One of the major takeaways for me from the John Maxwell The 360 Degree Leader video sessions, was the “How to be Fulfilled in the Middle of the Pack” lesson. I, as someone with growing leadership skills, like to be recognized for my contributions. Sometimes I do extra work on projects, and tasks, for the intrinsic motivation of recognition. As John says, I need to start “Defin[ing] a win in terms of teamwork” rather than my own work. As I have been learning, delegation should be priority when I become stressed, or overworked, instead of trying to finish everything so that I get the credit. Henrietta Mears says that “The person who keeps busy helping the one who is below him won’t have time to envy the person above him.” In my case, I need to stop worrying about the people who hold the same position as myself (my peers) because of their instant gratification when they do things well, and instead start putting more of my attention on people below me, who’s voices aren’t heard as often. With the Talent Show coming up, this challenge is especially relevant. I will be working with Grade 9’s and 10’s on this project. It is my responsibility to have the grade nines prepared to lead the event next year, which means they have to know their tasks. Unlike most projects, I have to delegate work to the grade nines, and understand that they deserve just as much credit as myself on the night of. This isn’t my project, nor would it be the same if I did it alone. By measuring my successes based on that of my team, the successes will be a lot bigger, and I can have some weight lifted off of my shoulders. The job of the leader isn’t to complete all of the work, but rather know who would do the work best.
One of the many things I can apply to my life from this book is to see everyone as a 10. I can do this by focusing on people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. Everybody has their own flaws but I can always work to see the potential they have in them, and see what type of great leader they may be able to become. For instance, if I am working as a group such as planning for a retreat in a committee and someone seems to be a bit lacking in their leadership skills by not participating much, I won’t look at them as any less of a person than the others. I will still view them as a 10, identify the strengths they encompass, and possibly try and bring them out by complimenting them or giving them more suitable tasks. People will want to follow a leader who sees everyone as a 10 instead of varying numbers because it means that they are able to see the best in everyone, instead of having biased opinions based off of their exterior. I can apply this in a situation where I’m leading. For example, when I’m planning a leadership event with some grade 9s, if I display that I see everyone equally and not differentiate them depending on my own judgement of who is a better leader, they will want to follow me more. It will make me more approachable for help and overall easier to form a stable relationship with. All in all, I can take a step closer to becoming a 360° leader by trying to identify the best in everyone, see what potential they have, and treat everyone as an equal.
So, I made macarons for the first time!
They turned out much better than I expected. They actually looked and tasted like macarons. Mind = blown.
I seriously doubted that my product would be a success, because macarons are famous for being extremely difficult to master. My macarons weren’t perfect, but they were pretty good, in my opinion, for a beginner. I followed this macaron recipe and improvised the filling on my own.
I made raspberry macarons as well as homemade raspberry jam that went along with it. The jam was made from a handful of raspberries, boiled in the saucepan with a few spoons of sugar. Amazingly, it worked really well as my macaron filling.
My macarons were a bit dense on the bottom, and some of the cookies were hollow, but other than that, they tasted good.
I used this template to pipe the macarons all the same size. It was incredibly helpful.
As you can see in the next photo, a few of the shells cracked, but most of them were intact.
That’s all for my macaron post!
And we’re back with another installment of In-Depth!
On my session on Sunday, Feb. 19 with my mentor, I baked a cake for the first time using this recipe as a guide. Well, perhaps not my first cake. in elementary school, I tried to bake a banana cake, but didn’t use any baking powder or soda. It was really more of a banana brick.
This week was a lot of firsts – first time baking a proper cake, first time decorating a cake, first time making ganache, first time making instant coffee, first time using a scale for cooking, etc.
Well, let’s get into it.
There were definitely quite a few difficulties that I had to overcome during this session. The very first one, which could have been devastating, was that just a few minutes before my mentor was due to arrive, I realized I didn’t have enough butter for the recipe. (!!!) Butter is a huge component when it comes to cake, so without it, the cake would likely have not been successful. Thankfully, I had just enough time to dash to the grocery store and stock up. I bought three pounds of butter in my frenzy. A bit much? Maybe so…but this way, I’ll be solidly prepared for my next recipe.
Speaking of overestimating ingredient quantities, at Save-On-Foods (one of my favourite places in the world, to be honest, because who doesn’t love grocery stores?) I bought many, many (believe me, a lot) of dark chocolate chips, cocoa powder (so much. So much.) and some Mickey Mouse quins. I’m secretly hoping to make something Mickey Mouse themed.
You’ll see below how much cocoa powder a single cake needs – I currently have enough cocoa powder stowed away to make fifty cakes. This is not the worst problem I could have.
From this, I learned that I should triple-check the recipe and my fridge to always make sure I have the right ingredients. One slip-up can mean the difference between something beautiful and something less beautiful.
(Pictured above are some ingredients- chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and granulated sugar.)
I also mentioned this was my first time making coffee (for the cake). Prepare to be astounded (sarcasm):
My mentor told me I used too much water (oops). I don’t expect to make coffee again anytime soon, but I know how to use instant coffee now.
(creaming butter and sugar)
Something I found out that my mentor and I have in common is our shared love for Sherlock. We watched two episodes of the show while we baked. I think this made the atmosphere a lot more relaxed, and I could connect a lot more with my mentor because our our similar interest.
Now, on to the actual cake. There were big mistakes here – firstly, this is what the cake is meant to look like:
This is what our cake turned out like:
A lot thinner and not as many layers. This was probably due to us not realizing that the cake pans we used where much larger than the ones used in the original recipe. The two cakes were quite flat, which scared me at first. (The strange goopey stuff in the middle is buttercream.) Next time, I’ll use a recipe better suited for the pan size I work with.
I learned that cakes take a long time to make – they need to cool for about an hour before decorating can begin. I really appreciate my mentor for volunteering so much of his time to help a struggling young beginner baker.
During this time, I found out I did not buy double cream, which was essential to making ganache. Ganache is essentially melted chocolate but more beautiful and tasty. My mentor said it was OK and that we could just skip the ganache, but I did some quick online research and discovered that double cream can be substituted with just milk and butter.
This is what the cake looked like after covering it with ganache:
I didn’t really liked how the sides looked at this time – to me, it seemed too lumpy, but in the end I think it turned our pretty well for my first cake.
I also messed up the buttercream icing – I forgot to sift the icing sugar, so the buttercream was too grainy. It didn’t affect the taste, but it did affect the look.
All in all, I think this cake was fairly successful. Not perfect, but good for a first go.
I collected some reviews from the taste testers. The reviews were all quite positive, but there were some discrepancies. One example: some people considered the cake a tad too sweet, some commented that they liked that it was “not too sweet”. I, too, think that the icing was strong for my taste, but there were other people that thought the icing was great how it was. This goes to show how it’s impossible to make a cake that’ll suit everyone’s tastes.
- What new information are you getting and what questions did you ask to probe further into the topic?
I’m receiving a great quantity of new information, I don’t even know how to begin. In my lengthy posts, I still only cover some of what happens in my mentoring sessions. One example of a questions I asked to probe further into a topic was if it was possible to substitute for double cream in a recipe: My mentor said no, but we both learned at this time that this was possible. I find myself asking a lot about ingredient substitutions, like how to replicate self-rising flour, differences between golden caster sugar and granulated white sugar, among other things.
- Discuss any new points of view you developed while in conversation with your mentor.
My knowledge is expanding a lot with my mentor in all baking areas, but one new point of view I developed was that the recipe is mostly a reference.
- What were some of the alternative perceptions that are new to you.
At one point in the recipe where it called for an espresso shot, my mentor went ahead and began throwing in some raw espresso powder. I was alarmed at first, but he explained that the powder doesn’t have much taste and he put more in to make it more strong. It’s okay to deviate from the recipe if the recipe’s instructions differ from your own experiences. I’ve always been a follow-the-recipe-or-the-kitchen-will-explode kind of person, but this changed that.
- How do your mentor values differ from yours?
To be honest, I’n not sure how our values differ. Obviously we must differ in some ways that haven’t become apparent yet, but these haven’t appeared so far. We both like cooking and baking and we both like BBC’s Sherlock series (which I had playing during our last meeting). This question has me wondering how our tastes and values might differ when it comes to cakes and how this might affect the cakes we make. If we do not enjoy the same types of flavours, I wonder if it will be a problem. Next time, I’ll ask my mentor what kind of cake he likes best.
- What questions did you ask to check on facts and details? Elaborate.
An example of a question I asked to check on facts and details was when I was making the buttercream, and the mixture seemed off. I asked my mentor why this was. My mentor was confused and helped add more milk, which helped the texture, but not the appearance. He claimed he had “never seen buttercream like this before” which was an alarming thing to hear, but then we went through the steps together and I found out the reason it didn’t look correct was due to the fact that I didn’t sift the icing sugar.
- Ask questions. Record them. Why did you ask these questions?
Questions I asked included, but were not limited to things like “Is the cake supposed to be this flat?” “What is coffee liqueur?” “What do I use to make an espresso shot?” “Can I freeze it?” “When did we put the cake in, again?” (whoops.) I asked most of these questions because I’m a baking beginner and I need a lot of clarification when preparing a cake. What I’m learning right now is mainly objective, not subjective. If I progress to a level when I don’t need to ask simple questions, i can ask more questions relating to opinion wen it comes to baking.
- Ask for an explanation for a certain skill you are learning. Discuss what happened.
I asked why it’s important for cakes to be left to cool for so long in between stages, because it seemed a little tedious. My mentor explained that if you do not wait, all the decorations will melt.
- Ask a multiple choice question. Was this useful? Explain.
I asked my mentor if he would rather be a cook that specializes in more main dishes, or a baker. He responded, “I would say regular food because of the diversity of foods you can make. Baking can be a component of regular food and so much more.”
- Ask the speaker to clarify his or her underlying values for doing, thinking and feeling the way they do.
My mentor says he loves to bake because “it’s a medium for people who have talent to bring joy into other people’s lives”. I think this is true. I know that cake, personally, gives me joy.
Here are the pages I’m going to put in my In-Depth cookbook about this cake. It includes reviews and what the cake was.
Goals for the future: Make something red velvet or Mickey Mouse themed? Maybe something smaller, like cupcakes. I also want to explore fondant.
These past weeks, I haven’t been able to meet with my mentor due to the weather. But this week (during a power outage), I decided to try piping by myself.
First, I made some basic buttercream. This was difficult as the power in my house was out, so I creamed the butter and sugar by hand using a fork. It took a considerable amount of time, especially compared to how much shorter it would have taken if I’d had electricity and could use my hand mixer.
Because the brown colour of the vanilla extract had turned the buttercream an off-white colour, I dyed it blue using a few drop of gel food colouring. Gel food colouring, because of its consistency, will not thin the icing, whereas liquid colouring might. The reason why most white buttercreams are a perfect white is because transparent vanilla extract is usually used instead of the standard brown coloured vanilla extract.
I used this recipe, but halved it because I didn’t need that much.
I started out with a star shaped tip, which is commonly used for icing decoration. I followed instructions that came with the tips I bought.
With one tip, I could make all of the above designs. To my surprise, icing was fairly easy and even with no experience, I could create neat and and pleasing patterns. However, there are other places needing considerable improvement: such as my skill with the petal tip.
What I discovered is that the consistency of the icing gets more runny and soft because of the heat from your hands when you pipe over a long period of time.
I’d rather not ask my mentor to take his chances in the slippery snow, so my next mentoring session will likely not be until the snowy weather blows over. Because of this, I will reflect on my previous meeting with my mentor to respond to some of De Bono’s suggestions
- To find and make connections that link matters together and generates interest.
An area that my mentor and I have in common are relationships with my brother, and our interest in the YouTube baking community. He introduced me to a channel called SORTEDfood.
- To explore, to elaborate and to pull interest out of the matter.
We explored this area by going through some of the recipes they’d created and discussing various topics like how expensive mascarpone cheese is, how long cakes take to make, fondant sculptures, and more.
- To use the “what if” statement to get to new lines of thought.
I noticed that one of the videos was a recipe for chocolate cake, and I wondered if we could make it, but the recipe would take too long, so we decided to put it off for the net session.
- to ask for clarification whenever you are unclear or in doubt about something the mentor tells you or shows you.
I’ve done my best to make sure the way I follow the recipe is correct, because a lot of recipes are easy to get wrong. It’s important for me to ask for clarification during this project.
- to support a point your mentor makes with additional facts, figures, evidence etc.
My mentor made a point about how many ingredients have different names depending on the region (America, Europe, etc.) I experienced this firsthand while struggling to find ingredients in the store.
- to share a personal story that illustrates the conversation topic.
My mentor shared quite a few personal stories of his failed attempts at recipes, but I feel as though I haven’t done this as much yet.
- to modify an idea to make it more acceptable to yourself and to make it stronger or more practical.
When I made my cookie baking post, I made it a lot stronger by modifying the recipe to suit my needs and writing it in a doc in a cookbook style format.
My future goals: that the weather will clear up and I’ll get to meet with my mentor again to bake a cake! I’ll reflect on the above points during this time.
It’s week 3 already? This “time” thing has really got my mind in twists.
To the point:
My progress so far has been smooth, and I’ve managed to follow my timeline so far, which is a big deal for me, considering my lack of regard for personal deadlines in the past.
Over the past two weeks, I have been in touch through Facebook Messenger with my mentor, who sent me his baking Instagram account (which is private, so only those who follow him can see posts.) I created an Instagram for this purpose called “@talonstasty”. This will be a portfolio of sorts where I will be uploading pictures of my progress,as well as posting them here. Feel free to follow, but it’s going to be strictly In-Depth only.
instagram link here
This week, I also made this In-Depth post baking cookies by myself. It’s not a new concept for me, but through making this blog post I figured out how I want to format my instagram and how I’ll take photos of my work.
I still haven’t had my first session, but we have scheduled for one on Monday the 30th. My mentor suggested that we make one of his favourite chocolate mousse recipes because although it isn’t a cake recipe, he says that it “Taught [him] a lot about dealing with delicate ingredients (as he messed up a lot with it).” Knowing how to handle sensitive ingredients is fundamental in baking, so I think it’s a good place to start. For this recipe, I purchased the ingredients I don’t already have in order to be prepared for the baking session. I had some trouble finding the ingredients until i contacted my mentor, who informed me that a lot of ingredients have “Canadian” and “American” names. For example, “whipping cream” in Canada is the same as “heavy cream” in the USA. #themoreyouknow
If only all chefs got along…then maybe I wouldn’t have to walk past the same aisle 5 times before realizing it was what I was looking for.
ASPECTS OF HOW TO HAVE A BEAUTIFUL MIND:
How to agree? At first I was hesitant about beginning with a mousse recipe instead of diving straight into cakes until my mentor explained his rationale.
How to disagree? When he pitched the idea of creating a mousse, he explained that it would be helpful if I had a mixer. In that moment, I misunderstood and thought he meant a stand mixer, which are large expensive professional mixers about $299 each. I did not, so I asked if there was another recipe he would suggest. In this instance, I disagreed not because of opinion, but because I didn’t have the right resource. (Then I remembered I have a handheld electric mixer, which would apparently work just fine. Cringe.)
How to differ? I haven’t identified many places where we differ yet, so I hven’t had any struggle with this.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with my project so far! I can’t wait to see what’ I’n able to do by the end of the year.
(This post is for fun, it’s not one of the obligatory answering-questions posts.)
I got a little excited about my project so I did some baking on my own. Chocolate chip cookies (I modified the recipe a little bit)! I’ve made these before, so I decided to create a warm-up post to get the wheels turning. Not cake and pretty basic, but always fun. Here’s a step-by step- post about how I made them!
First, I gathered all the ingredients.
I combined the dry ingredients.
Here I am holding the camera with one hand and baking with the other. The struggle was real.
See that little egg in the corner? I was supposed to add that now, but I forgot. Oh no!
Some of the dough got stuck in the whisk and wouldn’t come out, so I manually poked it out with a chopstick. Those always come in handy.
This was when I realized I made a mistake. The dough was too dry, because I had forgotten the egg and vanilla!
I added them now. I actually added an additional egg when I saw how dry the dough still was. I wondered if this would effect the way my cookies would turned out…
These are hand-chopped semi-sweet chocolate chunks, because I didn’t have chips. Worked out fine in my case, but it’s possible that making this alteration changed my cookie outcome.
This is what a tray of happiness looks like. I had enough dough to make two trays. Some got stuck together because I didn’t space them out enough, which is something I’ll improve on next time. The cookies were great, but were a little hard. I prefer soft, chewy cookies. I might try a different recipe the next time I make them, and see what changed in the results.
These were served as part of my English project, and there was enough for 1 for everyone. My classmates seemed to like them a lot, which was good. Here’s a quick peer evaluation:
- Good amount of chocolate
- Good chocolate to dough ratio
- Taste is good
- Nice texture
- Softer maybe
- A little burnt on the bottom
- Some say it’s too sweet
So that was my solitary cookie-making journey! I still haven’t baked a cake yet, which I am itching to do.
Though I went off a recipe, I made some modifications. Here is my modified recipe.
Doing this bake gave me a really good idea of how I’m going to format my project in the future. I’m pretty proud of my videos so far, but I want to get more out of my comfort zone. (Cake! Cake! CAKE! I want to make cakes!) ‘Til next time!
Yes, I know what your thinking a blog post about the adventure trip that happened 8 months ago !?!? Turns out that I’ve actually been meaning to write a short(ish) post about the adventure trip since it happened. But of course, other things got in the way, from assignments, evaluations, in-depth, and end of the year it was a super busy time. Now on winter break I finally have a free moment to write it! To be completely honest I am sorta procrastinating other things while writing this, but whatever. I wrote some of this post awhile back when I was preparing my “speech” for info-night to help me brainstorm to help me come up with some key points and other things I wanted to include. So basically this blog post was just a brainstorm-like way for me to organize my thoughts, and also to FINALLY write a post about the amazing experience.
First of all I have to say when I first picked the Juan de Fuca hiking Adventure trip, I didn’t have a clue how much work (and fun) would go into planning and executing this trip. And to tell you the truth, before this trip I wasn’t even a big fan of hiking at all, which looking back seems weird that I would want to sign up for the hiking option. Now I absolutely love hiking, maybe it was the awesome weather or getting to hang out with some pretty cool people for 5 days, either way it was an amazing experience. Which looking back makes me realize that that is one of the amazing things about the adventure trip, is that you get to experience things sometimes outside of your comfort zone, that you wouldn’t normally do yourself.
In the few months of planning I began to realize that this trail wasn’t gonna be a piece of cake. First we were gonna need to be prepared with some good hiking equipment like sturdy boots, hiking poles, big backpack, gaitors, etc. Second, we would definitely need to get ready for the trail physically by practicing some hikes and morning weight sessions.
The first practice hike we went on was the Minnekhada High Knoll trail. Since this was only ourfirst hike we took just our basic go-gear. The hike was approximately 5.8 km, with a total elevation gain of 306 m. Although relatively easy, think it was a good hike to start off with, it allowed us to just getting used to hiking without starting off with a super long hike.
The next hike we did, was more to get familiar with reading maps more than a physical challenge. For this hike we mostly hiked through Burt Flinn Park, this let us get a few leadership lessons out of the way, as it was a familiar trail.
The next practice hike we did was Diez Vistas (which means ten views but there was really only 3). The trail is about 13 km with a 430 m ascent to the top and a cumulative elevation gain of about 875 m. For me a found this hike kinda hard if I’m being completely honest, although I did love the amazing views. Since this was our first “full pack” hike I wasn’t used to the additional weight on my shoulders and my boots were DEFINITELY no as broken in as I thought they were. There was times were I felt like giving up because it was difficult and my feet hurt, but as a group we supported each other and completed the trail!
The last trail we practiced was the Lydnsey Lake loop, this trail would be the most similar to the Juan de Fuca we had hiked yet. Even though the trail was about 13 km, the elevation gain wascumulative elevation gain was 1180 m which meant a lot of switchbacks and a LOT of uphill. This hike was my favorite of the 3, it was difficult but offered many great views! It also might’ve helped that at this point, we were very close to the trip and were overall more prepared. At this point we had also completed the majority of our morning weight sessions, which didn’t seem that great at school at 7am, but in the long run definitely helped.
Before I knew it, it was the day before the trip! It was definitely weird being at school without the majority of the class there, since the two other trips had already left. So we spent the majority of the day in the library watching netflix and just hanging out.
The next day was finally the trip, I was so excited! Even with barely any sleep and waking up super early, I couldn’t wait to finally put my feet on the trail and start hiking. We had split the trail into 5 sections, with 1 per day. I’m not going to go into too much detail about everyday because there is so much to tell, but here’s a outline of the days with a few pictures.
DAY 1: China Beach — Bear Beach Campsite (9 km)
DAY 2: Bear Beach Campsite — Chin Beach Campsite (12 km)
DAY 3: Chin Beach Campsite — Sombrio Beach Campsite (8 km)
DAY 4: Sombrio Beach Campsite — Payzant Creek Campsite (11 km)
DAY 5: Payzant Creek Campsite — Botanical Beach Trail head (7 km)
And then… we were Juan de Finished! The trip went by so fast and I couldn’t believe it was over as we boarded the ferry and rushed to go eat something that wasn’t dehydrated. THE TRIP WAS AMAZING!!!! Throughout the trip the group bonded over joking about our sore shoulders and blistered feet, inside jokes, songs (down by the beach FOR 6 KM!!) sketchy logs, switchbacks, full moons, and most of all encouraging each other to stay positive and keep going when it got hard. I can’t wait till next year!
Aligning our departure from Chin Beach to the 8am low tide, our group of seventeen grade nine and ten students and four adult leaders set out around the rocky bluff at the western edge of the beach, walking in the shadow of towering sandstone cliffs. Groundwater drips down mossy walls and splatters on the slick boulders we navigate to the tune of clattering hiking poles and the gasps of narrowly avoided falls. To the west the bright blue sea is visible through the window of a dramatic granite arch extending from the forest.
One of our volunteer leaders and one of the grade tens ventures under the arch to assess the possibility of avoiding the abrupt headland interrupting our beach route, to no avail. Even with the low tide, the route under the arch runs out into shallow seawater and the threat of being surprised by rogue waves on the exposed point; we will have to go over.
It is the second morning we’ve woken up on the beach, having set out just after lunch from the China Beach parking lot at the eastern end of the Juan de Fuca Trail Saturday afternoon. We have hiked more than twenty kilometres with tents and food and water purification tablets, and as we set out onto the third day of the five-day trek, the most difficult sections of trail are behind us. Having surmounted the endless switchbacks and headlands of the merciless stretch between Bear Beach and Chin, the group is strong and confident, and sets about scaling the rocky archway without a break in collective stride.
The first few who make it up onto the bluff deposit their packs and hiking poles on the far side, and return to help others gain the ledge with encouraging words, outstretched hands, and assurances that what looms on the other side is “no worse than we’ve done so far.”
On the other side, the route descends sharply to the boulder-strewn beach over a five foot ledge that offered only an awkward bum-shuffle as a way down. Here, too, bags are shuttled briskly through helping hands; a guide line is set to balance reluctant shufflers; encouragement and spotters collect on the beach to catch us as we resume the trail on the other side. A waist-height waterfall pours out of the sandstone onto the beach where we wet our faces and cool ourselves before continuing into the morning. A hundred other challenges will arise before the day is out, but no matter. The group is operating with a heightened focus on the goal at hand: to safely reach the end of the trail together.
Less than a kilometre down the rocky beach, we meet the buoys hanging in a tree that signalled the trail ‘s shift inland, and clamour in a rough single file up and over the twisted roots of a sitka spruce hanging over the edge of a creek. For the next three days we will continue in this manner, immersed in the boundary between forest and sea, with everything we need to survive stowed away in brightly coloured packs and the awestruck glances of our teammates.