Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Muffins and Musings

Today was a good morning. You know why? Because for the first time in a week, I got more than 4 hours of sleep at night. It came at the expense of skiving physics, but it was worth it. I woke up more energetic and refreshed than I had been for days.

My parents don't really understand the pains of being a student. In their mind, college in America is all fun and games. They don't know that my schedule consists of waking up at 6am, driving to Northridge by 6:45am, going to lab from 8am - 10:30pm, sitting in physics lecture from 11am - 12:15pm, driving back to Los Angeles amidst traffic, going to work from 3:30pm - midnight, all while studying for physics, doing dental research, and working on dental school secondaries in my spare time.

I don't bother to tell them either. My mom will simply go off on tangents about how hard it was to go to college in America as a foreigner; how hard she had to work to pay off her college tuition. "You have it easy," she'll tell me, "you don't even have to pay for your college tuition."

Which is true, I suppose.

I'm very fortunate compared to some people in this world. Less fortunate compared to others. As The Count of Monte Cristo (from one of my favorite novels) would say, "there is neither happiness nor misery in the world. There is only the comparison of one state to another".

Sometimes, I wonder if I'd be happier at another university. Would I be happier if I could stop comparing myself to the filthy rich kids at my school? My alma mater is known for its exorbitantly rich kids whose dads are seemingly all executives at major Fortune 500 companies and raking in bank. They get courtside tickets to the NBA Finals game, unlimited access credit cards, the opportunity to blow $100 on dinner, luxury apartments in downtown LA where rent far exceeds $1000 per month, and a Mercedes Benz or BMW as a birthright. And they all believe that they will land an amazing corporate job that will give then $35 million by the time they are 35, at which point they plan to retire.

And then there's me, working 30 hours a week to pay for my dental school applications. I have never watched a Lakers game live, I have to fund my own discretionary spending money, I share an apartment with 9 girls to offset the cost, and I only recently received my family's old hand-me-down car.

And I want to become a dentist instead of an investment banker. I'm going into a profession that requires another 4 years of higher education (minimum). I won't have any income until I'm 28 (minimum), at which point I'll probably be $500,000 in debt. I'll spend the next 20 years paying off my dental school loans and retire at the ripe old age of 70? This is the life I'm choosing.

Nobody in their right mind goes into the healthcare field solely for money. Why bother? You can graduate with a business degree in four years and work in investment banking, where you can potentially make millions.

Being a healthcare professional is about job satisfaction - knowing that you are actively helping people and making a difference in their lives.

Over the weekend, I went on a camping trip with high school friends. It was a refreshing reminder that there are people who think like me; that there are people who aren't born with a golden spoon in their mouth. Normal people.

"It's the luck of the draw," the rich kids always tell me, "some people are born into rich families and some people are not. There's nothing you can do about it. Life's not fair."

Which is easy for them to say, sitting on their big fat pedestal.

For us normal kids, we don't have a trust fund waiting for us. We don't have the luxury of taking over our parent's business.  Instead, we are faced with a 'do or die' situation and what we do possess is a greater drive to succeed in life.

Perhaps the grass is not really greener on the other side. You just have to water your own grass. Likewise, these muffins don't taste as good as they look. Appearances can be deceiving.

Maybe its because this is the first baking recipe I've used that does not involve butter? Maybe I have a general distaste for muffins? Anyhow, these dark chocolate peanut butter muffins are really dry even though I lowered the oven temperature from 400 to 350. Any suggestions? This recipe is a no-go so make it at your own peril.

Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Muffin
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Makes: 12 muffins

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Start by whisking flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt together in a mixing bowl until combined.
  3. Combine milk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the bittersweet chocolate chips to the mixture. Mix until combined.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add milk and sugar to the peanut butter and beat until smooth.
  6. Line the muffin pan with tins and fill 3/4 full with batter.
  7. Drop a spoonful of the peanut butter mixture onto the top of each muffin.
  8. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes (would not suggest baking over 15 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Transfer to a cooling rack and serve.

Song of the Day
How Great Thou Art - Carrie Underwood

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