Pantry Confessions with Melissa Dean

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Ready, Set, Move On

I guess if I think about it long and hard enough I could remember a time
when I didn’t want to be a chef. Not really.

Y’all probably won’t remember this, but there was a show on the Food Network back in the day called
Ready, Set, Cook, that was literally the first cooking competition I ever watched! I would come home from working all day at Lowe’s and watch the that weird dating show on MTV with Jenny McCarthy and then switch the channel over to watch some random chefs create amazing dishes from vegetables and proteins I had never heard of. And I wanted to be that chef.

Bring me the dragon fruit and let’s make a salad! And I guess I just never thought in a million years that I would have the title. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not legit. And I don’t have the fancy
culinary certificate. But in my heart of hearts, I am a chef and you can’t change my mind. It’s been hard to work for other people. It’s been hard to make other people’s food. It’s been hard not to interject my own flair into those recipes. And over the last several years, I have learned that sometimes
you just have to do it. You just have to do all of the things to get the point where you can get back what you lost. Or you just suck it up and deal with what that hand you been given. I just realized this week – that I don’t have to be the perfect one. I don’t have to be the chosen one. I just have
to be me. Love my family and love my husband and my dog and be
me. And so in 100% honor of figuring it out, finally, after 49 years….

Here it is.

All on the table. So to speak.

I don’t claim to be a perfect person. I don’t claim to be the best wife, step mom, daughter, etc. I don’t claim to be anything anymore, other than just me. I am a chef, writer, pianist, artist, lover of all things fun and flirty. I am an activist who takes a great deal of pride in being someone who loves others and wants nothing more than for them to be happy and healthy. I don’t know the point to this article, exactly.

But I do know this. I love food.
I love what I do.

And I choose to do what I do because it makes me happy. And it typically makes those
around me happy, as well, because they reap the benefits of knowing me as chef.
But I am more than that. I am a person who loves what she does and I
don’t want to make exceptions for the work that I do or the food that I create. I don’t want to
work for someone else, who can’t embrace a little creativity. I don’t want
to be the person that punches a time clock just for the sake of drawing a paycheck. I want
to live and see and travel and touch and eat and shop and see and feel all of the
things. I want to write about what I see.

I want share my memories with those around me, even if I don’t know you. I want
you to experience the world through my eyes and know that I am sharing with you the most
important and truly groundbreaking experiences of my life. I want to eat food
that makes me want to write about it and share it with everyone. This
article may seem lame or un- necessary to some, but in the coming weeks, I
feel that you will get to know the real Melissa Dean, through my food, travels and
fun! Yes, Carey will be going on these adventures with me and he will be
sharing photos and music just like he always does. But just know it will be us
doing us together, and it will be something we have never done before. There will
be a learning curve, I’m sure. But it will be fun for all.

So, here is a little recipe. Just something I came up with, you know. On the
sly…… This is an amazing salad for summertime. Good to take the swimming pool
or lake….. Easy, fast and full of flavor.

Sweet M’s Corn and Tomato Salad

Now, I am going to write this recipe a little different – more like us having a conversation,
if you will.

I typically will use either frozen corn or actually grill the corn on the cob,
depending on what my time frame is.

I also buy the mozzarella for this salad that are marinated, however, you can buy
the mozzarella balls and marinate them in your favorite house Italian
dressing or make your own.

If I grill the corn on the cob, it’s typically with just a little butter, salt, pepper and
smoked paprika.

Once it is tender, I remove the corn kernels from the cob and place it in a clean
and dry bowl.

Then I add in the mozzarella balls.

I also use grape tomatoes for this recipe. I enjoy the champagne toma- toes
and cut them in half, lengthwise. They are just prettier that way.

Next I will add in some more Italian dressing and also some fresh basil
which I chiffonade – I love those pretty little ribbons! Give everything a good toss making sure

that everything is coated with the dressing. You could also add in some grilled
shrimp, chicken or even some salmon! This salad is good for any pool party, lake
adventure, road trip or even for that next family get together! So I
know this article is “off the cuff”, so to speak. But sometimes, things just need to be said. Things need to be shared. And I love that I feel like I can do that with you all! So, as always, I hope this article finds you happy, healthy, and making some really amazing memories this summer! And I also wish you love, joy, and some amazing food!

Love always,
Sweet M

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