Saturday, August 04, 2012

8/4/12 Pie Date

I'm really not sure how this started, but somehow earlier this week, Gabriel and I got talking about pies.

This led to a great idea (for me): let's make a pie together! I gave him my Williams-Sonoma Pie And Tart book with all the beautiful photos, and told him to pick something, and we'd make it together this weekend.

To my amazement, he chose a creamy-looking Citrus Chiffon pie. "Are you sure?" I asked him, "not, like, blueberry or cherry or something....well, more kidlike??" He was certain. Citrus Chiffon it was.

I asked him to pick out and write down any unusual ingredients we might have to shop for, a challenge by itself. What's unusual? But this worked really well, to my surprise: he knew we have eggs, but probably needed to check on unflavored powdered gelatin and ginger snaps.

Friday night, I asked Gabriel to pull out all the ingredients. He took this much farther than I expected, including measuring out 1/4 cup of cold water and measuring out the sugar. "I reduced the sugar like you always do, Mom." Ah, I'm doing something right!

So this Saturday afternoon, I set aside the multi-ton weight of work I must complete before Monday, and said to Gabriel, "Let's have our pie date!" And so we made pie.

This pie isn't baked, but its filling is cooked. But first, the cookie-crumb crust had to be assembled and baked, and this was harder than I expected. Nabisco ginger snaps are hard to crumble! He had a great time pounding the cookies, but we had to resort to the food processor too.

Then there was all the zesting and juicing of the citrus. 3/4 cup of lemon juice, plus orange zest, of course from our own trees. Nothing like a baking project that starts off with "Go pick some lemons from the tree!".

I failed to take a photo, but the cooking was challenging too. It meant slowly warming up egg yolks with gelatin and preventing them from scrambling. And lemme tell you, it's one thing to teach kids to crack eggs, but separating them is a whole other ball game!

Finally, it was time to mix the filling with whipped cream, and spread it into the cookie-crumb crust.

Refrigerate for 3-4 hours....takes away the home-baked-pie smell from the house. Actually, this pie was more work and much trickier to make than your average fruit pie, which I usually prefer and can knock out in my sleep now.

The best part was, tonight Gabriel and I shared a few pieces and revelled in it. Though I always cut sugar back, this is one recipe that doesn't really need it, and it was on the edge of being too tart -- but was just perfect.

I told him stories about my father and pie, how much he loved blueberry pie and how he'd make all these sighing noises, and pretend to want to steal someone else's pie, but he wasn't pretending at all.

The irony didn't bypass me though: here I was sharing pie with my son while channeling my father.....though really, the two are quite different in this regard. My Dad would never turn down a dessert, but Gabriel takes after his own father and doesn't really favor sweets or fruit in desserts. Which this pie wasn't, and Gabriel likes lemon-flavored things.

It was the sweetest pie I've had in a long long time -- not just the time spent in a project together, but also the long one-one-one intense talking I had with the baker over the spoils. At age 10-1/2, this is more than just laying foundations of relationships; it could become a fond memory for him. It certainly is for me.


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

8/1/12 The Loser

I'm at home in a training class this week -- which sounds like it'd make things easier, but instead, it automatically intensifies the workweek.

For starters, these classes insist on using VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), instead of POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) (that is a technical term!). I don't care how high-tech something sounds, phones just work better. I especially miss being able to carry a regular old cordless phone around with me, muted, so I can hear the class if I want to run a load of laundry. Instead, I'm bound to my computer and its mike and speakers.

Training classes also means= far, far less time flexibility during the day. Though there's a ton of downtime during the class, like when the instructor runs off with some silly story, I can't count on doing a quick check of something online, or making a phone call -- such as, "Hello, lost-and-found? By any chance did you find a red knapsack with monogramming that says Julian?"

That kid loses SO MUCH STUFF! His record was losing 3 lunchbags in one week during school, but week-by-week, I can pretty much count on something getting lost. Non-parents, or parents with more responsible kids say, "Fine, if he loses his jacket then he goes cold, that'll teach him!"

But in practice, it doesn't work that way. You're not actually going to send your child to school in pouring rain or freezing cold (if we had any) for an entire winter, or without lunch for a whole school year -- and even if you did, it likely wouldn't change his behavior at all. With two other kids, I "get" that kids lose stuff -- but Julian goes way way past regular "losing-stuff."

So, despite my super-tight schedule this week, I drove to last week's Y camp location and retrieved a forgotten knapsack. Enabling him, you might say! But he didn't know the difference. Besides, I really wanted to get that knapsack back because I'd rigged a clever way to make sure his sunscreen was usable, yet was attached to the pack and wouldn't get lost.

The good news is, they're all loving the San Jose daycamp. It's much simpler and lower-key than Y specialty camps -- no field trips or fancy outside visits, and no complex pickup/validation process -- but they all seem relaxed and to really like it. This camp costs $242 for two weeks -- pricewise, it doesn't get better than that -- and they like it!

It's hard to believe school is starting in less than 3 weeks?!


Monday, July 30, 2012

7/30/12 Summer Day Campes

Whew! Last week, all 3 kids were in different Y camps -- at different locations!! The logistics were the worst -- but they all liked their camps. And with the boys being apart, I think the time I saved listening to the counselors' stories more than made up for the extra driving time.

Last week, Julian did Lego Robots, which he loved. Gabriel did fencing, which he loved until the last-day tournament, and he tied for last in a group of 18 kids. I don't usually feel bad for him for stuff like that, but I did this time! He took it in stride, but it bugged him. (Still, he's one of those "cheap" competitors -- he likes to win, but he doesn't like to work hard to win.) And Katrina was in gymnastics, which she liked because of the foam pit.

Last day of Y-camp: "linked-in tag" ! It was cute seeing Katrina standing clinging to another girl, who she readily gave up when she saw me -- even cuter.

Outside Julian's camp, an attempt to get all 3. Of course they wouldn't completely cooperate -- these should all be frameables!

Home is always more fun, especially if you bought yourself a remote-control helicopter.
This week, they're in a regular old-fashioned daycamp through the City of San Jose, and I'm thrilled for two very selfish reasons: One, they're all in the same location; and two, it's half the cost of most other daycamps! I just hope the magic persists for two weeks. 'Cause after that, it's another dreaded CDC camp week (through their school's on-campus daycare center, which they've grown not to like for summer daycamp), and then -- SCHOOL. It starts in just 3 weeks, can you believe it?! Agh!


oh no, it's two Uncles birthdays and when I remembered to call was a bad time!! aggggh!)