Friday, March 5, 2010

Remembering the Important Stuff -- 15 Years Later.

I can't remember what I had for dinner last night.

I can't remember to call the gutter guy.  I can't remember to return Reid It and Weep's* MacBook charger, which I've held hostage now for nearly a week.  And for the life of me, I can't remember to buy more soy sauce -- which is absurd, not only because, on average, I visit my local Harris Teeter, oh, every single day, but because, in a typical week I use so much soy sauce that I'm practically an honorary Asian.

What I can remember, however, is where I was exactly 15 years ago today.  Because today, March 5, 2010, is Son's 15th birthday.

Eight pounds, 15 ounces now tips the scale at 135 pounds.  Twenty inches has stretched to nearly 70.  Just like that, my "Little Man" has become a young man -- and in my not-at-all-humble opinion, a fine one at that.  He's babysitting and shaving and learning to drive.  He's dating and taking subjects I never dared to tackle in high school and becoming the kind of writer I'd like to be when I grow up.

Fifteen years ago, Son entered the world with a splash.  After a Big Dinner Out (a.k.a., "The Last Supper"), followed by a Big Heartburn In, and a late night watching most of The Godfather (back in the days of videotape), my then-husband crawled into bed, my water splattered all over the freshly tiled bathroom floor, and we were off to the hospital.  Wait. Rewind.  Actually, about a half mile into our trip, we turned around and went back home, briefly, to fetch some Pepto Bismol for the father-to-be, and then, off to the maternity ward.  For real.

Thirteen hours later, I had a son.

At the time, I remember thinking I could never love anyone so intensely as I loved Son.  I remember thinking that it was inconceivable that my own parents could have felt the same way about me.  I remember eventually realizing that Son could only comprehend the depth of my emotion when he, himself, becomes a parent.  (Which, given that he's only 15, should be many, many, many years from now.  M-A-N-Y. Many.)

When Son was tiny, I spent hours imagining the person he'd become.  A paleontologist?  Entirely possible, as he memorized the name of every dinosaur in every book ever written by time he was five.  (Did you know there's no such thing as a brontosaurus?)  An architect?  Surely there was a reason for the hours, days, weeks he spent with Legos.  A fireman?  Well, given that it was his preferred costume for three consecutive Halloweens, I reckon it was either a fireman or a founding member of his generation's Village People.

Now that Son's 15, I can see that all my ruminating got me nowhere.  I have no idea what he'll become.  What I do know, though, is that Son has already become more than I could have imagined.  And rather than guessing, I can hardly wait to see what the days and years to come will reveal.

I wish I could now give you a recipe for Son's favorite cake, which I'd bake for his birthday.  But it turns out, I've got a kid who doesn't really care about cake.  Who could've predicted?  What he does enjoy though, in addition to the perennially-requested Sausage Pasta with Broccoli, is Osso Buco.  It's comfort food Chez Wiles.

And if we'd had Osso Buco for dinner last night, I'm sure I would've remembered it.

*If you're an American Idol fan, you've got to check out Reid It and Weep's blog.  And if you could toss a spare MacBook charger her way, that'd get me out of a mess of trouble, too.

Osso Buco
Serves four.

4 large, meaty veal shanks, at least 2 1/2 inches thick
Approximately 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 rib of celery, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dry white wine (I use sauvignon blanc)
1 cup chicken stock
1 sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic

Season veal shanks well with salt and pepper.  Wrap each shank tightly with twine.  Dredge each tied shank in flour, shake off excess, and then, in a large skillet (with a lid for later) heat olive oil until rippling, over medium high heat.  Lightly brown each shank and set aside.  In same skillet, lightly brown carrot, celery and onion until onion is translucent.  Stir in lemon zest, salt, wine, stock, rosemary, bay leaf and garlic clove.  Bring to a boil.  Return shanks to skillet, reduce heat to low, and put lid in place.  Allow to simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until so tender that meat is nearly falling off the bone.   Remove twive, serve with hot noodles or rice, as well as gremolata, made by combining 1 clove garlic (finely minced with 1 teaspoon kosher salt), 1/2 cup minced parsley, and zest of two lemons.
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