Saturday, March 31, 2012

coming up now, out of the blue

A running joke among my fellow interns is that every time I drop a piece of paper from my white coat, it inevitably has a recipe scribbled on it. I don't even know how these end up in my white coat pockets, as it's not like I wander around the hospital collecting recipes. Still, I do tend to scrawl down experiments. Most of the time, there is something about the recipe that does not quite satisfy me, and thus it winds up shoved in random pockets or in the circular file.

There is a little notebook I keep in my kitchen. It looks from outward appearances to resemble a journal, and every once in a while, someone will come upon it and think they are about to discover weird, random musings (when the silly geese could just come here for that!), only to be confused when they open the book.

In the little notebook are the keepers. Recipes I've either used a million times, or ones I've wrangled into submission. If it goes into the book, I know it's the real deal. It may not seem like much, but there are now 21 recipes in there (plus a back page with little random skeletal notes about the proper ratios to make basic ganache and cream cheese frosting). To me, though, that seems like a lot, that many no-brainers, foolproofed solutions.

The 21st recipe was a chocolate ice cream recipe, very close to this one but with a few changes in ratios and techniques. Third time's the charm, and in this case, every time I've made this, it's caused a commotion. It's extremely rich, but anyone who loves chocolate would not view this as detrimental. Ice cream has the added benefit of having cream in it, which is advantageous because I am lactose intolerant, and therefore am rarely tempted when I make it.

Cookies are what I bake when I want to make something, and have a deadline. Cakes I bake for occasions. Cupcakes I bake when I want to make something but feel like fooling around with frosting. Things like ice cream are really more cooking though they involve sweet things. They're a process, the sort which I used to fear and avoid. I've written about this probably a million times, I am nothing if not repetitive. Yet I'm always surprised when things that used to frighten me now actually provide me a sense of comfort. Some people meditate or go to yoga. I've tried those things, but I find learning to temper eggs much more relaxing.

Driving through the Bay Area recently, Young The Giant's Cough Syrup was playing on the radio, and it continues to amuse me how often the lyrics of songs are completely in opposition to the general feel of the music. This seems to be more frequent recently, or maybe I'm just noticing. It worked though, because it lulled me into listening to the lyrics more closely. It gets everything right and wrong, this song, I was thinking. It so perfectly captures how a feeling of hopelessness can lead you to the exact wrong conclusion as evidenced by its opening line:

Life's too short to even care at all

Which is perfectly wrong. The fleeting nature of everything should make us find it all the more precious. But when you're tired and feeling down, I think not so much. And then of course, for those of us who are older, this one's also a sucker punch:

I'd run away to some fortune I should have found by now

There is a weird feeling that you should be free of angst by a certain point in your life. Then you find that the angst is still there. But honestly, in the periods of time when I haven't had angst, I've been suspicious. Was I not paying attention? Was it there and I just didn't notice it? Then I think that some people outgrow it, but some of us never will. Some of us will always have a little inner conflict, a push and pull and insistent questions that nag. I guess I've periodically thought of it as a curse, but maybe the trick is to accept it and befriend this constant companion.

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