Some of you reading this may be aware that in recent months (maybe as long as a year) there has been a bit of a cupcake revolution. Cupcakes, those delectable treats made by mothers the world over, are suddenly all that is hip and cool in desserts. The damn things are everywhere - piled high as wedding cakes, offered in cafes, bakeries dedicated solely to cupcakes, decorated crazily as kids' birthday cakes...you get the idea. The sad thing is, cupcakes kinda suck. Unless they've been decorated to look supremely cool, all you're really getting is ...well, less cake to eat. Also less icing to eat. What fun is a cake where you get less than your fair share? If the person making it is a bad cupcake maker, then you're really losing out. Then the cupcake is mostly stuck to the paper cup, the icing is either no good or not plentiful enough, the cupcake is too dry...you get the idea. So at work this weeek we were discussing that this is a trend whose time has ended, that there seem to be less and less of the stupid things around. Personally I think those cake eaters among us should revolt against paying the same if not more for a cupcake, and getting way less product! This blog is just to say - SAY NO TO CUPCAKES (unless of course they are a) made by moi or b) so amazingly decorated that they are nearly too gorgeous to eat, in which case you're supporting some poor pastry chef out there suffering from RSI and that's a good reason to buy one.)
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Can anyone tell me why take-away packs of sushi have a strip of plastic "grass" in them? They all come with this small rectangle of plastic grass either between or next to your sushi. Does anyone really believe there is a field of sushi out there, just waiting to be freshly picked by the farmer? What does grass have to do with sushi anyway? While I'm sushi-bashing, can someone explain those take-away boxes they have for hand rolls? Why do they require a rubber band to keep them shut? Every other cultural take away makes use of boxes which shut - either by clicking into place, or with the judicious use of a LID. What is is about the Japanese, exactly, which makes them so pro-rubber band? Since I'm on a roll (a hand roll that is....*groan*) - why do they put the soy sauce into those tiny fish-shaped bottles? What clever person thought, OH, I think I'll invent this tiny fish-shaped bottle and pour some soy sauce into it, and then nestle it next to some fake grass, in a flimsy plastic box which DOES NOT CLOSE properly without a rubberband? I want to meet this person. I think there is some untapped genius there. Imagine what he or she could do with Indian food?!
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
On Friday DH* and I are starting training for a 5K run. I've done this previously - when I lost all that glorious weight, I did this same program - the Couch to 5 K previously and it was a great introduction to running. Given that I've returned to my former not-so-glory, I've decided it's time to get back on those roads and back to my slimmer self. Strangely, even though I've been big my whole life, looking in the mirror now is very odd. I got USED TO my slim self, so now my fat self feels like someone else. What a wonderful thing, and a great motivator. Anyway, I'll keep you posted but in the meantime, those in Melbourne should keep an eye out for my gorgeous self pounding the pavement!
DH = Dear Husband...unless he pisses me off, in which case he's a ...you work it out.
Monday, April 24, 2006
The above is a photo of the final exam piece I did for "Sugar Showpieces" - the entire thing (other than the board it's sitting on!) is made of sugar. The tree, leaves, rocks, pond, swing, ribbon, reeds, grasses...everything. I'm damn proud of it and am using this entry just to say that! I still have a hard time believing I have any real, intrinsic talent...but days like today make me feel a little bit closer to belief in myself and my skills. Of course, then I got home and baked some Anzac cookies. They were too hard, too small, and tasted pretty crap. Oh well, guess you can't win them all!
Sunday, April 23, 2006
A couple of months ago I had this horrendous migrane. I get them about every three months or so. So I was talking to a friend about the day I had leading up to getting the migraine - and she said she thought most headaches were caused by dehydration more than anything else. So I tell her about my day (coincidentally completely lacking in liquid), and she says, "Well you've gone and dried your brain out! That's why you've got a headache!"
Ever since then, the mental image of my brain, dried out and crusty looking, has stuck with me. Every time I have a headache, I think about that image. I think about my brain being as dry as the leaves in autumn. That image alone makes me run to drink loads of water....which most often than not, along with monster amounts of drugs, makes the headache go away. Isn't that weird, to think about one's own brain as being dried out? Even if it is, it seems t0 work as a way of getting rid of headaches.
Friday, April 21, 2006
This quote appears in the front of a book I am reading:
The greatest treasure, contentment,
The greatest posession health,
The greatest ease is sleep,
The greatest medicine is a true friend.
(Sir William Temple)
The quote made me think about my Best Friend (hereto known as Lummox.) Lummox and I have been best friends since we were 8 years old, and we're now thirty so that's a really, really, really long time. We've survived births, deaths, marriages, changed international locations, countless tears and plenty of high-calorie, totally worth it slices of cake. Last year Lummox was diagnosed with an auto-immune, incurable disease. The above quote made me think of her primarily because, while she may be lacking in some of those areas, there is no question that she (and I) have the last one. My frustration, of course, is that no amount of my being a true friend to her will give her back her "greatest posession" and restore it to full working order. I actually think the poem is a bit wrong - I would put one's greatest treasure as friendship, with one's greatest medicine as contentment. A treasure, of course, being something one can continually draw from as time goes by and as needs dictate, while a medicine is something which cures an ill. Her 'medicine' is her acceptance of her disease, and her significantly changing her lifestlye in order to ensure a long, happy and basically healthy life. She has, in recent months, shown a strength of character, courage and energy which I admire greatly - in the face of exhaustion on so many levels, she continues to achive a remarkable amount. We play a game where she tells me she doesn't know "how I do it" - eg raise a family, forge a career, organise a hectic life - and I tell her I don't know how she does it - go to grad school, work, be an amazing daughter and friend... but I can reveal our secret of how we do it. We do it by valuing the treasure which is our friendship, and deriving from it pleasure, contentment, and ease.
Lummox: By request, here is the blog about you. Thank you for the last 22 years.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
For the past few weeks at culinary school I've been getting lessons in how to be a 'barista' - or how to 'pull' and create the perfect espresso, latte, etc etc. Coffee, to me, is such a disappointment. It smells heavenly, but tastes like burnt sweat socks. It looks gorgeous - all smooth, thick white crema and lovely patterns and warm cup - but tastes like burnt sweat socks. It's very grown-up - beautiful people drink it, 30 something career people live for it, and you just look supremely cool holding one. It still tastes like burnt sweat socks. There are two reasons why I drink it, about twice a year: 1) to stave off a migrane, and 2) to look like the aforementioned grown up and cool people. In college my friend Cameron said true coffee drinkers progress: from loads of sugar/milk, to less sugar and some milk, to no sugar and some milk, to no sugar and no milk...to a shot of espresso (or two, or twelve). Friends, let me admit this right now. I have not left the lots of sugar and lots of milk stage! In fact, I probably am in the pre-stage where I ruin the whole thing by prefering sweet n' low to actual sugar, which to my sugar-overloaded palate is not sweet enough to fix the sweat sock flavour thing. Caffeine has no impact on me whatsoever. Every few months I'll order a coffee at work (made with fancy roasted beans, by professional baristas, with real milk etc etc -coffee the way it's meant to be). I breathe in the heady aroma, I admire the gorgeously smooth crema...I take my first, tentative sip....and I realise it still tastes like burnt sweat socks.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Why does the world assume that children - heck, anyone under 21 - only wants to eat fried crap? Or high fat, high calorie, totally nutritionally devoid food? Okay so maybe I'm old fashioned, maybe I'm a stick in the mud, maybe I'm a crap parent. Yes, my kids like junk food. Yes, occassionally we'll order pizza for dinner. However, they were not raised on nuggets and chips as a food group. They eat what we eat. Can you imagine me having the patience to cook one meal for them and one for us? Why this rant, you ask? I got the menus for the kids' birthday party....yes, to have a party at the MUSEUM you need to go through their caterers. The one menu with even vaguely decent real food (read: not fried, not full of sugar, not lacking in substance) costs - $24. A PERSON. Okay, it includes the party hats. Still - $24 PER KID, for something healthy? By the way, even that menu has fried items on it, albeit disguised in fancy catering terms and with a 'fresh herb garnish.' While I'm on the topic - why do restaurants only have fried crap on the kids' menu? Do kids not eat normal food until they are old enough to hand over their Visa to pay for dinner? Why isn't the 'kids menu' just smaller versions of the adults' menu? I feel a desperate need for lettuce coming on...
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
There are two reasons why I am a tortured pastry soul today:
1. It's passover, which means no leaved products, no wheat etc etc etc. Pain does not even begin to describe the special kind of torture this is for a pastry chef. Not just any pastry chef, but one who gets to work at 3:45 in the morning to be greeted with the heady aroma of freshly baked bread. I spend all day surrounded by cakes, pastries, fantastic artisan breads and all manner of scrumptious, delicious, delectable leavened products. These are the longest eight days of my carb-addicted life.
2. I lived my worst pastry nightmare today when the kitchen I was working in was totally devoid of sugar, eggs and butter. My entire patisserie existance was, for those hours, declared null and void. The good news was, I was working in a pastry section which did not rely on those things as heavily as other sections...but still, I felt the collective pain. A life devoid of butter, sugar and eggs are what pastry nightmares are made of.
Monday, April 17, 2006
It's no wonder people have less kids these days. Every house which *might* fit you all, you cannot even begin to afford, meat costs a horrendous amount, and any semblance of a social life costs a fortune. We went to the zoo today, and a 'family ticket' was $52.50! They classify a "family" as two adults and two children, and they charge an extra $5 for additional children. This is before we've eaten anything, drunk anything, or done any activities. That's what it costs just to get in the door. No wonder people have fewer kids these days - even if you wanted to have more, all you could do was live in your (small) rental unit eating a vegetarian diet and never seeing the light of day. It's beginning to feel like having three kids is some sort of social crime, with the punishment being financial ruin.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
So here I am, finally finding a forum for my writing skills as well as my ego. An entire blog devoted to me, my love of food, my pastry successes (and let's be honest, spectacular failures) my adventures with the trio, and anything else I feel like waxing lyrical about. Talking (out loud, in print, makes no diff..) is MY THING. Now I can do it on a global scale.
I could get used to this.