No, Tuesday was the day my kids went back to daycare after a two-week break. For the first time in 18 days I was able to relax. And by relax, I mean go to the office and work like a normal human being.
One of the great things about being an editor in the 21st century is that I have the ability to do a lot of my work from home. This column, in fact, is being written between 9 and 5 — but not the 9 to 5 Dolly is singing about.
Because my schedule is so flexible, my kids only attend part-time daycare. That means they take several week- or weeks-long breaks from “school” throughout the year. And because The Star is such a family-friendly place to work, my bosses don’t mind too much if I take a couple weeks to work from home, as I did recently while the kids were out — especially as they’ve learned it’s a much quieter alternative than me bringing them to the office.
There’s no way I could have worked from home with the kids for two weeks without going completely insane, so for the first week we headed to Tennessee to visit my family.
One morning as I was heading downstairs, I looked out the window over the same beautiful sunrise coming up over rolling green pastures that I saw all my childhood. But I saw something else, too — the apple tree, ripe for the picking.
Growing up, we never ate these apples. I remember them being small, green and misshapen, and much too tart. But this year they looked different. They were big and shaped like normal apples (for the most part) and many were turning pink on top. Maybe it was a combination of my new love of canning and my passion for free food, but those apples looked tasty, and I wanted to bring some home with me. My parents had no interest in harvesting, so right before we headed home, I grabbed an empty box and filled it two-thirds with apples — all I could reach with the help of a wobbly ladder and a broomstick.
Back in Alabama, my vacation from work was over, but the kids were still out of school for another week. I won’t horrify you with the details of how I survived — it involved lots of candy, Disney and other forms of bribery to get them to leave me alone. By the end of the week, I had worked many late nights, including one spent canning eight pints and one quart of apples.
I didn’t have to wait too long for a chance to pop open a jar for a taste-test — my mother-in-law celebrated her birthday last week, so instead of the usual birthday cake, I made her a birthday apple pie. It was delicious, proven by the fact that the entire pie was gone by the end of the night.
The only problem was the leftover pie crust. I’d made too much and while the leftover was not enough for another pie, it was enough that it felt like a waste to throw it out.
Since the first pie had gone over so well, I decided to take the same recipe and the leftover dough and make mini apple pies for the kids to take to school in their lunches. Problem solved. And the recipe was easy as … well, pie. Just cut 3-inch circles out of pie dough and tuck into the well of a mini muffin pan, folding and pressing crust as needed. Top with diced apple pie filling and bake at 450 F for 10 minutes.
With pies that tiny, I wouldn’t feel guilty about eating one every Tuesday to commemorate my personal independence day.
Features Editor Deirdre Long: 256-294-4152. On Twitter @star_features.