Monday, June 30, 2014

Layered Fudge Ice Cream and Life Changing Writers Workshop





Life-changing Writers Workshop


Everyone has a bucket list.  Mine includes fulfilling a dream to be a writer. 

I always wanted to be a writer ever since I was in high school but I made a mistake of comparing myself to a classmate named Amanda.  She was clearly a natural and the teachers recognized that.   I on the other hand was showing more an inclination towards the sciences.  Since I felt that I would never get to reach the standard set by Amanda, the natural born writer, I just decided pursuing a journalism degree was not for me and went on to become a chemist.

Later on in my life I used different types of media to express myself.  I volunteered to put together a couple of newsletters for our chemistry department and also created Power Point presentations and then later on videos during our yearly graduation.  During the summer of 2012 I was so obsessed with the Movie Maker software that I made YouTube videos of every event that occurred that summer.  

Though I found an outlet for my need to express myself through multimedia,  I never really wrote anything except technical papers and lecture packets for my classes. 

In the past few years, I got hooked on cooking shows on TV and voraciously read cooking blogs online that I felt this urge to have my own blog.  I set one up in November 2011.  However,  I only got to do the welcome post. Something unexpected happened the following month.  After the removal of a parotid mass, my doctor found during its biopsy that it was actually malignant though at its earliest stage.  I had a small c not a big C.  It is, however, a very rare type of cancer, namely, that of the sweat glands which is only 0.03 % of all cancers.   

I put my mind into being strong and tough during the radiation treatments and the idea of pursuing the blog was furthest from my mind.  I would also admit that at the back of my mind I was afraid that blogging might make me too introspective and self-engrossed especially in the vulnerable state I was then in.  I also did not feel comfortable sharing my thoughts publicly  though several persons use their blogs during this period as therapy.

I always love to take pictures of anything, especially food, and anybody even random persons I meet.  I always wished afterwards that I could write about my reflections or stories of the pictures I have taken. Most of the time I thought of continuing the blog I set up in 2011 but I was afraid I did not have what it took to write (the Amanda syndrome never left me).

A few weeks ago, I found out that the Monroeville Library in my hometown was holding a Writers Workshop.  Three published writers, Chris Rodell (Use All Your Crayons), Adam Matcho (The Novelty Essay),  and Scott Silsbe (Unattended Fire) were invited to tell the audience their experience in writing their books and offer advice in writing them.  I decided to attend.yi

Left to right:  Adam Matcho, Scott Silsbe and Chris Rodell.
The three guest speakers were very inspirational and the attendees, who themselves were writers, were very encouraging.   The workshop gave me the courage to take the jump. I started writing for my blog a week later.  This was almost two and half years since I posted my first and only post.  I just needed the support and encouragement of the speakers and the attendees to convince me that I can do it.  Thanks to you all. I also would like to thank Sharon Lippincott for organizing this workshop and Ellen DeHouskie for facilitating that day.

Once I started I was pleasantly surprised that the needed patience to do rewrites after rewrites came easy since that was what I have been doing when I wrote the instructions for calculating chemistry problems and explaining concepts in my lecture packets.  In the past two semesters for example I spent countless hours writing and rewriting questions for online quizzes and homework making sure there were no confusing words or phrases that could lead to misinterpretations.  I was afraid that I would get an avalanche of emails from frustrated and upset students as a result of any error on my part. 

A Good for You Dessert 

This particular recipe was based on one that I found in the health conscious Chocolate- Covered Katie blog and it was called 'Eatmore' Fudge Squares.  It was actually created by her friend Chrystal.  I made substitutions for some of the ingredients based on what I had on hand but I followed most of the procedure.   Since the prunes are not as sweet as the dates used on the original recipe,  I had  to add  Splenda artificial sweetener and honey to the prune, almond and cocoa powder mixture that composed the bottom layer.

Layered Fudge Ice Cream

(Adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup prunes
  • 3/4 cup almonds, unsalted
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp Splenda or any other sugar substitute
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp more unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp more honey

Procedure:

Mix the prunes, almonds, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, Splenda or sugar and 2 tbsp honey in a food processor until thoroughly blended.  Spread the mixture in a loaf pan evenly and press down gently with a spoon or your fist. 

Mix together the banana, peanut butter, the other 2 tbsp cocoa powder and the other 2 tbsp honey in the food processor.  Spread the mixture over the bottom layer evenly. 

Place in the freezer for about 2 hours or until the top layer hardens.  Cut into 8 squares.  Refreeze whatever is left since the upper layer melts easily at room temperature and also in the refrigerator.   It is ice cream after all.





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