35133922The transformation that this woman underwent is astounding. Raised in a survivalist household, pretty much off the grid, the circumstances of her childhood were sometimes brutal, both in the physical environment and the way in which her parents raised their children. In addition, both of her parents were Mormons, but the type that strictly adhered to the Bible, which caused them to be outsiders, even in their own church community. Being a child, and never knowing anything different, Tara grew up sharing her parents’ beliefs. When one of her brothers left to go to college, Tara became interested in the things he was learning. He encouraged her to seek an education for herself. That was the good brother. There was another brother I seriously disliked, and couldn’t believe how easily he manipulated his parents, often to the detriment of the other siblings.  So when Tara attended Brigham Young University, her first time at school at the age of seventeen, it was against her father’s wishes, although he didn’t disown her. The transition was difficult because Tara continued to maintain her fundamentalist beliefs. It was the hardest though, on her freshman roommates because Tara’s practices (or lack of practices) offensive to them. So Tara led an isolated life that first year. To say that she is brilliant is an understatement. She got into BYU on a full scholarship never having attended any school!  When Tara went to Cambridge to study abroad for a semester, she read with Professor Steinberg for a month before writing an essay comparing Edmund Burke to Publius, the name under which James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote The Federalist Papers. I started following Tara on Twitter so that I could ask her if she would ever consider sharing that paper with her readers. She said she doesn’t think she still has the paper! I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

THE BEAUTY: I chose this image not just for the beauty of the landscape, but for the beauty that an education brings to those lucky enough to have one. As a former educator, I truly believe that education broadens one’s world view, opening up the possibility to understand differences and recognize that there’s more that brings us together than separates us. This is the campus of Brigham Young University. The person that she was entering school was not the same person she became. Tara began to question everything she though she knew, ultimately putting her in a position to have to make the most difficult choice of her life.


THE FOOD: Tara was eating this dish at Aunt Debbie’s near Brigham Young University when she got a call from her mother, bearing news of the family.

Beef and Potato Casserole
serves 4

3 large white potatoes (1½ lbs),
pared and sliced very thin (⅛”)
1 T vegetable oil
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
3 T all-purpose flour
1 10 oz packet frozen baby carrots, thawed, cooked to
just beyond al dente
1 14½ oz can whole tomatoes, broken into pieces
¼ C dry red wine or water
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp salt
½ C water
1 T butter, melted

In a 2-quart saucepan over high heat, bring potatoes to a boil in enough water to cover; cook 2-3 minutes until potatoes are crisp-tender. Drain, set aside.

In a 10” ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat add oil. Add beef and cook about 5 minutes until browned. Add onion, garlic and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until onion is softened. Sprinkle flour over mixture; cook stirring until meat is well-coated with flour. Add carrots, tomatoes, wine, basil, oregano, pepper, salt and ½ cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Heat broiler. Transfer contents of skillet to a broiler -safe casserole dish (Le Creuset stoneware is broiler-safe) and arrange potatoes over the beef mixture to cover completely; brush with melted butter. Broil 5-6 inches from heat source, 8-10 minutes until potatoes are golden.

IMG_4262Forgot to take a picture of the casserole dish, so here’s what an individual serving looks like. Very filling and delicious.


3 thoughts on “Educated

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