Grad school starts tomorrow! Well, I technically don’t have classes until Wednesday, but given that I am starting my NYU job tomorrow and this Labor Day weekend has been filled to the brim with reading for my upcoming classes, I think it is fair to say that my grad school ship is sailing.
After realizing that just one of the readings for one of my classes comes in at over 600 pages, I am remembering the principle of diminishing returns. (Can you tell I had to take a microeconomics exam last week?) To put it another way, in Voltaire’s words, the perfect is the enemy of the good (and done). Was it likely that my assignment actually entailed reading 600 pages and taking careful notes just to be prepared for one class session? Probably not. Was I still tempted to do just that? Of course! Did I? No…at least not after about 10 pages or so.
It seems that grad school will have to be when I finally accept that I cannot do everything; that sometimes there are shortcuts and it is okay (and expected) to take them. One day I will realize that skimming a reading instead of critically analyzing its entirety is not the end of the world. Until then I’ll be having a panic attack in the corner every time I try to digest hundreds of pages of reading in a matter of minutes, and remembering the one time I tried to take a drastic shortcut in the kitchen and miserably failed.
It was Thanksgiving 2013. I had little time and a whole s’more pie to make. I was not about to make marshmallows from scratch, and so I thought, why not just dump a package of marshmallows on top of my chocolate pie, brown them in the oven, and call it a day? Because marshmallows expand when they are heated, and if you are not careful they will touch the broiler and set themselves on fire, and before you know it the kitchen will be filled with smoke, and your oven will look like the gates of hell, and you will have to flee the home on Thanksgiving. That is why not.
But with some careful planning, this could have been avoided. The shortcut would have worked if I had been mindful enough to put the pie on a low rack far from the broiler, and had kept an eye on things. And that is what I well have to tell myself now. Breathe. It will all get done. Just keep it in perspective.
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes 8 servings
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the chocolate filling:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, at room temperature
For the marshmallow topping:
1 bag of regular sized marshmallows
For the crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Use your hands to press the mixture into a pie plate. Bakes for 15 minutes, or until the crust looks crisp. Set aside to cool completely while you make the filling.
For the chocolate filling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring the cream to a boil. Put the chocolate in a large bowl and pour the cream over it. Let stand for one minute, and then whisk the chocolate and heavy cream so they are well combined. Whisk in the egg and salt gently. Pour the chocolate mixture into the graham cracker crust. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling looks set and the center just slightly trembles.
To brown the marshmallow topping, position an oven rack in the lowest possible rack (this is important!!!) and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour marshmallows over the chocolate filling, and place in the oven. Bake for about 3 minutes, checking on the pie every minute to make sure it is not burning and about to set your home aflame. The pie is ready when the marshmallow topping is as brown as you would like it to be or your smoke detector goes off.