Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Notes from the Field: A goodbye.

"To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go."
- Mary Oliver

Where do you find hope? 

Four and a half years ago, I discovered a creative outlet to soothe a restless and creative mind. I had constant ideas dancing through my dreams and hands that needed to make. I was in between some things and uncertain of others, and so, "The Cupcaketologist" was born. 

At first the cupcakes were an inspired focus. They fed culinary dreams that were yearning to come true. They had me dancing around the kitchen like a fool, transforming everything from goat cheese and prosciutto to zucchini blossoms and foie gras into decadent delights. They were a hobby, they won awards, and at times, there were a source of income. My blog willingly took a backseat when I was too busy being happy and it gave me a place to explore heartache when I needed it most. These cupcakes helped me cope.

This blog has followed me from Philadelphia to Connecticut to Manhattan. I've baked in kitchens all over the world. Writing "The Cupcaketologist" even led me to create another blog, and in that little journal's short life, I met some of the most important people in my life history thus far: people who are important chapters, lifelines and best friends. I'm in awe over the wonders that I've seen, experienced and felt through it all. 

When I was nine, I was pure zen. I was even, balanced and the only kid on the swim team whose mother led her through finish line visualizations. At eighteen, I was bottled awareness. I was mature past my own good and above the teenage drama that plagued the high school halls. At twenty-one, I started searching, and a few years later, that search led me here: to a place where I could process the world around me by way of a focus and words.

The word "ethnography" quite literally means to “write (or represent) a culture.” My cupcakes were inspired by places I've traveled and the people I've met along the way. They were truly, in my mind, a series of case studies, whether the topics explored were foreign, brand new or completely personal. By way of a common medium, they attempted to make sense of the broad experiences one might uncover in a lifetime.

I've learned so much about the world in these four years. I've learned about myself in ways that I don't know I could have otherwise. 

I've been thinking about this for a long time, and I'm out of words that need to be shared in this space. I will be a baker, a writer and a dreamer for life, but it's time to say goodbye here. More importantly, it's time to discover whatever is next and just enjoy making, creating and being in the now

This blog gave me joy and opportunities. More so, it gave me hope. It helped me get lost, come full circle and discover myself again. I'm so thankful to have been able to share the stories of that journey with you. I'm speechless that you kept following after all of these years. Thank you for traveling along with me.

In peace, love and cupcakes, 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Case Study 128: "The Roasted Strawberry Basil Cupcake"

OK. So we might have fast-forwarded to summer this week. 

Like any good culinarian, this got me jonesing for warmer weather things. Like sunset runs and day-drinking and taking my shoes off in absolutely any presence of grass.

It also got me excited for summer fruits. And flavors. And the sweet sweet magic that occurs when you combine sugar and berries and put them in the oven. 

These cakes are a product of that. 

Roasted strawberry cupcakes with sweet basil-vanilla bean buttercream and balsamic-basil candy on top. 

They're like any other strawberry cupcakes...except better. And more exotic. First, I tossed good ripe strawberries with a little sugar, olive oil and coarse sea salt and roasted them in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. I mixed these into the batter of a normal strawberry cupcake recipe that's never failed me in the past. For the buttercream, I steeped basil with sea salt, sugar and milk for 10 minutes, strained it through cheesecloth, and used it in my standard vanilla bean buttercream recipe. And balsamic basil candy? Just reduce a little maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and dried basil in a pan until it bubbles, and turn it out onto parchment to cool, before breaking up and sprinkling on top.

We might be a little premature in saying that summer has in fact arrived prior to June 21. After all, the days still have to get even longer and the sunsets need to turn a little more gold until I can proclaim it the fairest of the seasons. But my god, if these days are any indication of what we have to come. I. Can't. Wait.