Too Much On My Plate: De-stressing through food

There is one story that my sister will never stop telling, and it is of when she came home late one night to find me standing in the kitchen, in the dark, separating egg yolks from whites. When she asked me what I was doing, I simply responded, “I’m releasing my pent-up anxiety.” Now, I don’t remember how serious I was when I said that, but I can’t say it was a complete lie. Apparently my sister found it strangely hilarious, and now that I think about it, I guess it is.

This also brings me to finals week of some high school year when I got so stressed, I had to bake a cake. What? If you are wondering how on earth a student can bake cakes the day before finals, don’t ask me, because I don’t know what was going through my head either–it certainly isn’t the case now. I suppose it’s good enough that I passed.

But while I don’t bake cakes during finals anymore, I still find food an excellent medium for releasing stress and unwinding. I partake more often in consuming food than making it nowadays, but all the same–there is something about food that makes boiling away your stress and eating away your feelings surprisingly satisfying and relaxing. Everyone does it–they eat ice cream when they’re depressed and make cakes when they’re happy (okay, maybe not). How do you deal with pent-up feelings? Does food help you unleash your worries?

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Reveling inside boundaries (recipe included)

Coming up with new ideas always involves looking back on familiar ones.

There have been too many times in which I have failed in creating new recipes and resorted to remaking those already in my collection, but that’s not always a bad thing. People always say, “think outside of the box!” but sometimes, revisiting the things you know and love is the exact inspiration you need.

Some time ago, I tried my hand at lychee ice cream. For those of you who love lychee like I do, you probably know what I mean when I say I was excited. I wanted a result on par with the lychee ice cream at Double Rainbow in SF (mmmm…or so I remember). Having failed at following conventional recipes for ice cream (mine always turned out hard and icy), I bought two large cans of lychee and set out to make my own. It was simpler than I had expected–using my experiences with melting sugar down into caramel and referencing more familiar recipes (that I had more success with), I reduced the lychee juice into a thicker syrup and chopped the fruits into bite-sized pieces to produce the defining lychee flavor (for these, I referenced caramel and strawberry ice cream).
And it wasn’t a complete failure! True, it was a little icy and strangely sour (I concluded that this was a result of the citric acid in the canned lychee juice) but it was one step closer to reaching my goal. I have yet to try it again, I’ll post the recipe when I perfect it.

So anyway, what I’m trying to say is you don’t always have to beat yourself up trying to be unique and attempting to venture into unexplored areas. Use your resources! They’ll help you more than any “spark of imagination.”

On another note: recently, my mother has become infatuated with some almond-pear bars she discovered at Nordstrom Cafe. She insisted that I try to make some, so here I am, nibbling at a pastry and scouring the internet for cake and tart base recipes, attempting to calculate the proportions of flour and other ingredients necessary for a successful imitation of the pear-bar’s texture. Alas, I am lazy, and I am not in the mood to complete my research, but thinking about the flavor of this almond-pear bar really reminds me of a dessert I grew up with, called almond jello. It’s probably the flavor of almond extract; I’ve always loved the smell and taste of it. Of course, it’s completely different from what I’m looking for, but I think reacquainting myself with familiar flavors and using them as references will really help me to pinpoint the taste of my final almond-pear bar.
Anyhow! I thought I’d share the (jello) recipe with you all today. It’s super easy, simple, and really delicious. Continue reading