So it took 3 years, a stage dance where I was made to stand (read hide) in the third row behind tall girls, one transfer of dad's posting to a far-distanced-remote district location for my mother to realize classical dancing was not my cup of tea. She gave up on me finally and let me live on my own. To let me explore what I could do better over dancing.
I had harboring interests in other aspects of art. My mother took up to learn nib painting in her free time. Canvas, oil paintings and nibs lay scattered all over the house. She was a pro at sewing and would stitch dresses and accessories for us with utter ease. Scraps of leftovers were handed over to us for play. It got over to me too. Sketching, painting and craft as a hobby became dear to me with time. I had a creative side in which I fared quite well and gained good scores at competitions in school. I received encouragement from all. There was no pressure to perform, no one coerced me to bring accolades, no teacher to reprimand. It was for me to develop and bloom my hobby the way I wanted to. My mother supported and fostered my interests beyond all. And I did reasonably well for many years.
I pursued this interest for long till I got married. They gave me sincere company when I was living by myself. I bought several painting books from the bucks I made while in college teaching painting in my free time to kids at a school. They are stacked neatly on my book shelf even today. Plastic binders don the books. Not a dog-ear that you can spot. My parents have my sketches and paintings framed that adorn their walls at home. The guy whom I was dating then (my husband today :)) told me once that he liked Sushmita Sen over Aishwarya Rai. I spent an entire night sketching her out for him. She has a look of shock on her face! Now that's what a night out does to you! That was probably the last time I held a pencil over paper and dipped brush into the paint box. And then we got married.
Charcoal over paper
Marriage changes life. It changes hobbies as well. That happened to me too. New families were embraced, following traditions - his and mine became important and career brought in responsibilities. Life became focused and busier, so hobbies distanced by virtue. Cooking took over as feeding family became a priority. With time and a baby it became a coherent part of my life that couldn't be ignored. So I accepted to love it instead of moaning. Cooking became a hobby. So did photography to feed the blog. Sayonara to all other forms of art.
Sadly, these artistic skills have been least helpful while icing cakes. I set out to bake these cupcake last fortnight with a batch of Raspberry-Strawberry Jam I had at hand. While the cupcakes themselves were a simple to make, considering how much little effort I had put into making them apart from just blending all ingredients in the blender (following Nigella's directions on one of the episodes I had seen in the past) they were moist and delightful to devour. I assumed my artistic skills would really be put to use while frosting them. But boy, I was so wrong and boggled at what mess I had created out of the canned frosting. Fortunately no butter or cream wasted. Just 3 cupcakes topped and stopped at that ordeal. I decided to stay out of it for the rest. I thought you should see my shabby work at frosting too!
Raspberry Strawberry Swirl Cupcakes
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup any berry jam such as Strawberry, Raspberry or blueberry (store-bought or homemade)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners and set aside.
Blend the first 7 ingredients, except the raspberry jam in a clean blender till the mixture is incorporated well and is light, pale yellow and fluffy. This should take just about 30 sec of whiz. I like to throw in the wet ingredients first and then the dry ones. Divide batter evenly among the cake liners, filling each about three-quarters full. Drop a blob of the raspberry-strawberry jam into each cupcake and swirl them gently in the cake batter using a toothpick. Bake for about 20 minutes, or till the cake tops and edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let me sit for 5 min. Transfer to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely. Frost them with any choice of frosting.