More than just an eater?

I’ve been thinking constantly about what I want to do with my life and trying to reconcile that with what I feel like I need to do in my life. It’s a tricky thing, this self-discovery and life-building process, and it doesn’t help that I’ve always had problems with indecision, even without the whole you-only-have-one-life-don’t-screw-it-up aspect.

Let’s start with the facts:

I have been unemployed or under-employed on-and-off for 15 months now, working in temp editorial jobs, unpaid magazine internships, and the occasional paid freelance article. I’ve volunteered a lot, taken a creative writing class, dance class, language class, nutrition educator training, and children’s hospital training. I joined a women’s choir. I signed up for a few unpaid writing gigs, then flaked on them in favor of brooding and sending out job applications. My savings has been sliced in half. I’ve written several outlines for novels and am teaching myself how to cook. I live at home and more often than not work in my pajamas.

What I need:

A paying job, full-time. To have a purpose. I don’t have graduate studies or the academic life to provide raison d’etre. Sure, I want to make a difference in the world, but there are so many ways to do that, some that am I interested in or have the confidence to pursue and others that I have the skill set to achieve. I also need confidence and hope and independence.

What I want:

Something to do that gets me out of bed in the morning, as cliche as that is. A paying job, temp-to-perm, part-time, full-time. To launch a radio show. To launch a video series. On food as medicine. (It’s my idea first!) To be respected. To go to the Natural Gourmet Institute and get certified in healthy and holistic cooking. My own place. Focus. Drive. Confidence. Energy.

* * *

Speaking of culinary school, here is a tip that Emily over at The Front Burner shared with us today (her recipe for caramelized onion mashed potatoes is definitely making its way to my T-day table) from her time at Johnson and Wales U’s Culinary Arts program:

When cooking vegetables, always start vegetables that grow UNDER the ground (like potatoes and carrots) in cold water, and add vegetables that grow ABOVE the ground (like broccoli and zucchini) to hot water!

Thinking back on my memories of watching Mom cook raw vegetables, I find myself agreeing with this tidbit. I didn’t know there was a rule of thumb to what I’ve generally just taken to be my mother’s method, in the same way that most of us just follow tradition blindly unless things taste bad or we get curious.

Curiosity – and an appreciation for food cultural history – is what leads us to things like these grape dumpling purses, dreamed up by Brie from Le Grand Fromage. The description alone, paired with the accompanying foodie-enticing photograph, ensured my click and vote for Round 7 of Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog contest, and is inspiring me to both try this recipe out and trust my creative impulses in the kitchen, as well as in life.

To that end, here is a snapshot of my turnip-eggplant-vegan-sausage ragout about a week ago.

Yum. I love making chunky sauces.

And here is what I made with the leftover sliced turnips and the more than three dozen eggs I’ve accumulated from the now ended CSA season, along with some spinach and the leftover turnips from  earlier.

A sauteed turnip-spinach-cheese omelette I made on Friday, an attempt to put food in my stomach while enlivening my boring day.

* * *

What I want: Tradition, Curiosity, Creativity.

What I need: Initiative.

I know that this appetite serves a purpose for more than just eating food, digesting facts, and absorbing and reconstituting communication.

So what will I do with it?

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