Number of Visits

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pancake Sundays

Studying in North America, I've become exposed to the culture here, and seeing as this is a temporary phase of my life, I've decided to adopt its traditions. Previously I mentioned how I cooked stew, cupcakes and even Kraft dinner, all very North American, even if I spiced them up a bit.

It is Sunday December the 13th, and Vancouver is covered with this winters first proper snow, it's a quiet Sunday, I have one exam left and not for a while, I don't have much to do as most people are busy with their exams, so I decided to make Pancakes, what can be more synonymous with American culture than making pancakes on a late and lazy Sunday morning?

I decided that I wouldnt spice up the classic recipe, I mixed flour with some baking powder, butter, vanilla, an egg and a pinch of salt. All very basic, all very warming. I heard in movies, television and the such that the first pancake (also called the "practice" pancake) always goes wrong, so I was determined to break that cycle and make a perfect practice pancake... I failed.

The first pancake was more cylindrical than round and was rather burnt (so was the second) but then I got into the rhythm and it all fell into place. Making and preparing pancakes cannot be any easier, in fact I do not understand why some people buy those ready batters, making it from scratch takes no time at all and is strangely satisfying.

I made a nice little batch, but I decided to add a tropical touch when it came to serving it. Instead of going with the classic butter and maple syrup, I served it with organic yogurt flavored with real coconut, and some cream cheese for those that wanted a more savory start to the day. Honestly the coconut and the texture of the yogurt was amazing with the taste and texture of the pancake, it was a perfect way to start a lazy sunday, served with a nice hot cup of tea.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Subtle form of Torture

Earlier this year, I was flying from Abu Dhabi to Vancouver through London. Now to understand my pain, the first part (Abu Dhabi - London) was a seven hour flight, I then arrived in London and had to wait for another seven hours until it was time for my eleven hour flight to Vancouver.

I dont mind waiting, only that the chairs in Heathrow's terminal 4 are designed to torture travelers. let me stress that terminal has no spa, no hotel and no lounge. It has shops and restaurants but no where for you to rest. Now when I saw the chairs I almost broke down entirely, I am certain that they were designed to inflict the most pain possible.

I dont know if they tried to be artistic or modern, but they failed! I want whoever made the choice to try and sit down on what is basically a wooden wedge for seven hours! All you have to do is look at it! What the hell were they thinking?!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Disturbing Discovery

Now, I was calmly relaxing tonight, when I made a startling discovery. Ikea lights will kill you. If you read the warning label on an Ikea lamp, you will read the folowing:


At first this made no affect on me, but then I realized what they mean; using the right bulb will only REDUCE the risk of fire! Which means that using any bulb may still reduce you and your apartment to a sizzling crisp...

Sleepy Sunday Bread

I woke up late, and refused to get out of bed. It was cloudy outside, and the weather is getting colder by the day. This was Sunday and I planned to hibernate. I changed the setting on my phone from vibrate to silent, and got out of all my brunch obligations, and stayed in bed doing absolutely nothing.

Sunday is gloomy,
My hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows
I live with are numberless
Little white flowers
Will never awaken you

Then about one in the afternoon, i got this crushing craving for the smell of fresh bread. With the weather as it was, I was dying for the warmth of the oven, and that soothing, almost motherly smell of baking bread. There is something about baking that creates a personalized warmth in any "gloomy Sunday". I was going to make something basic, no complications, nothing extravagant, just simply minimal and delightfully rustic.

I poured the salt sugar and yeast in a bowl of warm water, and mixed. At this point i started melting some butter and getting the flour ready. I poured the butter on the yeast and poured it all n the flour. There was nothing creative about bread, its all very basic, and i just followed the principles I knew of making bread.

Now the unfortunate part of baking is the kneading; it is frightfully demanding and if not dont right the bread doesn't form properly. So I started to work out whatever tension I had locked in me! Im afraid I do not have an electric mixer so I prepare dough the old fashioned way. This means wrestling with the dough, punching, pulling slapping , it is much harder than it seems, in fact it would not surprise me if in the middle ages, instead of saying a person has a swimmers shoulders, they would say that the person has a bakers shoulders.

How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?
How many times a day do I think of you?
How many roses are sprinkled with dew?
How far would I travel
To be where you are?

After the dough is ready I usually let it sit for its first rest, I let it sit from
between 30 to 60 minutes. Let the dough rest and take its form, it has been
through a lot, form its quick and careless birth, to the fight with its stubborn form,
and now it needs to nap and reel in all the efforts of the process. At this point
i start kneading again. This time though the dough is lazy, the nap must have
gotten to it, so it bends with your force, offering no resistance what so ever.
Finally I shape it into a cylinder and put it inside a baking pan, and let it rest
for a second time inside the oven.
After another hour turn on the oven and wait for half an hour.

Now for that half hour, get away from the kitchen and sit somewhere comfortable. Just leave all the doors leading to it open. I made myself a nice cup of tea, and I sat down to catch up with my readings. about ten minutes in, this rich scent of freshly baked bread starts to slowly role out of the oven doors and playfully whisk your senses, your mouth watering you close your eyes and take in that deep wholesome breath.

The evening breeze caressed the trees tenderly
The trembling trees embraced the breeze tenderly
Then you and I came wandering by
And lost in a sigh were we
The shore was kissed by sea and mist tenderly
I can't forget how two hearts met breathlessly
Your arms opened wide and closed me inside
You took my lips, you took my love so tenderly

You start feeling warmth as the fresh scent hits you, you can see the flames of the
oven, and you can hear the expansion of the dough. You can sense it hardening
and taking form. You can smell its color darken and you can feel its flavor set. And
there in one quick moment you know that it has turned to bread.

Im going to keep this until latter on tonight. There is a ritualistic power to the
breaking of bread. Traditionally it would not be done by knife, but rather by hand,
it would be ripped into pieces and passed to the people you eat with. It was a sign
of great respect, affection and trust. I wholly think that people still on a
subconscious level appreciate the significance of bread and the symbolic power in
sharing a meal.

No regrets
Although our love affair has gone astray
No regrets
I know I'll always care though you're away
So now our happy romance ended suddenly
Still in my heart you'll be forever mine
No regrets
Because somebody new looks good to you
No regrets

As for my bread, well it now needs to take its time and cool down. I don't need to
test it, I can tell that is will be a great success.