Product Discovery: Nordic Ware Baking Pans at City Super(諾迪威造型烤盤)

I always do a quick glance at the bakery supplies shelf at City Super, whenever I’m there doing my grocery shopping.  This time, I was so happy to discover these baking pans from Nordic Ware!  I may, or may have let out a tiny shriek of delight when I saw this ice cream cone cupcake pan.
每次有機會去 City Super 買菜的時候, 我都會去他們的洪培區看看有沒有新的產品。 最近他們的 選擇真的變了很多~ 這次讓我眼睛發亮,心跳加速的是這些可愛的 “諾迪威” 烤盤。 第一個吸引我的是冰淇淋造型的烤盤 !
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Baking with Alessi cookie cutters~ 烤餅乾的新玩具!

I’ve always been an admirer of Alessi products, so I was so thrilled to receive these Alessi cookie cutters as a gift from my brothers.

 

 

Alessi Classics
In this set, there are six cookie cutters in total, and are all shapes of iconic Alessi products: the Espresso Jug, the Mami Pot, the Figure  (Girotondo) the Hot Bertaa Kettle, the Bombe Teapot, and the Alessandro M. Corkscrew.
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前幾個月, 我哥哥跟弟弟寄了一個surprise 給我~我打開包裹看到這套Alessi Cookie Cutters 的時候真的是開心的尖叫了一聲! 有空的時候 就會把盒子打開來欣賞一下這幾個可愛的形狀。 前幾天終於為了慶祝美國的 “National Siblings Day” 拿出來使用。一邊烤餅乾,邊想著我很幸運, 夾在一位可靠的哥哥跟一位有智慧的弟弟中。 讓我同時享受當妹妹跟姊姊的樂趣。
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For my first time using these cookie cutters, I used my absolute favorite sugar cookie recipe from the Kitchn. (Please see recipe towards the end of this post) I love this recipe and I make them whenever an occasion calls for a cookie. From experience, I find that these sugar cookies are sturdy enough to withstand the flights of your imagination, and yet are still melt in your mouth in texture.(Personally, I omit the almond extract, and use either vanilla extract or vanilla bean, depending on whatever I have handy at the moment. I think the addition of cream cheese is brilliant. It adds a slight tanginess to the cookie, that elevates it from being just an ordinary sugar cookie, to something memorable.  Depending on the occasion, I’ve topped them with chocolate ganache, sandwiched strawberry jam between them, or sprinkled with lemon zest and sea salt flakes).The cookie cutters are made from 18/10 polished stainless steel, and cut nice clean edges.
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I like to roll the dough out quite thickly, so the cookies are akin to shortbread, and are that much more of a satisfying treat.

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One of the minor mishaps is that the skinnier parts of the cookie, such as the handle of  the espresso jug, or the Bertaa kettle, or the neck on the Alessandro corkscrew are a bit fragile. So I used a plastic butter knife to gently ease the cookie dough from the cutter.

 

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It’s been a while since I’ve used cookie cutters, so I had forgotten how satisfying the process of rolling out sheets of dough, and pressing the cookie cutters into the dough is.  It’s such a simple and precise, and calming feeling.

 

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On a side note, I’m starting to notice that my oven is showing signs of age, it seems that the heat is no longer being distributed evenly. Considering that this oven is almost 30 years old, it might be time for a replacement soon.

 

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I’m loving the shapes of all these cookies! The Hot Bertaa Kettle is a distinctive Alessi shape, but I also love the friendly shapes of the Mami Pot and the Bombe Teapot. (Both shapes are I think I will include next year in my holiday cookie gifts).

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這次用的餅乾食譜是我最常用的, 覺得這個食譜真的是白搭~可以用來做各式各樣的形狀~上面還可以加不同的 toppings (例如巧克力, Nutella, 海鹽跟lemon zest, 或是變成夾心餅乾)現在有了這套 cookie cutters, 我明年送出的聖誕節餅乾會更精彩了! 大家可以期待一下喔 :)

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Enjoy!

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Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on size

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), cream the butter and cream cheese with the sugar. Beat for several minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and lemon zest.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then gradually add to the butter and sugar mixture until fully incorporated and a soft dough is formed.

At this point the dough can, and should be, chilled or frozen. If making cookies in the near future, divide the dough into 2 balls and roll each out to 1/4 to 1/8-inch thickness between large pieces of parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Or freeze the dough balls, wrapped in plastic wrap and a freezer bag, for up to 1 month. To thaw, leave in the refrigerator overnight then proceed with the recipe.

To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare baking sheets by lining them with parchment or a Silpat. Cut cookies out of the rolled dough and place on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack.

Cool completely before icing or decorating, and store in a tightly covered container.

Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies (Large Batch)
8 to 12 dozen, depending on size
3 cups unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest
9 cups flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), cream the butter and cream cheese with the sugar. Beat for several minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and lemon zest.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then gradually add to the butter and sugar mixture until fully incorporated and a soft dough is formed.

At this point the dough can, and should be, chilled or frozen. If making cookies in the near future, divide the dough into 2 balls and roll each out to 1/4 to 1/8-inch thickness between large pieces of parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Or freeze the dough balls, wrapped in plastic wrap and a freezer bag, for up to 1 month. To thaw, leave in the refrigerator overnight then proceed with the recipe.

To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare baking sheets by lining them with parchment or a Silpat. Cut cookies out of the rolled dough and place on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack.

Cool completely before icing or decorating, and store in a tightly covered container.

(Original recipe posted at: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-best-cutout-cookies-38629
)

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On My Cookie Cutter Wish List: 餅乾的各式各樣的可能性

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my favorite souvenirs to bring back with me on my travels are cookie cutters. This is a small collection of cookie cutters that I would like to eventually add to my collection.
I tend to prefer “obvious” shapes~ cookie shapes that can be easily identifiable, without the aid of elaborate frosting techniques.   To be honest, I’m not especially patient when it comes to frosting cookies, and sprinkles are usually the extent of my decoration efforts.  I also prefer metal or copper cookie cutters, because they make nice clean edges.
Recently, I’ve come across comfort grip Wilton cookie cutters.  The silicon cushion makes it easier to press down onto the dough, without causing dents in your fingers.  This year, I added a snowflake one to my collection, which makes an enormous, yet quite detailed cookie.  I think I’ll give them out as gifts next year for Christmas.
Cookie Cutter Wish List
(點圖片可以進購買網頁)

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Favorite Gifts for Kids~ 兒童節快樂!

April 4th is Children’s Day here in Taiwan. It’s a national holiday, so even I get a day off (even though I am no longer a kid) So, I thought that this would be a good occasion to share with everyone my favorite gifts for kids.  I generally like to give gifts that have a common theme.  If I find that a kid loves a particular toy, I’ll buy  something to add to his/her collection next time.  I also like to give supplies like crayons or a set of pens, if the kid is older, because they always come in handy.
I love giving wooden toys~ among my three favorites are this coffee machine, toaster and robot.  They are sturdy and colorful.  The toaster actually comes with two pieces of wooden toast that can pop up!
The adult in me also enjoys selecting accessories for a kid’s room. I love the easy shape of this wooden lamp~ the on-off switch is just the cutest, and would be easy for little fingers to operate.  I also like the animal shaped bookends.  And of course, you can’t give bookends without giving at least one book. I love Amy Rosenthal’s book “Chopsticks” which teaches the importance of friendship and teamwork.

到了兒童節 就想跟大家分享我喜歡送給小朋友的禮物
我喜歡送木頭的玩具 這個咖啡機,麵包機跟機器人都是我的 top 選擇。這些玩具小孩看了眼睛會亮起來 大人看到了 也會覺得放在家裡當擺飾也很精巧

除了玩具 我也喜歡送房間的小東西 像這個電燈, 故事書 & 動物形狀的書擋(bookends)

Favorite toys for kids (Children's Day, Taiwan)

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Field Trip: Marimekko Taipei ~ 讓你在生活中找到亮點!

Marimekko has arrived in Taipei!  The store is located in Taipei’s East District (東區) and is right at home in this neighborhood filled with independent cafes and clothing stores.
芬蘭布藝、家品、服裝設計品牌 Marimekko 來台北了! 小時候我媽媽幫我買了一個 Marimekko 小紅花的杯子。雖然杯子不知道已經去哪兒了, 但那個 cheerful 繽紛的小花還是牢牢的印在我的腦海跟想像力裡。
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The moment you walk into the store, you are greeted with color.  Every corner that you turn you will see different patterns and combinations of color. My aesthetic tends to lean towards neutral, Muji-esque colors, so I was surprised how  invigorating it felt for me to be in a room filled with color.
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I felt like a kid let loose in a candy shop when the shop assistant took down all the bolts of fabric to show me.
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We had a fun conversation about what the fabrics could be made into~ and he gave me several really helpful suggestions, one including that I take photos of all the fabrics that I liked, and to compare them with the existing items in my home.
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在逛的過程 我覺得每一塊布料都好美, 好繽紛! 每天在家裡看到 應該每天都很 happy! 店員也非常有耐心的跟我討論每一個布料的設計,靈感來源~ 真的是一位非常有創意跟內涵的店員。
Now looking back on the photos I took, I’m glad he suggested this to me. The riot of colors which look so reasonable in their natural habitat might be a bit overwhelming in my everyday space, which gets a lot of natural light, but realistically, is approximately the size of teacup.
But I didn’t leave the store empty handed~I bought two small items that could be easily incorporated into my everyday life: this cosmetic bag in the Räsymatto print fabric.
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Since each bag is cut from a different part of the fabric, each bag looks a bit different from the other. The one on display didn’t have the yellow dots, which really is what  initially drew me to this particular fabric.  When I mentioned this to the shop assistant, he said “Oh! I just saw one in the storeroom that had the yellow dots! Let me find it for you!”
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The inside of this bag is lined with waterproof lining.  While handy as a cosmetic bag, I found it to be even better suited for the miscellaneous electronic accessories that I need for the day. (I still get a thrill every time I look into my bag and see those yellow dots!)
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I also bought this cute Päärynäpear   (the Finnish word for “pear”) mug. I remember the first time that I used this mug was on one of those insanely busy days~ my desk looked like an aftermath of a tornado, with teetering stacks of papers, books, and a confusing flurry of multi-color Post-its.  I was about to implode with stress, when I caught the site of this pear mug out of the corner of my eye.  The refreshing green color of the the pear, and its fat round shape really provided an instant of good cheer. One quick sip of industrial strength coffee later, and I was ready to face the battle again.
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One thought that I took away from the Marimekko experience is the effect that colors can have on your senses.  Even though I tend to lean towards solid color neutrals, I find that an occasional or unexpected splash of color, or an ordinary everyday item that is a unique shape, really makes an environment seem more energizing.
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逛完的時候我有一個很深刻的感覺 就是雖然偏愛 大地色,簡約 Muji 風格的我, 日常生活中, 還是要選一些比較繽紛的小東西。 每天看到開心, 會覺得很refreshing (清新?)所以我會陸陸續續的收集一些 Marimekko 的家品!
I’m sure this will be one of many trips to Marimekko, so I’ve compiled a wish list of items that I hope to collect for my home in the future.
My Marimekko Wish List

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Live Life By the Book:有時間就多看點書!

(點圖片可以進購買網頁)
I love books~ and I’m always on the look out for new ideas and inspiration.  These are six books that are currently on my “to-read” list.  我是一位超級喜歡看書的書呆子! 不久之前有時間逛逛書店, (實體店面跟網路店面 )找到六本想看的書 跟大家分享。最近都是取向 “動手做” 內容的書  覺得如果作品不成功也沒關係 重點在try something new 跟享受過程。
First row, from left to right:
Made by Hand
I first read about this book over on Design Sponge, I bookmarked it for future purchase, and six months later, it’s finally made it to my shopping cart.  This book represents part of my resolution try new activities, and to do more with my hands.  I’m so excited to try making a braided rag rug and some new jewelry!
這一本書 我期待好久了 終於在 Amazon 上下訂單了。 寄來 再跟大家分享!大家可以先看看影片介紹喔:
Life at Home in the 21st Century
This is a book that satisfies a curiosity that continues on from my thesis writing days. It’s based on a extensive 9-year study conducted at UCLA, and offers a glimpse inside 32 homes in the U.S..  This book inspires me to change my data into something that’s visually interesting to a wider population.
我要想辦法把枯燥的研究數據變成有趣的書! 這本書跟我以前研究方向很有關聯。應該買來看看好好研究研究
Cooking for Geeks
I would have paid more attention in science classes, if I made the connection that it would affect both my baking and cooking techniques!  This book looks like it could answer a lot of my questions that I’ve always wondered about, especially about time and temperature and technical issues relating to kitchen equipment. On a related note, this article about the science behind great cookie baking gives really helpful information about how to make a chewier, or thicker cookie.  Apparently bakers can be engineers or scientists too (in their own way).
以前上化學課都在做白日夢 現在想, 有一點點後悔 可是現在有很多書都是用輕鬆 有趣 跟實際的方式來談化學跟烹飪的連結。
Second row, from left to right:
20 Ways to Draw A Doodle
My office is known for marathon meetings~ ones that stretch onto four hours and above.  The only way to keep sane is to doodle. This book will inspire me to make more constructive doodles.  I imagine these constructive doodles can be used for handmade cards or wrapping paper, instead of just decorating my meeting notes.
開會的時候我都會在我的會議紀錄上畫畫 想想 其實應該畫一些可以在小卡片或是手工包裝紙用到的。 想買這本書當參考!
Real Snacks 
Some of the snacks that I grew up with are hard to come by in Taiwan (probably not the worst dilemma in the world!)  Real Snacks contains 50 recipes, each with gluten free and vegan options.
Some of the recipes that caught my eye at first glance were: Girl Scout Thin Mints (!) Fig Newtons and Graham Crackers.  Another part of this book that interests me is the introduction to different types of flours and grains and sugars, some ingredients I’ve never used before such as spelt flour or muscavado sugar look like they are worth a try.
回台灣以後偶爾還是會想吃美國的點心 ~這本食譜裡面有教一些充滿 小時候的回憶的點心~像巧克力薄荷餅乾還有 無花果 夾心餅乾
How to Have Fun with MT Tape
Washi tape is one of my favorite objects to collect. I can’t resist them, partly because they’re so pretty, but also because they serve so many practical purposes!  I use them as labels, or to add a bit of fabulousness to a card or package.  I’m always looking for new ideas to incorporate them into my everyday life.  According to Amazon, this book is in Japanese.  But I found another title here in Taiwan, with English text:  The Book of Masking Tape and MT. (unfortunately I couldn’t find a US website that carries this book, but if you come across it, let me know!)
我真的是熱愛紙膠帶~收集很快樂, 也很自然而然的把它們融入到我的日常生活裡來使用。 看到這些書 給了我好多新的 ideas.
Sources:

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Kitchen Storage Containers: 食物收納用品的小 ideas

Kitchen Storage Containers (1)
(點圖片可以進購買網頁)
A few days ago, while idly rummaging through my kitchen for supplies to make madeleines, I was awestruck by the sheer haphazardness of my food storage containers:  A cute round Tupperware container that has withstood years of being banged around in my lunch bag, a few lidless rectangular containers, some recycled glass jam jars and some unfamiliar plastic containers painted with dancing vegetables.  I decided that this is the year to upgrade some of my everyday kitchen essentials.  So, here are some of the items that are on my food storage container wish list!  When doing research for this post, I happily found out that Crate and Barrel now ships items to Taiwan.  (My kitchen sings, my credit card weeps)
過年的時候 家裡難免會冒出很多食材。 有一天, 我本來備料要烤餅乾 可是被冰箱跟櫥櫃裡面的收納用品楞住了。 天啊。 我家怎麼那麼多大小不同, 亂七八糟的 containers ?! 一些好像也不是我買的, 也不知道從那裡飄來的。 而且我買的漂亮的 Muji 容器也不見了 (如果在你家, 請還我! XD)  本來要出門買的 可是那天剛好下大雨 所以決定先在網路上看看有沒有什麼 ideas,  再決定要買什麼款式。 我基本上有兩個原則,在櫥櫃裡面, 我喜歡買正方形。可以疊的容器, 因為比較不浪費空間。放在檯面上的容器, 我喜歡 colorful 一點的, 畢竟每天都要見面, 所以美觀對我來講 很重要。在研究過程中發覺我以前在美國很喜愛的品牌 Crate and Barrel 可以送貨來台灣了! 太開心了。 我最近會收集一些我喜歡的小東西 跟大家分享。

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