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Good Chemistry

I like you.  

There, I said it. 


That wasn’t so hard. 

You do something to my endorphins.  Or is it my serotonin levels?  Whatever.  It’s chemistry.  I just like how I feel when I’m around you.  

It didn’t take long to figure out I like you, either.  I knew it right away.  Instantly, like from the first minute we met.  That’s amazing!   

This kind of instant good chemistry has been a rare thing in my life.  A lot of times I get bad juju and just know, intuitively, that something (or someone) is not going to work out.  But it doesn’t seem like I get good flashes of intuition as frequently as I get bad ones.  

            Intuition.  n.  The direct perception of truth or fact independent of any reasoning process.  The ability to make the right decision with insufficient information. 

Over time, I’ve learned to trust my intuition.  It has been very dependable in the last several years.  Especially in cooking.  Coming up with new flavor combos (like Mom’s tangerine & chocolate birthday cake, pictured above), homemade sauces, marinades & salad dressings, appetizers (like the perfectly savory stuffed mushrooms I made for Mom’s birthday), side dishes (like the blackberry-balsamic brussel sprouts with AJM’s duck last fall), frosting (like the salted-caramel Italian buttercream for Michelle’s birthday cupcakes last year), baked things that don’t require anything off the periodic table …  This is part of the reason I’m not big on recipes – generally, unless it’s a scientific formula, I don’t really need a recipe.  Except for that da#n sodium bicarbonate…

My intuition has been fairly accurate in its assessment of people, too, though.  Not always, but frequently, especially at work.  I hate to admit that my predisposition (learned, not natural, I think) tends to give me low and negative expectations of people.  I often go into a situation with my hackles already up, expecting that people are going to be difficult or inept, or that they won’t like me or I won’t like them. 

I get so nervous before conferences with new clients.  I even get nervous for intimate social gatherings with people I don’t know well.  Social anxiety.  I blow it off by saying, “eh, I’m just not a people person.”  My expectations are just pretty low. 


What’s the difference between expectation and prejudice?

In food, it’s natural, right?  If something looks good it’s probably going to taste good! 

So, by extension, if someone looks nice, they’re probably going to be nice, right?

Ah ha!  See, this is where people and food deviate. 

I am proud of the fact that I’ve rarely prejudged a person by how they look.  People covers have so rarely been true representations of the story inside… Like those two “venture capitalist” clients who came in to see me last winter – denim overalls and velcro shoes?  Really???  Yup, Venture Capitalists.  This was during the same month we toured a farm client’s new “barn” – which had granite countertops in the bathroom and a huge flat screen tv in the lounge.  Yeah.  Let the head scratching commence. 

Usually though my first impressions, like first bites, are fairly accurate – either I like something or someone right away or I don’t.  I’m sorry, you’re never going to get me to like raw tomatoes.  And some people – well, no matter how nice or virtuous they might be (objectively) or how much other people like them, I’m just not sure I’ll ever really connect.   

I don’t judge people by how they look but by how they make me feel, and usually I can trust my first impression.  Do my (already raised) hackles stay up, or do they lay down?  Does someone make my tail start to wag and my ears go forward? 

Yes I identify with my dogs, why do you ask? 

Dogs have great instincts!  We humans have opposable thumbs and technology instead.  Sometimes I think good instincts are more useful.  (Yeah, you probably just guessed that I don’t have a smartphone.  Good guess; I am way low-tech.) 

If I were a dog I’d be a terrier, biologically programmed to assume that all other living creatures (as well as leaf blowers and most motorized vehicles) are either hunting me or intended to be hunted by me.  But I’d also be sassy, brave and cuddly when tired. 

I want to be a little more like a yellow lab, and just love everyone who comes into my presence, assuming their sole purpose in life is to throw a slimy green tennis ball for me to fetch. 

Honestly, I want to have more compassion for people.  All people, each person.  I want to be constantly mindful that everyone has difficulties in life and I should not prejudge them, even if my hackles stand up when they’re around.  I want to be a nicer, simpler person and more patient, willing to give people second and third chances.  Even if my intuition says right away “this guy is a greedy dirtbag” or “wow, we are dealing with a totally incompetent moron.”  I mean, I should at least wait till he finishes digging his grave to push him into the hole.  Right?! 

I thought I had this all figured out this summer. 

I deliberately set my attitude to be more receptive and more compassionate and BINGO!  Signal received! 

You had me at flourless chocolate torte with raspberry couli. 

Finally, this is where this post turns to baking.  (I know, right???  FINALLY!) 

Our wedding cake & cupcakes.  =) 

The bottom tier was 4 layers of Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate cake by the Pioneer Woman with chocolate chips, filled with chocolate ganache & raspberry puree. 

The top two tiers were Oreo cake (2 layers of Oreo-studded-dark-chocolate cake with a layer of white cake in the middle) with Oreo filling.  The frosting on all the tiers was a light vanilla Italian meringue buttercream.  It was simply the most successful, delectable dessert I’ve ever made.

I also made some cupcakes – white almond cake studded with blueberries, frosted with a subtle orange-almond-vanilla real butter buttercream.  I had to have something without chocolate just in case.  (Although I know I’m not related to and don’t think I’m friends with anyone who wouldn’t like either of those chocolate cakes…)  Anyway, these were Yum-O, too.

Luckily I made enough to feed some of the kitchen staff as well as ourselves the next day. 

I want to replicate that chocolate raspberry cake soon.  And, for as much as I love cupcakes, I don’t think they’re the right vehicle.  There’s just something about the texture of a tall, 3-or 4-layer cake with all that dense rich filling inside…

Or maybe I just need to learn how to make that amazing dark chocolate flourless torte we met had at Black Star Farms in May.  With a delicate pour of their Sirius raspberry dessert wine… Love at first bite. 

It’s chemistry, I tell you! 

Here are some of the other cakes we tasted (and were disappointed with) before I decided to make my own wedding cake (the baker will remain nameless):

They look great and were probably good enough, but they had surprisingly little flavor.  I’m glad I trusted my instincts, overcame self-doubt, refused to settle for something less than perfect and made our wedding cake myself.   A huge thank you to everyone who supported me (moral support, logistical support and otherwise!)  You’re all in my life because of good chemistry.  We just click, dontcha think???  😉


About kozubalk

Lawyer by day, baker by night, full time creative spirit.

3 responses »

  1. I am SO impressed you made your own wedding cake! I totally agree with you re: the surprising lack of flavor in most wedding cakes. Your cake is beautiful, and I’m sure it was delicious!

  2. I love that you love “my: cake too- yours was amazing!!!!!!

  3. Pingback: German Chocolate Cake « legallybaked

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