Salted Caramel Apple Macarons

When the thermometer hits below 75, you know it’s autumn in Central Florida! I’ve been extremely busy with school these past few weeks. I am loving all of my classes– my women’s literature course in particular– and I barely have time to read or write on my own! Right now I am averaging a novel and a half per week for homework, and lots of writing assignments ranging from: a critical analysis of Shakespeare to writing a script for a short film. Working two jobs on the side doesn’t help either with my lack extra time.

A month or so ago, my mother, sister, and I decided to start a book club with our friends. Our first book is a Mother/ Daughter memoir about their travels in Europe. Cute, yes?

It was horrible. I could not get through the first one hundred pages without fighting the urge to shove the book into the toilet. Yes, it’s that bad.

The writing is unbelievable, the author goes on and on about how her child, aged eight years old mind you, is frolicking around Europe enjoying all the museums and churches. I call B.S. At the age I am now, I can appreciate beautiful architect and amazing works of art. But at 8 years old? Come on. I would have preferred a trip to the park or the zoo. Sometimes I still prefer a trip to the park or zoo.

(On a side-note, my family actually visits zoos quite frequently. We try to visit one in new cities/countries. The Paris Menagerie is fantastic, their monkey exhibit is so clean!)

DSC_0013Anyways, I thought in keeping with the theme of the book, “We’ll Always Have Paris” , I thought what better way to bash a rotten book than to eat yummy parisian treats and sip fine wine.

I saw this recipe on  The Blond Buckeye this morning and I had all of the ingredients in my pantry (Shocker!) I really wanted to use little lollipop sticks to hold the macarons up, like caramel apples, but those were not in my pantry. Sadly.

 

Salted Caramel Apple Macarons

  • Servings: 30 Cookies
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Ingredients
  • FOR THE SHELLS:
  • 110 grams Blanched Slivered Almonds (or almond meal)
  • 200 grams Powdered Sugar
  • 90 grams Egg Whites (at room temperature)
  • 30 grams Granulated Sugar
  • 10 grams Cinnamon
  • 5 grams nutmeg
  • Brown Food Coloring Gel or Powder
  • 10 grams dehydrated cinnamon apples (Optional)
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar (plus more if needed)
  • ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider (plus more if needed)
  • Sea Salt Flakes
  • FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ cup Water
  • ¾ cup Heavy Cream
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla
  1. FOR THE SHELLS:
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (double up sheets if needed).
  3. Process almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor until blended into a fine powder. Sift mixture into a large mixing bowl, add cinnamon and nutmeg & set aside.
  4. Combine egg whites & granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip egg whites & sugar until stiff peaks, adding a little drop of the food coloring during about the last minute of beating the egg whites to make a tan color.
  5. Add the dry mixture into the egg whites.
  6. Using a spatula, smash dry ingredient into the egg white, flattening mixture (use about 5-10 quick strokes to release the air). Then fold mixture onto itself until it becomes shiny again (another 30-40 strokes). When you lift up the spatula, there should be solid, thick ribbons that run off (this whole macaronage process should take no more than about 50 strokes).
  7. Transfer the batter to a large piping bag
  8. Chop the dehydrated apples into a fine mince. You may use a food processor for a finer flake.
  9. Using circle guides or freehand, pipe about 1¼” circles onto the prepared baking sheets (they will spread to about 1½”), keeping them at least 1-2″ apart to allow for spreading. Do this same method for the second baking sheet.
  10. Holding each end of the baking sheet, give it a good slam on the counter. Rotate the pan & give it another few slams to release any air bubbles that remain.
  11. Sprinkle the minced apples on the macarons.
  12. Let the macs sit out for 30 minutes before baking to form a dry shell on the tops to prevent cracking. ( I let mine sit for 45 in the humid heat)
  13. Preheat the oven to 315 degrees F.
  14. Bake each sheet, one at a time, for about 15-16 minutes (depending on size), rotating the pan once halfway through. Once they’re ready, carefully test one by attempting to lift it off the baking sheet. If the top half starts to come off from the feet, it could use a few more minutes.
  15. Remove the sheet from the oven & place it on a cooling rack, allowing the cookies to cool before removing them. Once they are cooled, match up macarons in pairs that are about the same size, one face down & one up.
  16. FOR THE FILLING:
  17. Beat the butter on medium-high speed for 2 minutes with an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, until soft & fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time until combined (carefully incorporate). Mix in the cinnamon and the apple cider. Continue to beat on medium for another 1-2 minutes (Add up to a ½ cup more sugar if too thin or a little more juice if too thick).
  18. FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE
  19. Combine the sugar and water into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (go with a larger size than needed, as the mixture bubbles up quite a bit when cooking). Heat pan over medium-low heat, continuously stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  20. Once sugar is dissolved, turn heat up to medium-high heat. Let the mixture boil without stirring at all. Allow the mixture to boil. If sugar sticks to the side of the pan, use a pastry brush to remove, but do not stir the mixture
  21. .Lower the temperature slightly and swirl the pan to mix. Continue to boil until mixture starts to turn a deep amber color. Be very careful not to burn it (if you undercook it, you can always put it back in a pan & cook it more until it thickens to the consistency you want).
  22. Remove mixture from the heat & immediately whisk in the cream, salt, vanilla and butter, being very careful not to splash. Stir until completely mixed and smooth.
  23. Allow the caramel to cool for about 10-20 minutes, then transfer into a storage dish
  24. Pipe a circle of the frosting around the edge the cookie that’s facing up. Next add a dab of the caramel in the center of the circle, topped with a little sprinkle of sea salt. Sandwich the halves together, pushing the filling to the edges.

This recipe was inspired by The Blond Buckeye

IMG_4472 I was really proud of this sexy jar of caramel sauce. Last time I made caramel, I looked away for a few seconds and it burnt. I hate the taste of burnt caramel!
IMG_4475As I was cooking these macarons in our new oven–well new to us– I almost started crying tears of joy. Just look at the feet! ( For anyone who don’t know, the “feet” on a macaron makes the macaron. A footless macaron is just a sad cookie.)
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I will be making a few more parisian treats tomorrow, since the book club is on thursday. Thankfully these little beauties stay fresh in the freezer!
lyndsay paige
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50 Shades of Chicken

As many of you know: I own a ton of cookbooks. { See cookbook challenge here}. One of my favorites was given to me last Christmas by my friend Dom. I had just finished reading “50 Shades of Grey” (More on that later), and was really excited when I unwrapped the book “Fifty Shades of Chicken” Not only does is include 50 mouth-watering chicken dishes, it is so much fun to read! Some of the intros to the recipes just kill me!

Penned by FL Fowler (so punny) Fifty Shades of Chicken evokes readers to submit themselves over to their love of the chicken. As the chicken poses nude (Gasp!) It’s owner performs different recipes on it like: Popped-Cherry Pullet, Extra-Virgin Breasts, and Thighs spread wide. I kid you not, I was laughing out loud when I read the names of the recipes. This is not a family cookbook.

I read 50 Shades of Grey a few months ago, and truthfully, I do not see what all the hype was about. I felt very on-edge the entire time I read the book, like I was being possessed by a male figure. At the time, I was in a rotten relationship, and he was very possessive of me. He felt the need to always be with me, and only with me. I felt indifferent. I had a family , and other friends to tend to. I consider myself to be an independent individual; a woman who can fend for herself if she needs to. An educated woman with a flourishing path filled with dreams and aspirations. He wanted to settle down, and I wanted to run free. It didn’t last long, but the relationship taught me about myself, and what I wanted. So when I read 50 Shades, and I hated the character, Christian. So did I really foresee in this book the beginning of the end of my relationship? I’ll never know.

All I know for sure is, “50 Shades of Grey” has finally released it’s movie trailer:

Will I see this in theaters? Probably.

I’ve made a couple of recipes from the book already, and I finally photographed the product semi-profesh. The lighting was finally on my side ( We ate dinner at a normal hour, compared to our usual dinner time of 9 pm) and I am getting better at finding angles. Any suggestions regarding photography would be appreciated.

“Into the bowl” he commands, ripping a sheet from a packet of foil. “I don’t do vanilla. I’ve never done vanilla. But tonight we’re doing vanilla.” — 50 Shades of Chicken, page 16

Just reading it makes me blush.

I was really excited to use this recipe because I had everything already in the house. I paired this meal with steamed baby potatoes and garlic scented kale.50 Shades of Chicken

 Doesn’t that bird look absolutely appetizing?!

Roast Chicken with Brandy-Vanilla Butter

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

4 Tablespoons Butter, softened

1 Tablespoon Brandy

2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 teaspoons Sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 (31/2-4 lb) Chicken, patted dry with paper towels.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to a hot 400’f. In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, brandy, vanilla, sugar, salt, and pepper. The mixture will look curdled, but whisk farther and it will come together.
  2. Slap the mixture on the chicken and massage the butter into the crevices. Do not forget to add some of the butter into the body cavity.
  3. Place the chicken on a roasting rack, or roasting pan and cook until thigh juices run clear. This took about 1 hour and 20 minutes for me. Take out of the oven, and let the chicken rest for ten minutes before devouring.

This recipe was provided by 50 Shades of Chicken. FL Fowler. 2012 Clarkson Potter. 

 

Instead of Vanilla extract, I chose to use vanilla bean paste, which added a richer flavor; plus it contains those attractive vanilla seeds. Vanilla Bean Paste

I also opted to use Brady I had gotten on my trip to Paris. I love how the bottle is in the shape of the Eiffel Tower!

Brandy

Overall, the recipe itself is relatively easy; perfect for a date night with a significant other. 

 

My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five year old — E.L. James, 50 Shades of Grey

lyndsay paige

When Goals do not go as Planned

Two years ago, on July 10th 2012, You would have found me in a long winding line at the casting office at Walt Disney World, awaiting my fate. I cannot believe it’s already been two years since my Culinary Internship experience at Walt Disney World, because it seems like it was just yesterday I was meeting my new roommates, and training at my new job.

I had learned about the program during my high school culinary classes. During our senior year, we were required to present a report regarding a secondary learning institution regarding culinary arts. I was hooked when I read through the brochures and surfed the web, deciphering all the information I could find. I created a goal for myself: That I was going to intern at Walt Disney World.

A week after my high school graduation I started attending summer classes at Cascade Culinary Institute– a school I would earn my degree from two years later. I signed up for a wedding cake decorating course and fell instantly in love with my school. Our small class sizes promoted one-on-one peer and instructor learning. I became friends with my teachers and my fellow classmates quite easily; each class was four hours long, four days a week for a month and a half. I loved my culinary school with such vigor, I applied myself to extra activities such as: social media director of the junior ACF club , and an active participant in various competitions. I had a plan since high school: Graduate culinary school and intern at Disney.

Student Chef

ACF Student Chef of the Year 2012

One truth I have to share with culinary students looking to apply to Disney: 9/10 participates do not work in fine dining. You know, the dining that was stuffed into our brains during our stay at culinary school. I worked in my school’s restaurant for two years, and was nominated as a student chef of the year by the ACF in 2012. I was one of the four students to be given this recognition of the western thirteen states. I was beyond excited to work in a restaurant at disney, working on the line and prepping for fantastic chefs. Instead I told them I would be open to work with quick-service. I just wanted to make a good impression and get to Disney. When I heard I was working in quick-service, I was devastated. I knew I wouldn’t be working at a fun, fancy restaurant, but at least I was still at Disney.

When my family and I had moved down to Florida from Oregon, my grandfather had been living here for a few months, soaking up the sun and flirting with all the ladies. A few weeks into my program, my grandfather passed away. My grandfather was my culinary hero; he taught me how to make caesar salad from scratch ( with anchovies!) and crepes. We would sit together and watch the food network together, while flipping through the pages of Cooks Illustrated. I miss him dearly. It’s still surreal when we receive mail to his name; like he’s on a long vacation.

I worked at All-Stars for a month and a half diligently, making burgers and baking muffins. I was surprised to find out I was selected to work at Epcot for their food and wine festival. I was completely overjoyed. I had met friends at All-Stars, but I was never challenged food-wise. I was challenged everyday production wise — breading 2 cases of chicken breast a night in an hour– but I never left work feeling fulfilled in the terms of making a great dish.

I started out working in Epcot in the country’s booths. During our orientation however, I got severely dehydrated and overheated from standing in the direct heat. I still wasn’t used to the florida weather compared to that of Oregon. A few days later I was working and it happened again. I kept getting tunnel vision, and would break out in severe sweats. This job was making me sick, and I wound up seeing a doctor, who advised me to seek a different job setting. I called the head chef and set up a meeting, and was thankful he saw potential in me to continue working. They placed me in the production kitchen (air-conditioned!) and I found my new calling; this is where I needed to be.

Rock Harper The production kitchen produced all of the food and drinks for the food and wine festival. It also ran the celebrity chef parties on certain nights. I was in heaven. I met friends, and challenged myself daily making new recipes and preparing a wide variety of dishes. I met some great people, and awed at the celebrity chefs who visited. Some friendly, ( Michael Voltaggio is a babe!) and some not so friendly (Andrew Zimmern was so rude!). Earlier in the year I had met Rock Harper, Hell’s Kitchen winner, at my student chef of the year competition. He had told me he was working at Epcot for a party and to get in contact with him during that time. I got to work with him during a “Taste of the Senses” party, which happened to be a huge highlight of the program for me.

After the food and wine festival was over, I was sent to Chef Mickey’s to work the buffet line. My entire schedule had changed to mornings, where my food and wine schedule for the past months had been late night shifts. My friends had left. My new boyfriend was moving back home. I spiraled into a depression and I terrified myself one night, sitting in my room contemplating what to do with my life. I called up my parents crying and went home for a few days to recuperate. I decided my time at disney had been fulfilled, and that I would no longer benefit anything from working at Chef Mickeys. I was in a dark place, and I always have pulls of regret not finishing my program fully. Most programs are 3-4 months, however my program was to last 9 months. I lasted 5 months before I quit my time short. I spend the day with my family at Animal Kingdom and moved out the next day. I became isolated from my other friends that were still on their programs for another three weeks — mainly my roommates whom I never got to spend enough time with. We had completely different schedules and I feel like I had different goals during this program than they did. I looked at the program as my career first, fun second. I was trying to grow up faster than I needed to. I pressured myself to be the best, and was let down when I looked upon as a failure when I quit, even when I needed to for my mental well-being. Although that depression took a little while to let go of, I finally got rid of it when I started back at school. I knew my education was not done yet, and I guess this was the universe telling me to further my education and go to a University; a school that I had never even thought I could attend because of anxiety problems.

Looking back now, I would have never been where I am now if it wasn’t for the Disney Culinary Program. I would have never moved to Florida, and I would have never taken a few months off to reevaluate my life goal. I began writing about my experiences and felt happy when I finished reading a great story, or wrote a fun article.

Today I am happy; which means the world to me. I am pursuing a different goal, a goal which suits me better both mentally and physically. I can challenge myself with words and phrases, making the story the best it can be. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.” And by pursuing new goals, I am happy.

lyndsay paige

June Reading

 

I love to read. When I get hooked into a book, I can sit in the same spot for hours immersed in the altered reality the book provides for me. Here are the books I read in June.

june books

 

-12 Years a Slave-

I borrowed this book from the University library one day while I was browsing their general section. I have yet to see the movie, but I am assuming it is as heart-breaking as the book. This gut-renching tale is of a free man getting sold to slavery in the 1800’s.

According to Goodreads: “Solomon Northup was a free-born African American from Saratoga Springs, New York. He is noted for having been kidnapped in 1841 when enticed with a job offer. When he accompanied his supposed employers to Washington, DC, they drugged him and sold him into slavery. From Washington, DC, he was transported to New Orleans where he was sold to a plantation owner from Rapides Parish, Louisiana. After 12 years in bondage, he regained his freedom in January 1853”

At some points, the written language of the book is confusing to read, but it adds an authenticity to the memoir.

Last summer, I visited a plantation in North Carolina, and walked along the same dirt paths as they had. It was an emotional experience, and I suggest its one everyone should experience.

 

-Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief-

This is my current Textbook for my Creative Writing course. It provides great examples and concrete terms to guide the reader through the text.

According to Goodreads: “How can students with widely varied levels of literary experience learn to write poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and drama — over the course of only one semester? In Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief, David Starkey offers some solutions to the challenges of teaching the introductory creative writing course: (1) concise, accessible instruction in literary basics; (2) short models of literature to analyze, admire and emulate; (3) inventive and imaginative assignments that inspire and motivate”

I like the ideas the textbook provide; ideas to brainstorm ideas, to methods to write poetry.

 

-Gone Girl-

THIS BOOK WAS FANTASTIC. This physiological thriller was glued to my hands; I could not put it down. My sister is currently finishing this book up. Hayley can you read it faster so we can gossip about the characters!? 

According to Goodreads:On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?”

As a Goodreads 2012 Choice, It’s a prize-winning book full of thought provoking commentary on the psychology  of relationships — and how much you know your partner.

I heard some gossip that this novel is in the works of becoming a film, and low-and-behold there is a preview! Enjoy:

 

I do hope this movie adds up to the emotional outpour of the novel. Although all book lovers know: The books is always better than the movie. 

 

-On Writing-

This was one of my required readings for my Theory of Creative Writing Class during the first 5 weeks of my summer classes. I had read only one of Stephen King’s books : 11/22/63, and loved his style of writing. Although lengthy — 11/22/63 contained over 600 pages, I flew through the story enjoying the writing and the character development.

This book, however was a memoir and writing class all bundled into one. I learned the struggles King endured, and the persistence he had to publish his writing.

According to Goodreads:Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 — and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, “On Writing” will empower and entertain everyone who reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told

I’ll be posting soon an update of my July books soon. I haven’t gone to the library in a few days, and I’m itching to pick up another novel. I am open to  suggestions, and would love to hear your favorite summer reads.

lyndsay paige

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 

Strawberry Peach Cobbler

Hoppy Easter Everyone!

Yesterday I spent the day with my family hunting easter eggs and cooking a storm in the kitchen. The youngest child in my family is turning 19 soon, but that didn’t stop the mayhem which endured as we were let free to search for eggs. My brother slipped on the tile floor as plastic eggs rolled out of his basket. The cats flew in all directions when we came stampeding through the living room.  In the morning, we had discovered an empty dish washer detergent box, and a pile of dishes from the night before. The kitchen was a mess, and I added to the mountain in the sink with various dishes for our supper. Fortunately, this dish requires only 1 bowl, and the cooking vessel, making this dish super easy.

 

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I am Malala

This past week I have been reading, “I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai, and Christina Lamb. I was intrigued by her message of education and self-sacrifice for women’s rights.

As a girl, Malala followed her father’s footsteps in fighting for equal rights in education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Malala was shot by the Taliban. Before reading this book, I had very little education about the Taliban and the limitations women have in Pakistan. This book opened my eyes to the problems we have in our world. The cruelty that these people face on a daily basis is mind boggling.

Malala is a hero. As one of the youngest nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize, I believe more young girls should learn about her and look up to her as a role-model. As Americans we take education for granted, and cut vital funding each year. We must all learn from Malala and stand for the purpose of education.

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