The Snake

Since my Theory of Creative Writing Class has ended, I can finally post some of my work I wrote for the class! I wrote a variety of creative content including: non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. I have a few poems I would like to share, just because they were fun to write

I wrote this poem based on a poem we had to read in class. Unfortunately I cannot look up the author of the original poem because I sent my textbook back to the rental guys. So just imagine it was based on a poem.

 

The Snake

I have to kill the snake tomorrow. He’s conniving, and all around slimy

from head to toe, slicked with oil and the morning dew clinging to his scales.

The cats titter, hanging their paws against the cool concrete, swinging their tails like

a cuckoo clock. Meow Meow Meow. Small bellows of sound escape their windpipes,

producing warlike cries.

Out near the lake sits a banana tree, a pile of weeds in its shade.

That’s where he sits, like a loose garden hose, or better yet a popped bicycle tire,

treaded and worn out.

He slithers though the overgrown grass, plowing each blade with its sharp razor back.

He doesn’t belong here, near the house. Near the cats nor near the dogs.

I cannot go outside and catch him for he will laugh and stick his tongue out at me,

Ha you human.

I could try the shovel, or maybe the broom. Bring the sharped edge to his temple, slicing

through the flesh like an apple. Or perhaps set the neighbors dog on him, a puppy who

loves to pounce at anything that moves.

Alas, I cannot kill the black snake, for once I have killed him, I would have to dispose of

his body. A three foot long limp soy noodle would sit in my backyard, awaiting

the disposal of nature: Vultures. I cannot dispose of him,

therefore I should not kill him in the first place. Instead, I shall join my cats,

place the palms of my hands on the pavement, and shout war cries.

 

 

This poem is quite relevant because I saw two snakes yesterday; one in my backyard and another while I was riding my bike. I’m getting better around them– I didn’t scream when I saw it, but I did jump on top of my patio chair.

I’m thinking of putting together a monthly book review, or list for this blog. Like a online book club! I’ll post my July picks tomorrow, the first of the month.

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Three Discoveries

I have made a few discoveries these past few days:

1. I love snorkeling

2. Zumba classes should include a: “May Get Drenched in Sweat” sign on their doors.

3. I have discovered the hidden flavors of pan-frying Watermelon.

 

Blue Springs First things first, I visited Blue Springs the other day with my family and friends. This spring is a cool 72 degrees year-round. During the winter months, hundreds of manatees and their calfs swim into the springs from the ocean to live in warmer water. I have been here during their migration, and I wanted to jump in that water and cuddle each and every one of them. I love manatees so much! (Disclaimer: Under federal law, swimmers are not allowed to touch manatees. Please only observe from a comfortable distance)

This trip however, did not give me a chance to see my majestic sea cows. After walking along a wooden boardwalk, we entered the spring down a series of steps. After swimming for a few minutes up current, we reached the hole. This thing is massive, and scuba divers frequent the caves under the surface. I donned my fins, mask, and snorkel, and explored the fish around the area. It’s so quiet under the water, and relaxing; the only sound you focus on is your own breath. When I was younger, I was terrified to snorkel, just in case I forgot how to breathe. Silly isn’t it? Now I cannot wait to find more spots to explore.

My second discovery led me to a aerobic fitness class held at my college gym. It’s Summer B now, and all the new freshman are now on campus. The gym was packed with weightlifters, basketball players, runners, but mostly freshmen. We were a few minutes late to the class and could barely find a place to stand in the classroom. IT WAS SO PACKED. We were dripping in sweat. Appetizing. Our instructor was energetic, and pumped up the entire class. At one point, three guys opened the door and looked into the class room. All the girls were bent-over shaking their thang. I looked up. They waved. Gauuhhh.

When the class finished, we hopped on over to the locker room to wash our faces. Three freshman girls, (you’ll know why they were freshman in a minute) were standing gawking at the condom dispenser. “You mean these are free?!” The blonde one says, ” Why have I been buying them?!” She then stuffs her hand into the dispenser and fishes out a random assortment. “I wonder if this actually tastes like chocolate?”

Sometimes you are just too classy for your own good.

Moving on to food, I have been slacking on my Cookbook Challenge recently. I was in two accelerated classes which ended on Thursday. I’m currently in one class, but it’s online, and it seems easier than my last classes. I was looking through Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen, and stumbled upon this gem. Pan-Fried Watermelon with Yogurt and Caramelized Walnuts. I died. It sounded too good to be true. I drove to the store, picked up the ingredients, and laid my work in front of myself.

watermelonLet me say this: Gordon Ramsay is hawt. His accent, so dreamy. His body, somebody pinch me! But most of all, his delicious biceps dishes. I read his biography during my time in culinary school, and I look up to his work ethic. It’s a fantastic read for you culinary bio lovers out there. Wherever you are.

Watermelon

Chef Ramsay’s food is simplistic, and brings the naturalness from the ingredients. I was craving something sweet, but healthy to satisfy my cravings. This dish was perfect, and my sister devoured it. She literally licked her plate clean.

Watermelon

Pan-Fried Watermelon with yogurt and caramelized walnuts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For the Watermelon:

  • 1 small or 1/2 medium watermelon
  • a little olive oil
  • powdered sugar, to dust
  • 1 3/4 – 2 Cups Greek yogurt

For the caramelized Walnuts:

  • 1 T butter
  • scant 1/4 Cup Honey
  • scant 1 Cup Walnuts

Instructions

  1. In a small heavy saucepan add the butter and honey. Place this saucepan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Once the butter has melted, add the walnuts. Stir these ingredients to make sure the walnuts are well coated. Keep this over heat for another 1-2 minutes. Once you see the mixture start to bubble and turn a golden brown you can transfer the mixture onto a waxed paper lined baking tray. Set your caramelized walnuts aside for 1-2 hours.
  2. Cut watermelon into an 1 ½  inch thick pieces. Put a little olive oil into a nonstick skillet and place over high heat. Dust the top and bottom of each watermelon with confectioner’s sugar. Place onto your nonstick skillet and pan-fry each side for 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Repeat with each watermelon slice.
  3. Add a scoop of Greek yogurt to the top of each pan-fried watermelon slice. Break the walnuts into small pieces and sprinkle on top! Best served warm.

Recipe inspired by Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen 

I cook, I create, I’m incredibly excited by what I do, I’ve still got a lot to achieve. – Gordon Ramsay

Zucchini Bread

When I was younger, my grandfather had a large garden he tended to in our backyard. Each summer he would build towers of tomatoes, hills of zucchinis, and poles of beans.  Our house was plopped on a bit of land, which encompassed a lawn and a wooden back lot complete with a bridge and a small creek. Our summers were spend fishing for crawdads with bits of luncheon meat tied onto make-shift poles. My father would fasten fishing hooks onto  lengths of fishing wire and would tie each string to a stick, found in the nearby wooden area. After catching the crimson red creatures, we would release them; watching as they scooted away with their strong tails.

[L:R] Myself, My Grandfather, and my little sister Hayley

[L:R] Myself, My Grandfather, and my little sister Hayley

Crossing the red bridge my father rebuilt and painted, led to a stoned path filled with the remains of our home’s old concrete patio. Each step lead us closer to the perfumed garden, an oasis filled with juicy fruit. After opening the hinged gate, I would plop myself underneath the tomato plants and lie between the green arms and the fruit. ( Fruit, Vegetable, what is a tomato anyways?) I can still remember the scent of fresh tomato filling my nostrils, seeping into my lungs and humming about.

The zucchinis were my grandfather’s prized possession. These hefty summer squashes weighed in three times the average weight of ones found in the local grocery store. My mother made zucchini bread frequently with the surplus, even adding chocolate chips for an added surprise.

Bite

I decided to bake my zucchini bread following The Betty Crocker Cookbook . Although this is not the exact recipe my mother used to make, it comes pretty close.

Zucchini Bread

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: Easy
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3 cups shredded zucchini (2 to 3 medium)
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups  all-purpose or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts, if desired
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips, if desired

Instructions

 

  • Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 (8×4-inch) loaf pans or 1 (9×5-inch) loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.
  • In large bowl, stir zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until well mixed. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts and raisins. Stir in nuts and raisins. Divide batter evenly between 8-inch pans or pour into 9-inch pan.
  • Bake 8-inch loaves 50 to 60 minutes, 9-inch loaf 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on cooling rack 10 minutes.
  • Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on cooling rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

 

Recipe inspired by “Betty Crocker Cookbook

 

Don’t you love the lighting on this shot? I thought it was so interesting! Trying out new stuff, still working out how to photograph food with good lighting! 

Goals as a Writer: My Life 5-10 years in the Future

For one of my final assignments in my Theory of Creative Writing Class, I was asked to write out a list of goals I would like to achieve within the next five years. It’s a daunting task — I barely know what I am going to eat for my next meal, and yet I should have my life planned out for the next five to ten years. Anywho, I have an idea of where I  would like to end up, and how I started as a “writer” ( When does one become a writer? I struggled with the title Chef  when I was in Culinary School. I didn’t consider myself a chef, but when would I consider myself one? When is that moment a person transforms from home-cook to chef?)

High School Culinary Competition Team

High School Culinary Competition Team

To understand the person I want to become, I must look back at the person I was. When I was younger, I knew I was going to be a chef. The crisp white jacket, the sharp pleat in my hen’s tooth pants — A standard uniform I was destined to wear. After graduating culinary school, and working in the field for a few years, I decided I wanted to discover a different side of the culinary world. The side that I would constantly look to for inspiration and entertainment; cookbooks, blogs, newspapers, magazines. I realized who I really wanted to become.

Competing in the Semi- Finals of the ACF Student Chef of the Year Competition in Reno, NV

Competing in the Semi- Finals of the ACF Student Chef of the Year Competition in Reno, NV

I hope to accomplish a lot in the next five years. I have about a year and a half of school, then I am released into Corporate America to fend for myself. With a pen in my grasp, I plan to unearth the culinary knowledge and explain to the people why I am in love with food; the taste, the smell, the texture. From a creative perspective I can entice the reader to fall in love with the lettuce, or second guess their relations with brussels sprouts. I hope to work for a food publication company as a food writer. To write articles based on topics I found interesting, and hold knowledge of. It’s funny, people always cock their eyebrows to the side, “Huh.” they question, “That’s different.” Yes, it is different, but it’s what I want to do. And I learned to never stop following your dreams, even if they seem unusual.

 

I was required to include a list of 10 goals I hold for the future. Here is my tentative list:

  1. I plan to Intern at Food Network in the Magazine department in New York City
  2. Travel to Italy and experience the culture
  3. Volunteer with a writing organization
  4. Attend seminars and writing workshops
  5. Submit articles to various magazines
  6. Continue taking classes in writing after college, even if its brushing up from videos on YouTube
  7. Keep a journal with me, so I can write about my daily thoughts.
  8. Start a family. It’s ten years in the future– isn’t it?
  9. Travel around the United States – East coast mostly, I’ve already discovered the West.
  10. Take cooking classes to freshen up. I can’t write about cooking if I’m not cooking!

I was also required to write down 5 projects I plan on completing within the next 5 years:

  1. A collection of essays about my family life and myself.
  2. A successful cooking blog to record my experiences – I am currently working on one right now, but it’s in the beginning stages.
  3. The beginning of a food memoir
  4. Articles in magazines
  5. A journal to keep daily notes. I start these, all excited, then forget about them within a week.

 

And 3 possible career paths:

  1. Food Editor
  2. Writer for food show — i.e. “Good Eats”
  3. Test Cook — These people research recipes, write articles, and publish cookbooks

 

This assignment allowed me to sit back and ponder the new path I have chosen. If asked 5 years ago what I wanted to be, I would have answered, “Head Chef” or “Restaurant Owner”. It’s funny how people change. And one piece of advice: Allow the change.  Throw your head back in the wind, and take it all in.

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. – George Bernard Shaw 

Mongolian Fondue

Wow, I need a job that lets me devote my time to my website! I’m always so busy running around, its outrageous! The first of my summer classes are winding down, and hopefully I’ll have some more time to devote to this blog. Slowly, I am cooking up meals from my cookbooks, but it feels like I’ve been slacking!

This week, a friend from Oregon is visiting my sister and I. We haven’t seen her for two years, and we are enjoying the time we are spending with her. Yesterday we showed her around EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. It was rainy, but we persevered and fought the crowds to make magic memories. There is a new quick-service option in the French Pavilion which we ate lunch at. It was very good, and economical. I got a sandwich for $4! One of the cheapest Disney lunches I’ve ever had!

Onward to the recipe….

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I was looking through “The Taste of Home Cookbook” and stumbled upon a fun fondue recipe I just had to try. Throughout the year my family brings out our fondue pot and enjoys a fun evening of interactive dining. It’s fun– plain and simple. It’s like when you brought out your easy-bake oven and prepared those powdered packets. How was this suppose to be a cake? I would wonder in awe. After waiting the amount of time it takes for a lightbulb to cook my meal, I ate my food with gusto–only because I personally created it.

 

I find the same to be with both children and adults alike. If we personally slave away in front of a stove–gosh darn it, I’m going to enjoy that meal. I learned how to enjoy food by immersing myself into the cooking process. So here’s a tip– If a loved one will not eat broccoli/brussels sprouts/ tuna/ ect. , let them prepare ( or help prepare0 the meal.

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This fondue recipe is simple to make, and allows for great customizations.

Mongolian Fondue

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients 

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
1 cup sliced carrots (1/4 inch thick)
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) beef broth
1 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot
2 pounds boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into 2-1/2-inch x 1/4-inch strips
3 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 each medium sweet red, yellow and green pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 to 2 cups whole fresh mushrooms
1 cup cubed red onion (1-inch pieces)
1 jar (7 ounces) hoisin sauce

Directions

1.In a saucepan, combine the soy sauce, water, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon garlic; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2.In a small saucepan, cook carrots in a small amount of water for 3minutes or until crisp-tender; drain and pat dry. In a saucepan, bring the broth, ginger and remaining garlic to a boil. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm. Pat steak, turkey and shrimp dry with paper towels.

3.Use fondue forks to cook beef to desired doneness.Cook vegetables until they reach desired doneness. Serve with hoisin sauce, mustard sauce and reserved garlic-soy sauce.

Serve with Steamed Rice

Recipe inspired by “The Taste of Home Cookbook”

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A man fails seven times and rises eight times. – Mongolian Proverb

Honey Crunch Cake

A week or so ago, my father was on television. About a few years ago, my father’s company, Qubits, was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank and it’s first re-run was shown on CNBC. We were so excited for a re-run that we invited friends and neighbors over to watch the show with us. I obviously needed to make something, and I decided to make a cake out of some new 8 inch wilton pans I bought at Michael’s.

When I was in culinary school, I applied for a culinary internship at Walt Disney World. On my twentieth birthday, as I was working in the school’s restaurant, my parents surprised me with my acceptance letter. I was working the grill station, which meant cooking the steaks and the fish. We were a small restaurant, with local roots and a small selection of delicious dishes. We were very affordable (It was run completely by students, and the tips went directly to scholarships.) and usually packed a full house. It was my last semester at the school, with my graduation just over the horizon in May.

My parents tapped on the glass window of the open kitchen, and I was surprised to see them. That’s when they handed me an envelope and asked me to open it. I screamed with joy, and all of the guests in the restaurant looked up from their meals.

When I got home that evening, my birthday gifts were all disney related, and one of my favorites was a Disney Dessert Cookbook. “Delicious Disney Desserts” by Pam Brandon.

cake type

I decided to try out the recipe from The California Grill located in the Contemporary Resort. This fun restaurant boasts the best firework viewing dinner options, with a view over the lagoon. I worked in the resort for a short time at Chef Mickey’s , but I never got the chance to eat at the California Grill.

This cake is easy to prepare ahead of time, especially the honey crunch topping. It took me two tries because I wasn’t watching the caramel close enough. Make sure your candy thermometer reader  reaches the  candy, otherwise you will burn the topping.

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I made the cake in advance, sliced the layers, and froze the cake in plastic wrap until I frosted them. I made the whipped cream frosting just before serving.

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Honey Crunch Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Sponge Cake
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Honey Crunch
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons each: water and corn syrup
2 1/4 teaspoons sifted baking soda

Honey Simple Syrup
1/2 cup each: water and sugar
2 teaspoons honey

Honey Whipped Cream
3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
5 tablespoons honey

1. For cake, heat oven to 375 F. Combine milk and butter in pan on low heat, stirring, until butter melts. Remove from heat. Mix flour and baking powder. In bowl, whip eggs to break up. Whip in salt. Gradually add sugar, whipping until mixture lightens. Add extracts. Gently whip in milk and butter mixture. Fold in flour mixture in 4 additions, mixing until smooth after each addition. Pour into buttered and flour-dusted 9-inch pan. (Line with buttered parchment paper, if desired.) Bake 15-20 minutes.

2. For crunch, combine water, sugar and corn syrup in pan. When temperature reaches 310 F, whisk in sifted baking soda. Turn off heat.
Let mixture rise up without stirring. Pour onto a Silpat mat. Cool completely. Break into pieces; store in airtight container.

3. For syrup, bring water and sugar to boil. While still warm, whisk in honey. Refrigerate.

4. For cream, whip cream and sugar on medium 2 minutes. Add honey.
Increase speed. Whip to medium soft peaks.

5. Cut cake in half. Drizzle bottom layer with syrup. Spread whipped cream on bottom layer. Arrange honey crunch on whipped cream and press into cream. Spread with a little more whipped cream. Set on top layer.
Drizzle syrup on top layer. Frost top and sides with remaining whipped cream. Keep cake in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with remaining honey crunch.

 

Recipe inspired by “Delicious Disney Desserts”

 It’s kind of fun to do the impossible – Walt Disney