Experimentation: chocolate cakes and communicators

I made a really great chocolate Guinness cake last night, and I was trying to figure out how to weave it in with the rambly theme of my blog. After all, this isn’t a food blog, as much as I love food.

I had tweeted that I was going to make this cake in celebration of our finally naming “the book,” and I was amazed how many people wanted the recipe. I kept sending the recipe url to people who tweeted in reply.

It is interesting what captures our attention, what stimulates us to want to experiment.

Is it the chocolate? The Guinness? The cake? Cooking? Food? In any case, the interest prompted me to blog about the cake. Oh, and the cake is really good – though I’d suggest using a little less butter. I added some grated unsweetened coconut and I’d suggest adding some chopped, roasted pecans as well. I substituted mascarpone for the cream cheese in the icing (because that’s what I had on hand) which makes a subtler icing. I think I’d prefer the cream cheese!

What gets us moving beyond our customary habits and patterns?

Recently many people have complained they have not been able to hear me properly on VOiP or telephone calls. I swapped headsets, but with no discernible result. (My telephone is also VOiP.) When I talked on my phone with out headsets, sometimes it made things better, sometimes it didn’t. My son has some fancy-pants headsets he uses as a gamer, and I was going to try them, thinking perhaps the mic plug on my computer was the problem and that might help me figure it out. But I just procrastinated finding a definitive solution. There were too many other things on my to do list.

Then in the mail a box arrives with a Polycom Communicator 100s, courtesy of a conference call company I use. It is not something I would have bought myself (pricey) and it is like a speaker phone, so intuitively I would have thought headsets would be better. But because it was here, in front of me, I tried it. And wow, it worked pretty darn well with my initial test calls.

The cake? Someone blogged about it (and darn, I can’t remember where I saw it) and my curiosity was piqued. I love chocolate and my husband enjoys his Guinness. But if the idea had not shown up in front of my, in my business, I would have never sought it out.

In our busy lives, sometimes it takes a ping, a tweet, a box in the mail, to pull us out of our traditional trajectories and get us to try something new. And what a wonderful and productive, chocolately surprise that can be.

What brought your head up for a new view today?

13 thoughts on “Experimentation: chocolate cakes and communicators”

  1. Hi again Nancy!

    I am enjoying your site and blog very much. I had never encountered such a wonderful mixure of work and pleasure. I have to surf your site some more to find the work point, so far it has been sheer pleasure.

    Clicking on one of the many links you have I got to a Flickr place where someone, I am aweful with names, had placed a colourful map… just what I was looking for!
    I have been strugling with Cmap finding it colourless, plain and difficult to engage with, some more clicks revealed that there is a site called mindmap.com or something of the sort. Why I do not remember the exact name if it was a such inspirational picture? Ahhhh… I clicked something and I went to other place! Ha, ha, ha…

    Next year I will take a course to learn how to blog, I had never read so many blogs before CCK08 course, I am learning by loking but I need more practice. Why do I tell you this? Because I love the way you make your posts, I am sure you are also a genious baking cakes btw, your selecion of images and the generosity you show sending your readers to other sites.

    I hope to get to know you better. Love: Maru

  2. The chocolate guinness cake caught my imagination because I’ve developed a taste for guiness, as a refugee in these frozen wastes from sunnier climes, and chocolate, well, it’s chocolate! Need I say more? It seemed like ambrosia, heaven made manifest in food.

    As an outsider in new parts, I am very conscious of small acts of inclusion – offsetting the massive bureaucratic exclusion that circumscribes what I may and may not do here. And one such example was the way – en route, by bicycle, to shop for the ingredients for the chocolate guinness cake – every single person I passed greeted me: warmly, genuinely, smilingly. There is something to be said for small villages!

  3. Nancy,
    Your blog is one of my favorite distractions when I need to work. I tried to ration the times I check it, so as to not distract me too much… with the predictable result that I just spend more time reading up on all the stuff I missed. Today Guinness Cake makes me me hungry and community of practice post makes me think.

  4. Maru – thanks for your visit. One suggestion – don’t wait for a class to learn how to blog. Blogging is a bit like life — you do it and your practice unfolds before your eyes. Write from your heart and your mind and you will find the magic.

    Sarah – try the cake. Mmmm…. But now that Spring is arriving in your side of the world, you may wish to wait. This is a winter cake. Heavy and rich. A perfect finish to a dinner of split pea soup and salad (which we had last night) Which chimes right in with Vicki, your observation about chocolate and cold. Good antidote. For summer, try and Guinness float – cold beer, glass cooled in the freezer and a couple of small scoops of good vanilla ice cream. Wickedly sinful.

    And Eva — don’t resist the evil force. As Vicki says, it is all an act of inclusion!

  5. Well, we’re not talking today, but it was at a dinner get-together several years ago where I sat at a table across from a friend of mine who had just come back from what I believe was the first podcasting conference ever. I had heard of podcasts, but didn’t have time for them so they were still uncharted territory for me. The dinner conversation got me hooked on them. Through our casual dinner conversation, I learned how I could get value from these things called podcasts. That was a pleasant way to learn something new – having a friend explain it all in a relaxed conversation and not trying to figure it out on my own. I’m sure I would have seen the light at some point, but asking “so what have you been up to lately” made it happen much sooner. It also added more value to the learning experience. On my own, I would have plodded. Q&A with a friend probably turned the journey into a giant leap.

    Moral of the story: you never know what you’ll learn during a dinner conversation.

    Oh, and chocolate communicates. All the time. Every time. Yum!

  6. Nancy,
    You have whetted my appetite but I can’t seem to find a url to the actual recipe – that’s what I’d really love (and I samam checking out the tech you recommended).
    Bless (as Salvor would say).

  7. Hi Nancy
    Synchronicity does it for me every time – wakes me up when I start seeing a pattern. At the moment I’m surfing a few blogs and keep landing on posts about story – is it my increased attention to story that makes these stand out? Or is the universe trying to tell me something? Doesn’t matter really – what I think IS important is the noticing, and connecting the dots. Thanks for helping me do that.

    BTW, I think anything to do with chocolate will get MY attention and I also think cooking is a great antidote to being in the abstract world playing with concepts, ideas and ‘what ifs’. Cooking – and creating something as beautiful and yummy as your chocolate cake – is a different form of creation. One we can taste, and smell and feel (if we’re lucky to be in your kitchen!) – but not for long, cos soon it’ll be gone. The beauty is we can do it all again tomorrow.



  8. ‘In our busy lives, sometimes it takes a ping, a tweet, a box in the mail, to pull us out of our traditional trajectories and get us to try something new. And what a wonderful and productive, chocolately surprise that can be.’

    Love your metaphor. Blogging I think is just that chocolately surprise. People of like minded interests sharing ideas worldwide.

    Great post. I would agree – the less butter the better. Guiness can stay.

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