My place


Today is a bake free day. I think I really should pay attention more to what my doctor says.

“Stay off your feet and do NOT move around much.” How hard is that, right? Well, it turns out, it is hard and it is quite ironic that I am having trouble doing just that when about month ago I told a friend that I would give anything if I could just stay in bed and watch TV for at least a week. I was feeling really run down at that time. Well, maybe there is something in “Be careful  what you wish for!”  I am really struggling with keeping still but today I have no choice as my back is really feeling it. But we not gonna dwell on negative. What’s the point? Instead, I thought I will share some of my pictures with you. Just to give you some idea of where I come from and how lovely this place is.

We have moved here from the city and I am so in love with this place. It’s our little piece of paradise. And it’s really funny how, while living in the city I was always wishing we could get away more, I was always looking up holiday deals and new weekend getaways. And then we moved here. Not once did I think about holiday. Why would I? I have found that perfect getaway place that I get to enjoy every day after work. Driving home for me now is just as exciting as driving to that weekend destination and I get to do it 4 times a week. 🙂

Lots of my friends told me I am crazy to move to the country. Especially cause both my husband and I still work in the city but we both work for the newspaper and as we work long hours, we finish our working week in 3 or 4 days so it’s a long weekend for us every weekend. And why is it a big deal driving for an hour each way? I love driving my car. And 3/4 of the way is through the forest with hardly any cars around so I turn up the stereo and sing along to all my favorite songs as loud as I want. Bliss! And who cares what other people think. My family loves it here and this place has brought us all closer together and I am proud to say that my kids (12 and 14 years old) don’t spend time in front of the TV anymore because there is always something for them to do. They got all the pets they always wanted but couldn’t have in the city and they are very good at looking after them. I must admit, I was little bit scared I was gonna end up taking care of them all but they proved me wrong and I am more then happy. I love it when kids prove me wrong. 🙂

Anyway, I can try to explain to you how great this place is but I think pictures will explain it better so here they are.

This is an old cottage on the corner of my street. It is empty and no one seems to know how long it’s been there but I love it. There is something charming about it.

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This next one is a picture of a little creak that runs behind our place. I took this photo at the end of summer but now that it’s winter here and we have had quite a lot of rain lately, creak is a lot wider.

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This is the view from my balcony. It was taken in the middle of the summer so everything looks dry and brown but it is still magical, especially at sunset when all those fields turn gold.

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These are some of the birds that like to come and say hello in late afternoon and quite often they take bath in our water troughs.

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But birds are not the only ones that like taking a dip. Here’s our dog Cane doing the same. Hard to believe he’s only a puppy still. At nine months he is 98 pounds and he still have another 9 months of growing. Our gentle giant. 🙂

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Like I said earlier, it is winter now and most people think that it doesn’t get cold in Australia. I can tell you, it sure does. I took this next picture just few days ago. I got up early in the morning and imagine my surprise when I walked outside and saw that all our paddocks were covered in ice. It actually looked like snow.

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Ah, I just found picture of Cane when we first got him. He was our son’s Xmas present. This is how small he was.

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So that was Cane at 9 weeks and here is Cane at 20 weeks.

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And now at 9 months. Enjoying his pats from my daughter. 🙂

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We also have alpacas. This black one is my boy. My pride and joy.

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The girls belong to my daughter. She picked them all out and has been taking really good care of them. Their winter wool hasn’t grown fully yet but they are still nice and fluffy.

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ANd like I said, sunsets really turn this place into some amazing colours.

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Well, I hope you enjoyed these photos and now you probably understand why I love living here so much. And as my coffee is ready, I am off to sit outside and get some fresh air. And I am gonna take it easy today, for real. 🙂

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Relaxing day


For weeks now, I have been baking muffins, cupcakes, cakes…Anything sweet really and I knew it was time for a break after my daughter asked for some carrot sticks for a snack. Sweets overload, I think. That child can eat cakes and chocolate for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or so I thought. 

My plan for today was just to sit outside and enjoy some sun on a lovely winter day as they said it was going to rain over the weekend. I even picked out a book to read. Time to relax. Doctors orders (not that I listened so far). 

My husband took our daughter food shopping with him and our son was busy playing with his dog. I must admit, I am milking this for all it’s worth. I probably could’ve gone food shopping with them but that must be one chore I hate most in the world and I have been doing it every week for the past 16 years so it is nice to have someone else do it for a change. All I had to do was write a list and hope he gets the right stuff. 

Last week was the first time my husband did food shopping and he made quite few mistakes but hey, he tried, right? Have to give him credit for that. I had to laugh when he got ginger cookies out of the bag. I asked him how come he bought those. No one in our house likes ginger cookies. He told me that I wrote “ginger” on the shopping list and he couldn’t find it anywhere so he thought I probably needed it for cooking so the only ginger product he could find was ginger cookies. Yep, like I said, he never goes shopping. 

He even made me a cup of coffee before they left and I set there in the sun reading a book and time just flew by. They were gone for 2 hours but it felt like 10 minutes. All the shopping was brought inside and after checking it was all there, I am proud to say he got 100%. I was so proud of him even though our 12 year old had to tell him few times “No Dad! Mum never buys that kind of….” It was a team effort and they excelled. 🙂

After it was all packed away, my daughter couldn’t stop winking. I thought there was something in her eye but it turned out she was trying to get her Dad’s attention cause he left “something” in the car. He finally got it and oh how happy was I? It was another baking book. It has everything from different kinds of breads to any cake you can imagine.

Apparently they were walking pass the book shop and the lady that works there was just placing them in the window. Yes, I know! I have the most thoughtful husband in the world but I can also tell you, lots of training went into that. 

Well, after going through the book and looking at all the recipes, there goes my “no baking, just relaxing” day. But at least I didn’t make anything sweet. I made New York bagels!

I have never even tried to make those as it just seems so complicated but everyone in my family loves them so I thought, what the hell! Why not? SO I got stuck into it and to cut the long story short, they were perfect so I thought I will share the recipe with you guys just in case if you feel like baking them too. So here it is. 

New York Bagel Recipe

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 ½ tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups of warm water (you may need ± ¼ cup more, I know I did)
3 ½ cups (500g) of bread flour or high gluten flour(will need extra for kneading)
1 ½ teaspoons of salt

Optional Toppings:
Caraway seeds, coarse salt, minced fresh garlic, minced fresh onion, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds. (Everyone in my house prefers plain bagels, but I have no preference, so I just went with the plain, so no one could complain.)

Preparation:
1. In ½ cup of the warm water, pour in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. Let it sit for five minutes, and then stir the yeast and sugar mixture, until it all dissolves in the water.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.

3. Pour half of the remaining warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed. Depending on where you live, you may need to add anywhere from a couple tablespoons to about ¼ cup of water. You want to result in a moist and firm dough after you have mixed it.

4. On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough.

5. Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

6. Carefully divide the dough into 8 pieces (I used a scale to be extra precise, but it’s not necessary). Shape each piece into a round. Now, take a dough ball, and press it gently against the countertop (or whatever work surface you’re using) moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms (as pictured below). Repeat with 7 other dough rounds.

7. Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ? the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.

8. After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425ºF / 220ºC

9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. Boil as many as you are comfortable with boiling. Once the bagels are in, it shouldn’t take too long for them to float to the top (a couple seconds). Let them sit there for 1 minute, and them flip them over to boil for another minute. Extend the boiling times to 2 minutes each, if you’d prefer a chewier bagel (results will give you a more New York Style bagel with this option).

10. If you want to top your bagels with stuff, do so as you take them out of the water, you may use the “optional toppings” (listed above) to top the bagels and if you’re risky like me, make a combination of the toppings to top the bagels with, but before hand, you will need to use an egg wash to get the toppings to stick before putting the bagels into the oven.

11. Once all the bagels have boiled (and have been topped with your choice of toppings), transfer them to a lightly oiled baking sheet.

12. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

13. Cool on a wire rack. 

And that’s it! Not hard at all. And here is a picture.

 

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Maybe not perfect but pretty close. 🙂

 

 

 

Mixer update


Well, my friends really enjoyed those treats I baked the day before (hummingbird cupcakes and very moist brownies). Especially my cupcakes. I am really becoming a cupcake queen. There is something about them. I am working on decorations and trying to learn as much as I can cause decorating has never been my strong point. I am very creative person and I come up with some great ideas but it’s like my hands and my brain just don’t seem to work together. My icing is very  rarely perfect and sometimes food colouring doesn’t really work out evenly and I could go on and on but thank God for Youtube. I have been watching lots of “How to” videos and if I might say myself, little by little, things are improving. And here is a picture to prove it. 🙂

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These are double chocolate cupcakes I made few days earlier. Quite proud of them even though they were very simple but sometime less is more, right? 🙂

Anyway, back to my mixer story.

After my friends left, I decided to look up all the mixers that are on the market at the moment. I would really like to get Kitchen Aid but that is way over my budget ($699.00) so I was looking for something similar but a lot cheaper. My budget is around $200.00. This was gonna be tough. 

So as I’m looking through all the different deals shops have at the moment my son Zane comes over to me and asked me what time is Sebastian coming over tomorrow. Oh great! I swear my memory is getting bad and I am only 38. What is gonna happen to it by the time I reach 60? I completely forgot that my friend Caroline and her son Sebastian are coming over at lunchtime.

Well, there goes my shopping trip!

We organized this about 3 weeks ago and I promised her to bake some cupcakes for her. She is not a dessert person really but she looooooves cupcakes. I am one of those people who will try to do anything to keep the promise so I was once again panicking. I thought, maybe I can just bake muffins and ice them as I do have quite few recipes that you just pretty much fold the mix instead of mixing it. Hmmm….Pathetic!

Once again, cup of coffee in my hand (it turns out I think best while drinking coffee), I am trying to come up with anything and then it hit me.

Few months ago I saw one of those funny picture and on it there was a cordless drill with a whisk made out of the coat hanger. The light bulb went off.

I ran down to the shed. Well, ok, I did not run as I can hardly walk at the moment but yes, I made it to the shed, grabbed cordless drill and managed to attach the actual whisk from my broken mixer. Lucky I kept them. Not really sure why , but yes, lucky I did. And magic! It worked. And not only did it work really well but this drill even has a bright light so you can easily see if there are any small lumps left in the batter. Amazing! And there was no stopping me. 

I had few brownies left that I baked the night before so I ended up making “surprise cupcakes”. I made vanilla cupcake mixture then I placed very small amount of it in every cup and then I placed small square of brownie on top and then covered them with the rest of the mixture. That way when you bite into a vanilla cupcake right in the center there is a perfect square of chocolate goodness. 

I have never made these before (or any surprise cake) so I was really interested to see how it was all gonna turn out. And I am proud to announce that they are perfect. I will post some pics tomorrow as I haven’t had time to upload them yet. And I also thought it will look better to take pictures after I ice them.

I was gonna use chocolate icing but now I changed my mind cause I didn’t want too much chocolate. So I decided that I am gonna ice them with vanilla buttercream icing and then I will shave some dark chocolate on top. 

But anyway, here is a picture of my “new” mixer. 🙂

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RIP my mixer


I have some friends coming over for a visit tomorrow and as I haven;t seen them for a long time, I thought I was going to bake some cakes. Both of my friends loooooove cakes and they are always excited to try new ones. I got my laptop out and I am going through hundreds of recipes trying to find the perfect ones. I know they both like chocolate (and who doesn’t) so I was looking for a chocolate dessert and something else so there is no chocolate overload. 

So cup of coffee in hand, I am sitting at the table while my husband is cooking dinner and kids are watching TV. “What a lovely evening!” I thought to myself as I took another sip of coffee. Fresh jar, just opened. It always tastes best, doesn’t it. And I am looking through the window as the sun is setting behind the hill. Peaceful evening. 

I have really been enjoying all the peace and quite since we moved here, to the country. No cars driving past all the time and just that city noise in general that you get used to, I guess , when you live there but once you are in the country and all you hear are birds and neighbours horse from time to. I love it. So I was about to take another sip when our dog Cane jumped and barked so loud that I nearly dropped my cup. He hardly ever barks so I knew someone must be coming and sure enough, there was a knock. 

My husband answered the door and I heard him talking to another man for few minutes and then the man left. He walks back into the kitchen and hands me a leaflet. I looked at it and couldn’t believe it. It was from electric company advising us that tomorrow from 7 AM till 4 PM they will be upgrading power lines in our street so our electricity will be switched of. WHAT? Only few hour warning? Just lovely! And then the panic set in. 

I was gonna bake all these lovely treats in the morning so they are nice and fresh when my friends come over and now what? So once more I flicked through few of the recipes I found and decided to make hummingbird cupcakes (never made them before) with cream cheese frosting and I was gonna bake some brownies that are suppose to be out of this world. I have some fresh raspberries in the fridge so with little bit of vanilla ice cream brownies would be magic. 

I got stuck into brownies at once cause they were a lot easier to make. Pretty much all the ingredients go in at once and you mix it and – done!  And I thought while brownies are in the oven I will nix up hummingbird mix. Easy! Bit more rushed then I was gonna do but that’s ok. It can be done today ant they will still be tasty tomorrow.

I get sugar, oil, nuts, baking powder, vanilla, egg…So I am looking at my recipe, thinking, something isn’t right.. There is no chocolate in my ingredient list and I am making “chocolate brownies”. Interesting! I open the page again and read the recipe, and sure enough I missed 1/2 cup of cocoa. Nice! I turn around and grab cocoa of the shelf and as I turn back….Bang! I swear I just touched the side of my mixing bowl with elbow and I knocked it of the bench. Just great! Nothing more annoying then cleaning eggs and lets not forget oil, off the floor. 

I actually felt bad for my husband cause he was the one who had to clean it all up as I am having major problems with my back so I am not allowed to do any housework or any bending and stuff. 

It took him a while. Poor guy, he’s not used to cleaning much. Especially mess of this proportion. I set there watching. It actually made a nice change. 😉

So few minutes later the floor is dry and I quickly mix up everything again and my brownies are in the oven. It doesn’t take long for that sweet chocolate smell to start enveloping the whole room. Is there anything better then that?

Brownies baking, I get stuck into mixing things for hummingbird cupcakes. I was really excited about this one because I have never had it. I heard of hummingbird cake but never tasted it. Reading the recipe I thought it sounded nice and moist and cream cheese frosting to top it off. Ah my favorite!

I add bananas and nuts and….And nothing. My mixer goes quite. I thought it got stuck on something cause bowl was nearly full but no such luck. Yes, my mixer decided to stop working today. 

I can tell you, 10 minutes later I was sweating. Not easy to hand mix when you have a mixture that is not really runny but at the same time not hard enough to use hands. But I managed. I got it done. All under control.

By this time, brownies are out of the oven and humming bird cupcakes are in. I was standing there wondering how the hell did my nice relaxing evening turn into baking frenzy. One minute I had all evening to find good recipes and all morning to bake them then all of a sudden, I only have tonight to do everything. Oh well, this is life, right?

And then I really start panicking. I still have cream cheese butter icing to make. And no mixer. How much fun is that gonna be? NOT! I was mixing it and mixing it and I tried using my hands to smash butter and cheese. I honestly thought my arm was gonna fall off but then my husband offered to mix it for me. How is that for team work? 🙂 After about 15 minutes we finally had it done. Yey! 

How the hell did people do this before electric mixers? 

But anyway, it took a lot of hard work but it all got done. And if I may say so myself, my cakes turned out really well. Maybe cause I put a lot of effort into it. Or maybe it was just pure luck and I know my friends will love them.

Here are links to those recipes. Very nice.

http://leelabeanbakes.com/blog/frosting-filling/velvety-smooth-cream-cheese-frosting/

 

http://www.bakeorbreak.com/2010/06/hummingbird-cupcakes/

 

Tomorrow I have visitors but on Thursday I will have to go and shop for another mixer. There is no way I can live without one as baking is the only thing that keeps me sane while I;m on sick leave and I still have at least 2 more months of no work. I need a new mixer.

What brand and kind do you use and what would you rate it from 1 to 5? 

It’s getting late and my poor arms are tired so I am off to bed but to the rest of you,

happy baking! 

 

Baking in the middle of the night


I can’t remember if I said anything in my earlier posts that I am on a long sick leave at the moment and I am not sure if it’s all the medication I am taking or stress, but I haven’t been able to sleep much. So what do I do in the middle of the night when kids are asleep and husband is snoring away (I swear he sounds like a chainsaw)? Yep, you guessed it! I sneak down to the kitchen and bake my little heart out.  

Not sure if lack of sleep or to many meds, but I am feeling more creative then ever. Or it could be mixture of both.  And the weird thing is, no matter what I try to make, it turns out perfectly. I am beginning to think that baking fairy actually sprinkled some magic on my oven because even things that I have tried making 100s of times in the past and failed in the worst possible way, now turn out picture perfect. 

You might think “That’s great! You must feel proud of yourself!” and you would be right. I am proud of myself and I wanna scream with joy every time my product is finished but here I am, in the middle of the night, alone in the kitchen. No one to share my achievement with. I know that no one in my family, no matter how much they love sweets, would appreciate it if I got them out of bed at 3 AM to show them how great my Pavlova turned out. 

And there you have it. For the first few nights  I would be sitting at the table admiring my handy work with mixed emotions. I’d be beaming with joy at how well I have done and I’d also feel little sad that I have no one to share it with. Ah that fine line between pleasure and pain. Just a tad dramatic, aren’t I? 🙂

As I said earlier, I am feeling quite creative and my imagination is working overtime, I came up with an idea.  

I decided to store my camera in one of my kitchen drawers and now as soon as I finish my “master piece”, I take a whole heap of pictures and post them on my Facebook wall. I am not quite sure if I am doing it because I wanna share my creations with someone (other people who can’t sleep in the middle of the night) or is it because I wanna have “proof” that I have magic touch all of a sudden. I have always been hit and miss kind of baker. 

You might think this whole picture taking and posting it on FB might be silly but something amazing happened from it all. On a selfish level, I feel better cause I can show people what I just did and don’t have to wait till morning when my family is up. But the best thing that came out of it is the fact that my picture actually inspired lots of my friends to start baking as well. Although, they are like other normal people and they do it during the day. 

So now my inbox is always full of questions abut certain recipes and tips but the favorite one I got was today and it made me smile from ear to ear and I just have to share it with all of you.

My friend has an elderly aunt (early 80s) who is also my Facebook friend. She has been suffering from depression for the last 6 months and hasn’t been leaving the house at all since it all started. She would spend her days in her pjs, watching TV and not talking to anyone. Very sad situation, especially because she has always been a very outgoing person who loved gardening, spending time with her grand children and she belonged to a singing group (amazing voice).Then depression took over and like I said, she was a different person. 

Today, I am going through my inbox and there is a message from her. She never inboxed me before so I was quite intrigued. A long message too. Aunty Helen wanted to let me know how much she enjoys all my baking picture and recipes that the other day she went to the shop and got all the things she needed for Coca Cola cake and she baked it and invited her daughter and grand kids over for dessert. ANd she has been baking every day since and her daughter has been visiting her after picking up kids from school cause they all just loooooooove Nan’s new hobby.  

I had tears streaming down my face and I was smiling at the same time. This lady had a purpose again and she was looking forward to something every day. And all because I was doing something silly to amuse myself.  I never thought my Facebook rants about baking and all those photos were going to inspire so many people. Wow! The power of baking is a lot stronger then I thought. 🙂 

I did end up printing her message and I glued it in my recipe book. Just something to remind me that no matter how silly or meaningless something you do is, can actually be a big thing for someone else.  Universe works in mysterious way. 

And just in case if you were wondering, yes, I did some baking tonight again. Just some cookies but I thought this recipe is amazing so here it is. Hope you like it.

 

CREAM CHEESE AND RASPBERRY JAM COOKIES

Ingredients
100g butter, softened
125g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 cups plain flour, sifted
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1/4 cup slivered almonds
icing sugar mixture, to serve

Step 1
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line two flat baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Step 2
Using an electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat until sugar has dissolved. Add egg and beat until well combined.

Step 3
Using a metal spoon, fold flour into butter mixture. Using your hands, press dough together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out until 0.5cm thick. Using a 6cm round biscuit cutter, cut rounds from dough. Press leftover dough together and repeat to make 24 rounds.

Step 4
Place rounds on prepared trays. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon jam into the centre of each biscuit. Sprinkle tops with almonds. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, swapping trays around in oven after 12 minutes, or until light golden.

Step 5
Allow biscuits to cool on trays. Dust with icing sugar mixture. Serve.

And this is what they turned out like.

 

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Magic of muffins


Muffin magic

Muffins…Heavenly treats that everyone loves, no matter what your age is. And how can you not?
So many different flavors, textures and the best part, so easy to make.

Talking to lot of my friends, all of us agree that muffins were probably the first thing we ever baked.
We all remember helping our mothers and grand mothers stiring the mixture and then the best part, licking
the bowl.
Even now, years later, every time I have muffins in the oven – the sweet smell takes me back to those times.
Maybe that’s why to this day, baking muffins is one of my favorite things in the world. And when I bake
with my daughter.
I wonder if she will get that warm feeling later on in life when she is all grown up, baking with her daughter.
Baking is so much more then just making a treat. It is also about creating those memories that last with you
forever.

Yes, muffins are magical and like I already said, probably first thing you too ever baked when you decided
to venture into the
kitchen and creat your first “master piece”.
You probably measured all the ingrediants properly and followed the recipe to the T and then set there for
20 minutes waiting for
your creation to be finished. Then with high hopes, you open the oven and there they are. Flat as pancakes
or dry. Flavor is there
but….They are not like the once your Nan used to make. And you are ready to give up on baking forever
because “I just don’t have a gift
for it like my mum does!”
Yep! I have been there. Many times. I have my Nan’s recipes so in theory, they should be exactly like the
onese she used to make. Wrong!
There are little secrets that every baker has. And you know, for a while I actually thought that maybe my
Nan left one or two ingrediants out of her recipes
so that HER muffins would still be my favorits. Conspiracy theory, I know! And yes, I was ready to give up. I
just couldn’t deal with the fact that all women
in my family are amazing at baking and I am not. And then I did give up. For few years, I didn’t even bake
packet cakes. But then something happened.

Talking to my mum, few weeks ago, just about life in general, she opened my eyes.
It all started over a cup of coffee and a cake, as it usually does. I have been having some issues at work and
had to unload.
My mum, quite woman, just set there listening, adding occausional “Hmmm..” or “Oh dear!” It went on for
about half an hour and then I
stopped talking, looked at my mum and asked “So what do you think I should do?” expecting her to come up
with some great advice. She is great at that too.

Her eyebrows raised (never a good sign), head tilted to one side and then small caugh. I know what the
“caugh” means! It always scared me as a kid. There would
be a caugh followed by a looooooong lecture . No matter how old you are, you all of a sudden feel like a kid
and the thought goes through your head “I’m in trouble!”
Like when parent use your full name. Still sends shivers down my spine.

Anyway, to cut the long story short, the words that came out of mum’s mouth opened my eyes to a whole
new world.
She spoke softly. “My dear, you really have to let go a bit. See, ever since you were a kid, you always
followed rules and instructions like your life depended on it.
Sometimes that works but sometimes it doesn’t. You just need one small element to be out of place and the
whole thing falls apart. And it might not be your fault.
It is the way this world is. And YOU can’t control it. But what you CAN do is – take a deep breath and try a
different way. YOUR way!”
I was speachless. My mum thinks I am a control freak. And she was right!

I went home that afternoon, her words still echoing in my ears. I set at the ktchen table and thought about
the whole conversation for what seemed like forever.
Yes! My mum was right. And why am I surprised? She is always right (I hate to admit!).
Two people can follow the same plan but both can have different outcome. Like baking!
You and me can use the same recipe and yours might turn out fluffier then mine. It doesn’t mean that one of
us is bad at it. You just need all the start to aligne perfectly and
for the Universe to spread some good vibes onto your oven…..I am kidding! It’s nothing like that. It is
actually simple. And I will tell you how.

So the next day, I rang my mum to let her know that I have been thinking about what she said and that I will
try to change, become less of a control freak. She seemed
happy and then she said “But do baby steps. Less likely to give up.”
God, I hate the fact she knows me so well but that’s a whole other story.
“Baking!” she said. “Try baking! Remember how you used to like baking with me?”
Yes, but my things never worked out like yours – I wanted to say. And then I’ll get annoyed and give up
again.
“I used to give you little tips on how to make great muffins but you would tell me that is not what it says in
a cook book and dismiss my advice? Do you remember that?”

And that’s when my eyes opened!

Once again, my mum was right! I didn’t listen to her advice because I wanted to bake the perfect muffin like
the one on the picture inside the cookbook and to
get there, I had to follow the recipe to the T. And if it doesn’t work out, you give up. Wrong!
If it doesn’t work out, you try again. Your way (or your mother’s way :))!

I was ready to give it another go. I was willing to “just breath” and do it my way. The whole scene from
Karate Kid went through my head “Wax on! Wax off!”.
I will become a master of baking! And I will listen to what my mum has to say and not JUST the recipe.

Few days later, in my mum’s kitchen, magic happened. I felt like a kid again, licking spoons. Once again,
there were three generations of women together in the
same kitchen having fun baking with sweet smell lingering through the room. The only difference was, I
was not the youngest anymore. My daughter was.

Magical muffins were baked that day. Apple and cinnamon, blueberry and of course, my Nan’s sweet ricotta
muffins (my all time favorite).
First thing I have learned that day was – if you love something, it is not hard work. “Love” really is a secret
ingrediant in baking.
And also, there is no room in the kitchen for control freaks. Just let it go.

But just in case if you are feeling like giving up on baking, please think again. Give muffins another go.
That’s where it all starts, isn’t it?
And I will share few secrets with you right now that I FINALLY took on board from my mum. And here it is.

FOR PERFECT MUFFINS:

* Most recipes will tell you to pre heat the oven to 200C. Yes, perfect temperature but every oven is also
different. It might take a while to work it out but what I have found
is, that if you place your oven rack right in the middle of the oven they cook even and don’t dry up.

*You should always use 2 bowls when making muffins. One for dry ingredients and one for wet. That way
you mix wet ones very well and just fold dry ones in. Over mixing muffins
makes them dry.

*Leave muffins in tins for 5-10 minutes after taking them out of the oven to rest and cover them with a tea
towel. That way they won’t go crisp on the outside.

So there you go people. I hope this helps create the perfect muffins. Oh, and whatever you do, do not forget
the most important ingridient. LOVE!

Happy baking! X