Taking risks

If anyone ever gives you the chance to do something that you will otherwise never have the opportunity in your lifetime to do again, do it. Check that box on your bucket list.

One such opportunity came for me last week. My friend is a pilot and he’d offered while we were in school to take me up in his four-seater propeller plane. I mean, first of all, how cool is that?! Kid has his own plane! Second, uh DUH I want to go! Well, needless to say I cashed in on that offer and had one of the most thrilling experiences of my summer.

Driving to the airport my heart was beating nearly out of my chest and I did for like one second say to myself, is this actually happening? You’re really gonna let your 22 yr old friend fly you around in the tiniest plane you’ve ever been in? Do you trust him to keep you safe? My answer to that was yes, 100%. So gone were my anxieties and away we flew.

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My pilot next to his Cessna 172 Skyhawk, just to show you how tiny this plane really is.

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Sitting right up there in the cockpit playing the co-pilot was insanely cool. My friend taught me about the controls, what he needed to do to gain altitude, drop down a bit, how to steer, control the nose, etc. Though I don’t like to consider myself bookish, I do tend to study everything. People, places. I commit them to memory. Before we took off, I was watching my friend, memorizing his movements. Everything was calculated, calm. It was pretty awesome seeing my friend in a totally different capacity than how I usually see him. However, as soon as we got into the air, I stopped studying. I just gave into the experience.

This plane ride was absolutely incredible. There really aren’t words to describe how I was feeling in that moment. It’s not like I’ve never flown before and was experiencing flying for the first time, but it was as if that was the case. It’s a whole new and exciting experience being first, in a plane this small, and second, up in the cockpit watching the magic happen. We’d make dips and quick turnarounds where the wings were closer to perpendicular to the ground than parallel, sometimes without much warning. But I wasn’t frightened at all, it was honestly quite freeing. I’ve never felt like a bird before on any of my plane rides, but in this moment, that’s exactly what I imagined a bird might feel like. It was freedom. It was bliss.

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We flew over the Berkshire mountains, over lakes, through valleys. He pointed out all kinds of landmarks and buildings that we’d just driven past on the way to the airport, this time from an aerial view. His friend even managed to catch a picture of us up in the clouds from below.

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He gave me the opportunity to take hold of the steering wheel, instructing me that to pull closer to me was up, pushing in was down, left and right were respectively so. I put my hands on the co-pilot wheel and he let go of his. It was the only time I felt fear the entire flight. I immediately retracted. I was going to leave that to the professional. One day if I ever get the chance to fly again, I’ll  give it a go, but for now I was completely satisfied taking in the view.

I can honestly say that if he hadn’t offered this plane ride, it’s something I would never have had the opportunity to do in my lifetime. Sure, there’d be other plane rides, probably flying over some pretty cool places, but nothing will quite compare to having your friend share his love of flying with you, toting you around in his private plane and giving you the experience of a lifetime. Thank you Devin!

-elise

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Julie/Julia Project

If anyone follows me on social media, you’ve probably noticed my recent infatuation with posting food, either incredible food that I’ve had the pleasure of devouring or meals that I’ve tried my hand at making. I’m extremely blessed to be surrounded by such rich local farm-fresh food in Vermont and even more closely in my jobs serving at weddings. I can’t tell you how many times my mouth has watered at the dry rubbed fire-roasted bone-in chicken with tomato panzanella or the cast iron seared salmon over a beet puree or the sirloin steak with bordelaise sauce over a luscious bed of creamy mashed potatoes and charred sweet onions. Just writing about it is making me salivate (insert heart eye emoji here).Don’t even get me started on the appetizers….

Here’s a quick peak of what I’m talking about. Farmhouse Group Events serves only the best…

Doesn’t that food look just scrumptious?? Photos courtesy of their Insta feed

Needless to say, having started out on my own, it was time that I learn to cook. Using the knowledge gained from hours of watching MasterChef, the preparation techniques I’ve seen the cooks use at work as well gaining inspiration from the fantastic food we get to indulge here in BTV, my friend Dan and I began our culinary adventure. We’ve always been the foodies of our group of friends and we were hoping to put our knowledge to the test.

As a jumping off point, I watched Julie &  Julia, the 2009 nod to the true story of a home cook in New York who follows in the footsteps of her idol Julia Child and works her way through Child’s cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, challenging herself to cook 524 recipes in 365 days.

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She blogs about her food journey and creates a following of like-minded “serventless American cooks,” foodies that share her love of food and motivate her when the going gets tough. As the parallel lives of Julie and Julia unfolded on the screen, it made me fall so much more in love with the idea of cooking. Food brings people together around the table, sharing in the bounty of our earth and keeps traditions of cultures and families alive. I absolutely love the idea of not just cooking for myself but sharing our gifts with others.

With Julie’s challenge in mind, we starting working through some of the recipes that we had that had been passed down in our families. We’ve never really been ones to start small so we jumped right in with pork scallopini with butter and herb noodles and  green veggies, fish milanese with pine nut couscous and most recently, skillet chicken in a mushroom and onion cream sauce over a bed of mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts. Even our easier meals such as quiche or baked macaroni or spaghetti and meatballs get elevated with homemade (secret) family recipes as well as crunchy garlic bread sides and the like. Part of our learning process includes writing the date of our experiment, what we had paired with the protein as far as a starch and vegetables are concerned, and our amendments to the recipe (if any). The recipes are then entered into our official collection.

Learning to cook from scratch and elevating simple meals has added a whole new level of tastiness and an appreciation for fine food. This calls to mind some of my favorite lines from Chef Dider in the 2006 film Last Holiday. He says,

“The secret of life is butter”

“No butter, no cream, no wheat, no dairy, no fat! Eh merde! Why do they bother to eat?”

“The first time I saw you, I was so happy to see your appetite for food….for life.”

Didier’s philosophy has shaped how I feel about food and thus about life. Don’t ask for substitutions, just appreciate and experience all that we have been blessed with in our lives. When it comes to food, I don’t limit myself, count calories, or pass on dessert. Of course all in moderation but life is too short not to eat things that make you happy!

We cannot wait to continue honing our culinary skills. Got any recipes we can try? Post them in the comments!

-elise