Monday, November 26, 2012

Life lessons

In the car, on our daily travel to school, is when I have the most interesting conversations with my youngest son, Matthew.  Usually, he starts off by relating to me something that had happened in school or with his friends, then I end up talking about my views and  my own experiences when I was younger.  He fondly calls these conversations "life lessons".

Although I sometimes feel Matthew gets annoyed with all my ramblings, I just get on with it just the same. I'm pretty sure he'll remember these times when he's older and then he'll realize how much he had learned from being stuck in the car with me!

Well, today, I have some life lessons for you, too.  These are things that I am certain you already know though.  Let's just put them in another perspective, shall we?

LIFE LESSON #1: There are no such things as accidents.  Everything happens for a reason.

I have baked hundreds and hundreds of macarons in the past few months but have never perfected a single batch. Some would come out great, a lot of them hollow.  Some smooth and shiny, some wrinkled.  I have used a variety of recipes, baking temperatures, and baking time. Bought different brands of almond meal.  Compared silicone mats versus parchment paper.  Pure icing sugar versus one with cornstarch.  Copper bowl versus stainless steel with cream of tartar. The list goes on and on.

On yet another macaron baking session yesterday, confusion had me whip too much eggwhites for my almond/sugar mixture.  Upon realizing it, I tried to rectify the situation as much as I could.  In so doing, I could not follow the recipe to a tee.  You know what?  It yielded my best macarons ever!  Not one cracked shell.  No hollows.  No sticking.  Perfect.

Pistachio macarons with pistachio buttercream.

I made 43 in total!
See, not hollow!

That mistake was meant to happen.  The macarons could have turned out badly and I would have ended up frustrated again.  BUT it didn't. I am so happy that now, I can rest from all the experimentations.  I think I finally have a recipe and method I could rely on.

LIFE LESSON #2:   Cramming, in general, is not good. BUT sometimes, we get the best results under pressure.

I received a request for a golf-themed cake last week but had to turn it down initially because of the short notice and because I was already quite busy with other cakes.  More importantly, I did not know anything about golf or how to go about making golf-related decorations.  

Two days before the cake was needed, I decided to go ahead with it anyway.  I don't know why, but working hard till late at night seems to be my thing. I could never get to sleep until I am satisfied with what I've done.

Golf-themed birthday cake for a 12 year old.

A little bit of imagination (and a lot of Google help!) can go a long way.
The cake is very simple and yet, I love it.  I am very glad I did go through making this as it has turned out to be one of my favourites!

LIFE LESSON #3:  Don't be afraid to try something new and to take risks.  Keep on challenging yourself!

Normally, I would experiment first before doing the real thing but in this particular case, I decided to take the risk and give it a go. 

Giant cucpake bouquet with a dark chocolate cupcake patty pan!

I made my first ever giant cupcake for my brother's recent birthday party.  I've had the jumbo cupcake silicone pan for ages but was too lazy to use it.  When I came upon these series of videos on YouTube, I was encouraged to try it.  It was a success!

No one wanted to cut it or rather, no one knew how!

I finally had to do the job myself!

I loved making the giant cupcake so much, I created a similar one for my husband's birthday just a few days after.  This one had a white chocolate cupcake "liner".

My family is telling me now that I should start offering cakes like these.  Hmmm...something to definitely consider.

Even with the smallest things we do, though unimportant they might seem, we learn something from them, don't we? Feel free to share some of your life lessons too!