Sunday, 13 July 2014

Timeless Simplicity


You may have been attracted to this post by the lovely looking Greek honey cheesecake pictured above, but before I say anything about that let me first broach the subject of laundry. I don't know about you, but I am sometimes outraged (yes, outraged) by the amount of laundry that piles up quicker than I can say "Holland should have won the World Cup." One minute I think I've cleared the hampers, next thing I know they're stuffed so full they're spilling knickers and socks onto the floor. Since that was the case again this weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time at home 'catching up on some laundry' instead of spending whole days out.

Whenever I go upstairs to see hampers full of dirty laundry (in dark moods just to torture myself), my heart sinks. Sometimes it even makes me say unladylike words out loud. 'Doing' the laundry - that is to say hanging it up and folding it away, just isn't my favourite chore. Sometimes I even need a book called Timeless Simplicity to motivate myself.  In it John Lane - who never fails to give me a happy feeling inside - tells us that when we recognise the larger scheme of things, household chores can give way to feelings of deep satisfaction. He tells us to remember that every pair of socks we fold is an important part of making a house a home. How we feel about doing laundry, "cleaning lavatory pans" (direct quote - really) and the like is all a matter of the attitude we have chosen to adopt: "if we regard it as a form of service, an aspect of home-creation, an opportunity to practice every sort of ingenuity and frugality, it can become an expression of love." I kept these words in mind as I folded away a  mountain of washing and paired together socks (grrr) and I must say, once I was done, I felt very pleased with myself indeed. So bless John Lane. One chore he will never be able to  make me do however, is the ironing. I simply do not iron. Ever. Just wanted to mention that.

This unwillingness to iron leads me to a funny/embarrassing thing that happened to me recently. One afternoon, S's teacher approached me with a suspicious smile on her face. "...You don't iron, do you?" she said, trying to suppress a giggle. "Ehh, uhh, well... no..." I stammered as I was flooded by feelings of guilt over my poor son being caught wearing wrinkled clothes to school.  She of course went on to reveal how she knew I didn't iron. "Well," she said, "today I used an iron in class to press some materials together, and a totally fascinated S asked 'What is that thing?!' -  "and I could tell," she said, "that he had truly never seen one before in his entire life." This last part of course can't be true - I have an iron lying about upstairs and have the photo to prove it, but instead of correcting her I just laughed along politely and made some self-deprecating jokes instead.


Don't be fooled by the presence of the iron in the right-hand corner: I never use it and have of course left it lying around so my children will know what one looks like

By the end of the afternoon a heavily reduced pile of children's clothes in need of ironing folding

Basket filled to the brim with single socks looking for a mate

Now onto a domestic chore which to me isn't a chore: baking. My beloved John Lane of course applauds baking, calling it one of "the sacred arts of life." Since Notes from Delft is not going away to the Mediterranean this summer, the Mediterranean will have to come to Notes from Delft. So yesterday I plucked Food From Many Greek Kitchens (Tessa Kiros) from my baking shelf and made this Melopita, which I call Greek honey cheesecake. It is delicious. Especially cold from the fridge the next day.



As always I have adapted the recipe to suit my own taste and/or food philosophy, so this recipe is not exactly the same as in the book. Here it is:

Greek Honey Cheesecake
adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros

2 eggs
40g coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons spelt flour
100g honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur (the recipe says brandy but I didn't have any)
500g ricotta cheese
cinnamon
25cm ovenproof round ceramic dish

  • preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  • butter and flour dish
  • beat eggs and sugar with electric beater until thick and creamy
  • add honey, lemon juice, coffee liqueur and ricotta
  • whisk well until thick, creamy and ribbony (love this word!)
  • scrape into dish and distribute evenly
  • bake for 30 minutes
  • sieve some cinnamon over the top
  • serve at room temperature or cold from the fridge (which we prefer)


May I point out, dear readers, that I have changed my weekly "Sunday" post to "Weekend" post (since so many things happen on Saturdays too) and that I have added a widget called "join this site." So should you feel that the next best step in your life is to "join this site," please feel very welcome to.


38 comments:

  1. Now that looks rather delicious. I have got ironing down to about one shirt a fortnight. It's one of the huge benefits of no longer working!

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    1. You're absolutely right about the benefit of not working - the reason I don't iron is because I also have quite a busy teaching job. I don't actually hate household chores, I just find that I want to spend my precious free time in other ways :-)

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  2. I wash at least one load of laundry every day. It never ever stops but I too have read John Lane's book and he is right, there is something to be said for performing household chores as if they were sacred acts. Creating a home is after all one of the most important jobs anyone can do.

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    1. That's exactly what I should do, Sue - wash one load every day. I tend to let all it pile up way too long. And I absolutely agree that creating a home is one of life's most importants tasks. Hurray to John Lane.

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  3. I love the story of your son and the never-seen-iron... :-))))
    Don't worry, I'm sure his teacher only uses an iron to demonstrate things in class ;-)
    I think we all prefer baking to ironing, and if possible, skip the latter to do more interesting stuff ;-)

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    1. Yes, that is quite a funny story isn't it. I must say we had a good laugh about it here too!

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  4. love the way you are using baking to transport yourself to foreign places. and I need to look into this book about housework!

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    1. It's so nice to try foreign dishes when at home during summer. I love having more time to spend the kitchen experimenting.

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  5. Your cheesecake does look amazing, thank you for sharing the recipe. As for the laundry, I often say that my favorite event in life is that brief shining moment when all three hampers are empty. :)

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    1. Oh, I love that moment - it feels like such an achievement!

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  6. I totally agree about the laundry - I just don't feel at peace until it is up to date before I go to work on Mondays....and OMG that cheesecake looks divine! Wish you were closer so I could drop in for a bite :)

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  7. I do try and approach my homekeeping as if it is all very important even if it is a small task, but I cannot say that I am always successful, especially when repeatedly vacuuming the hall carpet with all that is trampled in and the endless laundry! I love all your pretty china though, that is a homekeeping art that I can easily be a part of!! xx

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    1. Collecting china is one of my favourite homemaking tasks and I take it rather seriously.

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  8. I have spent the weekend browsing cookery books for a dessert recipe for a family gathering next week and think I may have just found it in your Greek Honey Cheesecake - thanks for sharing this simple and delicious-looking recipe!

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    1. You're very welcome, Annie - hope you enjoy the family gathering.

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  9. I have this John Lane book and really must read it again to energise myself into doing the weekly wash and the ironing. It is the repetitiveness that gets me down, doing the same round of things week after week - there is a lot to be said for naturism, sadly our climate it a bit prohibitive!

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    1. Yes, repetitiveness is the problem for me too. I sometimes can't believe how quickly those hampers are filled again. Thanks for signing up, Elaine, and welcome.

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  10. I have never heard of the John Lane book, I will have to check it out. The cake looks delicious x

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    1. The John Lane book comes highly recommended, Chickpea. All about the rewards of simple living.

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  11. No ironing for me. I have had a travel size one sitting in our cat room for years, collecting dust and spider webs. Just since I have started sewing in the past year have I actually used it. There are much more important things in life.

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  12. Lovely recipe. I hate ironing too and avoid it if possible.Husband does all his own work shirts normally but now I am am on school holiday for the next 7 weeks or so while he is still at work, I feel obliged to help. I'm trying to join your site though it's not working at present. I really enjoyed visiting the Netherlands earlier this year on a school visit to a Model United Nations Conference in Zoetermeer (sp?). I stayed with an English teacher from the school which was hosting it. I was impressed with the Dutch education system and the sensible assessment scheme which is so much easier to grasp than National Curriculum levels etc. As I recall everyone is marked out of 10 all the way through. Simple - should tell our new education secretary. Anyway I digress - it's good to find you. Don't reckon I'd like the John Lane book much - can't get excited about the laundry.

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    1. Welcome, Doris! Technology is wonderful but also annoying at times. Sometimes my comments seem to vanish into thin air and my attempts at joining a blog is often not immediately successful - it may be a temporary technical failure, so perhaps you could give it a try later.
      I'm so glad you enjoyed your stay in the Netherlands (I was a MUN director once, years ago!). I agree we have a sensible and logical marking system and an education system I'm very pleased with.

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  13. That cheesecake looks so good! I really don't like to iron my clothes either, I think the wrinkles in clothing adds character to it, like a face. Or maybe that's just my fancy excuse for not ironing. Either one works.
    ~Sophia
    http://plaidismyfavouritecolour.blogspot.com/

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    1. Good excuse, Sophia - works for me.

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  14. I really like what John Lane has to say about household chores. I don't mind doing the laundry (apart from pegging out socks, that drives me mad) but sometimes the repetition of those jobs can be tedious. But if you see it in the wider context of creating a home, than that gives it more value.

    Your cheesecake looks and sounds wonderful. I love Tessa Kiros's books and I really love that pretty blue and white plate you used. x

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    1. Thanks, Gillian! Glad to hear from another Tessa Kiros fan - she (and John Lane!) always gives me that happy-to-be-home feeling inside.

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  15. I have never heard of John Lane or his book, thank you for sharing it I will have to look it up. I do iron, sporadically, not everything just some things that I feel need a press before they get worn. Actually a press is what they get rather than an iron.

    I love the sound of your cheesecake but I wonder, would it work without the lemon juice or the alcohol the inclusion of each would mean I was unable to eat it?

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    1. I always adapt recipes to suit myself and see no reason why you couldn't leave out the lemon and alcohol. You could try adding 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla essence instead - honey, vanilla and cinnamon on top make a wonderful combination too. Good luck there x

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  16. Yum! I have a recipe for something similar, but it has a base as well. It's from the Stephanie Alexander kitchen bible, if you're interested!

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    1. I'm a real cookbook lover and always on the lookout for new ones; so thanks for the tip!

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  17. Same here, laundry is an absolute bind with having three boys (four with the big One) at home. It never ends. I have to get to the end of the washing so I can do the dog blankets, then boil wash. I'm always fighting to get the blankets done.

    Baking on the other hand is a complete and utter joy, there's nothing like walking into a house while someone is baking, it lifts the mood and nothing puts me in a better mood than getting my mixer out.

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    1. Welcome, Julee!
      Totally agree with your thoughts on baking; kids and hubby love coming home to the smell of something nice in the oven.

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  18. Greetings from rural Missouri! This is so weird. I clicked over to your blog via Posie Gets Cozy on a whim, and I was surprised to see you mention The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I'd never heard of it until another blogger mentioned it a few weeks ago, and I put it on my list of books to look up, as he only said the title and that everyone should read it. I'm taking this second mention as a sign!

    Then I scroll down to this post and you're talking about Food from Many Greek Places - which is sitting on my loveseat because the other day, on a whim, I plucked it (along with Apples for Jam) off my shelf have been flipping through it for the last few days.

    And before I even saw these two posts, I was laughing out loud at your son's suspicions over the spinach. That post was hilarious. Your writing is lovely. I'm looking forward to reading more!

    Have you seen Tessa Kiros' Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life? It's gorgeous.

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    1. Welcome, Farmgirl Susan! Yes, Recipes and Dreams is also on my shelf - love it. Perhaps my all time favourite though, is Apples for Jam; I've made so many things from it, all equally delicious. And those photos are all so gorgeous.

      Glad you enjoyed the posts - hope to see you more often.

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  19. Ha, I was so excited about the books I left my comment before reading this entire post (and I just now saw your invitation to leave more than one comment) :). I laughed out loud again at the conversation with your son's teacher. So funny. I love your writing. As for laundry, I have an elaborate sorting system for the insane amount of laundry the two (two!) of us produce, and lately my goal has been to, for once, get EVERYTHING washed. You know, like the hats from last winter still piled up. But while I was hanging things on the line earlier, I realized that even if you'd washed every single thing, as soon as bedtime comes around more dirty clothes will appear. It's hopeless! But at least it now looks like I have things more under control.

    I use similar tubs for laundry (so convenient!) and never, ever iron either. I recently found myself wondering (for some unknown reason) if I actually still even own an iron. :)

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    1. Have just checked out your sites - they look fabulous. I will be sure to follow and check in regularly.

      And good for you, not knowing whether you still own an iron. It's a good sign, believe me.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to visit. I love reading your comments so please feel free to leave one (or more, if the mood so takes you) in English and/or in Dutch.