Last post, I talked about photography…I now present to you: BAKING, a skill that transcends most situations*.
As most of you know, I did this internship in a rather isolated area of Costa Rica. As much as I learned much, enjoyed lots, and experienced many firsts, living in a simplistic lifestyle (in comparison to our daily hyper-materialistic lives) can be challenging. With that being said, the simple joys of life are accentuated…one being the basic need to eat.
Eating was the one designated time (besides mandatory meetings) in which we were all present to catch up on our latest nap, plans to veg out on a kayak on the canal or go off on an adventure. With the daily 6-hr patrol shifts and an average of ~10 miles of walking per night, food is a motivator.
I can still remember my interview and my long winded answer on applying my digital/social media skills to the program…when I could have just said the simple sentence of: I love to bake/cook/make food. Upon our arrival at the station, Charlotte’s comment: “we bake daily: bread for the day and cookies for the night patrol,” still rings clearly in my mind. Who needs to intern at a bakery when you can monitor turtles and have the opportunity to make all the food?
When I experience my first night patrol…I quickly understood the importance of enjoying the sacred 15 min break to the fullest…with a cookie in hand. Who needs a powerbar when you have a snickerdoodle to eat? A real banana…who needs that when you can eat a banana cookie! During my stay at Caño Palma, we went from 1 cookie per person per night patrol…to an average of 4 cookies per person per night patrol. Besides that, the race was on to be innovative with cookie recipes from snickerdoodles to jam drop cookies. Whoever was on cookie duty was the one to suck up to for extra cookies or to be their taste-tester.
Another important day to look forward to was Sundays and not for the meetings…it was our daily brunch, home-made by a group of volunteers. I quickly jumped on that bandwagon and experienced the liberation of re-creating meals I would never have thought to make with the basic supplies we had on hand. We made all-from-scratch meals from breakfast burritos to quiche to a traditional texan breakfast. This opportunity solidified my confidence in the kitchen to be flexible (we baked out of a toaster over for the most part) and to survive without a recipe (internet signals cannot be comparable…).
There was also a visible change in kitchen leadership during my 3-month stay, I was able to witness other volunteers/interns’ grasp their ability to bake/cook. Sharing that moment of successfully creating something is magical…and even more magical when someone else can enjoy it with you.
As much as this seems like a love letter to food, it’s an ode to transferable skills. What are transferable skills? These are skills without “boundaries” you’ve acquired that you can apply across jobs. In this situation, baking really was the gold star of transferable skills (besides people-skills…you are living in an intimate bubble with 15-20 other people) that could bring some happiness on a normal rainy & humid day. You’ll be surprised how valuable these transferable skills are that can make you outshine other job applicants (such as being bilingual – French FTW!).
At the end of my internship, I had the honour to compile a recipe book…a dream I’ve always had but never thought would ever become reality. (Even as I type this, it hasn’t quite hit me that I’ve “written” a recipe book.) I can’t wait for my next interview to proudly say: “I love making food (now hire me).”
6 cups of flour (+ extra for kneading & etc…)
3 tbsp of sugar
2 tbsp of salt
2 cups of milk
1 cup of water
1 stick of melted butter (+ a little bit more for browning)
3 tbsp of active instant yeast
Put all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour the all wet ingredients and incorporate will with hands.
If dough is too sticky or wet, add more flour or water accordingly until dough comes off the sides of the bowl easily into a round shape.
Place some flour on a flat surface, knead dough for 10 min. Put on your favourite playlist.
Place dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a cloth and let sit for an 1 hr (it should have doubled in size).
Lightly knead the dough and punch it down a few times, let rise for another hour.
Preheat oven at 400C. Separate the dough into three equal parts. Shape dough however way you’d like. Once shaped, brush melted butter on top and let it sit for 15 min before putting it into the oven. Bake for ~45min. (Thank that beloved bakery smell overpowering your home.)
Enjoy a bit of the Caño Palma life!