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Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

So I’ve completely neglected my blog this month, but I can’t honestly say why. It probably has something to do with the fact that I haven’t really baked anything. Nada. Maybe there’s some psychological thing going on, or maybe I’m just eff-ing lazy. Maybe it just feels too hot outside to use the oven (true). Maybe I’m just more interested in eating delicious summer tomatoes while I still can (also true).

I’d like to continue this blog, but I’m not sure what direction it will take, or what the focus will be. All of my baking supplies are currently in storage in my aunt’s closet and will probably remain there until I move back to DC (wishful thinking). Although I have a gut feeling that poor student in London ≠ healthy baking spree, who knows…things could change. I could get my baking groove back. Until then….I’m going to look at this photo and become inspired by chocolate chip cookie dough and want to eat it.

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And suddenly, just like that, I am back in the States. Chicago via Miami via Buenos Aires. I am back…but not in DC, my home of the past four years. Rather, I am back back, sleeping in a bedroom filled with high school yearbooks and Sweet Valley High books, and it feels like I never left.

Weird. I am 26 and 16 and confused.

But for now, I will focus on simply getting adjusted to summer weather. I will remind myself that I don’t have to wear flip flops in the shower, or race to the hostal kitchen by 11 am to get free cornflakes and stale coffee.

I wish I had some intensely insightful thing to say about my trip, but really all I can say is that it was wonderful, too short, and just right. I feel blessed and content. In lieu of profound thoughts, here are some “stats.”

  • number of hours spent on long-distance buses in South America= 71.
  • number of alfajores consumed in Argentina and Chile= ∞.
  • best alfajor= bought and consumed near Plaza Anibel Pinto, Valparaiso, Chile.
  • best choripan= identified by taxi driver in Buenos Aires; bought and consumed in grateful silent companionship at approximately 3 am.
  • highlight of trip= biking through the silent desert in San Pedro de Atacama.
  • lowlight of trip= spraining (EDIT: acquiring an incomplete break in) my foot whilst falling off a wooden bunk bed in Buenos Aires.
  • items lost=iPhone, travel hair brush.
  • items found=knitting, new friends all over the world, prolonged yoga headstand, black boot on left foot…

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Hello, baker friends and family! It’s been a while.

Warning: this isn’t a baking post. This is a bona fide journal entry. Oops.

Almost a month ago, I made a fairly confident decision to leave my job, my apartment, this wonderful city, and my even more wonderful friends for a longstanding daydream. Spending time in South America before graduate school had been in my “idealistic life plan” for years. So I made several important decisions within a relatively short time frame. I accepted the offer from LSE. I quit my job. I booked my flight. I bought a backpack. I found some hostel(s). I went for it. And it felt really good.

This past weekend, however, I became somewhat terrified. Ok, completely terrified. There, I said it. Nervous butterflies are still dancing an angry Irish jig in my stomach, and a tiny but aggressive voice in my head seems to be screaming at me: WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!? Why are you going all the way to Argentina to work in a garden and do yoga and abstain from alcohol and then hang out in a new city when you don’t really know a single soul in the entire country? Why are you leaving a beautiful DC spring for the onslaught of autumn on another continent? What will you do when you come back to the States? How will you afford living in London come September without a summer job? What makes you think that you can do this? What? Where? When? Why? Why? Why.

As I pack up my tiny studio apartment, give away books and appliances like old Halloween candy, sell my furniture on craigslist, say goodbye to my friends, and meditate on the reality of what is about to happen, I feel an extremely potent Long Island cocktail of emotions brewing inside me. I am uneasy, overwhelmed, excited, sad, paralyzed, and scared, all at once. And for a while, I found myself sinking under the self-imposed guilt of feeling ambivalent, like a paperweight pushing down on my chest. Incredibly, I stopped feeling lucky and grateful.

But yesterday, I allowed my mind to wander back to those last blissful days of college, and I remembered. Oh yeah. I’ve done this before. I’ve boarded a plane for a strange city, and I survived. Four years ago, I said goodbye to to amazing lifelong friendships, my family, and wonderful memories in Evanston. I also said adios to plenty of mistakes, painful memories, and lessons learned. Four years later,  I’m packing it up again, saying goodbye to new but similar memories, best friends, and lessons learned, and it occurs to me that the two moving situations are actually somewhat similar. Hell, I spent my very first day in DC opening up a bank account in an almost entirely Spanish-speaking Mt. Pleasant BofA branch. It was a typical nasty-ass 95 degree day, the airline lost my one piece of luggage with all my clothes and toiletries, I felt flushed and confused and lost and totally gringa, and I was happy and excited. It was one of the best summers of my life.

So maybe it’s OK to feel so strange and ambivalent about traveling, moving, leaving your “life” behind. And maybe it won’t be easy. And I’ll probably have good days and poo days. At the moment, I am just thankful. After a week of feeling somewhat uneasy and confused, today I feel the bristle of pure anticipation again.

On a less eloquent note, I won’t have internet access at the yoga park so I likely won’t update this blog until late May. Once I’m back in Buenos Aires, I look forward to finding a cafe and enjoying a cafe cortado with my laptop again.

Si todavia estas leyendo esta ramble por cualquier razon, espero que tengas un buen dia…semana…mayo super lindo!

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I’ve always liked the idea of having a blog with a consistent theme, a blog that touches upon a part of my life, but not my entire life. By sharing recipes, posting photos of food creations, and occasionally dipping into my personal life with a ramble here and there, I’ve been able to maintain some distance between my blog and my “life.” More importantly, I’ve maintained some sense of privacy. So over the past year, I’ve tried to restrict Baker Meg to blogging about baking, and that’s pretty much it.

But things change. I love to write. Love. Mmmm love. And I don’t really want to stop rambling just because I’m moving around and can’t regularly ramble about baking for a while. There’s no reason why a blog can’t transform with the fickle nature of its owner’s whereabouts, goals, passions, interests….right? Plus, no one has to listen to me, and I don’t mind talking to myself.

On the to-do list: Tren a las nubes, or train to the clouds, near Salta, northern Argentina (AP)

So for the next several months, Baker Meg will go beyond the world of baking. It will be my place to share my thoughts and photos as a solo traveler wandering around the southern hemisphere for a while and then heading to the UK in the fall. You might see the layout change a little bit to reflect this new focus. You might not.

Of course, I’m still Baker Meg. The second I find a delicious alfajor in Argentina, I will take several photos from different angles and blog about it.

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Baker Meg takes a bow.

My friends, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while. Well, the simple truth is, I probably won’t post for a while. Here are three reasons why.

1. Baking is a luxury, and I am recently and willfully unemployed. As much as I love two dozen cookies/muffins/brownies fresh out of the oven, I don’t need those items to survive each day, and baking ingredients cost dough. $$. Sad but true. Food prices are going up, in case you haven’t heard, and I need to eat more vegetables, milk, cereal, and maybe peanut butter in a non-baked fashion. Ok, and chocolate. Done.

2. Baking is hard to do on the go, and I’m moving. After almost 4 years in the District, I finally had my quarter-and-a-year life crisis. I’ll be fleeing the city in early May for….cough….an eco yoga park in Buenos Aires. Don’t ask me what ‘eco yoga park’ means, exactly, but I’m doing it. And then who knows what. Traveling around Argentina como una gringa soltera for a while, FOJ-ing, nannying, beaching, city-hopping on a budget, living. I don’t know. It’s probably stupid. And then I move to London in September to become a poor student again and live in a studio the size of my current studio kitchen. So that’s a lot of moving and down-sizing.

3. But amigo, don’t fret!! I’ll be back. Baker Meg Euro-style may be in the cards. Until then, ok bye. And thanks for listening to me ramble and bake. It’s been really fun. Please buy my multi-grain bread one day.

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The Cream Puff

A Simple Poem

By Megan Dold

O cream puff, I do love you

You hardly ever let me down.

Kind of healthy (?) and delicious

When you’re near I just can’t frown.

But then one day I tried to bake you

And you put up quite a fight

Nearly set C’s kitchen on fire

Almost ruined our day and night

But neither smoke nor tears would keep me

From another tray, a second time

And then you came out of the oven

looking perfect and sublime

So I still love you, this is true

But there’s one thing that I must say:

I’d rather buy frozen puffs from Costco

Bake something else and call it a day.

Fin.


So this is a bit of an “alternative” cream puff recipe, using vanilla pudding mix and all. The puffs actually did turn out very delicious in the end, but the process was…well, you know. I just wrote a second grade poem about it.

“Easy” Cream Puff Recipe

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Makes about 25 cream puffs

Ingredients

2 (3.5 ounce packages instant vanilla pudding mix

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs

Directions

1. Mix together vanilla instant pudding mix, cream and milk. Pour the mixture into a ziplock bag, place in the

refrigerator to set.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

3. In a large pot, bring water and butter to a rolling boil. Stir in flour and salt until the mixture forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon or stand mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. Bake for 20 minutes in the oven, until golden brown. MONITOR CAREFULLY AS THEY MAY BURN SUDDENLY WITHOUT WARNING.

5. When the shells are cool, cut about 1/8 of an inch off the tip of the bag filled with the pudding mixture. Make a tiny incision on the bottom of the puff (or if they are already cracked a bit at the top, don’t bother) and squeeze a bit of cream into each puff. Voila.

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As I mentioned in my last post, our traditional Thanksgiving family cookie-palooza (mom, sis, and me baking; dad taste-testing) was downgraded this year to 3 sure-fire recipes and 1 tricky little snot of a recipe which just befuddled us all. I blame Paula Deen.

1 salty sweet snack + 1 cookie + 1 frosted pumpkin bar + 1 oopsie upside-down molten cheesecake = hodgepodge Turkey Day treats (note, none of these are particularly healthy nor particularly terrible for you…if you eat just one).

Chocolate pretzel rings are by far the easiest to make, that is, unless you forget to grease the baking sheets, and then you’ll just fight back tears as your futile efforts to gently scrape the cookie sheet cause each chocolate kiss to effortlessly pop out of the pretzel ring before you can say “@(&$@!” I’m just guessing on this reaction. I wouldn’t know. It’s never happened to me.

Place the pretzels on greased baking sheets; place a chocolate kiss in the center of each ring. Bake at 275 degrees F for 2-3 minutes or until chocolate is softened. Remove from the oven. Place an M&M (any variety works–peanut M&M’s are great) on each, pressing down slightly so chocolate fills the ring. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes or until chocolate is firm. Store at room temperature.

Peanut butter blossoms are arguably one of the best cookies in the world. We make these every year, no matter what.

I made pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. These were delicious and easy, but I’m not going to share this recipe quite yet because I KNOW I can healthify it a bit. One cup of oil? Meh. Next.

My sister also crafted a beautiful graham cracker pumpkin cheesecake that seemingly took hours to prepare. Alas, as the perfect cheesecake bubbled in the oven and we all got ready to head to my aunt’s house, one of us realized that a cheesecake is, by nature, supposed to chill before being served…at least 8 hours, not 5 minutes. Again, I blame Paula Deen. We took it out of the oven anyway, flipped it over so that the crust faced up, and let it melt and kind of lean sideways a bit. So, basically we just created a new fad dessert: an upside down leaning tower of Pisa molten cheesecake. In the end, it was still good, probably because the thing was 75 percent butter. Hence, not on my blog.

All in all, a successfully low-stress day of random baking. Happy post-Thanksgiving recovery/re-entry into the real world!

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