If there’s somewhere I don’t want to be, it’s caught in a rut. A rut, by definition, is a “sunken, deep track.” In a figurative sense, it’s simply being stuck — trapped, without inspiration, creativity and probably worst of all, without hope. If I start to feel like I’m going into “stuck mode” I do everything I can to break out: I travel, I listen to music, read books and meet new people — and when all else fails, I step out of my comfort zone.
Recently, I decided to learn a new skill — nothing related to the kitchen or any of my current work. My new skill would be golfing, and I was determined to learn how to play.
Now, I’ve never golfed in my life. I knew nothing about the sport (and I still don’t). However, it was time to learn something new, so I picked the one sport I’ve never held any interest and went all in. I signed up for a Golf Boot Camp and that was it.
On my first day of camp, I was lost. Literally. I couldn’t find the golf course, I didn’t know where I was headed and I found myself driving around aimlessly while my GPS was “re-calculating.” (Geez, that has to be the most frustrating sound to hear when you’re lost). When I finally found the camp, I had no idea how to swing or grip the club correctly. I was lost, frustrated and angry. I would swing for the ball and miss — like an un-coordinated idiot. I kept wondering: “Why am I doing this? What was I thinking?”
Instead of giving up, I put my head down, corrected my grip and started to swing for the ball. I decided that no matter what, I was going to power through and complete the lesson. I’m not sure what it was: a spark of fight, a bitter streak of stubbornness, or a hard-headed sense of determination (I’ll never be able to shake these from my personality) but I knew I had to continue. I was going to hit the ball – damnit!
My instructor, Cathy, was more than accommodating. She kept a watchful eye on everything I did, making corrective steps and giving sound advice. By some miracle, I hit the ball. Then I hit another and another. Before I knew it, I was spending my afternoons on the golfing range, practicing, meeting new people and improving my swing. It felt amazing!
As I look back, I am in awe with the amount of support and growth I have gained. When I shared my golfing goals with my friends Jen and Dean, they instantly gave their approval. Jen graciously allowed me to borrow her clubs and Dean shared great golfing advice. It felt fantastic to have such encouragement.
Unexpectedly, I’ve also grown on my professional side. Jen and Dean have a daughter named Lauren, and Cathy has a daughter named Lucky. Both Lauren and Lucky are pre-teens, currently interested in learning their way around the kitchen. It is an absolute joy to know that both girls have my cookbook and are spending the summer cooking their way through the recipes.
Hearing these two young ladies are excited to learn from my work has inspired me to reach out to both of them. Together, we share a love for knowledge and cooking. In fact, while talking with the girls, I realized how much fun it is to teach young people, and how wonderful it is to discover new things at any age.
Also, after spending days in the hot sun, I’ve created several new recipes that are “picnic-friendly” and can go in any cooler, basket, poolside table or even in the back of a golf cart. I’ll post these recipes in the coming weeks, as soon as they are tested and perfected.
In the meantime, I am posting my Cold Sesame Noodle recipe, with a big shout-out to Lauren, Lucky, Cathy, Jen and Dean — and of course, to all of my friends who have pushed me and encouraged me to try something new. I may not be a good golfer (yet) but I am truly grateful for such amazing friendships. The next picnic we have together will be on the links — and I can’t wait!
Cold Sesame Noodles
* Author’s Note: When I published this recipe in my cookbook, I encouraged the use of Chinese egg noodles, to make it more authentic. Now that I’m bringing this on the golf course, I’ve switched to buckwheat soba noodles which are full of fiber, and I’ve added shrimp for extra protein.
2 pounds buckwheat soba noodles
1 cup shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup fresh snowpeas
1 cup freshly grated carrots
1/2 cup green onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup dark sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce (you may use low sodium)
3 tablespoons black Chinese vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sambal (chili paste)
Sesames seeds for garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the soba noodles and cook according to package directions. In the last two minutes of cooking, add the shrimp and the snowpeas.
- Immediately rinse the noodles, shrimp and snowpeas under cold running water. Drain well, cool and set aside.
- Make the dressing by mixing the sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sambal and sugar. Adjust seasonings to taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
- Combine the noodles, shrimp, snowpeas, carrots and green onions with the dressing in a large bowl. Use tongs or extra long chopsticks to coat well. Chill in refrigerator for two hours, turning every 30 minutes.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and pack in picnic basket or serve immediately.