Friday, August 28, 2009

School Paper

This year (my junior year in high school) I will have a column in my school's monthly newspaper. I'm really excited and kind of nervous at the same. I expect that this will be a totally different experience from blogging. The biggest difference I predict, will be my audience. Unlike here, where I write to mostly people who are very interested in food, I will be writing to people who know little more than Chipotle Burritos and Coldstone Ice cream (yes that's an understatement).

One of the reasons however, that it's so awesome to love food, is that it's something with which everyone can relate. Sure I'm not going to get in a conversation with my friends about French Mountain Cheeses, but I'll most definitely talk with them about the joys of a good apple pie. Everyone likes food, and everyone needs to eat, and that is what brings the two groups together. It's not just pretentious, know-it-all kids like me who can appreciate good food, anyone has that ability.

(Could I convince kids to make this?)

That said, I'm not really sure where I wanna go with this. I've already started writing my first article (it talks about the school's dependence on the cafeteria cookies, and encourages kids to make their own, giving them a few principles for a superior cookie) but I'm not really sure where I wanna go from there. Should it be a column where I try to make daunting foods more accessible to high school students (maybe like pizza or homemade pasta)? Should I review restaurants? Should I try to instill a love for charcuterie in my peers, or would that fail miserably? Should I talk about food in general and would anyone really care about that? What would you write about if you had your own column in a paper? Shoot me an e-mail at and let me know!


Anonymous said...

Keep It Simple. The pizza is cool, and can be done on certain flat breads or pre-made crusts. I do a home-made pie when I get home from work at 8:30 in about 20 minutes. The "Sandra-Lee" crust is a saviour as I spread a little Alfredo on it and then load it with seasoned imitation crab and Mozzarella. It is a no-brainer and very accessible. This time of year, I take the same pre-made crust and oil it and thinly slice fresh garden tomato on it. Herbs, shrooms and pepperoni go on before the cheese. Twenty minutes and no grief.
When I was in high school (think Woodstock era) I had a friend take Cooking For Bachelors. The teacher taught them bad chili and spaghetti from tomato soup. Basic cooking skills need to be learned by everyone at your age, but it doesn't need to be crap. I showed my friend what a pound of hamburg, a can of tomato sauce and some paste with garlic, onion and dried herbs(from the jar) could do.
You can help a lot of young people learn to feed themselves well in a little time with the stuff in the kitchen. Do it right and they will thank you. Take the mystery and anxiety out of cooking. Keep the snobby bits for your loyal blog readers. I never did comment on the brunch pictures. Now I see why Bourdain hated working Sunday Brunch Buffets. Any chef with a "pair" tries to hit it out of the park and you guys NAILED IT in those pictures. Beautiful looking food, and the quality of the photos just keeps getting better.

James said...

Review restaurants? No no no - if you start doing that you've crossed over to the dark side. Give an article a byline of 'top 5' or 'a to z of...' or 'meals in minutes' or 'did you know?' and you've got people's attention. I wonder if cookie dough could be a 'quick fix mix'?

Seeming how everyone's on some sort of social network if you went down the pizza/ pasta road everyone could post up their attempts. An interactive column would be great.

rhiannon said...

I'd say that maybe you should start out with simple recipes and concepts that almost everyone can relate to. And keep the ingredients limited to what can be obtained at a grocery store (even if it's a higher-end store), and the equipment limited to what people may already have at home.

Your chocolate chip cookie recipe, for instance.

Then I'd slowly start incorporating some more involved ideas and recipes.

Maybe try to come up with some recipes that are not too difficult, but are healthier, tastier versions of cafeteria favorites at your school?

For instance, at my school the big thing was "chicken day" which was the day they had fried chicken. And I am SURE you can make fried chicken that's way better than that was :)

I think restaurant reviews would be cool- if you can find some restaurants that you enjoy that an average high school student can afford- even if it's for a nice date-type meal.

Unknown said...

If you want to do a restaurant review, I agree that it should be under the heading of something like "10 best date places and why!" and organize them with comments on pricing, options, and types of food (and what kind of stuff to order to impress).

One of the best things you can do, in my opinion, would be to also focus on health. For the seniors, especially, they're about to get tossed out to the crazy world of college (in many cases) and have some stand-by ideas for easy-to-make foods in dorm rooms or with limited availability could save many a student from the ol' "Freshman 15."

Make it easy, make it quick, and make it taste better than you're gonna get out of a box. Alternately, make it a way to help spruce up what you'd be getting out of a box.

todlie said...

see, I think your topics from yesterday and Aug 19 (spicey Cashews)are the perfect type of material for a school paper... good treats that are simple and quick!

GrandmaP said...

The pizza idea is great. Was going to suggest premade crusts but caigkite beat me to it. Don't forget frozen pizza dough as a base, too. Pitch it as Friday night or PJ party fare. I'd also throw in some recipes for vegetarians; there seem to be lots of them in HS these days, at least in my neck of the woods (Ohio). I'd also give some space to how to easily improve cafeteria food. That is, if anyone still eats it anymore.

matthewfreedman said...

Just be candid. Tell your readers that you are very open to suggestions and questions and let them determine, in large part, your subject matter.


Shannon said...

as a junior in high school myself and a lover of both gourmet and take out i think the whole make cookies is a a great idea i would go for things that kids could do quickly as most have a pretty busy schedule, not that you need to be told that lol, and things they are familiar with but would be worth it to be homemade... honestly i dont know anyone besides me and about 2 people at my school who would be into a homemade pasta recipe but maybe a homemade cupcake recipe, pizza or mac and cheese and people could really dig it. desserts are always good with teens lol

if you reviewed resturants i wouldnt do fancy resturants unless maybe your school is pretty much upper class or its like a special column for homecoming or prom because teens dont have the money nor do many of them want to spend it on that--trust me if i had it but im a foodie too

good luck on your article and if i went to your school i would totally read it

Anonymous said...

I love your ideas of starting with cookies. I would suggest breaking down the foods high school students seem to love, such as: pizza, cookies, tacos, hamburgers, and even salads (for the ladies). Teach them without letting them know you are teaching them - you have a nice writing style for that- but like someone else said, save the true "foodie" stuff for us. And since your peers need to know how to cook so they feed themselves, I think they will learn some basic cooking skills and start to appreciate food a bit more, thanks to you. Maybe an "Alton Brown" style for a high school audience? Your paper will be lucky to have you since you are an experienced writer. Best of luck to you!

Serendipity said...

Hi Nick,

Congratulations on the column! You're a good writer and I know you'll do well.

I think the suggestions above are excellent. To add my two cents -define the purpose of your column before you start writing the first article. In my opinion, the best goal given your talent and your audience would be to instill in your peers an appreciation of how easy, fun, healthy and delicious it is to cook from scratch dishes that they usually buy. Give them simple recipes, simple ingredients, a couple of tricks they wouldn't know, suggest how to make it interactive (maybe cook a side dish for the family Thanksgiving, make cookies for their girlfriend or a few nibbles for a sleepover, or whatever high school kids do these days :-), and keep it seasonal with so many holidays between now and the end of the school year. Some suggestions: apple pie (you can do a two-part column, crust first then filling and baking), macaroni & cheese, pasta sauce, pizza, soup, peach crumble, pancakes, your chocolate chip cookies, the possibilities are endless.

Do stay away from restaurant reviews (other than the previous poster's suggestion re Top 5, which is brilliant), and for God's sake stay away from charcuterie (unless it's rating the Top 5 pastrami sandwiches in Philly). Don't forget this is about your audience not you.

Most importantly, keep it light and have a ton of fun thinking it up and writing it! This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase what you love - and to convert others :-).

Good luck, and keep us posted!

Unknown said...

Make it things that people can afford to make with ingredients that are not expensive or hard to find.

You could also invite the students to send you suggestions. Yes, you may get a lot of joke emails, but you may also get some legitimate suggestions from people who are interested.

Anonymous said...

I think keeping it light and easy is always the best choice. Think about it this way. Say you had never made anything more than easy mac (a very common thing among teens), and you wanted to make something. Simplify any recipe to a level of a beginner cook. Keep the steps and ingredients limited. There's nothing wrong with introducing new ingredients, but make sure you do it in a familiar dish. I wouldn't make it too healthy either. Create easy afternoon snacks, and quick school lunches. Don't make the articles overly wordy, and include a photo of the food if you can. I am sure you will be fine though. You write very well, and you are very audience conscious at the same time.

Arm70 said...

Will you please post your column on your site Nick??

Anonymous said...

Keep a sense of adventure and you will do fine. I suspect one of your biggest problems will be poor quality printed illustrations! At least compared to computer monitor quality.

limoncello said...

Good for you! Should be a lot of fun and something cool to put on your university applications.

I also think it would be a good idea to have a vision of the column before you start (not to say that ideas don't evolve). I would come up with a one sentence answer to the question: "Why am I writing this? What do I want the reader to take away from it?"

I would make it accessible and relevant to a broad audience (obviously within the high school context). I love the idea of cafeteria or fast food favorites adapted for home cooking. Or themes such as after practice bites, a birthday dinner, Halloween party, etc. People can be SO intimidated by cooking, I'd keep it simple and delicious and include some tips and information so that it's not just recipes.

MeghanM said...

Anything you can do to get kids eating less processed foods would be so great. Especially with college and all of the convenience and fast "food" associated with living on campus looming in their not too distant future. Keeping it simple is a great idea. My 23 year old sister still claims she has no idea how to cook and I'm sure she could use a few lessons in basic fundamentals of cooking.

ps. just stumbled upon your blog and LOVE it. I'm a dietitian and Michael Pollan fan and am so encouraged to see someone your age so into food. I hope it catches on!

Lisa said...

Please do this column! I would be reading it first every time. More people than you realize have a passion for food. This column would be very successful. I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully this encourages you! =]

Sarah said...

I'm a little behind but I would just keep it simple. Make food accessible to the kids at your school. Cooking can be intimidating and it's hard to know where to start. Easy, familiar foods would be a great thing to cover. Hell, I'm in college and cooking is still hard for me. You've got a neat opportunity here. Good luck!