the tail end of baking

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I wrote the other day about how I no longer derive joy from baking. But I discovered that in the middle of a medium-sized bake. Later I posted pictures of the baking, and everyone exclaimed, “You’re baking! But I thought you said you weren’t going to!” Yeah… I won’t. But I didn’t realize I didn’t want to until I was too far down the road of baking this recent stuff to stop. I finished the bake, vowed only to do my planned Halloween bake next month, and then that’s it.

Meanwhile, if you want to try your hand at the things I made for my office this week, here are the recipes:

Back to mixed basics: Chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies

Chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies
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I had some oats and some peanut butter I wanted to finish. Instead of making different cookies, I whipped them all together in one cookie – the chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookie.

You can make some too.

Recipe
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup butter
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup oats

Preheat the oven to 180C. Form dough into small balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Baked goods & recipes – May 27

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When I finally came out of hibernation and baked, I ended up making nine different things to take to my office. I had a list of more things than that but was so slow in the baking process that I was not even sure I would manage to make the nine things I did. But here is the recount and all the recipes, for those who care:

M&M cookies

MMM MMMMMM ... M&M cookies

MMM MMMMMM … M&M cookies

White chocolate macadamia nut cookies

Ever-popular favorite: White chocolate macadamia cookies

Ever-popular favorite: White chocolate macadamia cookies

ANZAC biscuits

Deceiving you into thinking they're healthy: ANZAC biscuits

Deceiving you into thinking they’re healthy: ANZAC biscuits

Nanaimo bars

Nanaimo bars for all those times you don't count calories and/or want to pretend you're Canadian

Nanaimo bars for all those times you don’t count calories and/or want to pretend you’re Canadian

Coconut macaroon shells filled with dark chocolate ganache

Gluten-free doesn't mean it's not amazing: Dark chocolate ganache filling in coconut macaroon tart shells

Gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s not amazing: Dark chocolate ganache filling in coconut macaroon tart shells

Chocolate chip cookies stuffed with Reese’s peanut butter cups

Heart attack in cookie form: Reese's peanut butter cup stuffed in giant chocolate chip cookie

Heart attack in cookie form: Reese’s peanut butter cup stuffed in giant chocolate chip cookie

Chocolate cookies with Andes mint chips

Using the rare Andes mints for chocolate mint cookies

Using the rare Andes mints for chocolate mint cookies

Chocolate cookies with Reese’s peanut butter chips

Using up peanut butter chips brought by "chip mule" from the States - chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips

Using up peanut butter chips brought by “chip mule” from the States – chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips

Shortbread with chocolate sprinkles

Perennial favorite - buttery shortbread with chocolate sprinkles

Perennial favorite – buttery shortbread with chocolate sprinkles

Baking Builds Community

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If I ever needed evidence of how cool and community-building Twitter can be, the last couple of days are a case in point. I exchanged a couple of not terribly meaningful Tweets with thinkspace (a company in the Seattle area that is a kind of office space/tech accelerator). I had heard of them but had no real reason to interact. But yesterday having crossed paths on Twitter thanks to the Mink 3D printer story making headlines in the tech world, I checked out thinkspace (awfully cool the work they’re doing in my old stomping grounds – western Washington).

But one of the coolest finds was an article in the thinkspace blog about how “baking builds community” – and this is something I can attest to – having started this blog back in 2009 or so because of my own baking obsessions and inclinations. Earlier parts of the blog are all about baking, recipes and pictures of cookies – 2014 has been almost bake-less, but somehow seeing the mention of baking mania on the thinkspace site makes me think it might be time to come out of hibernation.

Bear with me a minute – I am going to reach a point but before that will discuss a bit about the operational side of my weekly commuting life, a very impersonal and faceless grind. Each week, I spend one night and two days in Gothenburg, Sweden (where I work). Almost every week now, I stay in the same spare, no-frills hotel on the edge of the city. I don’t mind it; it is one of the least expensive options and the staff is pretty friendly. I would never go so far as to say that most Swedish companies, even those squarely in competitive consumer markets, are particularly friendly or service-oriented, but this low-end place has actually been friendlier and offered better service than I got at a lot of the city’s more upscale places.

Generally, in the year+ that I have been doing this “commute”, I have stayed in at least half of Gothenburg’s 90-ish hotels and in all parts of the city. In many cases, I have stayed in the handful of places that are actually whole apartments, which is always more comfortable for slightly longer-than-overnight stays – but they are generally expensive and impersonal, if you can actually book a flat (they are often sold out, as is almost always the case with one specific place in the city center).

This week I got an apartment that is a tiny bit off the beaten path but is nevertheless quite central – a really beautiful flat with the most personal and attentive service possible. The people running the flats (there are, I think, four or five flats there for rent) are personable and really strive to make the stay at their place fantastic. And it was. I fell in love with the apartment I stayed in (it is not one of the more spa-oriented flats that they have fashioned on the lower floor) – it was compact enough that it was not a huge amount of space but had high ceilings and skylight windows and a small loft just for sitting in natural light. It made me feel almost sad that I never found a flat just like it when I was looking to buy a flat in Gothenburg (not that I would have managed to win a bid in the cutthroat real estate market here).

The whole reason I digress and go off into this story was because I had a long conversation with the proprietress of the place – a gregarious Australian woman, and we got onto the subject of baking – my industrial-level baking habit/hobby and how I give all of it away. How it builds bridges, opens doors and of course (as she noted) probably gave me away as an American like nothing else does. Haha. I commented that Australia Day had just passed and I felt bad that I had not made any Anzac biscuits for the first time in years – and she lamented that she had not even had an Anzac biccie in 20+ years.This exchange – discussing baking – yes, just discussing, opened the door to further conversation and personalization. That really made a big difference – a human connection. And it makes me want to fire up the oven and make some cookies right now. Peanut-butter-cup-stuffed chocolate chip cookies anyone?

Baking really does build community – whether you are offering up 20 different kinds of cookies and cupcakes to the office or whether you are just discussing what you like to bake with the people you happen to meet in your daily life. Suddenly I feel inspired to get back in the kitchen.

Here’s another little piece of advice…

Dashes of sugar, dashes of travel: A stuffed life

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