Wednesday, July 21, 2010

dreams, redefined

i'm special..and so are you..and so is that guy over there...
when i was young i knew that i was destined for something special. then i woke up, or more accurately, then i grew up. i found out that most of us held that belief about ourselves, and i think that is a wonderful thing, it says something about the wonderment and hopefulness that gives definition to the elusive concept of youth. eventually and without warning the wonderment fades as life deals blows to your ego and your psyche, and that's when we start to realize that the 'special' we saw for ourselves looks a lot like just plain-old-everyday life.  if you've ever uttered the phrase "i'm just not where I thought I would be" then you know it is generally followed by a pronounced whooshing noise as your dreams get sucked out of your sight line. this sounds depressing doesn't it? and at those times when we hear the whooshing, it is depressing.  many of us lose our footing at some point in our adulthood, it is one of those things they don't tell you in high school or even in college; however, there is no shame in losing your way. i lost my way, and like most things i do, i didn't just lose it, i obliterated any semblance of a path that may have been there.  i like to do things completely, always give 110% i always say.  i have started, at my advanced age, to rebuild the path.  some people like to refer to this process as 'finding their path' but, for me, it is a process of rebuilding. 

an important part of this process has been to recognize when i have actually attained a dream. this realization can only happen when i allow myself to dial down the self-flagellation and take a look at a particular dream with the open, somewhat clearer eyes of an adult.  like so many amateur chefs, when the food network began making stars of us common folk i thought that it was just a matter of time before i was discovered.  i used to always say "i can cook, i can teach...i want to get paid for teaching people how to cook" -- it sounded pretty logical.  the only problem is that while it sounded very simple behind the words was the vision of this dream I had created and that picture was anything but simple.  what i envisioned was becoming famous for my skills and charm (subtext: if rachel ray can be famous, then clearly I can be famous!). before long i would be: publishing best selling cookbooks and (eventually) an autobiography; featured at the south beach wine & food festival; hosting cool hybrid food/travel shows, winning a james beard and eventually retiring early to my own private island.  so what i said i wanted was simple, but what i really wanted was the equivalent to winning the megaball lottery: it was a recipe for disaster.

revising the dream

this week i received a check in the mail, the check was payment for a cooking class that i taught at different drummer's kitchen, a high-end kitchen/tableware store here in albany.  the check was small and not nearly enough for a down payment on the private island. as i looked at it i caught myself in a spiral of crushing self-talk: "this is your payday, lynne...this is exactly what your worth..$ will never do any of the things that you are so lame..".  yup, that little voice inside was having it's way with me.  then the revelation came and shut that voice right down--this is what i said i wanted! i wanted to get paid for teaching cooking and in my hand was evidence that i had attained that dream.  so maybe i didn't knock it out of the park in the way that you see it play out in the movies, but i did do it.  it's ok that my paycheck for this class was only $237.00, it could have been $20.00 and it would still be payment for teaching a cooking class.  my dream wasn't silly, and it still isn't, but it did have a destructive element in that it is not attainable in the short-term. i would never tell anyone to give up their dreams, but i would recommend a renovation beginning with an examination of what you really want vs. the pictures in your head. let me know what you find as you renovate.

in keeping with the theme of the day, i present to you the following:
the dream dinner, redefined

i was fortunate enough to be in saratoga today and was able to hit the farmer's market before heading home. as i walked through the market agog at summer's bounty I dreamt of a dinner, no a feast, comprised of a myriad of multi-colored vegetable dishes each delivering an exquisite morsel of summer.  then reality set in:  it was already 4:45, i was tired, and it would just be me for dinner tonight anyway.  still i bought two pints of gorgeous tomatoes, two bunches of deep purple beets and a few bumpy-skinned cucumbers and headed home. as i carried all of my loot into the house what i really wanted to eat became clear: a tomato sandwich! i feel bad for people who don't like tomatoes--this time of year the humble tomato embodies the essence of summer.  one simple sandwich is my dinner dream redefined: beautiful produce + fresh ingredients = an amazingly delicious dinner.

the ultimate summer sandwich

  • 2 gorgeous, ripe tomatoes (preferably from your garden or a farmer's market!)
  • 2 slices of your favorite bread (go with something on the softer side or else the tomatoes will slide out when you bite it)
  • 2-3 cloves of roasted garlic
  • 1 blob of good quality mayonnaise
  • 5-6 basil leaves (if you don't have a basil plant, try the farmer who sold you the tomatoes)
  • kosher salt and ground pepper

Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on one side of each bread slice.  take one of the slices and mash the roasted garlic into the mayo creating an even layer of garlic, and add the basil leaves. using a serrated knife, slice the tomatoes into 1" rounds and cover the basil leaves with those drippy slabs. salt and pepper liberally.  slice the sandwich into halves (or fours if you like), put on a plate and go sit down somewhere quiet (outside on a porch or deck would be great) and enjoy a dream dinner. 

this recipe can, and should be, doubled or tripled as needed!


  1. Love it! (and love you too!!)--fresh summer tomatoes are the best, especially with good friends!

  2. oh I agree with you there. and I love you, too! :)

  3. You can feel sorry for me, I still say "ick" when it comes to these confused red fruit/vegetable. I hope it was yummy for you, it sure looked purdy~

  4. yum!! and obviously, I should have kept reading... ;-) taz

  5. LOL, that's ok, Ter. Thanks for taking the time to visit and read! Tell your friends :)

  6. After reading your post the other day, I have been craving tomato and fresh basil ever since. I missed the Farmer's market this week, had to do a Price Chopper run and their basil was brown and their tomatoes...not so fresh! Sooo disappointing! My craving continues...

  7. Love everything made with tomatoes but I can't call myself a fan of the plain variety. I will give your sandwich a try because you made it sound so delicious.

  8. FR - let me know if you make any 'improvements' on the basic sandwich design! I love to hear other interpretations :) Thanks for writing!