Thursday, January 21, 2010

Behold the Bacon Cake

I made this bad boy back in October for DC's birthday and never got around to posting it. But how could I not submit this to the internetz in all its caloric glory?

The idea was to make a cake that wasn't too sweet. So I got to thinking: "Hmm, what isn't sweet?" Bacon. Although the last few seasons of Top Chef have submitted evidence to the contrary, we all know the adage: "Everything's better with bacon."

I started with Betty Crocker's pancake recipe, but spread them thinner around the pan to make a bigger base. In between layers of pancakes, I alternated between butter, bacon, maple syrup, and chocolate chips (Special thanks to Liz who brought us premium Québécois syrup when she visited). I frosted with a Dark Chocolate Butter Maple Ganache, based on Eat Drink Live's Pancake Cake, which was in turn taken from Martha Stewart. And for the finishing touch, of course, I crumbled bacon around the outside of the cake.

I'd like to tell you it was a big hit, but I had meant to use maple bacon and somehow got a different brand, so the bacon ended up being too savory. We kept the leftovers from the party and had slices for breakfast the next few days, reheated then drizzled with some maple syrup, which was actually very tasty.

Not bad for a first shot at glory. I guess I'll have to make it again for someone else to really perfect my technique.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Rat Race

So now that actually receiving my diploma is just about the only thing I have left on the road to officially finishing my Master's, I have begun to look for work.

I think this is the first time I've had to take a job search like this so seriously, and let me tell you, it is extremely weird that I'm doing it in China. Expats toil in a very specialized economy here, with lopsided demand in certain fields (like English teaching), while otherwise competing with either cream-of-the-crop Chinese graduates who usually accept more humble salaries than their foreign counterparts, or execs with 10+ years of experience who are worth the big bucks, not to mention the generous expense accounts. So, I have had to be very creative about where I look. Multinational companies in need of someone with near-native bilingual skills? An "expert" in Chinese contemporary culture (not even)? A decent translator? Anyone entry-level?

Meanwhile, I have to make a lot of personal decisions. How much do I sell out to "the man"? Am I willing to sacrifice a lot of my time and emotional/social energy to pay my dues in corporate un-America so I can climb the ladder to a stronger resume and (hopefully) higher salary? Or do I protect the space in my life that currently goes to a lot of volunteer work and relationships, knowing that I may once again make choices that render a "career" in the conventional sense just always a little out of my grasp?

In high school, my friend Pradeep and I were voted Most Likely to Succeed (he's now finishing up residency at Brigham & Woman's Hospital in Boston with his lovely wife Puja, after med school at UCSF...make me look bad much, Pradeep? :P). We were asked to come to school dressed in business attire, and photographed behind our principal's desk with wads of cash (dollar bills, most likely) fanned out in our grubby little hands. Now that I think about it, I resent that.

I'm afraid whatever "success" I'm most likely to achieve will not look like Ralph Lauren ready-to-wear, mahogany desks, corner office with a view, hmmhow'smyROTH-IRAlooking? Honestly, I'm still trying to understand what success even means to me. Yes, I know I'm smart and capable, albeit woefully inexperienced. And I know there are too many things I'd love to do in this world. So right now I face the challenging task of choosing. And hoping the right people are willing to take a chance on someone who's maybe not so strong on paper just yet, but just needs a chance to prove herself?

Wish me luck, and if any of you have friends who work in China, let me know. 'Cause you know especially here, it's all about the referral. ;)