Come Fika with Me (Again!)

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we last had fika together.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it’s a Swedish concept not unlike high tea in England. Instead of tea though, we usually serve strong coffee, along with a bite to eat. This could include anything from simple bread and butter, to open-faced sandwiches but traditionally is something sweet. More than just your typical 3 p.m. coffee break, it’s a time to press pause and chat with friends, or to just contemplate the events of the day.

As a baker with a semi-Swedish background, I’ve incorporated fika as much as possible into my regular routine. It’s better for you than you think! Taking the time to sit, relax and focus on your sensory experiences is restorative for your mind and also for your digestive system- having a little bit of food with your coffee can counteract the acidic, sometimes inflammatory, effects that coffee has on your stomach. Plus, I’m kind of a stress baker, so I have to some way of getting rid of all those extra sweets in my cupboard!

Ever since I started writing about my baking back in 2014, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to share some of my favorite classic recipes with you, as well as new ones that I’ve been longing to try. Last year’s fika was a chance to feature some of my favorites from the blog, and it’s amazing how many more recipes I’ve added to my collection since then.

I even got together with some other bloggers (twice!) to round-up even more recipe inspiration, first focusing on cakes, and then sharing our most-loved cookies.

Last year’s fika also featured a listing of some the cookbooks that grace my shelves. You’d better believe my collection of titles has expanded since then!

If you find the concept of fika as appealing as I do, I hope you’ll join me this year for my second annual fika party. Today’s post is just the first of many goodies this week- I’ll also be sharing a little more about where I get my inspiration, how I develop and test my recipes for the blog, and some of the adventures I’ve had in baking along the way.

For now, though, your only task is to decide what you’re going to have for fika. Here are some of my suggestions from the past year:

These Cranberry-Almond Biscotti are perfect for dunking in your coffee, and they’re gluten-free which makes them good for you. (Kind of?)

Looking to fika but still stuck with the kids? These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes, or these Rocky Road Sour Cream Brownies are certain to pleasure sweet-tooths of all ages. Just mind any nut allergies, please.

I originally made these Date Pecan Bars for Christmas, but they pair perfectly with any hot drink any time of year, plus they’re super easy to make.

Impress your friends with this minty version of a Nanaimo bar that eliminates your need to bake, although there is some assembly required. (For more no-bake wonders, try these Butterscotch Bars, this Chocolate Roll, this Marshmallow Roll, this Pineapple Log, this Butterscotch Confetti or these S’mores Squares.)

For those of you looking for something a little less sweet, search no further than this surprisingly delicious Zucchini Bread. (You’ll have most people fooled into thinking it’s carrot cake!)

You won’t ever have to choose between sweet and salty flavors again with these addictive Pretzel Shortbread Bars.

The baking on this blog doesn’t stop there. I like to try out a new recipe out every two weeks or so, and you can find all my work archived into the following categories: cakes and pies, cookies, muffins and cupcakes, squares and loaves, and “other” (think lots of fruity surprises, and yummy candy).

And if you’re planning on throwing a festive fika for a crowd, I’ve got tips on how I bake for the masses here.

Even if you’re not a baker and you just enjoy baking, I hope you’ll join me for fika this week. We may not know each other but we’ve bonded already over our love of food, and it’s always a good excuse to kick back, relax, and enjoy some great company. Thanks for joining me!

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Do you fika, or have you incorporated a particular aspect of it into your everyday life? Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and tell me everything- including how you like your coffee.

Or maybe you want to join in on the party too so leave your comments below along with a link to your favorite recipe, or one of the best featured on your blog! The more the merrier!

Keeping Busy with G

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Sometimes my Mama does this thing where she sits at her box she calls computer and looks for hours until she makes faces and her eyes go funny. She calls it “blog” but I think she says “dog” so I gets confused and I sneaks on box when no one is looking and now I gets really confused because I thought mama called it “Keeping Busy with G” but it’s “B” and that’s HER name not MINE.

Who am I? I am Gemma the dog and mama tells me I am something like collie and German Shepard and maybe whippet because I runs so fast. I have blue eye since I was baby which doctor says is freckle not cataract which maybe also means husky background, but mostly I just think I am dog, maybe mixed with cat. Cats are like small dog which means friendly and smell nice like fish but sometimes not friendly so mama says careful, which is fine, because I am shy.

Mommy is the best and I never leaves her side because the world might explode but I can’t BELIEVES she leaves me out of blog-that-is-not-dog that lives on box but maybe it’s because blog has viewpoints on which we DISAGREE.

Firstly, I loves MESS. What’s the point of kibble if you can’t stores it under the bed for midnight snacks? Dirty laundry is for snuggles, not for hamper. And why do I gets blamed all the time for the fur on the floor? Where else do I leaves it?

I losing count. Where was I?

Also, the thing about mess is it be TASTY. Sometimes mama cooks the good stuff and throws it on the floor accidentally-on-purpose but lately all the stuff mama cooks is for blog-not-dog but if it blog-for-dog why doesn’t mama cook the stuff Gemma can eats? Mama says baking bad for dogs. So why does Mama talk about bad stuff on blog?

I takes over blog now so real blog-for-dog. I changes the password and now Mama makes stuff Gemma wants for ransom. (I sees man do it on box-that-is-called-TV.) Monday it be Baking with G. We bakes the following tasty treats: ham cake, bacon tarts, tuna cupcakes and cheese pie. Mama bakes. I eats. But please to tell me what is Monday. I don’t know time, or days of week.

Mama is coming. Uh-oh. Big trouble now. I sees you Monday!

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Gemma is a part-time scaredy cat and full-time dog that is known for her appearances on Instagram. When she’s not snapping selfies on social media, you can find her mooching cheese and chasing squirrels on the streets of Toronto, Ontario, where she has lived for the first and only decade of her life. This is her first blog post.