Nov 7, 2008

Feet planted loosely.

Before leaving Amsterdam I had whipped together one last cake. It was a failure in terms of using up my remaining eggs, butter, sugar and pancake mix - I still had a fair bit of the last two ingredients remaining. As a dense yet moist chocolate cake though, it worked pretty well. Especially surprising since I normally don't bake, and the saying the baking requires precision doesn't mesh well with my throw everything in the pan style. Oh, and it also helped me finish off one box of ice cream.

I was trying to use up the box of dutch pancake mix I had. Dutch pancakes are similar to crepes, so I figure there isn't much rising agent in it, so I suspect it's something like flour/milk powder/egg powder (if that exists), but I suspect this same recipe would work with just flour. It would probably lead to a pretty dense cake, hence the whipped egg whites in the recipe.

2 eggs
2 bars of 70% dark chocolate
8 heaping teaspons of sugar
4 heaping teaspoons of Koopmans pancake mix
1/4 stick of butter

1. Melt butter and chocolate together in a bowl in the microwave. Nuke for short periods of time (20-30 seconds), if it's soft, stir until melted, if not, give it another 20 seconds. Do not burn the chocolate. Let cool so it doesn't cook the eggs when you mix it.
2. Separate the eggs. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form. You should have a full bowl of egg foam, with very little liquid.
3. Beat egg yolks and mix in the sugar.
4. Mix melted chocolate with egg yolk mix.
5. Mix pancake mix into chocolate mix.
6. Fold egg whites into chocolate mix.
7. Pour into ramekins, bake for about 14 minutes at 250F (or until the batter inside does not stick to a stick that's poked into the center).

It amazes me that I've already been back home for a week.

Three months seemed to be just long enough to start getting to know people and finding a place to fit in. I think at two months, I would have been glad to head home, with little more than a bit of experience at a photo agency backoffice, having checked out visa pour l'image, and a few random interesting but ultimately forgettable one-off encounters. In the last month I found that I was actually getting to know people well enought that leaving meant missing newfound friends.

It's been good to be back, I was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome here. Not having seen friends for three months is enough time for a good few changes. Some couples are now married couples, other married couples are now parents or expecting parents. Sunnyvale Town Center, where we used to go for cheap sushi-maru and dimsum, is now demolished, soon to be built into something else. I got back just in time to watch the first half-black president get elected in the US, after being able to get the European perspective on the importance of the American election.

Overall the past three months weren't as encouraging as I had hoped. I didn't really "figure out" the future, I've gotten home with more questions and fewer answers. There were a few lessons to be learned here and there, and some things did make an impression. I'm much more motivated to learn new languages, I'm reminded of the need to take more initiatives, I've even reaffirmed that my initial impressions of people tend to be pretty accurate. It'll probably be another year before I make up my mind on something significantly new, but since I'm back I think I'll put some of those lessons to use and invest my time here better than I have in the past.

Oh, and how come I've never known of the awesomeness of the Pixies? I mean that song from "Fight Club" was great, although I never knew who it was by. That plus it sounded thoroughly cool when the movie came out in '99, even though "Where Is My Mind" was out in '88!

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