What if it’s just a midlife crisis and I should get a Harley

Posted on | January 22, 2007 | 53 Comments

My mind’s doing the hamster wheel thing again, cycling around and around an endless loop of what if.

    What if I can take important things like my ideals, my passions, my talents and my curiosity and channel them into an entrepreneurial livelihood?

    What if it’s possible to connect a personally profitable business with community outreach? To educate regular folks who don’t have a ton of disposable income to spend on fancy dinners at organic micro farms with famous chefs about slow food and shortening the food chain?

    What if Kent’s ready for a whole foods café and bakery that serves food made with ingredients sourced within a 100 mile radius?

    What if the seven other sandwich shops and bakeries with their canned soup and bagged bread and unripe tomatoes are just what the people want and my desire to feed people vibrant, ripe and creative foods is unwelcome?

    What if the majority of people prefer to do all of their shopping in one stop so they’ll never even think about my cupcakes made with hormone free local butter and Amish milled flours, with real vanilla and excellent chocolate, with homemade Ganache and custard and Myer lemon curd when they can just grab the plastic pack of shortening based, trans-fat, everything from a five gallon bucket excuses for cupcakes in the grocery store bakery? And that loaf of so-called Artesian bread to go along with their Progresso Soup and the pre washed, bagged salad that’s been on a truck for a week.

    What if my season doing the farmer’s market was just to give me a sense of what’s going on in our community with food?

    What if this is all just my raging ADHD keeping me from focusing on getting that writing career up off the ground right when that’s actually starting to happen?

    What if it’s the next step I need in order to write with more authority about food and community issues?

    What if it’s just about doing the research and none of it ever comes to fruition?

    What if I do it and end up with no time or energy left to write at all?

    What if I talk about it out loud with too many people and then have to go back and tell them all that I’m still a screw-up, that it’s just another pipe dream, that it’s not viable and I have no money and my credit’s shit so a bank won’t touch me and who do I think I’m kidding anyway?

So I’m looking for ways to keep in action. Taking copious notes. Reading that book on writing a business plan. Looking for answers. I started a knitting project to keep my fingers busy in the evenings when I’m too mentally pooped to write or read but not ready for bed.

I’m starting to test recipes, just for the hell of it. I’ve yet to find the perfect Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream, but I came pretty darned close with Billy’s Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes from Billy’s Bakery the other day.

Billy's Vanilla Vanilla Cupcakes (pink)

Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes about 30 cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Billy’s Vanilla Buttercream

Colored sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Makes enough for 30 cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency.

I want a good vanilla base cake to use for other flavors. The cupcakes were just a wee bit too buttery and dense for my taste so I’ll play with proportions of butter to flour next time. Maybe more cake flour and less unbleached white. Pick up some of that local butter and flour that I’m already bragging about in my head, see how that changes the chemistry.

I put almost a cup too much sugar in the frosting so it piped on almost foamy, and think I would add another half stick of butter for the right consistency and flavor. I’m not a fan of the clear vanilla and shortening needed to get that pure white icing, and with the Madagascar Vanilla I used and the grocery store butter that has yellow added, it came out looking dirty—and salty because I was out of unsalted butter. I pinked it up with a few drops of red food coloring and piped it on in giant swirls using the large star with my antique cookie press. So cheerful and inviting. So innocently pink and yummy and small, harmless really.

And responsible for the extra two pounds I put on this week.

Maybe I should just stick to testing soups and salads.

Comments

53 Responses to “What if it’s just a midlife crisis and I should get a Harley”

  1. Cath
    January 22nd, 2007 @ 6:57 am

    Some good questions. We do have to make choices so this is a big one. I think we need to listen to what calls us NOW and then have FAITH. If this is what is calling now then act immediately and don’t talk to too many people. Keep the energy alive and don’t deplete it. Take action. Go for it. Take it one step at a time and you’ll know what’s right for you in this moment.

    As for Kent—they must be starving for something like this!

    [Reply]

  2. emily
    January 22nd, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

    I am SOOO ready for a bakery/ cafe/ anything that serves actual food. I think a lot of people around here feel the same way. Don’t feel bad about dreaming out loud. Even if it never happens, it is fun to talk about it. It makes the word feel bigger, like anything is possible. I am enjoying my imaginary cupcake, thank you!

    [Reply]

  3. sandra
    January 22nd, 2007 @ 10:05 pm

    I have so much I want to say to you/ask you/commisserate on with you and I keep thinking I’ll email and then I think I’ll call and then I think of how busy you are and I don’t have your phone number where I thought I did anyway.

    Cryptic: Sorry bout flu. We did that two weeks ago, not as bad as yours it seems, though. Keep dreaming and planning. Fantab idea. I want to eat the cupcake off my monitor.

    Do you have a local paper?

    (See how I do that?)

    [Reply]

  4. eve
    January 23rd, 2007 @ 10:19 am

    I agree with Cath. When I finally *finally* realized I wasn’t a writer in the distaff vein, I freed up a lot of space for myself to open up to where I was actually heading. Not to say that you shouldn’t be writing, but maybe there’s something that needs to be dropped.

    [Reply]

  5. eve
    January 23rd, 2007 @ 10:21 am

    I like the Harley idea. Darn kid, though…always foiling my plans :)

    [Reply]

  6. D
    January 23rd, 2007 @ 6:47 pm

    All I can say is you…and I know this from experience…and cuz we have the same blood screaming through our veins….can and will do what you want and when you want it…..its the when…the hows are secondary, just as long as they dont involve burning bridges(escape is a must, you never know when you gotta bail.) I still pretend Im a poet…but Sis you are a writer, we all know that. My professor told me I peaked to early with my work in ceramics and he explained to me the platue. You get to the top of that thing and its a long walk to the next one, but that time, on that scary yet informitive little walk is where the magic is…and before you know it you are climbing up the next one. So well it may be you are walking or climbing…the next peak is on the horizon. Love ya ta bits.

    [Reply]

  7. TJ
    January 24th, 2007 @ 9:22 am

    I lived in Kent a few years ago. I think your idea would work wonderfully there.

    [Reply]

  8. El
    January 24th, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

    Just do it. Whether it’s the harley or the cafe or just blathering on about the crappy quality of the average joe’s (jane’s) food in this country, in your little corner, you should just do it. Sorry to sound so…ad-copy-ish. But it’s better than spinning your wheels.

    [Reply]

  9. Angelina
    January 25th, 2007 @ 4:14 pm

    You know I just went for it. I did. And we’re in deep debt and running a store hoping to god people start buying more or buying from our website more. Meanwhile I spend an incredible amount of energy making things for my store too. And always writing. I have been thinking about your post “something’s gotta give” and how we know when we’re doing too much. Doing too much isn’t healthy.

    I keep wondering what I could stop doing, what it’s most important to focus on. I don’t regret having leaped for the dream but I just hope I’ll know when to pull the strings of my parachute.

    Let yourself continually explore these kind of thoughts because they will help to guide you towards the future you need to be headed to. I think you’ll know when you’ve come up with the next step.

    [Reply]

  10. fuzzy
    January 30th, 2007 @ 3:04 pm

    ADHD, midlife crisis, job restlessness, or whatever you choose to call it, you sound a lot like me.

    Most of them don’t come to fruition, but I need to have a dream on my back burner (yurt lodging business, bed and breakfast, farmer’s market flower business…). It keeps me excited about the future. Doesn’t bother me that I drop one idea and pick up another… just means that I’m continuing to find my way, refine my path. I should list my main hobby as Enthusiasm.

    So far, we’re working for The Man and his Benefit Plan. That will probably see us through the small children stage, when they require the most attention. After that… who knows?

    (I think it’s a beautiful idea, and I’m sure your business would become a highlight of my community. Wanna move to the mountains??)

    [Reply]

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