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 

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Chicken Piccata

I know, I know, it’s been  a while! I am taking two accelerated classes right now, one being Humanistic Traditions, and the other, Theory of Creative Writing. I am loving my writing class, and my professor is amazing. I’ve written more creative stories in these past weeks than I have in high school. I find myself writing about topics deeper than I had ever imagined. Characters dealing with conflicts which are both intriguing, and outside of my comfort zone.

That being said, I made this for dinner a while ago—and I mean weeks ago— I am finally going to post the recipe and photo.
I found this book in a thrift store a few years ago, and I am sad to say I have never dove into the book until today. “I’m Just Here For The Food” was one of Alton Brown’s first cookbooks. Written over twelve years ago, Alton explores the cuisine with illustrations, scientific analogies, and of course, his likable humor.

Believe it or not, Chicken Piccata is actually a braised dish. Originating in Italy, Piccata means “sharp” , referring to the sharp and tangy caper sauce which accompanies the chicken. The chicken is pan-fried to create a crisp exterior, then finished by simmering in a sauce. When I was younger, my grandfather used to make this dish all the time for me.

piccata

Chicken Piccata

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

2 boneless chicken breasts, cut in half 
Kosher salt 
Freshly ground black pepper 
Flour for dredging plus 1 teaspoon 
2 tablespoons canola oil 
3 tablespoons butter 
1/2 yellow onion, chopped 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
6 scallions, chopped 
1/3 to 1/2 cup sweet vermouth, sherry or white wine 
Juice of 1 large lemon 
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and lightly crushed 
2 tablespoons chopped parsley 
1 lemon, sliced thinly 

Place the chicken breasts, one at a time, on a sheet of plastic wrap; fold the wrap over to cover. Using the mallet, pound each breast to uniform thickness of 1/4-inch. Season the chicken liberally with the salt and pepper, dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess. 

In a heavy skillet just big enough to hold all the chicken, heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. When the oil and butter stop sizzling, add the chicken and cook, turning once, until just brown on both sides. Remove the chicken to a plate. Pour off any grease from the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. 

Add the onion to the skillet and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and the scallions and saute 1 more minute. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the flour over the vegetables and toss to combine. 

Deglaze the pan with the vermouth and lemon juice. Add the capers and toss to combine. Return the chicken to the pan, cover, and reduce heat to low, simmering until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. The sauce should cling to the meat.

Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, and serve on warm platter garnished with the parsley and lemon slices.

 

Recipe inspired by “I’m Just Here For The Food”

“Then maybe I’ll be able to snatch a pebble from Julia Child’s hand” – Alton Brown

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Good Eats – The Early Years

I have decided to start a Cookbook Challenge! In terms of the challenge I want to practice my food blogging. I want to become a better photographer, and convey the recipes in a friendly tone.

To start off, I thought “The Early Years” would be a perfect stepping off point for my new endeavor. I saw Alton Brown’s stage tour a month ago, and I have been itching to get into the kitchen more.

good eats

Macaroni and Cheese

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 T butter, melted
  • 1/2 Cup Breadcrumbs

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350′ F

Boil water with a pinch of salt. Add noodles and cook until al dente. Drain pasta.

In saucepan, melt butter and sauté onion until translucent over med-low heat. Add flour and whisk roux for 3 minutes. Add mustard, paprika, and nutmeg. Slowly whisk in milk. Simmer until thick, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat

In bowl, whisk egg. Add a stream of heated milk into the egg. Whisk and incorporate egg back into saucepan. This is called tempering. Add cheese and stir. Add pasta and coat with sauce.

Pour the macaroni and sauce into a 13X9 in. pan.

Mix together melted butter and breadcrumbs. Top Macaroni with mixture.

Cook in oven for 30 minutes, or until browned.(Alton Browned?)

This recipe was derived from Good Eats : The Early Years by Alton Brown

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Do not allow watching food to replace making food. – Alton Brown

Or in my case. Do not allow reading about food replace the making of food.

Eat Your Science

IMG_2891I had the best time with my family this weekend. A few months ago, I was scrolling on my endless facebook feed where out of nowhere a wild Alton appeared; Alton brown that is. He was performing a show in Tampa and I jumped at the chance for tickets. Originally my mother and I were going to go up on Saturday, spend the night, and come home sunday. My family was free, so we decided to make a weekend trip out of it.

On Friday morning we started our trek towards Tampa. Nearing Disney, we hit an unbelievable amount of traffic. The highway was a parking lot filled with families on their spring break. After a few hours, we arrived in Tampa and decided we had a few hours to kill so we headed over to the beach. More traffic ensued, and the weather took a turn. I was fighting a sinus cold, and covered myself with blankets while other beach-goers frolicked in the gulf. After taking a nap on the beach and collecting beautiful shells, we drove back to tampa and my mother and I got dropped off at the theater.

IMG_2832The Straz Center of the Performing Arts is a beautiful building filled with restaurants, bars, and multiple stages. Walking into the elaborate building, I spot the merchandise table and hone in on my prey. I see “Good Eats 3 – The Later Years” the last cookbook of the collection. I decide to buy the book and low and behold, it’s autographed. I was as giddy as a young school girl who had a crush on the upperclassmen.

I’m like a really goofy home ec teacher.

– Alton Brown

IMG_2840After seating ourselves, both my mother and I were in awe of the demographics of the theater. Young or old, everyone here loved the entertaining foodie. His acts consisted of musical numbers, culinary demonstrations, and a lecture on both his personal experiences and professional knowledge of the culinary arts. I was in love. The charisma and the knowledge Alton Brown possesses makes my knees weak. Did you know he could play the guitar, the saxophone, and sing?! Plus he is extremely smart?!

At points in the show, he asked for volunteers. Although I was not picked, I do believe this is how it would have ensued:

Alton: Why hello there! Would you like to help me show the audience how to make pizza?

I would nod modestly, and ask him if he’d heard the joke about the pizza.

A: No? I haven’t.

Me: Oh sorry, it’s too cheesy. Grins uncontrollably.

A: HAHA. Boy you are funny. Can you toss this pizza dough for me?

Me: Throws dough into the air almost twenty feet high. While the dough floats gracefully I do backflips in place.

A: Wow is there anything you can’t do?

Me: Model men’s underwear.

Alton giggles sheepishly as he puts the perfect pizza into the handcrafted easy-bake oven. 

A: Wow you really know your culinary knowledge. How about you come to Atlanta and work for my show as a writer?

Me: Dies

The medics surround the stage and electroshock my heart with the heat from the pizza. The pizza has saved my life. 

But alas, that did not happen. Instead a drunken lady stuck her dirty fingers in the dough and almost burnt the stage to a crisp.

Very good cooks who are employed as ‘chefs’ rarely refer to themselves as ‘chefs.’ They refer to themselves as ‘cooks.’ – Alton Brown

IMG_2833I should have, I could have, and would have. I’ll never stop trying to achieve my dreams, even if they are only a figment of my imagination. Alton’s quote above really hits home for me. Although I have training, I would never categorize myself as a chef. So who is a chef? What is that “Aha” moment when you graduate from cook to a chef? Time will only tell. For now, I guess I’ll have to make my recipes from my new cookbook as a cook, and aspire to become a full-fledged chef.