The day before Christmas. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and it’s when everything starts. I love the days before Christmas, there is just so much anticipation in the air, you know it’s coming and you have something to look forward to. This evening is probably the best, especially if everything is done and you can just sit down and relax and think about the wonders to come. This year I have lowered any standards ever thought of, we have advent decorations but that’s it. Me Made has started to move forward so it wouldn’t work out with a tree anyway and I think I’m fine with it. I’ll spend evenings with other people who has trees instead.
There are three things I have made sure to do though. I have baked gingerbread with my mum and saffron truffles, a tradition of mine. And I’m watching my favorite Christmas movie – The Miracle on 34th Street – the one from the 90’s. I love that movie, it’s just so lovely and Mara Wilson is adorable in every way. It’s a bit sad though but, as a Christmas movie should, it ends well. I don’t like watching Christmas movies after Christmas, I want the anticipation before, since most Christmas movies is set before Christmas and rarely after. That’s why tonight is my last chance.
Tomorrow it all begins and I look forward to it. It will be different form any other Christmas I’ve celebrated but it will be nice.
At the beginning of summer I read a lot of books. I still read books but not at the same speed. One of the books I read was this, a feel-good novel, and its three sequels. This book was set as the first in the series, but written third, which was quite good to know when you read them. They are really feel-good, perfect for what I needed back in May (and perhaps after that as well). It’s love and friendship and completely unrealistic events, but who cares? The main character starts wandering the country to find herself and along the way she finds love, she finds sorrow and happiness and new friends and lots and lots of antiques. The following books are the same except she doesn’t wander the roads anymore. It’s like a teenage series about a whimsical girl but for grown-ups. I liked it a lot despite the more fantastic parts.
In the latter books they eat a lot of buns, namely Rimbobullar. They ate them so frequently that I started craving them. But, while I could read quite a lot in May it was simply impossible to bake and that meant no buns for me. Then, as it happened, my wonderful mother got the idea of making, yes, of all things the decided to make Rimbobullar. I hadn’t talked about them or anything, we just both had the same thought at the same time. We had them for Midsummer and they are simply amazing. I’ve had them before but I had forgotten about it and this was a delicious reminder. I completely understand why they keep eating them in the books.
When I re-read the books, which I will do eventually, I will make sure to have Rimbobullar close by. It’s required.
I’m continuing my baking theme from yesterday. Today I made chocolate chip cookies for the first time in forever. Well, actually, no, I did some in August as well but they didn’t turn out nice at all. These did so I got my revenge.
I love to bake. A few years ago I baked often and a lot, I did complicated recipes and I worked on them till I got it right. I decorated and I made home made cookies for book club meetings and so on. Then a couple of years ago I realized there was something funky with my oven. Cookies and cakes were still sticky, cocholate fondant took more than just a few minutes to be done and so on. It turned out that the oven just wouldn’t heat up, at least not hot enough. I stopped baking, at least till I got a new oven. But then life happened and a new oven was never prioritized.
This summer I got my mojo back. I wanted desperately to bake and I decided to borrow my mother’s oven. I did and we baked and it was great. I’m not as good as I once was but I hope that I one day will be able to bake that often again that I get back to where I was. I’ve lost three years, it’s time to get them back. I won’t be the mother who cooks but I am the mother who knits and I’ll make sure I’ll be the mother who bakes too.
Ever since we moved in to our condo there has been something terribly messed up with my baking. I used to bake a lot, complicated things that were delicious. I love baking (even though I often find myself doing it late at night when I’m really way too tired). But in this new kitchen there has been something that doesn’t sit right with me. I thought it was that it is so small. All my former kitchens (except the joke of a kitchen I had while living in France, one would think a sink in the kitchen might be a good idea, right?) have been big enough to accept at least one other person in there with you while you do your magic. This one is not. It’s a kitchen where the rule walk-in-and-back-out has been applied since there is no room to turn. I thought that was what bothered me and I tried not to care since there is
It took me longer than I care to admit to realize this wasn’t the problem, or at least not the entire problem. The biggest problem has been that the oven doesn’t understand the concept of temperature. It being an oven one can see that might be a problem. When I turn it on at a certain temperature, the oven does not reach that temperature which means all my cookies and cake are saggy and soft. That is often something you do want in a cake or a cookie but it’s nice when the baked goods hold together long enough for you to lift it from the plate and put it in your mouth. My oven is now perfect for drying apples and baking meringues but don’t you want more out of an oven than that? I know there are things that could be done, I could put a meet thermometor in there to make sure I got the right temperature and there are other things to do as well but the whole debacle just took the fun out of baking and so I stopped. After all, there are many nice coffee shops in my town, all with delicious cookies and cakes.
After a while though, I started getting cravings and when I found myself walking around hissing “cookies” at regular intervals an dreaming of chewy chocolate chip cookies melting in my mouth, I knew something had to be done. I couldn’t get a new oven but I had to have cookies, soon. Cookies! Luckily I have the best of friends and Agnieszka invited me over for a little baking party. During the Days leading up to it, it was all I could think of (cookies!). We were going to bake cookies and I was going to eat all of them because I needed them, I deserved them, I wanted them.
In the end I didn’t eat all the cookies. I managed three, then I was full. Agnieszka, lovely person as she is, gave me eight (!) cookies (cookies!) to bring back home with me and now, whenever I’m not in my house, I start loning for those cookies. Cookies! I really have it bad and although the cookie party was a success I think it only enhanced my cravings in the long run. I got a taste of deliciousness and now it’s so utterly obvious I can’t make it come back myself at any time I want.
We have started looking into buying a new oven. It’s the only reasonable thing to do at this point. Cookies!
I don’t know about you but I am sometimes a bit shy to use a new language before I feel comfortable with it. I have studied Polish quite a bit but I haven’t really used it a lot so while at the same time I can explain complex grammar phenomenons in Polish, I can’t really say much. Today though I had a small break through. It turns out that the love for chocolate and yarn is stronger than any shyness. I had a friend when I lived in France who was shy using French and she had been looking for oat meal for quite some time but hadn’t found any. In Sweden it’s a common breakfast but not in Poland. Then, in a health food store, she finally found it and she got so happy that she forgot to be shy and started talking. That happens to me in yarn stores and today also at the very hipster-y restaurant down on the corner. I was in much need of a cookie, a chocolate chip cookie, so I got one. The cookie wasn’t the best I’ve had but it was just the sweeter because I had ordered it myself. I should get more cookies (and yarn), it seems to be good for may language development.
I think a lot about generations sometimes. Some things from your older relatives you want to keep and some you don’t. It’s the same whether it’s about furniture – you might want to keep the lovely sideboard in the livingroom but you don’t mind ditching the broken chairs in the basement – or small keepsakes or traditions. I love mixing new traditions with old ones, to make up my own but to also keep things I really love. Every year for my birthday my mum used to make the only cake I liked, my grandmother’s meringue cake. It’s good, it’s crunchy, it’s sweet, it merely use whipped cream as binder and not as a main attraction, it has berries (preferable strawberries in the summer but other berries are fine too) and it’s just so delicious. It’s interesting how much symbolism and memory can be found in food.
A few years ago, when I used to bake a lot (I had a better oven then than I have now), I was looking into making a cake like this and I asked my mother about the recipe. She had gotten it from my grandmother back in 1982 during a phone call where one or both of them were in a hurry and the recipe only said “add eggs” and things like that. Completely impossible to bake from unless you were the one to write it down. This year though, I decided it was really the time. I’m over 30 and it’s time that I take responsibility for this tradition and start taking care of it. What better time to start than midsummer? So, I told my mother and she gave me the recipe, a better version of it than before, and also lend me her oven and her good advice and I made a lovely cake that was much appreciated. It feels good to be able to shoulder the tradition and make my grandmother’s meringue cake. It represents my childhood and hopefully I can make it for future generations as well; friends’ kids and also perhaps my niece and nephew if they ever come back to Sweden. Then maybe someone else will take over when I’m too old to continue. It’s a nice thought.
It’s late and the at-home knitting opportunities aren’t many this week so I’ll spend the time before bed knitting. And eating cookies. It’s a new recipe that I got from a friend. They are super yummy despite that I melted the butter instead of just softning it. So cookies and knitting, here I come!
I think this time of the year a lot of people are trying to decide what is so important that you can’t do without it at Christmas and what is okay the give up this year. There are so many things to prepare for some reason and so little time to do it.
I have made decisions too. Everything that needs to be knitted is finished, just some last touches and then it’s done. I have wrapped things, not everything but almost and I even have scotch tape, scissors, wrapping paper and ribbons and I can tell you exactly where all those things are right now. Some gifts have been given to their respectively recipients. The Christmas cards will hopefully go out tomorrow. All that is great. There is one thing that won’t be done though, I seriously doubt there will be a Christmas tree this year. We will just have to spend more time at Agnieszka’s and admire her tree. Also, and I know this is something everybody says but why not me too, next year I will do better. I will start the Christmas cards in October, the decorating of the Christmas tree will be scheduled and I will generally be more prepared so I can spend the last week before Christmas watching Christmas movies while knitting and trying out the Christmas candy and cookies. This is my goal and I will, in all honesty, see if I can make that work.
Something I have made is gingerbread and saffron truffles. I guess trying them out while watching movies will work just as fine after Christmas as it does before.
All is well in knitterland. Yesterday I made up for the non-knitting on Friday, a few projects are blocking on the livingroom floor, I’m quite caught up with my latest MKAL (despite the fact that I never received my yarn kit) and I also finished today’s book club book and made a cake that we are going to have during the meeting.
I’ve broken in my new dough-scraper, see the knitting pattern on there? It’s great! Not only that but I think that even our unreliable oven has worked in my favor for once. The cake actually looks like it might be both edible and will hold together long enough to put it on a plate. Even my black hole knitting is done. I love weekends where I feel I’m getting progress in many areas without being stressed. Let’s hope next week will be the same.
This day has basically only been meetings. A lot of meetings but the good kind of meetings where you got tea and cake and has the opportunity to knit. I’ve finally finished the huge hood and I could continue with my M&M knitting which is steadily growing. I’ve almost finished four out of nine repeats. The purple doesn’t stand out as much as I had hoped perhaps but it’s still very pretty.
I also brought cake to one of the meetings. This summer I had fake potato cake for the first time and it was really good. I’m not very fond of two of three components by themseves but together it was just great. So I thought I would give it a try. I had to make it gluten free so it was a little of trial and error and also some minor difficulties but the end result was actually very good. I’ll try it again some time.