7 Reasons Baking Should Be Your New Hobby

7 Reasons Baking Should Be Your New Hobby

It's beautiful and delicious, what's not to love?
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I'm obsessed with baking. Just a little.

Some of my earliest memories involve helping my sister in the kitchen. Sometimes our creations turned out well, we made cookies, cupcakes, even Boston cream pie. Sometimes we weren't so successful, just ask anyone in our family about the chocolate souffle, or the chocolate scrambled eggs as that infamous dessert became known.

Since then I've learned to make all kinds of cookies, cakes, cupcakes and more. Baking has become my favorite hobby, and I think it could just become yours too.

1. You learn to be creative

I don't just mean creativity in the artistic sense, although that's coming up. I'm talking about ingenuity, working around obstacles. Baking can throw some interesting challenges at you. Missing ingredients, missing tools, inconvenient conditions. The other day I stuck my bread dough in the car because I needed somewhere warm to let it rise. I've had to substitute for ingredients that I didn't have or didn't really want. I've learned that pureed tofu can replace eggs in mousse or no bake pies. I've learned to make my own buttermilk with milk and lemon juice or vinegar. Learning to work around obstacles helps with more than just baking too.

2. You get used to burning yourself

If you bake often enough you are eventually going to bump into a hot pan or grab a pan you forgot was hot. My worst burn came from grabbing a pan using an oven mitt that had a hole in it. I was very proud of myself for not throwing the entire pan of cookies across the kitchen.

3. It's fairly inexpensive

Now, this depends on the kind of baking you do. If you buy every single fancy gadget and all kinds of specialty ingredients it's going to add up quick. But you can make great stuff without any of that. A mixing bowl, some measuring cups and spoons, a wooden spoon, a wire whisk, and a few pans are enough for most projects. You don't have to be fancy with your ingredients either. In almost every case you can use generic ingredients and nobody will be able to tell the difference (the biggest exception to this is chocolate, you need good quality chocolate).

4. It's delicious

How many other hobbies produce something both beautiful and delectable?

5. You can express yourself

Baking may not be a traditional form of art, but I believe it is an art nonetheless. You can make things that are elegant, whimsical, and just plain incredible. People have made life sized cars out of cake, and have you seen the way that melted chocolate flows down the side of a cake? Or the way buttercream swirls to form a rose? Beautiful.

6. It's relaxing

I don't think there's any better way to work out frustrations than by kneading out dough or mixing up batter. When I'm stressed out or anxious whipping up a batch of cupcakes or some cookies is the perfect remedy. It gets my mind off of whatever's bothering me and provides comfort food at the same time. I tend to bake a lot more during finals week...just ask my neighbors.

7. You can make other people happy

I think this is my favorite part of baking. I like it when people like the things I make. I like it when my mom brags about how my chocolate cupcakes are the best. Or how my dad asks for homemade pizza every week or tells me that this is my best creation yet. Particularly right after I moved into the dorm baking also helped me make new friends. I wandered up and down the halls handing out cookies and cupcakes. Without that tray of goodies in front of me I never would have had the guts to knock on the doors of total strangers, which is exactly what I did.

Cover Image Credit: Cassidi Sandefur

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:” Line Matters,

I want to start off by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can’t afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you’re just lazy and you “don’t feel like it”? Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you’re unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the US Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck.” stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:” line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can’t seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to ten people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!”

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the seventeen other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there’s a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 dollar bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of ten times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession - whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food, and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a forty dollar bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes - as if you’re better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you’ll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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'Everything In Moderation' Is Probably The Best Thing Your Mom Ever Told You

Cheating only counts in relationships and tests - not food.

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It's summer again, which means it's that time of the year when basically everyone says they're going to go on some sort of diet to get the perfect beach body.

I mean, it certainly is easy to entertain the thought when you're most likely going to be spending your days lounging by the pool or running around on the beach. I've certainly been guilty of this mentality, and I don't think trying to look your best is a problem within itself, but I do think the quick timespan a lot of people want to reach their goal in may be. It can get especially bad when people attempt to cut out all sugar, carbs, gluten, or whatever in their last ditch effort to drop a few pounds. Didn't anyone ever tell them you can have everything in moderation?

I've tried many times to cut out bad foods, only eating healthy foods and then counting the calories in them. Sometimes this would be successful, and other times it wouldn't be. Most of the time, my downfall would be a sugar craving, which then turned into a sugar binge.

I think depriving myself of what I really wanted just made everything worse in the end. Moral of the story: if you're craving something, just eat it- everything is okay to have in moderation. I finally figured out that being healthy is a mix of eating the right foods, working out, and also giving your body what it wants. It's okay to have that brownie after dinner, as long as you don't overdo it. If you deprive yourself and try to satisfy your craving with something you don't really want, you're just going to end up feeling sad and unsatisfied.

I remember one time I was trying to stay on a diet and not eat anything "bad" or sugary, so instead of eating the ice cream I really wanted, I settled for a sad little rice cake with almond butter - which does taste really good, too, don't get me wrong - but it's just not the same as ice cream and it honestly never will be.

Because I didn't eat what I really wanted, I ended up still craving something sweet and ate a bunch of cookies I had laying around in my kitchen. If I'd just had a little bit of ice cream when I wanted it, I wouldn't have eaten the rice cake, plus the almond butter, plus the cookies, and I would have felt satisfied and ultimately better.

Basically what I'm trying to say here is to give your body the food it wants when it's craving it, as long as it's a healthy serving for your body and you balance it with a healthy lifestyle. Eating everything in moderation will honestly keep your body feeling good and healthy. This is a way better alternative to feeling sad and hungry when restricting yourself on a diet. If you listen to your body and take care of it the right way for yourself, there's no way you won't feel happy and confident this swimsuit season.

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