By COLLEEN LEDDY
I walked in the house after work Monday evening to the smell of something wonderfully sweet and delicious. I immediately felt guilty thinking David had baked his own birthday cake.
He knows better than to have a birthday fall on a Monday or a Tuesday because those are Observer production days. The likelihood of anyone in our family getting a freshly-baked birthday cake on those days has always been slim to none.
Instead, I found that an elf had deposited a pan of piping hot apple crisp on our kitchen table. David’s lucky his mom is so darn wonderful because his wife doesn’t fall into that category; I was just wishing it were my birthday so I could eat the whole thing.
Jackie makes the best apple crisp and another apple delight, crummy apple pie. It’s really “crumbly,” but I like to say crummy—even though it is the best way to eat apples ever described in a recipe.
I mentioned crummy apple pie at David’s parents’ house recently and Jackie dug up the recipe. It’s a rather long affair with lots of apples peeled, cored and sliced, followed by a mixture of cornstarch, water and cinnamon boiled in a pan and then poured over the apples, topped by a crumbly crust of flour, sugar and butter.
It’s divinely delicious and I really wish I had thought to make it for David’s birthday. He didn’t want cake—seriously, I was going to make one on Sunday. Remember Sunday? Glorious day in the high 60s—great day for raking leaves and dividing and transplanting hostas. I think David preferred me working outside to me baking a cake.
I did make him cornbread Sunday with his early birthday dinner of collards and tofu balls...OK, that sounds bad even to me, but tightly rolled and finely sliced collards steam fried with onions, garlic and salt, then sprinkled with fresh lemon juice is very self-righteously delicious.
And tofu balls (really, they’re little patties...you don’t have to use as much oil in frying if you flatten the balls) topped with tomato sauce are a delectable treat.
Monday being Monday in the Observer newspaper business, meant the tofu balls were recycled at dinner time into a kind of meatball hero, which, if it were your birthday, might not make you too happy, but luckily, I’m married to David Green who is quite content to eat tofu balls smothered with tomato sauce, covered with muenster cheese and toasted in the toaster oven to bubbly browned perfection: a fine way to celebrate a 59th birthday.
My high school friend Liz turned 51 a couple days before David turned 59. I sent a “Happy Birthday” message on facebook and added, “Remember you're still in your prime...I say that for every prime number birthday I have.”
She wrote back:
“Thanks for the bday wishes Col.....but....51=17x3....not a prime number.”
“oh, no!,” I wrote back. “it's public knowledge now! i don't know my times table past 11...and i don't my 3x past 13...i think i missed a lot of school in my early days. never went to kindergarten and didn't finish first grade. they moved me up to second when we moved from maryland to new york when i was almost 8. i used to take off fridays a lot in sixth grade because that's when all the spelling assignments were due....”
It took a couple message exchanges before it hit me: if Liz wasn’t having a prime birthday at 51, then I wasn’t either. All this year I’d thought I was in my prime. That’s not so bad; I only have another two months before I turn 52, which, because it ends in an even number, I know isn’t prime.
I sent a message to Liz asking if 59 was prime and then realized I could just google it myself like Liz had mentioned she had done for 51. Wow! What an exciting discovery on wikipedia!
Not only are there your garden variety of prime numbers, there are 81 different types of prime numbers. Circular, Cousin, Cuban, Prime Triplets and Twin Primes, Sexy Primes and Palindromic Primes. It’s just an amazing list of the different kinds of primes there are. Mr. Ganz, my twelfth grade math teacher, was definitely holding out on us.
I gushed over this prime discovery to Liz who I think was about to give me a hard time for being excited by prime numbers, but then she looked more closely at the wikipedia page.
“I would comment further but I just went back to the page and scrolled down (which I had neglected to do before) and my head exploded. Thanks a bunch Col.”
And, 59 is prime, by the way. But even better, it’s a sexy prime. Happy birthday to me.