Friday, August 20, 2004

Stan Toporek...where are you?

I picked some basil and mint from our garden early this morning for some basil/mint pesto I needed to make for tomorrow's dinner (Mrs. TBF is using it to stuff some mushrooms). While I was in the garden, I started thinking about the person I feel ignited my interest in gardening - Mr. Stan Toporek.
Mr. Toporek was my 8th-grade science teacher at Jack London Jr. High School in Wheeling, Illinois during the 1975/76 school year. I would have to say that he was probably my favorite teacher of all time. I remember him putting hydrochloric acid into a beaker filled with sugar to demonstrate what would happen if we accidently ingested some HCL (Totally cool!!!! I guess, unless you actually do it!) I also remember an excellent course on meteorology. However, the thing that stands out most, is this course we had on plants/gardening.
Mr. Toporek grew this tomato plant indoors that had to be ten-feet tall. He also arranged for all of the science students to have these 4'x4' plots of land on the vacant lot next to the school where we had our own little vegetable gardens. We had to turn the soil (I had just had knee surgery, so my dad turned it for me one Saturday morning), plant the seeds, and harvest our little radishes, lettuce, etc. I think this is where I became hooked on gardening. And, I've had various gardens for most years (except for maybe when I was in college) since then.
I just looked at my 8th-grade year book, and he signed it: "Best wishes to a fine young man. Mr. Toporek" From the picture, it looks like he was probably about 25 years old back in 1975 (although at the time all the students probably felt like their teachers were all in their 40s), which would put him in his mid 50s now. So, Stan Toporek, if you ever read this blog entry - Tim H. says thanks! Drop me line, I'd love to hear from you. You can reach me at my website.
After making the pesto, I stuffed some martini olives with roquefort cheese. We're going over to John, Rammy, and Oliver's house for dinner with Di and the kids (Andy's in Las Vegas on business), and I'm going to bring some martini fixins'. When I unwrapped the roquefort that I bought at Coop a couple of days ago, I noticed that the receipt stated - Es bediente Sie: Frau Incognito (served by Mrs. Incognito) Frau Incognito?!?!? Do you think that's her real name? Come to think of it, I remember being served by a man!!! Anyway, the next time you're making yourself a martini (gin of course...none of this vodka nonsense), get some big pitted stuffing olives and stuff them with some roquefort cheese. Just mash up some roquefort cheese with a few drops of olive brine, and carefully stuff the cheese into the olive with the blunt end of a chopstick. Put the olives on a martini toothpick, drop it in your drink, and voila! Superb!!!

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