“Give way to your worst impulse.”
“This is going to be an interesting day,” she muses, followed by, “what IS my worst impulse, anyway?” She’s acted on a few impulses lately, primarily bad ones, in retrospect. She’s uneasy imagining where her absolute worst could push her.
Created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in 1975, Oblique Strategies is a technique for cultivating seeds of innovative creativity. Originally in the form of printed cards, each strategy, like “Give way to your worst impulse,” offers a challenging constraint intended to help artists (particularly musicians) penetrate creative blocks. The cards contain a suggestion, aphorism, or remark which can be used to break dilemmas in creativity. Some are specific to music composition; others are more general, but all can be used to break through any creative dilemma. The cards are now available on an app which she recently downloaded. Strategies include:
- Disciplined self-indulgence
- Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame
- Go slowly all the way round the outside
- What are you really thinking about just now? Incorporate
Forever struggling with her elusive impetus to write, she is on a continuous lookout for tools to ease her tortured (or non-existent) process. Downloading the strategies onto her phone, she concluded, in addition to helping her write, would make a great tool for breaking through her quotidian life blocks as well. And so begins her dilemma on surviving a day when her directive is to give way to her worst impulse.
She would have preferred, “Imagine the art as a set of disconnected events.” Disconnected – yes – like this introduction and the recipe below. That’s something she’s extremely familiar with.
Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches
Classic chewy oatmeal cookies bookend rounds of vanilla ice cream rolled in mini-chips.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 ½ quarts ice cream in a square tub, such as Breyers
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375⁰ F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or Silpat liners. Whisk together flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.
- Brown butter by melting in a small skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and scraping bottom of pan until milk solids are dark golden and butter has a nutty aroma. Stir in cinnamon.
- In a large bowl, combine cinnamon butter, sugars, and oil and whisk to combine. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla and whisk until mixture is smooth. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until combined. Add oats and stir until evenly distributed.
- Divide dough into 18 portions (I use a small ice cream scoop). Arrange dough balls 2” apart on prepared sheets. Using damp hands, press each ball into a 2 ½-inch disk.
- Bake 8-10 minutes until cookie edges are set and centers are still soft, but not wet. Let cookies set on sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Cut cardboard from ice cream and slice into 1” thick slices. Using a 3 ½-inch cookie cutter, cut 2 rounds from each slice, 9 slices total. Sandwich ice cream between two cookies, and roll in mini chocolate chips. Freeze until ready to serve.
*Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Classic Chewy Oatmeal Cookies