New Places, New Plates

Adventure. My favorite word for 2019. At the beginning of the year, I saw so many people posting “their word” for the year. I try to not jump on these bandwagons when they come about (Unless it’s a tv show. I jumped on the This Is Us bandwagon like it was a trampoline!) so being my typical, non-trendy, anti-bandwagon self, I didn’t come up with a word for this year. However, adventure isn’t a word that I chose, I feel like it just happened. For lack of a less cliche phrase, it chose me.

When this year began I knew it was going to be different. I knew I would be moving to Austin, Texas, but I didn’t know what other changes would be coming along with that. I had a tentative schedule for the semester, but no previous reference to any of the events that were on it so it didn’t really mean much at the time. I have now been at the Texas Beef Council for almost six weeks, and adventure has proven to be an accurate word for the first couple months of 2019.

fullsizeoutput_d20The first weeks were a lot of learning. I learned about the Beef Checkoff (the source of the Beef Council’s funding) and about all of the programs that they have in order to promote beef. This includes education about beef such as nutrition facts, differences in grass-finished vs. grain-finished and hormone-free vs hormone administered beef, etc. I learned about the many safety precautions producers, feeders, and packers take to make certain the product that we eat is safe and nutritious. But the Beef Council does so much more. They have a Youtube series called BBQuest where they search out the best BBQ restaurants in Texas. They have a “Beef Team” of runners, cyclists, and triathletes who advocate for beef in the athletic world. They sponsor events and host Grilling 101 classes. These are just a few examples of the programs that they have, and trust me I will be digging into more as the semester goes on.

 

These programs that I have seen so far have been really neat, but I must say that my favorite part has been recipe testing! It is amazing to me to see so many different ways that beef dishes can be prepared so it never has to get old! Mexican, Italian, even Korean recipes can be found on the Beef Loving Texans website, and they have been so much fun to test. During this process, I’ve also gotten to see how much work actually goes into taking Instagram-worthy pictures of food.  Who knew that food-styling is a thing, and it is so fun to do?! Getting to be in the kitchen watching the team work together to capture the best picture, from the best angle, with the best accent pieces is so energizing. There is so much creativity flowing through the room. We make such delicious recipes that have to be tested for taste, convenience, nutrition value, etc. And you guys….I learned how to grill a steak! This is exciting because as much as I love to eat food and test the recipes, my cooking skills are lacking and most of the time I just watch as the recipe gets made or go get groceries as needed. Not this week. This week I grilled my own steak (for the first time ever) and plated it on a salad to see if we wanted to use the recipe in an upcoming event. This is going down as one of the proudest moments in my 21 years of existence!

 

All this to be said, but I’ve probably only spent about half of my time at the office. I’ve also been on the road a lot in the last six weeks. For as long as I can remember, I pictured my career involving going to new and exciting places often. I love that I have had the opportunity to do this and experience business travel. So far I’ve gone to Ft. Worth (twice), Waco (three times), Corpus Christi, Galveston, and at the end of this week Odessa, none of which I have been to before. The best part of the travel? FOOD! Duh! I love getting to visit different restaurants and once again see so much creativity come out in food. I have been to famous and trendy restaurants like Magnolia Table in Waco, and smaller, more local places like Cajun-Greek Seafood in Galveston. I think it is so fun to know that even if I order a chicken-fried-steak (sometimes I eat healthily, sometimes I like my food fried) at two different places they won’t be the same. I never realized before this internship exactly how artistic that food is. Just changing one spice can give a dish an entirely different flavor profile. I have always been a lover of food, but now I really love food, for so many more reasons.

 

So back to the word adventure. There are seasons in life where you have to look for adventure intentionally, and there are seasons that it shows up everywhere around you without effort. I’m in the latter. It can be so easy in this season to get caught up looking for the next excitement and the next big thing. I’m thankful for friends, mentors, and podcast hosts who remind me to savor these moments. I have faith that more adventure will come and that it will be more exhilarating than I have ever hoped for. But for now, I thank God every day for these six months He has given me in Austin with the Beef Council. And I trust that He will continue to fill this desire for adventure in ways I can’t even think of. I know that He gave me this desire and these opportunities for a purpose. Finding that purpose out is the greatest adventure of all.

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