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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
By Michael Newcomer, food critic
The art of cooking has evolved from the days of hunting and gathering to the modern convenience of markets and microwaves. The French pioneered the culinary canvas, emphasized by their opulent 18th century feasts.
Now, too often what we consider fanciful cooking comes from celebrity TV chefs with stuckup attitudes and diabetes-inducing dollops of butter and sugar (I’m looking at you, Paula Deen). How is that the art of cooking? The art of cooking yourself into oblivion, maybe.
Of the rare meals I cook at home, most consist of frozen pizza or something that is easily thrown in the microwave. The dishes usually come out looking like dog food, but I’ve grown accustomed to the taste of manufactured fillers.
I decided to challenge myself to bring a little artistic touch — and taste — back to my own kitchen.
I enlisted the help of my friend Carly Secor, a senior at Tarpon Springs High, for this artistic journey. We jammed out to some Nicki Minaj; don’t ask me why, but this inspired Carly to think of dessert before dinner. She dreamed up that we should create a six-layer rainbow cake covered with pink Funfetti icing. How artistic can you get?
We dubbed this creation “Pink Friday” and headed to Target and Publix for the cake necessities as well as supplies for a main course, penne pasta with broccoli florets, asparagus and baby bella mushrooms topped with cream sauce. (Okay, the sauce was for Paula.)
Back in my kitchen, our tasks seemed formidable. The penne dish from allrecipes.com required the pasta, veggies and sauce to be cooking in three separate pans at once, and paying attention to all of them was, to me who has the concentration of a baby monkey, as difficult as juggling 10 flaming clubs. I was surprised when everything came off the burners cooked properly, smelling delicious and looking attractive. The veggies were delicately crunchy and flavorful with the light dose of sauce. I was elated. I snapped photos and scarfed it down. We still had lots of artistic work ahead of us.
Carly created the cake layers by preparing two packages of Pillsbury white cake mix and pouring the batter into six round aluminum pans, adding food coloring to correspond with the rainbow spectrum (I think we may have missed a color, but neither of us ever mastered the color wheel).
The cake layers baked for 20 minutes. After letting them cool, we stacked them on top of each other, each glued to the next with a thin layer of canned frosting. (It took three cans of pink, plus an edging of creamy white frosting.) Topped with rainbow sprinkles, our cake could have served as a gorgeous model for a float in a pride parade. We cut a slice and proudly reveled in its glory. It tasted as beautiful as it looked.
The artistic experiments did take a lot of effort, but I learned that cooking with aesthetics in mind is definitely worth the satisfaction. I may not endure the pain of creating an eye-catching meal again for a little while, but I’m sure I’ll be breathing an extra heavy sigh next time I see my homely Lean Cuisine come to life through the microwave window.
Michael Newcomer is a senior a Tarpon Springs High.