On my bike ride to work this morning, I saw all the kiddlets dressed to the nines with their new kicks and fresh hair cuts as they made their way to school. And every September since 2003, the first school-less year in my memory (aside from 1998, when I took a year off to try and find something better to do than go to university the following year), I have celebrated the fact that I was not going back to school. School just wasn't my thing. I did well, figured out the system, but hated everything about it, from the fluorescent lighting to those big clocks on the wall that never moved fast enough.
I also wasn't that big of a fan of any of my dozen or so jobs. I didn't like having to play by anyone else's rules. Too often it seems that in the way things roll and shake, we're not given an opportunity to think. Like, really think. We're given a problem and asked to solve it, and these days, most of those problems can be solved in two clicks on Google.
I was always more inspired by creative projects that didn't give me a problem with a right or wrong answer, but an opportunity to explore, experiment, build, take apart, build again, break apart, experiment some more, until that final solution was discovered. But even that final solution led to more opportunity to explore. I suppose this is the foundation that has formed the trend for kids towards UnSchooling, and for some of the greatest developments of our modern techy times.
In looking at it in that way, this might also explain how I landed at the creation of the Academy of Culinary Nutrition which I foresee being an ongoing work in progress as we continue to find new solutions to reach more people and get our students researching, exploring, experimenting, taking apart, building again, breaking apart and experimenting some more, without ever requiring they provide 'right' answers. I don't like right, I like "best" based on what we know with the information we have access to.
As we move into September, a month that has always felt to me more like a new year than any other time, I would like to propose a challenge to you.
I want to ask you to find an area that is of utmost interest to you, and start exploring it.
Explore it like a kid who first discovers the spice cupboard, or that insects hide under rocks. Explore and break it apart like a kid who first puts a screwdriver to an old radio. Create and re-invent like the kid who puts a paintbrush across a big white canvas, not thinking at all about what the outcome will be.
The cultivation of that creative juice is what ignites our sparks, gets us excited for what lays ahead, invites us to lose track of time, make messes, and ultimately, nourishes that spirit of curiosity that too often takes long naps when we get too caught up in what we're going to make for lunches tomorrow.
It was my own dive into creation that had me thinking about what I wanted to start creating in my soon-to-be-complete kitchen and sometimes, you just can't wait for others' schedules. These chocolate turtles were one such creation.
And given that it is back to school time, a time of shifts, changes, growth and newness, a little dose of sweetness can help ease us into that transition.
- 1 bar (100grams) organic / fair trade bittersweet baker's chocolate (I like the 70% or higher) OR make your own chocolate using this recipe.
- 8 medjool dates, pitted
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp honey (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 30 pecans
- Place a cookie sheet in the freezer to chill.
- In a double boiler, melt your chocolate. (You can make a make-shift double-boiler by placing a bowl in a large pot full of water on the stove, and melting the chocolate in the bowl).
- In your food processor or high speed blender, mix together dates, almond butter, coconut oil, honey and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Place in freezer for 20 minutes. This is the caramel filling.
- Remove cookie sheet from freezer. Dollop about ½ tbsp of chocolate into ten circles, spreading around slightly with the back of a spoon. It will harden quite quickly due to the chilled cookie sheet.
- Remove caramel filling from freezer and roll into 20 evenly sized balls. Take one ball of caramel and squeeze flat, place three pecans inside, pointing outwards with some of the nut hanging over the caramel. Add another ball of caramel over top, and place this on top of the one of the chocolate circles. Repeat for remaining nine turtles.
- Re-melt chocolate if it has hardened and scoop about 1 tbsp of chocolate over each turtle. It doesn't need to be tidy. Use the back of a spoon to move the chocolate around if necessary.
- Place in the fridge to set for 20 minutes.
- Serve chilled!
P.S. I have a feeling this is a recipe that many of you are going to try. If you do, please tag me @MeghanTelpner and #UnDiet as I'd love to see your interpretations and enhancements on this one!