you really could have, you know!

Yeah, I’m talking to you, Mr. Bus Driver! You were seriously late this morning so I started to walk towards the stop of another bus. THEN I hear your engine behind me, turn around and wave my hand. Surely you’ll let me get on the bus, even though I’m between stops, you were late, after all!

But no, oh no, not only did you not stop for me, you also waved your finger at me in an arrogantly disapproving fashion! My only option was to protest by giving him a hand signal. (By which I mean that I poignantly poked my watch a few times..)

I realize that there are some situations in which exceptions are not possible. Scientists have to follow a strict protocol when they’re conducting research, otherwise the results will not be valid. Pilots can’t jump over anything on their check lists.  Boiling water WILL cause severe burns.

THIS, however, was not one of them. I’m sure his employer has told him that he is only allowed to take in passengers from bus stops, and maybe he also thinks that if he makes any kind of exception it will lead to a domino effect of all other rules also falling by the wayside, eventually resulting in complete chaos and the crumbling of civilisation.. Or he’s overworked and underpaid and has nothing left to give, who knows. Whatever the reason was, he was not using common sense. I had only walked about 50 meters from the bus stop and there were no cars behind him. Also, I smiled when I waved my arm.

Hmm, I wonder if it had made a difference if I had looked exactly like Ursula Andress when she emerges from the water in Dr. No..?

I bet it would have. He probably would have lost control of his bus and crashed into the cars parked on the side of the road. What would his employer say about THAT? Allowing someone to board the bus outside of a bus stop really doesn’t feel like such a big issue now, does it?

Perspective. Use it or you’ll lose it!

just throw it at a water bird!

IMG_1359

No! I’m not suggesting you should throw anything at water birds, oh no no no no no! It’s just a figure of speech often used by Finnish people to indicate something is completely useless! (heittää vesilintua = to throw something at a water bird)

I don’t know what kind of drama went on between that scale I spotted near my home and whoever stepped on it and then decided to “throw it at a water bird” (although I can guess..), but the timing couldn’t have been better now that flowers have started to bloom here in Belgium in earnest.

And in earnest:

Don’t shoot the messenger,

Don’t be a cranky passenger,

Don’t fail to be a well-wisher!

a yeast dough prevented me from going to the gym!

IMG_1341IMG_1346

It wasn’t a lame excuse, though! Oh, no! The struggle with a yeast dough is real! Sometimes, due to temperature, drafts, kneading technique or who knows what, it just won’t rise the way you thought it would..

Luckily a yeast dough is very forgiving and ready to bounce back, if you just have the patience to coax it a bit, to pamper it, even. And THAT’s why I couldn’t go to my Body Combat class yesterday! I simply had to tend to the dough because I had promised a group of friends that I would serve them scrumptious cardamom buns filled with whipped cream, almond paste and raspberry jam and there was no way I was going to let them down!

I’m sure my friends want to spend time with me because of me, but I am not naive: In this case it was the baked goods they had marked in their calendars, not my name.

PS. The baked goods were GOOD! And my home-made almond paste became a real star.

It’s so easy to make, too: All you have to do is mix 60 grams of almond flour, 40 grams of fine sugar and the seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod. Then add water very little at a time, only enough to create a paste, and keep mixing. Once the mixture has turned into a paste you can mold, wrap it tightly into cling film and put in the fridge for a few hours. Then use as you see fit.

Oh, the baked goods I made are called LASKIAISPULLA. We Finns eat them around Shrove Tuesday, or laskiainen, as we call it.

maybe there’s no room, maybe we’re embarrased, maybe we assume too much

Last time I told you about the challenges I had with a recipe for roasted potatoes.

Recipes, no matter how brilliantly and clearly written, fail to convey a lot of things about cooking, things that can only be learned by trial and error, by observing and learning how the ingredients react, how a yeast dough feels to the hands, how every stove and oven has its own distinct personality, not to mention the effects of humidity or altitude!

Often, in cooking as in life, the most important things are left unsaid. Maybe there’s no room, maybe we’re embarrased, maybe we assume too much. Maybe it doesn’t even occur to us.

Those women who think that surely by now the gender pay gap and workplace sexism are a thing of the past.

Those parents who both assume the other one is keeping on eye on their toddler.

Those people who go back to his or her place. They’ve never even kissed, the word sex has never been mentioned, maybe that word couldn’t be further from the mind of one of them. Yet it might the only thing the other one has been able to think about for quite a while now.

And then the food on the stove boils over, burns, ruins our meal. Or life.

 

Yotam Ottolenghi! I wanna have a word with you!!

IMG_1321IMG_1322

I followed your recipe, Yotam! I parboiled the potatoes exactly the way you told me to and then shook them to “roughen the edges”.

Well, the edges certainly “roughened” – if by “roughen” one means that about 50% of the potatoes turned into mash. Still, looks don’t matter, it’s the taste that counts, right? After all I’m not a food blogger. So I kept calm and roasted the potatoes in the oven.

When the potatoes were almost done, I added the prunes (and some leftover chicken), then put the pan back into the oven for exactly 5 minutes, like you told me to, and proceeded to make the caramel, on low heat (not that I’m ever sure exactly how low), assuming you meant it would be done by the time the potatoes were ready. Well, no it wasn’t.

Still, I poured the caramel on top of the potatoes before serving and mixed it in. With the result that the caramel immediately hardened into the potatoes. Did I mention I had root canal done earlier this week and a temporary filling in place? And that my daughter has braces?

No, don’t worry, our teeth are fine. Eating took a lot longer than usual, though, because we had to take such care – but eating slowly and chewing well is a very good habit, isn’t it?

Oh, and actually this dish was so good that we didn’t really care about those technical problems at all so I kind of forgot what I was going to have a word with you for?

I guess to thank you for a great recipe. (I’d just go real easy on that caramel..And I wouldn’t “roughen up” the potatoes quite so vigorously, either..)

PS. Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for roasted potatoes with prunes and caramel is from his cook book Jerusalem.

I’m egging you on to puff it up!

IMG_1095IMG_1093

I mean, who says omelets have to be thin? Or savory for that matter?

If you speak Finnish, you can now make that delicious sweet omelet with caramelized apples, served with mascarpone! Learning languages really does pay off! (..she says, pretending the internet isn’t full of recipes in countless languages…)

Of course you can puff up your regular omelet, too.. Just separate the eggs, whisk the whites into stiff peaks, carefully fold them into the yolks, spread onto a preheated frying pan, cook the underside, (add whatever fillings you feel like), turn off the heat, put a cover on and wait a few minutes to allow the topside to set. Then float away on a heavenly light puffy omelet cloud!

I really needed my puffy omelet cloud fix this morning: All that’s on offer in terms of real clouds today is nothing but a low-hanging soggy grey sheet..

PS. The recipe in the picture is from a cook book by Sikke Sumari. She is an allround cooking specialist and enthusiast who, btw, runs a lovely little B&B and cooking school in rural Estonia!

I really want to go there one day! Her recipes have saved my day so many times, and her humor and flair always make me smile.