I had a pink pair of footsie pajamas that were absolutely wonderful. They were worn into little fuzzy balls on the outside. Inside they hung a perfect distance from my skin. They trapped warm air all around me, but the fabric was far away enough to provided cool relief when I moved my skin to meet it. The feet were white around the toes, essential to facilitating the imagery on my journeys into the world of becoming feline, canine or equine. The bottoms of the feet had been fashioned with grip pads to prevent children from going sliding across linoleum and careening into cabinets or oven doors. Mine were caked with the right amount of dirt to enable me to slide alongside my older brothers; but they were still grippy enough to provide an alibi if I felt too afraid to be a daredevil. As I look outside at at this Christmas-in-July weather, I feel a deep longing for those footsie pajamas.
My brother Andy and I were only 1 year apart. We were best friends. I remember Andy walking into our kitchen one day, with his bowl hair cut hanging just above his eyes, and declaring that he was going to become a chef one day.
I was younger than he was, but we had had the same upbringing. We both used to love laying on the shag carpet and watching episodes of the Graham Kerr cooking show. Why had it never occurred to me that becoming a chef was an option! Suddenly I felt jealous. I wished that I had thought of this first. I felt like he had robbed me of my destiny, because he had chosen it first and now if I also chose to become a chef I would never be anything but a follower. From that day forth I was to defer to him in matters of cooking, he was going to be the chef after all. My mother tried to console me.
"You are going to be a famous piano player, you have such a good ear for music" she would say. 'I want to be a chef.' I would think.
Our first experiments in the kitchen involved more baking than cooking. Neither one of us could reach the stove top, but our mother allowed us to use the oven with her permission. We had tall kitchen chairs, which we dragged to the baking cabinets to stand on so that we could reach what was inside.
From these chairs we spilled flour, and gathered spices, our heads disappearing into the vanilla smelling cavern of chocolate chip bags and baking powder.
Everything we baked turned out flat, and tasted the same. A cinnamon flavored bread like substance that was really more of a dense cake. After a few attempts at this we turned our attention to microwaving marshmallows, a quicker more exciting process yielding tastier results.
One day, when we were a little older and I had grown into the temperament of not feeling like practicing the piano, Andy walked into the kitchen and announced that he resented the fact that he was never given the option of taking piano lessons. I perked up in my chair.
"You want to play the piano?" I asked. Suddenly I felt a lot cooler for knowing how to play. I also noted that the chef position was now available.
Just like that, we traded passions. After a brief stint with the piano, Andy moved on to become a talented saxophone player. He had a band and they were successful, he performed in front of large crowds. He moved on to classical composition, he now lives in Germany and is pursuing a graduate degree in classical composition.
I am currently living a life of composing salads.
The dressing (not pictured on the salad):
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
generous sprinkle of cinnamon
4 Tbsp sunflower oil
a squirt of lemon juice
dash of salt
Dice 3 medium kohlrabi, add one bulb of fennel (find one with a strong anise flavor) garnish with diced basil.
Christina's vote: "This salad made me feel like I could single-handedly turn the economy around"