Sugar’s Existential Crisis and A Sweet Intervention


(A Love Once so Sweet)
Sugar cries “Oh girl you must be mad what happened to the sweet love you an me had? Against the door he leans starts a scene and tears fall an burn his sugar dream.” Yea, it’s me your old pal sugar and I’m having an existential crisis. I’m not gonna sugar coat this I just don‘t even know who I am anymore. Remember me sweetie? I was always there for you when you were a kid, always! First in cubes wrapped in paper, then in bowls at the table, I was dancing in your candy, frozen in your ice pops, swimming in soda, and even the subject of one of your favorite movie songs. You remember Mary Poppins singing about how a spoonful of me helped the medicine go down. But now many of you scorn me, blame me for so much of the bad stuff in the world. Don’t hate me just because I’m refined, I can’t help being well educated. Seems you love culture in yogurt but oh my god don‘t let sugar get refined. It isn’t fair, it makes my crystals burn with anger contemplating what’s happening to my once sweet life.
People say I ruin dental plates and rot teeth, I increase peoples body fat, I cause hyper-activity in children, I cause acne in tens, I‘m bad for your liver and I cause diabetes. Now some even suggest I‘m responsible for cancer. Four out of five doctors hate me but I’m not mean spirited or evil, just ask the fifth doctor. When did I become such a bad influence? Why do they categorize me so unfairly, after all, I’m just a carbohydrate, a simple sugar. You can find me naturally in milk and fruits. You may know and love me by some of my other names, fructose, glucose, or maltose. When people use those names they aren’t so quick in judging me. It’s when they use the full force of their contempt staring at me disapprovingly and calling me “Refined Sugar” with an unabridged distain that hurts. It make my blood caramelize and goes directly into my dextrose filled heart . Who am I, what am I, why am I here? I think I need to do some repressed memory exercises to search out my roots and maybe figure out where our love story went wrong.
You may not realize this but I’m older than Jesus Christ himself. That’s right, I came on the scene around 8,000BC in Asia. Yea I was a mere infant back then and was extracted through chewing the cane I was born in. Some brilliant dude in India figured out how to crystallize me around 350AD. They shared the method with some Buddhist monks and before I knew it I was a staple in desserts everywhere. Believe me, its no coincidence that stressed spelled backwards is desserts and I was the main reason! Anyway, the Romans and Greeks used me in medicine (another non-coincidence, lol) but the Arabs actually built housing for me they called mills. Now I was a substance of great importance. An import of great importance and exportance. Cultures went crazy for me, the British colonists even referred to me as white gold. I was a huge profit maker and unfortunately a main reason for slavery in the Caribbean. I don’t like to talk about that aspect, that was the dark period of my life. Not brown sugar, that’s jut me teamed up with molasses. So you see, I’m really not a bad guy and I just don’t understand all the negative energy around me.
My troubles began back in 1957 when some “refined” doctor classified me as poison and accused me of being nothing but “empty calories” shortly after I achieved refined status. “Oh he doesn’t really have any vitamins or minerals like the natural stuff.” Get over yourself Doc, I bring the sweet baby, I make people feel good about themselves, make them happy. I put smiles on children faces. Is THAT empty?
Anyway, that’s why I have been questioning life and why I’m here. What I need is some support, an empathetic ear and comforting words from my friends to let me know I’m still loved. That’s why The Existential Baker asked you all here today to this sugar intervention. He put aside his own profound queries on life which rive him mad just for today to help me get my sugar Zen back on track and into dessert and other culinary preparations. Place your wrath back on GMO’s where it belongs, not on an old sweet friend. When you open your cupboards later today thank that 5 pound bag of sugar for always being there for you, tell the cute little sugar bowl how great it tastes and put some in your coffee or tea. I know many of you use artificial sweeteners and that’s okay so long as you don’t forget about me. Go ahead and use me, use me as much as you want I don’t mind. Just don’t overuse me, I do sometimes have a tendency to wear out my welcome as well as a few teeth when I’m used too much…….Peace

Have A Cupcake, The Existential Treat

exist cc

The Only True Philosophical Question Is “Are You Gonna Eat That Cupcake?”

Existentialism is the philosophy of living your life with sincerity and passion. Life has meaning to an existentialist, its just not a predestined life or a life controlled by any religious boundaries. Basically existentialists are the rebels of creationism, deniers of nihilism, and singers of their own songs (some of us also dance but my guilty feet got no rhythm). A philosophy which embraces free choice but with a bit of moral responsibility and unlike anarchy there is an understanding of the cause and effect resulting in consequence. Being existential doesn’t absolve me of punishment when I screw up. But how can I bake existentially, and how are cupcakes the existential treat?
First the cupcakes. Are they really existential? It’s a question that would have stymied Socrates, perplexed Plato, and driven Kierkegaard Krazy. That claim may not be truly fair because cupcakes didn’t even exist until 1796 so Socrates and Plato are off the hook. But Soren may well have sampled a cupcake during his existing period. Quite possibly his Mom baked some in wonderful wonderful Copenhagen when he was jut a boy with a big brain
Like many of our treasured mysteries there is a bit of controversy over the name and history of our existential treat, the cupcake. While many believe it’s a reference to small cakes that were measured by the cup as opposed to scales, the more likely explanation is it was a cake baked in a small ramekins in the early 19th century. Most were baked by short elfish people of Denmark who lived in trees. The ovens were very small and all they could fit were a few coffee ramekins to bake with (don’t believe that I’m lying my existential ass off)
I theorize cupcakes are the most existential of treats because of its rebel nature and humble beginnings. Cupcakes understand their purpose in life is to bring joy and happiness to one who consumes it. It exists ready willing and able to serve when served. No need to cut these individual delicacies it into slices or break pieces off, it’s a self confident and self contained treat. The cupcake embraces its short life and if you look closely at a well engineered cupcake you can see its total essence has a much more profound understanding of self than all other treats. It stands loud and proud in the knowledge that it looks and tastes exactly as it chooses and it defies any control by religious orders. Never associated with the last supper or communion responsibilities, never on display in the shape of a rams horn of sitting Shiva, and always ready but not obligated to break the fast of Ramadan. The cupcake is however revered in many celebrations . It happily takes its cherished place of honor in Rio during carnival. But don’t pray for me Argentina, I’m a non secular treat and I am here for no other reason than to add joy to your life. My soul purpose is to enlighten your taste buds while coaxing a smile to inhabit your face.
.Filled with this information there is no doubt that Socrates, Plato, and Kierkegaard would have all agreed that each cupcake exists as individual and is committed to becoming someone’s personal choice. It sets itself apart from other desserts in the world of the existential. Try as it may the petit four, whilst appearing individually bite size in stature was baked as a much larger cake and cut into its shape. The cupcake begins, exists, and ends as exactly what it is to become, a lovely individual. That’s why cupcakes are the existential treat.
So that’s how cupcakes are existential but how does one bake existentially? Not as easy as it sounds because the production of cupcakes follow strict baking guidelines. I need to consider the laws of physics that allow the batter to rise and fill with air as the proteins go about setting up at the same time to trap that air inside insuring a fluffy texture. Once the laws of physics and nature are both understood, appreciated, and obeyed I can begin to alter basic recipe to give it individuality. That’s the job of an existential baker, to re arrange the recipe and introduce the cupcake to the processes necessary in completing it while allowing for its individuality at the same time. Each one is given its own bake spot on the pan and subjected to the proper temperatures to nurture it to become what it is, an edible existential beauty.
I also need to have a deep understanding of its roots. I celebrate the life of the wheat as it blows in the winds and soaks up sun’s energy until it gets harvested and milled into flour, the lives of the many chickens who sacrifice their eggs for our consumption on so many levels, and the cows that shared their liquid of life, mothers milk. The flavorings, the sugars, the leavening agents all have stories as well dating back even before the agricultural revolution. I never take their existence for granted, but I do refuse to follow militaristic styles of regimen in production. The times and amounts of baking in no two days are ever the same. Different intervals and different sized pans help to develop my cupcakes individuality and that’s how they take on my personality. I have always lived my life as if it were an improv. Or maybe a sit-com but I never give the things in my life too much structure. I opt to take things a they happen, accept them and deal with them. Then move the fuck on to the next path because life comes at us fast and furious even though we may find ourselves bored at times. That pretty much sums up my basic life philosophy, live an let live and share your magnificent essence with others to make them appreciate this wonderful world of ours. Play each card as it turns up and make the best from what you have. When it comes to baking that’s how I roll, like an Artisan Vienna loaf. JK, that’s not how I roll, its how I bake existentially. I don’t even make rolls, only cupcakes. ….PEACE

Tiers On Their Wedding Day


Keeping My Day Job
Which came first, the eggsitentialist or the baker? The deeper philosophical question is which pays the bills. Not much thought involved in that mystery, so I baked my ass off to insure that a very happy couple had a nicely presented existentially baked and arranged treat. The cupcake is by far the most existential of all sweet treats and this tower stands proud as a monument to the profound love the couple have for one another. Despite the topper looking more like a groom on the run….PEACE

Making A Banshee Scream Using Only A Cupcake

The Cupcake That Made A Banshee Scream

A special St. Pats cupcake may be normal but The Screaming Banshee cupcake is paranormal!. Every year around this time we take out our Saint Patrick’s cupcakes specials and parade them around. No floats, bagpipes, or Grand Exalted Marshal of the shamrocks. No Mayors, marching bands, or baton twirlers. But what we do is bring our most popular celebratory cupcake of the year, The Screaming Banshee out from the woodwork. Daring anyone within taste bud range to rain on it’s parade it will march front and center on Sunday. The jig is up so keep your shamrocks, Kiss Me I’m Irish buttons, and the wearin’ o’the green. That’s not how I envision being Irish. When I imagine Ireland it conjures up other images. Leprechauns, pots of gold, rainbows, and those not so friendly ghosts, the screaming banshees. Screaming banshee cupcake? Seriously why? The Screaming Banshee in Irish legend is a spirit of a woman who moans woefully as someone is about to die. That doesn’t sound like a nice premise for a sweet little cupcake, but after all this special treat is…….TO DIE FOR!!
Here at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes however we think it’s worth living for. What kind of a cupcake could possibly have enough chops to honor this female spirit that makes shrill sounding utterances to coax the reapers of the underworld? What on gods green Eire can make banshee a special wondrous snack? My goal is to make it magically delicious. I asked myself what flavors for a cupcake rise to the level of Irish mythology? To start, I made the batter. Devils food cake of course, except I made mine using Guinness Stout. A dark stout for a dark spirit. The important thing to remember when making a Guinness chocolate cake is to overbuy the evil liquid. That way as the banshee cakes are cooking I can finish the remaining Guinness. Now for the filling, something strong and Irish. After consuming the leftover dark brew I’m left feeling slightly incomplete. What I need is a shot or four of some Irish whisky. MMMM, whiskey.
Whiskey is Gaelic for “water of Life”, or “lively water”. It’s a distilled beverage made from grains and is alcohol legend in history. The wild west was weaned on whisky in saloons, and its what the bootleggers loved to boot. Yahoo, mountain dew, the official beverage of the Blue Ridge Mountains. (and Appalachians too) . Across Europe whisky was distilled and consumed from back in the 3rd century. It spread quickly across to the UK and spread gigantic smiles on the faces of the Irish and Scottish lucky enough to have barrels on hand. There in that little corner of the world is where they brought whisky to new heights. It brought consumers to new heights as well and is likely why the Irish are so well known for having a penchant for imbibing. The Scotts even have a special whisky category with the creative name of Scotch Whisky. So whisky custard it is!
To make the whisky custard more evenly palatable is a tad tricky. I don’t want my cupcake to burn going down but I want to highlight the wonderful oak flavor and have just enough to not make you smile in a drunken stupor but to accentuate the smile brought about from eating. There is some controversy over whether cooking eliminates or lessens alcohol content so the first decision I made was not to cook the whisky at all. That removes all doubt, you will taste and feel the whiskey. I chose to add it raw to the custard. I make my vanilla custard a smidge thicker than usual and temper the whisky with some molasses. The molasses gives the whisky a smooth an sweet flavor and softens the strong oaks notes in the booze. And as the custard cools I slowly stir in the tasty hooch making sure to lick my fingers when completed. Now the Banshee is just about ready to make you scream.
The topping of the cupcake is of great importance. It not only is the first image one gets of the mini cake but it serves to give the cupcake sense of Nirvanic completion, a cosmic recognition, and it bridges the tower of flavors created underneath it. The topping gives the cupcake it’s propers and lends to it’s overall credibility. A nice rosette of whipped cream using a pinch of whisky in place of vanilla, then a coating of green sprinkles leaves no doubt as to its Irish origin. You may not find a leprechaun hiding a pot of gold here at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes, but one bite from a screaming Banshee and you will feel like the richest person in town. Just remember that The Screaming Banshee cupcakes is safe and fun and meant to enhance your eating experience, not overpower it. Never abuse cupcakes, moderation is the key…………………….Peace

1-2-3-4, I Declare A Cupcake War

The EB gives it 2 thumbs down

Near about every day someone will say to me “You guys should be on Cupcake Wars.” Like this is our magic bullet and it will make Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes blow up huge! Well intended advice but total bullshit. But this is something I’m used to. I owned a small restaurant before I began my journey toward cupcake excellence. Everyone unfamiliar with the restaurant industry seems to know exactly what will make a restaurant successful. Owners get advice on a daily basis. “You know what you should do? You need to put this rice lasagna my Mom makes on the menu. I’m telling you, everybody loves it. You’ll make a fortune.” Others offer up their own personal recipes for various dishes. Yet they came to eat in my houe so I believe there should be a presumption that I am in possession of numerous recipes of my own. They freely explain how carrying this beverage or serving that fish on your menu is “what you need.” I wonder if they made suggestions to an electrician, or a carpenter. “Hey, use the green wires more, people really like that. You know if you use copper nails it will last longer.“ Or even worse, tell a doctor how best to treat an ailment. “You know if you prescribe more valiums you will have happier patients.“ (yea, that was my advice but I really think that one will work!) After all now that we have WebMD so who needs a professional? Now we can treat ourselves. The food business is something easy. That’s how they know all about. Why the hell they don’t have their own restaurant? When I had a restaurant I got more advice than Dr. Phil gives in an entire season. So now that I’m a cupcake engineer and no longer a chef, they advise me to get on cupcake wars. Just do that and I will become famous.
The truth is I have been asked, over 3 time now and when first told about Cupcake Wars I was quite naïve about the show . When I was asked to be in Cupcake Wars it conjured up an image of troops of small cakes slugging it out on battlegrounds like wood tables covered in flour, stainless steel tables, and gigunda mixing bowls. The combatant cakes are outfitted camouflage cupcake liners and carrying the appropriate weaponry of any kitchen worth its baking soda. Duking it out with war tools such as knives, spoons, whisks, spatulas, an rolling pins. They engage in fierce battles smashing innocent cakes in the process and await the reinforcement of the heavy artillery. In come the big machines. The food processors, power mixers, batter dispensers, and enormous rotating ovens. The cupcake war escalates into a shock and awe campaign as huge flames arise from the oven hearth and extreme heat takes over the war theater. The sound of forced gasses and flickering flames fill the air and the smell of burning gas penetrate the prep area as wafts of thin white smoke billow off the carbon etched, war torn cupcake pans. Cupcakes have declared war!
What’s next, Teddy Bear Battles? Hello Kitty Conflicts? How can anything as sweet and innocent and so amazingly tasty and satisfying possibly be involved in a war? Obviously I knew it wasn’t really a cupcake war but it did in fact warrant a little investigation. So on to Google and then Wikipedia where I found out that Cupcakes Wars is a reality based competition show on The Food Network. Reality based? What the hell does that even mean? Armed with this information I felt compelled to take it to the next level. The only sensible course of action for me was to engage in an activity that is extremely rare for me. When I got home I turned on the TV and tunes into The Food Network to watch the show.
Watching the Food Channel is rare? Most people are indeed shocked to find out that I so rarely ever watch The Food Network. They get very indignant and question me as if we were in the Culinary Inquisition. “But you’re a chef, how can you not watch The Food Network?” Apparently it’s the responsibility of a chef to watch shows about what they do for a living. It turns out the Food Network is designed to entertain people in all walks of life who have more than a passing interest in food, and not a network designed for chefs to share recipes and ideas. My response to them is “If I was a plumber, do you think that after plumbing all day long I would want to go home and watch shows about nothing but plumbing?” The truth is if the network were really designed to entertain chefs it would be mostly about inept waiters and waitresses during epic fails while the sweat saturated kitchen staff laughs so hard their ass bones begin loosening. That’s something I might watch. When I finish a long hard day in the kitchen and I sit down to relax the last thing I want to see is more kitchen. Give me serial killers, lawyers. Doctors and nurses, detectives, or even makers of meth. (Although techniquely the meth does get cooked!) I want to escape the world that I work in for sometimes 14 hours a day. I look towards TV to take me away from my ay to day an entertain me by allowing me to escape into new realms. But I needed to know what this Cupcake Wars was all about.
Needing to understand the concept of cupcake wars for myself I watched an entire show which fro me at least, was a tedious process. It turns out its not a war at all, but a competition between bakers based on an age old culinary tradition, the Mystery Basket. The mystery basket has been used for years to help teach young culinarians skills and to hone their creative process and resourcefulness. Its even used when a chef goes for a certification. The chef is given a basket, or tray these days, with an assortment of foods on it and they are asked to create complete meal, appetizer, entrée, and dessert using everything on the tray as well as some of the basic ingredients in the pantry. They are given a specific time constraint and they are judged on taste, presentation, and creativity. Quite often these days mini mystery baskets are a stage of the interview process where the potential employer may get a chance to investigate your style of cooking, your ability to prepare and blend flavors, and how well you work under pressure. I have always felt this somewhat ineffective and a waste of time because if your resume will reflect your style and capabilities. I have had to perform a few of these interviews and for me it was easy because improvisational cooking has always been my strongest suit. For many others who are equally as talented but may be the type who prefer to carefully plan an document their course of preparation (like an accountant may) the challenge could present unfair advantage to my loosey goosey cooking style. But is is a barometer of how well one can think on their feet an it is a great learning tool.
The major difference in the game how however is that other factors come into play. Drama and conflict. Without these two gratuitous concepts the show would be of little interest and as fast paced as watching a snail running from a French chef. They pit 4 pairs of culinary bakers, most of which own their own shops, against each other and try to create a diverse cross section of cute young entrepreneurs, grouchy old lifelong bakers, and some serious cupcake makers hoping to create their dynamic business venture into an overnight success via winning the contest. They are judged by 3 wannabe American Idol judges, a European who can be testy and sharply critical, (Le Simon). an everyone wins because I’m okay your okay compassionate woman who hasn’t a mean bone in her body, (Le Paula) and an influential guest judge that has a vested interest in the winner as they will usually hire the winner for a “special event”. (Le rotating Randy)
For me the show is part of a larger sub-culture of entertainment that portrays an industry I have vested way too many years in, and worked way too hard at to see turned into a novelty act. In my day chefs worked their asses off, put in ridiculous amounts of hours in, and earned enormous respect due to their talent and integrity. Now potential chefs graduate culinary school and hope to get a TV show. Granted it is entertaining to its demographic but to me it reduces my life’s work into a slugfest of personalities where its not the most creative and flavorful food that wins, but the best personality or the most manipulative. They attempt to increase the viewer enjoyment by creating challenges through forcing the usage of unusual products. That’s great if the challenge is meaningful, but to put things like tobacco, or nacho cheese and hot dogs is just for sheer enjoyment and not a creativity challenge. I get it, it’s very popular and has millions of viewers, but even if one make a great cupcake, if they have no TV presence they can leave the show scarred as a loser. And even those who win will experience a spike of popularity, and business will grow out of curiosity, but most times it isn’t long lasting. I want a solid business grown on strong principles and hard work. But if you do ever hear of a show that wants to showcase an honest existential cupcake poet, give me a call. Or better yet, I’ll get some people and you can call my peeps……..PEACE

Its Who I Am, Not What I AM!

Zen and the Art of Cupcake Making

I’m just a man who makes cupcakes. That’s my job, it’s what I do. Everyday I set out on a quest to achieve cupcake Nirvana. I begin my quest by assembling an assortment of biodegradable food products in an attempt to get them to form an allegiance with a single goal in mind. To reach out and grab your taste buds by the hand, take them out to the dance floor and have them spinning and tapping into a deliciously satisfying frenzy of a Tango that leaves you with a blissful smile and lasting memory. No small undertaking is this. I enter into this task every day with enthusiasm and optimistic energy .It’s a responsibility we take very serious at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes. Each and every day we combine a variety of foods that if left on their own would be relatively insignificant and transform them into 1,000+ taste bud pleasing treats. That’s over 1,000 blissful smiles produced daily. We make vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, lemon, coconut, and peanut butter cupcakes. We take flours and flavors and mix them with other organic foods like eggs and milk, and lay them carefully in a bed of paper inside a special cupcake pan. We subject these mixtures to extreme heat for the perfect amount of clicks of the clock and they rise to the occasion. Exposing them for the proper time is like getting the perfect tan at the beach but avoiding a painful sunburn. Once the cupcake has achieved its full and even body tan we cool them down and give them a rest. Fully cooled the time has arrived for them to be injected with another flavor concoction designed to unite with the chosen cake and create an even more complex structure of flavors. It might be a mousse or custard, a jam or jelly, or any number of creative and innovative treats. One cupcake actually gets a hand chopped portion of apple pie, crust and all. But we’re not finished yet, as if that weren’t enough we then top it off with something sweet that compliments the final product. “Your hair looks great today cupcake, and you haven’t changed a bit since the good old mixing bowl days.” “Thanks for the compliment icing, now lets go take some taste buds on the dance floor and cut the rug!” At this point the cupcake has become a tower of deliciously harmonized flavors clamoring to complete the task of brining your taste buds into perfect balance with the universe. That’s what this unassuming cupcake maker does. I create astral symmetry using every ounce of culinary training I’ve experienced. I’m The Existential Baker who balances the universe by making pleasurable sweet treats. I make cupcakes.
But The Existential Baker is just a name and making cupcakes is just job, it describes what I do. It doesn’t define me. It does give me a few titles though. I’m a chef, a baker, a business owner. I’m also a hippie, a rock and roller, a writer, a culinary poet and an existentialist. We go to great lengths to try and identify categories to stick each other in. The butcher the baker the candlestick maker. It’s what we’ve been taught since we were young and it just gets more complicated as we age. In school we were nerds, jocks, hippies, greasers, stoners, or just plain losers. In the workplace we were grunts, stockers, sweepers, laborers, supervisors, managers or bosses. That wasn’t enough so we created sub-categories and we get downright obnoxious at times. She’s a slut and he’s a ladies man. He’s an aggressive go getter and she’s a bitch. Pretty one sided for a double standard. We try to compartmentalize each other based on opinions or beliefs. Are you a liberal or a conservative? God fearing or Atheist? Winner or loser? Rich or poor? Gay or Straight? Male or Female? Every one of those categories have one common denominator. They can all fit into the category of human being. All too often we work so hard to find our differences we forget how similar we are. We focus so much energy on what sets us apart that we forget how alike we are. For some people its an attempt to somehow make themselves feel superior. That seems rather insecure to me. In reality we are living breathing snowflakes. Not any one of us is an exact duplicate of any other living snowflake. We all have special points that make us unique and beautiful. When snowflakes co-operate and band together they create beautiful landscapes, blankets of slick snow banks that thrill many a skier, or even a powerful storm, but when they fight each other they melt and become droplets of water destined to become lost in a river or sea. Snowflakes are innately beautiful in part because a snowflake by nature is an existentialist. Without question or complaint they are constantly working together and helping each other out with total disregard of compensation. We could learn so much if we paid more attention to all the other snowflakes. I believe if I could learn how to make cupcakes as incredible as snowflakes I could be a cupcake deity. But then I would be put into another category and we sure do have enough of those.
The Existential Baker is just a name, it’s what I do. But now, as soon as the first person read a post of mine I was transformed into an existentialist philosophical cupcake making hippie hipster business owning blogger. How many of us are out there?…Never underestimate the power of a cupcake. Peace

So You Want Your Just Desserts?

www.stuffedcupcakes.comCulinary Karma

I started out my culinary adventures busting suds for a restaurant in my hometown, and from there the homicidal chef taught me to make salads and finally hot foods. An odd assortment of strange characters assured me this was the world for me. No running off to join the circus for this young lad, my destiny was to be found in the freakish family which would be come to be known to me as “Restaurant People.” Maniacal chefs, egotistic managers, sexy waitresses, drug dealing bus boys, and the legion of pot washing, shrimp peeling, meatball rolling minions of the back of the house. The rest as they say is history. Once I realized I had taken it a far as I could on my own I needed to up my game. A friend suggested I go to the CIA. When I told them I had no interest in become a kitchen spy they informed my naïve ass that I should enroll at the Culinary Institute of America. So I trotted off to cooking school for two years of studying under even more maniacal chefs who probably should never be allowed to use knives outside of the school. But what an education! I was at the top culinary university in the nation, learning the dynamics, science, and art of cooking and culinary management. After years of working for chefs with vein bulging foreheads that seemed in a constant state of sublime irritation, and two years of continuing that line of abuse at school I was ready for the real world of foodservice.
The time had come for me to fine tune the skills and knowledge I had acquired and I wanted to go straight to the top. That’s how I ended up with my first position as a line cook at Windows on the World way up on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center in NYC. Look Ma, I’m on top of the world! The work was incredibly hard and the kitchen reached temperatures approaching the sunny side of hell. I worked my proverbial ass off and could be seen ordering a new one from the ass store at least once a week.
But it wasn’t all bad, not by a long shot. Maybe it was because of the high level of the ass busting and the pressure of getting over a thousand meals served in 4 hours or maybe just experiencing the same culinary drudgery as all the other cooks but a camaraderie developed that rivals the most prestigious of fraternities. The other cooks have you covered and would give the chef coat off their backs if it wasn’t so sweat soaked. And I would do the same for them. It was a tight nit family of sweaty hard working aspiring chefs. The line, the area of cooks stations with stove tops, topped out at about 800 degrees with eight ranges blasting constant heat. It was so hot that a cold beer clause was written into the union contract. True story. We each got two cold beers at the end of service. If you did screw up there was a punishment that was above and beyond the realm of mere cruel and unusual. You got sent to “The Cold Kitchen.” The cold kitchen sucked because it was a constant, repetitive everlasting list of tedious tasks designed to send one on an asylum train. Perhaps three and a half hours of placing small pieces of chicken and scallions on skewers followed by the slicing and breading 5 cases of zucchini. It was the icy version of hell and just as feared. None of us enjoyed being sent there. We loved the high pressure of sauté or grilling and despised time in the cold kitchen.
Either way during the two years working at Windows I learned more than I would ever learn anywhere and it set me on a course which would eventually find me as an executive chef, complete with high stress level and mandatory vein popping forehead. I was certain I was headed for one of the top chef positions in the city, or at least a real good ‘B‘ level chef job. I was an excellent saucier and that was my specialty. Back then like everyone else I knew everything. Now I am older, not much wiser, and instead of the top of the world cheffing on a hot line I have become a baker. Making cupcakes day after day, specializing in cold food. I am not complaining, jut pointing out the irony. Not quite as tedious as the dreaded cold kitchen but still a kind of Karmic revenge. Yes Karmic revenge served to me as it should be, COLD!. That’s right, revenge is a dish absolutely best served cold, after you’ve had time to make your plans. But I did misspeak when I said karmic revenge because there is no such thing as revenge in Karma and I have come to love baking cupcakes.
Revenge is a human emotion. But I did want to somehow incorporate Karma in my cupcakes so I took a closer look at just what Karma is. Its something many people say they believe in. I believe in Karma but I feel it has gotten a bad rap these days. Many people believe Karma to be the universe exacting revenge, but revenge in and of itself is a negative. Karma focuses on the positive. I hear people say things like “ There can’t be any true karma because bad people get away with shit and good people get shit on.” That has nothing to do with Karma guys, that’s life. Karma isn’t payback for doing wrong or reward for doing right. Doing the right thing is its own reward and Karma is just the positive energy that goes along for the ride. The universe isn’t sitting there waiting to avenge people. That would go against everything that’s good about Karma. If you choose to do the right thing because you want good Karma to reward you don’t hold your breath because Karma doesn’t work on demand. When something bad happens don’t wish bad Karma on the person that screwed you because your just festering negative energy. Let the universe take care of things. You may not see it but lack of Karma will surround negative acts with negative energy. Concentrate on keeping your life positive. Distance yourself from negative people and embrace positive people. Walk away from negative energy and walk head first into the positive. No one should need a religion to tell them how to live the best life, the “Golden Rule” is just common sense. I’m not saying abandon your religion and stop the rituals, by all means if that’s a positive action for you embrace it. Take all the positive vibrations your religion grants you. But don’t rely only on your religion to tell you how to treat others, that’s your responsibility. When my 9 month old daughter was very sick and so very helpless a quote I heard has always resonated with me. “A person is never so tall as when he bends to help a child.” That’s Karma!
I have a deep love of rock and roll and that is reflected in many of the cupcakes I have engineered at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes. ( if you want to take a peek) . When I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show way too many years ago it changed my life. I evolved politically and philosophically along with them and other rock stars and that’s where I got my interest in Eastern religions and concepts like Karma. To this day I embrace the many lessons I learned from “Eastern Philosophies” I live a positive life and surround myself with positive people. I don’t fight negative people I avoid them. They bring nothing to the table. I truly believe the positive I put into my baking remains there until consumed, at which time its absorbed by the one enjoying it. One of my best selling cupcakes is inspired by both Karma and my favorite Beatle, John Lennon. We call it “Instant Carma” the “C” intentional as a play on words. it’s a vanilla cupcake with an intense caramel mousse, topped of with vanilla and praline icing. I know, I know, shameless plug, but hey….Instant Carma’s gonna get you, gonna knock you off your feet.
Plug aside, embrace Karma, don’t expect it to exact revenge for you. Stay positive, lend a hand, pay it forward, live your best life, and spread the love……PEACE

The Next Great Cupcake

Kiss Me, I’m a Cupcake
It was once said that a cupcake poets work is never done. Okay so it was me that said it, but its not without some inkling of truth. No sooner has the satisfied sweet treats of Valentines specials been fully consumed when the question comes. “What’s up for St. Patrick’s day chef?” After a few hyper-ventilating breaths, a fair amount of Pinot Noir, and a meditative clearing of the creative chasm in my head I am ready. A very successful array of valentine treats have been digested by my cupcake foodies and now I look towards what will be coming up in the next few weeks here.
I know, I know, its not until March 17th, but around here in Jersey the parade celebrations start early. Apparently its hard to engage a good bagpipe band around St. Patty’s day because everyone needs one in their town parade. Due to the scarcity of good pipers the demand is high and it has become necessary to hire the bands on alternative Saturdays in different towns. I call bullshit! Sounds to me its all about having a four weekend celebration of partying in various towns in the area. Regardless, I take on my normal challenge of coming up with something special for the extended celebration as serious as the consumers of corned beef and green beer take theirs. So today I begin working on my 2013 St. Patrick Day Cupcake.
To begin with I will remind you of our regular specials which have become standard fare due to popularity. We presently have four cupcakes that will be making cameo appearances over the next few weeks. “The Screaming Banshee, a chocolate Guinness cupcake with whisky custard and whipped cream topping (my fave), “The Danny Boy” , an Irish cream vanilla cupcake with Irish cream custardf an whipped cream, “The Shamrock and Roll,” chocolate cupcake with clover honey whiskey custard and cream cheese icing. And “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” vanilla cupcake with oatmeal cookie bottom orange mousse an vanilla icing. Those are the four horseman of St. Patrick’s treats. But as a cupcake engineer its my responsibility to have something more 2013-ish.
Creating the proper cupcake isn’t done in one sitting. It begins with a concept and continues as a work in progress. First the working title. This year I want to pay homage to the great Irish population of Boston. Loud and Proud the Bostonian Irish community have a strong voice in pop culture, and our cupcakes are largely inspired by pop culture, especially the music. So the name. House of Pain is a terrible name for a cupcake as is Dropkick Murphy’s. The dropkicks do however have one song that I absolutely love! Ergo, my working title is “Shipping Off To Boston”. The finished product hasn’t been determined yet but to reflect this wonderful communities culture the cupcake will be filled with Indian Pudding, a staple at Boston’s most famous restaurants. Of course this too can change, but for now it sounds really promising to me. It sounds so damn good it makes me wanna…..Jump Around, jump up, jump up, and get down! Stay tuned….PEACE

Love Apple Cupcake??

Love Apple Cupcake? Not on my Watch!

What could possibly be more appropriate for Valentines Day than something so romantically named as a love apple cupcake. Cupid could trade in his arrows for a batch of these passionate sounding treats. Ah, love, puppy love, true love, love poems, love songs, Love don’t cost a thing! But love apple? In a cupcake, really? Not on my watch, because this tempting fruit of love is not an apple at all, but a tomato!
That’s right, the confused red headed step son of the fruit family is not a crispy sweet apple, but a gnarly sandwich friendly beefsteak. From my kitchen that deceptive chameleon of a fruit/vegetable will not be found in a cupcake. Not on my watch! Now I admit I am not well versed in botanical history but it seems to me that the tomato is somewhat of an outcast. What dastardly evil deed must the tomato have committed against the vegetable brethren to have it excommunicated and forced to live out its existence living within the fruit family. What heinous crime has the ever popular tomato committed to be sentenced to a life of exile from its rightful place in the vegetable kingdom? Could it be the culprit that made mini cabbages sprout in Brussels? Did the tomato cause the beet to see red, or turn the chards so bitter? What could this star of pizza and pasta possibly have done?
Whatever its infraction it does have a lesser known partner in the crime family of fruits, the greenbean. (don’t get your hopes up for a greenbean cupcake either) Also techniquely a fruit the green bean seems to get way less notoriety as a mislabeled food. Perhaps its after being force fed this fruit disguised as a vegetable in its most rudimentary pabulum stage when we were Gerber babies leaves us unenthusiastic to its state of being. Perhaps it just flies under the radar or maybe its skinny self has left us a bad taste in our mouths. No matter, neither fruit will ever be found in its rightful place in supermarket produce sections, they will be left to sit amongst veggies and live out their lives ostracized by their fellow fruits who, rightly so, feel betrayed.
But back to the popular hamburger and sandwich accompaniment, our tomato. Let face it, we all treat it as if it is a vegetable. Yet despite being used exclusively in vegetable preparations by culinaryians the scientific community refuses to acknowledge its status as anything other than a savory fruit. Try as it may our androgynous treat looks, tastes, even feels like a vegetable. But alas poor beefsteak, though Horatio knew you well you remain a fruit. Never part of any ensemble cast of fruit flavored candy treats of chewing gums. Never a mention in the jelly bean world. No tomato flavored cough syrup. But that’s like comparing apples to green beans, and that information ain’t worth a hill of oranges.
While I am not usually one to jump on any kind of bandwagons I am ashamed to admit that I too have disregarded its natural born status and used the tomato as nothing other than a lost soul of a vegetable trapped in a fruits body and it will never appear in a cupcake. Did I say never? Here at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes we never say never!
All things considered the tomato has risen above the pomp and circumstance and taken its place as an edible chameleon and keeps its true identity discrete. Besides, there is one thing the misunderstood vegetablesque fruit can boast amongst those who are aware of its authentic beginnings. It is the center piece of a very wise proverb. Knowledge is understanding that a tomato is actually a fruit and not a vegetable, but wisdom is knowing that the tomato does not belong in your fruit salad.
Enjoy Valentines and every other day, and share the love… PEACE