Friday, November 27, 2009

Apropos Sharing

One of benefits in studying philosophy at uni is that I learned about various philosophies as well as the philosophical process itself. It is a method of enquiry and rationalisation. I should really say processes or methods because there's more than one.

In this post, I will attempt a philosophical approach to the idea of sharing. My method will be based on the idea of the 'I', the 'other' or 'you', and the 'we'. While this may seem simplistic, there is no way I will go into a full philosophical discourse as that is just too tedious this time of day, and I'm not really trained to be a philosopher.

I-centric - Sharing as I give
Sharing is I-centric when it benefits the person doing the sharing. Regardless of intent, I-centric sharing ultimately makes the sharer better off than before sharing. Examples of benefits are feeling good, getting something in return, sense of belonging and learning.

Other-centric - Sharing as you receive from me
Sharing is other-centric when it benefits the target of sharing. The other is better off for having been shared to/with. It is likely that the I-sharer believes that sharing will benefit the other. It is only truly other-centric if the other is actually better off in the long run. Similar examples apply as with the I-centric except it's in the perspective of the other. Charities are probably the best example. I think this sharing is most akin to giving with a recipient in mind. Most teaching situations are a form of this sharing as in 'teaching to fish rather than just giving fish'.

Parents, and society in general, make it a point to teach children the value of sharing sometimes to the point of forcing it such as when siblings have to share a block of chocolate or children have to share play equipment at the park. These examples of forced sharing are I-centric because the individual learns about sharing - whether or not he/she values it is another matter. These are also other-centric because the target audience is aware of societal (family as core unit) expectations and values.

We-centric - Sharing as you and I together
Sharing is we-centric when it benefits both the I and the other and the target of sharing with the purpose of building a we. The premise is that everyone needs to be connected with others in a relationship made possible through sharing, i.e. sharing is a pre-requisite for connection. It is suggestive of commonality, something shared in common such as a common heritage or passion. In this sense, we-centric sharing encompasses as well as transcends I-centric and other-centric sharing. Sharing is possible just by being or existing with each other, and without the act of give-and-take. Sharing binds us with others. The more that is shared, the stronger the connection.

Maybe I'll go into connection next time; I'd like to explore how the 'I' or the 'other' retains or even enhances their individuality in a sea of commonality or within a web of connections.

For now, I'll stop here and invite anyone who reads this post to have a look at this project on sharing and maybe even choose to participate - It is a project with sharing as a process and product. I believe it aims for we-centric sharing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Apropos Croquembouche

I was assigned to bring dessert for a dinner party last Saturday night. The hubby pooh-poohed my suggestion of an Orange-Poppyseed cake topped with Orange Syrup. Too ordinary he said. Ha!

The challenge was on. I thought then Croquembouche! ...and I don't even watch MasterChef.

I've NEVER made this before although I have made profiteroles once years ago.

Add to this the insane idea of wanting to make sure I've done all the washing and cleaning as well as take the eldest to her dress rehearsal and back...before I could even get started with making anything. I did all these by 2.30pm at which point I started.

Julie had Julia Child but I had Delia Smith and Donna Hay. Delia guided me through making choux pastry (recipe also available online). I found that easy enough that I decided to upgrade the initial plan of whipped cream filling to a full-blown Creme Patisserie (Pastry Cream according to the MasterChef recipe). And since I was making that, I then decided to use the spare egg whites into a pavlova base - the children can have that for dessert since the croquembouche was for the adults.

As the oven cooled down from 220 to 150, I whipped up the pavlova base. With the pavlova baking, I set to work with the pastry cream (recipe from Donna Hay). That turned out just okay so I went back to consult Delia who suggested subtly that I can add liquor if I wanted. Sweet! In went some Butterscotch Schnapps. I accidentally poured in more than intended but it turned out yummy albeit a bit high in the alcohol-content.

I used Donna's recipe for the caramel - didn't need the glucose that MasterChef required. I filled the buns with the pastry cream, dunked into the very hot caramel and assembled my croquembouche. Afterwards, I swirled some toffee floss. I also made extra toffee swirls to decorate the kids' pavlova and used the most beautiful specimen to top the croquembouche (see right).

It was all over, including pavlova base and chopped fruit, in just under 3 hours. Did I say I washed up as I went along?

I know my work did not compare with the MasterChef's one. After all, I do not own a croquembouche cone. But, I think I had a fighting chance when compared to Delia's one (see below)....well, maybe.

I rose to the challenge and glad I did because it was appreciated and made a fitting end to a truly scrumptious dinner shared with a bunch of good friends. The kids enjoyed the pavlova as well. The outside was crisp but the inside was luscious marshmallow-soft. Perfect!