As I was settling into my new apartment after my big move from Long Island City to Washington Heights, one of the first things I did was plant an Amaryllis bulb. One of my nearest and dearest friends had given it to me for the holidays. I love these flowers for the mere fact I played the role of Amaryllis in The Music Man when I was very young. It was one of my first opportunities to really perform and was a touchstone for who I would grow up to be as an artist.
I followed the instructions that came with the bulb. I was encouraged by the words "Bloom time: 6-10 weeks after planting." In two and a half months I would be rewarded with a gorgeous red flower that would represent my first months living in my new home. I would be reminded of my friend who gifted me the bulb. Also, the bloom would serve as a 'pompom' cheering me on as I worked towards my future goals.
One of the things I've been working towards is taking All Good Things to the next level. I'm working with a 'pitching' coach to expand my platform. What does that mean?! I'm learning how to promote myself and submit to magazines, podcasts, and on camera opportunities that will take me to the next level as a chef, as a brand, and personality in media. I'm tending to the seeds of my culinary dreams and I look forward to the reward of 'blooms.'
Beginning when I played the young Amaryllis, I've pretty much 'pitched' myself as a performer ever since. I've watered the seeds of dreams planted by that little girl so long ago with hard work and dedication. Countless years of lessons and shows growing up in Missouri, four years attending a performing arts conservatory, and ultimately moving to New York.
That led to over two decades of auditioning, putting myself out there for roles on stage and on television, dance calls, being typed out, call backs... All the while growing and learning as I've made my way in the performing arts world. Cooking was always my day job. I continued to grow and learn as a cook too. Now that I'm older, my show business and cooking worlds have collided. It's been a very exciting and rewarding transition.
I met Trevor Cochrane of the Garden Gurus from Australia and was part of their pilot for the Food Network. I'm now a food writer and a brand ambassador sharing my culinary creativity. I've been given the opportunity to cook for famous and important people. Last year I was interviewed on NPR by Leonard Lopate. I'm incredibly proud of how far I've come, but I want to accomplish so much more.
Recently, I put myself out there in a very big way. It was a big cooking opportunity for television that would definitely take me to the next level. I researched the project and worked hard on my submission materials. I knew I had put in the work and I was positive I would be rewarded with a 'bloom' in my career. This opportunity was MINE, truly made for me.
I was encouraged by the casting team who were complimentary of my submission. I patiently waited to hear I'd been chosen. I rearranged my schedule to accommodate (hopefully) being flown out for the on-camera callbacks. The casting director even let me know that decisions hadn't been made yet and I was still in the running. (!!!!)
Well. I wasn't chosen. I wasn't even called back. Sigh.
I'm no stranger to rejection. I think hearing a NO can sometimes be our greatest teacher. Our egos balance out. We go back to the drawing board improving on our skills and recommitting to our goals. This particular serving of rejection hit me pretty hard as you can imagine. I was unbelievably disappointed in my efforts and felt defeated.
I was watering my plants the other day, rotating their positions in the sun and shade of my apartment windows. I have lived here for five months and would you believe that Amaryllis still hasn't produced a bloom?! She is a beautiful plant. Strong and thriving with tall, sturdy leaves. Just no pompom. No visual reward of red petals. That sweet little bulb that held so much promise has taught me one of my greatest and hardest lessons.
You don't always bloom.
Whether or not we 'flower' does not determine our worth or efforts. Nor does it diminish the gifts we are meant to share with the world. Keep growing. Keep reaching towards the light and sky.
I'm closing out my August off with a cherry BBQ sauce that I created for Stoneridge Orchards using their dried Montmorency cherries. The dried cherries bloom and plump up in the cider vinegar. I made a double batch to get me through the fall. I'll slather it on grilled chicken, brisket, pork chops, or tofu steaks and it'll take me right back to a warm summer night.
Cherry BBQ Sauce
- 2 dried Stoneridge Orchards Mont Morency dried cherries
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
Place the cherries in a medium sized bowl and pour the vinegar on top. Let them sit for 15 minutes to plump up a bit. In a large saucepan, sauté onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the dried seasonings. Stir to coat the onion for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until cherries are tender and sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and puree with a handheld stick blender, food processor, or standing blender.