As reported by The Hartford Courant, August 16, 2007.

Cooking When the Young Ones Fly Off to College

By Korky Vann

When the Class of 2011 heads off to college this fall, they'll leave behind millions of empty nesters who will be discovering the joys and challenges dining-a-deux after 18 years of family-sized meals. On the plus side, says Joy Smith, author of the "Empty Nest Cookbook: Recipes, Menus and Revelations" (Cumberland House, $16.95), no more empty juice cartons in the fridge or empty cereal boxes in the pantry. On the minus side, long silences at the table and endless leftovers.

"No question, it's a major adjustment," says Smith, a Glastonbury resident. "When my three daughters were off to college, the house seemed so quiet and empty. I was still cooking in the same quantities I had when there were five of us at the table. My husband and I ended up eating the same thing for days. I had to relearn the art of cooking for the two."

She looked for cookbooks to help but found little. In the process of gathering and developing recipes for smaller meals, she decided to compile a cookbook geared toward empty nesters and discovered some real benefits to cooking for two adult palates.

"You can be more adventuresome when you don't have to cater to teenager tastes. You can put on music and have a glass of wine while you're making dinner," says Smith. "You can also be more indulgent and splurge. Filet mignon or shrimp for two is much less of an investment than for five. Cooking for two is also faster than cooking for a crowd. Most of the recipes in the book can be ready in a half hour or less so you spend less time standing by the stove."

Karen Moscato, a registered dietitian at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, says simple recipes that contain fresh ingredients are the best choice for the dinner-challenged. Though processed, prepackaged or fast foods may seem like an easy alternative, Moscato cautions against choosing too many of these foods.

"Many pre-made foods are high in fat and sodium," says Moscato. "The keys to a good diet are variety and moderation. An easy way to assess your eating patterns is to make a shopping list and stick to it and to keep a journal of meals. You can make notes of recipes that you particularly liked. You can make sure you're getting enough fruits and vegetables."

According to the National Institute on Aging, healthy adults of any age need a diet that provides vitamins, minerals and calories from protein, carbohydrates and some fat. To get that, meals should include a variety of foods from each of the major food groups, including fruits and vegetables, rice, pasta and whole grain and enriched breads, cereals; fish, poultry, meat, eggs and dry peas and beans; and milk, cheese and other dairy products.

A number of other cookbooks offer tips for boomers waving goodbye to college-bound sons and daughters.

In "Two at the Table: Cooking for Couples Now that the Kids Are Gone" (Sasquatch Books, $22.95) author Cheryl Fall, host of PBS's "The Creative Life," encourages couples sans offspring to get reacquainted with such exotic ingredients as leeks, shitake mushrooms and fresh asparagus.

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cooking for Two" by Ellen Brown (Penguin, $18.95) outlines tasty and easy meals prepared without convenience foods or prepackaged items.

Recipes include Spanish seafood soup with garlicky mayonnaise, swordfish tagine with dried fruit and garbanzo beans, grilled tuna salad nicoise, fusilli with porcini with puttanesca sauce, caramel apple quesadillas and chocolate praline bread pudding with cinnamon cream.