"We live in a world where losing your phone is more dramatic than losing your virginity"
Um ok but I don’t recall my virginity having 16 GB of memory with all my contacts, music, photos, calendars, and apps or costing over $200.
my phone is an expensive and important material object and not a useless social construct put in place to shame and commodify women
Through out my days as a idealist hippie college students I wore a lot of tie-dye. Well, I don’t know if a lot of tie-dye is the right way to put. What I really did was wear one single tie-dye shirt, a homemade one at that, basically everyday. I also wore a hemp necklace with a mushroom hanging from it. I screamed check my pockets and most of the time if you would have, I would have probably been arrested. I never cared much for clothing or material things. I had held a “money doesn’t equal happiness” mantra since high school. My materialistic side would come out every once in awhile, like when I would try on a pair of Jimmy Choos at the Saks in Sandestin or when I changed my major to computer engineering because my sister and I had been looking at multimillion dollar beach houses online. Then I moved to New York City for a summer and that side of me would walk around Manhattan everyday, when I wasn’t working, going from store to store trying on clothes I had only seen in my dreams and prancing around stores in $600 heels.
Growing up in a small town in Southeast, Kansas and summering in Northwest Florida didn’t exactly expose me to all the trappings of the wealthy or even the trendy. New York City exposed me to a different type of fashion and lifestyle, one that I had only seen on TV. When I was little I would dream of visiting in New York City and I had no idea what that would even be like. It was this obscure dream of this famous place, somewhere that would inspire me and challenge me. The first time I ever visited New York City was my senior year of college and I had never even been to a city in my life. I went with two friends who had both been overseas and to major cities, so they coached me on riding the metro and hailing taxis. I remember my first time riding the metro was absolutely enthralling, I was so amazed by my surroundings and tried very hard to play to cool so I didn’t seem like a total geek. After twenty minutes of being there I was hooked on this life.
I loved that you could go from walking by places like Tiffany’s and Bendall’s and the Lincoln Center to going to a shitty hole in the wall Mexican restaurant in Queens and eat the most delicious tamales ever on your way to a Czech Beer Festival. There was so much culture and you could draw from all of it a matter of hours. You could learn how to soak up all these cultures and use what you find to express yourself. Once I visited, I decided I had to move there after I returned from cookery school in Scotland, I didn’t care what it took. Then, one night I was desperately applying for summer jobs in Florida when someone called and asked if I would be interested in working in New York and I of course said yes. The connection was made, the idea was planted in my head and within a week I had landed a summer apprenticeship at a Lemonade Stand that operated at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn.
College had been somewhat a journey of self discovery for me but I never really left my comfort zone. I experimented with drugs and met some new people but I was still in Kansas, going to bars I’d been going to since I was 15, living with either one of my sisters or my best friends from high school. College educated me, I guess that is what it is supposed to do right? It opened up my mind to things I never had known about, it made me a confident, well rounded person but it never really pushed me like moving to New York did. New York was the first time I had ever been on my own. I lived with a complete stranger on the bottom level of a Brownstone in a neighborhood I had never been to, in a city I had only spent 48 hours in prior to moving there and I didn’t know a single person there, it was absolutely exhilarating and terrifying at the same time and I was hooked, especially to the fashion.
My co-workers and I would of speculate that the Sunday Flea in Williamsburg was like a hipster fashion show. Tribal prints, combat boots, black leggings, oversized shirts, tight shorts and mini backpacks were on display. The sloppy look that hipsters wear is very strategically planned and very expensive. Everyone was buying overprice used furniture to repurpose and fingering through vinyl records while sipping on $8 glasses of lemonade and munching on a gourmet grilled cheese.
Upper Manhattan was a total different world. A world of perfect hair and perfect clothes even in the scorching heat of a New York summer. I spent 3 days staying in the Upper West Side with my sisters after my older sister decided Brooklyn was giving her eye infection. She even dramatically quoted Gossip Girl and exclaimed “Get me out of here before I get thrown down and tattooed.” We spent our days strolling around Central Park, eating $250 lunches at The Met Cafe and buying outfits for the night. We would go back to our hotel in the early evening and call in our late dinner reservations for the night. Our nights were spent drinking martinis at Gilt, the lobby bar at the famous Palace Hotel and eating beautiful dinners. For those three days, we pretended like we were residents of Manhattan, the superior borough in the eyes of many.
I let a part of myself exist that I had always kept bottled up. This part of myself walked in to department stores and looked at a pair of booties on the wall and thought “Steve Madden, you beautiful bastard.”. Maybe it was because it was the first time I was ever really working full time and making a good amount of money, all tax free I might add. Whether it was that fashion was all around me or that I could buy amazing clothes for the first time without a huge amount of guilt I don’t know, but something about New York changed me.
It is a funny thing, your 20‘s, you can feel yourself evolving as a human being and becoming the person you were meant to be. In college I could feel myself learning and my mind expanding but in New York I was learning in a new way. I wasn’t learning social theory and things I could read about, I was actually living and developing outside of what I had always known to be true, not of the world, but of myself.
I had always been the girl who wanted to change the world. It had never mattered what I wore or what I owned. This was the first time I had ever learned to really express myself through clothing. That it wasn’t a bad thing to want things, it didn’t make me less of an activist or less of a person. Which may seem really superficial but it was a self discovery. I had always dressed how I thought an feminist, environmentalist college student would dress. This was maybe the first time I let myself not fit the stereotype. I was still a feminist and environmentalist and I was still the girl who grew up fishing and hunting frogs on a regular basis. However, I had decided to admit to myself that I liked the way it felt to wear a really perfect pair of booties or a beautiful Calvin Klein dress. It was finally ok to admit I liked these things, it finally didn’t make me feel like I was selling out or trying to be someone I wasn’t. Being in a place with so many people with so many different stories allowed me to quit compartmentalizing myself. It allowed me to be myself and for that I will always hold a place in my heart for New York City… and Steve Madden.
I really love making doughs. I also really love food of Asian decent. So making my own steamed dumplings is a no brainer. This recipe leaves a lot of room for you to play around and make it your own. Here is my version.
What you’ll need:
8 chicken thighs, cubed
I head of cabbage, cored and shredded
5 green onions, bottoms cut off and tops sliced thin
5 celery stalks, cut in to chunks
about 1 inch of ginger, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp fish sauce
500 grams flour + flour for dusting
1 cup warm water
To make the dough sift your flour in to a large bowl and slowly add water in mixing with a butter knife. If you have ever made a shortcrust pastry dough, this is a really similar concept. You want to work your dough to a “breadcrumb stage” like pictured below.
Once you have added all of your water you should be able to bring the dough together with your hands. If you can’t bring it together, add more water a tablespoon at a time until it looks like the picture below.
Don’t work the dough too much, just bring it together. Put it back in the bowl and let it rest for 20 min..
Meanwhile, add your onions, ginger, garlic and celery to the food processor and blend until fine but not pureed.
Then add in the chicken, soy sauce, rice vinegar and fish sauce and blend until fine, like the picture below.
Your dough should be rested once you have your filling made. Take the dough out of the bowl and on a clean surface knead and work it until it forms a more elastic dough.
Next, tear off a small piece of the dough and roll it out in to a circle. Scoop about a tablespoon of filling in the the center and then fold in to “coin purses”.
Boil the dumplings in salted water for 8 min, or until cooked through and floating at the top. While you are boiling the dumplings, put excess meat in wok or saute pan and cook.
Once the meat is cooked through, add the cabbage and cook until cabbage is limp.
Serve dumplings with cabbage and meat mixture and sticky rice. Drizzle with soy sauce and fish sauce. Enjoy!
This salad is one of my all time favorites! Arugula is an awesome green! It is similar in texture to spinach but has a peppery taste to it that pairs deliciously with sweet flavors like fruits and honey. This salad is all about balancing flavors. The balsamic reduction is a mix of sweet and sour that is balanced by the acid in the lemon and the creaminess of the goats cheese. While the nuttiness that comes from the walnuts pairs well with the sweet and full flavor of the beetroot. The beetroot also provide some neutrality against the intense flavor of the reduction.
What you’ll need
A handful of an arugula and spinach mix
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp goats cheese
1/2 tbsp walnut oil (or sunflower oil)
For the reduction: 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp honey
First, cut the top and bottom off the beetroot then place in a saucepan and cover with water. Place on high heat and boil until beetroot is tender and does not provide a ton of resistance when stabbed with a fork. While the beetroot is cooking, start your reduction.
For the reduction: Whisk honey and balsamic vinegar together in a sauce pan and place on high heat.
Boil the combination until it is at nappe consistency. Nappe consistency is when the reduction coats the back of a spoon and when you run your finger across it, it should hold shape.
When a balsamic reduction is done, the punch of the vinegar should be cooked off but you have taken it too far if it starts to taste caramelized. If your reduction starts to bubble up and it is difficult to get the air out of it, remove from heat immediately and remove from saucepan immediately. You want to remove it from the pan because it will continue to cook if it remains in the warm pan. Let the reduction cool, as it does, it will continue to thicken.
While you are making your reduction, toast your walnuts on medium heat until aromatic and they have a bit of color. Meanwhile peel the outer skin off your beetroot with a pairing knife then slice in to 1/2 inch slices. Then cut the slices in to quarters and set aside. Place greens in large bowl and toss in lemon juice and oil. To assemble, drizzle balsamic reduction on plate, then top with arugula and spinach. Next, put your beetroot on top of your greens then sprinkle with walnuts and goats cheese and drizzle more balsamic on top.
Once upon a time I spent the entire day and night in a kitchen, cooking food and getting paid to do what I love. Then I broke my leg. Now I do not get to spend all my time snug in my chef whites chopping, blanching, whisking and running around the kitchen like a lunatic trying to get my station, all the sauces, sides and bulk prep set up in time for service. However I find myself in the kitchen at my house all the time. I may spot some coconut milk in the refrigerator door and then decide I need to add some cocoa powder to it, whip up some egg whites to medium peaks and see if it will make a stable chocolate mousse without all the pesky milk chocolate, butter and heavy cream. I find myself constantly making excuses to be doing some sort of cooking. So to pass the time while I am “laid up” I’ve decided my new excuse is to start posting recipes to my blog!
I feel it necessary to explain a little bit about how I cook in order to help you to understand why I may sound a little scatter brained in my recipes. In his book “The Devil in the Kitchen” Marco Pierre White explains that his cooking philosophy is very much in tune with his love of nature. I feel that I really relate to his philosophy. You do not guide your ingredients, they guide you. To cook good food you have to know your ingredients and at least partially understand how they function in nature. Things taste best when they are in season and that is the time to cook with them. What is the point of trying to make a really great bruschetta in December when the tomatoes are shit? You are going to end up trying to cover for the fact that you cant find a decent tomato by masking it with other flavors. Regionalism can also be important to cooking.
You don’t want to alter your food so much the ingredients aren’t noticeable.You want to find the best quality ingredients and then bring out those delicious flavors. I think many foods get a bad reputation because people don’t honor them when cooking them. Brussels Sprouts have a terrible reputation but they are delicious if cooked right. Traditionally, people boil the until they are a shell of their former selves, but if you cut them in to quarters, put a little oil in a pan and saute them until they are tender then throw in some garlic and lemon juice at the last minute they taste amazing. What you want to do is bring out the best in the ingredient you have without sacrificing or masking its flavor.
To cook in this way it helps tremendously to have some basic knowledge of classic techniques. Therefore in this blog, I will provide recipes but also I want to explain why you are doing what you are doing so you can realize what makes the dish taste a certain way that way you can transfer the techniques to other foods. The most important rule of cooking is TASTE. Recipes should never act as something that is set in stone, if something doesn’t taste right, fix it. Ingredients come from nature, therefore they are not uniform. Some garlic is more aromatic and some lemons will produce more juice. Taste as you are cooking and adjust recipes to please your pallet. When you know why you are doing what you are doing, it gives you the freedom to really feel confident when changing and improving it.
So for my first recipe I am going to do one of my all time favorites, lemon chicken and broccoli stir fry. This recipe is really simple and in turn really cheap. If you don’t like broccoli you could add any veggies you want. I like to add water chestnuts, bean sprouts, celery, carrots and kale. Anyways, lets do this.
LEMON CHICKEN STIR FRY
**Warning: my food photography is pretty horrible here, I promise I will try harder next time :) **
I love Chinese food, this is no secret to those who know me. Unfortunately, I am a really particular about the type of Chinese food I like and the run of the mill take away Chinese places just don’t cut it. To be honest, I haven’t really enjoyed Chinese food that I have boughten since I lived in Brooklyn nearly a year ago. So, in order to get my feel of it, I must make it myself. What a shame, some time in the kitchen with a knife in one hand a whisk in the other, my nightmare. Lemons are a must have ingredient to me for pretty much every dish. They’re only a few steps under salt when it comes to being a necessary part of every dish.
Salt is important because it is a flavor enhancer, a pinch of salt can pull really subtle flavor out of a dish. This particular dish doesn’t need salt, because we are using soy sauce, which is incredibly salty. Always season your food when it is almost complete, this keeps you from over salting. For example, capers and anchovies are really salty on their own so if you salt a dish before you add them, the finished result is likely to be over salted which will ruin it. Anyways, this is a lot of salt talk for a blog about a dish that doesn’t need it, back to our stir fry.
For this recipe you need:
2 chicken breast or 4 thighs (depending on you preference)
1 1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
4 lemons, zested and juiced (or you can use oranges)
2 cups broccoli florets
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 medium white onion, sliced
non stick saute pan
First, zest your lemons. You may be wondering “What the heck is zesting a lemon and why would I do it?”. Well zesting is when you take the yellow part of the lemon peel off with a small grater or knife while leaving the pith (the white part) behind. Zest contains essential oils that are aromatic and contain tons of flavor while the pith is quite bitter. Usually two times over the grater will do the job without getting any pith. Zest is pictured below.
Anyways, zest your lemons then juice them in to your large bowl. Next whisk in your soy sauce, garlic and honey. Taste your marinade and adjust according to what you like. After you have your marinade made, clean your chicken breast and cut in to 2 in. chunks. Place chicken in marinade and let set for about 30 min.. Heat up your saute pan to high heat and add sunflower oil. I use sunflower oil because it can be heated to a high heat and does not affect the taste of what you are making. When you saute it is important to make sure the oil you are using is made to reach a high heat. Examples of oils that will reach high heat are safflower, avocado and grapeseed. Olive oil is not a high heat oil and is best used for cold dishes. If you are using a low heat oil or butter to sauté or cook at a high heat, make sure and add at least a tsp or two of a high heat oil to absorb some of the heat.
Next, strain chicken and place in to saute pan in batches. When you are sauteing, always do so in batches. Saute means “to jump” and when you put something in a pan to saute you want it to make a sizzling noise. When you add huge amounts of something that is cold to a hot pan it brings down the heat and you wont get the desired effect. You want the marinade to start to caramelize on the chicken (pictured below), so cook until you have color on each side then remove from pan and set aside.
Next, add your onions to the pan and a little water to deglaze what is stuck to the bottom of the pan, reduce to medium heat until onions start to become translucent. Deglazing gets all the flavor from the bottom of the pan and infuses it in the onions.After the onions start to become translucent add the broccoli and saute for about 5 min.
Next, add in the marinade and chicken and bring to boil then turn down the heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through. When the chicken is cooked through, strain off the marinade and set chicken aside. Place about 2 tbsp of flour in your saute pan and slowly mix in some of the marinade, until it forms a smooth paste.
Slowly add the remaining marinade then bring to a boil and reduce by half. The flour acts as a thickening agent to the sauce and reducing it makes it more flavorful.
To finish, place chicken and broccoli over a bed of white rice and pour sauce over.
I have dreamed of visiting a concentration camp since I was little. I realize this is a bizarre dream for a kid. I used to be obsessed with reading books about Nazi’s and the Holocaust. Something about how evil humans can be has always captivated me as much as how good we can be. I guess it is no surprise I fell in love with Sociology. The feeling I got when I walked through the gate at Sachsenhausen concentration camp was the same feeling I would get when reading Night by Elie Wiesel when I was young or when studying Wallerstein’s World Systems Theory when I was in college. Feelings of anger, empathy, fear and most importantly responsibility.
When I was younger I remember learning about the atrocities of the past and thinking “Well I would never let that happen, I would do something, I would be one of the people resisting”. I have had this idea that it was up to me, us, to change the world since I was little. We have the means and technology to know what is going on in the world around us. We have the voices to oppose things. I get that we can’t always change things but shouldn’t we try, shouldn’t we make it a goal to stand up for what is right? Prioritize learning about the world around us so future generations can feel safe worldwide?
Coming from a generation who has never really felt war (meaning we have never paid for war through our taxes or dealt with the draft, I am not trying to minimize people who have lost loved ones or have loved ones overseas) I used to think “Sure, there are some less than desirable situations in the world but the worst is over.” I wish I had been right, unfortunately as I got older I realized there are still so much happening that is unjust and cruel. People, after all these years, still haven’t learned how to respect each other and how to live together peacefully. We still haven’t learned There is still state mandated oppression all over the world.
Before I talk about actually visiting Sacsenhausen I want to briefly discuss the Stanford Prison Experiment. If you have ever taken an Intro to Sociology or Psychology class you have probably studied this. The experiment lasted six days and picked 25 college male students out of like 80 who applied. They picked mostly white, middle class males who demonstrated the most stable emotional and physical health. The experiment stimulated a prison environment and some of people were appointed as guards and some as prisoners. Attempts were made to strip prisoners of their humanity for example instead of using names, numbers were used. Things got absolutely out of control in this experiment. The guards became psychologically abusive and sadistic towards the prisoners and the prisoners turned on each other. I am minimizing the outcome and if you have never read about this, I encouraging you to do so.
The Nazi’s used to recruit young men to work in the concentration camps and would give them a home and a purpose. In no way am I justifying the things these people did but in order to really take a lesson away we need to realize how they were able to recruit people. People aren’t born evil, something makes us this way. The Stanford Prison experiment shows how quickly one can start justifying evil things. The economy in Germany had been shit and Hitler was able to recruit following by implying that Jewish people were doing better than the average German during these times and it was because they were stealing from the German people. When people arrived at a concentration camp, they too were given a number instead of a name, their heads were shaved and they were made to wear the same clothes. To understand the Holocaust to understand why people do bad things we have to look at the context of their involvement, language used in propaganda, the ideology behind it all and we have to learn how to avoid this one sided behavior that essentially brainwashes people.
The day I visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp was a particularly miserable day. The snow on the ground had started to melt, there was a sharp chill in the air and it was cloudy. I think this really adds to the visit, when you think of these people working all day in this miserable weather, some documentation says prisoners were forced to shovel snow with their hands. The train station where prisoners would arrive was the same we arrived on, we walked what I assume is about a mile through town and arrived at the camp. We stood in front of the entrance that 200,000 people had walked through before us, if people were disabled they were usually beaten to death in front of the entrance and never even made it inside. The remaining prisoners would march through a wrought iron gate that reads “Arbeit macht frei” or “Work will set you free”. Prisoners used to tell new comers that “Work will set you free, but the only way out is through the chimney”. This phrase is on the entrance to many camps, including Auschwitz.
This camp was built in 1935 by prisoners of another camp that was located in the town. It was meant to be an model for how other camps would be built because the layout made it so that only one guard tower, in theory, was needed to watch over the whole camp. However, more towers were added and the camp was added on to because of a swelling population. Sachsenhausen was a work camp, not an extermination camp like Auschwitz. Nazi’s didn’t have extermination camps on German soil because “they did not want to taint German soil with an inferior race.” Despite the fact that Sachsenhausen was not an extermination camp, mass killings absolutely happened there.
We started our tour standing where roll call was called daily. Prior to roll call prisoners had about 30 min. to wash up, get dressed, go to the bathroom and eat breakfast. The barracks had been built to hold about 150 prisoners and were on average holding 400. Therefore in the mornings, there were 400 people around 2 wash basins and a small number of toilets trying to all get to roll call on time. Guards were known to push people down and not allow anyone to help them up so they would be trampled to death. They were also known to step on peoples necks and drown them in other peoples filth and feces before roll call even began.
Roll call would last on average about 3 hours. One guard, who was particularly harsh, did a 15 hour roll call in the cold, where the prisoners had to stand there, answering when their number was called. This act got him promoted, as he showed dedication to cruelty. Also in the area where the roll call was is the gallows, his area was used to hang prisoners. One particularly harsh incident was when one prisoner, who was on kitchen duty, was caught eating a spoonful of margarine. The guards brought him to the center of the camp, near the gallows, and forced him to eat the rest of the tub of margarine then forced the other prisoners to jump on his stomach to “aide digestion”. Next, they hung him by his feet and left him overnight, by morning he was dead. Also at the entrance was a sing for the nuetral zone of the prison, this was the space near the gate. If any prisoner stepped in the nuetral zone they would be shot. On the first day of the established zone, one guard threw his hat in to the barbed wire and told a prisoner to retrieve it. When the prisoner went to do so, the guard shot him.
We then went to the barracks and saw where prisoners were made to sleep. The beds were small and bunked 3 beds high. Our guide told us there were as many as three people per bed at times because the camp was so overcrowded. We saw the storeroom where in the summer guards would pack in so many prisoners that they would die of suffocation. Next, our guide pointed out the prison, were political prisoners were held. Some notable people had been there, such as Stalin’s eldest son, who died there, and Pastor Martin Niemöller who, while at Sachsenhausen, wrote the very famous “First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
We then went to one of the most upsetting parts of the camp, Station Z. There was a very sadist alphabetical system at Sachsenhausen. Tower A at the entrance was where prisoners would enter the camp and prisoners would leave the camp through Station Z, which was the execution site. First you saw a trench which was initially what was used for killing mass amounts of prisoners. They would walk prisoners down the trench, line them up against the wall and shoot them. Their bodies would then go in to a room at the opposite side of the trench until they collected enough to haul them to Berlin to be disposed of. This proved to be an inefficient form of killing prisoner for a few reasons. One reason was some guards found it more difficult to kill people while looking them in the eye and the other was it was becoming too risky to haul bodies to Berlin. One truck had gotten in an accident on the way and bodies had spilled out all over the road. The general population had no idea how bad things really were in the concentration camps. They thought they were reform camps and propaganda showed happy Jewish families inside. Not to say they were totally blind but the Nazi’s couldn’t have people questioning why bodies were spilling on the road.
This is when they started building Station Z, the new construction consisted of gas chambers, a neck shock room and a crematory. On the furthest side was the gas chamber, which like most concentration camp gas chambers consisted of shower heads so that prisoners thought they were getting cleaning. The gas chambers at Sachsenhausen were used to test the perfect mixtures of chemicals to kill people the fastest. There was also a waiting room where music was played and a comforting atmosphere was provided so prisoners didn’t panic. Then there was the neck shock room. In this room there was a measure on the wall, the guard would tell the prisoners to stand against the wall to be measure then they would be shot in the neck. This room was double insulated so that the people waiting could not hear. On the far side was the crematory. Guards used to take gold teeth out of the corpses before burning them as well as cut off tattoos, after the camp was liberated, books and lampshades were found bound with human skin and tattoos in the guards houses.
This camp also held the biggest counterfeiting operation ever. The Nazi’s forced artisan prisoners to copy the English pound and American dollar with plans to release these in to the countries, cause mass inflation (just as the hyperinflation that occurred in Germany in the 20’s because of printing too much money) . One million pounds were recovered after the camp was liberated. Some notes were released in Britain that were never recovered by the government. The counterfeiters were treated better because they were more valuable.
As WWII was coming to an end, the Nazi’s realized they were about to be defeated. People in charge of concentration camps were ordered to get rid of incriminating evidence and the prisoners within the camps. The heads of Sachsenhausen decided the easiest way to get rid of so many people was to march the prisoners to the Baltic Sea, put them on boats and sink the boats. The marches that then took place were later deemed “Death Marches” because many prisoners, because they were weak and malnourished, died while marching, immediately being shot if they fell behind. The marches never made it to the sea as they were discovered by Russian troops. Polish troops eventually liberated the camp.
After the tour was over Jena and I decided to stay a bit longer and explore on our own. We walked around and went to the computer room to listen to accounts of time in Sachsenhausen. I listened to accounts of medical experiments performed in the hospital and the treatment of homosexuals, who were thought of as social deviants and forcibly castrated. As it began to get dark and a light fog appeared, we looked around the snow covered camp which was basically empty. This was a powerful moment, the camp looked so barren and bleak. I remember feeling like my problems were so small. I had been so upset the night before because no trains were running to Poland and no one could tell us why because no one spoke English well enough. The camp was completely empty as we looked around, all concentration camps that were built by the Nazi’s may be empty now, turned in to museums and places for people to visit to be reminded of the crimes committed but work still needs to be done. We are far from living in a just and peaceful world which is why it is so important to remember the past and to learn from it.
We then realized we were 30 miles outside of Berlin and virtually alone in a dark concentration camp and immediately got scared and headed to the train station and back to Berlin.
Food means different things to everyone. Some of my happiest moments have been tied to food. I remember summer mornings at my Grandma Jeanies, we would wake up early and she would go pick peaches off the tree in her backyard and we would have them on our cereal. Nothing taste like a peach fresh off the tree, especially when we live in a society where produce is ripened off the vine with ethylene more often than not. My Grandpa Al and my dad would send me up to Manhattan during college with beer flats full of garden fresh tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and endive. Or when dad would kill a deer he would send me back to school with venison steaks and smoked sausages because I wouldn’t eat meat that was produced on a commercial level. And mom would send me with two dozen farm fresh eggs.
Our family gatherings were always surrounded by the best foods. My grandma’s salad was just a simple oil and vinegar dressing and homemade croutons but I still crave it when 8 years have past since I have had it. I remember sitting in her garage cleaning out the intestines of cows to for casings for Grandpa’s yearly batch of homemade salami while the adults drank homemade wine and mixed in the seasoning. So many family memories are tied to food. My grandma Evelyn’s famous Potica and Apple Strudel with dough you can see right through and making them with her during the holidays and pretending we were on a cooking show. My dad’s famous red sauce with the most important ingredients, enough beer and classic rock to keep him out in the garage that long.
Food went beyond cooking for our family though. I remember when we were little going fishing and “frog hunting” with dad. We would get to keep the frogs that were too small to make frog legs with. I remember being little and sitting out at whatever my dad’s new favorite pond was that summer and he would set my sister and I up with Meps and we would cast and he would take the fish off our lines for us. Then we would have fish frys with his famous fried fish recipe. I was always in charge of the tartar sauce. When my older sister moved to Florida in 2008 we used to sit out at the dock at her condo while dad fished and just spend time laughing and joking with each other. It is always a privilege to go fishing with dad.
In Junior High I joined our local 4-H chapter where my sole project was ‘foods’, with a brief stint in raising chickens. My grandma Jeanie’s dad had started the 4-H chapter in Crawford County and all my moms sisters had been 4-H “foodies”. My grandma Jeanie had graduated from K-State with a degree in Dietetics and her sister and her had a very well known cafeteria in Topeka. Every summer during fair time we would gather in the kitchen and she would teach my sister and I new recipes and concepts to take to the fair. My Aunt Becky ran the Tea Room in Pittsburgh and I remember going to help her sometimes and always being amazed by the wonderful food she would make. At holidays, I am still amazed at the wonderful food she prepares.
My first kitchen gig I landed was in a very small cafe in my hometown. I started off as a dishwasher and pushed my way in to being able to cook. Our Saturday cook wanted off one weekend and I agreed to take her shift even though I wasn’t supposed to. She taught me a few things before we left for the day and the next morning I was the only cook scheduled. The menu wasn’t too complex, full breakfast and burgers and fried food for lunch. But I already knew I loved it all, timing everything just right, satisfied customers,how hectic things can get, I was hooked.
When college rolled around, I somehow lost track of cooking for a bit though. After taking the class “Women and Environmentalism” and and volunteering at Student Farm, I discovered my passion for gardening and picked up a minor in Horticulture and the love affair began again. It was in Horticulture classes I learned all about growing food, the joys of grafting and how amazing plants actually are. My grandpa and dad always have loved to garden. Grandpa even built his own greenhouse in his backyard where he starts all his own seeds and mixes his own potting soil. Somehow though it wasn’t until college that I discovered a deeper appreciation for food, farmers and food policy.
August of my third year of college I took on the role as co-coordinator of a new program called “Real Food Lunch” a lunch made up of local, seasonal and organic foods all home made. In all honesty, I didn’t have the time for it having finally chosen a course of study and had hardly heard of the organization that was hosting it. Regardless, I was compelled to answer the email asking for help and I ended up being a volunteer coordinator until I graduated. This program highlighted all the best aspects of food. I loved early mornings in the kitchen listening to Bright Eyes making bread and slicing vegetables. It also highlighted the importance of gathering around the table and sharing food with others. My final semester of the program we got our own compost bin out back and broke ground for a garden. With this program I got to try out new recipes and recreate old ones that reminded me of the thing I am most proud of in my life, my family.
Through my volunteer position with Real Food Lunch and my involvement with Student Farm Club and Student for Environmental action I landed an internship with The Office of Sustainability at Kansas State my senior year of college. This internship to me was, and is, the most prestigious position on campus, Healthy Food Intern. I got the opportunity to learn so much about food working with the food entities on campus and my boss at the time, Ben, who is the one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable people I know. I got the opportunity to talk to student clubs, be on the “Student Union Food Committee”, travel to the Kansas Hunger Dialogues and Prairie Festival and teach cooking classes.
My next step was an apprenticeship in New York City for the summer at a lemonade start up that did Smorgasburg on the weekends. Through this position I learned a lot about running a small business, making delicious lemonades and got to experience the NYC food scene first hand.
No matter where my food journey takes me though, it always comes back to my family. Last Christmas my grandpa Al gave all the grandkids Slovenian cookbooks. His mother immigrated from Slovenia, at the time it was Yugoslavia, when she was 12 with nothing but a few dollars and her little brother. We ate a lot of traditional foods when we were younger. My great grandma also unintentionally taught us all about food. She had a huge garden and chickens until she was 96 years old. I remember sitting on her porch swing when I was little cleaning green beans from the garden and listening to her tell stories about her life, she’d lived through it all. Again, even the smallest thing connected to food brought me closer to my family.
I feel so lucky to have found something I love and to be able to attend a cookery course in Scotland to learn more. Lets face it, learn how to do everything I’ve always done the correct way. For me, cooking will always mean more than paychecks. Not only is food, in my opinion, the key to environmental and economic sustainability. It will also always remind me of looking at my grandpa’s garden when I am at his house, the smile on my Grandma Jeanie’s face when I won Grand Champion in 4-H, Grandpa Joe’s homemade salami, Grandma Mary’s chickens, spending time with my dad in the garage while he cooks and the most fun part of food, gathering around the table and spending time together and catching up. People say “do what you love and you won’t work a day in your life”, it feels good to have found something I love.
I feel like this is nick’s priority list right now:
Maybe his wife is here
Getting up for my first day of my grown up job….
I drive there too… On the wrong side of the road.
- “when your little girl
asks you if she’s pretty
your heart will drop like a wineglass
on the hardwood floor
part of you will want to say
the frequency that I want to use the, “bathing in the blood of infants/virgins/enemies” joke, has only just now struck me as concerning.