place crust in freezer for about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF.

Bake crust until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Place on cooling rack.

The Apple Caramel
1 ½ cups – Sugar
3 TB – Corn syrup
1/3 cup – Water
1 tsp – Kosher salt

6 TB – Butter
1/3 cup – Heavy cream
4 TB – Reduced apple cider

In a large saucepan (2 qts), mix sugar, corn syrup, water and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Maintain light boil and cook – without stirring – until the mixture reaches 340ºF. (Yes, I know that’s the cracking stage, but trust me on this one.) Remove pan from heat and butter, heavy cream and boiled cider. Whisk vigorously until completely combined.

Pour the caramel mixture into the tart shell and let cool to almost-room temperature. Place in refrigerator for about 4 hours, to allow caramel to become firm.

The Chocolate Ganache
4 oz – Bittersweet (at least 60% cacao) Chocolate
1/2 cup – Heavy cream

Break chocolate into small pieces in a heat-resistant bowl. Meanwhile, warm heavy cream for about 1 minute in the microwave. Pour warmed cream over chocolate and stir with a silicone spatula until mixture is smooth.

Pour ganache over tart, spreading evenly. Refrigerate another 3-4 hours. Sprinkle finished tart with Cinnamon-scented pecans.

Cinnamon-scented Pecans
1/2 cup – Pecans, broken into small pieces
1/2 tsp – Ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp – Kosher salt
1 tsp – Vegetable oil

Sprinkle pecan pieces with Cinnamon and salt; top with oil; and combine mixture. Place on a baking sheet and into a 350ºF oven for about 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before topping Chocolate Apple Caramel Tart.


  1. Love your new home, Adam. You may be a picky client, but it worked. I know I should say something about the winter storms and teachers and beef, but I can’t think of anything but that caramel oozing out from under the chocolate. Oh my, I want that.

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Christiane. There’s still some work to do (and it probably would’ve already been done if not for me). And that tart? It was quite a doozie to create — especially considering I had a quarterly endocrinologist appointment right in the middle of my experimenting phase. ;-)

  2. What a spectacular photo! Just beautiful – I envy that talent. I also like the idea of the pie which I think could become my new Thanksgiving pie. :) My husband (also a news/radio man in his younger days) has been complaining about the same thing you wrote about for a long time. I have issue with extreme words used in news reporting now: when the weather gets to be 90 or so – then it is BRUTAL. When a child is held after school and kept until 5PM then it’s reported as a HORRENDOUS experience. Sound STUPID to me. One last thing: I can’t believe a teacher is allowed to have a phone in the classroom – at least turned on – I thought a classroom was for learning?!!? You always educated me in so many ways……..I hadn’t gotten notification of a post of yours in a while and I began to worry you had disappeared or worse……… had banished me as a follower! :)

    • adamjholland says:

      Banished you? Never! I do ask that you sign up again, since (horrendous me) never archived my subscriber database (brutal, I know). I appreciate your kind words. That photo was sort of a pain in the ass too. ;-)

  3. Great recipe…love the choice of ingredients! Rich in flavor and delicious are the descriptions that come to mind. Thanks!

  4. Great job Adam….you always make me smile

  5. Good rant Adam. I like your new “look” too! The pie, well, can you just ship me one slice? Pretty please? ;)

  6. When my husband was in middle school, his shop teacher also owned a construction company. So the teacher (I use that title loosely) would instruct the class for 5 minutes, then sit down and draw up plans for his business.

    • adamjholland says:

      I had a teacher who behaved similarly, Megan. His side-job was being an alcoholic. I’ll never forget when he said to our 6th grade literature class ‘Turn to page 446 in your books and read Sir Gawain & the Green Knight,’ before nodding off to sleep at his desk.

  7. I need that tart! Also, love the new digs. :)

  8. it looks yummy!

  9. Hi Adam. Just stopped in to wish you and your family a fabulous Thanksgiving. I wanted to let you know that I made a Turkey Breast on Sunday and pulled out that container of broth from the Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken that I had stashed in the freezer. It made the best turkey gravy I’ve ever had in my life! And now or this tart = omg and pinned. GOT to make this one.

  10. Oh my GAH! Forget all of your negativity, Mr. Holland… I need some of that gorgeous tart in my pie hole :D

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