Who do you want to be when you grow up? I was asked a few weeks ago at an interview. I knew I wouldn’t find the answer scribbled in my notes, between ideas for recipe development and the blurb about what makes my voice ~unique~. I’ve never been asked something like this by a potential employer, and it was a decently pleasant surprise. And I bet its answer gives a little more insight into a person than asking whether they’re a strategic or tactical thinker, or where they see themself in five years.
When I was very small, I wanted to be an actress. I was that obnoxious eight year old who sang all the time: at family gatherings, in the grocery store, in the bathrooms at school for optimal echoes. I wanted to be on stage so badly. Itching to play Cosette or Belle or Maureen, I memorized the words to every soundtrack I got my hands on. I sang along with the familiar lyrics every week as I spooned out cookie dough onto baking sheets after school.
Then came the crippling stage fright. The heart-pounding, voice-shaking panic overtook me all at once—while I was onstage, no less. I was thirteen, auditioning for the middle school musical. Fourteen seconds into singing, I couldn’t hear the music over the pounding in my chest. I don’t remember if I even made it to the chorus. We heard Becca was a really good singer. I overheard one of the girls in the audience say. I wonder what happened?
My greatest dream a crumbled mess of embarrassment, I moved backstage. With the faintest taste of bitter on my tongue, I sewed the hems and smeared foundation and lipstick on the kids who weren’t rendered mute under the spotlight. But I liked being close to the stage, and costuming was fun. I sliced through my best trays of thick fudgy brownies, brought the dark squares to tech week and thought, this is something I could do with myself.
While I applied to college with “journalism” and “studio art” selected on the Common App’s Major intention section, I rolled up to day one at Smith planning to declare theatre design the bulk of my coursework. Which shoes would a Chekhovian woman woman wear to walk around the orchard? How do six identical suits convey the hierarchy of office politics? Who would paint their nails red; why wouldn’t he wear this hat, but that one? I thought about color and exposed skin.
Cutting patterns didn’t give me the same feeling of purpose as it seemed to give my peers and professors. I was good at it, and felt proud seeing the finished productions, but I didn’t enjoy it. I took a job in the art museum over the costume shop. I stopped sketching for fun. I grew to dread those orange walls. The building smelled like stress.
I graduated with a specific degree in this field I’d entered into by default. I wouldn’t be applying to theatres or MFA programs, but I left the Pioneer Valley knowing what I wanted to do.
Food is what drives me, and writing is the way I package ingredients into substance. This past weekend was the fourth anniversary of writing this blog, and this is my 200th official post. I’ve been out of school for a long year. A year of cover letters and internships and almosts.
I snapped to attention to give an answer at the interview. I pretty good one, I think.
I’ve taken to making these muffins every two weeks or so, for easily transportable snacking. There are a million ingredients, yes, but I think they’re worth it.
Breakfast Muffins (GF, makes 12-15)
1 cup oats
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour
2/3 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch (cornstarch gets the job done too)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
½ black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 dried prunes
1 large carrot
1/2 green apple
2 very ripe bananas
2/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup olive or melted coconut oil
coconut sugar (though any sugar will do)
sunflower seeds or pepitas
Preheat the oven to 400º F and grease a muffin tin. Place the oats in a food processor and grind into a course flour. In a large bowl, whisk the oat flour with the rest of the dry ingredients and set aside.
Place the prunes in a bowl of very hot water and set aside. Grate the carrot and apple and set aside.
In a bowl, mash the bananas, then mix in buttermilk or yogurt, orange zest and oil. Blend the prunes into a paste in the food processor, then blend into the banana mixture. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients, then fold in the carrot and apple. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat for about a minute, then fold into the batter.
Scoop into the prepped muffin tin, then top with a sprinkling of coconut sugar and sunflower seeds. Bake 18-20 minutes.