Monday, January 23, 2012

Ramblings from a rookie.

I think it's time that I write something about my newest adventure. It may not take me out the country, or even to the other side of the city...but for now I think I'm okay traveling less than a mile to the high school up the street. About two weeks ago I was offered an amazing opportunity, one I thought I had been passed by for months ago, to coach the girls' track and field team at South Miami Senior High School. As a second semester senior at UM the opportunity for a 'real job' took me by immediate surprise. The pay is slightly higher than my current part-time job and the hours are less flexible, but a little less demanding. And of course the job itself comes with many perks and a few greater difficulties.

1. There is no track at South Miami Senior High. Problem? Not really, actually. Luckily for us there is a gigantic football/soccer field that happens to be pretty oval in shape, which makes for a lovely (yet short) impromptu track. Oh, and Tropical Park is only about a mile or two away. Which makes those practices a 2 for 1 deal.

2. There is no budget for uniforms. A few years ago the team fell into some bad luck and had most of their uniforms stolen. So that means what we do have is outdated and won't cover the entire team. Luckily for me though is I spent most of my high school career trying to fundraise for marching band, JV cheerleading, Varsity cheerleading, and even sometimes for track. So I will be using a few of those tricks I have hidden up my sleeves.

3. Age difference. I was mortified to think that some of my new athletes would be barely three years younger than I am. But again, luckily for me, most of my athletes are freshmen or sophomores and the few that are seniors-- have hardly figured out just how close in age we are.

4. Experience. I've never coached a track team before. Sure I know how to put together a running program for myself or another person, but I've never truly run a track program from start to finish while trying to accommodate at least ten people. But here's where my somewhat-annoying habit of keeping everything falls into place. Not only did I write down the majority of my running workouts from high school track, but I also wrote down the majority of my lifting, running, and jumping workouts from UM. Can you say, cha-ching? 'Cause I just did. So far the pre-season workouts have been a breeze. The real task will come when I get all the basketball girls around February. But by then I should have found my stride.

So now my desk has three piles of scattered yet organized stuff. Schoolwork, baking, and track magazines. And I guess you can count the looming stack of bills as a separate, not-so-exciting, pile. Twenty-one years old and getting a taste of Part I of three dream jobs. And did I mention the pay was pretty sweet? Too bad I don't get it until the end of the season...I guess that just makes it an extra sweet graduation gift.

Enough about me and how excited I am to mold this young bunch of athletes. I want to talk about my kids now. Sorry, my young ladies and gentlemen as Coach Reinisch used to call us. I've taken a lot of his advice over the years and am trying to model his coaching style when it comes to handling the athletes...though I would hope I have a better time communicating with the ladies about their lady-questions. No offense if you're reading this, Coach!

Every team is made up of the following types of athletes: the good ones, the newbies, the attitudes, and the question marks. The good ones pay attention, try their hardest and never say never. The newbies are just as excited to be out here, but have little to no experience in what we're doing. Sometimes they can be even better than the good ones with a little time and a little more patience. The attitudes are the ones that could be great, but refuse to accept it. There are constant scowls, the 'I don't wanna do this' face, and an overall look of disgust when the coach speaks. The question marks are the ones that come in with no experience, very little obvious interest in track, yet they are the ones who probably try the hardest at every single task placed in front of them.

I will be upfront and say that I will not be using names, unless it comes to their successes at track meets. I will not allude details to any individual athlete of mine, and I will not degrade their hard work. I will however, attempt to use their successes and failures to contemplate my coaching styles, approach to practice, and overall personal attitude.

So far the practices have consisted of a lot of learning. For both them and myself. New warm-up, new drills, new way of running. New lifts, new stretches, new core work. Some of the kids have never heard of the things I throw at them, but they do it anyway. And some of the things they tell me about past practices I have never heard of. So we meet somewhere in the middle, with my say getting just a little bit more pull than theirs.

The season officially starts on Tuesday, with a thirty-minute study hall period before practice commences. I've been trying to come up with a few goals for the season, aside from making it through the entire season and not having the entire team quit on me...Maybe by Tuesday I'll have something a little more optimistic.

For now, as long as I reach them in some positive way and maybe get them a few PRs, I'll be happy.

From my running shoes to yours,
Coach Phipps

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gotta start somewhere.

This New Year I have decided that I will not only say that I want to bake 100 new recipes, I will actually do it! And today was the first hack at that goal. Evan, who is so bravely studying for the bar this winter and spring, has requested one treat per week to keep him sane. That means that if I am to keep up with my necessary recipes throughout the year, I will get to keep on average .92 recipes per week all to myself! Hooray.

Anyhow, I decided that I would attempt to make my CakeWars dream come true today...literally, I had a dream that I was called into CakeWars (completely unprepared by the way!) and had to come up with cupcakes on the spot. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with CakeWars, this type of behavior is usually frowned upon! Therefore, I whipped up a few ideas and when I woke up the next day I quickly jotted the ideas down. One of which happened to be an Orange Creamsicle Cupcake...I mean, who doesn't love Creamsicles??

And for those of you who are not familiar with Creamsicles, kindly remove yourselves from under the rock and take a look at this magnificent blend of flavors:

Yes, that does in fact look delicious. And I happen to love Creamsicles. And I also happen to love cupcakes! So, why not put the two together...

I started with a basic white cake, so that I didn't have random yellow colors or whatever other cake you can think of. Creamsicles consist of three things: orange, cream, and deliciousness. Therefore, any added confusion to the blend would have just ruined the entire experience. The recipe was borrowed from a wonderful blogger that I adore, you should all check out her website!

After the cupcake batter was poured into its sassy little lingerie and popped into the oven for toasting, I started onto the orange cream filling. YES, I said filling.

You see, my Grandma Phipps got me this handy-dandy little cake corer for Christmas this year. So now I am able to core cupcakes, taste the center (wait, what?) and then add filling. I'm sure this tool was invented for a housewife who had a curious husband that continually took pieces of the cake before it was ready to be served...only creating more work for the housewife in order to fill in the missing pieces. Well now, I can core the cake, fill it, and then frost over the top without anyone knowing that I really just wanted to taste the cake!

Back to the filling. Orange cream. I was thinking basic buttercream, mostly because the cake batter did not have nearly enough butter, but moreso because I knew I could make it tart like the Orange part of the Creamsicle.

Butter, sugar, vanilla, and orange peel all go into the bowl. With a few drops of yellow and red food dye to really make the Orange stand out. And then of course, as I add the orange juice I simply must taste-test it to ensure ample tartness. Perfect. Tart and delicious. Moving on.

I decided against another buttercream because while I personally love loads of homemade buttercream icing, I know not everybody does. So a lighter, yet decadent frosting was just what I needed. What is light and decadent?

Great answer! Meringue. So that's what I decided on, having no idea how to turn raw eggs into an edible frosting on top of a cake that was already cooked with a non-cookable icing filling in the middle. Google it was! And google taught me that making a hot simple syrup would be just the ticket to making a delicious meringue that did not need cooking. I was sold.

1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar into a pan on medium heat...stir until dissolved and leave on stove until bubbly. Easy enough right?

Blend two egg whites with 1 tsp. vanilla until soft-peaks form. Easy as pie! Then, gradually add in syrup mixture until blended. Then, beat mixture until stiff peaks form. Awesome! I've made lemon meringue pie before, I have patience and can wait for the eggs to stiffen a bit.

What I didn't realize was that because I only have one beater on my hand-mixer, not a whole lot of whipping so much as stirring was going on. The eggs took FOREVER to stiffen and after about twenty minutes of my hands and ears vibrating from the hand-mixer being on full-speed, I decide that moderate peaks were more than enough for me. Plus, the sheen on this frosting was just orgasmic. I mean it looked just like melted marshmallows. Shiny and delicious.

Did I mention that the third component of Creamsicles is deliciousness? In case you didn't know, Oranges, cream, and deliciousness are all musts.

After all that was finished, I got to core my little cakes, fill them up with orange buttercream and then top them all off with a bit of meringue frosting and orange peel. Beautiful so far and each component tastes great by itself-- just waiting for the meringue to stiffen a bit in the fridge before I dive into one (just to make sure I won't be poisoning Evan of course.)

I'll be taking this year One Bite At A Time.
From my house to yours I hope you have a beautiful day!

PS: It took Tache entirely too long to eat this piece of cored-cake for him to TRULY be my son. But I accept him for his faults and will train him to eat table scraps better.

White Cupcakes
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Cream 1/2 cup butter with 1 cup white sugar until smooth
-Add 2 eggs and 1 tbs. vanilla to the mixture.
-In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour with 1 tsp. baking powder.
-Mix 1/2 of the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture until blended.
-Mix in 1/3 cup of milk.
-Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until just blended.
-Pour batter into cupcake liners 2/3 of the way
-Bake about 20 minutes, the tops should be slightly golden and the center should not jiggle.

Orange Buttercream
-Cream 1/4 cup butter.
-Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined.
-Mix in some orange peel and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
-Add 1 more cup powdered sugar and about 1/3 cup orange juice.
-Continue to add orange juice until desired taste and consistency is reached.
-Add red and yellow food coloring if desired.

Meringue Frosting
-Mix 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup water, and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar in a saucepan.
-Stir over medium heat until the mixture is dissolved and becomes bubbly.
-Whip 2 egg whites with 1 tsp. vanilla until soft peaks form (just past when you see bubbles)
-Gradually add the sugar syrup into the eggs until all has been added.
-Continue to beat the mixture until stiff peaks form (should look like little mountains when you try to spoon it)
*Be patient, it can take up to 10 minutes!

Core the cake, dollop the icing in, and frost over. Decorate as desired and enjoy!