Thinking of nothing.

Have you ever been glad to just have nothing to think of? I mean, you always have something to think of or about but, those special times when nothing is terribly important or urgent and you can just take a moment to… breathe.

This morning is like that. Right now. In this moment. Here on the balcony, Finnish weather is behaving nicely. A hot cup of mocha goodness (complete with foamed milk) is waiting patiently for the first aaaaah sip.

We are getting visitors tomorrow and there are lots of things on my chore list to get done. But for now? I am Zen. In this moment I am peaceful and not thinking about the laundry to get done, or the dusting to do or how on earth am I going to make ham rolls for the first time?

Enjoy your day. Take time for you, even if it is just for a moment. Think of nothing. Bake some good choices today.

xo, Lisa

Finally home!

Yes! Finally home. It is midsummer weekend and the weather is on its best behavior. I am still trying to track down my “delayed” luggage. Another story for another day.

But! I finally did some baking. After fifteen plus months of being away, I finally got to bake something. Something small as it is only me at home at the moment.

The joy of mixing ingredients together then smelling them come together is indescribable. My first cake was an absolute flop. Undefbaked and inedible. But at 14 minutes to midnight, I pulled a wee orange cranberry cake from our new oven!

Finally baking and plan on baking lots of good choices!

xo, Lisa

Soon, soon, soon!

So many “soons” are coming….well, soon. I am actually finally going home soon. Yup! Finally going home to summery Finland. I really love summer in Finland. But right now I just am on love with the fact that I am getting to go home. At least one of them 😁

Little back story…my husband and I come from and live in two different countries. We do winters in Trinidad and summers in Finland. However, since March 7th, 2020, I have been onboard a ship. I started and finished working and, when it was time to go home to Trinidad the borders were closed.

Due to the pandemic Trinidad and Tobago borders were closed to nationals and non-nationals alike. The only way you could enter the country was to apply for an exemption. Fast forward to present and I have applied for permission to go to Finland instead.

Soon I will see my husband. Soon I will be baking. Soon I will be walking on grass and into actual stores. Looking at sunsets from our balcony. Soon I will feel a little more normal. I can’t wait! This has been an adventure to say the least. But I need a wee vacation from the day to day excitement. However, you know it! SOON I will be back to work and a new adventure will begin.

Bake good choices!

xo, Lisa

Just saying hi!

Sometimes, very rarely, I don’t have much to say. Most days I have plenty to say and I am always thinking (over-thinking)? But there are those days when I am just mellow. Nothing seems to bother me. I simply love those days. Those days where the world is spinning just fine on its axis. People and events are lovely and everything is going according to plan.

Sadly though, those days are don’t follow one after another. They are like the desserts of life in my opinion. When they happen you should savor them. Make memories that you can remember, to be thought of and remembered when your days are not going as well as you would have liked.

I strive to have more and more of these days and moments. Attempting to learn how to not let the small things bother me. To realize what is truly important in life and save my fretting for the things and life changing events that really matter.

This pandemic has taught a lot of us a lot of lessons. There are silver linings in all of this. They may be few and mostly hidden behind clouds of despair and doubt but they are there. I have actually found a few. Lessons that I have learnt. Truths I have had to accept. All to make me (I hope) a better person.

I hope you all have a great day and bake good choices!

xo, Lisa

Is love a crime?

Two days ago my nephew Noah called the police for me. For me! His aunt. I was shocked. Mind you, he is four years old and the phone he used was literally a handheld one…he was dialing on his hand. He was very polite as he asked the police officer to come to his home right away. He then informed me that I was going to jail. My crime? Telling him I loved him too many times.

He warned me. He did. He said “Say you love me one more time and I will call the police.” So, I called his bluff, looked him in the eye and slowly said, “I love you!” That was it! He immediately dialed his palm and got on to the imaginary air police and was told that one imaginary officer was on their way. But it got me to thinking, how fortunate is he? To know that he is so well and truly loved that he can put limits on the number of times he is told he is loved, or limit the number of hugs he will receive on a daily basis. Secure in the knowledge that at any time, he can call or video chat any member of his family and know that he will see a smiling face, patiently listening while he reads his book about the lion and the mouse for the fifteenth time. Or listen in awe of how he ran so fast down the road. Or how many dinosaurs he saw last night.

I wondered, does he even realize just how loved he is? Is it just one of those things that is taken for granted? Like knowing that you will take in oxygen the next time you inhale? It also got me to thinking, when do we realize that not everyone around us loves us and, why we feel so sad and lonely at this realization. We want to have everyone love us, listen to our stories, marvel at the perfectly ordinary things that we do, and we are saddened when we think or imagine that everyone on this planet is NOT our number one fan.

Ahhhh….but what about the many, many people that do love us? Whether they tell us twenty times a day or they show us how much they care by doing such simple things. Bringing a drink for you because you are wrapped up in a movie on TV and didn’t even realize you would have loved a drink. Covering your shoulder at night with the blanket. Making a simple sandwich. As we grow up, not many of us are told constantly that we are loved, but many of us are loved, by a great many people. We just need to take the time to realize that the glass of water that was given to you when you didn’t even realize you were thirsty was, an act of love.

I pray that Noah always feels that love and always is secure in the knowledge that he is so greatly loved. Bake good and lovely choices all!

xo, Lisa

Trying to eat healthier

Not much on baking today or recipes, but more of a vent-y type conversation. Sooooo, I am trying to choose healthier options when I eat. But as usual with me, it’s an all or nothing type deal. I woke up one morning, back aching, and decided… ENOUGH. The snacks have GOT to go! I swoosh all the snacks into a bag and get rid of them. Now my room is empty of snacks. Now I have no more temptations. I cannot eat what I do not have. I cannot munch on chocolate chip cookies if they are not there to be munched on. Cheetos? Gone. Cookies? Sayonara. All gone.

So now I have fruit as snacks. Whenever I feel the urge to snack, I have a choice between an apple or an orange. Yum. NOT. I am over apples. I feel like a horse. I don’t want to crunch into another juicy apple for a very long time. Oranges no longer seem as wonderful and juice-run-down-your-arm good. I am over FRUIT! I want a cookie, darn it! I want something that, if I just think about eating it, I consume 1000 calories just thinking about it. It should come in a pack that crinkles. Cellophane-wrapped wonderousness that I immediately inhale and devour.

Yummy chocolate cupcake!

But the guilt! Oh the enormous, looming guilt of having CHEATED! Cheated on myself, wasted all my good effort and all for what? One pack of sugary (or salty) nothing good for you-ness? But then again, there is the theory that you should not deprive yourself of everything you like food-wise, as this is not sustainable for the long term. So, the thinking is to have a treat every now and then and that way, you know it’s a treat, and you appreciate it that much more. There is no guilt (or there shouldn’t be) and you carry on with you healthy way of eating. Win-win!

So, I did have that chocolate chip cookie.

Today, it will be apples πŸ™‚

Bake great choices all.

xo, Lisa

Maddingly good Hot Cross Buns

Hallo and Happy Easter! A fave of mine and a whole lot of people across this big, blue marble for this time is Hot Cross buns. In my humble opinion, a bun, a good, warm sticky bun is a treat that MUST be had on occasion. The ones where you lick your fingers from the glaze and it just gets even stickier! Sooo good! Anyway, even though I am not at home (just yet) to make these goodies, I thought that I would look at some recipes and see if there was one that called out to me.

I had tried a couple years ago and to be honest I went through a LOT of trial and a WHOLE LOT of errors. Ask my family….they were insanely tired of me running after them, begging them to just try a piece, please take a bite, I promise this one is better than the last…..on and on. I did finally find one that I had liked and had actually worked for me. My dad, while browsing through the newspaper, found a recipe and bless his soul, showed it to me and said “Try this one.” I did. It worked. It actually worked! I had finally cracked the hot cross bun secret society!

They were insanely good out of the oven, and once they cooled down just the wee bit, they were awesome, all warm and gooey-ooey. They probably were not the greatest the day after, but thankfully not many lasted til next day anyway:) As I mentioned, I was browsing for another recipe and seeing if I could find another that called out to me. After all it has been years since I wanted to try to make buns again. Well, it seems as if I may have found the one. Thank goodness for the miracle of social media and the times that we live in. There were videos showing the entire process, so I could actually see how the buns turned out, before I took my precious ingredients and even more precious time and proceeded to test out their version.

In all honesty, I have not yet tried this version, but I am going to for sure! The video looks really good, the recipe seems to be super easy-peasy (no mixer involved) and it comes from a web site that is my go-oo when it comes to foods with a Trini flavor!

So, with no further ado, I give you……

“Traditional Hot Cross Buns” from eatahfoodtt.com

** Just a note, that these (as Renee the chef points out) are the traditional version and the crosses are made with a flour paste. I am thinking if you are not a fan, you could always pipe the crosses on after with you own favorite frosting. Cream cheese frosting does come to mind mmmmmm…..

This would so be an excellent choice to bake today! Have a great day all!

xo, Lisa

Traditional Hot Cross Buns from eatahfoodtt.com

How can a Trinidadian not like pepper?

Yup, it’s true. I do NOT like pepper. Actually more to the point, I cannot handle pepper. It gives me heartburn and terrible tummy cramps. I am talking hot sauce or pepper sauce as we refer to it in Trinidad. The really ironic part? I make it. Even more ironic-er is that my husband consumes it like it is gravy or ketchup. Bearing in mind he is Finnish and has only come to know the sauce in recent years, he went from eating tabasco and thinking that that is super hot, to eating Scorpion peppers from Trinidad.

Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper are reputed to be one of the hottest peppers on the planet. We actually held the world record for a while there, weighing in at a whopping 1.2 million Scoville heat units. Which is all to say, it’s freaking hot!

Some of the peppers ready to be transformed into pepper sauce

Back to the sauce, simple enough to make and depending on how many peppers you use will decide how “hot” the condiment turns out to be. To be honest there is no real recipe for this (at least for me) its a glug of this, a dash of that. A pour of sugar and as many peppers as you like or as can fit into the blender. The ingredients are essentially oil, sugar, white vinegar, salt, mustard (preferably yellow or sweet yellow) and of course the peppers πŸ™‚

This of course tends to go well with the aforementioned doubles πŸ™‚ But if you are anything like my husband it pretty much goes on anything except probably cereal! There are the standard comment I get at work when I say that I cannot eat anything spicy is always “But you are a Trinidadian!” Well, half anyway, but still I want to like it I do, I make the thing for goodness sake! But I simply cannot handle it and do not fully appreciate the joy of the burning sensation in the mouth, the runny nose and the watering eyes. The looking for something to cool off your tongue as it feels like it on fire. Sorry, I miss it, but I so don’t miss it.

Bake good choices today folks!

xo, Lisa

Can you have a single Doubles?

Before you say yes, ask yourself…”Have I ever had a really good doubles?” Of course, this may be the second question you ask yourself. The first one for many a non Caribbean person, the first question may well be, “what on earth is (or are) a doubles?”

Well, remembering this is only my blog and not an official site for national treasures, a doubles is a food that many a Trinidadian consider a staple. There are some Trinis that do not like doubles (GASP) and cannot see what the rave is about, but for those of us that do enjoy the delicacy, doubles is a must.

So, to get to the point, and according to a Google translation, “doubles is a common street food originating from Trinidad and Tobago. Doubles are made with two baras and filled with curried channa and various chutneys.” A bara is a deep fried dough resembling a flat bread, think pita but hand-sized. The channa filling is well-spiced curried chick-peas.

danis-doubles

Doubles made by my awesome sister, Danielle!

Below is the recipe for the bara (the flat-bread deep fried dough).

https://eatahfoodtt.com/simplylocal/doubles/

Recipe from Chef Brigette Joseph @chefbrigetterj

Ingredients

2 cups of flour

Β½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

ΒΌ tsp tumeric

1 tsp yeast

2 tsp light or dark brown sugar

lukewarm water

oil for frying

DIRECTIONS

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and tumeric together in a medium sized bowl with a fork to ensure that the tumeric is combined throughout.

Add brown sugar and yeast to mixture and mix further.

Add water to the flour mixture in steps to ensure that you don’t add too much and make the dough too wet. Add just enough to combine the flour and using your hand to bring the dough together.

The dough will look a bit shaggy, but at this point you can add a drop of water to bring it all together and knead for about 5 minutes til it makes a nice ball. The dough will have a very light yellow hue at this point, do not worry, it will get more yellow as it rests.

Place dough ball at the bottom of a bowl (you can use the same mixing bowl) and cover with oil.

Cover bowl with a towel and let rise for about an hour. While dough is rising, prepare container lined with paper towels and a dish towel to hold your fried bara and place the container next to the stove.

To Fry:

After the dough has risen to about double in size, pinch off pieces of dough about the size of a ping-pong ball and place the small balls on a greased tray to wait for shaping and frying. 

Pour vegetable oil into a deep pot to fry bara, about 2 inches deep as you don’t need much for frying.

Rub some oil on a flat surface (preferably close to the pot with the oil) that has been cleaned and sanitized.

Place a dough ball on the greased counter-top and using your fingertips, flatten into a circular disc until very thin. It will be very sticky, so use oil to grease your fingertips. You can flatten a couple of these while your oil heats up as it fried very quickly.

Place bara dough with two hands into the oil very carefully.

2 SECONDS LATER using a pair of tongs, flip bara in oil for an additional ONE SECOND and remove from oil quickly (but carefully).

Place in the draining bowl and cover with a dish towel. Repeat until all balls of dough are fried.

Makes 20-22 palm-sized bara

If you cannot get the true, authentic version right now, then making them is a must. You will thank me for it. Bake good choices folks!

xo, Lisa

Korvapuusti

Ha ha! For those of us not quite fluent in Finnish, korvapuusti are Finnish pastries. The translation is “slapped ears”. Don’t ask…all I know that I absolutely love these beauties. I have them every time I am in Finland and on occasion I actually bake them! (oooooooohh, aaaaaaahhh)

These are similar in taste (to me) to a cinnamon bun, if a cinnamon bun sprayed itself with with cardamom perfume πŸ™‚ Cardamom is not an ingredient I had used previously, or even heard of if I am truthful. But, when getting recipes (and eating treats) from my aunt in-law, this seems to be an ingredient used in a lot of Finnish baking. It is a spice that has an almost licorice taste to me. Google says that it has a complex aroma with a piney, fruity and almost menthol-like flavor. Just a little is needed as it can overpower if used in large quantities.

Recipe from the Spruce Eats is a really good one. This one is in English as the aunt’s is in Finnish πŸ™‚

Now, mind you the korvapuusti traditionally does NOT have the above cinnamon bun shape. They have a more triangular shape. Mine look more like cinnamon rolls. But they sure did taste good, no matter the shape. I baked one good choice here let me tell you πŸ™‚

xo, Lisa