Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Wife: A Medley

How about a weekend of gratitude? On Thanksgiving morning, I was particularly grateful for the rising temperatures in Seattle: the snow was melting, from my windows I could see that more bodies were circulating on foot or in car, and going outside to empty the very full compost bin began to sound like a remote possibility again.

I was also grateful for the Macy’s Day Parade which kept me cheery company while I graded a batch of essays on the evils of the global food system and the glories of Fair Trade. My favorite thing about this parade (apart from a glimpse of gigantor floating Kermit the Frog) is the series of unmitigated indignities the parade people put musical artists through—for instance, say, making Kanye West rap while situated atop of a huge red apple or India Arie sing next to a dancing Dora the Explorer.

I was grateful I had the foresight to reduce five heads of cauliflower to roasted goodness one day in advance of their transformation into soup.

My other Thanksgiving hosting duties included Boursin smashed potatoes, appetizers, and setting the table. This year I selected my parents’ wedding set of Noritake Marguerite to use at dinner, supplemented by the old faithful green daisy chain Cornelle which I also inherited when my parents down-sized residence.
I needed a plate medley this year, as I hosted 14 guests. Well to be more accurate, there were 13 eaters; I always set one extra place at my Thanksgiving table to honor and represent those loved ones who are absent. This year, I remember with gratitude and love my maternal grandmother who passed away in February. I seated her in that extra seat; and I know that several of my guests were imagining their own recently lost loved ones as occupying that empty seat as well.

The day after Thanksgiving, in spite of the enormous amounts of leftovers in the fridge, I was craving French toast. We had no real bread in the house other than Thanksgiving dinner's sliced baguette, so I improvised.
The batter consisted of two eggs, a couple tablespoons of 1% milk, a couple dashes of vanilla, and some pumpkin pie spice. That is probably 1/3 of one baguette there, which was just the right amount for two hungry breakfast eaters.
I caramelized a banana to top off the French toast. Caramelizing bananas is a simple process: you place sliced bananas in a small frying pan, pour a bunch of maple syrup on top, and simmer over medium heat while your French toast is cooking.
I am grateful to Katie Lee Joel’s The Comfort Table for this decadent French toast or pancake topping idea.

I was then very grateful for breakfast.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Well Now I Know *That's* Possible

This is me, in bed, marking student papers. It's difficult to tell if the sun is setting or rising. On the other hand, it is evident that my work has turned me into a no-life zombie. This week mea culpa was scheduling all three writing courses to turn in first drafts of their 5-page essay assignments on Monday. Mea maxima culpa, however, was scheduling writing conferences with students from all three classes for Wednesday through Friday. It has been a relatively mind-numbing experience to read and comment coherently on 20 (generally incoherent) papers per day and then to meet with the students who committed these works of art and try to genially talk them into their various tailored revision plans.

I am surviving. Though I confess that I might skip my daily Visine and hair-straightening routine tomorrow morning and wear my purple pajamas in to work just to scare my students. And now I can proudly say that I know even more intimately the powers of stubborn fortitude and assiduous stupidity (er, stupid assiduity?) of that mysterious creature the writing adjunct. My main concern is this: is it weird, or somehow creepy, to grade papers in bed?