Monday, May 23, 2016

Like yeast, things are on the rise...

I've always had a deep appreciation for food, even as a child. From watching my mom bake in the kitchen, to making mud pies with neighborhood friends, and even developing a early love for watching cooking shows (and that was before it was cool to watch cooking shows, by the way). After all, what child wants to watch Saturday morning cartoons when you can learn how to bake a danish or brine a duck! 

Since leaving my job I've found myself with an over abundant amount of free time. I have been able to get caught up on every baking and cooking show Netflix has to offer. I've also been able to deeply focus on my new love for YouTube University (As I've lovingly deemed it, due to it's availability of baking tutorials).

I've been learning a lot, and not just about how late I can stay up or how good I am at sleeping in (because believe me, I could win awards). I've learned how to get excited about being creative again and to appreciate my moments of failure and use them as fuel to do better and learn more.

So now after almost two months of being a temporary homemaker and devoted YouTube enthusiast, life has presented me an opportunity and I'm ready to jump in! It's going to be challenging, exciting and a new chapter in my life, the best part? It begins tomorrow! And to say I'm excited is probably an understatement. 

When I resigned from my job in March, while I felt an enormous weight lifted from my shoulders, but I also felt like I was replacing that weight with another. The weight of uncertainty. 

I knew I had dreams but when the world tells you how important a degree is and that your not good enough unless you have one, the prospect on doing something new can feel a bit hopeless. And besides, even if I try, who's going to want to take the chance?

There are many things in this world I question, but again and again God asks me not to question his abilities and to not put too much stock in the lack of my own.

Sometimes, the way I imagine my relationship with God goes something like this at times:

"Man, I really want to do this, but I can't. I don't have enough experience and I don't even know where to start."

*Cue image of God sitting on an enormous throne. Beams of light bursting all around him. Suddenly, the scene transitions and he's in a field of flowers holding my dream of being a teacher in his hand. Wind blowing but some how is hair remains perfect. He tosses my teaching dream at me "take this." And without explaination, I blink and the scene changes and he is now a mountain top holding a cupcake in his hand and taking a bite out of it like an apple. He lets out a hearty laugh and the cupcake drops into my hands. "Now take this!" 

Okay, I realize my depiction of God sounds an awful lot like the Old Spice guy. After all, isn't he the man that man should be like? Seems applicable.

Now back to me. My feelings of hopelessness begin to dissipate. Wait, is this what I think it is, are you talking to me? I look around and point at myself.

*Cue booming voice. But not scary, think more like a gentle giant.

"Seriously? Doubting my abilities again? Haha, you forget so easily." (Apparently my version of God is also a little cocky and went from Old Spice to sounding like to an old Nintendo game boss.)

But anyways, I've felt for the last few months God asking me to trust him. To take large and scary steps and allow myself to be okay with the unknown. Okay God, your the boss. Lets do this thing! And then it happened, an unexpected opportunity. 

I felt like I needed to pinch myself a few times. It has taken everything in me too hold back my excitement and not say anything but now I will share. 

Last week, I went in for an interview! I was so excited but I was also fighting myself hard to shake the huge nagging voice in my head saying, "You have no education in this field. You have no real experience. Who is going to take that kind of chance on you?" Shoosh you! That's what I've learned to tell myself when my doubt gets too loud. But on Friday a few days after the interview, I received the call I had been waiting for.

I don't remember exactly how it was communicated because my brain was too busy doing cartwheels and trying to keep my heart from throwing me into cardiac arrest, so I'll paraphrase:

"Congratulations! You're a baker. No pressure!"

WHAT?! I got the job!

That's right folks, as of tomorrow, I am a paid baker. Take that self doubt and lack of education!

So in honor of my new carrier path, I decided last night to do some baking. Because that's what bakers do, they bake things! Well, that and clean lots of dishes. Without further ado...

Homemade "I'm a baker" Strawberry Banana Bread Muffins

P.S. Coming soon, a new and improved blog site! I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lost in a ocean of sleep depervation

As you all now by now my sleeping pattern, as always, has been spiratic. The other night was no exception since there was no sleeping pattern, because there was no sleep.

After peeling my cake off the bottom of my oven, I decided I should update all of you on the rest of the story. 

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can get up to speed by reading my last post: If I were a Dinosaur, I'd eat Lava Cake. Or you can just look at this picture of cake as a refresher...

After getting amped-up over my cake fiasco and feeling rather defeated. My woe is me state of mind, led me to Facebook. This inturn led to Pinterest, which led to cleaning and staring at my ever growing mountain of dishes. Man, I hate dishes! I just want to yell at them, CLEAN YOURSELVES! 

I know what you're thinking. At this point I sound crazy and I probably should have gone to bed. Yes, you're right. But crazy doesn't need sleep, it thrives on the lack of it. And Well, I was feeling a bit crazy over the thought of having to start again from scratch with my cake.

So with cleaning out of the way, I decided my pity party for my cake was finally over and that I needed to try again. Because birds were chirping and now my time was even more limited. 

One thing I've learned in baking is, if it doesn't turn out right the first time, try again until it does. After all, someone will eat the failures. I would know, it's usually me.

I didn't mention it before, but the cake I was working on was a surprise birthday cake for one of my friends. Therefore, my own personal criticism and anxiety to complete it and do it well, was off the chart. I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times and I am quite aware that I am my hardest critic. 

This time no mistakes. After all, ain't nobody got time for that!

So I started my cake again, this time taking every precaution.

I made sure to measure my ingredients carefully. I filled my pans evenly and exactly halfway. No lava spill this time around. I sat close to my oven, eyeing my cakes like a hawk.

Someone once told me, watching your oven doesn't make what's inside bake faster. Well, that may be true but it does prevent burning and lava flow. So I took my chances and set up camp. The result, the most beautifully moist, chocolaty layers I have ever seen! Thank you God, I needed that. 

Next, I worked on my buttercream frosting and finishing up the rest of my meringue cookies.  Did I mention how awesome meringue cookies are and how they are so incredibly addicting to eat?! 

My husband who lacks a sweet tooth, grabbed at least three handfuls of these tasty tidbits, telling me how much he liked them. I could even hear him getting into them when I left the room. Now that's what I'm talking about!

I made white, pink, teal, and purple meringues. Some shaped like Kisses, others shaped like stars. I had so many by the time I was done, I was almost able to fill-up an entire large jar with these delectable bite sized cookies. 

Seeing the colors all intermingled in the large jar made me feel like a child in a candy shop. It took everything within me not to dip my hand in and shove a mouthful of those little beauties in my face. but I resisted, sort of. Hey, a girls gotta taste test her handy work. Quality control is essential, especially when a birthday cake is at stake. 

After my cakes cooled, it was time for my favorite part, the decorating! 

There is just something about taking plain cake, frosting, coloring and any other pretties you want and transforming it into edible art. So there you have it, a cake fit for a mermaid princess.

So, to conclude my little story, after a night of disasters and a morning of non-stop baking. I finally ended my late afternoon pushing a truckload of dishes to the sink, taking a shower and by making myself look a little less like death, just in time to head out to the Birthday party with cake in tow. 

All in all, I am happy. And I'm feeling pretty proud of my cake. Better yet, everyone said they loved it, especially the Birthday girl. My job here is done.

Friday, May 6, 2016

If I were a Dinosaur, I'd eat Lava Cake.

Okay. So I've screwed up many different baking projects, since I started to develop my interest in baking. I've mixed things incorrectly, left out ingredients, and mistaken Bisquick for flour. That was terrible. But today I felt like this may have been the time that has crowned itself, the day that takes the cake (pun intended).

Over the last few weeks, I've been following an amazing bakery through their Instagram posts. Every picture could be straight out of a magazine. I'm pretty sure if National Geographic did a cake article, they'd be featured, or at least mentioned.

 But what makes their cakes so beautiful, you ask? 

Well, perhaps it is the amazing pastel colors they use. the way they get their ombre frosting technique to look like glass, the fact that they use Macarons and Meringues as their cake decor. Maybe it's that their cakes are probably baked with the essence of envy and lust. Okay, probably not but either way, they're magical and I want to make one. 

So after staring at a few of their posts, I felt inspired. I'm going to make a luscious chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, Chocolate drizzling down the sides and so much beautiful color pop'n meringue, it would make a unicorn cry.

Step one: The Meringue Cookies.

First of all, I want to tell everyone that these are incredible hard to make (I'm lying) and second of all, They take forever and a day to bake for something so small (true story, at least that's the way it felt).

On my very first attempt, perfection. This was only after a few seconds of self-doubt and fantasizing about possible ways I might have messed them up. But in the end, they came out perfectly. I even went so far as to hand dip each one to create a water color effect. If I were Italian, I would have kissed my fingers and said "Magnifico!". 

Step Two: The Cake or 2:00 AM, The Burning (both are accurate).

I would just like to say that the recipe I followed said it would be easy, so to not feel intimidated. Okay recipe, I wont. That was some time around 1:00 AM. That time of night when hopes are high and I wasn't yet running into the bedroom, to hastily call upon my husband to assist me in opening all of the windows, before the chance of setting off the fire alarm in our apartment complex could occur. 

Oh no, that mad panic took place some time around 2:00 AM. The haunting hour. When cakes decide to erupt and go Pompeii all over your oven floor. Yes, there was smoke, burning, panic and a steady flow of chocolate cake cascading out of two perfectly centered cake pans. 

I would like to say I didn't cry, but it was now 2:35 AM and I had had high hopes for those pans of what could have been, chocolate perfection. So after wiping my tears and the bottom of my oven, there I stood with my husband staring at the two ugliest pans of half baked chocolate cake. 

My husband, who courageously tried to turn my grey skies back to blue, looked down at the cake and without lifting his head stated, "You can tell people you made lava cake." Ugh. At this point, I did the only thing any person grieving over their failed cake could do, I took out a fork.