Growing up I was taught I could be anything I wanted to be – an astronaut, a teacher, a doctor, an artist, and even President. School, especially elementary school, was about hope and encouragement. Dream big! Believe! Spread your wings and FLY! Hah at home, the message was a bit different. You are smart and can be anything you want to be, so long as it’s a responsible and financially sound path. No surprise my parents wanted me to be a doctor, or something ‘safe’ within the medical field. As I grew older, and my dad realized I was a girl, he switched his mind to just something short and safe within the medical field because I was supposed to have kids and a demanding career shouldn’t take away from a home life. Oh hello patriarchy!
The idea of becoming a photographer or a journalist or an author was a pipe dream and something only ‘heroines in novels did’ according to my Mom Never mind that I was never found without a camera in my hand since the age of 8 when I got my first one, it was something that just wasn’t done. Years rolled on, I discovered I loved Math and decided to move forward as a Computer Science and Math major. The idea of becoming a photographer became a nice alternative life career I dreamed of when I got bored at work or frustrated.
Here’s the funny thing about this generation though, the one that follows mine; they are crazy. They have jobs like mine – fiscally responsible, stable jobs – and they just quit. Quit! Or get laid off if we are going back to 2008 – 2010. Then they become playwrights. Um. What? I can’t wrap my head around it. I don’t know if it’s ballsy or if it’s ridiculous. Or in some cases (Cat cafes, Poodle hotels, very specific robot projects) a little bit of both. It reminds me of the time when I came very close to quitting my own job and joining a Photography internship. But the whole child-of-immigrant-parents-who-have-struggled-their-whole-life-to-provide-you-a-secure-future side of my brain kicked in. I’ll quit just as soon as I have the right amount of savings. Let me just get this one project under belt so I have a safe resume. And as soon as that kicked in, my doubts took center stage. Do I even have what it takes? Imagine the grueling hours and the minimal pay. Are you crazy? Just because you have this job doesn’t mean you can’t follow those dreams on the side. Be an adult Aaisha! So that’s what I did.
Then we come to today. Maheen has finished his PhD and has a good job alhumdulillah (ie a paycheck) so I can take a break from work for a while. I’ve got some new dreams, this time chocolate related, but I still have my cautious nature. Do I do it? Do I take the plunge and test out a theory for a year to see where it takes me? I don’t know. I’m toying with the idea. At least I can say that I tried. What would you do? If you had a dream life outside of the one that you have, what would you be doing? And if you honestly had the chance to make the change, would you take the leap?
Completely unrelated, here is a Pound Cake that my family loves. My husband and my Mom in law love vanilla, so this cake was right up their alley. I made it on a whim because they recipe was so simple, and we needed a lightly sweet treat for a drive Upstate. If you are like me or my daughter, you tend to lean more on the chocolate route, so our slices were smeared with Nutella. Let me tell you! Delicious! As you can see, little Razia jaan was a big fan when Nutella entered the picture. Give it a try and let me know what you think. But more than that, tell me what I should do. So conflicted hah.
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup milk, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) sifted cake flour (I weighed out 150grams of flour, then sifted)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 13 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature cut into chunks
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Butter or spray a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and butter or spray the paper.
- In a medium bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar) and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds or until blended.
- Add the chunks of butter and half of the egg + milk mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about one minute to aerate and develop the cake's structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the remaining egg mixture, in 2 additions, beating about 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the egg and strengthen the cake's structure.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 55 to 65 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on a lightly buttered wire rack.
- The Pound Cake can be covered and stored for several days at room temperature, for one week when refrigerated, or it can be frozen for two months.
And some pictures of the munchkin ‘helping’ me with the shoot. She’s in the habit of wearing a birthday hat whenever there is cake involved. Don’t worry, her birthday was months before this and I had baked her a proper chocolate cake complete with Curious George embellishments