Category Archives: Adventures Abroad

Blizzards, cabin fever and pretzel sandwiches

20cm of snow! Apparently it isn’t a lot of snow at all, but for a couple of Southern Hemisphere natives, and recent arrivals to the cold North American winters, 20cm might as well have been 2 meters of snow (and yes, we are still using metric units of measure here. As they say, baby steps when you are adjusting to something new). Luckily, even though we may not be as prepared as most, our local town council experiences snow on an annual basis, and was more than well enough prepared for what the worst winter in Canada since 2009 had in store. Okay maybe this part isn’t true, but it is certainly the most snow we have ever experienced, especially considering our recent snow experiences.

On the plus side, the stores managed to stay well enough stocked to support a little bit of baking to alleviate the cabin fever from being cooped up inside, which truth be told wasn’t necessary but probably just came about from our fear of venturing outside in -28C weather. But Africa breeds them tough, and even with our sun shine quota at an all time low, the LiveInBaker was still able to whip up:

Oreo Pretzel Sandwiches

Makes 24 pretzel sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces (113g) white chocolate
  • 18 Oreo cookies
  • 4 ounces (113g) low fat or full fat cream cheese, softened
  • 48 waffle pretzels

In an ideal world, we would turn the Oreo cookies into fine crumbs with the help of a blender – but since we don’t have one of those nifty gadgets, we had to manually crush the cookies until we had fine crumbs. Now any normal person would have a rolling pin at their disposal to do so, but our modestly stocked kitchen doesn’t have one of these so we used a wine bottle. Crushing the cookies manually takes some time, so keep working at it until you have fine cookie crumbs.

Mix your Oreo crumbs with the softened cream cheese and pop it into the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes.

Remove your cookie cream cheese mix from the fridge and roll into 24 little balls (about 1-2 teaspoons each). Sandwich each little Oreo ball between two waffle pretzels until you have 24 sandwiches. Pop them in the fridge for an hour to firm up.

Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave and dip each pretzel sandwich into the chocolate. Allow chocolate to set and store your white chocolate covered Oreo pretzel sandwiches in the fridge.

The original inspiration behind this recipe can be found here

The photos:

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A bare pantry, birthday cookies and the tumble dryer

Well that was an awkward silence. This feels like the first post in months (okay it actually is the first post in months – seems time flies when your having fun and drinking beer and of course moving across the world). So the blog has made the move with us to Canada from Pretoria in November, and the LiveInBaker has finally had some time amongst all the settling in, exploring, and getting dragged around by me taking in as much of the craft beer that can be found in our area as possible. However birthdays give rise to exceptions, and as such, this is the first BakedInPretoria post that hasnt been written in Pretoria, but rather comes to you from a cold and snowy Mississauga.

We arrived here with an empty pantry that would put even Mother Hubbard to shame – we have some basics in the fridge and pantry but certainly nothing that would be worthy of a birthday bake – and so the challenge was to find something to bake using what little was in the pantry, and not breaking the bank buying loads of ingredients. Might I add that all our bakeware, mixers and baking related kitchenware is sitting safely in storage somewhere in South Africa – and so challenge number two was to find something bake-able with the limited bakeware at the LiveInBakers disposal.

Now I wasn’t exactly privy to the LiveInBakers first attempt at baking here, instead being told that no I wasn’t in fact smelling anything to do with baking, and that I should calm down and go to sleep. Afterwards, once the cookies had been revealed, she had the following to say:

“First on my mind was to simply buy a box cake mix and ready frosting and throw together a birthday cake, but I wanted to make something a little more interesting than that. Maybe brownies using box cake mix but changing the ingredients around a little so that you have a dense, moist, gooey brownie – a little something like this
But I am embarrassed to say that we don’t even have a pan to bake the brownies in – but not to worry, another idea came to mind…ready-made cookie dough! With the help of the Pillsbury Dough Boy himself and a little inspiration from the recipe section, I decided to make:”

Birthday Cookies

Ingredients:

• 2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter (we always have peanut butter)
• ½ cup oats (our breakfast staple)
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 egg
• 1 roll of Pillsbury Choc chip cookie dough
• ¼ cup mini m&ms or chocolate chips
• ¼ cup raisins (we add these to our oats – cranberries/cherries/blueberries would work too)
• ¼ cup chopped salted pretzels (salted nuts would work well)
• 1 tumble dryer

Heat your oven to 350°F – yes our oven now works in Fahrenheit, but it’s about 180C. In a large bowl (now we don’t actually have a bowl, but do have a salad spinner, so it’s bowl was used) stir together the peanut butter, oats, oil and egg. Break up cookie dough and add it to peanut butter mixture. Add the m&ms, raisins and pretzels and stir until well mixed.

On ungreased baking sheets, drop heaped tablespoons of dough about 5cm apart. Press with fingers to flatten slightly.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and edges are just set (tops will not look done). Do not overbake. Cool for a few minutes until they are firm enough to handle and remove from baking sheets to cooling racks.

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Oh yes, and the tumble dryer, well the birthday cookies were a surprise and they needed to be put somewhere safe. There is no hiding place in this apartment – it is so small and absolutely every cupboard and drawer space is packed with our stuff. And so The LiveInBaker resorted to hiding the baked cookies (along with the other evidence in the form of leftover pretzels and m&ms) in the tumble dryer, knowing its the one place I was guaranteed not to look.

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Christmas Crab – Mozambique Style

Father Christmas exists, and I have irrefutable proof of this.

Think back to when you still believed in St. Nic, and think about the mountain of presents you used to receive.

Now think about the number of presents you received the year after you stopped believing. Fewer presents right? And the longer you stopped believing, the fewer the presents became!

See, irrefutable proof!

None of this has stopped me rising at birdsfart each and every Christmas morning (The sun rising over the Indian ocean did make it a little bit easier this year, I must say).

It was during my second cup of coffee, and while opening my final present, that I somehow managed to volunteer myself to cook the seemingly endless supply of fresh crab we had. I was the obvious choice for this task, taking into account my seemingly endless experience in cooking any type of sea food. And by endless experience, I really mean I was desperately looking for a Justin Bonello to show me how its done.

Blue swimming crab, or just yummy eating crab?

After a quick Google search (thank goodness for roaming) I had an idea.

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First impression of Ghana – breakfast

I arrived in Ghana on a wet and hot as hell, evening.
Though I probably shouldn’t be complaining, because as flights go, the flight from Oliver Thambo International airport to Accra is not really that taxing. Especially now as it seems that SAA is using an upgraded plane for the flight, complete with personal tv screens ( I do need to add here that no amount of movie sequels – including Transformers 10 or the Hangover 36 – was going to win over the nap I had planned).

Immigration in Ghana is some of the easiest I have ever experienced in Africa, especially now that I have the correct visa in my passport. The one thing I do love about airports in Africa, is that you’ve normally spent such a long period of time passing through immigration, that you never have to wait for your luggage to come out.

A quick combi ride to the hotel, my pudding for the evening, and off to bed.

Yum, pudding!

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Where good diets go to die!

So most people find it really humorous that I had not seen a real snow fall until I was past my quarter life crisis (and yes I am planning on living to be 100), and yes I did get terribly excited the first time I saw a flurry. So excited in fact that I asked everyone I saw if this was snow. The only real response I got to this was a quizzical look and a slightly nervous laugh. Most likely this was simply due to the fact that very few people in New York could understand anything I was saying, what with my thick “Vrystaat” accent, and the peculiar mix of Afrikaans slang that I have introduced into my every day language (It simply makes sense that the plural of waterfall would be waterfallses right?).

But then the New York blizzard of December 2010 hit, and no one was laughing at me anymore. I still had to ask it though: “Can I call it real snow yet?” I’ve always believed that Africa is not for sissies, but let me tell you, a blizzard is definitely not for sissies!

As I watched New York retreat indoors (from the comfort of my lounge of course), I turned to the LIB and told her that there is absolutely no chance that I will be going outdoors until all this “blerrie” snow is gone!

But boy, could I not have been more wrong!

You see, there was a problem. The problem was that roughly 5 blocks from our apartment was a little hole in the wall place, a place we began to affectionately refer to as “the place where diets go to die”.

The place in question? Holey Cream (and yes, when walking into it the first time, Cream is not the word I used in that sentence). Continue reading

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Insomnia Cookies!

Today I received an email to the 2011 NYC Halloween pub crawl!

And now thanks to that, I am really missing NYC!

So much so, that I am even considering visiting just for the pub crawl! In case anyone was there for the 2010 pub crawl, I was dressed as Captain America (ironic I know, coming from South Africa and all).

So I was going through some of the photos from my 6 months in NYC, and came across a place which I had almost forgotten about, and I can’t believe I had almost had!

This was the night, that made it an absolute certainty for me, that America makes the best cookies in the world (well at least the parts of the world that I have visited)!

After a meal of sushi, we were walking in the upper west side of Manhattan, more specifically down Amsterdam Avenue, where we came across a sign which called out to us, asking us to come in.

The place in question, Insomnia Cookies!

With a menu like this, who needs enemies?

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Let them eat (cup)cake!

If I ever meet the person who invented Cupcakes, I would hug them.

The idea of a full on cake, shrunk down to a size you can hold in one hand, is absolute genius!

So while exploring the streets of Georgetown, Washington DC, our first priority was to find us “some good eats”.

So after pizza at Pizzeria Paradiso, where I would highly recommend that you have the Atomica (Tomato, Salami, Black Olives, Hot Pepper Flakes, Mozzarella). I’m going to call this the second best pizza we had during our 6 month visit to the US. If it could have been served with an Ice Cold Castle, I might have called this the second best pizza I’ve ever hand, of all time!

And almost right across the road from our lunch, was what we thought looked like quite a cute little place to get some cupcakes for a late afternoon snack (Fear not, we did end up walking all this eating off).

It looked so innocent from the outside!

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If we can “bake” it in New York, we can “bake” it anywhere!

So they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Well it also makes the stomach emptier!

While working in New York, and not having seen the LIB for three months, I decided to ship the LIB over. So after a 17 hour flight, the LIB had crossed the Atlantic ocean for the first time, and was experiencing what it feels like live in a first world country (the LIB actually just squashed a spider with my empty beer bottle “welcome to the third world”).

Growing up in the Free State notorious for its lack of hills or any other notable terrain feature which might interrupt any television signals, we still only had one TV channel available to us. This channel was, surprisingly enough, refered to as TV 1. I remember spending countless hours as a kid watching re-runs of American sitcoms, where a common theme was ready-made Cookie Dough.

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It’s a happy place…

We were exploring the streets of
Georgetown, Washington DC, when we came across this sign:

This might be the most inviting sign I've ever seen!

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