I am great at eating and average at the rest

This weekend was apparently the first Advent. The first day of Advent? Adventing? I am not sure, but something related to that most beloved holiday of Christmas was already happening.

And apparently the activity to celebrate it properly, was baking. Cookies specifically. Now I normally do not really bake. There is 1 cheesecake recipe that is quick, convenient and easy to make. I will occasionally help out others, but I do not voluntarily bake.

I do not know exactly what about baking does not interest me a lot. I think it is the fact that you are not making a whole meal. Baking can take just as long as cooking, but then you have a cake. A whole cake. Which you then probably need to share. Sure, sharing is caring but at the same time, why? I can also just make food for myself. Let alone the fact that I feel it is even sadder if you spent hours working on baking something and it turns out average. Or worse, bad.

Also, thinking about baking I feel that there is in a certain sense less baking in the traditional Chinese kitchen. There are lots of sweets like mochi, buns, cookies, but I would not make them myself. I would buy them, a lot of people would. Because many homes did not have an oven, and also some of these sweets are very intricate and complicated. I would rather spend time queuing for that than making it myself and having sub-par taste.

But of course, my grumpiness can be mitigated with good company and easy tasks. Shaping the cookies and eating the raw dough bring me joy. I am not immune to the excitement that you can get by intently looking at the oven window, although currently my oven is placed so high I barely see anything that is in there, nor to the thrill of tasting a cookie. And not that much can go wrong in the end. So I will not bke voluntarily, but I will definitely help voluntarily.

She still got it – cooking and baking again

No joke, I told most of my friends that my mother watched me with astonishment as I still managed to cook several (edible) dishes after not cooking regularly for almost 5 years.

That is not to say I severely dislike cooking and baking, but I just did not do a whole lot of it while in China. I think many can agree with the fact that food is almost too easy to get in most parts of Asia. Under most circumstances you can get it wherever you are at whatever time and in large quantities at a (relatively) low price.

Naturally, I made full use of that environment while I lived in China. I ate out more than I ordered online, but my kitchens were heavily unused. For the first 3 years in China, I can probably count the amount of times I cooked myself on 2 hands. Part was that I had a cat in Beijing who was a: curious and b: hairy so not an ideal environment. Although I had basically all the equipment I needed, it still was a lot less than I was used to in the Netherlands. All this resulted in gas fees that were less than 10 RMB (less than 2 euro) a year.

In Shanghai, I did cook for a few months more regularly. But that changed after I found out there were mice in my building and in my kitchen cabinets as well. Consequently, instead of being a fridge, this became my sealed-off cupboard for any food products that I could still have at home. Mainly instant noodles and snacks.

However, I not only have loads of time now, but also a fully equipped kitchen to my disposal. Additionally, I think the choice for ordering online where I am now is very limited. We only have a McDonalds and a few local restaurants. I have had enough Big Macs that that is not the first thing I am missing now.

So instead, I have been cooking and baking lots. I think we have about 3 kinds of pies in our freezer at any time now, I folded dumplings, wonton and spring rolls in the past weeks, as well as preparing dinner regularly or helping out. Although there is something to say for the convenience of not needing to cook yourself, I am rediscovering a certain joy in making something and directly getting the result. I am not aiming to make very complicated things, but it is fun to experiment a bit and make some things I have never made or thought about making before.

Since we cannot get any people over during these times, cooking more means eating more as well. Honestly, it is a win-win situation.