Saturday, September 18, 2021

Scrabble cake

 







Everybody knows Scrabble, that board game, where you draw seven lettered tiles from a bag and make words on the board. Scrabble was conceived during the Great Depression by an unemployed New York architect named Alfred Mosher Butts, who figured Americans could use a bit of distraction during the bleak economic times. Butts named his game Lexico, then changed the name to Criss-Cross Words. His friend and eventual business partner James Brunot came up with the name Scrabble in the late 1930s. A lot of scrabble-friendly new words have since been introduced in the latest dictionaries, such as qi, vu, ew, cinq, qaid etc.

Love this game! I play every day, but not on a board. The apps of today allow gaming on the go and with people all over the world. I would not play it competitively but I think the exercise of making words keeps our brain sharp.

This is an almond cake with cannoli filling.  The structure was easy to make but the lines on the board did not come out as straight as I would have liked. Then I printed the colored squares on edible paper and cut them of size before placing on the cake. 








Sunday, August 22, 2021

Peacock cake

 



Peacock cake was fun to make, but it was not that much of a challenge since I carved the peacock with fondant and gum paste. So the peacock is not made of cake, but is perched on a strawberry cake with chocolate ganache filling. I have been wanting to make a peacock for a while. What a beautiful creature!

We have all marveled at the colorful iridescent plumage of peacocks, especially when proudly fanned out.  The functions of the elaborate iridescent coloration and large train of peacocks have been the subject of extensive scientific debate. Charles Darwin suggested that they serve to attract females. More recently, Amotz Zahavi proposed that these features act as honest signals of the males' fitness, since less-fit males would be disadvantaged by the difficulty of surviving with such large and conspicuous structures.

Did you know that peacocks are social birds, but very aggressive towards invaders of their territories; they even have snake fighting abilities. They often play together, especially under the sunlight. In the wild peacocks usually travel in groups of up to 10 peacocks. Peacocks are one of the loudest animals on earth, calling out to each other during the morning and late evening. They make meowing sounds when it is going to rain. They also make alarm calls when they sense danger. Male peacocks sing to attract female peacocks. How cool is that?



"It is Allah Who has made for you the earth as a resting place, and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape - and made your shapes beautiful and has provided for you Sustenance..." 

(Al Quran--Gafir 40:64)


Sunday, July 4, 2021

Drum cake

 


This is a little drum (dholak) is a two-headed hand drum; a folk percussion instrument. It is so fun to play it to celebrate at auspicious occasions like weddings. This little dholak is carrot nut cake with cream cheese filling.

Celebrations are especially precious after the interesting year of 2020 isolation. Indeed there is so much to be thankful-- the flowers have bloomed, the birds are singing, the sun is shining—let’s celebrate it! We are alive and breathing —let’s celebrate it!  Lets celebrate the splendor of this world, look for it inside ourselves. Lets play this drum and celebrate a new day that is full of possibilities. 







Sunday, February 21, 2021

Apple cake



This was an apple cake with baked apple filling. It was easy to make since the imperfections made it look quite natural.  All my cakes are imperfect, but I am never embarrassed by what might be considered "sloppy" work.  I think the imperfections are an expression of my inner artiste.  

As such what is "perfect"? Perhaps perfection is an illusion. It is just a mental concept relative to each one’s expectations and experience.  Many of us take pride in being  perfectionists, however by setting very high standards we make it harder and more time consuming to reach our goals.  Decision making can become a challenge and we could get stuck in unnecessary details which could lead to procrastination.  And then after all this, the resultant might still not be "perfect". 

On the other hand,  good-enough is definitely NOT good enough.  If we don't aim for excellence we retard our progress by avoiding new challenges. I believe a strife for excellence can be reached without inserting the perfection genre.  I have always been a practical- doer, aiming to get things done par excellence, perhaps not perfect. 

In cake art clean and neat decoration is indicative of flawless work but I believe flaws are the spice of life; flaws make our life perfect.  


“If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.” 
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina








Saturday, February 13, 2021

Locomotive cake

 



Feb 2021- it has been a year of quarantine, social distancing, sanitizers and masks.  Seems like the world came to its knees this year. The most sophisticated weapons of the world powers are of no avail.  This virus has mocked twenty first century technology,  immigration controls, digital surveillance and all types of data analytics.  Can we ever look at a door handle without imagining it teeming with those invisible, undead, globules with receptors poised to attach themselves on to us for terrifying injury and even death? Can we think about taking public transportation like this train, without feeling real fear?

The most vehement of scientists and doctors are secretly praying for a miracle.  Do we finally acknowledge that all is possible when God Almighty declares Kun "happen" and it happens?  Perhaps it is God’s way of bringing us to our senses.  A time will come when the almighty will declare the same to end this pandemic- but our "Kun" has not arrived yet.  Hopefully it will, soon. The vaccine is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel, but we dont know when our turn will come and we definitely dont know when we will be able to hug a friend, and go on a nice train ride without much concern. 

This Locomotive cake is for my brother's birthday. He loves trains so I made this a vanilla cake with strawberry filling. It was fun to make all the little details; it is still, probably not like a real steam engine. Perhaps an amalgam of a real and fantasy steam engine. 



If art is to have a special train, the critic must keep some seats reserved on it.
Oscar Wilde


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Rubik's cube cake

 


The Rubik's Cube is a 3-D puzzle invented by Ernő Rubik in the 1970s.  It was very popular in the 1980 when I learnt to solve it thanks to the tutoring of my cousin, Shami.  I was able to solve it in 4 minutes, which is not even close to the champions who solve this within seconds.  Alas I digressed in my life and since forgot some moves and can no longer solve it. Nevertheless, I made a cake that looks like my favorite puzzle that I can no longer solve.   The cake was my famous carrot walnut cake with cream cheese filling.





“If you are curious, you'll find the puzzles around you. If you are determined, you will solve them.” 
-- Erno Rubik





Saturday, December 19, 2020

Covid

 


COVID ('CO'  for 'corona,' 'VI' for 'virus,' and 'D' for disease) started in 2019 and spread globally as a pandemic in 2020.  It is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Genomic analysis reveals that SARS-CoV-2 is phylogenetically associated with SARS viruses. The transmission of the virus mainly occurs through person-to-person via direct contact or droplets produced by coughing, sneezing and talking.  COVID-19 has claimed close to 75 million infected and over 1.6 million deaths worldwide.  Wow what a year it has been! Lockdown for 11-12 weeks and then careful opening of businesses with standard protocols including temperature measurements, mask on faces and constant reminder to wash hands.  Pandemic or not, washing hands when entering your house and wiping the handles of shopping carts has always been the norm for my house. 

Scientific studies (Guojun et al 2020) indicate that the pandemic situation has significantly improved air quality in different cities across the world, by reducing GHGs emission, reduction of water pollution and noise.  On the other hand our Earth must deal with increased medical waste, haphazard use and disposal of disinfectants, PPE like masks, and gloves; and burden of untreated wastes continuously endanger the environment.  Only time will tell the long term consequences. 

The lockdown was a good time for families to spend time together like never before.  It would be interesting to compile a list detailing how this year effected us. For me I mostly missed the travel.  It was amazingly difficult to cancel trips and none of them refunded the expense. I do have credit, but travel might not resume very quickly- I can only hope my credit will be good when I AM ready to use it again. 

Other than that I have been fortunate enough to work from home all year. Anything I needed was delivered to my doorstep thanks to on line shopping. However, it has been a lonely year. In an attempt to stay safe and save lives, our usual ways of seeing family, friends or just familiar faces have been put on pause.  Even after the lockdown was over and we started meeting friends and family; we have been sadly avoiding hugs and handshakes.  It is not over yet, but with the vaccine in place we do see a light at the end of the tunnel.  This too shall pass!

So I made a cake that looks like COVID virus and this was a symbolic stabbing and devouring of the virus to mark the end of this pandemic.  The cake was a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  The receptors were made of fondant.  It is not a perfect icosehedral 





Best healing Prayer--- "Remove the harm, O Lord of mankind and heal him/her, for You are the Healer and there is no healing except Your healing, with a cure which does not leave any disease behind. (Sahih al-Bukhari 5675)


SARS-CoV-2 Virus

Viruses are a tiny beings consisting of genetic material covered with protein. They infect cells by injecting the genetic materials inside the host cells and using the host machinery to replicate.  Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) belonging to the β coronavirus family is a single-stranded RNA-enveloped virus. A large number of glycosylated S proteins cover the surface of SARS-CoV-2 and bind to the host cell receptor angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), mediating viral cell entry.  Once the virus enters the cell, the viral RNA is released, polyproteins are translated from the RNA genome, and replication and transcription of the viral RNA genome occur. Viral RNA is replicated, and structural proteins are synthesized, assembled, and packaged in the host cell, after which viral particles are released (Fig) (Huang et al 2020)


References

Huang et al, Structural and functional properties of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein: potential antivirus drug development for COVID-19, Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, 2020, 41:1141–1149. 

Guojun et al. The short-term impacts of COVID-19 lockdown on urban air pollution in China. Nature Sustainability volume, 2020, 3:1005–1011.