Cook sister!!

Growing up, I always heard stories from my parents reminiscing on the food they used to eat as children, teenagers and young adults in their homeland of South Africa. At times they would be craving the tastes and aromas — sometimes these could be fulfilled by my mother or another relative making them, other times it would be in a form of a gift brought back from a relative’s recent return, other times they just had to dream about it.

One dish in particular that my mother would make on special occasions, my siblings and I would get so excited about it that our mouths would water while the preparation took place. One thing about really nice (lekker as we say in Afrikaans) South African food is that it always takes hours to make!

Living just over 1400 km from my mom, I can’t ask her to make me food. Last week the cravings was so bad I decided that I need to go through my Capetonian rite of passage and make them. Even if I am about 12 years behind! I’m not one for a food blog, but I do enjoy reading them, and I do rely on them when making dishes I’m not familiar with. I don’t see myself as a cook, yes I can make basic nice tasting food, and I can follow recipes, while I love to eat, I don’t have that passion like others when cooking (e.g. My Kitchen Rules and Masterchef), so making this is a big deal for me.

Koe’sisters or koeksisters are South African doughnuts. Koek “cookie”, while “sisters” is the same as English. It gets it’s name from one of the styles of the doughnuts where the dough is plaited resembling a girl’s hair. Being from Cape Town, we make the Cape Malay version which looks more like a dumpling.

koesisters

Traditionally they are eaten for breakfast on a Sunday morning, which I was able to do today. It took me nearly four hours to make them last night, as you have to let the dough rise twice, and then you deep fry them. I finished the process this morning by boiling (and heating them) in sugar syrup and rolling them in coconut.

I got my fix! They are very sweet which means the three I had this morning will keep me happy for a while. I tend to freeze the rest and pull them out when I feel like them. My brother saw my picture this morning, so he now wants me to bring the frozen ones to Adelaide for Easter.

Ingredients_koesisters

dough_koesisters

Stereotypes

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”§

Yesterday while shopping, I saw an old lady fumbling with the canned tomatoes. I wasn’t sure what she was doing — I did wonder if she suffered from a vision impairment. She had worn out slippers and clothes on. I had my headphones on although I had yet to hit play on the iPod. As I was exiting the aisle, she started asking for help. I pretended that I didn’t see her and avoided eye contact — I wasn’t the only one.

After I turned towards the meat section, guilt came over me. How could I stereotype this lady? If she is homeless, does that make her less of a person? Where was my compassion and humility to another person? Many people are suffering, especially in the current economic environment with many people unemployed, and either homeless or on the verge of homelessness.

As a person of colour who grew up in Australia in the early 80s, I have experienced my fair share of racism and stereotyping due to being different. It hurts, many of the scars from growing up non-white in a predominantly white country still effect me to this day.

My neurotic ego got the better of me. Rather than just helping someone who was seeking assistance, I turned a blind eye and pretended she didn’t exist. Helping her was the right thing to do, but I automatically stereotyped her and refused to be a compassionate and good human.

To the lady who I ignore and stereotyped, I’m sorry for not being a good person. I hope you can forgive me. I need to work on being a better person.

§ On researching the source of this proverb, I got conflicting stories of who said it. Some sources site that it’s an African proverb, that Eldridge Cleaver said it in 1968, or that Charles Rosner introduced the slogan in 1967.

At a halt

Five years ago I decided it was time for a job change. I never imagined that I’d still be at the same job and organisation — nearly going on six years — an all time record for me!

In this time frame I have gone for many job interviews which have proved to be unsuccessful and quite crushing to the soul. Although I’m resilient, the continuous rejection does affect my confidence, especially at the following interviews. I decided that it’s time to seek assistance to change the status quo.

On LinkedIn I’m in the Executive Women Australian group. Career coach Fiona Craig posed the question “What was your dream career as a kid?” I responded that I wanted to be a dress maker like my grandmother, but that I work in a quite non-creative job. She recommended The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson. I borrowed the book from the library and couldn’t put it down. Sir Robinson gave examples of people who on discovering their passion have been successful in their careers, he listed examples from Jay-Z, Debbie Allen, Paul McCartney to Matt Groening. He discusses the many flaws of the various education systems of the world (he is an expert in the field), and how  some people only discover their potentials and passions once they leave school.

On completing the book I sent Fiona a thank you message. The book resonated with me — both as a mother and as a person in a job that I’m not passionate about. I went to visit her website soon after I sent the message, by fate, I discovered she was running a webinar that night titled Love Your Work. Listening to the webinar, I was nodding my head at the unhappy career scenarios that she covered. One question she asked was “What is your why?” I go on with life day-to-day without really asking this question of myself.

I’ve signed up to Fiona’s career coaching. I’m excited and hopeful that her training will assist me getting over the threshold to getting a new job and moving a step closer to the career and life I want.

A full moon…

A full moon poised above the sea
Makes the face of heaven radiant
And brings to hearts that are apart
The poignant pensiveness of night,
I blow out my candle but it just as bright here;
I put on a coat but it is just as cold.
So I can only read my messages to the moon
As I lay me down and long for dream of you.
–Chang Chui-Ling