Sometimes I dream about packing up my crap, saying farewell to my dead-end cubicle job, hopping on a plane, and setting up shop somewhere in another country, like the English countryside or a quaint village in France, where I could play around in the kitchen all day. And in between baking cakes and treats, I’d roam the country meeting new people and taking pictures.
But whenever my mind starts to wander in to these whimsical dreams, my sensible side scolds me. “How would you support yourself? What would you do with your time? You can’t just leave your job and do nothing!” it says. But when in doubt, listen to Nigella.
“I do think that many of us have become alienated from the domestic sphere, and that I can actually make us feel better to claim back some of that space… In a way, baking stands both as a useful metaphor for the familial warmth of the kitchen we fondly imagine used to exist, and as a way of reclaiming our lost Eden.” from How to be a domestic goddess.
I’ve been tossing the idea of going to culinary school around this past week. On the one hand, I think getting formal pastry and baking lessons would be a dream come true and would hopefully start the ball rolling on starting my own bakery or catering business. But then I think maybe I should continue on the “normal” career path. Pension plan, benefits, cubicle with a window…
I guess the best way to satisfy both sides of my brain is to get domestic here. Someday I might find myself across the globe doing exactly what I dream about but nothing is stopping me from doing that right now. That’s why I love that quote from Nigella. Some people think that women who want to stay in the home and stay in the kitchen are less important than those out in the “battlefield” of business. But that is so not true.
Over the weekend, I was able to showcase my rather domestic side with these beautiful mini cheesecakes from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. My friends went crazy over these things. Somehow in between playing rounds of Apples to Apples and drinking cheap beer, these cheesecakes were devoured.
The cakes themselves were extremely easy to make. I didn’t even bake with a water bath which is the best way to bake cheesecakes so they don’t crack on top. Baking these cakes in muffin tins helped them bake evenly and thoroughly, negating the need for a water bath. An extra tablespoon of sugar and an extra ounce of cream cheese were the only thing that I added to the original recipe.
The cakes were soft and smooth with a hint of the salty cream cheese. The crust was literally failproof to make, but the amount of graham crackers called for in this recipe does produce a lot so I’d half if it for future reference.
For a nice sweet finish, I just melted some bittersweet chocolate with butter, poured it into a ziplock bag, and drizzled it on top of the chilled cheesecake. I returned them to the fridge to set up while I got ready for my dinner potluck and an hour later, these babies were ready to go.
In regards to the culinary arts program, I think the best course of option for myself right now is to keep going until I graduate with my PR degree. There’s no need to come to a life-altering decision right now. I just want to enjoy myself and be happy, even if that means working in a shitty cubicle or in my little kitchen.
Although, if you are one of the many who have gone the culinary arts route, talk to me via the comments section. I’d love to hear your experiences or any advice you might have. Feedback is always a plus ;)
from How to be a Domestic Goddess
½ cup unsalted butter (4 ounces)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons or 9 ounces of graham crackers
7 ounces cream cheese (I used 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar (I used 3 tablespoons of sugar)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons sour cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 12-cup muffin pans
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Melt butter in a pan. Put the graham crackers, broken up roughly, in the food processor and blitz. Still processing, add the butter and turn this wet sand onto a plate or into a bowl. Put a heaped teaspoonful of the biscuit base into each muffin pan, press around the edges, and up the sides of the cup with your fingers, and let it harden in the refrigerator.
Beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth and then add the sugar. Add the egg, beating well, and the the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon juice, combining everything until it’s smooth and creamy.
Put the cream cheese mixture into a measuring cup and pour some into each mini-muffin cup, leaving the top of the crust still visible. Put in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes, by which time the cheese mixture should have set.
Let them cook and then put them in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before gently easing them out of the pans. Or, if you lose patience, after some cautious prising with a rubber spatula turn the pans upside down and rap firmly and the cheesecakes will fall out unharmed.