Every ending is a new beginning. This past Monday marked the end of my internship in the test kitchen at Bon Appetit. I found myself feeling a little anxious in the weeks leading up to my last day. I loved the work I was doing. It was inspiring to be in the kitchen with the talented team of chefs and editors. Seeing the recipes we tested and cross-tested end up in the magazine or on the website was pretty cool. I even had the opportunity to contribute an article before I left…did you see this post on how to make a gluten-free gravy? Yes, it was work but, it was also so much fun!
My uncle, Wagdi, passed away way too soon, a little less than 2 years ago. He was an extremely gifted surgeon and loved his work. He was also an amazing dad, grandpa and uncle. At his eulogy, one of his sons, Joe, stood up and spoke. Joe is a agriculturalist and winemaker in a family of physicians and surgeons. When Joe spoke at the funeral, he said his father’s advice to him when he was younger was to “figure out what you love to do and find a way to make a living doing it”. That sentence resonated in my head and I haven’t let it go since.
It lit a spark under me and helped me feel I was on the right path. It just happened to be a few weeks before I was enrolled to begin my program at the Institute of Culinary Education. I knew I had made the right decision to go back to school. It was time for me to get on the path to making a living doing something I love. And here I am. School is over, my internship has ended and although it was a bit of work to juggle the balance between the kids, the house, child care and all of the other day to day responsibilities, I can honestly say it was so much fun. An incredible journey! I’ve loved every minute of it and I’m looking forward to the future.
Many people are asking me; “What’s next?”. In the immediate future, I’m going to focus on getting life back in order and really enjoy the day-to-day with the kids. I feel very privileged to be able to spend every morning with them, take them to their after-school activities, spend quality time and tuck them into bed each night. These years are fleeting and precious and I want to enjoy as much of them as I can.
I also need to take care of some of the little (and bigger) things I may have let slip through the cracks at home. As things kept bubbling up to the surface in the last few months, my mantra became “My house is so not in order right now!” I’m going to work on getting it in order. I’m planning to get ready for the holidays and I might even squeeze a few yoga classes in here and there. You know, all of the things I’ve neglected a bit in the last couple of years.
The other thing I’m going to do is cook. Because I love to. And I’m going to figure out how to make a living doing it. More to come on that. In the meantime, I’ll continue sharing the recipes I create, like this quinoa with sweet potatoes, candied ginger, kale and apples. It was the last family meal I made at Bon Appetit and it really hit the spot after a ton of heavy holiday eating. It also just happens to be the exact type of healthy dish my uncle Wagdi would have loved. I miss him. I’m pretty sure he would have been really proud of me right now.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into a large dice
- 1 Tbl + 1 tsp Olive oil, separated
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tbl maple syrup
- 4-5 pcs candied ginger, diced small
- 2 large leaves of kale, rib and stem removed, chopped or torn into 1" pieces
- 1 small shallot, sliced thinly into rings
- 2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
- ½ pink lady or any apple of your choice, cut into a large dice
- Heat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit
- In a medium saucepan, add quinoa and stock and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and allow to cook for about 20 minutes until grain is translucent and the crescent-shaped germ separates and becomes white.
- While the quinoa is cooking, toss the sweet potato in 1 Tbl of olive oil on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast, turning occasionally for about 25 minutes (or until beginning to soften).
- When quinoa is cooked through, fluff with a fork and spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet to cook to room temperature
- Soak sliced shallot in a small bowl in balsamic vinegar and set aside
- On your cutting board, or in a bowl, massage 1 tsp of oil into the kale leaves for about 1-2 minutes with your hands and season with salt and pepper
- Remove sweet potato cubes from the oven, pour maple syrup over them, evenly, and toss in chopped candied ginger. Return to the oven and continue to roast for an additional 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through
- In a serving dish or large bowl, toss quinoa with candied ginger, sweet potatoes, kale, shallot rings (pulled out of balsamic vinegar) and apple
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed and add about half of the balsamic vinegar, to taste
- Serve and enjoy!