BAKING BETTER – Less Heisenberg, More Battenberg

The Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry is a big fan of Breaking Bad, which stars Bryan Cranston as Walter White

Source: The Telegraph 26 Sep 2013 Photo: Rex Features

It started with a cake…

Well not really.  It started with a hospital appointment on 12th January 2015, when I took the afternoon off from my job as a primary school teacher to be told suddenly, and unexpectedly, that I very probably had cervical cancer.  But I’ll come back to that another time.

First and foremost, I would like to introduce you to my blog: why the title, why the name, and most of all, why the blog at all.

Why ‘Baking Better’?

Source:  Image: jaylikesdominos

Source: Image: jaylikesdominos

Good question.  After attempting to do some baking as an alternative to endless Downton Abbey whilst recovering from surgery, I was suddenly struck by the similarities between my own story and Walter White from Breaking Bad.

Ways we are similar:

  • teachers
  • cancer
  • cooking

Ways we are different:

  • high school science vs. primary
  • Stage 3A inoperable lung cancer vs. stage 1B operable cervical cancer
  • crystal meth vs. cakes/bread/smoothies

Uncanny, right?! So after considering options such as ‘Breaking Bread’ and ‘Baking Bad’, I thought that whilst being a more tenuous pun, ‘Baking Better’ was more to the point.  Where ‘Breaking Bad’ follows Walter’s cancer-driven downward spiral from science teacher to murderous, meth-cooking criminal; ‘Baking Better’ will document my recovery and journey to a ‘new normal’.  Hence ‘better’ seemed more appropriate – getting better health-wise, and maybe even better at baking as a happy side effect.

Why ‘Caroline Crimson’?



No, it’s not my real name – so how did I decide on it?  Not, as it happens, because it sounds like some sort of Cluedo character (“it was Miss Crimson in the library with the candlestick!”), or even perhaps a burlesque dancer (or worse).

I thought that given my spookily close connections to Walter White, perhaps I too could have some sort of alliterative, colour-related pseudonym.  The initials created also had significance for me (CC = Cervical Cancer).

So it only remained to Google ‘colours beginning with c’ and pick one: cyan, cerise, cornflower, chartreuse, cream, charcoal…  Crimson just seemed to have the nicest ring to it.

Why write a blog at all?

Hmmm… how to answer honestly without being really boring and/or cheesy.  I will go into the background in more detail in another post, but as I have mentioned, I turned to baking fairly early in my recovery in an attempt to feel useful/productive in a very contained way.  Also, amassing a hoard of baked goods would encourage (force) me into asking friends and family to come over regularly and eat them – a very positive driver at a time when seeing other people sometimes seemed too much to face.

Here is what I intend ‘Baking Better’ to do:

  1. It will be a place to share my successes and failures (cooking lessons learnt – as a teacher I know how important it is to be very reflective at all times);
  2. I intend to focus on recipes that include cancer-fighting ingredients;
  3. As and when I can, I will write my own story: about what is happening to me; what has happened up to now; and the future as it unfolds.

And here is what I hope writing a blog will achieve:

  1. At the very least, documenting my cooking will give it more purpose (and me something else to focus on other than sitting and brooding);
  2. On a selfish level, sharing my story may help me come to terms with it myself;
  3. Reading my story might possibly make other people go for their smear test on time;
  4. Reading my story might help other people going through the same thing (as reading others’ stories has been helping me).

Well…. only time will tell!

Caroline Crimson x

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