Monday, July 2, 2012

Seeking Stability

Your comments about lessons learned were so beautiful and inspiring. I am honored to think that such good people come here - voluntarily, no less - to read my own mutterings. Thank you.

I went to TNNA, that big trade show for fiber folks, and returned as I always do: inspired yet somewhat muddled. It's a challenge to be someplace where everyone's radio frequencies are turned up so high. I can't help but pick up lots of static where I'm used to getting a strong, clear signal all my own.  It's as if I came back with about six heads sticking out of my own. Removing them feels like thinning seedlings from the garden, but it must be done.

I've planted too many ideas for the future, and they simply cannot all grow in the space allotted to them. I always wish I could ask a neighbor to come over and thin my seedlings for me. Right now I rather wish some wise person could stare at the mess in my brain, say, "That one, that one, and that one," pluck out the rest and toss them on the compost pile before I can protest. Of course that's the absolute worst way to make decisions, so I'll continue to muddle my way through and trust rightness to prevail. Self-doubt is a mighty foe.

In the meantime, the strawberries are already done. How did July get here so quickly? I picked the last harvest and am making some ice cream for family that arrives this evening. It's always grounding to be around kids. You're too busy making fart noises and grabbing fragile things out of small, swift-moving hands to dwell on bigger questions like, "What should I do with my life?"

Plus I no longer need to dwell on that particular question, because the answer has come to me in the form of STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM. I'm not a huge fan of regular buttercream frosting. It's always too thick and goopy and buttery for summer. Even for me, it's just too much butter. But whenever I try to do a simple whipped cream concoction, it always goes runny on me.

Well, my friends, professional bakeries have a trick. If you didn't know already, they stabilize their whipped cream with gelatin. I experimented a few days ago and am in love.

Dissolve 1 teaspoon of gelatin in about 4 teaspoons of water, let it sit until it gets goopy, then heat it on the stove just until dissolved. Whip 1 cup of cream like you normally would, but just as the cream starts to thicken, drizzle the cooled gelatin into the cream. If you're really gluttonous, add a dollop of lemon curd.

With stabilized whipped cream you can do things like this, and it won't instantly topple:

I was so fascinated the process that I over-whipped the cream (you can see it's a little globby) but HOLY COW, between the extra texture and the lemon curd I was ready to bathe in this thing.

I think I'll set aside some strawberries and try pureeing them and folding them into some stabilized whipped cream. Ohhh, maybe alternate lemon and strawberry creams in a trifle? Oy, my arteries are hardening just imagining the possibilities.

What about you? Were you hit by the horrible storms earlier this week? Is your power back on? What's on your stove, in your oven, or chilling in the fridge? And how do you thin your own mental garden? Please, I'd love to know.


Seanna Lea said...

Your experience with TNNA is very similar to mine with Squam. You see what everyone is working on, take a new class and all of a sudden the entire world is open to you again. It's like being a kid, but with the adult perspective on time. I always leave with so many ideas on what I'm going to do, and then run aground on the realization that I do not have 37 hours in the day.

By the way, your cake there looks delicious (though I still love the buttercream in July).

Cambria said...

I've recently purchased an ice cream maker and I'm experimenting with different forms of non-cow's-milk ice creams (as I am allergic). I've done two different kinds and although they're fun and tasty, I can see that I have a lot of work ahead of me to find just the right mix.

Regarding the mental garden...mine is overgrown. I just jot down all of my different design ideas, sketch them out and sometimes they even make it into swatch form. There's only so much time in a day when one has children, and a job, and is finishing a degree. I hope to be able to find more time when school is over. Meanwhile, I'll watch this post for good ideas :)

kmkat said...

Can you write down all the ideas in a notebook as a way to get them out of your head? Someday when you need a kickstart, open up the notebook and read a page.

Your whipped cream and strawberry confection looks delicious and wonderful!

Mel said...

So now I have to ask before I eat whipped cream?! What won't they put dead animal in?

NanciKnits said...

Stability! What a concept! One thing I've learned is to trust my gut. It never fails me. Never. Ignoring it only makes it yell louder and louder. Pay attention to it and you will find answers. That is when you will be able to begin to weed out the overgrowth in your mental garden.

....also, sometimes we go through periods where it's just all too much.

Read this:

EmEm said...

Clara, thanks for the whipped cream tip. I always just thought I wasn't very good at making it. This summer we have been having lighter pasta salads with lots of fresh raw vegetables in them. On the grill we have been making salmon burgers and crab cakes.
As far as mental weeding goes, I make myself lots of lists and try to include pros and cons along with my ideas. Then I measure my time and income or output. Then I measure the things I love the most. And then I just pick what I can fit in, afford and need to do. It's not always easy as I'm sure you know. But somehow it always balances out.
I hope you have a wonderful time with your family visiting and that you get plenty of time to relax and enjoy some summer.

Jill said...

I came back from Vogue Knitting Live in January full of ideas and yarn and even a small back of fiber to spin after some very persuasive, ahem pusher, and engaging teacher (who apparently is going to bathe in her newly concocted dessert of stabalized whipped cream, lemon curd, and strawberries, btw) suggested that Romney is good fiber for newbies to try. It, along with all the other acquired yarny goodness, still sits in a bag . . . so much for good intentions.

My own mental garden went to seed long ago. Every once and a while, I'll thin it out, bit by boring bit, until I find something worth cultivating. It's kind of interesting to find out what's worth pursuing after all these years.

Grayseasailor said...

Clara, although I have faithfully read Knitters Review since soon after it was born, I somehow keep losing track of your blog. I finally started my own blog this past fall and now at the age of
61+ figured out how to add your blog to my blog-roll so I have caught up again with some more of your news :)

Hooray for your sweet-shop foray, TV stardom, and your New Book!!!

As for weeding, of any variety, I often lack focus and drive, but an instructor once told me in my early twenties, "Guidance is not so much a goal to be reached as it is a way to walk."

What I want to be when I grow up is determined by the choices I make every day. I head toward a life passion, but on my way I refine my choices day by day...seeking the counsel of others, but taking the responsibility to dare to choose what seems best now.

The everyday decisions I have made in my life to follow my passion to Love and be Loved have let me live in MA, MO, CA, TX, NY, CO, and now OR. I have visited places as far away as South Korea, Taiwan, and Canada. I have tutored and crafted and now am learning to blog
one decision at a time aiming to Love and be Loved.

My sucess so far?

Weeds have sometimes infested my thinking and challenged me to believe I was not or could not be productive, but all the decisions I have made along the way have woven themselves into a precisely crafted basket of life. I'm amazed with it's sturdiness and capacity even with it's weaknesses, that tempt me to joke I am just a basket case :)

Happy Weeding, Clara!
Gracie <3

Chris said...

I find that only time helps sort out my mind. But sometimes, the timing is not so good, other times it's better.
We are experimenting with cookies all this summer, getting ready for fall.
Briar Rose

Carmen said...

I agree with Chris and Jill that the ideas plans need a little time before they can be thinned. Depending on the length of time, the irrelevant ones stand a chance to slip up and reveal themselves.

I am in Maryland. Yes, I have storm damage, but the worst is broken fencing and the custom compost bins. I was lucky to get power back by Sunday and internet back by Tuesday.

I'm not sure what to cook -- it is too hot to think about that -- but the sweet peppers look kind of good so I was thinking of making a batch for the freezer.