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Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Pork bourguignonne-ish with apples and Jerusalem artichokes


Section I: Tonight's Dinner

One of my favorite things about shopping at the Coop is how often I talk food with the other members. The person ringing up my groceries will often comment on what I've chosen -- "I love those apples!" "What do you do with watercress?" Today I bought a pork roast and the man at the checkout told me about a pork roast he had just made. He put the roast in a crock pot with some homemade stock, a little red wine, carrots, and tons of garlic. After the roast was done he reduced the liquid into a sauce. "It was kind of a pork bourguignonne," he told me, "SO good!"

I'll interrupt the narrative here to say it's moments like these that I wish I could pull in one of my single friends. Because I think he was flirting with me a little, which I certainly appreciate, but golly, here's this attractive young man with really nice hair who's a great cook to boot, and I want to find someone who could take full advantage, you know?

But back to dinner. I put the roast in my crock pot along with some (not homemade) chicken stock, a little red wine, the artichokes, the onion in slices, and some fresh sage. When the roast was almost done I added the chopped apples, cooked it a bit more, and then removed the pork, artichokes, and apples, discarding most of the onion. I chopped more sage, melted some butter in a saucepan (a big blob), and browned the sage until dark and crisp. Then I added the liquid from the roast and reduced for about 30 minutes -- just left it alone, checking on it from time to time, while it simmered -- until I got a good, syrupy sauce. I could serve the stuff in a glass and drink it, it's so yummy.

Section II: The Seder

Why was Thursday night somewhat different from most other weeknights? Because we were at a Seder. One of the advantages of living in New York is that even if you're a gentile you stand a good chance of being invited to a Seder -- and if you're especially lucky you get to attend a Seder like the one we've been attending for the last four years. This is a couple in which the wife is Jewish but grew up assimilated and the husband grew up Catholic and is now a Darwinist. They twins, a daughter and a son. And because they are art collectors their home is filled with fun things to look at and the whole family is curious and bright and a little hedonistic.

There's usually over a dozen guests, maybe more. One year a guest who had grown up Orthodox told his boyfriend, "That wasn't a Seder. That was a cocktail party." But it's the only Seder we've ever known and we love it. This year Lane read their haggadah with our hosts' son, studying for his bar mitzvah, reading the Hebrew parts. Dinner was scrumptious, with roast chicken, mushroom risotto, asparagus, applesauce, two kinds of horseradish, sweet little bundles of haricort vert tied with chives, cheeses, flourless chocolate cake, lemon cake, sorbets, and lots of good red wine.

Our feelings of good will toward humankind were quickly quelled upon our return home, however.

Section III: The Dreadful Babysitter

Our upstairs neighbor, who had a three-year-old daughter, has been hiring a teenage girl (around 13 or 14) from down the street to sit for her every Friday and Saturday night for several months. It's quite a deal, since she only charges $5.00 an hour and her mother is nearby if there's ever a problem. She's not great, but really, for $5.00 an hour the most you can expect is to return and find your child still alive. We'd tried her out a couple of times and, while we weren't thrilled with the job she did, it was a relief not to shell out the usual $15.00 an hour you usually have to pay a responsible adult to sit during the evening.

Thursday night was especially bad, however. The sitter called early in the evening because she couldn't find the Rollie Pollie Ollie DVD that was sitting plain as day on Jasper's bookshelves. Then she called twice more later in the evening to let us listen to Jasper cry and to tell us that she didn't know what to do with him. I told her to dim the lights, change his diaper, put on his pajamas, and give him a little ice cream.

When we got home after 11:00 he was wide awake, watching his movie. He was still wearing his day clothes and his diaper was dirty, who knows for how long ("he wouldn't let me change him."). There was chocolate ice cream all over the rug and it looked as if no attempt had been made to clean it up. The sitter ended up leaving with my cell phone still in her pocket and we had to call her and ask her to return it to us immediately. The following day I discovered that the DVD that had been in our player was missing.

It just happens that I know the sitter loves Japanese anime, and the missing DVD is My Neighbor Totoro, which is also Japanese anime. So mean person that I am, I immediately suspected that she'd just taken it. Kids do foolish things like that. But I called her and asked if she "remembered where she'd put it" just to give her the benefit of the doubt. She was vague in her answer, saying first that she didn't know, then that it was on the desk. I don't know -- even if she didn't take it and instead Jasper ran off with it and hid it somewhere, wouldn't it behoove you to not let the two-year-old play with a DVD? The worst of it is that it was from Netflix, so we'll have to pay for it. Essentially, we bought the sitter a DVD.

But wait, here's the best part. We looked at our computer browser's history for Thursday night and it appears she spent most of the evening viewing Japanese anime sights... and porn. The history list just went on and on and on. It was horrifying. No wonder Jasper was crying -- did she spend any time with him at ALL? And doesn't she know we can check the history? We paid a kid $30 to spend the evening looking at internet porn. Super!

I know things could be worse. Someone with her lack of judgment could have easily left the gas on or set something on fire. And maybe you're thinking, well, that's what you get for hiring a teenager to watch your child. I guess so. But I started babysitting when I was twelve. I watched my own siblings and I watched other families' kids, families with three, four, five children. I cleaned up whatever messes we made. I knew I was supposed to play with the kids. We didn't have cell phones so you did not call the parents unless there was an emergency; general mommy-missing unhappiness did not constitute an emergency.

Anyway, I have the weekend to make sense of it all. We'll find a better, more responsible sitter, and we'll pay more for her services. I'm just glad nothing worse happened. Sometimes the babysitter violates your trust and makes your kid miserable. Sometimes you spend an evening in the company of fascinating people feasting on delicious holiday food and contemplating the great questions of life.

4 comments:

janeannechovy said...

So, when will you be calling her mom?

Glad Jasper survived, though.

Anonymous said...

Hi Adriana, it's Chris Bisgard. Remember me? You can reach me (if you want) at: chris-at-bisgard-dot-com. I dont necessarily expect a reply, but I found your blog while I was Googling old high school friends, and I'm pretty amazed at how much we have in common after all these years! I am married, living in Portland, Oregon, and have a 21-month-old girl named Ella. I, too, was struck by the scene in "Lost in Translation" when Bill Murray's character describes having kids, and now that we have one, I couldn't be happier. Like you, I'm also thrilled that we waited (in my case, 5 years). My wife, Lisa (a pediatrician) and I, were on the edge of our seats through Jasper's recent medical issues.

And what a horrible babysitting experience! Aside from family (which is rare, as they all live in Denver) we have only had the courage to hire a local sitter once so far, and it wasn't a perfect experience, but nothing like yours! You've inspired me to either A) try again, or B) never trust a babysitter again!!!

Anyway, it's been great learning a little about your life in NYC, and I'm enjoying your blog. Write me if you have time, but no worries if you don't.

Chris

shaunamama said...

Adriana! I'm so glad that Jasper is ok and made it through the horrible sitter. I must say that while we've been through just one horrible sitter, she was just plain lazy...not downright destructive. Around here, the average paying a sitter is about 4 dollars an hour. We pay ours 5. I literally worship the ground this girl walks on. She's almost 17 and when I tell the kids that she's coming over, they shout and whoop get all crazy excited about it. They ADORE her. My house is exactly the way I left it...even though the computer has been left on, she's never used it. She watches dvd's and puts them back in their alphabetical order...
This post made me more thankful for her than ever.

The pork roast sounds wonderful! I must try this one. I love crock pot cooking. It literally saves my bacon during these busy days.

I see you paired your dinner with Yellow Tail Shiraz. Did you like it? It happens to be one that I tend to favor. I like Rosemount Estates Shiraz, too.

Writermama said...

That babysitter . . . I don't even know where to start. She makes the one I complained about seem like Mrs. Doubtfire.

Does she have any idea you guys were horrified?