Saturday, November 21, 2015

Failure is simply part of the adventure

I've been in my own place now for almost three weeks. Which means there's been lots of unpacking of boxes, sorting, purging and finding the right place to put things away. The amazing thing is, I'm back in my same adorable place that I was living in before I left. Yes, that's right, as fate would have it, it became available the same week I accepted a job. So, two months after returning to Denver, I now have a car, a job, and a place to live!

My little car and my neighborhood

The view from my office window
To settle in and really make it feel like home, and to have a good excuse to take a break from unpacking, I've been doing a bit of baking. Last Friday, after I heard the news of the horrific tragedy in Paris, I was in shock and unable to focus on anything as I waited to hear from friends. As I waited, I decided I would bake a batch of macarons - something I learned to bake while living in France and something minor that I felt I could do to connect with and honor my French friends. Since I don't yet have a food scale, I spent some time converting the recipe from grams to cups and was hopeful it would work. Sadly, it did not. Here is failed attempt number one at baking french macarons at altitude.

I didn't get the air out of the meringue, so they cracked when I took them out of the oven

I didn't cook them long enough, so they turned into a pile of chocolate crumbs as I tried to get them off the paper

Don't worry, I didn't throw away all of those chocolatey macaron crumbs, instead I made a crème anglaise and created a little trifle adding fresh blackberries. Sorry, no picture of this one, but round two of macarons will commence soon!

Shortly after returning to Denver, a friend ordered a pie to support my baking addiction, and patiently waited while I figured out which end was up and got reestablished. So, earlier this week, I finally fulfilled that order and made a salted-caramel apple pie. This one is always a big hit and has earned me more than one marriage proposal over the years! It's the perfect blend of flaky crust, crisp apples and crumbly topping, with the creamy caramel holding it all together.

Salted-Caramel Apple Pie

A few days ago I was headed to Boulder to spend an evening with new and old friends and wanted to bring a little dessert to share, but didn't want to make a trip to the store. So, scouring my pantry (thanks to some dear friends who generously re-stocked my pantry with baking supplies), I found the things I needed to make a gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake! The balance of the crunchy nut crust with the smooth pumpkin cream seemed to be greatly appreciated by all.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with a nut crust
As I was looking at my sad pile of macaron crumbs, I was reminded that while things don't always turn out the way we expected them to, it doesn't mean it's a failure, it's simply part of the adventure, and an opportunity to creatively explore new ideas.  As I continually work to adjust my perspective and expectations, whether in the kitchen or in life,  I often find new surprises and hidden gifts where I least expect them.

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