As of last night, I have finished responding to dozens of student portfolios and dozens of pieces of fiction and fiction exercises, as well as student research project proposals, making me officially, at this moment, Caught Up. Such moments in the life of a teacher are celebratory. Such moments make one want to receive praise and possibly gifts. Even without praise or gifts, however, everything in life tastes sweeter.
For the feel-good dinner, I made homemade baked macaroni (penne, but I don't want to come off aspirational) and cheese and also baked custards for dessert. But the real cooking feat of the day was applesauce, made by the historian. The historian is a gleaner. He's the one who scours the vines for the last clumps of little green grapes; he picks the last, ripest cherries, fending off the birds; and he picked the apples despite the fact that many of them were wormy (on the bright side, this signals that we never spray--they're good for you!).
Anyway, he took the notion that we should make these apples into applesauce. He kept mentioning it over a period of weeks, but the time just never seemed right. For one thing, I thought it would take more time and effort than it did. Well, it's not all that hard: you cut up the apples (and cut out the bad parts), leaving skins and all intact, and put them in a pan. You cover them with water and simmer until they're tender, which takes no more than a half hour. Then you put the cooked apples through a food mill, one of which we happen to have, a really old one that we bought at an antiques/junk store in Cedar City. It worked beautifully. After you've milled the apples, which removes their skin and turns them into a pulpy sauce, you gently cook them a few minutes more, adding whatever it is you think you want to add. In our case, we added a little cloves and a little cardamom, which made a divinely spicy applesauce.
I helped find the food mill and thought of the spices. We would have added cinnamon, but we were fresh out--I ask you, what kind of household has no cinnamon but plenty of cardamom? This tells you everything you need to know about how I keep house. Anyway, the point is, this was the historian's project, and he made a mad success of it. Aside from the great pleasure of having homemade applesauce, we have a lesson: pay attention to those apples next year.
Finally, last Thursday, my son was named MVP of the Cross Country team at the annual end-of-the-season banquet. It was wildly disorganized but it was fun and it had a good outcome. Actually, perhaps that last is a better descriptor of housekeeping here in West Jordan.