Guilty of Having an IKEA Catalogue Kitchen

We may as well call the 10-year period spanning the mid-20s and mid-30s the “IKEA decade.”

So apparently there is an IKEA era in your life, and Earnest took the time and effort to analyze tens of thousands U.S. user responses to describe it. Although the data was used to illustrate trends in the overseas market, I believe the results could very well apply to Europe too.

When R29 picked up the subject in this article asking friends and coworkers how they felt about the IKEA Breakup Age (it was found 34 is the magic number when you outgrow the Swedish brand), I felt an urge to declare where I stand on the matter.

Not yet past the breakup age at 30, never going to not shop there sums up my feelings best. I won’t argue some of their paperboard pieces are a little flimsy and will probably not survive 5+ movings, but it’s not what they’re meant for anyway.

Being a diehard IKEA devotee, I am ready to defend the furniture giant because when you have to set up an empty space from scratch, there’s simply no place better. And if you can invest in nicer furniture past your dorm years, they have more grown-up stuff too.

It’s not just the furniture, too – I’m especially loving their kitchen line. Yes, this means you and I probably own the same HEDERLIG wine glasses, but hell, it will at least be easy to replace the next time my dishwasher decides to break another one.

IKEA has the best offer when it comes to inexpensive basics and is a top source for quality kitchenware. I’ve decided to make a list of my favorite kitchen pieces, goods that have stood the test of time and really worth their price.

Below, 10 long-lasting, well-wearing, budget-friendly buys from the Swedish superstore:

ikea frying pan and tongsThe OUMBÄRLIG frying pan is a nice, heavy piece with a clad bottom for optimal heat distribution, non-stick coating and oven-safe handle: a multi-tasking must have! Use the IKEA 365+ HJÄLTE tongs for a firm grip and to avoid scratching your pots and pans.

ikea dinnerware and plate holder

I love the simple, classic design of my ARV dinnerware set, also available as open-stock pieces (phew!). I store all my plates in adjustable VARIERA holders for both convenience and safety.

ikea mug and tea infuser

Who doesn’t have a (or several) DINERA mug? I adore the muted colors they are available in and they have the most ergonomic handle of all mugs, period. For my morning tea, the IDEALISK tea infuser comes in handy, plus, when making soups I put whole spices in it for easy disposal when the cooking is finished.

ikea cast iron dish and kitchen towel

Heavy-duty cast iron cookware can get really pricey, but this enameled SENIOR casserole dish won’t set you back too bad. With a 25-year warranty and easy maintenance, it’s my secret weapon when baking bread. TEKLA dish towels are a steal of a deal and a must in every household.

ikea cake stand and paper napkin

My festive ARV BRÖLLOP cake stand has seen sooo many pastries! The lid is a huge advantage (I’m living with cats 🙂 ). Also, IKEA seems to have the best paper napkin designs every season. These flowery ones are part of the INBJUDANDE series.

What would be on your own list of IKEA kitchen favorites?

Love,

Fruzsi

All images © IKEA

*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

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Friday Finds

hibernation (n.) /ˌhaɪ.bəˈneɪ.ʃən/ To be in a dormant or torpid state during a cold period, especially during the winter.

Anyone relate?

Frozen in mint (image via Pinterest):

frozen water and trees

What’s on your menu? (art print by Stephen Anthony Davids):

menu art print

Everything about this screams hygge (white oriental mug via Pinterest):

oriental mug with tea

Sorry, I’ve got plans for the weekend (photo: Pony by Craig Kirk):

sleeping cat

Tree rings (photo by Janet Little Jeffers):

tree rings

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Getting Real About My Eating Habits

vegetables on table

I was working on a future post featuring a very decadent dessert while munching on a tuna salad the other day, when I suddenly felt the need for a reality check. Like I had to come clean about my eating habits. Why?

The majority of my blog posts are food related, rather from the indulgent than the health conscious side. I never used the tags ‘diet’ or ‘clean eating’ once, and while I do make and chow down everything I post, that’s not the whole picture.

The food seen on My Chest of Wonders was likely prepared and enjoyed on weekends. I don’t even cook on weekdays normally, my Husband and I both have full-time jobs plus we commute a lot, and those goodies are my cheat day meals (more on that later).

I wanted to tell you guys this because in the day and age of social media, we are creating online facades and took up selective story-telling, but there is always more (or sometimes less!) outside the frame.

We mostly give ourselves credit for jobs well-done, but if I turned around and took the picture of the brioche from another angle, you would have seen utensils strewn across the counter and probably a cat licking a bowl enthusiastically despite me snapping at her.

Also gobbled up the less perfect pieces before I took the camera out. There. In a world when our lives are put on display through filters, extensive retouching, constant editing and tireless curating, I think it’s more important than ever to try keeping it real.

So now that I’ve given you a little #bts, back to the original topic. Here’s how I eat IRL:

About 4 years ago, I switched to a healthier lifestyle, significantly reducing my sugar intake (used to drink coffee with 3 tbsp of sugar), lowering carbs (stopped eating bread and potatoes with everything) and hitting the gym.

These changes led to having more energy, less bloat, better sleep, better skin and also notable weight loss (which I do not consider to be the most important perk). All in all, I ended up with a healthier body that I started to feel ok with for the first time in my life.

Today, my plan includes working out regularly, being on a low carb diet on weekdays, and allowing myself to indulge on the weekends (that’s when blog content is created). This way, I am able to maintain my weight, keep the benefits mentioned above and enjoy all the flavours without remorse.

I’ve created a system that’s working for me, something I can stick to in the long run. In short, I’ve found my balance: my diet makes it possible for me to satisfy my cravings and fit into my favorite skinnies as well.

I’m happy I can be a bonkers foodie living a healthy, balanced life. That said, I’m not trying to convince you to follow suit or state that mine would be some kind of magic formula. Also, happiness has nothing to do with the size you’re wearing! I strongly believe the key to true well-being is maintaining a healthy mind and treating your body with respect.

Bottom line? I’d rather get judged for being real than be loved for faking flawlessness. How about you? How does all the perfection showcased on the internet make you feel? Envious? Causing you self-doubt? Or doesn’t bother you at all? I’d love to hear it!

Love,

Fruzsi

“Table with some vegetables” photo by onlyyouqj via Freepik

Friday Finds

Winter is the time for comfort, good food, for warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and a talk beside the fire: it is a time for home.

Edith Sitwell

Lonely tree (‘Planinsko polje XXVIX’ photo by Gorazd Kranjc):

lonely tree in snow

Make this the year:

danielle doby quote

Frozen lake (photo by Marja K.):

frozen boat

Fox in the snow (photo via imgfave):

snowy fox

Fig, Vanilla Bean + Gin Cocktail (by Sarah of The Homemade Haus):

fig vanilla gin cocktail

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

10 Things I Always Keep In My Freezer

watercolor snowflake

Personally, I think freezers were sent from the heavens. Since I’ve learnt the 101 of freezing, the amount of food going to waste in my kitchen dropped dramatically.

Because if there is one thing I really, really hate, it’s food going in the bin. Happens sometimes inevitably of course, but every time it’s causing me actual pain to throw food away.

I was shocked to learn that about one-third of all food produced worldwide gets wasted. This figure is just plain outrageous. Fortunately, even the smallest adjustments go a long way: planning ahead, portion control and making friends with my freezer ticked the frugal box for me.

Trust your freezer to take care of batch-cooked dishes, leftovers, bulk-buys and near their use-by date foods. Check out the list of products below I like to have in my freezer at all times!

I buy most of the following items in bigger quantities when they are available at reduced prices, others are seasonal. But all are good to have in there au cas où for when I suddenly have a brain wave to make something but have no intention leaving the house for groceries.

  1. Lemon. Cut to wedges, lined on a tray, than put away in a freezer bag to save precious space after frozen solid. Besides being a lot easier to squeeze after they thawed, these beauties double as ice-cubes if popped into your glass straight from the freezer. G&T, anyone?
  2. Puff pastry. So versatile, yet probably the most finicky and labor-intensive things you could make in your kitchen. Even Gordon says in his Ultimate Cookery Course that you should cheat and shop for it, and who are we to disagree with the master chef, right?
  3. Tortelloni. Again, I’m not sure the effort going into it is worth the trouble. I am a huge fan of everything homemade, but let’s be realistic: I have less time to sleep on an average day than these require to make. Let me just whip up a quick sauce in the 10 min. they cook, and poof! dinner is ready.
  4. Flat leaf parsley. Fresh from my parents’ garden. We finely chop when in season and put away in small food containers to have at the ready for a good sprinkle over many dishes like pasta, risotto, stews, soups, sauces or garnishes.
  5. Bacon. Is it just me, or is bacon a little overpriced for what it is (not being the most valuable part of the animal)? Well whatever, I’d even give up sweets altogether before I lose my bacon, so I buy more when it’s cheaper and pop it in the freezer.
  6. Hot dog sausages. I like my wurst to contain some actual meat (Isn’t that supposed to be the norm? Just asking…). Lucky for me, my favorite brand is not selling as quick as others due to the higher price tag, so the surplus often gets sold on clearance prices. Pigs in a blanket coming your way straight from the freezer on game night.
  7. Cheese. Harder cheese types freeze beautifully, remember this if you’ve bought more than you needed. Cut to cubes or slices, it will be a life-saver when friends drop by for wine o’clock and you want to prep a nice charcuterie plate.
  8. Bread. Want the convenience of fresh bread without it going stale or growing mold? Freeze, either whole or sliced, and you’ll never run out again. It is nice to have on hand at a moments notice.
  9. Butter. You know, for those „low blood sugar emergencies” on a Sunday afternoon while catching up with your favorite series, and you need to put together some muffins or brownies or chocolate chip cookies real quick.
  10. Lasagna. A freezer-friendly meal for those times the dishwasher, washing machine and the vacuum are on at the same time, and the Husband asks what we’re having for lunch. Assemble in a disposable foil pan for more convenience.

What do you have in your freezer besides the average ice-cream and ground beef?

Love,

Fruzsi

Title image: watercolor snowflake illustration by Rebekah Nichols.

Friday 13th Finds

Hey there Paraskevidekatriaphobes! Last time I’ve admitted I’m not such a big help when it comes to superstition, but I will continue with the tradition of posting cats with their celebrity owners to bring you luck. In May it was some pretty famous ladies, now it’s the guys turn. Follow their guidance to survive today!

Snuggle up, like Sean Connery did:

sean connery with cat

Make a cup of tea, like Bob Dylan did:

bob dylan with cat

Work on some new ideas, like Marlon Brando did:

marlon brando with cat

Read a good book, like Robert Redford did:

robert redford with cat

Or just stay in bed, like Rod Stewart did:

rod stewart with cat

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

You Asked So Here It Is: Vanilla Brioche

vanilla brioche

After the post about yeast dough and my favorite cookbook on home baking, many of you requested that I share some recipes. And I’d love to oblige of course! The recipes in said book however are copyrighted material owned by the publisher, and I take intellectual property seriously.

But good news! Because of the high demand I’ve contacted Marcsi, the author and face behind Limara Péksége and she was kind enough to agree that I translate and convert recipes from her blog to share with you guys.

I’ve chosen her amazingly soft and fluffy vanilla brioche, a spectacular pastry looking like you picked it up from a chic high street French bakery. It’s guaranteed to impress with it’s fancy voluted shape, yet it’s much less difficult to make than you’d think.

Brioche, sometimes also referred to as the queen of yeast doughs, is a leavened Viennoiserie (the group of Viennese-style baked goods): it is made like bread, but has the richness of pastry because of the added eggs, butter, milk and sugar.

It is common to fill brioche with both sweet and savoury fillings although in this recipe, the vanilla is kneaded straight into the dough itself. Those lovely, tiny black seeds! Also this time, I had some leftover sliced almonds from Christmas baking which I sprinkled the chignons with (optional).

Rich and tender, this sweet treat is perfect for breakfast with butter and homemade jam, or would be an amazing snack to accompany a steaming cup of tea, latte, or hot chocolate and a girly chat.

They are best eaten fresh and warm, but stay soft and very enjoyable the day after thanks to the butter content.

vanilla brioche with almonds

And now without further ado, the recipe as promised:

Vanilla Brioche

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Recipe adapted from Limara Péksége.

Ingredients

600 g/1.32 lbs all-purpose flour

seeds of 1 vanilla pod, scraped out

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1 egg + 1 yolk of an egg

3 tbsp sunflower oil

300 ml/10.1 fl oz warm milk

30 g (1.06 oz) fresh yeast or 9 g (1/3 oz) active dry yeast

150 g/5.3 oz butter, room temperature

1 egg whisked, for eggwash

Directions

  1. If using fresh yeast, add 1 tbsp sugar to 1/3 of the milk in a mug, crumble yeast in it and mix with 1 tbsp flour. Let yeast starter rise for 15 min, until top is crackled.
  2. If using dry yeast, sift it with the flour.
  3. Add all ingredients except butter to the bowl of an electric mixer attached with the dough hook, start kneading on low. After dough comes together, continue kneading on medium, for around 15 min.
  4. Cover, let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 min.
  5. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide to 6 or 12 equal parts, depending on how big brioches you want.
  6. Roll out dough balls to 6 mm / 1/4″ thickness and spread 1/6 or 1/12 of the butter on each. (Step A)
  7. Beginning with the long side, roll up buttered dough jelly roll fashion, to form approx. 40 cm/15.5” length ropes. (Step B)
  8. Make the chignons, tucking the end of the dough underneath. (Step C)
  9. Lay brioches on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, keeping enough distance between them and let rise for 45 min or until doubled in size.
  10. Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F. Wash brioches with the egg, than bake for around 20 min, until golden.
  11. Cool on a rack.

making brioche step 1
Step A
making brioche step 2
Step B
making brioche step 3
Step C

Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Baking Bread Is Giving Me All The Feels

Happy 2017 everyone! Hope you had a blessed and peaceful holiday. After eating and drinking myself to nearly comatose, I’m back in the game. And while I don’t really do resolutions, this time last year along the usual “getting in the best shape of my life” mantra, I’ve decided to make an attempt at more baking. A lot more. I plan on continuing that!

There is something about baking that is so intensely satisfying. I’ve realized recently I am equally motivated by the result and the process itself. In short, I love the baking part of baking, not just the eating, so baking for me is more than a simple means to an end.

This is especially true when it comes to baking bread. It triggers such powerful, positive emotional responses! I get tons of nostalgic feelings along the way. Working with the dough is very nurturing, it has a homely mood to it that gives me a wholesome feel.

🍞❤️💪#bake #bread #homebaker #proud

A post shared by Fruzsina Farkas (@mychestofwonders_hu) on

And if you get to think about it… because of course! Bread, the most important food of humanity. We’ve been eating grains for 20,000 yrs and being able to turn the crops into food was essential knowledge for survival. These days however, the loss of food know-how from one generation to the next is very real.

With modernity, flour and bread became commodities and in the age of industrial bakeries, the impetus to make a loaf for your family is mostly forgotten. Baking your own bread, along with lots of other once-fundamental abilities, is now considered rural knowledge, and the truth is, those things can best be learnt through experience and apprenticeship.

Luckily, more and more people born in Gen X and beyond feel they are missing something and are therefore interested in acquiring the skills that weren’t passed down to them due to the change of our lifestyles (or for any other reason, for that matter). I am proud to be part of that movement!

b/c homemade bread is just sui generis ☝️#bake #bread #homebaked #homebaker

A post shared by Fruzsina Farkas (@mychestofwonders_hu) on

We, strange as it may sound to some, have an inner drive, the need, the instinct to turn flour, water, yeast and salt into the most basic of meals. And I’m telling you, homemade bread is simply not comparable with what you buy in the supermarket. It’s so much healthier and better tasting, it’s sui generis.

And you know what? It’s not even difficult. A little time-intensive, yes, but some things (e.g. proper proofing) just can’t be rushed. No special ingredients or equipment is required, but one component is absolutely necessary: love!

Did you know there might also be a therapeutic value to baking that is beneficial to your mental health? According to the BBC, psychologists have noted that the aroma of freshly baked bread evokes happy childhood memories, comfort, and tender feelings of being loved. Baking could very well be helpful in relieving the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Do you need any more convincing? Go and make your house smell of joy!

Love,

Fruzsi