Last but not Least

My journey in Baking Love has showed me a lot of interesting things. It made me run across people who are passionate about what they do for a living, or people who have passions, and no mater how busy they might be still manage to find time for practicing them.

I currently live in an environment with people from all over the world, and it’s easy for me to know and get familiar with people from different backgrounds and different cultures. I come from Albania, I live in Bulgaria, and I spend my summers in the United States. My way of living has impacted not only my way of thinking but also me and my life itself.  This is my last blog post so I am going to show you how did this blog changed me and what it taught me.

First of all, I learned that people are always ready to talk, you just need to ask them. I always had a difficulty approaching unknown people and asking them about something, or just interviewing them for a class assignment. Well I found out that they actually like it. Yeah, it makes them feel important. But remember to always be polite and considerate. You don’t want to interrupt anything or get them mad, you’ll the wrong answer.

Second, I found out that sometimes we all are too busy to do what we really want. But the ones that really want something always find out a way to do it. I interviewed Sanne a couple of weeks ago, who showed me how to bake healthy cookies a day before my midterms. A little advice, doing what you really like never takes too much time…

Third, I found out that a lot of AUBG-ers that go to USA in the summer manage to find a job in the kitchen. They all admitted to me that is one of the most helpful experiences because it teaches you how to prepare your own meal and how to stay healthy and take care of yourself.

Then while researching for another paper, I ran through this very interesting study about baking being a good activity to avoid depression. It is amazing how simple activities like this can affect our mental and physical health.

Despite all of the above mentioned I found a lot of other interesting facts and met a lot of interesting people like Krasimira who bakes and sells banitsa every night after 3 am, or Ani who started a new business in Blagoevgrad just because it sweetens her life. Bun not only have I met people and learned a bunch of stuff from them, but I have also learned a lot of stuff about being a blogger.

For starters I have learned how to make people follow you on twitter and follow your blog. I have learned the little tricks about grabbing reader’s attention with just a few words. I have further explored video editing programs like premier pro. So basically, I have experienced being a back-pack journalist and I have really liked it.

But dear reader thank you so much for being there with me while all of this was happening. This blog started as a class assignment for Multimedia Journalism, but I can insure you today that it is now much more than that. It is now a part of me, and of my little book of interesting journeys.

Love

Baking Love

This video was inspired by all the people that i met this semester, and all the people that helped me out.
Thank you guys!! You are all amazing :*

Christmas is Here!

Yesterday, I was walking around Skapto and I noticed that there was something missing… I have been living in this place for the past two years and I consider it as my home now. Around this time of the year everybody gets ready for the biggest holiday, Christmas.

Cooks at AUBG

­During the summer most of the AUBG students usually go to USA on a work and travel program. They sometimes end up working in very interesting places and having quite impressive job. Look at me for example; I ended up being a cup cake decorator.

Todays post is not only about baking and cooking, but it’s about the strange places and things you find yourself doing sometimes.

I have been on a work and travel program the last two summers, and I have been traveling and switching jobs quite a lot. I have been working for a candy shop, car rental, Mexican restaurant, beauty salon, and for two amazing tall ships… out of all these I learned just one thing, experience is enough.

This week baking love went to trace down other students that share similar experiences or totally different ones form mine. I was a bit more focused on students who had actually been working on a kitchen environment, and I wanted to find out how it has affected them or their habits afterwards.

It turns out that more people that I actually thought had been working in bakeries and restaurants.

Baking for VeteransDay

Hey everybody 🙂
This is my first Storify Story. Check out the tweets about #VeteransDay, a lot of nice stuff out there. 

  1. Starting November 4, through Veterans Day, we’re baking our Veterans Day Camo Cupcake each day. It’s a… t.co/15fvJDGT15
  2. American Flag Cupcakes! Order these for your Veteran’s Day Celebrations! t.co/3tL7COqX5H
  3. @AskNaoma seen on @13NewsNow Saturdays is baking #allnatural #organic cupcakes for @woundedwear 2night in honor of #veteransday at 6:30pm
  4. I have lots of cooking and baking to do this week and weekend. #veteransday #marinewife #merica����
  5. Have a good Veterans Day, and thanks to all military personnel and veterans for their service. #spsm

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Baking; Depression’s Enemy

I had this weird thought last night about cookies. If 200 years ago I wanted to eat some cookies in the middle of the night where would I get them? I couldn’t really buy them obviously… I guess there were not a lot of candy stores or supermarkets open during the night back then, or even existing at all. I would probably had to make them myself.

You know how they say time change and generations do as well, apparently baking changes too…or let me rephrase that, willingness to bake changes too.

Obviously it is much easier nowadays to satisfy our needs and cravings than in the past. But how does this affect us? Do we still bake our cookies, cupcakes and bread ourselves, or we just go at the store and buy everything. And most important of all

A new research conducted in England by John Whaite, a GBBO 2012 winner, states that baking helps lifting people out of depression. A news story at the independed describes the initiative “Baking a Smile” conducted by Mr. White.

“Mr Whaite, ambassador for the campaign group Baking a Smile, said he is inundated with people contacting him to discuss ‘how baking helps with their various mental health issues’ ”. (www.independent.co.uk)

Sometimes I wonder if the evolution of time, society, and technology is as good as I think it is. Maybe if we didn’t have all the bakeries that we have today, people would bake more, and who knows maybe there wouldn’t even be many depressed people. Or for instance, maybe if I found a bit more time to bake I wouldn’t be too stressed about my classes and exams.

I believe that any activity that gives one a sense of achievement, or any creative or non-creative work that gives you a bit of pleasure helps depression, or at least makes a bit happier. Apparently baking is one of them.

I would like to think that this blog post today is not only about baking, it’s about finding that little thing that you like, that keeps you away from your daily routine, that gives you a sense of achievement and pride. So if you already have found it, practice it, as much as you can. Don’t let more important stuff get in the way, because there is nothing more important that what you love doing…

Love,

Baking love

In Love With Baking

Hey again,

This post is going to be a resume of all the sensational events and experiences that BakingLove has brought to me so far. I did not really think that this blog was going to be so addictive for me. Somehow I find myself checking the stats every time I check my own Facebook profile, and tweet whenever I can find a couple of free minutes.

It started 2 moths ago as a class project, I didn’t really thing that it would be followed or even seen by people who live in Ireland, Italy, Holland, USA, or in south Africa. I thought that it would just be a blog that my classmates or other AUBG-ers would visit once in a while. And right now, at this point of my journey I am already supper enthusiastic and exited that people out there are actually following me and reading my posts. So here goes a big THANK YOU to everybody.

I was pretty unsure on what exactly I wanted to find out with BakingLove, but it turns out that I have actually found a lot of interesting stuff.

On the fist week of this blog I discovered that there is people around me that dedicate their life to baking. People that find a way to do in their life what they really love, not just something that will pay their bills. This is how I met Ani from Ani’s Donuts. “It sweetness my life” she told me what I asked her about how her donut business affects her life. And that is how I started looking for people who love baking.

On my journey I also found people that are more traditional, like the 3am Banitsa lady. She is very familiar to AUBG-ers for her delicious banitsa. She explained to me, how much she cares about this Bulgarian tradition called banitsa in simple words,

If you like doing something, you don’t mind doing it even at 3 am

Moving on, on my journey I got a lot of tips and advices from other people. Sindi, an AUBG student, shared with me the five ingredients that everyone should have on their cupboard. She even gave me some tips about how different ingredients complete each-other.

“Most of the times it doesn’t really matter if you are cooking something salty or sweet, if you add just one little pinch of sugar into something salty, whatever you cook it will taste better.”

Not to forget my little baking-an-apple-pie-project. I found out how people react to strange gestures, like meeting a stranger that gives them apple pie.

But most important of all, I found out how you can always find time for doing the things you really love, even if you are extremely busy. Sanne, my Dutch roommate, showed me that she could actually find time to bake biscuits even on mid-terms week.

Through this journey, besides all the above mentioned, I learned how to keep a blog alive! I learned how to tweet, shoot videos, and keep my followers posted on everything that I do.

So yeah it is actually a lot of stuff that I got back from the oven. And trust me there is still a lot more to come…

Love,

BakingLove.

Bake and Drink Wine

Being a wine lover and at the same time living in Bulgaria comforts me very well. One of the very first things that I noticed when I fist came to Bulgaria was the super cheep wine.

I was reading the news the other day, and I found an article online that broke my hart. The price of wine in Bulgaria is increasing by 20% for this year. There are two reasons behind this fact. First the low production of grape during 2012, and second the foreign companies that purchase Bulgarian grape.

The dominant buyers on the Bulgarian market right now are Italian companies. Due to the luck of production in Italy, these companies started purchasing Bulgarian grape and harvest in order to fulfill their requirements. And another very important factor that is responsible for the price increase of many other products is the high electricity price.

Now, wine is very important to me not only because I love it, but also because I use it while baking. It gives everything a different taste, lighter but at the same time intense. From my last nights post and baking section, I had some very nice feedback for the cookies that Sanne and me were baking. “They had a great taste even without having a lot of sugar or no butter at all inside, and mainly that is because of they had wine.” said my RA colleague Spartak Kastrati.

Just a few tips about wine and baking…

Well if you are baking a dessert the best way to go is to use white wine. White wine tends to have a lighter taste and obviously no color so it wont give any kind of weird look to whatever dessert you are baking. If you are preparing a fish casserole, or baking meat, red wine is more suitable. It gives the meat a darker color and it enriches its taste.

In order to find some people that would strongly agree with me on this, I went to Skaptos 2 kitchen to interview some people. I found Marko Antic there, a Serbian friend that was baking some made bread. “I don’t really like the fact that the price of wine has increased, nevertheless I still enjoy it” said Marko, and I absolutely agree with him on that.

I also had to go to Prego Restaurant to get an opinion from somebody that had actually noticed the change in wine sales.

“Usually we would sell a lot of wine during the evening, or when people would come for dinner. Now they order more beer than wine, because it’s cheaper” said Tanya one of the servers at Prego.

It seems like the price increase has bothered not only wine lovers but also restaurant owners. Nevertheless I have to admit that wine in Bulgaria is still farely cheap. And there are still a lot of people who do not mind paying a couple of extra stotinkis to satisfy their drinking habits.

So yeah baking lovers, drink wine and cook with wine and don’t quit unless the price increases more than 50%.

Love,

BakingLove.

Special Edition: Healthy Midterms

Is that time of the year when AUBG and AUBG-ers get a little bit crazy. Midterms are ahead and that means after-mid-night-studying, and a lot of crappie food along with that. Sometimes we are so busy and stressed out by papers, exams, and project that we really forget to take care of ourselves the way we should! Today’s post on Baking Love is about how to please our appetite and cravings, and remaining healthy at the same time.

From personal experience, before midterms week I tend to drink a lot of coffee. And October is also the period of time when I tend to catch the flue and  as a result, drink a lot of tea. Still there is nothing better than having your coffee or tea with some cookies, not to mention when you have the privilege of having home-made cookies…

As we’re speaking, I am waiting for some homemade cookies to be baked. Me, and my Dutch roommate Sanne Boullart, decided to have a baking Sunday. And we decided to bake some cookies that would perfectly go with our morning coffee or with our after-midnight one. Sanne was willing to teach me a very easy but at the same time healthy recipe.

Whenever you need to energize yourself, you have to eat nuts or fruits that contain a high percentage of vitamins.

“It is very important that you actually please your cravings, it just makes you feel better. But at the same time you have to be careful and see if what you’re eating is good for you or not.”

“This recipe is actually very healthy despite the fact that you are eating cookies. It has almonds and lemon which are both very, very good for you.” The recipe that she showed me only contained 5-6 ingredients, and trust me the cookies were pretty amazing. The “wine cookies” contain almonds that give you energy, and lemon that is high on vitamin C. They do not have sugar inside at all, they only have some sugar powder on top. You can regulate the amount of sugar accordingly to your preferences.

DSC_0005

Sometimes it doesn’t really matter if you have something more important to do that what you actually like doing. Even before midterms you can manage to find sometime for yourself or for the things that you like doing. Time is important but it’s not everything. Take you time, and take some time for yourself.

Well good luck everybody on this busy busy days, don’t forget to please your cravings and to stay helthy.

Love,

BakingLove

5 Ingredients On a Baker’s Cupboard

There are thousands and millions recipes for every baking goods out there. Every culture, country, family, or baker has his own way of baking something or his own special ingredient for different kind of recipes. But when it comes to basics, everybody should have the 5 crucial ingredients in their cupboard.

Sindi is an AUBG student that likes baking a lot, and every once in a while tries to find some time in her schedule for baking something easy. “I like it a lot because it’s so relaxing even though I am not a great baker, I enjoy baking.” Me and Sindi went shopping together in order to figure out what are the five-must-have basic ingredients in every kitchen.

The firs ingredient on every bakers list should be of course flour. Normal flour is the ingredient that almost all baking goods contain. There are only a few recipes that don’t really need flour but you can use other products like grounded crackers or biscuits instead. “For example, for cheesecake you don’t really need flour. But when you think about it, you never know when you might need it. You might not have enough cracked crackers and a good substitute for that might be multigrain flour.”

The second ingredient that we decided to put on our bucket was of course baking soda.

 “I normally prefer baking powder rather than soda. But it always depends on what you are going to bake. If it is a cake baking powder, or vanilla flavored baking powder of course is the best. But baking soda does the job too, you just have to be careful with the amount you pour.”

There are many different kind of baking sodas, but you don’t have to worry about the brand or the price. Just some simple or normal baking soda, can feet in perfectly everywhere.

And since we were at the basic goods section, of course we couldn’t forget sugar and salt. There is almost nothing you can bake without adding just a bit of sugar or just a bit of salt in it, not even bread.

“The funny thing about sugar and salt is that they complement each-other. Most of the times it doesn’t really matter if you are cooking something salty or sweet, if you add just one little pinch of sugar into something salty, whatever you cook it will taste better. It’s like it emphasizes its taste.”

Sindi was right, I remember my grandmother used the same trick too, or the guy that taught me how to bake cup cakes would always insist on putting some salt in them, so that the taste could come out better.

Moving on to the fresh products section, me and Sindi both agreed on the two last ingredients that make the difference: eggs and butter. Can you imagine how bad the daily brad would taste like if it had just flour and water in it? The same goes for cookies, can you imagine how not-tasty would they be if they didn’t have eggs and butter in them. “Eggs are so much fun! You can use them to modify your cooking. For example if you want something to be a bit more voluminous, you can just separate the yolk from the egg white and bit them separately.”

And the best for last, butter. When baking, you always have to use some butter or oil in order to make whatever you are preparing tasty, smooth, and not dry. Olive oil is very good. Coconut oil is great too. Butter gets the job done! “But like with every other ingredient you have to be careful how much you use too.” More is not always better. So keep in mind that butter needs to be used in the right amount too. Do not make you baking too greasy; just give it a slightly better taste.

Sindi is a very good friend of mine but I didn’t really know this part of her. I didn’t really know that she used to bake as well. Just like that, while shopping in Kaufland and talking about baking we realized that we had just spend almost one hour inside. We decided to bake a cheesecake since we both had some free time. Remember, baking is flexible, the ingredients are not the only important component. As I would say, as long as you put some love in it, you will get a lot more back.

Love,

Baking Love

 

The pleasure of baking yourself

Remember when I said that cup cakes were the first thing I had ever baked, well on second thoughts that was not exactly true…

On my way to main building yesterday, I noticed a bakery that had on display this delicious apple pie. That smell and that look brought me back some childhood memories. I remember that almost every Sunday me, my mom and my sister, would pay a visit to our grandmother, and she would always bake some cake for us. My favorite one was the apple and cinnamon cake.  It used to remind me of cold winter days under the Christmas tree and it used to have a very rich taste of at least five different flavors. My mom used to bake it too, maybe not that often, but the whole house would smell like the cake afterwards. I don’t really know if it was a cake or a pie, or just some kind of bread with apples and some unfamiliar syrup on top of it, but I remember that I was in love with it.

While I was recalling all these tastes, feelings and memories from my childhood, I decided that my next post on this blog would be about the secret recipe of love and pleasure that that apple pie would transmit. I couldn’t find it out in any better way rather than just baking it myself.  And then was when I recalled that I had actually backed that apple pie a couple of years before back home.

Baking something in Skaptopara’s kitchen was a bit wired for me. I had only baked at home or at my work place before, and this was actually the very first time I would bake in Skapto. I was surprised that after three years I would still be able to bake again. I guess if you are really into it, it doesn’t matter how long has it been since the last time you have done it. I started with my favorite ingredient: butter… butter is an unsubstitutable ingredient for this desert. I realized later that instead of normal flour I had bought multigrain flour, which turned out to be a pretty good mistake.

I couldn’t wait for the 45 minutes baking period to end! That is the funny thing about baking; it is like a soccer match, once it starts you cannot stop thinking about it until it ends. I decided that I would share the cake with everybody I would meet on my way back to my room, so that I could figure out if people like it or not.

And that is exactly what I did. My apple cake was ready and looked pretty decent… oh yeah, and it smelled like heaven! I meet a lot of people on my way back, friends and strangers. And I shared the cake with them too. The last piece of it, was ate after one hour it got backed. After one hour it was all gone!

I baked the dessert twice that week. The second time I baked it for my weekly RA team meeting

I realized that there is no other feeling better than surprising people, there is no other feeling better than knowing that what you have done actually effects somebody or sweetens somebody’s day! On a Sunday that everybody is worried about deadlines, quizzes, the beginning of a long and tough week, there is nothing better than a piece of home-made apple pie offered by a stranger or by a good friend. That just made my Sunday better, happier!

So yes, there is nothing wrong with sharing sweetness with people, random people, it makes you sweeter. There is nothing wrong with not knowing how to bake, eventually you will find somebody that just appreciates the effort. And don’t forget you can experiment and put whatever you like in the oven, as long as you put some love in it, you will get a lot more back.

Love,

Baking Love.