What do you want to be when you grow up?
I have changed my answer to this question quite a bit over the years; and it has only changed more frequently as I get older. Throughout my pre-teen years I skipped from the idea of a vet, to an actress, and finally decided on a teacher come senior year in high school. It was time to declare my college major and it went from education to journalism in two weeks. Post college, I settled on the idea of becoming a non-profit director. I became that non-profit director and then started to ask myself that question again. This time around, I had a few new dreams: food writer, personal chef, salsa maker, small business owner, etc. First I had to go to culinary school, and I had to work to pay the bills.
I became a nanny by day, culinary student by night. This past year, I have worked for a family with five kids ranging from ages six to 18; four boys and one girl. It is a busy household, but I am still amazed at how good these kids are—somehow five are quieter (and better behaved) than the three of us growing up. Go figure. I know that I am incredibly lucky—my nanny diary is not a horror story.
I have spent most of my time with Mary. She is hilarious, smart, exceedingly fancy, and has the most outstanding vocabulary. Mary makes me forget that I am hanging out with someone who is six; it is more like talking with an almost 30-something. But then again, she undeniably innocent and plays it straight—exactly what someone with the world in front of them should characterize.
Mary once asked me, “How did you know you wanted to be a nanny when you grew up?” I smiled and said, “Because it is so much fun to hang out with people who are six.” Mary helped me to slow down this past year. She taught me that two o’clock in the afternoon is a perfect time for a full-out dance party; that you should sing about tortillas with vibrato; that people are ‘silly;’ and being fancy is cool. The fanciest thing that I do is use nice cloth napkins at dinner every night—apparently I need to wear more pink and sparkles.
I asked Mary what she wanted to be when she grows up and for the longest time the response was nothing, because that would mean that she would have to grow up. But lately, there have been two options on the table—a country western singer, or an artist. I wonder what she will finally decide on and what her journey will entail.
I did not have the heart to tell Mary that being a nanny was my not ultimate goal. What I need to tell Mary is that she made me laugh out loud everyday, she made me appreciate things like my ‘dancing’ hair when the wind blew, and to be comfortable in my shoes (even if those shoes are not comfortable at all because they are ridiculously fabulous).
I have created a lot of forks in the road for myself, but when there is a fork, you can eat and I suppose that is what I want to do. Stay tuned.
Fancy Peas and Carrots
Puree of Pea Pasta
adapted from Gourmet
Pasta click HERE
1 1/2 cup peas
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 TBS chopped mint
1/2 yellow onion – julianne
handful of shiitake mushrooms tops – rough chop
small handful toasted pine nuts
s and p
Blanch the peas in boiling water for 2 -3 minutes or until tender. Drain. In a food processor add the peas and pulse until the mixture begins to break down. Add the lemon juice, parmesan cheese, mint, salt and pepper; let the food processor continue to chop those ingredients as the oil is added through the top. Add the oil slowly, until a cohesive mixture results. Be careful not to add too much oil.
In a a small pan, add a drizzle of olive oil, onions and mushrooms. Cook until the onions are translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss the pasta with the pea puree. Garnish with the onions, mushrooms and finally add the toasted pine nuts.
Carrot Parsley Salad
adapted from Fanny at the Chez Panisse
2 large carrots – grated
handful of parsley – rough chop
1/2 shallot – minced
red wine vinegar
s and p
Toss the carrots, parsley and shallot. Carefully drizzle a small amount of red wine vinegar over the salad; finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust accordingly.