Pause for breath

Yes, I realize it's been three weeks since I've posted. Oops? I tend to put too much thought into things like this, and so when I haven't the time to think, I forget to post.

I did, however, make my cookies as I planned, and even took pictures of them!

My three-weeks-ago cookies were chocolate with white chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and walnuts (9). When I first made them (since I like to brave the risk of salmonella and taste the dough), I was concerned that the white chocolate would make the whole thing taste too rich, but after they were cooked, and especially after the flavors were able to mingle for a day, the taste came together nicely.

That weekend was also the first time I had to grade quizzes for the classes I TA, so perhaps the brain-numbing nature of that experience is what kept me from posting. In fact, I graded last weekend too and didn't post. This weekend I did laundry yesterday and have yet to do my grading. I'm sure after I get to it I'll lose all will to have a life for the rest of the day.

I exaggerate a little, but grading can be a real challenge. My hope is that I can be an effective teacher and that my students will understand the stuff they're supposed to understand. While I realize not everyone keeps up (or makes the effort? I'm not sure), I still feel a little sad when quizzes are really tricky and when people do poorly on them. Clearly, I need to get over this or else I'll never be able to be real teacher.

But that was a few weeks ago. Last week I deviated a little from my egg/baking soda based recipes, to make citrus cornmeal shortbread (10). It's amazing to me that the taste of shortbread depends on the quality of butter and vanilla you use. After making it and seeing that it pretty much is all butter, the idea becomes less amazing, and the cookies go on my list of things I really shouldn't be eating. This particular recipe also has some cornmeal involved, and orange zest, which really makes for a fantastic taste. These cookies were so dense, and the flavor reminded me of the shortbread cookies you buy from the store.. which I guess is good, or at least a little nostalgic.

In addition to grading last weekend, my mind was occupied with questions about what it means to be a Christian and a Physicist... Not that most scientists don't claim some kinds of religious beliefs, but I've been thinking of it more on a personal level - so, things about keeping up spiritual discipline, and how to be humble and to serve God while I'm doing problem sets and research. It's been helpful that I'm currently reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, which spends a lot of time discussing morality and the motivations for it (for atheists, agnostics, and Christians), as well as talking about how the Bible calls for Christians to live on fairly practical level. I'm finding that reading this book really challenges me to be intentional with pretty much all aspects of my life, and it just helps keep me focused.

And so that bring me up to this week, where yesterday turned into a mix of excessive baking and excessive laundry. My normally scheduled baking consisted of the ginger cheesecake bars (11) pictured on the right. There's finely chopped candied ginger in the cheesecake part of the bars, and the crust is composed of ground up ginger snaps and butter. Yes, you read that correctly, these cookies (well, bars) are cannibalistic. I like ginger, so while this isn't my absolute favorite recipe, I enjoy its kick.

I also took some time to whip up bran muffin batter and bake a dozen muffins, but that's from a family recipe and they're for personal use. Thankfully, the batter keeps in the fridge for up to six weeks. Now I'll have muffins available for breakfast or whatever when I need them. And if it gets close to six weeks, I can always bake the muffins and freeze them for later use.

Overall, life is kind of like a hamster wheel right now - the moment I finish a problem set there's another to do, as soon as one week of teaching is over I have to move on to next week's planning, and I bake on Saturdays. I think it's manageable right now, and I'm pretty happy as long as I don't fall behind. We'll have to see what else gets added in as I get involved in GCF and in the community at church.

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