Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Oliebol And Happy New Year

Oliebol is a traditional Dutch food which we eat on the New Year's Eve. According to Wikipedia, oliebollen were traditionally eaten by Germanic tribes during Yule time, to appease the goddess Perchta which was believed to wander about during mid-winter festivities (she had a nice habit of cutting open the bellies of those who displeased her, especially of girls who idled around instead of spinning). Because oliebollen contain so much fat, they were supposed to make her sword slide off the person's body.

This was long ago, and most folks have forgotten all about Perchta, but we still eat oliebollen every New Year! Oliebollen are simply dumplings baked in a deep fryer. Some people make them themselves, I always buy them, together with appelbeignets, another traditional food (containing, as you may have guessed it, apples). I did bake sausage rolls, though, since they are so expensive in the supermarket and really easy to make.

If you want to know more about oliebollen, you can read this Wiki article. It's going to be the last post of 2014, so I'll take the opportunity and wish all my readers and their loved ones


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How Female Employment Skews Female Choices

Men nowadays are forever complaining about women choosing irresponsible guys as their romantic partners and even fathers of their children, which is, at least, partly true. They are trying to explain this phenomenon by female biology which apparently forces women to become attracted to the unemployed alcoholic jerks and violent abusive criminals while avoiding a respectable if boring accountant.

Just like in the case of same sex attraction, science hasn't yet managed to locate the gene responsible for female choices so the biological explanation of women choosing losers is still a theory, not a fact. Biology certainly predisposes people to value certain traits in their mates, but strangely, until recently women didn't appear to be chasing the dregs of society in order to procreate with them. Could it be that the reason for this irrational behaviour is socialising, not biology?

I have at home a collection of ladies' magazines from the 1930s, which feature tons of romantic stories. In one of them, a beginning author has been in love with a girl for several years, but waits with proposal until he can provide her with the same material comforts she had in her father's house. Generally, the stories push the idea of marrying your social equal and the responsibility of the husband to provide. In another story, a man refuses to work to support his family and he is shamed by another man into working.

Now when we switch to modern so-called social romance (as distinct from the fantasy romantic stories about princesses, pirates and medieval knights) we often will encounter a situation when a heroine engages in "missionary dating", rescues a bad boy by her feminine charms, gets involved with her social inferior against her family wishes (think of the movie Titanic) etc etc. This sort of behaviour is often portrayed as heroic, after all, she is fighting against prejudice! What can be more noble???

On the other hand, women nowadays are pretty much expected to work and earn their own income, especially in North America. It's less so in my neck of woods, where most married women still choose to work part-time, thus they pay more attention to the prospective husband's income and social status. However, when the woman is fully economically self~sufficient and expects to stay so throughout her whole married life, naturally, she isn´t much bothered about her future husband´s career prospects. Of course, she may change her mind when the children come, but then it´s usually too late.

If a woman is trying to make a responsible choice though and hence is interested in the man´s status and income, she is more often than not lambasted as a gold~digger. D*mned if you do, d*mned if you don´t.

The point I´m trying to make is that nobody can be two things at the same time. A woman can´t be simultaneously a strong independent career womyn and a sweet submissive Suzy homemaker. Right now the society, including the government, expects all adult women to have a job outside home. The skewed female choices are one of the results.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dinner For One

Some naughty old-fashioned entertainment just to cheer everyone up:)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas...

At least, in my house:

This is supposed to substitute the traditional mistletoe:

The Christmas Choir guys have found another place for themselves:

Here is the close~up:

This year I went for a minimalist (according to my standards) Christmas look, with few seasonal decorations, like this:

And this:

From a different angle:

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Make Him Number One, Part 3

Helen Andelin stresses that the best opportunity to show to a man that he is number one for his wife is when he comes home. Returning home from work should be a pleasant time for your husband. She suggests that all the housework should be done or at least out of the way as much as possible, including such things as craft projects. The wife should look attractive and greet her husband with a smile, and the children should wait until later before they bother him with their problems.

According to Helen: "Such a greeting will make an amazing difference in his life, in reducing strain and bringing peace and rest." (Fascinating Womanhood, Bantam Books 1992, p.96).

Next Mrs Andelin discusses whether the man must make his wife number one. I touched upon this subject in one of my movie reviews, so bear with me repeating myself:) According to FW principles, "it's not always possible or even right for a man to make his wife number one in his life" (idem). The reason for this is that a man's first duty is to provide a living, which means that he often must spend a lot of time away from home and family. Such men nowadays are criticised for being "workaholics", but as Helen points out, "In reality, he is putting you first. He is working for you and your children." (idem).

Men have also another important role to play, that of building a society, "of making the world a better place." (idem). The man fulfilling his duty to society needs a supportive wife who understands his responsibilities, such as Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who accepted the fact that her husband's first duty was to his country and not his family.

When the wife fails to make her husband number one it creates a rift in the marriage (I witnessed it at first hand) and may drive the husband into the arms of another woman. I can't stress how important it is for the wife to give enough attention to her husband, at least if she doesn't want their marriage to end in divorce court. As Helen rightly observes, "...your husband will feel a deficiency" (idem). If he is a liberal and lives in a state of cognitive dissonance he will not object to you pursuing your own career and hobbies at his expense, but "something inside which was always denied for so many years" may cause him to just pack up his things and go with a vague explanation of "falling out of love".

Mrs Andelin illustrates this point further with real life examples of the ladies who nearly ruined their marriages by neglecting their husbands. Luckily for them, they were given a second chance, but these situations don't always have a happy end, that's why it's important to keep it in mind:

Always make your husband number one!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Family Chocolate Cake

I call it a family cake, because it's so huge:)

I made it last week and we have eaten nearly all of it by now. It tastes especially good with a cup of coffee after dinner (or tea if you don't drink coffee):

It's easy to make, too, and what's more important, it's pretty economical!

So what do you need for this great dessert?

For the cake,

2c flour
+/- 2c sugar
2/3c cocoa powder
3tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt
2 eggs
1c milk
2/3c vegetable oil (I always use virgin olive oil in all my recipes)
1tsp vanilla extract
1c coffee, cooled (I used instant decaf variety since coffee usually gives me headaches)

For the frosting:

3 oz cream cheese
4 tbsp peanut butter
+/- 2c powder sugar
2tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

To make the cake, combine dry ingredients in a bowl, add eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, beat and stir. Add coffee (batter will be thin), pour into a rectangular baking pan and bake at 175*C (350*F) for ab. 40 min. Take out of the oven and let cool. Meanwhile, make the frosting.

Beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth, add sugar, milk and vanilla, spread over the cake. Keep it the fridge. It's very moist and personally I find it tastes better the next day.

Recipe adapted from a magazine about home cooking which had been discontinued some years ago.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas in Maastricht

It's not Germany, but still...

The market:

Inside the shopping mall:

Street decoration:

Everyone's favourite elf:

It's not London's Eye. but still:

From a different angle:

Getting dark:

Nostalgic merry-go-round:

People having fun:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Men Of Harlech

Some nice music for Tuesday evening. For those interested, here is the version from Zulu.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Make Him Number One, Part 2.

As promised, here comes the second post in the series:

Mrs Andelin devotes a whole sub-chapter to illustrate the ways how children are put first. She discusses the situation where the husband wants to move to further his business, but the wife refuses, because she fears it will disadvantage the children (I know from personal experience that it happens more often than we think. Usually, it goes along the line that the children will miss their school friends/have to learn a new language etc).

Mrs Andelin points out that there is a difference between endangering the welfare of one's children and pampering them so that they would never experience the slightest discomfort. The same holds true for choosing a house. Wives can press their husband to go beyond their means, motivating it as the necessity "for the sake of the children", but, as Helen states, the husband often isn't "inclined to place his children's wishes ahead of his own." (F.W., Bantam Books 1992, p.91).

Another problem situation is when the husband has to compete for attention with his own children. Mrs Andelin states that some wives actually enjoy their husband working long hours away from home, so that they can devote themselves to their kids without his interference. In this case, the poor guy is basically reduced to the paycheck he brings. Helen also warns the wives against buying things for the children the family can't afford and being more interested in one's children than one's husband.

However, children aren't the only thing which the wives tend to put first. Some women are so obsessed with their housekeeping that the husbands feel themselves strangers in their own households, afraid to drop a crumb. To quote the book, "create a home, not a showplace. (idem, p.93), or, in other words, the king is more important than his castle.

Some women ignore their husbands by spending countless hours on their appearance (though every self-respecting person should try and look his best at any occasion, like all other things, it can be overdone), can't cut the apron strings tying them to their parents, or are more interested in their husbands' money and status than in them as human beings. There are also ladies who prevent their husbands from expanding their businesses because they are afraid to lose financial security.

To quote Mrs Andelin: "...when you make a man number one you must also make his work, plans, and goals number one." (p.94).

Next time, we'll discuss among other things, what to do when a man comes home, and whether he should make you number one.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Noblesse Oblige

Noblesse oblige was an idea that social superiors have duties to their social inferiors, such as showing a good example. Unfortunately, it's often not the case anymore, as our "elite" is busy enthusiastically encouraging lower classes to engage in socially destructive behaviours, while largely avoiding them themselves.

However, some members of the upper class can still serve as an inspiration to others, as this lady.  Yes, I'm aware it's practically the third Daily Mail article in a row, but I just had to write about her, not so much because of her passion for saving African wildlife (though these animals  do look cuddly), but because of how gracefully feminine she appears in the pictures.

There is not one photo featuring her wearing pants, though she is obviously busy tending to large animals. Somehow she managed to combine being practical and ladylike. May be, it was only for the purposes of publicity, but still, what an inspiration!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Can Poor People Cook?

The new liberal outrage of the day were the unfortunate remarks of one Baroness Jenkin who apparently cooks her own breakfast which costs only 4p. She stated that if poor people in Britain knew how to cook, they could save money by preparing their own meals, instead of buying fast food and wouldn't have to rely on charity in the form of food banks. Naturally, she was accused of committing crimes against humanity by refusing to blindly accept the dogma that all poor people are saints and their problems are never the consequences of their own stupid decisions.

She was duly chastised for her heresy and promptly apologised. It's noteworthy that if you look at her picture in Daily Mail, you'll see an older woman in good physical shape, in contrast to many lower class women who are often overweight and even obese. According to the statistical data, UK actually leads in obesity rates within the EU. We are experiencing the same problem in the Netherlands, with 4 out of 10 people being overweight. As someone pointed out on a Dutch website, lower class people often don't bother to cook, spend more money eating out and in general, rely on more expensive but less nutritious fast foods which may contribute to the problem.

Well, it appears that the Baroness actually spent some time researching the issue as she was a part to a parliamentary inquiry on hunger in UK, which among other things, stated that some parents would rather spend their money on alcohol, cigarettes and takeaways and lacked basic budgeting skills. In other words, some of those saintly "poor people" who are more often than not on welfare, couldn't be bothered to cook a decent meal for their children and preferred getting drunk to buying nutritious food.

Now, I'm not a saint myself and I do enjoy my glass of wine with dinner and we regularly eat out and order takeouts sometimes, when I had no time to cook a proper meal. However, it's still more an exception than a rule in our household, and what is more important, we can afford it! Now, I don't want to underestimate the plight of genuinely poor people like our elderly and sick who can't pay their medical bills any more, and poverty is a problem in Europe, however if some "poor people" are suffering from being overweight and obesity and would rather buy alcohol than food for their kids, we are obviously having a problem.

Which solution was offered by the British investigation committee? Well, as usual, more of the nanny statism. It's apparently the duty of schools to teach children to cook and the government should restore the welfare state in its fullest glory (who is going to pay for it wasn't mentioned). They did mention parental responsibility, though, so there are some signs of progress.

Since I don't live in UK, I can't state with any certainty that the Baroness is 100 % right on everything but I do know one thing: cooking from scratch IS cheaper and healthier. If you want to save money, learn how to cook!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Make Him Number One

This is a piece of advice from Helen Andelin's famous book Fascinating Womanhood. We often forget how our husbands need our attention, especially when we are busy with children, friends and our own projects. We forget to make our husbands a priority in our life and it can lead to all sorts of marital problems.

As Mrs Andelin points out: "A man wants a woman who will place him at the top of her priority list, not second but first." (F.W., p.67, 1992 Bantam Books, emphasis mine). This desire may be subconscious, but if it's not met it "surfaces violently" and may cause a man "to form bitter resentments towards his wife and even his children." (idem)

This is something we as a society have totally forgotten. Being a devoted wife will more often than not bring ridicule upon one's head. It's still kinda OK for a woman to devote herself to children, but her husband? The stereotypical "Stepford wife" of the 1950s bringing slippers to the man coming home from work is still the object of relentless mockery, even though she has all but disappeared out of the public view.

However, as Mrs Andelin rightly points out, a man is a human being and he doesn't like being reduced to a walking ATM, "a social asset" or "a ticket to security". He wants to be loved for being himself, not for serving as a means to an end (don't we all want it?).

There are many ways a woman can make her husband feel neglected. It's obviously quite common when the wife has a career of her own, but it happens with homemakers, too. In fact, according to Helen Andelin, all women have this tendency and should constantly be on guard against it.

One of the things most often placed in front of one's husband are children. Motherly devotion is undoubtedly a noble feeling, but as Mrs Andelin illustrates with her story of a certain Clara, a husband who is constantly forced to play second fiddle to his own kids will grow resentful and may even grow indifferent towards them.

Helen gives one rule to keep in mind:

Don't put the comforts and whims of your children ahead of your husband's basic needs, and further adds that a woman can "serve both husband and children without conflict" and that a happy husband makes for a happy marriage and a happy home (p.90).

In my next post I''ll write more about this topic. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Are You A Spontaneous Person?

I will admit, I'm anything except spontaneous:) I like things planned beforehand and have special days for cleaning the house and others for hanging out with friends. When I'm out shopping, I have a list Of Necessary Items in my hand and I seldom buy anything which isn't on it, even when it's on sale and I may use it in the future. In the past I have been known to write elaborate schedules and dinner menus.

There is one problem with this way of life, unfortunately. It's all very well when you are alone, but it becomes darn difficult when you have a family, as there are always some emergencies coming which interfere with your schedule tremendously. You simply can't take it for granted that you'll be able to vaccuum your whole house in peace on any given day any more. And then your husband comes earlier from work and suggests you two go out and drink a cup of coffee somewhere. What's a girl to do?

In my opinion, the lack of spontaneity is often connected to the control issue. Making schedules and elaborate shopping lists and planning every appointment two months before is the way to control one's surroundings. It's OK, to a degree, since a housewife is a family manager, but when it's taken to the extreme it will cause frustration both to the lady herself and to the unfortunate members of her household.

Being a control freak is never nice, especially in the relationship with your significant other. There should still be some fun, spontaneous interaction between the husband and wife, even (or should I probably say "especially") as they get older. If he asks you out, just go and let the laundry wait. Tomorrow is another day:)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Breakfast Ideas: Corn Bread

This recipe was adapted from the book called Breakfast and Brunch, author unknown.

You will need:

1c flour
1c corn flour
4tsp baking powder
ab. 1tsp salt
+/-2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
250 ml milk
2tbsp olive oil (or any other)

 In a bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Add sugar and corn flour, mix thoroughly. Add the eggs, milk and olive oil, beat until smooth. Transfer to a rectangular greased baking pan (I always use butter to grease mine), bake for about 25 min. at 220*C.

When ready, let it cool slightly and cut into squares ( I had 16). You can eat it with butter and jam or choco spread and a glass of milk; or serve it as cake, but in this case, you'll probably have to use more sugar as it isn't really sweet. Makes for a good breakfast and is an ideal way to utilise corn flour.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Feminism vs "Social" Feminism

The roots of many things which plague our society go back to the XIXth century. Feminism is no exception, as I have often pointed out in my previous posts on this topic. However, few people know that from the beginning, feminism wasn't a homogenous movement, or rather, that there were basically two groups of people who called themselves feminists.

F. Carolyn Graglia writes in her famous book Domestic Tranquility that some early feminists actually came with a theory of separate spheres for women, though equal in importance, while others, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman ridiculed this idea and wanted total economic independence for women. Ms Gilman denounced the traditional homemaker as a "parasitic creature" and even a "horse-leech's daughter" with aspirations of "an affectionate guinea pig" (see for reference Domestic Tranquility, Spence Publishing, 1998, p. 103-104).

Her ideas were supported by the National Woman Party which  entered into an unholy alliance with the National Association of  Manufacturers to push more women and children into workforce and abolish all the protective legislation aimed at those groups.

Those who called themselves "social" feminists, on the other hand, objected to the employment of (married) women and mothers and promoted the idea of a "family wage", so that the wives wouldn't be subjected to "the drudgery of a cotton mill" (idem). It was social feminists such as Mary Anderson of the Women's Bureau who fought for the "family wage" so that mothers could stay home and children would be spared from the day care (idem, p.105).

If you remember, one of the slogans of the feminist movement of the 1960 was "equal pay for equal work". They stated that it was the ubiquitous patriarchy which oppressed a working woman with the "family wage" (i.e. higher wages for male breadwinners), even though it was another group of feminists which had introduced it. Does it even make sense to you?

I don't know that much about ´social` feminists, but the way I see it, they at least tried to protect traditional family, women and children, especially those of lower classes who, unlike their UMC "sisters" didn't have a fancy career but were more likely to work somewhere in a sweatshop for the minimum wage; while modern feminists who are overwhelmingly elite women, often with some cushy sort of job are enthusiastically encouraging their inferiors to dig ditches.  I'd say, they should lead by example!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Use Of Pre-Cut Vegetables

There has been a discussion recently about the decline of chopping with folks wondering why anyone would want to buy pre-cut packaged veggies:) They are supposedly unhealthy and violate the sacred bond between the humans and nature. I don't know about the latter, but it's generally believed that pre-chopped vegetables lose some of their nutrition value, however, I think there is a time and place for their usage, too.

I will admit I often rely on salad mixes (which are often cheaper and include various sorts of salad leaves), however, I mostly chop my own vegetables unless it's something hard and difficult to chop finely, like cabbage, for instance. Again, it depends on what you need it for. If you want to use cabbage for a stir-fry, it must be chopped very finely indeed, so a pre-cut packaged variety comes in handy.

Some things I practically never buy fresh. Take beets, for instance. Why, it takes more than an hour to cook them, and who  has time for that nowadays?:) Pre-packaged foods and pre-cut vegetables or frozen mixes are a sort of convenience foods, but they can be ideal for a busy homemaker.

No offence meant to anyone, but though I like to cook, I think there is definitely a place for convenience foods in the modern kitchen, even for a housewife.  I'm a snob about my bread, though. Never used a mix for the bread-baker, never will. I'm firmly convinced they are unhealthy:) Well, what do you think?