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This week’s obsession: One Armed Baking

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Now that I got that song stuck in your head, I have to share that I've learned some pretty valuable lessons this week. I went on a business trip to the beautiful, snowy Park City, right outside of Salt Lake City, UT. I had some highs and some lows, and when I got back to the island I learned a few more lessons. All of it plays into today’s cake, so bear with me.

Look at that scenery!! Absolutely breathtaking!

First I learned not to take on a moose. Seriously, I did. We encountered one in person while hiking this week and while it was so incredibly beautiful, it was also quite terrifying! I learned that you should never attract a moose’s attention (especially a mama moose) and you should do so by being quiet and still, and that if a moose does charge at you, don’t run because it can easily catch you. Apparently they don’t have great eyesight though, so you can hide from a moose if you get behind a tree or something. I also learned that my boss has a sharp sense of humor because one of the women we were hiking with was expressing concern about other animals that we might need to run from. My boss just shrugged and said, “I don’t have to outrun the animals because I know I can outrun you!” Clearly sympathy is not her strong suit :D

You have to zoom in on this one to see the moose.

As we were standing by as silently as possible (me not so much because I was still trying to suppress giggle fits about the ‘outrunning you’ comment. I was doing a really bad job of it. It actually turned into a few snorts at one point), a very happy and overconfident dog went rushing by us right toward the moose! My dog person brain immediately (and stupidly) took over my motor skills and I started calling the dog back to safety... The moose noticed ::facepalm::, He didn't like the doggy being so close either, so he reared back on his hind legs and kicked his front two legs at the dog, who very smartly turned right around and ran back to us. Phew! We had to wait a little while longer until the moose got distracted with eating trees again, and then we hightailed it outta there! Lesson learned: don’t take on a moose.

The next lesson, I learned about myself. On my last night in Park City, I was headed out to a bar to blow off some steam and celebrate a great business trip with a colleague. We both got out of her truck, and I took two steps on the sidewalk as I was telling her something across the truck bed when it happened. I saw it all in slow motion. My feet shot straight out from under me as if they were trying to escape. On my way to the ground, I made eye contact with the two dudes walking toward me on the sidewalk and saw it in their faces that this landing was gonna hurt. And simultaneously I thought, “ Ooooooooohhhhhh, fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuudge.” (Except I didn’t say fudge.)

The two dudes were right. It. HURT. They made their way over and asked if I needed a hand getting up. I was gripping my own hand by this point because I knew something was pretty wrong with it, and I wanted absolutely no one to touch it. I thanked them for the offer but told them that I was going to stay on the ground for a few moments to collect my dignity #facepalm

I definitely got my drink after that, but went straight back to the condo where I was staying so I could lick my wounds, only to find that I had no painkillers, nor were there any stocked in the condo I was staying in. Since it was after 10pm and I didn’t have a car, I hunkered down with some ice packs and waited until morning. That first night was brutal - not just because of the physical pain, but because of the mental anguish that came along with it. I didn’t want to let my customers down by not being able to complete their orders, plus I was disappointed about all the holiday baking I was planning to do with my family later this month. I beat myself up all night long about not being careful enough and not reacting fast enough to the ice, and not thinking to find painkillers before I went home for the evening. It was quite a long night.

But after all that negativity, I decided I couldn’t give up without a fight! I took great care of my wrist these last few days to ensure that I can be back in the game as soon as possible. I also decided to test my skills by making today’s cake with one hand (and of course, I broke my dominant hand, so this is all done with the hand that isn’t really sure how to hold a pencil.) Side note: I’m also typing entirely with one hand, too. #TheStruggleIsReal But I realized that my drive to make people happy and to do my best no matter what is much stronger than the ease of giving up, even when faced with pain. Lesson learned: I don’t know how to give up without exhausting all my resources, and that's alright with me! Which is why we now have this lovely little cake!

Such a festive cake! Who needs a dominant hand anyway??

Now that I’m back in the island heat and wearing shorts and tank tops again, I found that I really missed the snowy, quintessential scene I just left which is what inspired me to recreate the holiday feel in this week’s cake. I chose to make a gingerbread cake with orange and cinnamon cream cheese frosting, topped with sugared cranberries, rosemary, thyme, and sage.

First off, I was SO proud of myself for being able to open the molasses jar one handed #superwoman I honestly looked at the jar and wondered which neighbor I could bring it to before even trying to open it, but I somehow was able to do it!! It’s the little things!

Opened a new jar of molasses with one hand!

I cooked the cranberries down in an orange juice simple syrup before rolling them in cane sugar. Don't you just love how the cane sugar looks like snow and frost dusting the fresh herbs? Since there was plenty of leftover orange simple syrup, I decided to use some in my cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and I brushed the rest of it on the cake layers because I find gingerbread cakes to be a bit dry. This is my tip of the week: most cakes that seem dry can benefit from being brushed with a syrup before putting frosting on each layer. Try to use syrup flavor that works well with the overall flavor composition of the cake. A lot of pastry chefs will use a rum syrup on most cakes. #YUM The French chefs who taught me brushed most of their cakes with Kirschwasser (a brandy distilled from cherries that I highly recommend!), but you can also use non-alcoholic syrups, too. A simple vanilla syrup will work on most cakes, and a coffee syrup will compliment chocolate cakes extremely well! So there you have it - there is no excuse to ever serve a dry cake!

Now I know I mentioned that I learned several things this week and only mentioned two in this post, but I’m still typing with one hand and feel that it would be wise to save one for next week, so you'll have to come back next week I guess. And the only hints I can give you about next week are: 1) Remember the moose story 2) Eggnog.

Happy eating, y’all!

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