Friday, February 26, 2010

help . . . all ye bakers out there

I’m not good at baking. At all. There was a time, when I could produce some half decent stuff, but that was way back in another country, with different ingredients, a different system of measurement, a different language, a different oven, etc.
Lately it’s been one disaster after another.
Cheesecake seeped through the joint in the springform pan – gross and what a clean-up mess! (later realized it’s because there’s only spreadable cream cheese available here so the batter was too runny . . .).
A meringue topped birthday cake was brown on top and completely doughy on the bottom, despite being in the oven at least 20 minutes longer than the recipe called for . . . .
A birthday cake came out like a solid sheet of cookies (that had been baked with too much sugar) – realized I had read the recipe wrong and poured the batter into a long pan instead of a small round cake pan . . .
You get the picture.
But, there’s a recipe I really want to get right, and maybe someone out there can help. This recipe is for Overnight Buns that my Mom used to make ALL the time when we were kids. When she made them, she started on a Friday night, so Saturday morning we would wake to the smell of fresh baked buns.The recipe made lots and she would freeze the ones we didn’t eat right away. I remember having them in my school lunches . . . with either processed cheese or PB and J . . . yum!
My Mom passed away in November 2001, and I procured the recipe sometime after that. I’ve made it one other time since then, but that time turned out better than the ones I made 2 weeks ago . . .
Here’s the recipe (and maybe you can figure out what the problem is):
In case you’re wondering, there’s nothing on the back . . . So, I had to guess the temperature – I picked 200C(400F) because that’s the most common temp for baking here, but it was too warm – I’ll use 180C/350F next time. I had to guess how long to leave them in – I chose 20 minutes, which seemed about right.
I seem to remember my Mom used warm water with the yeast, but the package I had here said to mix it in with the flour and nothing else was needed . . .
Anyways, I dumped everything together and kneaded it for awhile, then Stefan said I should knead it some more – so I did (who doesn’t listen to their husband give baking advice). I covered it with a towel and put it in a warm place. A couple hours later, I took it out, punched it down and kneaded it a bit more and then left it for awhile longer.
Later, I buttered my hands and then formed the balls and put them on long pans (cookie sheet-like pans). I covered them and left them overnight. I got up early the next morning and so my family had fresh buns for breakfast before heading out the door.
At first take, they were pretty good. But, once they were cold the discrepancies became evident – first, the  tops on my mom’s were shinier – maybe she basted them with melted butter before baking?
The other thing that really bugs me was that they were much heavier than my mom’s. My mom’s were so fluffy when you pulled them open, even after they had been in the freezer. Any opinions out there? Did I overknead? Was it a mistake not to put the yeast in something warm?
This is how they looked:
I also messed up a whole batch of Monster Cookies this week. But that’s a whole ‘nother story . . .

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

quotes from the little one

"So when I'm big and I'm going to get married, do I just go to the church and open the doors and ask which one will marry me?"

"Eat lots of food Mom so you can get a baby."

(This one broke my heart):

"Does God keep all the boys and girls who don't have moms and pappas?"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

i don’t mean to complain . . .

but, seriously, how long is this cold weather going to last?? It’s been so cold, for so long now . . .
Today is –17 degrees Celsius. That’s 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s not even taking into account the wind chill factor. And there’s some serious wind blowing out there, folks. And, it’s snowing right now! Is that even possible, to snow when it’s this cold???
The temperature has regularly been between –15 and –20 for weeks and weeks on end now (we did have a brief period where it warmed up to –5C/23F for a few days). However, the last couple of weeks have been cold but sunny. That makes the cold bearable, when you can feel the sunshine on your face. And, everything looks beautiful:
P1030053 P1030054 P1030056 P1030065

Thursday, February 18, 2010

pioneer family

As per Stefan’s request, I am posting our most recent family portrait – taken in a Gold-mining town in BC last summer.can09083 I certainly would not want to meet any of the menfolk out alone at night – they look kinda grumpy . . .
We were told that the hat Mattias wore was from the wardrobe department of the Night at the Museum movie.
I’m not really sure why I look so happy about doing laundry . . .

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

detached, rambling musings

I'm an Olypicoholic. The TV's on nonstop. I'm watching coverage of the same events repeatedly, on different channels, with Swedish commentators, missing Canadian coverage.

I woke up at 4am on Saturday, along with Stefan and Sam, to watch the opening ceremonies in my "hometown". We watched for an hour and 45 minutes and then decided to let the dvr record the rest, only to be disappointed later when we realized the ceremony ran over schedule and the dvr stopped recording as Wayne Gretzky, Nancy Green, Steve Nash, Catriona LeMay Doan and Rick Hansen were in the stadium waiting for the torch to rise from the floor. We never did see the actual lighting of the torch . . . .

I walked to the store yesterday in our "balmy" -5C weather. Today is a bit cooler at -15C, but the sun is just now starting to shine. It looks beautiful out there. Those of you who know me IRL know that I am not a cold-weather girl. The first winter we were here, I was excited to have a white Christmas, but I got over that pretty quickly. I remember saying repeatedly during January 2006 (the coldest weather I had ever spent any significant amount of time in) that "someone" had not been truthful with me about the winters here . . . a little bit of false advertising . . . Anyways, I can appreciate the beauty and freshness of the crisp snow and the sunshine out there - I'll just do it from inside.

The search for a new vehicle is still on . . . will maybe have some news very soon.

Sofia got a perfect score on her math test last week.

Joel loves his Wii Olympic game he got for Christmas. After watching an event on TV, he'll go downstairs and try it on Wii. He's much better than me at ski jumping, but I can beat him at figure skating . . .

A couple weeks ago, Mattias rearranged his room and it drives me crazy . . . I'm such an "order" freak that I can't stand that he's moved his bed to the middle of the room . . . so I try to stay out of there . . .

I love having a big kid around the house . . . Sam carries in wood, makes a fire in the furnace, can make dinner if he's asked . . . he's just not keeping his room as clean as I would like . . . .

Thursday, February 11, 2010

who’s that hunky guy with the pvc pipe in his hand?

That, my friends, would be my husband (who is gonna be soooo mad at me if/when he reads this . . .).
So, yesterday, there was a big hoopla around here because our region of Finland is now available on the Google maps street view. Ya know – front page of the newspaper stuff.
I didn’t think anything of it until I got a message on FB from my SIL asking whether it was Stefan or Sam on the side of the road . . . So, Stefan and I checked it out.
There he was – Stefan picking up a drainage pipe. Obviously, the Google 360 camera car came through our village in September (and by the looks of our house, it was near the end of the ditch-digging project around our house).
How weird is that?  . . . To see our life on the internet, but nothing we’ve put up ourselves . . .
My MIL was out hanging up laundry as the camera passed her house 200m down the road.
The principal and 2 of Mattias’ classmates were in the school yard setting up for gym class when the camera passed the school 7km away.
I’ve checked out my dad’s house and it appears the camera went by in the spring . . . the magnolia only had a few blooms. My brother’s garden looks nice, too (I “drove” around the block to his house).
If you want to “drive” past our house and get a feel for the village where we live, send me an email and I’ll let you know how to find us.

Friday, February 5, 2010

things kids do

Last Saturday, when we arrived at our hotel in the Helsinki area, the first thing Joel and Sofia wanted to do was, of course, check out every little detail of the room. We had a room for three – 2 single beds and a “hide-a-bed-sorta”.
These pics of the 2 of them tell the story themselves . . . .
P1030017 P1030018 P1030019

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

mornin’ ralph, mornin’ sam

Does the title remind you of anything? For me . .  . it’s Looney Tunes from my childhood:
  Pepsi totally reminds me of Sam Sheepdog. She sits “alert” like he does on the cliff . . . .P1030028
She guards her food, like he guards the sheep . . .P1030030
And she walks into things all the time because she can’t see a thing . . . P1030027
The sitting alert thing is totally cracking us upright now . . . . She sits and stares at nothing, for like 15, 20 minutes.P1030025 The other day she sat about 1 meter from the wall, just staring at it . . .
Of course, I’m pretty sure the reason for all this bizarre behaviour lately is because she’s going into heat again soon . . . fun times (heavy on the sarcasm) . . .
In the meantime, whenever our oldest son walks past her, he says, “Mornin’ Sam. Mornin’ Ralph”.

The Holms

Denmark Road Trip

The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.