Last week there was an article that ran in every media outlet imaginable about women in the White House implementing a new meeting strategy for being heard. I’m not here to talk about politics or gender or ‘manterrupting,’ I promise. You’re welcome to read the article and come to your own conclusions about those things. What really struck me was the concept of amplification. Here’s a little quote: “Female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification”: When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.” What’s more, they incorporated a spirit of collaboration, erasing the stigma of women needing to be competitive because they are often the minority.
First of all, it is no secret that I love words. I competed in my town’s spelling bee three years in a row representing my school. I think one year I came in 12th place! (When you are in 4th grade at a tiny private school, spelling against 5th and 6th grade kids from the huge public schools in Joplin, MO this is a really big deal.) As an adult, I am the reigning Scrabble champion of my family. And let me tell you, we take the game very seriously. We even have a trophy, I mean, I do, because I am the champion.… I’m a bit obsessed with crosswords and a friend and I even made up our own version of Words With Friends. We send each other new words we’ve learned or just a word we find particularly special. Either the letters all line up in an incredible way, or the syllables have a special rhythm, or the meaning is like poetry. Amplification. Man, that’s a good word.
Not only do the five syllables build on themselves as you go, but the two-pronged definition involves sound as well as meaning: genius. Amplification is the process of increasing the sound of something but it is also the action of making something more marked or intense in meaning. So these women, yes, they want to be heard, but in being ‘amplified’ by another woman from their peer group, their statement becomes more noticeable.
I say all of this because All Good Things turned three years old this past week! My numbers keep growing, opportunities to write and create food media continue to find me, and I’ve offered up my words and food inspiration for 156 Mondays. Do you know how I did this? With the amplification from all of you! You shared, quoted, LIKED, tweeted, regrammed, commented, you made your Mom subscribe, you cooked my recipes, heck, some of your kids cooked my recipes! I’ve been encouraged and empowered to continue following my dreams and sharing my message. Thank you. It’s been a collaborative effort that has truly amplified my little space here on the internet. Together, we have made louder and given deeper meaning to all of the good things in our world and in the kitchen.
Aside from supporting me and my culinary and creative efforts, what else can you amplify in your life? Is there a cause in your community that you believe in? Tell your neighbor. Volunteer. Do some good-deedery! Is there someone in your life that needs to be heard and understood a bit better? Share their message, give them credit, reinforce your belief in them. Amplify the accomplishments of your children and coworkers, empowering them to think and do for themselves, all the while feeling good about themselves. Acknowledgment is a small, small thing that yields big, big results in life.
Staying true to the goal of All Good Things - to bring the conversation of spirituality into the kitchen - allow me to share a new favorite word. It’s a beauty. It is a Greek word in origin that means to change one’s mind.
1.a profound, usually spiritual, transformation; conversion.
I grew up loathing okra. We all know it’s slimy. But if your dad grew it in the garden and it was your job to pick it, you probably got little stickers and barbs all over your fingers as you harvested it. All the effort of slime dodging and garden prickliness would yield dull green nuggets floating in a pot of gumbo (one of my least favorite foods) or in my grandmother’s scary jars of vegetable soup. Occasionally okra would show up fried within an inch of its life, but I wasn’t fooled.
Well, like I said, I grew up, and my palate became elevated, my mind opened. When I moved to New York and started cooking for clients, I had the opportunity to do okra my way. I had a metanoia over okra. In the farmer’s market, I find crimson pods, little tiny greenish purple bullets, and super long ones. They look otherworldly, and when sliced make perfect little stars! My standard preparation has been a quick egg batter, light corn meal dredge, toss into a skillet with coconut oil, pushing them around until they're golden and crispy, and then a dust of taco seasoning, salt, and pepper. This week I went to my cupboard reaching for corn meal and came back with coconut flour. Have you cooked with this stuff? It is fluffy and light, a bit sweet, and nutty. So good in gluten-free desserts. I had never used it in a savory dish. Aha! I amplified the coconut flavor that I love so much by coating the egg battered okra in coconut flour before going into the pan of coconut oil. Metanoia. Amplification. All Good Things. Here’s to many more years together!