Tag Archives: baking

Onward and Upward

A few days ago I was discussing with a friend our futures. Would we ever get married? Be parents? Where would we be living in 10 years? It was a little disconcerting, considering my preference for planning my life in advance, that I didn’t exactly know what my future had in store for me.

I asked my much more laid-back friend, “Would you want to know exactly how your future is going to unfold?”

“Nahhh, I kind of like surprises,” was his response.

This threw me for a loop, because I would want to have a detailed itinerary emailed  to me every week. Knowing the minute details of my daily life would be something of a thrill for me. Being able to plan well in advance for situations would be a life saver! The orange juice commercials, where the consumer is sitting at the table with all of their “problems” for the day, is an obsessive compulsive planners fantasy.

I wondered if my friend was in the majority. Do most people want to keep an element of surprise in their day-to-day routine? How many people would choose to gaze into their future, if they found out the exact circumstances of their death? Perhaps that is the kicker, death. If you know when and how you’re going to die, you might live your life differently. I would assume that being privy to that sort of information might drastically change your personality and the way you interacted with people. This sort of information could be the reason that certain people would choose not to have their future unfolded before them.

As a planner, worrier and obsessive compulsive, however, I am practically frothing at the mouth for a chance to look into tea leaves and divine my future. I would ultimately hope the tea leaves showed something positive and in-line with how I anticipate my future will be. If everything goes according to plan, I would end up divining a future like:

2-3 years: married to the love of my life, work towards a 4 day work week, discussing adoption
4 years: completion of contracted work in California, quick sell of my current home, purchase a vacation home on Catalina Island, move back to NYC or Toronto,  begin renovation on the West Village building in NYC, begin the adoption process
5-6 years:  adopt a child/children (hopefully male twins), work towards a 2-3 day work week
7-8 years: complete the renovation on the West Village building, spend a year living abroad with my family, begin the transition to open my bakery (test recipes, research supply companies etc..)
9-10 years: begin consulting for hospitals 1-2 days a week, finally open my bakery, enjoy being a mother/wife/small business owner

An idyllic plan that will hopefully be put into action within the coming years!

Question(s): What about you? Would you choose to view your entire future if given the chance? Is there anything you wouldn’t want to know?

Dear Me: A Letter to Myself 10 Years Ago

Originally taken from “Dear Me” adapted by “Adventures on the Road

Dear RO,

I know you’re stressed, but I promise you it will get better. The holidays are coming up and you’re dealing with a lot. It will be your first major holiday without him and it will be a tough one. Everyone will ask about you two and everyone will do it awkwardly, it will be painful. You will want to hide in the guest house, but I promise it will get better. Life does go on and you will find the love of your life.

School is intense. This year will be your most difficult. You will want to quit. Baking will keep you sane and it will also make you a lot of friends. Don’t make those chocolate cake cookies, though. No one will like them and they are pretty disgusting (it’s not you, it’s the recipe). Try to get out more and don’t isolate yourself in your apartment. Don’t take on more than you can handle (though you will regardless) and learn to take time for yourself. Even though grades are important now, they aren’t everything. Allow yourself time away from the books, enjoy your college years.

Don’t worry so much about your appearance. For the next 10 years you will obsess over everything you eat, wear and you will work out way more than you need to. Don’t waste your time worrying over this small stuff, you will miss out on so much because of a few people. Don’t let your life revolve around issues of vanity.

As far as medicine is concerned, it may not be your passion now, but it will become the thing you love most. You will move across the country to practice it, you will neglect your friends and family and you will fall in love with healing your patients. This is ok. You will cry and complain. It will be the most difficult thing you will ever do, but it will be the one constant in your life and it will allow you to do so much. Fall in love with medicine, because it will give back to you beyond anything you can imagine.

Love always,

Future RO

Like Eating Glass

Because Halloween is my favourite holiday (and yesterday was hell), I decided to not only go all out for my costume this year, but also make fantastic baked goods. I had seen a really awesome recipe in Martha Stewart Living and wanted to bake my own.

For the cupcakes I made a red velvet base and added some dark chocolate chips to the batter as well. I used a cream cheese frosting recipe, but any white frosting would do. You want the “blood” to show up on the glass/frosting, so the lighter the better.

The glass is incredibly easy to make:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water

Combine in a saucepan and heat to a boil. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat to medium-high. Heat until the caramel reaches 300 F (150 C) and then pour immediately into a metal sheet pan that is sprayed with cooking spray. A metal sheet works best because it is flexible. Tilt the pan until the sugar mixture covers the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then break it with a spoon or the handle of a knife. I used a beat-up tray, so I didn’t feel bad twisting it and hitting it with utensils.

This was a lot of fun to make!

Then you take the glass, insert it (several pieces) into the top of the iced cupcake. The semi-finished product looks really fabulous:

Up close and personal with the cupcake

I ended up making 24 cupcakes, but four would not fit on the tray. I used the leftover “glass” to cover the bottom of the tray, to give them more “awesome points“:

I can't wait to see people's reactions to these!

Finally, you will need to drizzle “blood” over the glass for that super creepy effect:

Delicious blood (aka raspberry syrup)

20 cupcakes all in a row...

The syrup wasn’t as red as I was hoping for, but the overall effect is nice!

Also, this seems like an appropriate song for the post!

Happy Weekend Before Halloween!

Hallowe'en!

The Pie is a Lie

The “Cake vs Piedebate has been going on for some time. I have never taken a side because I tend to fall into the “whatever is being served at
the time is my favourite dessert” category. While driving my aunt to the airport, she told me to stop by a particular bakery on the way back and get cannolis for everyone. When I arrived at the bakery, they had a yummy selection of goodies and I bought an eclectic mix of things to take to my remaining family.

Upon my arrival home I was greeted by eager young cousins who saw that I was carrying a cake. Before I could even make it into the door, my youngest cousin looked up at me with the biggest puppy dog eyes I have ever seen and said, “No pie?” I hadn’t gotten any pie because I had decided on cake/cannoli/biscotti/cookies.

My lack of pie was apparently more than my cousin could handle and he stomped off in a huff. I laid out an array of baked goods on the counter and then told my cousin we could go pick out a pie. I drove back to the bakery and he picked out a “Torta di Tagliatelle.”

It made me wonder: What dessert is better? Is there a clear winner in the “Cake vs Pie” debate?

The researcher in me wanted to know, so I sent out an “official” text to everyone on my contact list. I learned two things from this:

  1. Don’t send out a “Group MMS” on the iPhone because it confuses people and they blame me.
  2. There really isn’t a clear winner in this conflict!

The results came back:

Cake: 65
Pie: 64

Even though cake was the winner by a single vote, I can’t decide if that is a large enough margin to consider cake the winner. I have to take a lot of variables into consideration (mainly the fact that many of my friends don’t take anything seriously) and even I can’t really decide which side I’m on!

Trying to decide between the two desserts is difficult, because they are really quite different. I think I will always be one of those people who is just happy to have a piece of whatever amazing confection is in front of me. As far as my friends, it would be a lot of fun to have a “Team Cake vs Team Pie” challenge and see which group can valiantly defend their choice in a “Winner Bake All” fight to the finish.

Question: Which side are YOU on? Why? Share a recipe?

Baking my way through medical school

Medical School: Learn to Live Like a Zombie

Medical school is stressful. Not the “busy schedule,” kind of stressful either. It’s the “life-consuming, soul-destroying, completely overwhelming,” kind of stressful. There were days when I just didn’t want to deal with life in general. In the mornings, my alarm would go off and I would plan my run. Part way through my run, I would consider not going back to my apartment and contemplate skipping my classes for the day. This happened every day for almost six years.

I had always attributed my lack of interest in medical school to my

My room was much less depressing....

parents. They had forced me to go to medical school, even though I told them I would be miserable. Of course I had been right, I disliked medicine intensely. It was easy enough, I found that I was good at it and I continued to drag myself to class everyday. By third year, I was so depressed that I had (what I would now classify as) a nervous breakdown. I stopped running, eating and only left the apartment for class. I spent an entire break from school in bed, leaving only to use the restroom or shower (sometimes). It was awful. I kept visualizing my life and in my head it was the most depressing future I could ever imagine. I pictured myself going to work everyday, dealing with patients and never being happy. It was too much to bear, so I just shut down.

At the end of several weeks, I finally decided enough was enough. I drove to see my parents, I was going to tell them I was done with

My grandmother is so much cuter

medical school once and for all. When I arrived home my grandmother was there. She was in the process of baking babka wielkanocna for the holiday so I asked if I could help while I waited for my parents to return. Perhaps it was speaking Polish with my grandmother or maybe it was licking delicious gooey batter off my fingers, but by the time my parents arrived home I had completely forgotten that I was there to tell them my life-changing news. Baking has always been an important aspect of my life, but at that moment I realized that I could take out my frustrations on cupcakes. It was a game changer.

I spent the weekend at my parents, planning my baking shopping list. My mind was finally off of medical school and instead it was thinking about how many Meyer lemon’s I needed for tarts. When I got back to the city I headed straight to the store, I bought over $300 worth of

The best kind of mess.

random ingredients and then stopped by a kitchen supply store for extra accessories. Back at my apartment, I baked for hours. My counters that had once been covered in nothing but medicine, were now covered in flour. I kneaded dough until my fingers cramped and rolled it until my arms were sore. It was wonderful. After I took the last cake out of the oven, exhaustion took hold and I slept for twelve hours straight. I woke up feeling oddly refreshed, went for a long run and then delivered the baked goods to my classmates.

For the rest of my time in medical school, I took plenty of time out to work in the kitchen. My friends and classmates loved it, so much so that they began to request certain recipes more than others. The favourite ended up being my Black Forest Cupcakes, which were requested on a weekly basis. It quite literally got me through medical school and made me realize that I would ultimately survive the experience.

It seems like a silly thing, to think that baking cupcakes could really have such a profound impact on a person. To me, it has always been the act of baking more than the finished product. Even though I enjoy tasting my creations, it is ultimately the pleasure they bring others that makes me so content. Once I found that I enjoyed baking, it became an outlet for my anxiety which helped me through medical school.

So, would I have still been a physician if I had not discovered my love of baking? Probably. My parents would have forced me to finish school and if I had decided to drop out, they would have pushed me toward engineering. Baking didn’t save medical school for me, but it did help me find some sort of balance in my hectic life. To this day I continue to bake for my family and friends. I think they are glad I had a nervous breakdown, because without it they never would have been able to taste what they consider “the most amazing cupcakes ever.”