Tuesday, 17 May 2016


Patience is not a virtue that I have in spades. In contrast to the other six it is the hardest one for me, as it involves sending the good in you out into the universe and waiting on a response. Maybe it is a chance for introspection and contemplation, or it is a time to go stir crazy by feeling trapped in limbo.

In times like these I try to find distractions, whether these by activities such as the Karneval der Kulturen that was on this weekend, or watching the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time, or thinking about what to do with two stalks of rhubarb that have been lounging on the kitchen counter without purpose. As rhubarb is not very common in South Africa, before coming to Germany I hadn't really considered cooking or baking with it, and don't know what one traditionally does with the reddish stalks. Last week I made Jamie Oliver's Stewed Rhubarb, where all you do is cook the rhubarb with some orange juice, ginger and sugar, which I then ate with yoghurt as a breakfast alternative to post toasties.

Rhubarb compote with orange and ginger. 
Previously, I had delved into rhubarb syrup and a wonderful rhubarb panna cotta tart, but this not being my home and not really having and kitchen utensils (people, it is soooo much easier working with cups and teaspoons than it is with grams and scales) I kind of winged a little something something with the two rhubarb stalks.

Preparations and a random Tidal playlist since I still have a week of free music left. 

Taking this Rhubarb Buckle recipe from the BBC as inspiration, I used fairly random measurements as the scale's batteries no longer work and I improvised with a coffee cup. Also, I added a slab of dark chocolate and used orange juice instead of an actual orange because I didn't have one.

The four parts: base dough top left, then chocolate, oat crumble and rhubarb with orange juice. 
What it looked like before it went into the oven for 45 minutes.
It all seems fairly simple, and assembling the various layers really is not a difficult task. The problem arose (literally) when I noticed the bottom dough had completely swallowed up the crumble layer. Also, a knife inserted at about 30 minutes came out clean, so I took the cake out for fear of over-baking it and ending up with something that tastes like eating a desert and not a dessert. Haha.

What a slightly undercooked piece looks like.
But then the taste test (read my gluttony) revealed the cake still being overly moist. It went in again, and now it is still moist enough (thanks rhubarb) but not undercooked as the previous piece had been. The dark choc also works really well, but somehow I think the recipe needs a bit of tweaking, or me actually using the correct measuring utensils and not winging the exact science that is baking.

I'd say not a complete flop but it you want to impress the people at work or a weekend barbecue I'd rather say make this celebration chocolate mousse cake:

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Muscle & Bone

Outside the sun shines as green leaves are tickled by the slightest of breezes.

Inside, I wait to head out, feet frozen because wearing shoes inside will never be normal for kaalvoet kinders. Today may be the day I find my own place and move out. What a difference space makes.
And it is desperately needed - earlier on I was skyping with a friend and had asked which room would be best, where would I least disturb, where could a conversation be had behind a closed door. I asked, I adapted, I offered to change if/when needed. In the middle of our conversation about politics he busts in, fumbles around behind me, listens in, mumbles approvingly at some of the things my friend is saying. I ask whether he wants to work, if I should change rooms because I'd like to speak in private and not have my entire conversation surveilled. He goes off on a tirade about how we share space and that he has the right to enter where he wants when he wants. Which is true, this space belongs to them, and I am a tenant of sorts, a presence that one has to tolerate because it is what familial expectations dictate. But is privacy not also a right? Is having a moment to talk to a friend on my own without the hearing ears of others not also just a sign of respect? It is a constant challenge navigating these waters.

Yesterday I was again skyping (thanks Skype for being such a lifeline to sanity), this time with my mother. At some point she made the thumbs-up sign and said "Shap". How easy that was. Shap Shap. All good. Everything's ok. The reassuring sign of my mom indicating that everything was as it was supposed to be.

Focus Sabine. It's all good. This is nothing.
How you doin', you good? Ja man, hundreds.
I'm hundreds.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Oft gefragt

I have forgotten what's good in these uncertain times.

When nothing in sure, it is easier to have your attention drawn to weaknesses in yourself and in others than to look for fleeting moments of life being ok. To paraphrase Robert Frost, the thing about life is that it goes on. There is no use in dwelling upon hardships and despair because all this overthinking will do is pull you deeper into the darkness.

But man, it is hard to stave it off when your sword is a stick and you bunked on the day there was an introduction to fencing. So now all you can do is go tilting at windmills, ever forward, always getting back on your horse.

Enough with the literary braggadocio - this weekend was good. From Thursday on, it was good. Good came back swinging. Good showed up at the group exhibition of What The Weekend Is Gallery at Urban Spree when the music was jamming and some of the art seemed like you'd want to put it up on your wall. Good continued on Friday with the Yemeni Film Festival, which introduced the parkour scene in the bombed city of Aden as well as the importance of hip-hop and breakdancing in Cambodia, Uganda, Yemen and Colombia through the Shake the Dust documentary, and then at the opening of Hans-Peter Feldmann's photographic exhibition at the C/O.  Good persisted throughout the night with Critical Mass riding by, crashing an architecture-meets-art party because I needed the bathroom and staying to enjoy free wine and a lady playing at a white piano whilst an elderly man fell asleep on a chair holding his Chardonnay, and then checking out a Russian grocery store with bottled tomatoes, meringues and sweets whose wrappers looked more enticing than their content.

Good did not give up after an already solid couple of days. In sauntered into Saturday whilst strolling through Mitte for Berlin's Gallery Weekend, where we mainly didn't understand the art and made dozens of gifs of ourselves with light installations. We continued on to a second-hand market where I bought pants that look like a dress and are wonderfully airy for the hopefully impending heat of summer. Aww jiss.


After a nap we pre-drank nasty-ass Mexikaner (shots made up of Vodka or Korn with tomato juice and Tabasco or something. It is like downing a tiny Bloody Mary) and danced to the glorious music of the Backstreet Boys before going to a club where we hip-hopped into May. I am pretty sure my dancing skills are not great, but just shaking all the negativity off through the beautiful sounds of 90s hip-hop was close to sublime.

Good hit another six on Sunday with warm weather, a neighbour-barbecue and meeting a friend with her friend, the two of whom were in town for a concert. We hadn't seen one another in more than a year, so catching up on the details in person filled in the blanks between Skype sessions and phone calls. As they went to Yann Tiersen I headed to the May-1st-demonstrations because I didn't want to return home just yet and protesting in SA usually means people toyi-toying and destroying things, so I gathered that this could be equally interesting. More interesting than the clad-in-all-black crown of protesters and gawkers was the clad-in-all-black police: their uniforms look like the armour of ants, and their synchronised drills made the whole protest run smoothly. When I left, no cars were burning, no one was fighting, but to my dismay no one was really chanting their dissatisfaction either. Weirdly some of the officers also had what appeared to be video cameras on their helmets, to what purpose I am unsure of (identification of possible threats? recording all attendees? state surveillance?).

And then good had to prove one last time why it is aspirational: Monday meant writing applications that actually were responded to and then meeting up with the friends from Sunday before they left the city. We got ice-cream at Hokey Pokey and just chilled in the park for hours before they departed for the train station and I got to enjoy some time in the sun before another friend showed up and regaled me with his tales.

I shan't forget again - something good is always around the corner.