I'm doing something tonight I've never done before. I'm speaking to a group of business professionals about something that's so simple that it's sometimes complicated - being yourself.
A friend asked if I would come present on a topic, any topic, so I said I'd be happy to. I thought maybe I'd talk about blogging, or maybe writing or following your passion, but I wasn't sure what I could offer business owners on those topics that would be truly useful and wouldn't sound like one of those motivational posters. So, I decided to just be myself, and talk about the value of using your true voice, being vulnerable, admitting to mistakes and discovering how authenticity can strengthen relationships, whether it's with friends, family or clients.
That's always what I've tried to do here. Be me. I think my readers kind of know me pretty well by now. I don't get overly personal about my family in this space, but I think I've given you a pretty good idea of what makes me laugh, what excites me and how I think about cooking and love and life from my little west coast island kitchen.
More important that what I have put on the pages of this blog I think is perhaps what I have left out. I have never tried to be something I'm not. I have never pretended to be a chef. I have too much respect for that line of work to pretend I have earned that title. I have never pretended to be better than any other home cook. I have always felt like we're in our aprons together, you and me, side by side. I have never pretended to be anything or know anything I didn't. Partly because I think that's dishonest, but mostly because I know you're smart! People can spot bullshit a mile away. Plus, I don't want to be liked for something that isn't actually me.
That's the best thing about a blog, you see, is it's just you and your stories and if people don't like it they won't read it. Everyone left at the end of the day is there because, well, they like being there. That's quite a nice thing.
I may not be a natural presenter for business functions, that's yet to be determined, but one thing I'm a natural at is sharing recipes and stories. So, here is one for you. For the last couple summers these stuffed cream cheese peppers have been my favourite veggie dish to toss on the grill. A friend first made a version of these a couple years ago and I have been enjoying them in various incarnations ever since. Here they are written up as a recipe - now officially named Cream Cheese Pepper Poppers - for your own grill. I hope you give them a try this summer as is, or with a few different ingredients. Whatever you decide, just be yourself.
Cream Cheese Pepper Poppers
Makes 4-6 side dish servings or a platter of appetizers
1 lb (450 g) sweet bell peppers
3/4 cup (175 mL) cream cheese
2 cloves or garlic, crushed
1 tsp (5 mL) chili flakes (optional)
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper
Handful of chopped fresh herbs such as dill, basil or cilantro as garnish
Trim off and discard pepper stems. Slice the peppers in half lengthways, scraping out and discarding any seeds.
In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, garlic, chili flakes and pepper. Spread into pepper cavities, dividing equally among all the halves.
Preheat the grill to medium heat. Arrange the stuffed peppers on a vegetable grilling pan or a double layer of aluminum foil. Grill for 5-7 minutes with the lid closed just until the under side of the peppers is beginning to blacken. Serve warm.
What's your favourite veggie to toss on the grill? Are you able to be authentically you in your day to day life? Are there times when you wish you could be more yourself?