who's in the kitchen

Nursery school to graduate degree: NOW I’m old


Two weeks ago, I attended the graduate school commencement of my daughter Jordana. En route on the LIRR, my mind wandered down memory lane, to the first of my childrens’ graduations.

First to graduate was my eldest, Daniel, in 1991, when he completed three-year-old nursery at HAFTR. You would think he was finishing medical school. As was common back then, we arrived an hour or more before to secure good seats. After all, there were 20 or 25 children in the class, and we each wanted to make sure we had the best possible views of the stage, so that we could shoot video and take pictures of this momentous event. Each child was dressed to the nines, each one of their heads adorned with a mortarboard made of oaktag. As I sat there watching my son walk down the aisle, I actually had tears in my eyes. How was it possible? I wondered. Where did the time go? In three short months he would begin four-year-old nursery. Oy, I was getting old.

Two years later my second son, Jeremy, graduated three-year-old nursery. At this point I was a little more comfortable and not as nervous, although I still arrived early and scored those great seats. Again I had tears in my eyes and wondering how it was possible that now I have a second son already graduating three-year-old nursery. Oy, definitely feeling old!

Four years later, it was my baby Jordana’s turn to graduate. I looked around the room and all the parents and noticed there were many, that were watching their first children graduate. Novices, I thought, I was a pro at this point! Yet still, I had tears in my eyes as she walked down the aisle in her pretty little dress, so proud. How was it possible that my baby was graduating three-year-old nursery? Yes, I was feeling old. I couldn’t imagine how I would feel when they would graduate college.

As the years flew by, they graduated elementary school, high school, college, and law schools. And now my baby was graduating with a degree in early childhood education and special education. Every graduation was an eventful milestone.

As I sat on the train reflecting back to all those previous graduations, I had to fight back tears. This would be my last graduation until those of my granddaughters (and, G-d willing, more to follow).

As usual, I arrived early to make sure I would score good seats — and we got them, on the aisle in a great location. I hadn’t lost my touch.

The only problem was that there were two aisles, one on either side of the auditorium, which, this being Lincoln Center, was very large. Jordana texted us that she had no idea when she would start walking as there were so many graduates and she was four flights up with others in her group, waiting to march. I was sitting next to my son-in-law, Dan. Jordana’s dad, David, was on the aisle next to him. We were eagerly awaiting the procession to begin.

Once it started, we eagerly looked to the left and the right, because we didn’t know on which side she would be walking down. We were hoping it would be on the left, because our row was long and the right aisle was pretty far away.

Suddenly Dan shouted, “Jordana!”

Wait, what? I thought. How was it possible? “Where, Dan, where is she?” I shouted. He pointed to the right aisle. I tried hard to search her out, and then I thought I saw her. I furiously started snapping photos of the person I thought might have been Jordana. After all, I saw some blonde hair under a black cap on a girl that was wearing a black graduation gown. I started shouting “Jordana, Jordana!” flailing my arms and waving at her while snapping countless photos.

Two minutes later, we received a text from Jordana asking if the procession had started yet. She was still four flights up, waiting to start moving.

For the next 10 minutes, we watched hundreds of graduates walk down the aisle, waiting for Jordana. Thinking back to my graduations and those of my kids, I realized how much times have changed. Some graduates walked down the aisle with shopping bags and cell phones in hand. At least a dozen were talking on their phones as they walked.

And then there she was, my baby graduating from graduate school with a master’s in early childhood and social education. She would now be teaching those little toddlers that she was just yesterday, or so it seems. For a quick moment I saw that little girl in the black-and-white checkered dress with a mortarboard made up of white oaktag, smiling as she walked down the aisle of three-year-old nursery all those years ago. And you know what? I didn’t feel old. The only problem is that now — gulp — I actually am.

And talking about masters … you can MASTER French cuisine with this recipe. Oh, and congrats to all those graduates, from three-year-old nursery all the way up to grad school!

Cheese Soufflé By Audrey Ling


2 Tbsp. plus 1 Tbsp. (24g) unsalted butter

4 Tbsp. powdered Parmesan cheese

0.8 oz (24g) plain flour

10.5 oz. (300g) plain milk

1.7 oz. (50g) mature cheddar cheese, grated

1 tsp. white vinegar

1 tsp. mayonnaise

1 tsp. salt

4 eggs, yolks and whites separated


1. Coat 4 ramekins twice using 2 Tbsp. of softened butter. Leave them to chill in the fridge in between coats. Use an upward stroke while coating.

2. Fill each ramekin with 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese. Roll to coat, tapping out the excess. Leave in fridge to chill again.

3. Preheat the oven at 320 degrees Fahrenheit 

4. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in saucepan. Stir in plain flour to make a roux.

5. Whisk milk into roux to produce a smooth sauce.

6. Add cheddar cheese, vinegar, mayonnaise and salt. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes.

7. Remove sauce from heat. Whisk in egg yolks, stirring to mix well.

8. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg whites till soft peaks form.

9. Using a metal spoon, fold 1/4 of egg white into sauce to loosen the mixture first.

10. Fold in remaining egg whites gently till evenly mixed. Do not overfold.

11. Fill ramekins with batter till the brim. Level with back of spoon and run a finger around the rims of the ramekins (without rubbing away the butter) to separate the batter from their edges.

12. Bake 16 minutes until risen.

13. Serve immediately while hot.