I bake, therefore I survive

One of the topics often discussed among Europeans here in Australia is bread.
It is just not the same as at home. And it is very expensive too, compared to what we are used to, which makes it harder to accept the quality. We miss heavy, crusty loafs full of seeds – and no, you do not get that in Australia, unless you live near an IKEA. Yes, that’s right: IKEA (and no, they do not make it from the remaining saw dust, like some people think). This packet was my savior for the five years we lived in Brisbane:

I just spent the weekend in Brisbane, arriving with hand luggage only, departing with a 17kg suitcase. Our survival is secured for a little while yet.

But unfortunately there is no IKEA in Cairns and no bakery either which make this type of bread. Luckily, when I was in Denmark my friend Nina gave me the recipe for cold risen bread, which substitutes nicely (though it is not dark enough, but I might be able to fix that myself). I thought I’d share the recipe with you, just in case your stomach needs some real love.

350 g of flour
15 g of yeast
350 ml of cold water
1 tsp of salt
1 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp of oil
1 cup of oats/seeds/sawdust or whatever you like

Mix flour with yeast, salt, sugar and oats. Mix water with oil. Mix it all together – it should be like a thick, sticky porridge. Cover the bowl with cling film and stick in the fridge overnight. This step takes less than 5 minutes. The next morning you spoon the dough onto the plate (no mixing it, leave the air in) to create buns (I use two spoons for this) and leave for 10 min (that gives the oven time to warm up). Bake for 25 – 30 min at 200C. All done.

Look at the love in those! Sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, oats and all. Yum, yum, yum!


Know your Aussie

Australians can be divided into two categories: the Holden people and the Ford people.
You think I’m kidding, but it starts already at birth. Have a look here:

This picture is from a market in Townsville, but it could be anywhere in Australia. The European in me asks the question: where are the “I ❤ Ferrari” and “I ❤ Lamborghini” T-shirts? Because honestly! Which Aussie who would not chose one of those over a Holden? Or maybe they wouldn’t… now there is a scary thought!

Friend Request

Friendship has taken a whole new meaning since I left my country a decade ago. It takes time to become friends and it takes an effort to maintain them. Most of all, I have learned how precious friendship is and how much I value the relations I have created through my life.

There are the people I grew up with in the village I come from, who I used to catch up with on a regular basis without really making an effort.There are the other people I met growing up, like my friends from when we lived on Long Island. Or my pen-pal from Germany. Then there are the good solid friends who I have laughed and cried with for decades. The ones I studied with, worked with, went on holidays with. Then there are the two girls I made friends with the three years I lived in Italy. Those were tough years, I tell you, and I could not have survived without those two. I don’t see them much and I don’t talk to them much. But I would walk through fire for them both. Then there are my new friends, people I have met here in Australia. That again is a totally different relationship. For most of us, we are tied together through an experience of being foreign, reflecting on our surroundings. They are from countries I have never had friends in before. Like France. And Egypt.

Many of my friends are on Facebook. I often sit and look at my list of friends on Facebook and I get filled with a tremendous sense of gratitude. I love Facebook for that reason alone. I really do. I LOVE to hear the stories, love to see the pictures and I try to return the favor.

I listen to the scary parts they tell us about Facebook, about being watched and surveilled. But you know what? I sometimes hope they spy on me and my friends. I hope they see how connected we are and how much we care. How much I care. And I hope it scares them.

And then I love it when I get a friendship request and think: who the heck is that girl with bananas in her hair? Do I really know her? OH YES she is lovely! How good is this!

I am reminded to keep an open mind…

I get the Koori Mail, a fortnightly national Indigenous newspaper which is 100% Aboriginal owned and 100% self funded. There are some great articles in this paper and it is one long reminder of all the good, strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people out there. Read this paper and you get a completely different view of Aboriginal Australia – I promise!

My favorite part of reading this paper is, that there will always be one story that challenges my own perceptions. Always. I know this says more about me, than about the paper, but I have a feeling that most white people would be highly surprised if they read this paper on a regular basis. For me it is a fortnightly reminder to keep a (very) open mind.

So what surprised me in this editions newspaper? An article on page 33 reporting from Western Australia’s Kimberly region, where Gordon Marshall, Aboriginal Elder from Derby County, has just become – for the seventh time – Worshipful Master of the Derby Masonic Lodge.

My favorite quote, after having blown my coffee all over the newspaper, was this: “It is not unusual for the Derby Masonic Lodge – one of 120 throughout the state – to have Aboriginal members. In fact, Mr Marshall says it would have closed some years ago without them”.

I confess from an honest heart that I did not see that coming: An Aboriginal Worshipful Master of the Masonic Lodge. A Mason Master. There you go!



Grocery shopping? That is two hours drive from here!

In mid-April I reviewed the Indigenous section of my Sunday morning paper. I wondered how the local residents here in Cairns would cope if the food prices were 50% higher than the rest of the country, the government let a mining company blow up a local church and then cut their water supply, sewage and garbage removal.

In the mean time, the story from New South Wales about supermarket prices being 50% higher in Indigenous communities, has moved to another level. I almost fell off my chair when I read this.

In Wilcannia, where the local supermarket was being investigated for price-gouging, it suddenly decided to close. It is the ONLY supermarket and the town’s nearest supermarket is now at Broken Hill, two hours drive away. Few people have the option of travelling that far, so those who do, are helping to supply things such as baby formula and nappies. There is talk of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs bringing emergency supplies to the town.

WHAT IS GOING ON? This is not an aid-convoy in a third world country, though it sounds like it. This is New South Wales, Australia. It does my head in to read on one page that while the Australian Rugby League Commission has scored a $1 billion TV deal, children in remote communities are having their milk delivered as emergency supplies. For real? Oh yes, for real! Welcome home to Australia.

To read more, click here

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair is on this weekend and it is really, really nice. We went Friday morning, because I’m shooting an archery competition this weekend in Mareeba. I’m so happy that we made it. The art on display was VERY nice. It was also very expensive, but I really enjoyed it all the same. There were some prints I fell in love with, but at $265 a piece and thinking that 3 in a row would be the ideal, that is now just a dream. They were worth the price though.

One really pleasant feature of the art fair was the entertainment. There was a constant change in the many different dance groups and music, mostly Aboriginal dancers from the region. This is the Lockhart River dance group, which we (Mr Husband and I) thought did a real good job. I personally really like that there are so many kids in the group. Passing on culture is such an important thing.

Outside the venue, all sorts of other good things were going on, like the artwork being made on the spot from ghostnets (fishing nets that fishermen somehow do not think they are responsible for and leave as trash in the ocean). I really liked the turtle as the nets are one of the major reasons for turtle death in the Torres Strait. So appropriate.

If you are in the area or know someone who is here, I highly recommend going. If you have half a shopaholic in you, bring the big wallet. If I was rich I would have bought these Items from the Torres Strait. The headgear cost app $4000; I really like the one with the crocodile tooth in the middle. The metal item I didn’t check the price for; I probably would have fainted. But have a look at the artwork made out of the white feathers. Just amazing.

Australian Border Security

Danes have a vague idea that Australians surf, have red hair and say G’day Mate (say it again Signe, it sounds so funny). BUT! To my absolute surprise, the general knowledge about Australia has been overshadowed by one major factor: Export TV.

Many Danes have a miraculous knowledge about Masterchef Australia. They know who all the contestants are and will engage conversation such as “I cannot believe that Poh didn’t win” (who? what? hang on!) and are extraordinarily concerned about the strict Australian Border Control. How do we ever get into the country? It is ridiculous how many times I had to explain that IT IS NOT LIKE YOU SEE ON TV. No one seems to have registered that the largest felony is to not tick the box. If you tick the box on your entry card that ask if you have an item, nothing happens! Just tick the box! They forget to show that part on TV.

And I’m living proof that you can tick as many boxes as you think are relevant and still get in. I remember it as if I ticked five, but I can only remember four of them (memory is slow these days). It had to do with animal products (seal skin, bone figures and other stuff from Greenland), plant products (wooden artefact), food products (oh the list is so long) and then there was something with weapons and/or arms. I bought at handmade Finish fishing knife for Mr Husband

Notice that it has a shaft in birch tree and reindeer antlers, so there: three ticks in one item.

Nothing was confiscated, it all made it home. I made it home. I didn’t get a fine because I ticked most of the boxes on the freakin card.

OH! I remember. Tick five had to do with having been on a farm while I was away. Yep. They still let me in.