Week 10: 3/29/17

Wow, week 10. It’s hard to believe that this project has already come to a close. These weeks just flew by and I feel like I have accomplished so much so fast. Looking back, I got more out of this project than I could have ever imagined to be possible. My Crowe Chat was two days ago and I think it went pretty well. At least I managed to get up on the stage and not just hide behind the curtains! My 20/20 project and presentation not only helped me improve my baking skills but also take steps towards overcoming my fear of public speaking. I would definitely consider this experience a success. Even when I failed, which was more than I would have liked, it taught me the most important lessons about not always expecting perfection (which was hard for me to accept at first). I would also like to thank everyone who gave me positive feedback for my baking - it was much appreciated. I feel like I have come out of this project as a more confident, and baking-skilled, person, and for that I am very grateful. Thank you to everyone for your support! :)

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Week 9: 3/19/17

Wow, it’s week 9 already! Really?! This went by so fast I can’t believe it almost over. Well, we are getting into the final stretch here. I just baked my final dessert - sugar cookie - last Sunday and was glad to end on a success. They took so long to make, especially rolling the dough out to the right thickness and using the cookie cutters and trying not to break the cookies when transferring them to the cookie sheet. Towards the end, as the dough got softer, more and more cookies were breaking and I had to keep redoing them which was definitely a little frustrating and time-consuming, but the results were definitely worth it. The warm cookies were delicious and so sugary - just like they should be! Now that this baking endeavor is over, though, I don’t think that I will stop baking. I probably won’t do it as often, but I will definitely keep trying new recipes because of how much I enjoyed this project.
Now comes the part for writing the Ted Talk scripts, where I’m running into a lot more trouble. I started scripting it and am almost done so far, although of course when I timed it, it was over 6 minutes long. It seems like I can never be concise, not when writing or speaking, but I’m working on it. But the bigger problem is my stage fright; it doesn’t matter how long my script is if I can’t even stand on stage to give it. For those of you who missed it, I was literally hiding behind the curtains on stage, unable to bring myself anywhere near the microphone. It was terrifying for me, even with only about 6 other people in the room! Clearly, this is a fear that I am going to have to conquer in just a few days, so it should be interesting to see if I can do it. I guess I’ll see which one wins - my fear of public speaking or my fear of not doing well on this assignment! I’ll let you all know in my final blog next week.
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Week 9: 3/19/17

Wow, it’s week 9 already! Really?! This went by so fast I can’t believe it almost over. Well, we are getting into the final stretch here. I just baked my final dessert - sugar cookie - last Sunday and was glad to end on a success. They took so long to make, especially rolling the dough out to the right thickness and using the cookie cutters and trying not to break the cookies when transferring them to the cookie sheet. Towards the end, as the dough got softer, more and more cookies were breaking and I had to keep redoing them which was definitely a little frustrating and time-consuming, but the results were definitely worth it. The warm cookies were delicious and so sugary - just like they should be! Now that this baking endeavor is over, though, I don’t think that I will stop baking. I probably won’t do it as often, but I will definitely keep trying new recipes because of how much I enjoyed this project.
Now comes the part for writing the Ted Talk scripts, where I’m running into a lot more trouble. I started scripting it and am almost done so far, although of course when I timed it, it was over 6 minutes long. It seems like I can never be concise, not when writing or speaking, but I’m working on it. But the bigger problem is my stage fright; it doesn’t matter how long my script is if I can’t even stand on stage to give it. For those of you who missed it, I was literally hiding behind the curtains on stage, unable to bring myself anywhere near the microphone. It was terrifying for me, even with only about 6 other people in the room! Clearly, this is a fear that I am going to have to conquer in just a few days, so it should be interesting to see if I can do it. I guess I’ll see which one wins - my fear of public speaking or my fear of not doing well on this assignment! I’ll let you all know in my final blog next week.
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Week 8: 3/12/17

I know that last week’s blog was really long since I went on and on talking about that disaster, so I’ll keep this one short and sweet (much like my desserts). This week I made...snickerdoodles!!! This is one of my favorite desserts so I was glad to finally learn to make them myself. Luckily, I got back on my track to success after the cheesecake debacle. Considering the only problem was wondering if I had enough cream of tartar (which I did), I’d say this week was a step in the right direction. It was a lot of fun squeezing the dough and mushing it all together again (see week 3 blog). Although perhaps I was too caught up in enjoying myself that I didn’t realize until later that my cookies were all different sizes. The first batch was noticeably smaller than the others, but they all still tasted great. I especially tried to stick as much sugar and cinnamon to the cookies as possible since I think that’s the best part! The cookies were so warm and puffy coming out of the oven, tasting even better than they smelled. Even though the snickerdoodles took by far the longest to make, this was definitely the best baking week yet. Hopefully, I’ll keep traveling on this upward path in the final two weeks (wow I can’t believe we are almost already done with this project)!
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Week 8: 3/12/17

I know that last week’s blog was really long since I went on and on talking about that disaster, so I’ll keep this one short and sweet (much like my desserts). This week I made...snickerdoodles!!! This is one of my favorite desserts so I was glad to finally learn to make them myself. Luckily, I got back on my track to success after the cheesecake debacle. Considering the only problem was wondering if I had enough cream of tartar (which I did), I’d say this week was a step in the right direction. It was a lot of fun squeezing the dough and mushing it all together again (see week 3 blog). Although perhaps I was too caught up in enjoying myself that I didn’t realize until later that my cookies were all different sizes. The first batch was noticeably smaller than the others, but they all still tasted great. I especially tried to stick as much sugar and cinnamon to the cookies as possible since I think that’s the best part! The cookies were so warm and puffy coming out of the oven, tasting even better than they smelled. Even though the snickerdoodles took by far the longest to make, this was definitely the best baking week yet. Hopefully, I’ll keep traveling on this upward path in the final two weeks (wow I can’t believe we are almost already done with this project)!
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Week 7: 3/5/17

This week was...not so good. I guess I spoke too soon last week thinking I had gotten the hang of this because if I did, I definitely lost it. This was basically a disaster from beginning to end. It all started going south once I decided that this would be the week that I would use the Kitchenaid electric mixer for the first time. Contrary to its purpose, it actually probably made my prep time longer than using a hand mixer. I kept having to stop it to scrape the cream cheese on the sides that the spinning thingy didn’t reach, but there were still quite a few lumps at the end; I tried not to put these into the pan, but then the cheesecake probably wasn’t as thick as it should have been. Plus, to make it worse, I accidently put the speed on the mixer up too high too fast and it splattered all over me and the counter - luckily I wasn’t too fond of my shirt. Then the terribleness just kept piling on when I burned myself a little while putting the cake into the oven - I hadn’t even burned myself in the first weeks! Although thankfully it wasn’t as bad as the time I burned myself on a waffle maker (long story). So while I ran my arm under some cool water, I was hoping that things would turn around and the cake would miraculously turn out okay, but I was severely mistaken. Despite its seemingly simple directions, the recipe didn’t exactly say what it meant for the cake to be “almost set” so I looked it up and apparently it means the cake should be a little jiggly (in case anyone was wondering, even though no one reads this). I poorly judged this and took the cake out too early, but I hadn’t discovered this mistake until hours later after it had been refrigerated, so it was too late to put it back in the oven to bake longer. I guess the outside was maybe safe to eat, but I wasn’t taking my chances (sorry Mrs. Crowe, this is why I didn’t bring you a sample this week - just trying to not make you sick). So this week was clearly a disaster, but I still have a tiny sliver of hope in me that next week will be better (since it can’t possibly get any worse unless I burn my house down). But who knows, I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
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This is my commercial. Please don't watch it...I know it's not good. :)

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Week 6: 2/26/17

Wow, I’m actually starting to get the hang of this baking thing. This week I used a recipe suggested to me by my neighbor, and I was glad that I was able to tell her that it came out deliciously. I thought that it was pretty strange that the recipe didn’t have eggs in it yet every other recipe I have done throughout this entire project had eggs (even the box mix recipes), so I was skeptical that it would taste good. But at least having no eggs meant that even if I took it out of the oven a little early, there was no worry that it was unsafe to eat due to uncooked eggs, so that was a plus. In the end, the addition of sour cream in the recipe made up for the lack of eggs, and actually made the cake pretty soft and moist. I was also concerned that I had to use a bundt pan because it had to be coated with non-stick cooking spray and I have a notoriously terrible record of using too much in the past weeks; at least in the past I could avoid the outside that was soaked in cooking spray and just eat the inside, but now there was no way to avoid it. So I had to be extra careful with how much I used and even wiped a little off, but it didn’t slip out of the pan as easily at the end as in the past. Finally, if anyone is actually reading this (which I’m sure is highly unlikely), then I am open to suggestions for what to bake in the coming weeks because I am basically out of ideas. Thanks!!
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Week 5: 2/20/17

This week was definitely the most different from each of the other weeks so far, to say the least (although the bar was not set very high). First of all, it was a lot more involved since I had to go out to buy a lot of ingredients since we didn’t already have most of them down here (in Florida), and even had to borrow some from my neighbors. Once all of the ingredients and supplies were rounded up, though, it still wasn’t completely smooth sailing. I had some trouble mixing the ingredients before finally deciding to use the mixer, and the recipe and pie crust had contradictory instructions so I had to figure out which to follow. Plus, as I had already discovered in the earlier weeks, it was agonizing waiting nearly an hour for it to bake as the room filled with the smell of chocolate chip cookies. But this time, the wait really was worth it. This was by far my most successful creation yet - the chocolate chip cookie part was nice and gooey and the pie crust was delightfully flaky. The recipe had called for walnuts but my dad is allergic so I replaced it with extra chocolate chips - definitely a good decision! It just melts in your mouth and pairs deliciously well with some vanilla ice cream on top. After last week’s semi-disaster with the crumb cake that looked nothing like a crumb cake, this reassured me that my skills are improving and I am capable of baking at an amateur level. Now I am really looking forward to baking again next week - I just need to figure out what to bake!
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Week 4: 2/12/17


Going into this week, I was honestly scared that whatever I baked next would not be safe to eat. There are just so many things that can go wrong and I was convinced that Murphy’s Law would spell trouble for me. Nonetheless, I tried and slowly went through the recipe, following it closely and taking way longer than the average preparation time. There were so many more steps than in the past, and I never realized before this just how much goes into baking from scratch - it is so much harder than it seems. I still made a mess everywhere from measuring all the ingredients and mixing and transferring between bowls, and it got pretty confusing, to the point that I thought one step said to put ¾ of the mix aside when it actually said ¾ of a cup, which was dramatically different. But, I felt like I finally got the full experience of baking and this was the first time I felt like a real baker - that’s pretty cool! It may not be as difficult and daunting to reach my ultimate goal of this project as I thought a week ago. Unfortunately though, my “crumb cake” did not even resemble a crumb cake but rather a lumpy yellow cake. This may have been because I used a slightly different sized pan than suggested, but in actuality I know that I probably messed up somewhere along the way. But this is just my first attempt at baking from scratch, so I would consider this to be relatively respectable; like I said before, at least it was edible!
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