About the name of the blog

Do we need forks? is a name that reflects my philosophy about technology - the first question we should ask is "Do I NEED this?" Will it make my life and meaningful occupations easier, or better in some way?
As a student (first time around), I remember reading a scene from a play set in the 1600s, where French nobles were wondering what to do with a fork. The social context meant that forks were unnecessary. In that time, people would
bring a knife, use a spoon for liquids, and hands for everything else. In a different social context where people are concerned about hygiene, a fork seems relevant. Or you could just wash your hands really well before each meal.
This philosophy about technology relates well to frameworks of occupational therapy. We look at the person - do they really need this technology? - the occupation - how meaningful is this occupation and do they need technology to make it easier to participate in? - and the environment, which includes social factors - is this technology going to fit with their environment?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Final baking blog! A bit delayed because of illness...

This week I baked two things: a batch of oat cookies to take on a road trip, and a chocolate cake for a birthday.  I’m going to focus on the chocolate cake.  I made it for a friend’s birthday.  He isn’t really having much of a celebration so I decided he at least needed a cake!  Plus I wanted to express love and care and consideration on what I consider to be a special day, celebration of not only this person’s existence, but also the fact he has made it through another year on the planet.  Life can be tough sometimes and it’s important to stop and celebrate.
As with last week, my baking is about subsistence and celebration.  Rarely do we celebrate without food.
I’ve never been very good at cakes; they tend to sink in the middle and I have to fill in the gap with icing.  Or they are dry on the outside and too wet in the middle, or dry all through, or a little bit burned.  But I persist anyway, in search of the perfect recipe.  I asked my flatmate for a recipe, because he makes a really good chocolate cake.
I’m usually very good at baking, as my mother has taught me heaps of tricks.  When I think back to my childhood, when I learned to bake, we didn’t make a lot of cakes.  Mum made our birthday cakes, which were secret, so there wasn’t any teaching of skills at this point.  As a teenager, I used to make a bundt-type chocolate cake in the microwave, which usually worked, but I didn’t really like eating it so stopped making it.  Making cakes is definitely an area I need to learn some skills in.  It’s hard though, because I only bake them a few times a year.
I bought the ingredients from Countdown, as it’s cheap and has a good range and I know where everything can be found.  The eggs came from a friend, nice and organic and free range.

I made the cake after dinner when I was in the right mood.
I identified well with Mrs Baskin in Margaret Mahy’s short story "A work of art", getting into “a magical, cake-icing mood” (p. 39) when she decides to bake a cake for her son Brian's birthday.  When I’m baking for someone else, I like to have lots of free time, to think and get the creative juices going, and so I can take care, to ensure the finished product is worthy of a celebratory event!
I followed the recipe and it was all going well.  I used a silicone cake tin that belongs to my flatmate.  It was a bit annoying as the sides are wobbly and I almost lost the mixture over the sides.  Then I made a fatal mistake.  With only 20 minutes to go in the baking, I moved the tin to look at how the cake was going.  Well, it immediately sunk in the middle.  Badly!  I laughed at this, but was also happy, because now the mystery of my sinking cakes was solved.  I left it in for the remaining 20 minutes and got my flatmate to check if it was cooked.
This time, I’ve learned why previous cakes have sunk – me interfering!  I’m really pleased I learned something and it means that next time I make a cake, I will have some knowledge born of experience.
Once cooled, I made a lovely cream and chocolate icing – I’m good at icing!  It had to fill a big gap in the middle, so I made extra.  The cake looks great, but wouldn’t fit in the cake tin for transportation, so it is now a little bit oval and squashed in.  My hope is that my friend will appreciate the gesture and that it tastes ok.

I think if the cake hadn’t sunk, I would have taken more care and found a tin that fit the cake, but by this stage it was late, I was grumpy, and I believed the cake was a bit “ruined” anyway, so I decided my friend would have to lump it or leave it.  As the whole point of baking is to participate in his birthday, I wasn’t too worried about the outcome – it’s going to be eaten anyway!  As Mrs Baskin says “Some art is meant to last and some is meant to be eaten up.  Not everything has to be a monument” (p. 48), when the horrified art dealers see she has eaten the cake with Brian.  What I love about this story is that Mrs Baskin has eight children and still takes time to make a cake for Brian.  This story reinforced the fun aspect of baking for others, the joy of selecting ingredients.  Despite all the everyday mundane tasks we do, these celebrations are important.  I make time to bake because I have to, to participate in the celebrations of life with my friends and family. 
The second aspect to Mahy's tale is that Mrs Baskin's cake is so beautiful, it ends up in an art gallery, then is ultimately eaten.  This part of the story reminds us that food is something that is designed to be baked/cooked/grilled, then consumed, then you have to start all over again, as Mrs Baskin does at the end of the story.

Reference: Mahy, M. (1988). The door in the air and other stories. London: JM Dent & Sons Ltd.


  1. Hi Hannah, wow your blogs are very in-depth and interesting! Good work! I love the way you have written the entries - they flow and are easy to read! It is hard for me to think of something that could be worked on! Possibly to keep the font and size consistent throughout the entries? You have such a great blog it really is hard to suggest any improvement! Well done!

  2. Thanks Kendyl, I did get a bit bored with the same old font and changed it - probably a bit small on the last page. I finally figured out to just copy Mary's ergonomics for washing up blog and after that it was easier to write :o) Hannah

  3. It's exciting to read your blogs and I love the way you put in your honesty. Like realising why these cakes are mysteriously sinking, however i'm in much the same boat as you thanks to mum being the master cake maker in my family however i do have one suggestion... You can always turn the cake upside down and ice it and 'pretend' the cavern in the middle of it never happened. Not that I would ever do such a thing. I'm glad the baking has gone well and I love some of the ideas you've explored =)