Summers end is upon us. A new school year marks the start of new beginnings. If you’re heading away to college or university it’s hard, really hard – be prepared.
I recall many moons ago, heading off to Toronto for my first year. I was busting to start this new adventure. Nervous but bubbling with anticipation of classes, new friends, new city and the life I was creating for myself.
My parents were nervous. In fact, nervous was an understatement. Mom paced, rapidly firing out new wisdoms in those last days leading up to my departure. We’d been shopping for months. Stocking up on all the things needed to ensure I had what I needed for school and my new home. I appreciated their support. I was now armed with enough toothpaste and toilet paper for the entire campus. I suffered minor annoyance, I was so sure of myself. Why couldn’t they see it? Didn’t they believe in me?
Looking back, of course they did. But, adult foresight is a wonderful thing. If we only had it before our thirties. They needed to be sure that I was going to be ok. Had they taught me everything I needed to know? Could I look after myself?
In your late teens and early twenties you think you can conquer all life throws at you. We are full of enthusiasm and dreams and if we are lucky the drive to make these reality. Sadly, no amount of preparation gives you the coordinates of how to navigate through. In the end success is in your hands.
I always prattle on to my daughter and my nieces that you can really screw up your life between the ages of thirteen and twenty-two. Make good choices. Choose good friends. Choose good partners. Seek out challenges and opportunities that help you grow. I have no idea if they are listening. I can only hope.
But, nothing I say will direct their future. They’re the Captain of their ship. I wish them safe shores filled with happiness and love.
I will be there to lend an ear. But, ultimately they must find the drive within themselves to get there.
The best thing my parents taught me was independence. The second best was to cook.
Lets face it. There are only so many care packages from home to get you through. Eventually you will need to cook for yourself. Students do not have a lot of money. The last thing you want to do is spend what you have on take-out.
Some universities and colleges are beginning to offer cooking classes. Teaching students to learn the basics and understand the value of nutrition.
It can be really hard. When it’s all up to you. You’re responsible to attend classes, to pay bills, balance a budget, purchase groceries and cook. No longer will someone be running after you to hand in assignments or extra money for a movie. No comforts of home where cooked meals are readily available.
Being able to cook can help set you up for success.
- Saves money – instead of take out food, for half the cost you can make a nutritious meal and have leftovers for the next day. Budgeting and learning to prepare food with little waste will benefit you long after school.
- Gain a social life – It’s important to be outgoing and make friends on campus. If only to borrow the study notes from your classmates. What better way to meet new people than throwing a party over a big bowl of pasta? You will make some of the most interesting people you will ever know in university.
- Fending off hard times – Tests can be worth 20-50 percent of your mark at university. Whipping up a batch of cookies can help you focus and study for those difficult tests.
- Lifting your spirits – When the world around you is in chaos nothing is more satisfying than a comforting meal. Parents share those family recipes. Write them all down and pass them along to your kids. I still carry the recipe box I was given when I left for school.
Here is an easy recipe to keep new cooks happy and full. I still remember my Grandmother’s homemade mac and cheese. Delicious! Little ones at home will love this version too.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
**Adapted from my Grandma’s and the Kitchen Treaty food blog
Servings: 5 – 6
8 oz. (1/2 pound or about 1¾ cups) macaroni or other medium tubular pasta (like penne)
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika plus more for sprinkling on top
2½ cups Table cream or 2% milk on a budget
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Boil the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking, and return to the pan you boiled it in. Set aside. (Mix in a little butter to keep the noodles from sticking if it’s going to be awhile before you make the sauce)
- Over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add the flour, salt, dry mustard, pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika. Stir constantly over medium heat for about three minutes.
- Stir in the milk.
- Keeping on medium heat, whisk constantly for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
- Remove from heat, and stir in 2 cups of the cheese, stirring until melted.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and toss gently until all noodles are covered.
- Add half the noodles to a two-quart casserole dish.
- Sprinkle on half the cheese.
- Add the rest of the noodles.
Optional: Add cooked, chopped bacon if desired. I also sometimes include chunks of pineapple to the topping as well.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until it starts getting a slightly dry and a tiny bit brown on top.
Hope you enjoy! Parents share those recipes.
If you have any questions or suggestions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow my blog at Ladydinesalot.com or on Facebook.