Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Art of Being Creative

We're all good at something.  I think we are born with the skills and talent to do something and if some of us are lucky, we hit the nail on the head, either through development in school, after school activities or just from reading about something and having enough interest to give it a try.  I was lucky, I got the creativity gene.

I remember one Christmas singing along with my new Sharon, Lois & Bram album (must have been REALLY young) and my mom and dad were astounded that I was singing right along.  I then begged for a flute one year, begged and begged and BEGGED - I got a guitar from Santa that year.  However, it turned out I was good at it.  Coincidence, maybe, I'll never know.  However, I ended up studying the guitar and music in College and then onto University.  Mistake, no.  I will never regret getting a University degree, however, being creative in North America is thankless and for most creative minds, one cannot make a living doing it and if they do it's just barely a living.  I eked out a living playing guitar for about 10 years before moving on.  However, having spent so much time with creative minds and having one myself, it's hard to let it go, I would say impossible.  I was sustained a serious injury from playing the guitar so there really is no way to go back playing anymore (although I wish I could).  I searched for a long time to do something creative where my injury would not come back to haunt me.  

Hmmm, clarinet, flute, oboe, violin...nope. So for a long time I wallowed like a Sea Lion on my couch watching television with the world going by, my mind in a constant state of beige.  One day, I just quit my day job, tired of the abuse, the yelling, the pressure.  Yup, just left.  I spent the summer sailing, reading, painting the eavestroughs until one day I was walking around my neighbourhood and stumbled upon a cooking school.  COOL.  I cleaned out Paul's savings account and enrolled.  I was hooked from day one.  I was able to get a job working as butcher and for the next year I went to school 5 days a week and worked 5 days a week - talk about one tired individual.  However I  no longer wallowed like a Sea Lion on my couch watching television with the world going by, my mind in a constant state of beige.  I was creating and being creative.  I also realized the importance of the trades and how underpaid and under appreciated the trades are.

Unfortunately the daily toil of the butcher shop wore me out physically and I was no longer able the do the job and I couldn't find a job as a chef making more than minimum wage so I went back to the beige office job I had before.  However, one difference, I could work for myself running my own pastry business part time and have the money to expand my pastry and catering skills.

Unfortunately, thanks to trash television with shows like Cake Boss and celebrity chefs like Duff Goldman, everyone thinks they can decorate a cake.  I'm not pooh-poohing anyone else's creativity or skill, lord knows there are a lot more creative and skilled cake decorators out there than me.  I do know that a lot of those 'companies' don't bake or make their products from raw ingredients.  I even know a few cake decorating companies who use boxed cake mixes.  I find the art starts from the raw ingredients.  The flour, eggs, butter etc.  It actually takes me more time to do the baking etc. then the decorating.  It takes artistry to create your signature cake or icing recipe, it takes a keen eye to choose the right ingredients and complimentary flavours.

Most people choose to buy their sweets, cakes etc. at places like Costco because it's "cheaper".  But where's the artistry in getting something cheaper...Then there's the question of what is the real meaning of cheaper.  You get what you pay for.  Those big box store 'bakers' just do what they are told, they aren't artists, anyone can write Happy Birthday on a cake, it's easy to follow a set formula for decorating a cake in the same old colours, the same design ad nauseum day in and day out without thinking.  So what does "getting something cheaper" mean to you?  To me, it means sacrificing our homegrown artists to the likes of the mass produced, fake products anyone can get or make.

I think when one finds one's talent in life we are blessed.  Even though I work really hard, long hours I am able to work part time being creative in an industry where creativity is embraced and welcomed.  Alas, once again a creative field that is not very profitable unless you are a rock star or a true celebrity chef (because we all know people who aren't on tv don't really count). 

Next time you go for something "cheaper" ask yourself if you are supporting ugly corporate America or fresh, creative ideas that people who care about their art come up with, not just to fill their bank accounts.

NOW LET THEM EAT CAKE!  Here's my favourite cheesecake recipe, right down to the caramel, bananas and RUM:

750 g     Cream Cheese
175 g     White Sugar
30 g        Flour
3            Eggs
2            Very Ripe Bananas
2 tbsp.   Dark Rum
320 ml   Heavy Cream
3 ml       Vanilla

Combine cream cheese and flour, mix until fluffy.  Add eggs 1 at a time until absorbed.

Heat sugar in a sauce pan until it just begins to caramalize.  Add banana chunks and continue to caramalize sugar.  Add rum and flame.

Slowly pur rum banana/caramel mixture into cheese mixture while mixer is on low speed, mix well.

Pour into 8" spring form pan.
Bake approximately 30-40 minutes.


  1. I completely agree with you. Disheartening when people don't want to pay for hard work and creativity! Really sad. But, education in the difference, like above, and perseverance always pays off in the end for talented creatives ...Kathryn

  2. You are absolutely correct, I couldn’t have said it better myself.