I’ve been having a little déjà vu.
I blame Ryan Gosling. More specifically, ‘feminist Ryan Gosling’.
It’s a blog that’s been brightening my mornings for a few weeks now. It tickles my funnies in a way that might be lost on some.
I wasn’t sure if my entire undergraduate experience could be encapsulated in an image.
It seems it can be.
Reading this, I’m transported back 10 years- to when I was mid way through a politics degree which believe it or not- majored in post structuralist feminism.
I remember writing extended essays on the thinking of Gayatri Spivak. I remember wearing my grandmother’s raspberry and rose striped tea cosey semi-ironically as a beanie to tutorials on cold mornings. I remember the smell of the books on the fourth level of the library; musty, like forlorn socks. I remember spending sunny afternoons on the lawn in the front of the library accompanied by a large pile of flimsily photocopied readings and a luke warm latte. I’d use a muffin as a paperweight. I’d sit with a highlighter poised in one hand and pinch the tip of my nose when I was trying to wrap my head around a train of thought.
The muffins were special. They came from the vegetarian store in Badabagan; the food court just near the commerce quadrangle at the University of NSW, in Sydney. Because they were from the vegetarian store, I convinced myself they were healthy.
They tasted more earnest than any of the opinions I touted in my tutorials. They were made with wholemeal flour and had oats in them. They housed seasonal combinations of fruit; sometimes mixed berry, other times apple, pear or dried fruit. There were gentle notes of spice and occasionally an aggressive twang of ginger.
I’d sometimes buy two in a day; one in the morning to to take to my women’s studies lectures, and another late in the afternoon to fuel me through my readings. Later, when I’d swing past my best friend and her girlfriend’s house where we’d watch Buffy together, I’d still have half dwindling in the bottom of my bag.
This loaf is in memory of the muffins, essays, and the hungry hope I carried that one day I’d find a tall fellow who’d be interested in my opinions (or at least sit on a couch and watch terrible television with Sarah Michelle Geller in it with me).
And this loaf is for the women; those I learned with, I read from, and watched Buffy with (who later introduced me to a second dan black belt from their Tae Kwon Do school- a six foot two blonde fellow who could listen to me blather on for hours; who said I looked cute in winter hats – and would one day become my husband.)
This is not a loaf he enjoys. It’s too heavy. Too earnest. It carries too much soft fruit and and spice. He thinks it’s trying a bit too hard.
But I don’t really care that much.
I like it. So does my next door neighbour-(in the spirit of building communities of supportive women, I dropped half of it over to her).
And I have a feeling that feminist Ryan Gosling would like it as well.
Fig, pear oat and ginger loaf
Makes 1 loaf of 8-10 slices.
1 19 cm – 20 cm loaf pan. 2 bowls. 1 electric beater.
Oat Pear and fig and ginger loaf
100 g (1 cup) rolled oats
¾ cup boiling water
150g (5.5oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced
115g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose wholemeal flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ripe pear, peeled cored and sliced
3 figs , cut
½ cup of dried cranberries, cherries or raisins
1 knob of ginger, wine cork size, cut into slivers.
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
Here’s how we roll
1. Preaheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Place the oats, dried fruit and slivers of ginger in a bowl. Pour over the boiling water and put a plate over the top to let it soak in.
2. Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl. Cream with electric beaters (start on the lowest setting and then when combined, increase the speed). Cream until the sugar is dissolving into the butter.
3. Add the eggs, 1 at a time and beat well after you add each one.
4. Sift in the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder and gently combine (try not to overwork the flour).
5. Add the oats and dried fruit and gently mix.
6. Spoon the mixture into a non stick 19x 11 cm loaf pan. Arrange the figs and the pear slices over the top.
7. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.