5 Awesomely Outrageous (and Useful) Summer Chores for Teens

  1. Apply the Dewey Decimal system to the family’s collection of books.
  2. Vacuum or sweep all the closet floors. (What? You can’t find the floors? Oh, I guess you better clean out the closets, first.)
  3. Alphabetize the spices in the pantry.
  4. Wash the washer.
  5. Gather every dishtowel, dishrag and towel in the house and decide which ones to retire (throw away). Create a list of the replacements needed.

What are YOUR kids doing this summer?

Posted in Family, Working Moms | Tagged , | 1 Comment

True Love Double Cherry Pie

During the tail end of the Korean war, my dad was stationed in Germany where he was a military policeman — a cushy assignment, to be sure. My mom was the girl he’d dated before he left, who was at home wearing poodle skirts and roller skates, working as a telephone operator.

My mom, who really isn’t a pie baker, baked my future dad a cherry pie and shipped it to Germany. As I remember this story, the pie wasn’t terribly recognizable when it arrived, but that didn’t stop my dad and his Army buddies from devouring it.

Some time after that, my father bought a diamond ring and mailed it to my mother, telling her she could take it as an engagement ring or a birthday gift. They were married in 1957.

True Love Double Cherry Pie

Pastry for a double crust pie

4 cups fresh cherries, washed, de-stemmed, pitted and sliced in half

1 cup tart dried cherries

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons quick-acting tapioca

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons butter

Make the pastry for the crust and refrigerate. Wash, de-stem, pit and slice the cherries; set aside. (This is a messy, tedious job that leaves your workspace looking like a slasher flick. Recruit someone to enjoy the mess with you.) Mix the sugar and tapioca together and add the pinch of salt. Add the almond and vanilla extract to the cherries and mix gently with a spatula. Add the sugar mixture in, folding the cherries to incorporate. Set the cherry mixture aside for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll out your bottom crust and place in a deep, 9″ pie plate, leaving plenty of overhang for crimping. Pour in the cherries. Chop the two tablespoons of butter into small chunks and scatter over the top. Now, roll out your top crust and upend over the filling. Crimp the edges together, removing any excess. Cut several vents in the top of the pie, brush with milk and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, rotate 180 degrees, then bake for another 30-35 minutes, until the filling bubbles. If the crust begins to get too brown, pop a piece of foil over the top for the last ten minutes or so of baking.

Posted in Life of Pie | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Eighth Grade: We’re Not Going to Miss You.

It was a rough year. No one in our family is sad to see eighth grade come to a close. The girl is looking forward to high school and all the promise of more advanced studies, a larger pool of kids to hang out with and all the extracurricular activities her little heart desires.

Eighth grade girls are some of the most difficult, meanest, most emotional people on the planet. Throughout the year she dealt with bullying, shunning, gossip and lost friendships. She fought back and faced some punishments; lessons that are hard to learn, but valuable nonetheless.

Throughout it all this girl kept her spirits up. She made the best of her situation and didn’t succomb to the pressure, or lose her temper over it, often. Her grades were spectacular throughout and she stayed engaged with basketball, volleyball, chorus and drama.

I don’t know that I would have handled myself as well at her age. She’s an amazing kid; I admire her confidence, her spirit and her persistence.

At the eighth grade graduation, a fellow mother who knew about all the drama among the girls in this year’s class referenced the fact that it had been a tough year, in particular, for my daughter. Even though I swore I wouldn’t cry, my eyes welled up at that, thinking about the months of lunches my daughter ate at a table alone, rather than interact with people who would get her into trouble. Mostly, I’m glad it’s over and we can all move on to the next stage.

Posted in The Girl | 5 Comments

Cherry Pie in Progress

I felt pretty good this morning, so I pitted some cherries for fresh cherry pie.

The cherry pitter I bought a few months ago worked like a charm. I’m still on the road to recovery, so this pie is being completed in stages. I pitted cherries — I rested. I mixed up a batch of pie pastry; I rested. I made the pie filling, and now I’m sitting here doing this.

This is a double cherry pie so those are fresh cherries, mixed with dried. If you’re not a baker you may not know the secret ingredient that gives fresh cherry pie it’s spectacular flavor: almond extract.

The filling is in the refrigerator, as is the pastry. It’s too dang hot out to bake and heat up the kitchen so again, it’s a pie in stages; I may not bake until tomorrow morning. I’ll post the finished product and the recipe then.

Posted in Life of Pie | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Straight Up: Tracy Morgan’s Rant and Being Gay in America

This week we learned the comedian Tracy Morgan has a homophobic streak. During a recent performance, the 30 Rock actor decided to launch into an anti-gay rant, resulting in loss of much of the immediate audience, fans everywhere and perhaps, sustaining long-term damage to his reputation. We can only hope.

It irks me when someone this visible, this beloved and admired for so much talent spews hate. I’m delighted at the public reaction to Morgan’s remarks, but realize that even 20 years ago an incident like this would not have made news.

Growing up in the seventies, I heard gay slurs often; the negative phrase, “that’s so gay” was common enough for daily life and use in front of one’s parents. Gay relatives weren’t discussed; they were “confirmed bachelors” — a phrase that honestly, still makes me chuckle. The lack of acceptance, in my white, middle class, suburban upbringing was nonviolent, but also an impenetrable wall.

Lack of acceptance bubbles into hate, and hate begets violence. It’s incredible to me that in this era we have had to push forward into law legislation like the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and simultaneously, struggle to allow two people who love one another to marry and commit to one another for life; that we have to chip away at that state by state. If you were to explain these concepts to a five-year-old child, she could tell you that none of this makes sense.

It troubles me that there are so many so uncomfortable with homosexuality; that there really are people who believe being gay is a choice, or a “sin.” I often forget that is the case; I live in a fairly liberal community and have surrounded myself with people who share the same values. So it shocks me to learn or remember that parents still reject children, that adults are still afraid of coming out to friends and family, that people live in fear of being harmed for being attracted to someone of the same sex.

In the U.S., we have a history of judging people on the color of their skin. Judging on sexuality is just as inane.

This post is going to piss some people off, but I honestly don’t care. It pisses me off that anyone would think it’s OK to insult a person because of their sexual identity. Tracy Morgan, you’ve lost a fan.

Posted in Charlottesville | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments