Monday, February 15, 2016


I've got banana muffins in the oven.  

*Ahem* In our tiny little toaster oven.  And they’re gonna taste amazing in about 20 minutes.
(whereupon I will almost certainly burn the roof of my mouth clean off because I am completely incapable of just WAITING for a few moments to have things I take out of the oven cool down.)

A few years back while we were preparing for our time over here, our Japanese teacher in the states gave us the grave warning: bake everything you want to bake now, because baking in Japan is impossible in those little toaster ovens they use.

my first ever batch of Japanese cookies.
If you have followed this little blog for any time, you may remember I lost my ever-loving mind about this.  I really enjoy baking - it's a little bit of zen for me.  Not being able to just kill an hour or so throwing ingredients into a bowl and making something that tastes like home and love and yum; well, that was a big blow to me.

But then we got here.  I got down to business (to defeat the huns. never not a funny joke). And I figured out baking in a toaster oven.  I got pretty darn good at it.  In fact, baking is a bit of a point of pride for me now.  

Because here’s the thing: I need the baking.  I need the thing I’m good at and can feel proud of.  I need the purpose and identity here.

I LOVE going to gatherings with friends and being able to present them with adorable cookies, quirky cakes, brownies, breads, pies, and also that one time I learned how to make an Aussie confectionary called "Lamingtons" which have so much sugar in them I had to brush my teeth mid-bake because I felt fuzzy just from licking the spoon*.  
I love the patience and care I have to take when baking in a toaster oven.  I’m proud of having taken the time to figure out those intricacies through trial and very delicious error.
I love adjusting recipes to best fit the items available to me at the grocery store (there is something about not having to order groceries off of Amazon to have good pies that makes me feel SO awesome.  Like I’m really living here successfully).  

But mostly?  I love how - seriously- GOOD I've gotten at baking.  
The first time I brought food to a party here (maple-ginger cookies with vanilla lime icing), everyone there told me that I needed to sell cookies as a full time gig.  They stole cookies off the platter and hoarded them in pockets and purses to take home.  They told me that there was a definite market even just among the expat community (aka-the foreigners who live in Nagoya), but certainly the Japanese folks in the area would love these confections as well.  All that clamoring over some cookies I made was a big -and much needed- bump to my self worth, and it was also admittedly a tiny seed planted in the back of my head.

I get little comments like that often now.  The women at the YWCA still ask KP2 about the carrot cupcakes I sold at the craft bazaar last fall.  My Japanese teacher’s eyes glaze over in anticipation whenever I show up to my lesson with a little cardboard box.  Plus, I see that while I have the time between miscellany house-wifery and my FINvites gigs to bake a batch of brownies, the typical work day in Japan is 12+ hours.  No one else is able to make the cookies.  And so guys?  Guys, I did a thing.

I’m not looking to be a millionaire, I’m just looking for some pride, purpose, and of course, justification to buy MORE ridiculous cookie cutters. (did I buy a hedgehog cookie cutter yesterday? maaaaaybe…)
I am begging you people for a reason to use this.

What’s something you’ve conquered that you’ve proud of?
Is there something you’ve become good at out of necessity, 
but maybe you wouldn’t have predicted such?  
 Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
Watashi wa unchi kukkīkattā o hitsuyō to shimasu!
I NEED a poo cookie cutter!

*I made a joke to The Aussies(tm) about how I was surprised everyone in Australia hadn’t all rotted their teeth out eating these Lamington things (which are admittedly delicious, but still) and KP2 was very quick to point out “hey. USA and twinkles."  Touché, KP2.  Touché.

in case you were wondering, they were SO good.
(yes, past tense. they're gone.  order your own!)

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