24 May 2011

Pay it forward in 2011

Guys, guys. I'm moving to Australia at the end of the year! Starting in January I will be attending medical school for two years in Brisbane, at the University of Queensland, then in New Orleans for the following two at the Ochsner Clinical School! Can you tell that I'm excited??

Now that I have a plan for next year, I'm thinking of what to do for the rest of this one. My current thoughts include spending some quality time in Korea and learning to cook Korean food, and maybe visiting some friends in Europe on my way back to the States, before heading Down Under. I'll think through the details once the more pressing priorities are out of the way.

But to backtrack a bit now. At the start of this year, I made an announcement on Facebook:
Pay it Forward in 2011: I will send something handmade (most likely food, in my case) to the first 5 people who leave a comment here. They must post this in turn, and send something they make to the first 5 people who comment on their status. The rules are that it must be handmade by you and it must be sent to your 5 people sometime in 2011.
Now that we're about halfway through the year, I figured I should get cracking on my offerings before my life gets any more hectic with exams, papers, and Big Life Decisions (see above), and such like.

My original plan was to bake something special for each person, but I was struck with a new idea upon espying a small bead shop near campus. I used to love making bead jewelry in middle school, and thought it would be fun to try my hand at it again.

So, a bit about my four(!) Pay it Forward recipients...

For Joanne: a necklace
I met Joanne through another friend while we were living in Boston. She is an incurable Hello Kitty addict, but I actually associate her more with sunshine, laughter, and bright colors. She is also your go-to girl for fun, pretty jewelry, whose extensive (and ever-growing) collection makes her (awesome!) husband Atom shake his head in mock despair. So, sorry Atom, but I'll be adding to that collection.

For Raba: a set of knitting stitch markers
Raba comprises one-third of The Brain. She and Jodi are my buddies for knitting, quilting, baking, cooking, chick flicks, Chinese takeout, Lord of the Rings, VeggieTales, history classes with a certain professor wearing a mustard-yellow sweater... and so, so much more. I can't think about Williams without remembering the hours we spent giggling over cheeseburgers and buffalo fries at the Snack Bar, and the innumerable movie nights with takeout from Chopsticks. Lately Raba has been incredibly busy with classes and work, but I hope these stitch markers will remind her to take a break once in a while and relax with a movie and some knitting!

For Haydee: a bookmark
Haydee is my math buddy. We became friends while struggling through math problem sets together for three years at Williams (she studied abroad junior year). The janitors in the math building grew quite accustomed to walking in on us in empty classrooms at 6am, exhausted and covered in chalk dust but (usually) triumphant. We made for an excellent team, with Haydee thinking up novel approaches to problems, and me picking through the details to find weak points in her proofs. Haydee is well on her way to becoming a professional mathematician now, having just finished her first year of math grad school!

For Jake: a cake
Jake is another brilliant mathematician I know from Williams, all set to graduate with Honors (High Honors?) come June, and head off to math grad school in the fall. I first met Jake at the start of my senior year (his freshman year), chatting about the math and chemistry departments. He was later pressured into joining the marching band, which I think he ended up enjoying much more than he had expected. Since he was the only guy to reply to my Pay it Forward announcement, he got a cake! He wisely chose the lemon + blueberry combination (my specialty!) over chocolate, so that's what he got.

Yes, in a bright pink box, because that's what the Safeway bakery lady gave me when I asked for a cake box.

Jake's Lemon Blueberry Cake
Modified from Woman's Day.

Unfortunately the cake did not arrive in one piece (thanks, USPS), but Jake says it was delicious.

2 3/4 c. cake flour (substituted with 2 1/2 c. flour + 3 Tbsp. corn starch)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 c. sugar
1 c. sour cream
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon extract
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
8 oz. frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Thoroughly grease and flour a bundt pan.

In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a separate large bowl, cream the butter and sugar, then stir in the sour cream. Add the eggs, vanilla, lemon extract, and lemon zest, whisk until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Add blueberries, stir carefully to avoid crushing berries.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until done, approx. 70 min. Cool in pan.

1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. sugar

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, water, and sugar. Drizzle over warm cake still in pan, allowing the liquid to soak in completely. Allow cake to cool completely, then invert onto plate.

1 c. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. milk

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and milk until smooth. Drizzle over cake and let stand until glaze sets.


  1. Hmm, I am tempted to be the 5th person to comment on your Facebook status (rather rather than the first 4 (-: ), but I cannot think what I would make to send to people. Hmm. And international postage tends to be a pain.

  2. Well. If I do end up in your neck of the woods, I will make you something. :)