Most of the time, people think of hobbies as a repetitive activity that one enjoys doing. My summertime hobby isn’t so much a hobby, its more like a theme: learn a new skill. Luckily, most of the skills I learned were during the summer time. I developed this idea when I moved into my apartment a little over nine years ago. For instance, I enjoy knitting and crocheting. While making the vest my friend gave me a pattern for was difficult, I did make a table runner using the seed stitch. When my niece had her baby boy, I crocheted a pastel colored baby blanket. She was the first to get one with a border on the edge to give it a finished look. When I learned how to make a poncho, I learned how to weave the loose tails in to give it a professional look.
I remember when my mother would complain about having to spend $300 buy groceries and wouldn’t buy anything until we ate a little more. What would really make us all mad was when there would be six boxes of cereal in the cabinet, but there wasn’t enough to make a bowl with either one of the boxes. My father used to pose the question: what I’d do if I lived alone? My answer: make it myself. I live around a lot of fast food restaurants, but that doesn’t mean I eat out all the time. It gets expensive. One summer, I learned how to make my own version of homemade stir fry, and pan pizza complete with crust. I also made a healthier version of the breakfast casserole, reducing a serving of six, eight or twelve to half. Last summer, I used a bunch of cherry tomatoes and made my own Italian sauce. I discovered two tablespoons of Philadelphia Cooking Cream added to one fourth cup of Italian sauce instead of cheese gave my penne pasta a different flavor.
During the blizzard of 2009, I learned how to make chocolate muffins. The pancake box showed how to make biscuits in the late summer, but I couldn’t get mine to come out right. One effort made them look like cookies instead of flat bread. By Christmas, I decided to use a muffin pan. At least this way, they came out one size. It took a lot of trials to get the chocolate muffins right. Without the vanilla extract and extra virgin olive oil in the place of cooking oil or butter, everything was too dry to swallow. I tried using two tablespoons of cinnamon when I made cinnamon muffins but reduced it to one because it was too strong. I got good feedback on the miniature versions of this recipe. Maybe this summer, I’ll come up with my own homemade cake.