Butterfly Cake

My love of cooking flirts along the borderline between hobby and obsession.

I first learned how to cook at the elbow of my two grandmothers. Although the two have completely different cooking styles, they have had a huge influence on my own personal tastes.

Living in rural Texas, my Grandma Linda was the queen of all things Southern and smothered in butter - sort of like an everyman Paula Deen. At the completely opposite end of the spectrum is my Grandma Harter. A native of the Philippines, it was from her that I learned the magic of garlic, rice and fresh seafood. I also learned not to ask what was in a dish before I tried it.

Strangely enough however, I have found that what I enjoy doing the most is something neither of my grandmothers did - cake decorating.

When I started college, I became the designated "cook" among my group of friends, and therefore it fell upon me to make birthday cakes. Over time, the cakes grew more and more elaborate as I taught myself to use fondant, gum paste and other materials that allow for greater creativity in cake-making.

However, I am by no means a "professional," and every cake is a learning process. Since I am self-taught, I'm constantly encountering various road-blocks and disasters that I have to overcome.

However, when I'm finally done, I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment that I can't get anywhere else. Also, since I give each cake as a gift to my friends, their joy is what I love the most about the whole experience, and what makes everything worthwhile.