Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Importance of Imperial Units

"Be careful what you wish for", they said. But I wasn't careful so I actually got what I wished for: measuring cups with imperial units. One who does not bake so often probably can't understand why it is so unbelievably handy to have the correct measuring cups. There is Google, indeed, and it's really easy to convert units to other units. Cups to deciliters, no problem, just google it. But it's just pain in the ass really, there are usually several measurements to convert and you have to round them down or up in a weird way. It takes time and the actual baking is annoying because you have to stare at your one deciliter measuring cup and wonder how on earth do you measure 0,36588 deciliters with it. Have you ever tried it? You just can't do it very accurately. And did I already say that it is annoying. It makes you wonder why you chose such a recipe and what is wrong with Americans in the first place.

I assume that my boyfriend chose the measuring cup set based on the functionality (it's not exactly easy to find measuring cups with imperial units here in Finland as they are not the official units here) but they are actually really pretty and please my aesthetics. Somehow I wish all my measuring cups and bowls and other baking equipment were as pretty. I enjoy pretty things in the kitchen too and I am quite of a snob sometimes. Not snob enough to use my ugly old plastic bowls though but still snob enough to wish they were prettier.

Having these measuring cups as actual physical objects also helps me to understand their size better and how they relate to each other. It's easy for me to imagine how much is one or two deciliters since I'm very used to the size of their measuring cups. It's like knowing the size of a regular mug or a glass. You just know how big they generally are. But trying to imagine the exact size of 2,36588 mugs or glasses: considerably harder. So it is difficult for me to imagine the size of the dough when reading through a new recipe. I know how much one cup is in deciliters but multiplying that with one or two or three... I just get lost. Three cups doesn't sound much but it is actually quite a lot of flour, enough to bake one bread! I believe that being able to actually hold the measuring cups, being able to feel their size and to see their size, will definitely help me with this, especially when I get more and more used to them. I expect that eventually one cup becomes one cup for me, and not 2,36588 deciliters. It's a nice thing to think about.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Amoena baked White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

My favorite store-bought cookies are cranberry-white chocolate cookies. I'm not really a fan of cranberries... nor white chocolate, but somehow the combination works. Since I am not into baking and expanding my repertoire to cookies too, I decided to google for a recipe! I found several promising recipes, but I also found this old Google Plus post of mine:

This is a cranberry - white chocolate cookie. It looks home-baked but it's a lie. They're store-bought, a very cheap brand on top of everything. And they're wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. I wish I knew how to bake cookies like this, it would make me so proud. I would be baking them all the time and forcing people to eat them so they would have to admire my baking skills. That's how wonderful they are. Just telling you, they're wonderful.
Obviously there was a picture attached too but it is irrelevant. Anyway. Apparently I used to dream about being able to bake such cookies, back in 2011. I think it's the circle of life. You dream of something, never do anything about it, and then later realize you've achieved it anyway. Or maybe it is just my life that works that way.

I found several recipes that pretty much sounded as the same thing. They all had white chocolate and cranberries in them, who could have guessed. No, really, the recipes were quite alike, they just had different amounts of things. I eventually chose one recipe from Good to Know website. Not because it appeared to be somehow more excellent than the other, but because the recipe was in grams and other measurements I was able to comprehend without consulting Google first. I have a really nice kitchen scale but I don't have US measuring cups. Though considering how many US recipes I use, that would make a nice gift. You know, for me.

I prepared my main ingredients. I made the dough. I forgot 100 grams out of my 190 grams of flour. No biggies, I was able to fix that even though I had already stirred in my cranberries and white chocolate. I am sure it made no difference. The cranberries were nice and soft by the way, got them right next door from Lidl.


According to the recipe I should have been able to make balls out of dough, roll them even. My dough was definitely too moist for that. And that is how I originally realized that I have way, way too little flour. But adding more flour didn't fix the problem. I just had to spoon the dough to the baking sheet. Not exactly pretty, and definitely not what I expected. That is not a ball! That is not anything you could work by hands. Ugh?

But how did they turn out! How! And are they as good as the cookies that inspired me? Are they something I would force people to eat just so they could admire my "baking skills"? First of all, they turned our really ugly. They spread quite a bit in the oven and they stayed quite moist. The cookies I like are really dry and small. I need to try to fix that next time. I just don't know how. More flour? Less something? I'm quite a novice when it comes to cookies.

Taste wise they are quite OK. They could taste better, but on the other hand they do taste like cranberries and white chocolate. It's more like the consistency I didn't enjoy so much. But this was just the experiment #1, and there will be more experiments in the future. I had to bake bread like million times before I got it right, I expect the same process with these cookies too. They will become better, every time I make them and after every recipe I try. Practice... makes perfect? Or at least prettier cookies?

And so... this was my first post about baking. But I am not turning this into a baking blog. This blog will be what it has always been: a blog about me. And I am not a pastry!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The story of "us"

This is the story of us. And by "us" I mean the story of our commune. Who are we and how did we end up living in the same apartment?

There are four of us. I am one and I am Amoena, the writer of this thing I call as my blog. Then there is my boyfriend who originally (afaik) got the idea of a commune and made it a reality. I shall call my boyfriend as I.B. here since using initials has always been my way of referring other people in my blog. Then there is M.R who is actually an ex of my boyfriend, but don't get fooled. Our commune is not some kind of weird polyamory arrangement, it's just the way it is. Besides she's a lesbian now, and it makes it more OK. I sometimes find it kinda cool to say that I live together with my boyfriend's ex. Since it makes me sound like all tolerant and shit, even though I have never ever really thought of her as his girlfriend. And the last person is T.R, my boyfriends best friend. There is nothing particular to say about him, except that he maybe was a monkey in his past life. He's not hairy, no, but he seems to like hanging upside down like one.

You can probably get the logic now. We're all connected by one person, and that one person is my boyfriend. And I was the last addition to the group. I've never seen us as a group though but if I did I would feel blessed to be accepted in it. I'm hardly ever accepted to anything and nobody has ever adopted me in that manner either. But I'm as close to being accepted and adopted than I ever will be, I guess.

When I first heard of the idea of living in a commune I was like yes, let's do it. But I had this doubt in my mind that it would be one of those things that we just keep talking about. Like one of those dreams or goals, like going out on a trip or making something big happen. Like quitting a job and starting an own business. That kind of thing.

It was not just that alone that made me doubt. It's actually quite hard to find an apartment that fits four adults. Most bigger apartments are meant for families with kids, and they have one master bedroom and them considerably smaller rooms for the kids. Big rooms are hard to find. Another obstacle was to find apartment that suited our life: none of us wanted to make our commute longer and we all worked in a very different directions.

So I kinda assumed that we would just keep talking about it and keep looking for the apartments and never really fining anything suitable. But actually we find the right apartment quite fast in the end. If I remember even half correctly it only took couple months of active searching. Though it took some time to get in that active searching phase... Anyway.

Our apartment is not perfect and I think most of us had to make compromises. The room I share with I.B. is actually quite small for two persons, though the size it makes quite cozy and nice. It's like our little nest. M.R. has not one but two rooms for herself, but they are small so one is her bedroom and one is her study. She seems to be content with the solution even though I was originally afraid that she would just compromise to make us happy. T.R. probably had to make a compromise with the location of his room because his room is probably the noisiest because it's just next to our nest and the bathroom and the kitchen and all. It's like a black hole that sucks all the noise.

But even though our apartment is not perfect it is still our home. And it will get better as we get more used to it, when we live longer in it.

Friday, June 10, 2016

And so that is life

A lot has happened in my life. I got married. I bought a house with my husband. I got divorced and sold my share of the house to my husband. We divided the dogs, I now only have one. But you know what? All that is life and life goes on after that. Just bring it on, bring it on.

I found a new love. It didn't come without obstacles but it was worth it. It somehow became everything I ever wanted. It's not like there was something wrong with my marriage, though there definitely was since it's over now, but there is something else now. I can't explain it but I  can feel it and it feels just great. I gave up a lot of things but I ended up gaining new, unexpected things. It's like my life was strongly heading to one direction, to this ordinary life, but then I just turned around and it become something else.

I think I could be considered as someone who leads an alternative lifestyle. But to me it is called life and it is something I  call as normal. I now life together with my boyfriend like any other girl who ended up falling in love with someone. But we share our home with two other persons.

We like to call our living arrangement as a commune but in reality we're more like regular roommates. We just happen to be work-going adults instead of poor students. Me and my boyfriend share a room and the others have their own rooms. We don't cook together or anything very commune-like. We have our own individual lives. But I like it that way. I'm not really social anyway and I am more than happy to spend time alone with my boyfriend. Like any other girl who has ended falling in love with someone.

But this new life has changed my interests. Not tremendously though since I still run. Running never goes away. I've already signed for 10K race and for my first half marathon. But I picked up baking. Baking is great and I'm getting a hang of it. I think I'm becoming more motherly, always baking things for my boys to enjoy. I've baked cakes, pies, cookies and everything and I am constantly trying to find new cool things to bake and new ways to improve my recipes.

And I've been meaning to pick up blogging again. I even borrowed a laptop to do it, but this is the first time I actually got around to do it. It's been on my calendar for months. It's so hard to start something again that you have neglected for such a long time. But I should try as writing/blogging is one of the things that do make me happy. Words make me happy.

I know that my blog has no readers but I don't mind. I always, always blog for myself. And even when I don't blog... I still do. All this time when I have not been updating this blog, I have still writing my own secret, childish diaries, notes and lyrics and all that. Writing is like running, it never really goes away. Never. I just need to continue from where I left.

In the future there are some topics I'd like to write more about. One is about my life in the commune. I don't want to get into details as others really don't have a say in the things I write and I tend to respect privacy. But about the general idea of being an adult and living with roommates. I think it should be advertised more as it is actually a really, really nice and economical way to live.

And second is baking, my newest and currently my dearest hobby. I would like to share my triumphs and no-triumphs with pictures and maybe even recipes if I ever get so far to have my own. My blog as always been about me and about the things I enjoy and that is currently what I enjoy. I want here to be bread porn and noms. Maybe more noms than bread porn but anyway.

And thirdly... just everything. Everything there is between waking up and going to bed every night. I don't put myself into a box. This blog has been about so many things already that I can add in anything. Maybe I start to write in Swedish when I write it fluently. Maybe I start doing something else.

I hope that I can keep this up, Blogging I mean. Not like every day obsessed kinda way but in a way that makes me happy about it. This scares me a lot, you know, Starting again. Took me months to find the courage as I thought this blog would be dead already. But like everything, this too has come with obstacles and it's time to get over them. Time to pull the head out the sand, to suck it up, to do it.

And so that is life. As it is right now. And it's good. It's still good.