Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nana's Date Loaf

It was only a matter of time until I started uploading recipes. Living away from home can really make you crave the foods that remind you of family and of your childhood.

I remember going to visit my Nana (on my dad's side) in Melbourne and she would always have freshly baked cakes waiting on the table. I use to marvel at how she baked them because she never had an oven - everything was done in a convection microwave and it was still perfect.

I only have one recipe handed down from my Nana and that is her date loaf. It is surprisingly quite healthy and really quick and easy to make.

I make this cake for two reasons; one it makes me feel good and two, J hates dates so I know when I do make it I get a whole cake to myself!

1 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped dates
3/4 cup of brown sugar (I use less)
1 tsp mixed spice (I use about double this)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of walnuts
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cup of plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease a loaf tin.
Place all ingredients except flour and bicarbonate soda in a bowl and stand for a few minutes so the dates begin to soften. Sift in flour and bicarbonate soda and mix to combine. Place mixture in prepared tin and bake for approximately 45mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.

It tastes so good with a little butter while it is still warm.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oh My God I am a Housewife

I have never really been one of those girls who grow up dreaming of the day when I would stand at the threshold waving goodbye to my husband as he trots off to work, leaving me to make 'house'. I think the thing that terrified me the most about J's job was that I knew that it meant that on and off throughout our life, I will be that woman - the stay at home wife.

It has been four months now since I have worked and for the first three of those months I really struggled with fact that I was no longer contributing to the partnership financially. J always jokes that he would love to swap with me - that he would be happy being a 'house husband'. I think that is because he seems to be able to get endless hours of amusement out of the playstation, the internet and other gadgets. And he can seemingly sit for hours drinking endless espressos in cute cafes. Needless to say, I can't.

I do wonder whether my reluctance to stay at home alone stems from being an only child. On the one hand I am accustomed to having to amuse myself, but I also crave the company of others. For me, the daily interaction with the supermarket checkout chick just doesn't cut it.

But lately I have found myself secretly enjoying the life of a housewife without children. I have found the Danish version of Aerobics Oz-style (matching outfits and all) which I do every morning and I have my household chores timed perfectly between Oprah and Dr Phil. My afternoons are spent shopping for dinner and going to new areas of the city. The realisation of being a housewife hit me last week when I spent two hours searching for a pumpkin!

I bake cakes, make J a packed lunch every day, arrange flowers for the table and even iron my sheets - my mother would be so proud (but perhaps every other feminist wouldn't)!  This is my new job - and I don't do things by halves.

Stepford Wives, eat your heart out!

"Portrait of the Housewife as a young woman", Miss H, 2011.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tip 3 for visiting Copenhagen - don't look in the prams!

Every culture has its curious habits that leave others thinking, "I can't believe they do that!"

Coming from a country where our former Prime Minister was actively trying to promote 'a bigger Australia', the number of prams being pushed around Copenhagen streets was confronting. The pram population is particularly noticeable at prime eating times where one can see rows of prams parked outside cafes and restaurants.

At first I never really thought anything of it.  This was until I began to notice that although there were prams outside the restaurant, there were no babies inside the restaurant. Looking more carefully, lined up along side the glasses of wine, coffee and cocktails were baby monitors.

Rain, hail, snow or shine, the Danes will leave their babies outside in the pram. There is a strong belief in this country that babies require daily 'airing' and the colder the better. Most people's first reaction is 'aren't they afraid of someone taking the baby?' Apparently not - in the last 30 years only three children have been kidnapped. One has tragically never been found and the other two were taken 'accidentally' as a by-product of their more common crime - bikenapping. That's right the Danes don't just leave their babies in prams, they also transport them in trailers on their bikes and then leave those outside too.

I do wonder if there is method in their madness. I have to say that Danish children are amongst the best behaved and most independent children I have ever seen. I have not witnessed a tantrum, clingyness, demands or anything of the kind. Children as young as six will be responsible for getting themselves home, whether this is by bike, train or walking and they do so without causing any disturbance or disruption to fellow commuters.

If we weren't faced with the possibility of being arrested for child abandonment, maybe more people could do parenting Viking-style?

Interesting article New York Times - Let it snow, and put out the baby A Danish woman was arrested in New York for for leaving her baby outside, she is now suing over her arrest based on it being a cultural and parenting norm in Denmark.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Making friends and the dating game – much-of-a-muchness really!

One of my very good friends got married at the weekend and it made me a little homesick. Having my friends on the other side of the world makes even the smallest event seem huge and those big events like a wedding seem devastating to miss. But it does also make me think how much you really do need people close to you (at least in the same city) to call upon.

“Making friends” almost sounds juvenile, it is what your parents say to you when you move school ‘it’s okay darling, you’ll make new friends!’ It is not something you usually have to consciously think about and work at when you are an adult.

“Making friends” as an adult feels like the dating game. You meet someone, have a good time, you might tentatively ask for their number and then you stew on it for a while thinking ‘should I call? What if they don’t like me? Will they think I’m weird asking them out for coffee?’ Also like dating, you have to “go out” with them two or three times before you realise whether there is something there. And sometimes you feel like that annoying girl, who keeps trying to do something and the effort is not reciprocated. That’s when you need someone to say ‘she’s just not that into you’ so you can move onto the next prospective friendship.

Of course, it doesn’t help that the Danes are notoriously difficult to crack. They’re infamously known to be “friendly, but not welcoming” – meaning their superficial interactions are pleasant, but deeper relationships are very difficult to cultivate.

I’ve done the dating game and I hate it. I dislike it even more that I have to so obviously seek friends as an adult. Oh well, at least I’ve got six of the most wonderful friends anyone could ask for at the end of the phone line.

A shout out to my beautiful friends. I miss you!