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“I will prepare and some day my chance will come.”

Everyone around me is a little stressed about the current financial situation. Their anxiety rose to epic proportions over the weekend after a historic financial institution shut down, causing some to lose tons of money, as well as hours of sleep as they now stay up, fretting about their woes.

As a soon-to-be-grad, this economic situation makes me very nervous. College grads have a hard enough time trying to find a job, with all the competition out there, but now add in the raised unemployment rates and lack of available jobs, and you have a recipe for disaster. A couple of friends that I know opted out for grad school after graduating, which seems like a safe alternative to me. I’ve been thinking about my options, what I really want to be “when I grow up”. It’s hard trying to ignore that questions when it seems that you are asked that one every day since you turned 7.

Is public relations really the field for me? Do I want to work 24/7 doing PR for the government or other public sector agency? Or should I take the non-profit route, where the pay is low but the end-of-the-day satisfaction beats out other jobs? Do I plan on working, for the rest of my life, at a job that I am pretty good at even though I know that my future in PR holds for me many sleepless nights, boring travel trips, innumerous anxiety attacks, and probably a nervous breakdown? When posed with questions like this, I can’t help but whip out that secret dream of mine, that someday I can own my own bakery or café, filled with used books and a separate teaching center where classes could be held. Hanging up on the walls would be numerous photos of my customers, and a diploma from a culinary school with my Baking/Pastry certificate boldly showing…

We all have that hidden longing that we keep quietly locked inside of our hearts. It can be completely out of this world, and many call us stupid for harboring such dreams, but still we can’t help but wish for the day when that dream comes true. For the longest time, I shoved the idea of going to pastry school because I thought it was nonsense but I silently hoped that one day I’d get enough balls to do something.I visited the French Culinary Institute’s website about 6 months ago, and played around with the idea of going to pastry/baking class. Wouldn’t it be cool to get a hands-on instruction, where every day your mission was to bake something, study its components? Who knew that the idea of baking all day would make my heart palpitate: me, the girl who only used the stove to make her Kraft Mac & Cheese when in high school?

I did my research and asked the ever-so-lovely Steph at Whisk & Spoon who previously attended FCI in NYC. She raved about the courses and answered all my questions about the neighborhood and instructors.
I’m proud to say that I am seriously considering going to FCI or ICE in New York after I graduate. Time to do something I love, to fill my hours with a sense of satisfaction that I can get nowhere else. Some might say that a venture like this might not be the wisest decisions especially with economic instability everywhere but for me, the current financial crisis upon us Americans is my main reason for doing I WANT to do. If I am going to be stuck working my ass off for every cent I make, I better be loving what I do. What’s the point of working like a dog if you hate your work, right?

While I do my research on different culinary institutions, let me share with you these wonderful whole wheat scones from my favorite King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book. I love all scones, and would eat them every day if I could. Unlike muffins, they are dry and meant to be matched up with some clotted cream or jam, with a warm cup of ‘jo. My only problem with scones is that they can be quite an indulgence, especially if you like to eat something else like yogurt or fruit with them for breakfast.

But these scones are really healthy and won’t break your calorie bank. According to the book, they only have 187 calories in each one and have 15g of whole grains. They aren’t heavy nor are they bland, thanks to the added cinnamon. If you don’t have oat flour, you can simply grind oats up in your food processor, mincing them in to a powder. The oats give the scones nice wonderfully crumbly texture that goes well with some raspberry jam from Trader Joes.  For added flavor, I dropped in some sliced almonds and used almond extract along with the vanilla. I love almonds, and I love pre-sliced ones from TJ’s even more. Overall, i was quite please with this somewhat basic scone recipe. If only all health food good be this good, right?

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Scones
Origin: King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 22 minutes

● 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
● 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
● 1/2 cup oat flour
● 1/4 cup sugar
● 1/2 tsp baking soda
● 1/4 tsp baking powder
● 1/4 tsp salt
● 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
● 1 large egg
● 1/2 cup buttermilk
● 1 tsp vanilla extract
● 1 tsp almond extract
● 1 tbsp cinnamon
● 1/3 cc. old-fashioned rolled oats, you can use regular oats if you want
● 1 cup sliced almonds (optional, you could sub in pecans if you want)
Preheat the oven to 375℉. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt ina large bowl. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut the butter in to dry ingredients until it resembles bread crumbs.
Add the oats and stir with a fork just to mix them in; you don’t want to crush them in more than necessary.
Whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and extracts in a separate bowl or large measuring cup. Add, all at once, to the dry ingredients, and stir lightly and quickly with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, and knead two or three times. Divide the dough in half, and pat each half into a circle about 1/2 inch thick and 6 inches in diameter. Use a baker’s bench knife to divide each circle into 6 wedges.
Transfer the scones to a baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between them. Brush the tops with milk or cream and sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake until the scones are puffed and golden brown, 22 to 23 minutes. Serve warm.

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September 17, 2008 - 9:11 am

Natty - Mmm… those look delicious!

As someone who has worked her whole lifetime in non-profits (education and publishing), I can tell you that job satisfaction can be very high but the low pay isn’t the only annoying thing. :-) Some people choose to work in non-profits (like me) but others “end up there” because they tend to be less competitive and focused. Those people can be pretty tiring to deal with.

You’ve got the right attitude! Why work like a dog if you’re not doing what you love? I know you’ll set your feet firmly on the best path for you (and if you have any questions about non-profits, drop me a line.)

September 17, 2008 - 9:30 am

Ann - Go you! You should definitely pursue your secret dreams – I think you’re totally right that in our depressing economic state, it’s the only thing we can do. I’ve been working in non-profits since graduating college, and I’d agree with Natty above that low pay isn’t the only annoying thing…

And now I’ve decided to apply to art school for the same reasons you’re applying to culinary school. I look forward to your updates on your research :)

September 17, 2008 - 10:34 am

alesbianandascholar - It is scary, isn’t it? I’ve half considered pulling all my savings out and keeping them in my sock drawer because all my life I’ve had a fear of another Depression. “Daddy, are you SURE the FDIC will ensure the banks? But what if the FDIC fails?” I was a morose little kid, but perhaps not all that unrealistic.

I’m also about to graduate, next summer, except from law school, which means that I really can’t afford to stay in school until the economy gets better. I’d love to get a PhD, but I *need* to have a full-time income now, and I’m terrified that I won’t be able to. I’d rather jump off a bridge than become a lawyer, so I hope that there will still be jobs in my field (human rights) available. It sounds like you’re in an ideal position, and I’d say go for it!

September 17, 2008 - 2:10 pm

Bumblebutton - I, too, have worked extensively in nonprofits–as a fundraiser–hospital, the arts, social services, religion…it can be gratifying, but at the mid and senior level positions politics are SO much more important (and opressive) as there are multiple audiences that you have to kow-tow too. And the money is never enough–not just in pay, but also in an orgs ability to provide services. Although I will say that in a non-profit I have made out well, as my fundraising skills are easily transferrable between sectors, and I am often (sad but a fact of life) paid more than those who directly service the mission. Why? Because fundraisers are almost always in demand. And because I am now a mom first and foremost, I was able to successfully leverage my experience into the ideal consulting situation when my seven year old came along. My husband is in high-tech pr. He worked in agencies for years in both consumer and BTB and was (and is) very excellent at it. After many years he went in-house and although the work is just as challenging, he appreciates things such as options, profit sharing, and not always having to be prowling around for new clients. It enables him to be much more productive and satisfied. We’ve observed that agencies are more likely than not filled with talented and smart twenty and early thirty somethings–and then there is typically a huge jump to the generally fifty plus-something partners. When you reach an age where you have large obligations to your growing family and household, you likely find it more worth your while to work in house where you may still be overworked and stressed, but you can manage your expectations and plans a little better. When he was on the agency side, he always thought those corporate jobs were ‘cushy and sweet.’ He did learn that they are most certainly not–he works as hard now as he ever has. Of course, I know many moms who now freelance part time for the PR agencies where they used to be rising stars…in that case it works for everyone. But of course you have to follow your heart, and also realize that people often change directions so no decision is set in stone. Just thought you’d like another opinion about the above. Culinary school–now, that is something I have always wanted to do! Good luck, whatever path you take!

September 17, 2008 - 2:14 pm

Leonor - These scones look so delicious! They must be marvelous…

September 17, 2008 - 5:27 pm

michelle - those are some tasty-looking scones.

i’m in non-profit world and my partner is government, so we’re pretty insulated from the current madness. and before i was in non-profit world, i was in law school world.

of course, i not-so-secretly want to be a food writer.

September 18, 2008 - 4:43 pm

heather - I love baking with whole wheat. these look delicious! and the addition of rolled oats sounds wonderful!

September 19, 2008 - 6:29 am

Kristin at The Kitchen Sink - Where to start? First, your new direction sounds completely amazing and fulfilling and inspiring and exciting. I’m entirely jealous. : ) Second, these scones! These are so up my alley. Gorgeous and hearty. Yum.

September 19, 2008 - 5:00 pm

eliza - i hope you dream comes true :) i’m hoping to work in bakery someday, but can’t afford to go through the culinary school at all. you’ll be a great baker.

September 19, 2008 - 11:22 pm

steph (whisk/spoon) - i want one of those scones, and some of that jam, too! :)

as someone who really wasted away her early to mid twenties in a job she hated, i’m glad to hear you are really thinking about doing what you love! it is not stupid at all!! don’t say i didn’t warn you about the low pay, though :)

i’ll probably be back in NYC myself soon, and am looking forward to trying my hand at bakery work (as opposed to restaurant work) again. hopefully all the sweet neighborhood bake shops won’t suffer as a result of this financial mess, but I worry about that, too.

btw, have you read anita’s write-up about going to pasty school (she went to tante marie)?

September 20, 2008 - 6:44 pm

nicole - Amanda!! As I read this I was so hoping the end would be as you wrote it! You must definitely at least consider going to culinary school and follow your passions. The market will always be uncertain, financial situations will always fluctuate, but the knowledge that you’re doing something you’ve always wanted to do is a good, solid resting place. Good luck! :)

September 22, 2008 - 6:21 am

Elizabeth - follow that dream girl!!

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