In-Depth Post #6

Welcome to my sixth In-Depth blog post. 

I have been doing a lot of cooking over the last couple weeks. I tried two new recipes called cashew chicken and chicken satay. Cashew chicken was surprisingly simple. It was only a sauce and a few basic ingredients, but combined it formed a delightful dish. The sauce was made with chili paste, fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice. We were out of lime juice, so I substituted it for lemon juice which provided similar sour sweetness. The rest of the ingredients were chicken, chopped red pepper, coriander, and roasted cashews. I also added habanero peppers to create some spice. Once I had all the ingredients prepared, I added some oil and garlic to my wok and started stir frying. The end result was a spicy and sweet chicken dish with slightly sour sauce. It was wonderful. The two habaneros I added gave the dish a strong, but not overpowering spice level. 

I continued to practice my plating skills with the cashew chicken. I took a ¾ measuring cup and filled it with cooked rice. I then placed the rice in the middle of the plate and started adding ingredients around it. The plate was not big enough to fit all the food I added to the plate, so the final result was a little crowded. To improve the aesthetics next time, I will add less rice and make the main dish the focal point.  

The second new meal I made was called chicken satay. Chicken satay can be found across Thailand being sold off charcoal stoves near the side of the road. It is a simple meat skewer that packs a lot of flavour. Pork satay is a common substitute for chicken, and it can also be found across Thailand.  

I thought chicken satay only required a couple of chicken breasts and skewers. I was wrong. To make chicken satay, you need to make a complex marinade. As I learned, a marinade is a sauce that meat soaks in to acquire a new or different flavour. When I first attempted to make chicken satay, I was unaware that I had to marinate the chicken. I started cooking at six o’clock and would not have time to properly marinate the chicken, so I made another Thai meal. My first attempt ended in disappointment, but I did not give up. I later made the marinade and let the chicken soak overnight. The next day at about 5 o’clock, I took the chicken out of the fridge to find it completely soaked in marinade. I stuck a few pieces of chicken on each skewer then started to warm up the barbecue. I covered the grill with spray oil and put the skewers in. I let them cook for about ten minutes flipping them occasionally. After that I pulled them off the grill and served them with peanut sauce. 

They were quite flavourful. Allowing them to marinate for 24 hours let the chicken absorb the sauce’s flavour. My only complaint is that they felt like they were missing something. The flavour was a mix of turmeric and coriander, with other small accents. But it felt like an important ingredient was missing. Next time I will add lime or lemon juice. Some acidic and sour juice would balance the powerful flavour of the spices. 

For my demonstration and learning center on May 31st, I want to do a live cooking demonstration. I will be making a small serving of red curry with beef. I chose to make red curry because it is quick to make and allows me to demonstrate multiple different skills I have learned. I will be bringing my mortar and pestle to demonstrate creating curry paste. I would like to make it interactive by allowing people to try the mortar and pestle, but that will not work. I would need to clean the pestle between every use, which could contaminate the curry paste. To make the post interactive, I will allow people to try fundamental Thai ingredients like basil and chili peppers. I will have hand sanitizer near my stove for people to use before they try the ingredients. I will also hand out the ingredients with tongs to reduce contact. I will be cooking on a gas-powered Coleman stove, so I will need to be outside, so I don’t get smoke in the school. The Coleman stove requires propane so I will need space for a propane bottle and the stove. I think this would work best with a table. Before I present, I need to practice cooking on the Coleman stove to make sure I can moderate heat level properly. I will also need to practice making red curry efficiently, so I am familiar with the steps. I will probably have time to repeat the red curry recipe, so I need to make sure I bring enough ingredients. 

In-Depth Post #5

Welcome back to the blog. This is my fifth blog post for In-Depth.  

I cannot believe that In-Depth is almost in its final month. This blog post will be focusing on the most interesting meal I made over the last few weeks, Thai basil beef. I will try to show more than I tell while I explain this meal. But I will explain the steps I took and some of the skills I have learned. 

As I said, this week I made Thai Beef Basil. I have attached the recipe below. It can be found at https://themodernproper.com/thai-basil-beef 

We didn’t have any Thai basil left, so I substituted it for normal basil. I changed olive oil for sesame oil. I also chose to use palm sugar instead of brown sugar for a more traditional flavour. Below I have attached a photo of the ingredients. 

 

Next, I set some rice to boil and started preparing my ingredients. In the next photo I prepped the garlic, pepper, and shallots. 

 

Next, I prepped the palm sugar. I was going to cut it up like I have in the past, but my mom gave me the idea to crush it in the mortar and pestle. It worked incredibly well. The chunks of sugar quickly broke into fine dust. 

Once the sugar was crushed, I started cooking the beef. As I have learned in the past, you want to first add oil, shallots, and garlic, then add the meat. This warms up the pan and combines the flavours before adding the meat. While the meat was cooking, I sprinkled basil and chili powder on to give the dish more spice. 

Once the meat was cooked, I added the sliced peppers and basil, but I thought the dish looked boring. So, I looked around for more vegetables, but didn’t find anything interesting. I then noticed we had some pineapple. I diced that up and added it into the wok, under the assumption that it would add some extra sweetness to the meal. I also added the sauce that the recipe calls for. 

 

Once everything was done cooking, I set the table. On the right is the rice. In the middle is the Thai Beef Basil and on the left is the leftover Thai soup from the weekend. 

I also wanted to practice a new skill I had been learning called plating. Plating is pretty much arranging food in an artistic and appealing way. Research has shown that proper plating can enhance the taste and overall experience of eating a meal. I used a ¾ measuring cup to create the rice ball and added beef around it. Afterwards I added garnish like peppers, basil, and lime. For a final aesthetic boost, I added three drops of soy sauce and connected them with a fork. 

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I think it turned out very nice. This demonstrates my learning since the beginning of the project because I can now substitute ingredients and add new ingredients that change and enhance the meal. (The pineapple worked great) The pineapple added bright bursts of sweetness to the underlying heat, spice, and flavour of the chili powder. 

I have also been told that I need to work on my plating skills. (This means that my family wants me to continue to practice plating food) 

 

  1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

An example of an opportunity my mentor has provided me with is new ingredients for cooking. For example, he gave me palm sugar to add a traditional sweetness to my cooking. 

  1. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

An opportunity to reinforce existing learning is making meals I have made in the past as a side dish. Recreating meals allows me to explore my latest ideas while also allowing me to focus on the main dish. A good example of this is rice. I make rice almost every time I cook, but I try different ideas while making it. For example, I tried adding lime juice to the water to give the rice more zest. 

  1. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

One way I could accelerate my learning is by watching Thai cooking shows. Watching Thai cooking shows would give me visual skill demonstrations and would expose me to new recipes, cooking styles, and ingrediants. 

  1. When you get together what do you talk about?

When we meet, we mostly talk about my progress and my goals. If I have any outstanding challenges or struggles, we also talk about those. 

  1. 5. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

One aspect of the mentoring relationship that is going well is the time he is giving me to explore. He lets me ask interesting questions and lets learn on my own until we get together at meetings. 

  1. What are you learning about one another?

I am learning more about my mentor’s teaching style through this mentorship. He supports me when I need help but gives me time to explore. I cannot be sure what he has learned about me, but I think he has gotten to know me a little bit more. 

Theme Park Final Project

Over the past week, my lit circle group and have been working on making a theme park for the book “Motorcycles and Sweetgrass”, by Drew Hayden Taylor. I worked on a few different parts of the theme park, but I was mainly responsible for the map. My job was to make the map along with Corin. At first, we worked together on the general layout of the park, however I completed the map. I added the labels, rides, and small details like the trees. Along with working on the map I wrote one of the ride descriptions and helped Ronan draw the characters.  

The brochure can be found at here

This is the map I made

In-Depth Post #4

It has been a long time since my last update and a fair amount has happened. At the time of making my last blog post, I had three major goals. My first goal was to learn how to make red curry paste. My second goal was to buy a mortar and pestle. My third goal was to make a better red curry. Over the past couple weeks, I accomplished all three of these goals. 

I got a mortar and pestle during the first week of Spring Break. The mortar and pestle I got is made of stone. I learned from a website that a new mortar and pestle must be cleaned then seasoned using spices. I washed and scrubbed both the mortar and pestle under hot water to remove loose pieces of rock. Afterwards, I ground up raw rice and salt to season and finish cleaning the mortar and pestle.

 

I learned how to make red curry paste by visiting a couple websites and looking at the attached recipe. Once I had a general idea of the necessary ingredients and steps, I went shopping at TnT. The big idea of red curry paste is to grind up all the ingredients in a mortar and pestle (or food processor) turn them into a paste. Once the paste is created it is as simple as adding the paste to coconut milk. Making curry paste is difficult because there are a lot of ingredients, and it is very time consuming to make. However, the final flavour was very worthwhile. Using the red curry paste I made helped me to create a far more flavourful and complex curry. It was by far the best curry I have made, but the entire process took nearly three hours to complete. 

When I was making the red curry paste, I found that I struggled using the mortar and pestle with tougher ingredients like lemon grass. I would try to grind them, but they refused to break. To solve this challenge, I used a variety of different kitchen tools. The first tool I tried was a food processor. It worked well for dicing the ingredients into smaller pieces that could be ground up easier in the mortar and pestle. I also tried using a blender. The blender worked similar to the food processor, except it didn’t spin with the same force as the food processor, so it was unable to dice the food as effectively. Overall, using a variety of tools worked best because I could treat ingredients differently. For example, galangal was very difficult to grind up, so I first put it through the food processor. 

-Galangal is a root that looks similar to ginger 

I have now had store bought red curry paste and homemade red curry paste, and I can confidently say that the homemade red curry paste is better. The store-bought paste is one dimensional and basic. It tastes good, but it lacks depth. In contrast, the paste I made was complex. It had layers of flavour that changed. At first it was a bit spicy then it gave way to a mix of coriander and lemongrass, with a sweet background flavour from the palm sugar. The only downside to homemade paste is the prep time. It took about an hour and a half to make the red curry paste alone. 

Besides making homemade red curry paste, over the past couple weeks I have also tried to make vegetarian Pad Thai and a new dish called basil chicken. The vegetarian Pad Thai was a mix of tofu and vegetables. In my opinion, it was a failure. It was not because it was vegetarian, but because it was poorly made. Some sections would be very spicy, then other sections would have no spice at all. The first mouthful I had when eating it was so hot that it brough me to tears. Then the rest had no spice. The poor distribution of spice was because I used dried chili peppers, instead of fresh chili peppers. I also didn’t use enough sauce for the number of noodles I used. This resulted in a pad thai with weak flavour and some very spicy sections.  

I can learn from this by using fresh peppers instead of dried peppers when making pad thai. Fresh peppers will help to distribute the spice throughout the dish. It will also add more flavour. I can also use more pad thai sauce to help with the flavour. 

I also made a new dish called basil chicken. Basil chicken is made in a wok with bell peppers, chilis, garlic, shallots, carrots, and of course basil. Basil chicken tastes exactly like it sounds. Strong basil flavour with the touches of the other ingredients. My family and I quite enjoyed it, so I will definitely be making it again. I made a mistake while making basil chicken. I accidentally let the garlic and chili peppers burn. This added some unwanted flavours to the final product. To avoid this mistake in the future, I will keep the oven at a lower temperature and stir more frequently. 

What has been your most difficult mentoring challenge so far?  Why? 

One of the most difficult challenges has been the length of our meeting. Most of our meetings were about 10 minutes. Short meetings are good because they are easy to schedule but they also make discussions less deep and meaningful. This has been difficult because my mentor is busy making it hard to schedule meetings. To overcome this challenge, I have had short meetings, but this results in the meetings sometimes feeling rushed. 

What is working well? Why? 

Something that is working well is going to meetings with questions or topics I want to learn about. It gives our meetings structure and allows my mentor to prepare before the meeting. For example, I went to a meeting and talked about making red curry paste. I brought my recipe book and we discussed some of the ways I could make it better. Meeting with the goal of learning more about red curry helped give the meeting an objective. 

What could be working better?  How can you make sure this happens? 

I could learn more from my meetings by having more topics to discuss during the meeting. Having more topics to discuss would help me learn about more areas of Thai cooking and culture. It would build on something that is already working well. It would give the meetings more structure and would allow me to go more In-Depth with my studies. To ensure this happens, I will prepare before every meeting by sending my mentor a short list of topics I would like to discuss. I will also go to every meeting with a handful of questions about Thai cooking. 

The images on the top are of me using the mortar and pestle to make the red curry paste. The images on the bottom are of me making basil chicken.

  

In-Depth Post #3

 

Hello. Welcome to my third In-Depth post of 2022. 

These last couple of weeks were more relaxed than the previous week, however a lot happened, and I have a lot of mistakes to learn from. The first task I had was working on the second aspect of my project, which is researching Thai culture. I learned numerous facts about Thailand and Thai culture. For example, did you know that Thailand is a Buddhist country with over 40,000 temples, with approximately 30,000 that are still actively used? I learned many fun facts like this over the past couple weeks. Having a better understanding of Thailand will help me learn about Thai culture because I will have a strong foundation of information that I can reference while learning about the country and it’s cooking style. 

My meeting with my mentor this week was short, but detailed. I emailed my mentor and asked to arrange a meeting because I was feeling confident with Pad Thai, and I was hoping to challenge myself with a new meal. I wanted to learn how to make red curry (because my family told me they wanted me to make it for them). I never made curry before, so I was hoping for advice and nuggets of wisdom that I could use when cooking. He told me about curry paste, which is the main ingredient in curry. It gives curries their colour, flavour, and spice. He told me that making curry paste requires a mortar and pestle, which is used to crush and mix ingredients together into a mush/ paste. Unfortunately, I do not own a mortar and pestle, so I needed an alternative. My mentor told me that I could also use a food processor, but the downside is that the food processor can become permanently stained by red peppers. I don’t want to ruin the food processor, so I guess I must buy a mortar and pestle. Besides the paste, curries are relatively simple. All one must do is mix the curry paste with coconut milk in a saucepan, then add the other ingredients like meat and vegetables. 

What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions? 

Something that went well during my mentor meetings was going to the meetings with a plan or goal. For my first meeting, I wanted to learn the basics of Thai cooking and about Pad Thai. This week’s goal was to learn about curry. Going to the meetings with a goal helps to give the meeting direction and structure. Sharing my plan with my mentor also assists in conveying my progress to my mentor. 

Something else that went well was going to the meeting with recipes and my cookbook. Bringing the recipe, I plan on using to cook is helpful because I can discuss the steps of the cooking process with my mentor. I brought a recipe from the website https://hot-thai-kitchen.com/, which was incredibly useful because the recipe also had an attached video. The video has a chef going through the steps of the recipe. The only downside to having a video is it makes my mentor and I hungry. 

What three strategies could improve the quality of your mentoring interactions?  

What is the action plan for implementing each of the three strategies? 

The first strategy to improve my meetings is getting prepared for the meeting beforehand. This means having the page in the cookbook bookmarked or the website already open to the page with the recipe. This will keep me from flipping through the cookbook for the right page, thus making the meeting more efficient. 

To implement the first strategy, I can bookmark the pages I want to discuss beforehand. I can also write down questions I have, so I don’t forget them by the time I meet with my mentor.  

The second improvement I can make is focusing more on communication. When I talk to my mentor, I find myself not communicating well. I often need to rephrase my messages and he doesn’t always understand my questions. To improve my communication, I will get comfortable talking to my mentor and I will clearly state my ideas. I will also share my ideas more openly because until now I have mostly kept my thoughts to myself. This will keep communication between my mentor, and I smooth. 

The third improvement would be to meet with my mentor more regularly. Meeting with my mentor more regularly would help me to get more comfortable talking with my mentor. It would also allow me to ask him more questions. To implement this strategy, one way to do this would be by having a scheduled time for meetings. Another way to meet regularly with my mentor would be by scheduling the next meeting at the end of the current meeting. Planning our meetings in person would be more efficient because we can discuss the best possible time to meet. This would also make the meetings more focused and organized.  

I cooked one major meal over the last couple weeks. I once more cooked Pad Thai, but I also made red curry. However, to continue to challenge myself, I made the Pad Thai without a recipe. On top of cooking without a recipe, I also tried cooking by myself for the first time. Cooking solo taught me that the most important skill for a solo chef is time management. One must be able to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. One must be able to stir food, moderate the temperature, add spices, and a variety of other tasks all at once. At one point it got super stressful because I had to both rice and red curry on the oven. I had to constantly switch between stirring the rice, checking the red curry recipe, and moderating the heat of the oven. Thankfully I was able to turn the heat down and cook slower, which helped to keep the food from burning 

To make red curry, I used store-bought red curry paste. I used store bought paste because it was my first time making red curry and I wanted to know the basic steps before making it on my own. I used the recipe that was attached to the red curry paste. It said to mix the paste with coconut milk in a large saucepan. Because I was cooking by myself, I assumed that a saucepan was the same as a frying pan. 

…they are not the same thing. A saucepan is a pot, and a frying pan is a normal pan. I didn’t know this, so I used a frying pan to make my red curry. It didn’t turn out well. Most of the curry had evaporated by the time I was done cooking it, due to the large area of curry that was exposed. So, in the end I had a frying pan with a thin layer of curry covering it. I am not satisfied with my curry, and I will make it again soon. I now know that a saucepan is a pot, which should make my red curry better in the future. 

My goals for the next few weeks are to learn how to make red curry paste, to buy a mortar and pestle, and to make a better red curry. 

One question I want to learn the answer to is: 

How do you regulate the spice a dish has? 

 

Here are some pictures of my cooking. 

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In-Depth Post #2

Hello. Welcome to my second In-Depth post of 2022.  

A lot has happened in the last three weeks. First of all, I got a mentor. When I wrote my last blog post, I had just sent an email to a skilled Thai chef on Vancouver Island. The next day I found a reply from them in my inbox. I was excited because she was the first person to respond to my request. She wanted to talk over the phone. I was unable to because she had not completed the school’s paperwork. So, I emailed her back. I linked the files she had to complete and gave instructions about how to complete them. Unfortunately, she told me she didn’t want to complete the paperwork. This was both frustrating and disappointing because she was the only person to reply to my emails. I had hoped she would be able to mentor me, but she couldn’t. This left me frustrated and lacking a mentor. 

 I did not know what to do, so I asked my peers for advice. They recommended asking the school’s culinary teachers for advice. So, one day after school I popped into the cafeteria and met with one of the chefs. I explained my situation and told him I was looking for a mentor. I asked if he knew any Thai chefs that could mentor me. He told me that he knew Thai cooking and was willing to mentor me. This surprised me and left me ecstatic because I wasn’t expecting him to mentor me. I am very fortunate because he is a highly skilled chef and a teacher. That means he is familiar with teaching students to cook. This is useful because he has experience working with students, which means he is a great fit to mentor me.  

I had my first meeting two weeks ago on February the seventh. I wanted to discuss the dish I had made on the weekend prior and my plans for the next week. The planned to challenge myself by recreating the dish with a more complex recipe, but I wanted to consult my mentor before I did. I brought a recipe with me, and we went through it together discussing different skills and ingredients. He recommended using extra firm tofu for a more pleasant texture. He also told me how to find specialty ingredients like tamarind paste. By the end of the meeting, we had discussed the entire recipe and my mentor had given me some palm sugar from the kitchen. 

The first lesson I learned from the meeting is to add the egg to Pad Thai after adding all the other ingredients. This allows the flavours to mix and combine with the egg. The second lesson I learned is to be flexible when mentoring someone. My mentor allowed me to ask questions through the entire meeting and he was always willing to answer them. Something else I learned is to be kind and accepting when acting as a mentor. My mentor is kind and willing to help, which makes learning easier. When I mentor others, I can make learning easier by accepting them and doing my best to support my mentee. 

At the start of February, I learned some basic food safety practices. The first one I learned is to constantly wash your hands when working with food, which is obvious. The second is to use fresh and safe ingredients. That means using ingredients that are clean and fresh. To do this, I will buy fruits and vegetables fresh from the store and wash them before cooking or eating them. Any leftovers will be put in the fridge, which will keep them fresh. The third lesson I learned has to do with handling meat products. Meat can carry harmful bacteria that only die when the meat is fully cooked. When dealing with raw meat, especially chicken, it is a good idea to use separate cooking utensils for the meat. Using separate utensils like knives and cutting boards helps to control the cross contamination between raw meat and other ingredients. To tell if meat is fully cooked, look at the colour. If the colour is pink or reddish-grey, then it is raw. If it is a darker color like red or brown, the meat is cooked, however you can always use a thermometer to tell whether the meat is cooked. 

The first dish I made is called Pad Thai. I made it on the Sunday the sixth. I was not confident in my abilities and wanted to practice, so I used a Pad Thai sauce from the store. It simplified the recipe and made cooking a lot simpler. The downside to using store bought sauce is it has preservatives and is not fresh. The result tasted good, but it was bland and sort of syrupy. I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome, so I decided to make Pad Thai again the next weekend, however this time I wanted to challenge myself by making the sauce myself.  

The first step was to get ingredients so (as my mentor suggested) I went to TnT. I liked shopping at TnT because there is a great selection, and everything is fresh. I was a little nervous when making the sauce because I had to quadruple the recipe I was using. But once I finished the sauce, I knew what to do from the week before. I put oil in the wok and fired up the oven. I added the tofu, gralic, and shalots and gave them some time to cook. After, I added the vegetables, the meat, and the spicy peppers. Once they were cooked, I added the noodles then my home-made sauce. After I added my sauce, I noticed that my wok was almost completely full of sauce, but the video I was following had none in it. This made me extremely nervous because I had worked hard to make the sauce and I didn’t want it to go to waste. To solve the problem, I just let the sauce boil off and absorb into the noodles. Once most of the sauce had been absorbed/boiled off I added the egg and bean sprouts. 

The result was a delicious and authentic Pad Thai. The sauce I made tasted a lot better than the sauce from the store. I also added the perfect amount of spice. I didn’t burn when I ate it, but if you ate too much too fast a lot of heat built up in your mouth. The Pad Thai was great, and I am proud of it. However, there are a few aspects I can improve for next time. The first is the noodles. They were a bit stiff and should have been cooked for a little longer. The second mistake I made was mixing the bean sprouts into the noodles. They became soggy and didn’t add any opposing texture to the dish. The final problem is I didn’t make enough. Between my family and I, we ate it all and I couldn’t bring it for lunch the next day! 

The recipe I use can be found at https://hot-thai-kitchen.com/ 

After eating the Pad Thai, I discussed the project with my family. They told me I “need to keep practicing”. Pretty much they just want me to keep cooking for them, so I guess I am doing something right. My family told me to learn to make red curry. Probably because they want to eat it. So, I guess, the next dish I will learn how to make is red curry. 

Some questions I have are how to plan/ alter meals for those with dietary restrictions. How do I make red curry? And how do I make food spicy, without making it too spicy? 

My goal for the next few weeks is to meet with my mentor again and make some red curry.  

I would also like to continue researching Thai culture and customs and continue to work on my cooking skills so I can start cooking independently.

In-Depth Post #1

Hi, welcome back to the blog.  

It looks like it is time for In-Depth again. This year I have chosen to change from creative arts (painting) to culinary arts. Originally, I wanted to form this project around various cultures and their cooking styles. I was hoping to get a widespread understanding of foreign cultures and their accompanying cooking practices. However, changing between cultures every month would keep me from going In-Depth with my studies. Instead, I have now chosen to frame this project around only one country’s cooking. The country I have chosen is Thailand. I chose to study Thai cooking because I fell in love with Thai food while traveling with my family a few years ago. The local ingredients they use combined with their cooking practices weave together making a beautiful symmetry between flavour and culture. 

I want to learn to cook for a variety of reasons. The first reason is I am turning sixteen this year and I plan to move out in a couple of years. When I am on my own, I will need to cook for myself. I want to be able to confidently cook food so I can be independent when I move out. The second reason is to learn more about foreign cultures. I figured I could learn about foreign country’s culinary practices through their food. I chose Thailand because it has an exotic culture with wonderful food. The third reason I want to learn to cook is to give back to my parents. They have been cooking for me for almost sixteen years and I think they would appreciate it if I cooked for them sometimes. The final reason is simple. Everyone likes someone who makes tasty food. 

The vision I have for the end of the project is to be able to cook flavourful cultural food confidently and effectively. I would like to know the techniques and skills to create different flavours and effects in dishes. Ex: Knowing when to use certain spices. Some of the skills I will learn over the course of this project are food safety, knife skills, moderating heat levels on a stove, ways to present food, proper spicing techniques. These will help me move toward my final goal of confidently cooking flavourful Thai food. My first objective is to learn food safety. Once I grasp food safety, I will make an introductory Thai dish, called Pad Thai. I plan to do this by February 14th, which is about when the next post will be. 

A challenge I can foresee is not being able to meet with my mentor. This would slow down my learning and make blogging difficult. A solution to this problem would be to find another mentor or to sacrifice some of my personal time to meet with them. Another big challenge I can foresee is my oven breaking. This would completely stop my hands-on practice and would make cooking food difficult. To get around this problem, I will be flexible, and I will learn to cook with a barbeque or camp stove instead of the oven. The third main challenge I can foresee is catching Covid-19. Catching Covid would make practicing cooking hands-on impossible, however I would still be able to meet with my mentor over the phone. I can prevent this from happening by social distancing and wearing a mask. 

I have a lot of varied resources to use for this project. The first is cookbooks. They contain insightful recipes and helpful nuggets of wisdom. Another resource is online videos. They can demonstrate techniques and put theory into practice. I can see how to make use of cooking utensils and how to handle ingredients. I also plan to use travel books as references. Travel books will give me information about Thailand and the local culture. I will also be getting help and advice from my mentor. 

I have two ideas for my final demonstration/ presentation of learning.  

My first idea is to make a cooking show where I guide the viewer through the process of making a meal and share some facts about Thailand. I could visually demonstrate different techniques and practices, as well as kitchen safety.  Creating a video would be a good choice because it allows me to present both visually and verbally. This format is intended for those who don’t want to read a long paragraph and would prefer to watch a short video instead. 

My second idea is to create a “very cultural meal”. For this presentation, I take the Thai cooking style to the extreme. I create a meal featuring my favourite Thai dishes. This would be good because it is personalized as my favourite part of the project. I could share the learning I made on my favourite part of the project. I would also be able to share my knowledge of the Thailand and their cooking practices. This would be shared through pictures and paragraphs instead of a video, making it better suited for people who enjoy reading. 

In June, once I finish my final demonstration, I plan to celebrate by eating a cookie and taking a nap. It is simple and easy, also very relaxing. 

I have been struggling to find a mentor for this project. I have found a lot of people who are qualified to teach me, but I haven’t been able to find their contact information. It has been very frustrating because I will find a potential mentor who is versed in Thai cooking, but I am unable to contact them. Most of the people I have found are chefs or professional cooks that work for a restaurant or school. They share their experience and position online; however, they very rarely include their contact information. It’s frustrating because I will find an amazing potential mentor with years of experience. Then I won’t be able to email them because I can’t find their email address. The result of this is I don’t have a mentor yet; however, I am working hard to find someone. I have started emailing more people and I am asking everyone I know. I am looking for potential mentors every day. Hopefully soon, I will have a mentor lined up to help me over the rest of this project. 

Night of the notables post

Hello. My name is Tommy Caldwell. I am an American rock climber. I have planned and climbed some of the hardest sport climbing routes in the country. This has earned me a legendary reputation amongst climbers. 

“[Tommy is] arguably the best all-around rock climber on the planet” -National Geographic 

From an early age, my father taught me to take fear, doubt, and challenge, and turn them into inspiration. He engraved perseverance into me from a young age by bringing me along on his outdoor trips. I believe that on his lessons taught me lessons to help me survive kidnapping and career ending injury. 

If you would like to learn more, follow this link. 

Please feel free to comment and ask questions. I will do my best to answer them.

Interview reflection

Hi, welcome back to the blog. This is a reflection on my efforts to get an interview for eminent. Unfortunately, I was unable to get one. As a reminder, my eminent person is Tommy Caldwell. 

I first tried to get an interview on Tuesday the second. The first obvious choice was to contact Tommy himself. I looked for a couple ours, but I was unable to find his email address. This presented a big problem because it meant I would have to use my personal accounts to message him. I messaged him on Instagram. I was nervous he would say no, so I made sure it was a good message. I told him my name, that I was doing a research project on him, and that I would like to interview him. I expected a quick response because I messaged him on Instagram, however I was wrong. I waited three days, then it was the weekend. On Monday, I still did not have a response, so I decided to ask someone else. A while later, I went through his website, which has a contact feature. I have not gotten an email yet. I also messaged him again last week and he still has not looked at any of my messages. He left me on delivered.  

Contacting Tommy did not work out, so I started to branch out. I started looking at different news articles about him. Most of the stories were old, but I found one that was written on October 18th. The story was from Climbing Magazine. It was about the second ever ascent of Tommy’s climb, Flex Luthor. The ascent was made by a man named Matty Hong. After the ascent, Matty suggested upgrading the grade to 5.15b. The article was mostly focused on Matty, but I decided to contact the author. The author’s name is Steven Potter. I still have not gotten an email from him. 

Because Tommy nor Steven messaged me, I decided to keep looking. The next person I found was the director of The Dawn Wall, Peter Mortimer. He seemed like one of the best options available, besides Tommy himself, because he has firsthand experience with the story of The Dawn Wall. It took me about an hour until I found a way to contact him. The Dawn Wall is four years old, but I decided he would still be a good person to interview. I waited a couple of days for an email, but I did not get one. I guess he was busy with the success of his newest movie, The Alpinist, and did not have time to talk to me. 

I found other people that would be good to contact, like Josh Lowell. He was the other director for The Dawn Wall. I did not get a message from him or anyone else I contacted. 

By now I was starting to run out of time, so I got creative. I went to a local climbing gym and talked to some of the employees. This was good because it was in person. I learned about outdoor climbing and multi-pitch climbing. Outdoor climbing is often more complicated and technical than indoor climbing, making it more difficult. Multi-pitch climbing is a type of climbing for big walls. For multi-pitch climbing you switch between climbing and belaying to ascend taller walls. This is relevant because a lot of Tommy’s notable ascents are multi-pitched. This information is helpful in furthering my understanding, but because the employees are not connected to Tommy Caldwell, I did not think it should count. 

When I need to get an interview in the future, I can try a few things. The first is sending multiple emails to the same person in a short amount of time. I did not want to do this because it is disrespectful, and it might make put them against an interview. A positive to doing this is that the person you are messaging knows you are passionate about interviewing them. I sent Tommy multiple messages, but he did not reply. If I had sent more messages to other people, I may have gotten a response. The second thing I could do is use personal networking to find people to interview. I asked people I know if they had any connections. Unfortunately, no one I knew had any connections. In the future, this might work better. 

Thanks for reading this. Hopefully, next time I will be luckier. 

John Maxwell Reflection

This blog post is outlining some of the key points I took away from “Developing the Leaders Around You”. “Developing the Leaders Around You” is a four-part lesson taught by John C. Maxwell about expanding your leadership and the leadership of those around you. 

The first lesson I learned from the workshop is that I must work on myself more and before I work on others. To be an effective teacher and leader, I need to learn before I start to teach others. I must have a solid foundational understanding of the basic concepts of leadership. To do this, I can talk to better leaders than myself to learn from them. They can pass on lessons that they learned. To further work on myself, I can take on leadership positions to gain first-hand experience. This way I can have a better understanding to share with others. This applies to TALONS because the grade tens are expected to teach the grade nines. The responsibility of the grade ten is to teach the grade nine how to plan trips, allowing them to do it again next year. A specific example of how I can apply this lesson into TALONS is leading leadership project I have experience with. Having previous experience provides me with a foundation from which I can lead the grade nines. The leadership project I have the most experience with is the bottle drive. From my previous experience, I can share the some of the challenges we faced and some of the skills we needed to succeed. This will give the grade nines support and knowledge to lead the event next year. 

The second major lesson I learned from the workshop is that people do what people see. This means people respond more to what they see than hear. To quote John C. Maxwell, “A pint of example is equal to a gallon of advice (16. Maxwell, 2014)”. This quote explains that the value of example is greater than that of suggestion. People recall what they see much more than what they hear. This means that leading by example is more effective than leading through instructions. I can become better at leading by example by modeling what I teach. This has two effects. First it leads by influence, instead of by direction. Secondly it builds trust with my team. I can apply this to TALONS by leading by example instead of through instruction. To lead by example, I can be an active and engaged group member. This means actively listening to others, being engaged during group discussions, and communicating in a positive and encouraging way. I can apply this to the bottle drive when proofreading other people’s documents. I can read over the document and give positive and constructive feedback on the document. The example I set will create a supportive and positive environment, which will allow us to learn and work more effectively. 

The third and most important thing I learned from the workshop is that a team’s potential is directly related to its personnel potential. This means that the growth potential of a group is closely related to the potential of its members. The law of explosive growth states that “to add growth, lead followers… to multiply, lead leaders”. This means that a group of leaders is multiple times better than a group of followers. A group of leaders is able to do something that makes a difference. I can make the most of this principle by working with other leaders. By working with other leaders, I allow myself to grow as a leader while also growing others as leaders. Learning skills to grow other leaders is a crucial step towards becoming a reproducer; a leader who is able to make other leaders. I can apply this to TALONS by working with my peers to grow as leaders. This applies to planning the leadership events because we will be working in teams to plan community events. I can become better at developing leaders by showing the grade nines how to plan an event. I can also learn from my peers to become a better leader. To do this, I will lead a group discussion. During the discussion, I will practice what I have learned from this workshop. Afterwards, I can ask for constructive feedback. This will allow me to gain experience with the lessons I learned from this workshop as well as feedback on how to apply the lessons I learned. 

  References:  

Maxwell, J. C. (2014). Developing the leaders around you: How to help others reach their full potential. Thomas Nelson. 

Maxwell, J. C. (n.d.). John Maxwell. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from http://www.johnmaxwell.com/.