Friday, September 11, 2009

Free time

Right now I have more free time than I ever have in my life, (except for summer vacations when I was a child) and yet I seem to have no time to write. Or perhaps just nothing to write about. I am no longer unemployed, but am not working either. I have been offered a job as a nurse on an acute care unit at a major teaching hospital--my dream job!--and I start in a couple of weeks. I guess you could say I am "pre-employed."

In the meantime I spend long hours reading novels and catching up on "The Tudors" on DVD. I clean my house and I cook. The kids have gone back to school. I had forgotten how easy it is to send your kids to school when you are not in school yourself. For the last three years I have inwardly raged at what I saw as the unreasonable demands of the school system: Forms to fill out! Supplies to buy! Meetings to attend! Homework to supervise! Science fair! Agenda books that must be signed! (Last year I tried to teach Mr. McP to forge my signature in his agenda book, just in case, but he would have none of it.)

Now it is all so easy. I attended "back to school night" at the various schools. I decided that Mr. McP's math teacher was my favorite because he's a lot of fun and he told us he spent years working in the corporate world and then became a teacher. I like it when teachers have a background in something other than education. At Miss G's school, her science teacher announced that he plans to make science fair optional, and he rocketed past the cool math teacher to take his place as my favorite teacher of the year. In other kid/school news, Mad Scientist is a semi-finalist in the National Merit Scholarship competition. They sent us a super-intimidating form to fill out. He has to write an essay and get a faculty recommendation. I have to procure signatures from an "appropriate" school official and we have to have his SAT scores sent. Out of 1.5 million kids who take the PSAT, 16,000 make it to semi-finalist and a much smaller number become finalists, and of them, a yet smaller number actually win a scholarship.

I baked an apple pie yesterday, following Jeffrey Steingarten's recipe. I am a big fan of Jeffrey Steingarten, who was (perhaps still is?) the food writer for Vogue. In writing about apple pie he presented a strong case for not adding cinnamon. He quite ranted about cinnamon, calling it a nasty, bitter spice that had no place in something as sacred as apple pie. I wasn't so sure. To me, omitting cinnamon from apple pie is the culinary equivalent of eliminating the Book of Luke from the gospels, but Jeffrey Steingarten has never steered me wrong before. This is a guy who tried to bake a pizza with his oven set to "self clean" in order to achieve pizza oven temperatures. It didn't work, but the essay he wrote about it is so funny that it made me laugh until I had an asthma attack, and I don't even have asthma. So I baked the pie without cinnamon. It was delicious. The apples somehow melted together--I hate nasty apple chunks in a pie--and were delicately redolent of vanilla. I am a convert to the cinnamon-free apple pie.


  1. congrats on the job! I hope you love it.

  2. Congrats on the job!

    And congrats to Mad Scientist for being a semi-finalist!

  3. that recipe sounds wonderful - though I am skeptical, too, about cinnamon. Is it online anywhere? Or, do you have a favorite Steingarten book?

  4. Backlist, I got the recipe from one of his two books, "The Man Who Ate Everything" and "It Must Have Been Something I Ate: The Return of the Man Who Ate Everything." His pie crust recipe is the best, too.

  5. Yay for the job! That's fantastic.

    I'm skeptical about this cinnamon-free apple pie too, but I trust you. I'll have to give it a go the next time I bake an apple pie, which may or may not ever happen.

    Enjoy your pre-employment!

  6. Your dream job and a national merit finalist in the house. There seems to be good karma swirling around you.

  7. Oooh, that sounds like a delicious pie. I've heard of him. Now I'm checking him out.

    Congratulations on your job!!! That is the best news--even alongside the back to school goodness;)

    (I love that you tried to teach your son the art of forgery.)

  8. Congrats on your job and Mad Scientist for semi-finalist!

    I like big chunks and cinnamon in my apple pie.

  9. I looked up that pie recipe and it looks great, although I am suspicious of the flour in the filling. I'm going to try it soon. I don't like cinnamon in my pie either. Have you tried his Gratin Dauphinois? It is to die for.

  10. I, today, struggled with fried pears for breakfast without cinnamon, and, when caramelized by sweet heat with oleo, were wonderful. I was musing if it would work in a pie, sans cinnamon that is; you confirmed my hunch. Oh yeah, congrats on the job. Acute care is soooo cute!

    --A secular life guide.