Saturday, January 5, 2013


It has been five days since my last blog post and I miss it already.  I thought about starting a new blog, but I think it is time to return to the one that started it all.  It does feel a little odd and unfamiliar to return to "Out of the Cave," but I'm sure it will feel like home again soon.

I've been doing a lot of thinking today about my book I want to write.  I'm still struggling to focus on exactly which topic I want to write about.  I came up with a new idea today.  I was thinking that I could write a book about independent travel.  It would be a how-to mixed with personal stories.  Then again, it has been done before.

My other thoughts include a piece about Parisians through the people.  I would have conversations with and interview different Parisians and bring their stories together to create a book.  

The final idea is my Neighborhood MosaicBasically it looks at Paris through the character of its neighborhoods.  I am struggling right now to continue with this idea because I'm not sure how I want to write it.  I've started writing it as anecdotes, but I think I need to take myself out of the book.   It makes me nervous to be uncertain so early in this process, but I suppose the only thing that makes a difference between a writer and a dreamer is the writer pushes through.  

I also wonder if my travels abroad will bring some inspiration that I cannot see yet.  My high school humanities teacher said that inspiration is crap.  He mostly meant that having an inspired idea and everything working out perfectly is crap.  It doesn't mean that to everyone, but now when I say the word, that is what comes to mind.  For now, I will worry about improving my writing and learning more about the whole process. 

I have been loading some of my travel videos to youtube if you are interested in checking them out.  They are not polished or of any kind of quality, but they are there for now.  Here is the link.

Monday, February 13, 2012


I feel bad because I have neglected this blog lately with the time consumed by my reclaiming experience blog.  I have truly enjoyed writing in that blog, but this one still has its place.  I stayed home sick today, so I have found a lot of time to sit around and think.  I even watched Downton Abbey again.  As I watch the show, I envy the characters.  Although they are going through terrible troubles, I love Sybil and Branson's story.  What it must be like to be so admired...  It makes me feel like my life is so uninteresting and I have lost some of my passion.  This is evident in my teaching.  I guess reality does this to people.

But the truth is, I don't want to lose my passion.  I think I have to keep developing it.  I've been in such a rut where I haven't really tried anything new and I haven't met any new people.  I want to change that.  When I move (wherever it is), these are the things I want to do:
-Take photography classes
-Take art classes
-Complete a voluntourism experience
-Spend as much time outside as possible
-Become involved with a cause
-Fall in love with my hometown
-Regain confidence in myself
-Make a difference
-Find happiness
-Bring happiness to others
-Try as many things as possible
-Meet people that force me to become a better version of myself

There is a lot more, but this is all I can think of for now.  I don't know why I feel I am in such a low place now, but I do.  I think it may have to do with valentine's day being tomorrow.  I would like to say I don't take much stock in the holiday, but that may not be completely true.  I have to make a promise to myself that no matter what happens with my potential move, that I attempt to pursue these things.  I cannot take defeat from not creating a new beginning in a new town if it doesn't work out.  If this is the case, I must make my new beginning here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Advice for the Future Quarter-Lifers

Being 25 is more challenging than is led on.  I heard one of my colleagues mention that she is glad she is not in her 20's anymore because it was a rough time in her life.  Man is it...  Now that we are adults trying to support ourselves and making our own decisions, there is a lot of self-doubt.  Am I doing the right thing?  Can I do this for the rest of my life?  And the worst question of all, who am I?

Wow, you think.  How do you not know who you are at 25.  I brought this question up to my dad one time, and he said that he was still trying to figure out the answer.  The truth is, we go through new experiences in all phases of our life, and these experiences challenge our identity.  I can't help but ask myself what it is that I want.  I can make generalizations about what I want, but the means to the goal seems unrealisitic.

When you are out on your own, that wonderful idealistic side is challenged.  I don't want to lose this aspect of my personality, but constant rejection causes you to question what is real.  I can see myself finding happiness, but I just can't find the route to that happiness.  I thought that teaching would ignite passion and a sense of purpose, but instead, it has stirred my beliefs and values.  This confusion has instilled feelings of guilt and worthlessness.  How could a good person leave the education of our future society members?  Is it selfish to want more?  After all, many people leave their current professions to become teachers and make a difference. 

If I could make a recommendation for the future quarter-lifers out there, it would be to slow down.  I worked so hard to follow the right path.  I stayed at home for college, I finished within four years, I got a job right away, and I worked to get my masters in under two years.  This is what you are supposed to do, right?  But now, it feels like going through the motions.  Why didn't I take time to study abroad?  Why didn't I take more time to investigate possible careers?  Sure I wanted to be a teacher since kindergarten, but did I really know what a teacher was?  A politician that pushes paper and makes choices that goes against his or her beliefs?

I think about the economy and the number of graduates out there that don't have jobs and had to return home.  I know that I am supposed to be grateful for a job and I sound incredibly selfish with my complaining, but it is my life, and I only get to live it once.  I've made choices that have predetermined my future, and I wish I could have taken more time to become aware of who I am and what I want.  But that investigation is occurring now.  I will not settle for complacency.  So in the end, I am just trying to figure out what is next.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Sunday Chef: Crispy Chicken Lollipops with Balsamic Truffle Glaze

-¼ teaspoon salt
-2 pounds chicken breast cutlets, cut into pieces
-3 garlic cloves, sliced
-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-2 tablespoons butter, for the baking sheet

For the Cheesy Crumbs
-½ cup dried bread crumbs
-¾ cup Grana Padano, freshly grated
-2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling on the cutlets
-¼ teaspoon salt
-3 dozen bamboo skewers

1.) Pound chicken until it is about 1/2- to 2/3-inch thick. Slice the meat, (with the grain rather than across it) in strips roughly 2-inches wide and 3-inches long: you should get about 24 pieces. 

2.) Put the strips in a bowl and toss them with the salt, garlic slices, and olive oil. Let them marinate for at least 15 minutes, preferably 1/2 hour, at room temperature. Meanwhile, set a rack in the upper third of the oven-nearer the top for browning-and heat it to 425 degrees.

3.) When the meat has marinated, lift out a few pieces and pick off the garlic slices. Drop the strips in the crumbs and roll them around, then pick them up one by one and press the crumbs so they stick to the meat on both sides. Insert skewer the long way through the meat, and make it stand up by pressing down in the meat so it looks like a lollipop

4.) Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the sheet back to front, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden brown on top and the meat is cooked through but still moist. Serve hot or warm with the dipping sauce.

This would be a great recipe for an appetizer or tapas night.  The meat turns out very tender and would be great with a number of dipping sauces.  I find this recipe to be very versatile since you can use a variety of meats to make the lollipop, and a variety of sauces to dip it in.  I used a balsamic truffle glaze I purchased when I was in England, but many flavors would go great with this chicken.  An easy fix and great recipe for the picky eaters.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Sunday Chef: Osso Buco (sort of) with Garlic Chive Mashed Potatoes

Osso Buco Ingredients:
-1 cup of flour
-Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
-4 pieces of veal shank (I accidently bought lamb shanks, so really this is not Osso Buco)
-Olive oil
-3 tbsp butter
-1 onion diced
-1 celery stalk diced
-2 carrots diced
-1 lemon, zest peeled off in fat strips with a vegetable peeler
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-2 bay leaves
-1/4 cup chopped parsley
-1 bottle of dry red wine
-1 can low sodium beef stock
-1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes hand crushed

Gremolata Ingredients:
-1/4 cup of pine nuts toasted
-1 anchovy fillet
-2 garlic cloves
-Zest of 1 orange finely grated
-2 tbsp chopped parsley

Garlic Chive Mashed Potatoes Ingredients:
-1 head of garlic
-2 lbs of yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
-1 tbsp sea salt
-1 cup heavy cream
-1/2 cup butter
-sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
-2 tbsp chopped fresh chives

1. Mix flour, salt, and pepper.  Taste to make sure seasoned appropriately.
2. Dredge shanks in flour and tap off excess.
3. Add oil and butter to dutch oven.  Sear shanks until all sides are brown.  Do not overcrowd the pan.
4. Using the same pot, saute the onion, celery, carrots, lemon zest, garlic, bay leaves, and parsley.
5.  Once vegetables are cooked down, add veal back into the pot.  Pour in wine.  Let simmer for 20 minutes so the wine reduces by half.
6. Once reduced, add stock and tomatoes and stir.  Cover pot and place in preheated 375 degree oven for 1.5 hours.
7. Remove lid and let cook for another 30 minutes.

8. For the gremolata, mash the pine nuts, anchovy, and garlic together.  Fold this mixture in with the orange zest and parsley.  Scatter over the Osso Buco before serving.

9. Put the garlic and potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Add the salt, and bring to a boil.
10. Simmer until potatoes are cooked (about 30 minutes).
11. While that is going, warm the heavy cream and butter in a small pot over low heat.
12. Drain the potatoes and garlic well and put into large bowl.
13. Pour in warm cream and pulverize the potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chives before serving.

So far, this has been my least favorite recipe.  The food was good, but nothing stood out as being amazing.  As stated in the directions, I technically did not make Osso Buco because I bought the wrong meat, but it was the sauce that was a little weak.  Although it was similar to my Beouf Bourguignon sauce, the flavors were not equal.  The meat was tender and the veggies cooked just right.

The gremolata definitely stands out in flavor with the orange zest.  If you are not an anchovy fan, don't skip out on that ingredient because you can't even distinguish it from the other flavors.  The pine nuts do give a nice little crunch.

The garlic chive mashed potatoes were also not a standout dish.  The proportions for the liquid to the potatoes was not very good.  The potatoes became very runny, so I drained off some of the excess liquid.  It was interesting to boil the garlic with the potatoes.  I have found more luck roasting the garlic and adding it to the cooked potatoes though.  Plus, where was the cheese?  I have to admit I'm a cheesy potato girl.

In the end, if you are contemplating this dish with another dish I have created, I would recommend the Beouf Bourguignon first.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed the process and I can't say that the food was bad.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Advocate for Creativity

Some thoughts have been rolling around the past few days about the next step.  I've mentioned in a previous post the need for something else regarding my career.  I have this creative side that is trying to come out in everything I do, but so much of it is watered down because of the nature of teaching.  I have engaged in cooking with purpose and I have developed such a passion for it.  I am continuing my photography ambitions.  I find the need to write about my experiences.  All of these artisitic elements do not shine through what I spend most of my time doing: work.

In other words, I need to find something that allows me to spend most of my time doing what I love and enjoy the most.  Last night my roommate and I were talking about one of our amazing art teachers.  After the conversation, I had this lingering idea that perhaps I could be an art teacher.  I am not saying this can happen instantly because I know that I need some training, but I got excited about the possibility.  According to the certification system, I am qualified to teach K-8 art, but I don't know if there are anymore requirements.

I remember how much art made a difference for me when I was in school.  In 7th and 8th grade it seemed like the class that allowed me to unwind a bit and see what I could create.  It also helped that the teacher for that class was one of the best I had ever had. I think about the classes I enjoyed most in school and they were all related to the arts in some form.  Humanities, photography, sewing, they all encouraged creativity.  I even think about how much I enjoyed my art education methods class in college.  I was able to teach content through a creative format.  Imagine that happening in the classroom...  My traveling experiences also play a big role in this love.  When I travel, one of the first things on my list of sights to see is art.  I love sculptures, gardens, paintings, architecture, and many other types of art.  I think it says something that my favorite place I visited last summer was the home of an artist (Monet).

I don't know how much work this entails, but I think that it could be a better path for me.  There are logistical concerns, but if it is something that I explore a little more and realize that it is something I want to do, then I think the challenges will be worth it.  I can't help but imagine the possibilities of finding something I truly love and enhancing several areas of my life, especially my photography.  I guess it is time to let the research begin.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Sunday Chef: Queso Fundido Clasico and Salsa Verde Pizza with Goat Cheese and Bacon

Queso Fundido Clasico

-8 oz of shredded chihuahua cheese
-1/2 cup white wine
-2 oz of thinly sliced onion
-4 oz of chorizo
-Tortillas (determine quantity based on number of people being fed)

1. Saute chorizo and onion until cooked.
2. In a separate dish, bring the wine to a simmer.
3. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Be sure to not over cook it or it will become tough.
4. Place in dish. Drizzle chorizo and onion over the top
5. Serve with warm tortillas.

Chihuahua cheese is such a buttery delicious cheese.  You could simply serve it with tortillas if you wished.  The chorizo and onion add a little heat and sweetness to the cheese.  I had this dish at Rick Bayless's restaurant and I tried to make it myself.  Unfortunately, I overcooked the cheese and it was a little tough.  If you have a fondue pot, this would be an ideal situation for it.  Even those that don't care for Mexican food can appreciate the wonderful flavor of the cheese.

Salsa Verde Pizza with Goat Cheese and Bacon

-2 cups flour
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 cup room temp. water
-1/3 cup beer
-Few tbsp olive oil
-2/3 cup roasted tomatillo salsa
-Couple very thin slices of red onion
-4 oz of goat cheese
-3 slice of bacon
-2 tbsp queso anejo or Parmesan cheese
-Handful of chopped cilantro

1. In a bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, and salt.
2. Measure in the water and beer.  Stir to combine everything. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temp for 8-18 hours.
3. Heat the oven to 500 degrees.  Generously oil a 13x18 baking sheet.  Spread the dough onto the pan so that it is even.
4. Spread on sauce, leaving a border.  Scatter on bacon, sliced onion, and crumbled goat cheese.
5. Bake for about 25 minutes.
6. Sprinkle with cheese and cilantro.

Finding a good tomatillo salsa is key here since that is the primary flavor.  This would make a great appetizer or tapas dish.  You could easily alter the pizza by changing ingredients or the type of salsa.