Any takers?

A quick lesson in Vietnamese. Me: a tree fruit also know as Tamarind. Me can either be sweet, or sour. The sweet kind makes a great snack as is. The sour kind is used in cooking to make anything from canh chua to soda Me (Tamarind soda). You can find sour tamarind at most Asian grocery stores in the spice section. It comes compressed in block, dark brown in color.

All Purpose Tamarind Paste/Syrup:
-200g sour tamarind
-300g water
-400-500g sugar
-1 tsp salt
-chili peppers (optional)

What to Do:

Boil together tamarind and water, let mixture sit for at least 1 hour (better if overnight). Strain tamarind in a sieve (press with a rubber spatula or a spoon to extract the pulp, throw away the outer seed coverings). Mix together tamarind pulp, sugar and salt, bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 15 mins, stirring occasionally.

Me Ngào Đường (Sugared Tamarind):
A sugary sour and spicy snack. Favored by young students in Vietnam. Heck! I live in America and I like it too. *Mouth watering* Serve as is with toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on top and a tooth pick to eat with.
Soda Me (Tamarind Soda): 2 tsp tamarind paste + 1 cup club soda mixed together, top with crushed peanuts.
Canh Chua: Omit tamarind soup base and replace it with tamarind paste. As with savory dishes, you can eyeball the amount and give the dish a taste taste and adjust before serving.
Nước Mắm Me: Omit lime juice and sugar, replace with tamarind paste.

Stepping off the Traditional Road.....
Tamarind Cosmo: Use your favorite Cosmo recipe and replace cranberry juice and lime with 1 tsp tamarind paste.

This is a "5 year plan" that I recently did for one of my classes. I've always been the type of person that takes life a one day at a time and thus I don't put much thought into what the future holds in 5 or 10 years. After a few weeks (I had all quarter to do this) of deep thinking, of looking into what I'm passionate about and how/what I want to do with my life; here's what I came up with...don't laugh!

The “Big Picture”
I’ve dedicated my 20s to exploring the world and enjoying the freedom of being able to wake up everyday and do whatever I feel like doing. I don’t plan to settle down until I’m at least 30. In five years I’ll be 27, which means if according to plan, I still have 3 more years to do random things. So my five year plan is more like a 7 ½ - 8 year plan. By the time I’m 29-30 I would like to own my own bakery/school.

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since I was in first grade. Their ability to inspire and guide the future is amazing! I wanted to do just that. However, about two years ago while visiting a few of my former teachers I discovered that because of standardized testing; teaching is not what I used to be. Sadly, becoming a fulltime, hardcore teacher is out of the picture but there’s still a little desire deep down inside of me to teach something.

Baking is the drug that I’ve been passionately addicted to ever since second grade. It was the week before Christmas break and Mrs. Jolly taught the class to make sugar cookies. Mamma Mia! I’ve been hooked ever since.

Whatever you’ve received a lot of, you should give back. I feel very fortunate to have the privilege to live in a society that embraces individuality, uniqueness and freedom. I grew up in a loving family, and we always had food, clothes and shelter. I had wonderful teachers who always encouraged me to do my best; to never be good at something but be great at it. My aspiration is to give all of this back to less fortunate children in third world countries. Children are the future and if we want the future to change then we must take the initiative to educate the future. Teach them to not be afraid to question authority, to believe in themselves, embrace their individuality, be compassionate towards others, be open-minded to change and always have passion for what they do.

Back to my bakery/school thing... My plan is to eventually open a bakery and I’m going to call it Moi Passion La Vie or Passion for short. It’s going to be a European bakery with Asian flavors; the best of both worlds. Instead of hiring chefs, I’ll hire pastry students so I can teach them a thing or two while working for me and hopefully be able to inspire them to reach for the stars, the same way my teachers have inspired me. All of the profits will go towards building orphanages and schools for children in third world countries. With anytime left over I’ll teach a class on something, do fire dancing, acting, tailoring, wedding flowers; all of the stuff I’ve been doing…all on the side, to keep life interesting.

My rough, very rough 5 year plan:
1st year:
Take fire dancing lessons, work somewhere, probably a small bakeshop just for the experience.

2nd year:
Travel the world.

3rd year:
Learn to swim and then go to Hawaii, Florida or Mexico to swim with dolphins.

4th year:
Try to get a job doing pastries in a hotel, save some money. Try sky diving.

Start a catering business, with the money saved. Build up reputation, save more money. Meet my true love.

6th-8th year:
Open Moi Passion La Vie with money saved. Try to turn a profit within 1 ½ years of opening Passion. Use profits to fund schools for orphans in third world countries. Get married and adopt my first child by the time I’m 35. Write a book? Teach something?

I know I’m going to run into countless obstacles and a few things are probably not going to turn out as planned. But I’d rather do something and have it blow up in my face then to not do it and have to go through live wondering what if. Nothing is impossible when you’re fueled by passion.

Sounds good? Am I too ambitious?