Saturday, October 30, 2010

Step One -- Of A Million -- Of Choosing A College


Fifteen-year-old Son is two years, 10 months away from beginning college, which means two things.  One, I’m certain that he needs to begin –- posthaste – buckling down in school, getting his name on college mailing lists, listing and ranking the college attributes he finds most appealing and appropriate to his skill sets, and then, one million other things.  Two, Son is equally certain that two years, 10 months is 34 months, which is a long, long time away, and oh by the way, he needs new guitar strings.  Can we go get some tomorrow?

Remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy asks Scarecrow, “What would you do with a brain if you had one”?  Well, some 30 years ago, when I told my own parents I wanted to go to college, their reaction, although not verbatim, was along the same lines:  “What would you do with a degree if you had one?”

It was a different time.  Not everyone was expected to go to college.  And, colleges weren’t so discerning in their admissions decisions.  As a good-not-extraordinary student with good-not-outstanding grades and good-not-scorching SAT scores, I knew I'd have no problem getting into college.  My family just had to figure out how to swing it.  Even then, though, I wouldn’t be making a “choice.”   I’d attend the school that offered scholarship money – the University of South Carolina.

I got to go to a football game at my beloved alma mater this weekend.  And lucky me, Son agreed to go, too.  It was typical Gamecock football: tailgating of Thanksgiving proportions, unreasonably raucous fans, head-scratching calls, inexplicably sloppy play, skin-searing heat, unbridled fan faith, at least nine iterations of Sandstorm, and, despite being 17-point favorites, my beloved Gamecocks in their usual position behind the eight ball.  The only atypical part of the game was that we (the royal “we”) ended up pulling off a decisive victory over the underdog, orange-clad Tennessee Volunteers.  (Go Carolina, go Carolina!)

I enjoyed every minute of it.

Apparently, so did Son.  After the game, we continued tailgating with new, as well as tried and true, friends.  Finally, after feasting on far too much seared lamb, and baked ziti and sausage bread and spicy chilled shrimp, the two of us climbed into the Pilot to head for home.

It had been a long day, and I fully expected Son to be studying the inside of his eyelids before we hit the interstate.  But then, unexpectedly, he said, "This was fun.  And I don't know where I want to go to college, but I do know I want to go to a school with football."

OK.  On the list of one million things, perhaps not where I would've started, but OK.

Thirty-four months and nine-hundred, ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred, ninety-nine things to go.

Cheddar Chive Biscuits
I'd love to share the recipe for the Lamb in Pita we had this afternoon, but I don't have the recipe.  What I do have is a recipe for flavorful Cheddar Chive Biscuits -- which I should've taken to the tailgate!

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
6 tablespoons shortening, chilled and cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 - 1/2 cup minced chives
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425.  Stir together dry ingredients.  Cut in shortening (using fork or pastry cutter), until mealy.  With a fork, stir in cheese and chives.  Quickly blend in 3/4 cup of buttermilk.  Dough should be soft and slightly sticy.  If not, stir in remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk.  Scrape dough onto well-floured board or counter.  Using floured hands, gently pat out dough, folding it over itself several times.  (Do not knead.)  Pat dough out to 3/4 inch thickness.  Cut out biscuits, placing on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake until very lightly golden -- about 10-12 minutes.
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