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Old 03-10-2010, 07:07 PM   #1
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How to Create a Monster, or, Help!

There is a 15 year old young man who recently started coming to church, as did his mother. They had some strange ideas about life when we first met them. But over the course of several months, we've seen change, for the better. They are more industrious, have greater pride in themselves, and are starting to think more about others than just themselves.

The young man called me up a couple days back and stated that his mother had worked extra hard at cleaning their home and he wanted to cook dinner for her. I had mentioned to him a while back that if he ever developed a desire to learn how to cook, he could contact me and I would teach him some things. Well, he called.

I asked him to find out, discretely, what his mother liked and we would make something really good for her. He checked into that and came up with Sirloin Tip roast. I couldn't help him until after 5 p.m., when I got off of work and thought that the roast, being a fairly lean hunk of meat, would take too long to cook properly. So we went to a local store that sells good meat, and looked at what they had available. We ended up purchasing some good sirloin steak, a couple avocados, fresh crimini mushrooms, unsliced, bean sprouts, salad fixin's, and whole wheat pita bread. The meal of the night was to be good flatbread sandwiches.

I showed the young man how to use a sharpening steel to freshen his knives, how to hold and use the knife to chop, dice, slice, and carry food. He learned to put a bit of lemon juice on the sliced avocado, how to mechanically tenderize the meat and remove the silver skin and fat, season the meat, and pan fry it in cast iron to get it just medium rare . I taught him how to find the meat grain, and bias-slice the meat against the grain to insure that it was tender and the right size and thickness for the pita pockets. He also learned how to prepare and take care of the cast iron pan, dice onions without causing tears, and saute the mushrooms.

Well, to make a long story short, the mother, her son, his older sister, and a couple of guests had some very good sandwiches. We even made home-made mayo and from that, home made ranch dressing. They were amazed at what their son could do (with significant assistance, that is). I helped pay for about half of the grocery cost. Oh, the young man also made some blueberry muffins from a mix, without muffin papers, and they slid out of the muffin pans without leaving a crumb. It was an extremely successful night.

So, you might ask, what's the problem? The problem is that he wants a weakly lesson to learn new cooking techniques. His family would pay for the ingredients, but that would take up a good 2 to three hours a week of my already stretched time. I think a new technique every couple of weeks would be reasonable, but not weakly lessons. I always thought that I'd like to have a side business of teahching people how to cook, in their homes, with their equipment. But I always thought it would be a business, where I'd make a bit of cash. But at the same time, I see so much change in this young man and want to help him grow, take him under my wing, so-to-speak. He doesn't have a father at home. It would help him. But my life is so very busy already.

I need to be a good example to him and his family, but can't stretch myself too thin. I need more hours in the day.

I'm not asking for advise, merely talking to good people who will listen. My Christian beliefs compel me to help wherever I can. And my own desires and nature do the same. I just have to be careful not to make anyone too dependent on me or my skills. I can be this young man's friend, but not his surrogate father.

I could go on, but need to stop here. I have to complete a querry letter for my novel, to send to prospective agents. I have to make a paragraph known in the writing community as "the hook", and then use about a half page to condense my 570+ pages of novel into an intelligent summary, and then use the remaining portion of the page to abricate a short biography of myself as a writer. This part of trying to get published is more challenging than is writing the novel, almost. But, I have successfully crafted a query letter before, that has gotten my work read by multiple agents, who all said the same thing, the story is great, almost ready to sell. Just flesh out the characters a bit more.

Oh, and be assured, the writing i my novel is proofread an polished, without doubel negatives, or dangling participles, or, the sentences that contain five prepositions and a handful of redundancies. Great care has been taken to craft the work. I even used a spell-checker.

And so, my friends, I leave you for now. Got work to do.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North


“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

Check out my blog for the friendliest cooking instruction on the net. Go ahead. You know you want to.- http://gwnorthsfamilycookin.wordpress.com/
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Old 03-10-2010, 08:23 PM   #2
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good for you, set the amount of time you will help him. if that works for him, great. you are very sweet to even consider this as busy as you are.

"life isn't about how to survive the storm but how to dance in the rain"
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Old 03-10-2010, 10:42 PM   #3
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Could this be turned into a church event where several good cooks could alternate and teach the preparation of their own best dishes?
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Old 03-10-2010, 11:13 PM   #4
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I could see this as at least every other week. Teach him a dish one week then let him try it on his own the next. I admire you for taking this on. I'm sure the Good Lord will help you work it out! He always manages to get the right people in the right place at the right time with right skills.
I could give up chocolate but I'm no quitter!
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Old 03-14-2010, 04:36 PM   #5
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Oh, dearie me. Been there. Not with cooking, but with tutoring. I asked advice before taking it on. I had several friends/sibs who taught the subject. This friend was about to spend $5000 to send the kid to Sylvans. He was of an age where I could easily fix the problem (the mom had a hard time in the subject, the dad was too judgemental to be ableto help). So I set up a time and place to help him. One 45 minute time period a week. In a few months, his parents managed to get him to me maybe once a month. I'd spent hours connecting with his teacher, etc. In the end, the child showed up maybe half the time I was to spend with him. In fact, his grades all went up one grade, except for grammar (what I was supposedly tutuoring him in). I laughed. They said his grammar grade didn't go up, but to me, it did, he went from not going to pass 4th grade to passing it. So guess what? I succeeded.

BUT that said, don't take it on if there isn't a commitment from the person and his parents. ALL PEOPLE INVOLVEDneed to be committed. As far as my child was concerned, his parents think I failed. They don't realize that I could not, in a million years, succeed with a child who ... well, wasn't there. So make sure you have a true agreement before taking it on.
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Old 03-14-2010, 08:02 PM   #6
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Talk to him, and his family, and settle for a class every other week, as Claire and Jabbur advised. Bigjim also has a very good sugestion about classes from people of the church. (this is the way I learned to sew after my retirement, classes in the parish given from a professional dressmaker)
And I wish you and your "pupil" all the best!

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