The ride (or flight as in years past) home from these college drop-offs is always full of rich conversation. It usually starts out with the pangs of leaving...the simple but deep emotions that come with that last hug and the actual pulling away in the car. That unsettling moment when our attention shifts from being squarely focused on our child back on to ourselves, the traffic, our cups of coffee and the drive home. Inevitably we begin with some good old parental self-doubt and sense of regret---did we do enough with our daughter, spend enough time walking the campus with her, meeting her new friends, listening to her? Did we give her enough money, did we give her any money? The goes on for a few miles, but soon turns to the positive. How happy and relaxed she looked. How her friends seem supportive, and how fascinating her classes will be this semester...how perfect it is that her dorm is right next to a dining hall...how great it was that we finally found a way to hang that shoe rack without gouging the wall... Talking all this out seems to ease our transition from one reality to the next. By the time we've reached McDonalds, we're on to whether we have dog food in the house. We have it down to a science.
I won't be cooking today, but last week I made these Brussels sprouts...they should tide you over. As the summer corn and tomatoes start to dwindle some of us are going to need a little coaxing to get excited about fall and winter veggies. Not me, though. I get tempted by Brussels sprouts all year round, and when I spot the tiny ones I grab them no matter what the temperature is or what's on the menu for the night. I fit them in somehow.
Chop a few slices of bacon and lay them out on a baking sheet. Cook the bacon in a 400 degree oven until it's rendered some of its fat and it's almost done. Remove the bacon to drain on a paper towel, and pour off about 1/2 of the fat.
Put your Brussels sprouts on the pan (cut off the stump ends, leaving them whole if they're small, or half them if bigger) and drizzle them with some olive oil. Roast them for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until they're crispy on the outside and tender but still firm inside. A taste test is useful. About halfway through the cooking, add the bacon pieces back in and douse everything with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Season them with salt and pepper.