During strawberry season the tiny red fruits form the base of my food pyramid and this has always been like that. I used to fight over the last strawberries that didn’t make it on the cake with my siblings all the time and the obligatory biscuit sponge with strawberries, glaze and whipped cream was to be found on the cake table every weekend. In Germany cake or pies are not really considered desserts, they are usually served as an afternoon treat together with some coffee around 3-4ish in the afternoon when the family gathers together on the weekend. When I was a kid there were hardly any weekends without afternoon coffee and homemade cake. As you might guess, strawberry cake was one of the families favourites.
Strawberries are not only delicious, they are low in calories and contain a large amount of vitamins and other minerals. On their own, they make a solid healthy treat, but since life is too short to skip cake, you should allow yourself to indulge every now and then. Continue reading »
I managed to stay on track with my daily Bujo routine for exactly 66 days. It’s longer than I expected and shorter than I hoped for it to last. I know why this daily thing isn’t for me. I have adjusted my bujo to fit my schedule and I like the way I use it now much more. I really hoped the Bujo would help me with my writing motivation and to update my blog more often. Truth is I was looking for the answer literally in the wrong book. I suffered from a writer’s block, I have started on a few recipes, but for some reason I couldn’t publish them. Why? Because I didn’t get into the zone, I wasn’t happy with what I wrote and thought: „this isn’t me“! I started this blog to keep track of my baking endavours but also to share personal things with my readers, like why I like or made something, who I made it for or what it reminds me of. If readers just wanted a recipe they would rather check a database and not a blog. In my opinion blogs ARE personal. Not the journal kind of personal, but giving the reader a peak into the writer’s life. After reading a few blogs for a long time, I feel as if I know the writer and I can relate. This is what I want for my reader’s too. I don’t want this to be a soulless recipe database, I want this to be a living blog, reflecting my life and give you a peak into my life.
That is hard for me sometimes. In the past months I simply didn’t feel like sharing. Not that I had nothing to say, I simply did not want to. I tried to let it go, wait for it to come back to me, I forced myself and then even made a list post…! But nothing… And while I was looking for my voice to come back, it hit me: I should start with the people in my life. Because without the people around me, my life wouldn’t be as happy, rich, eventful and filled with laughter.
One of these people is Nadine. Along with some other bloggers we met at a fair last year and I liked her from the first second. She is a warm, welcoming, likable and energetic person. She is not only the girl with the complicated blogname (dipi..t..serenity), for some reason she and her style remind me of holidays. She is a go-getter, knows what she wants and is very creative. Nadine is someone to look up to, not just because she is tall 😉 I was honoured I had the chance to write a guest-post on her fantastic (German) Food- and Travelblog in June while she was on a roadtrip through Dixieland. The first 3 things that come to my mind when I think about Dixie are music, country and Mississippi mud pie. Perhaps because I am a chocoholic… And with all my fellow chocoholics out there I’d like to share this recipe.
Have you heard of bullet journals being the new buzz? I must say even though I see myself as a digital native there are still a lot of things I do with pen and paper. When it comes down to scribble something, cross off things from to do lists or to writerecipe notes, NOTHING beats pen and paper. I doodle mindlessly, I am somewhat into handlettering, I have a thing for stationery and I hate pages full of meaningless words. So bullet journaling seemed to be the perfect buzz for me.
Let me sum up for those of you who haven’t heard about it yet: A bullet journal is a mix of a journal and a planner, to give all your doodles, to do lists, events, notes or simply your thoughts a home, whatever you want to put in there you are free to do so. The only things that are advised to be in there is the key (your legend to categorise the things you put in there, like to do’s, dates, events, …) and an index (I know this sounds annoying but it helps you to find where you put things). You can customise the rest to fit to your needs. There is a nice video on bulletjournal.com that explains how the system itself works. After using mine for a month, I have some learnings and I am very eager to share them with you.
1. Bulletjournaling doesn’t help you to get more shit done
I initially started because I felt a bit lost with all my to do’s. Besides a work and a private calendar I have several to do list’s and boards in various apps, on random pieces of paper for work, private stuff, blog, household etc. I kept forgetting things, from family birthdays to appointments or things to do. I thought when I consolidate at least the private part and put it all together in one bullet journal, I would finally be able to plan better and get more shit done. It may take you by surprise but:
2. Visualising to do’s doesn’t mean you actually complete them
I noticed in the first week already that something was off with my planning. I found it hard to complete my daily dose of tasks, it felt like 24 hours a day just weren’t enough. I simply had too much on my plate and not enough time/energy/motivation to get through with everything. I remember leaving the kitchen a complete mess after decorating a cake at 2 o’clock, just to get up at 6 to clean the mess and take pictures of the cake for the blog in daylight. I simply understimated the time I would need to complete the cake and after the first cake-attempt didn’t turn out okay, I had to redo unplanned. Things don’t always go according to plan and even though I now plan less into my freetime, I still find myself with a lot of open tasks at the end of the day. Which brings me to the next learning:
3. Prioritisation is hard, but it happens automatically
I find it hard to prioritise my private life. Sure it is important to have clean underwear, but if a friend is in need I won’t turn them down. There is no general rule for prioritisation and I find it especially hard to do those things I don’t like. In the end prioritisation happens automatically. So I either find myself making cake until 2 in the morning because I really want to do it or I postpone to some other day in the vague future to give my body the rest it needs.
4. A bullet journal makes it easier to rememeber things
There might be something about the saying that things go directly from hand to mind. I find it easier to remember things and dates without looking them up in the journal. I was tempted to use it as an external memory, to dump everything in there to get it off my mind. Actually the opposite happened which I am very grateful for: It does train my mind, my memory did get better. But still I battle with „out of sight, out of mind“ since it strikes on me all the time. Leftover to do’s hardly make it to my longterm list, which is also a form of prioritisation.
5. Habit trackers are actually helpful
As a part of your bullet journal, you can make a short list of things you want to keep track of for a certain period of time to make them become a habit. I for instance already set a goal for last year to bring a lunchbox to work at least 3 times a week. I also want to make sure I change my bedsheets every x weeks, exercise x times per week and wash my car regularly. You get the concept. For those things I have different habit trackers that look like a spreadsheet with a box for every day/month/period I want to track and a line for every habit/task. I fill out the day-/month-box every time I completed a task in the given time. It gives an easy overview on how often I instagramed, worked out, had a lunchbox, called my Mum, cleaned something, did laundry and so on.
6. But habit trackers require clear goals and objectives…
The habit trackers help to visualise your goals and habits you want to track. As much as filling out the box at the end of the day satisfies me, it doesn’t really help me to stay on track if I don’t punish or reward myself. That requires clear and measurable goals with rewards or punishment. It sure is nice to see how many times per month I have exercised, but I have to set myself a measurable goal to actually make things a habit. „I want to exercise as often as possible so I feel better“ is nice, but it is a poor goal as it is not measurable. „I want to exercise at least 3 times a week to be able to do 10 full pushups by the end of next month“ is good. A reward (a trip to the icecream parlour) or a punishment (50 extra pushups) added and here we go with goal setting.
7. A Bullet journal gets messy & unorganised very quickly
I saw all those neat and organised bullet journals. Colourful, artistic, bestrewn with beatuiful handlettering and inspirational quotes, I wanted the same. Truth is, it get’s messy very quickly. Paper is patient but also limited. If you use a filofax or something, you might be able to rearrange, but in a regular journal, you can’t just shift and move pages as you want. You start on something on a page, then a new thing comes and in the end you notice you didn’t leave enough space to finish up on the things… Then you have a colleciton of ideas interrupted by last weeks grocery list and I find that rather annoying. But that is just the way it is…
8. Size matters…
I got this cute little lined journal for my birthday from a friend. I found it very cute, with the cupcake design and also very handy since it is not too big and not too heavy to carry it around all the time. As I know my endurance is usually not that high and I give up things that cost time after a first phase of euphoria I figured I shouldn’t spend money on a nice journal but rather start with what I have and see where it takes me. My Bujo (short for Bullet Journal) is cute and handy, but I feel I need more space. I like to have everything at a glance and the DIN A6 book is just too tiny and my handwriting too big to come together. I think that the lined design of my current book paired with my large handwriting makes everything look even messier, cause leaving a whole line free in between is just such a waste of space. I already was gifted the original bullet journal by a thoughtful friend, so I can’t wait to start with it after the current one is full. I definitely have to work on my pushups and my shoulders to gain enough strength to carry it around in my Mary Poppins-like very heavy handbag 😉
9. It needs time, dedication, iteration and trial & error
I have read a lot of blogs, watched a shitload of youtube tutorials, went through what feels like a million inspirational pictures on Pinterest to start with the bullet journaling. I put a lot of time and effort in the first pages and compared to the beautiful things I have seen there , I felt mine wasn’t pretty enough. The first thing I noticed is how much time it needs. I started a few days into the month, set up an index, a key and a future log, a monthly planner, a habit tracker and so on. The monthly planner was rather empty at first but got filled very quickly. I started to break it down into a weekly planner so I can have more details filled in, added a section for my lunchbox-dish of the day, a colour scheme for events and appointments, added expenses and so on. Not all of it worked for me, I had to adapt. It is important to work in iterations, follow inspect & adapt pattern and go easy on yourself. I looked for further inspiration and felt bad about mine again. But in the end:
10. There is not one form of bullet journal that works for everyone!!!
The best thing about the bullet journal is: it’s yours. You can do whatever you want with it, you are the creator. It sure is good to look how others use it and try it out, but in the end it has to fit YOUR needs, therefor nobody can tell you how to use it. It is not about how pretty the other’s journals are, how lame your notes or thoughts are, it is about YOU and what works for you. If you want picture-perfect bullet journal porn everyday, invest the time and do it, but it’s perfectly fine if you don’t. Even after 1 month I have tried out a few things with my bujo, some things work, some things don’t. It is on me to decide what to keep and what to ditch, how to jazz it up and to make it work for me. All you need is a journal and a pen, a ruler and pagemarkers come in handy from times and everything else is up to you. Whether you like it fancy, colourful or plain, have it any way you want it!
I have problems with the journaling part, I use it more as a brain dump for all those things on my mind and to avoid the random pieces of paper. But that’s okay. It might not be as pretty and fancy as those I saw on Pinterest or Instagram. But that’s okay. It helps me to feel more organised, makes me realise all the things I would have totally forgotten about and it makes me feel less guilty about taking time for myself. I usually do a bit more fancy planning whenever I have time, during the week I just take notes and tasks together, sometimes doodling around it or highlighting afterwards to jazz it up. It has taken up a place in my weekend routine to plan my lunchmeals, grocery shopping and my weekly to do’s. And how can planning the week be done better than with a nice cup of coffee and some cookies?!
125 g butter at room temperature
100 g crunchy peanutbutter
100 g light brown sugar
75 g Muscovado sugar
1 egg at room temperature
200 g flour
1/2 spoon baking powder & a pinch of salt
100 g dark chocolate chips
100 g Reese’s Peanutbutter chips (or 100g chopped roasted peanuts)
Preheat the oven to 175° without fan and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Mix Butter and Peanutbutter until smoothly combined, then add the sugars and let come together. Add the egg and combine before sifting in flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Fold in gently, then add the chocolate and peanutbutter chips. If you want some more crunch you can replace the peanutbutter chips with the same amount of coarsley chopped roasted peanuts. You can as well take salted peanuts, if you like it salty-sweet.
Form walnut-sized balls of cookie dough and place them on the lined baking sheet with about 4 fingers wide space in between. I use an icecream scoop to measure and put out the dough to the sheet. Bake each sheet for 10-12 minutes until the cookies get golden on the edges. Remove from the oven, carefully pull the parchment sheets onto a wire rack and let cool completely. While the cookies are still warm, they should not be touched or moved around too much because they are still very soft in that stage. But they should be off the hot baking sheet to prevent overbaking.
My phone gave me a little blast from the past this morning: On this day last year I was in my favourite town, living the good life with a christmassy food tour with French Foodie in Dublin. I have explained my love to Dublin with a lot of words last year, so I spare you a rerun. I rather share some thoughts on the wonderful Instagram photo challenge Ketty initiated with you. I must say I don’t feel ready for christmas yet, but the #FFIDXMAS15 get’s me there. So many beautiful pictures and so many creative people and it’s only day 7. So thanks Ketty for being an inspiration and hosting this challenge. I am dying to see more pictures to inspire until Christmas.
As you might have seen already, todays Motto is „White“ and as December is particularly warm this year (Sunny 13°C today), I let it snow myself with some oats and coconut. I picked up the recipe from my little sister some years back and I love how these cookies are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Continue reading »
In my 2015 Forecast I promised to give you more of dark chocolate, so now you get served. I really love the dark chocolate callets from Callebaut I bought in a wholesale market. Luckily I don’t get there too often, otherwise I’d probably have investend a large amount of money in that very dark, rich and handsome… chocolate! I fell for quality dark chocolate a few years back and believe me or not, it really makes a difference in taste even in a plain chocolate cake, not to mention ganache filling for macarons… So mark my words, an investment in good quality chocolate is always a reasonable investment.
Melt the chocolate and let it cool until lukewarm. In a mixing bowl cream the butter until paler in colour before sifting in the sugar and adding the vanilla extract. Beat for several minutes until well combined and smooth. Last add the melted chocolate and keep beating until the icing is creamy, thick and has a spreadable consistency.
Now I tell you a little secret: If you want to step it up a notch chocolate wise, you can core the cupcakes (with a cupcake corer, with the back of a decorating tip or simply with a teaspoon) and fill in some Nutella before you ice the cupcakes. Top off with chocolate sprinkles and intoduce as „death by chocolate“.
It’s not hard to be inspired these days with so many blogs, magazines and pins, so that I could spend more than a lifetime in the kitchen trying out new things. But cracking it down, my problem is the overflow of inspiration. I am an indecisive person, always have been and always will be. Whenever there are too many options and ideas, I am easily overjoyed what leads to being completely uninspired. That happens to me a lot lately, probably because my day-job has been rather demanding in different ways. But whenever in doubt, I can always rely on Martha Stewart. She is not only an icon, she is also an unfailing source of inspiration for me. For my birthday I got the Martha Stewart Cupcake book and my first try, S’mores Cupcakes, turned out awesome, even the homemade Marshmallow, which allegedly is difficult to do, was amazing. And the reaction to those cupcakes at my friend’s BBQ restored my faith in my baking. Though Martha is da Queen, I have 2 major problems with American recipes: The cups measures (here’s a nice piece on why one is fed up with stupid cups measures) and way too much sugar. That’s why I always convert the recipes and reduce the amount of sugar. Reducing the sugar needs to be balanced because it affects the consistency of the batter and as baking is pure chemistry it’s essential. However I think I have found a good balance and like to present you some nice bake for hot summer days: Keylime Whoopie pies! Whoopie pies are like cakes answer to Macarons, 2 halves of cake sandwiched with a decadent creamy filling. And as the pies only take 10 mins in the oven, they can also be made on warm days. Continue reading »
It has been quiet here for the last weeks and it is easy to explain why: I lost my baking Mojo! Seriously, I couldn’t be bothered to bake at all! Unbelievable, right? The lack of motivation to write strikes quite regularly on me and over time I found ways to get myself back into a regular schedule quite easily, but I have never had a lack of baking lust ever. Even in stressful times I squeeze in a little baking to relax and release the pressure. But the last few weeks were different, never ever has baking itself put so much pressure on me. I felt guilty, washed out and demotivated at the same time and knew whatever I was going to bake, it wouldn’t meet my standards. So I chose to relax and hope that it’ll all come back to me soon. Last weekend I had promised to bring four cakes to a family birthday party, so no more excuses, I MUST bake ‚cause letting someone down is not an option for me. A Black Forest Cherry Cake, 24 Frankfurt Crown Cupcakes, a tray of Apple Streusel and a Strawberry Cake later my Mojo was finally back.
It’s good to know that you can still rely on your skills, no matter if you currently love what you do or not. It might be easier, but sometimes it is just hard work that will pay off in the end. My reward were the smiles on people’s faces and that’s all that matters to me in the end: Making people happy with baked goodies. That’s exactly why I love baking and then it all made sense again. Live has funny ways of teaching you lessons sometimes… Continue reading »
Food is like people, some are born to be models and some are just unphotogenic. I belong to the latter group, it’s hard to get a good picture of me and the same applies to anything with streusels (or crumbles as the Americans say). But Streusels are ubiquitous in German baking, if you ever entered a bakery in Germany you can tell and I want to share a recipe with you. It is not like we Germans put streusel on everything, but on almost everything. There is an overwhelming variety of sweet pastries available in German bakeries, often eaten for breakfast, second breakfast or around coffee time. And I’d guess that at least half of these sweet „Stückchen“ (pieces of pastry) come with streusels and different fillings like custard, curd, fruit or you-name-it.
Streusels are Grandma-style and down-to-earth, I guess that’s why everybody loves them. Even when the dough is too dry or compact, the crumbly cover makes up for it. When I was a kid I loved eating raw streusels and I often sneaked back into the kitchen just when the cake came out of the oven to burn my fingers & tongue while ’stealing‘ some steaming hot streusels from the sides of the cake.
My favorite streusel cake comes with a poppy seed filling, but during winter time I prefer apple streusel. Make sure you use apples that are not too juicy so your dough base does not get soaked. If you only have juicy apples at hand, sprinkle some bread crumbs on the dough before placing the apples. Continue reading »
I love boozy bakes! Don’t get me wrong I am no alcoholic, but even when I was a child the boozy cakes were the ones I loved the most. It was special when I was allowed to skim the foam of Dad’s beer glass or eat a piece of Black Forest Cherry Cake on a birthday, sometimes Mum even poured some advokaat over our shortly microwaved chocolate marshmallows for an extra treat. Whenever there was a bit of leftover red wine, my mother turned it into this delicious and moist cake. I now do this myself whenever we open a bottle we don’t like, so the taste of this cake varies with the wine you use, but it is always scrumtious and keeps fresh vor 3-4 days. My sister tweaked the recipe a little with more chocolate sprinkles (who could say no to more chocolate?!?) and I stole it from her so you can also start to save that wine from the drain! Continue reading »
Wow! I can’t believe one year has already passed. This Sunday is our first Wedding anniversary and the date coming closer filled me with mixed emotions. On one hand it makes me really happy because we spent a fantastic day with friends & family and had a wonderful ceremony & party. On the other hand it makes me sad, because my grandpa couldn’t be with us and died a few weeks after our Wedding. But I’ll stick to those happy memories for now, because everything else would make me burst in tears. Continue reading »