Pitfalls and cookie dough

Baking toolsAfter a long hiatus that consists of two exams, and a couple of momentous but manageable events, I am glad to be back to writing on this blog. I have come to realise that the occasional skid in life is inevitable. However, we should always remember to get up, dust ourselves off, and get going. This is what life is about, isn’t it?

It is pretty much the same when it comes to baking; a new hobby that I have recently taken to. I bake almost once or twice a week now, sometimes even thrice. The excitement of how the cakes, cookies and breads will turn out, is an experience I could never get tired of. As I am still a novice, there are times when the final products did not turn out as I had imagined. I once made some disastrous-looking cookies that are so crumbly and wouldn’t hold together. In fact, they looked so awful that I think even Odysseus would rather eat something from Circe’s kitchen than my cookies.

peanut butter cookiesSo what could we do about the unappetising cookies? I chilled the remaining dough in the fridge for a day and baked them the next day. They turned out fine after that. From this experience, I have also learned that I should put extra grams of flour the next time I try this recipe.

The problems in baking are very much like the pitfalls I face in life. Therefore, the same remedy applies: troubleshoot, make adjustments, and try again. It is perfectly fine if I have to put the problem away and take some time for myself before returning to it – just like how I chilled the cookie dough for a day. Taking a break gives me a clearer mind to counter the task again. I tell myself that it is okay if it does not turn out well the first time; the next time, it will surely yield better results.

Finally, the same formula applies when it comes to studying. There are times when I hit a snag: it will be some theory or essay which I couldn’t iron out the kinks for hours and hours. I have learned that the best solution is to put the matter on ice. I pry myself away from studying, and get engaged in some other activity that is totally irrelevant and unrelated: I take a long walk, head out to buy some groceries, bake something or watch TV; I do the most mundane tasks to take my mind off studying. I find this method particularly helpful, as it helps me to return to studying with a rested mind, and I would also feel rejuvenated to wrestle with whatever challenges I had earlier.

It is that time of the year again, when most of us would have already registered for the new academic year. The new study guides with crisp and clean pages arrived in my mail about a month ago. The usual routine has kicked in: the first step is to take a look at the recommended texts, topics and not to forget, the 22-week study plan.

This will be my final year of the BA English course. Tackling the brand new modules for a whole new level of the BA English course might seem like a daunting task. I, however, think that by applying the same mould and adjust formula, the challenges ahead will be managed.

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit book coversSometimes, certain obstacles are placed in our paths so that we could build on our agility and expertise of manoeuvring. I was reminded of this belief when I was listening to a podcast on the interview of Jeanette Winterson one day. The writer’s difficult childhood might seem bitter, and her adopted mother, Mrs. Winterson, might seem abusive to some, but it is also the very thing that had germinated her famous novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. From the interview, I detected a very admirable quality in Winterson: her ability to transform adversities into opportunities came from her ability to detach herself from the problems. Instead of growing up to be an embittered daughter to her mother, she chose to love and forgive, and eventually, to write one of the world’s most renowned novels.

Just like the cookie problem, it is not impossible for a sticky dough to be salvaged. And from that experience, an improved recipe has been crafted.

Tiffany is studying the BA English by distance learning in Singapore.

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