Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pignoli (Page 683)


  • Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+

I was craving something sweet so I made these Italian cookies last week to have around the house. I started by combining almond paste, powdered sugar, and salt in the food processor. Then I transfered the mixture to a bowl, added egg whites and honey, and beat until smooth. Using a pastry bag, I piped this mixture into little rounds on baking sheets. Then I topped each round with as many pine nuts and I could stick on there. I baked the cookies until golden, about 15 minutes. It was as simple as that! The cookies came out chewy on the inside, and slightly crispy around the outside. They had a strong almond flavor to them, and a nice sweetness. The pine nuts on top seemed a little odd to me -- not bad, just odd. My special gentleman agreed that although the cookie itself was "absolutely perfect," having the pine nuts on top was "unlike anything I've ever had before." He picked the pine nuts off and ate them separately from the rest of the cookie. I love pine nuts, but I would have liked these cookies better had they just had one slice of almond on top rather than a whole bunch of pine nuts. That said, these didn't last long around our household. They were tasty and we made short work of them.

Here is the recipe.

I love my job: doing research and teaching college mathematics. But there are two not-so-great parts of the job, that often occur around the same period of time:

1. Grading exams.
2. Dealing with students who cheated on the exam.

I actually don't mind grading as much as most people do. Sure, it's not the most fun way to spend your time, but I don't find it too terribly painful (at least not for the first 4 hours or so). But dealing with students who cheated is indeed a very miserable pastime. I believe very strongly in academic integrity, which means that if I catch a student cheating, I report him or her. Not everyone does this, but I think it is important. The university process for reporting is actually very easy for the faculty member. It involves filling out a single form explaining the incident, and what penalty you gave the student on his or her grade. Then as long as the student doesn't appeal, it is out of the faculty member's hands. The dean has the authority to add additional penalty (e.g. expulsion) which they are more likely to do if it is a second or third offense. The painful part of the process is confronting the student. After a student cheats, the first step in the process is that the faculty member meets with the student, presents the evidence, and gives the student a chance to respond. In my experience, these meeting usually go about 15 minutes. The student in question will typically beg you not to file against them. Sometimes he or she will deny having cheated at first, but usually the student will come around and confess to what he or she has done.

On Monday I gave my business calculus final, and I had a student cheat during the exam. I saw him looking at the paper of the student next to him, and when I compared the multiple choice sections of their two papers it was evident he had copied. The fact that they had so many of the same answers was particularly incriminating because he had copied off of someone who had a different version of the exam (so he had mainly copied answers that were wrong for his version of the test). I met with the student yesterday, and he spent nearly 90 minutes insisting he would never cheat before finally admitting that he had looked at the paper of the student next to him in order to check his answers, and then changed a few of his answers if hers seemed better. He still denied this was cheating, but obviously, I disagree. The saddest part of this particular case was that the student was doing OK in the class. If he had taken the exam without cheating he would have most likely ended up with a C for the semester. But since he cheated on the exam, I gave him a zero on the final, which obviously affected his grade adversely. In the 90 minutes he spent in my office yesterday, pleading with me not to fail him on the exam, I heard a lot about his life story. I do feel bad that this poor grade will affect this student's life in a negative way. But at the same time, it is hard for me to empathize with the level of dishonesty it takes to cheat on an exam, and then once caught, to lie about having cheated. There have to be consequences for actions like those.


Katie Flanagan said...

Again with the cheating! I am giving an exam at this very moment. I am always so nervous for them. I just graded an exam that ensures a student will fail for the semester and potentially not graduate. We will have to met about it tomorrow and share the awful news. This kind of stuff is definitely the worst part about teaching, I agree.

vigleik said...

I can't believe you let him plead for 90 minutes. I would have thrown him out after half an hour.

And I still think it's hilarious that they cheat by copying students with a different version of the exam.

Emilee said...

Good for you!

I'm happy about the 90 minutes ... more suffering for him. (But more for you too, huh?)

Mike "Fun" Hill said...

God. What a terrible situation. We are dealing with a cheating thing in one of my classes, but it is less clear-cut, since it was a student who saw another student cheating. Good times!

Man, Katie (whom I have never met), that is an awful thing. I always feel so bad in those cases!

vero said...

Someone in my department prints different versions of an exam on differently colored paper. (White, blue, yellow, pink.) He always explains this to the students very clearly. One student still copied off another version. Dumb!

I am with the viking on this one. You are very nice and students will try take advantage of that. Sometimes you need to be forceful. He was COMPLETELY at fault and did this to himself. No need for guilt on your part.

Philippe said...

Woody Allen quote:
“I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.”

Happy Holidays!

GilaB said...

I found the dough for these cookies almost impossible to work with, but I guess I don't have a pastry bag. I liked the pine nuts, myself, but my husband agreed with you.

Teena said...

Yeah, it was a miserable experience for everyone, but at least he (hopefully) learned some lesson from it.