My son, my “baby,” (a cringe-inducing word if ever there was one), will be turning 17 in a week. If you will allow me this one indulgence: Where did the time go?? Certainly, it was just yesterday that he transitioned from the back seat safety zone in the car to the front seat, where I could steal glances at him throughout the entire ride home from school. Now, of course, he is in the driver seat — in more ways than one. Master of his own destiny. Controller of his universe. Just ask him.
Hard as it is to believe that his residency status with us will change drastically in just one year, I have always accepted — albeit reluctantly — Kahlil Gibran’s premise regarding children:
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”
What is a parent left to do, but savor the hours, weeks, months, just as we always have. A friend of mine, whose son left the nest this year, offered me this sage advice: “Try and grab moments with him when you can,” she said. “Even if he is otherwise occupied with the computer, television, or cell phone, just sit with him; be with him. He will know you are there.”
Of course in our home, as in so many others, the kitchen has always been the central gathering place. The kitchen table is not just for dining; it is for homework, art projects, celebrations, and family meetings. More recently, it is where we pore over college catalogs, register for standardized tests, and have much more heady conversations about opportunities, finances, life journeys, the FUTURE.
But next week, for a few short hours, we will take a break from all of that and celebrate my incredibly amazing son, who inspires awe in all of us with his brilliance, wit, compassion, and even his uncanny ability to argue a point to its death. And we will celebrate in the best way we know how, with food. Since he is perhaps my most avid fan in the kitchen, choosing a meal will be easy. It won’t really matter what we eat anyway, as long as I will have a chance to sit next to him when we do.
Mom’s Amazing Brisket (his choice of words, not mine)
There are countless ways to cook a beef brisket, and I have tried many of them. The truth is, it’s one of those dishes that is pretty impossible to mess up. Low and slow is the key. You pretty much cannot overcook this thing; the more tender the better. Plus, you want to give the brisket ample time to marinate in all those wonderful flavors. Just be sure to use a first-cut brisket, not flat cut.
2 t. salt
2 t. freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. paprika
1 5 lb. first-cut beef brisket
2 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
1 10-oz. can tomatoes (crushed or diced)
2 jars Nance’s chili sauce
1 beef bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
Approximately 1-1/2 c. water
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rinse the brisket well and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rub minced garlic into the meat and follow with the paprika. Place the onions in the bottom of a roasting pan and place the brisket, top side down, over the onions. Add remaining ingredients and cover roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for approximately 3-1/2 hours. Brisket is fork tender when there is a slight pull on a fork placed in the thickest part of the roast.
To serve, allow meat to cool for approximately 30 minutes. Trim any excess fat off the bottom of the roast, and then slice meat against the grain. Serve with the pan gravy. If desired, you can quarter white potatoes and slice carrots and include them in the last hour of cooking.
- Kahlil Gibran, on children (ns2gs.wordpress.com)