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?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Last Friday's baking session -thinking about aesthetics, health, and spirituality

Today I made a lemon, banana, and rice cake for my friend.  I’d thought about it the night before as she is going through a rough patch, and this morning I decided “Yes, I will bake the cake!”
There is a certain spiritual aspect to this baking for a friend.  It is my way of saying “I’m thinking about you, and want you to have something nice in your life at this time”.  Baking for me also relates to a long tradition of baking for celebrating life, death, and events in the community.  I can relate to Alexa Johnston saying that “Once upon a time the normal, rather than eccentric, response to the birth of a baby, the arrival of a new neighbour or a sudden bereavement, was to turn on the oven, bake something appropriate and drop over with a contribution to the affected household” (p. 7).  This is a tradition I have been raised in and on reflection, am proud to continue, as I see nothing morally wrong with it, and no need to change it.  As Johnston says, this is a way of “showing love and care for others” (p. 8).  I feel part of a tradition that has been handed down from my ancestors in Scotland and then brought here to New Zealand.
My friend is gluten-intolerant, so she can have this cake without hassles, and I know she loves the taste of it.
Health aspects of baking arise here.  When baking for a gift, I often need to think about allergies or likes and dislikes of friends, or if the friend will even eat it, if they are, as Johnston states, afraid of creamed butter and sugar.
I had to be out of the house in two hours, so I decided to focus on just making the cake and no other activities, unlike usual, when I flit from baking, to cleaning, to tidying, and back to baking again.  I got out the mixer, and added ingredients like I was in a race.  For the dry ingredients, I got down my stainless steel mixing bowls, bought with my mother at the Milton supermarket in their second-hand shop at the back, where you can find good deals o a good day.  My wooden spoon has been with me since I lived in Australia, then moved to Wellington, through four different flats, then to Waihola, and now lives in Roslyn.  It is just the perfect wooden spoon for mixing baking and spooning it out.  I used a fresh banana, instead of one from the freezer, and a lovely, juicy, lemon from the tree outside.  The cake mixture seemed more yellow than ever, perhaps because of the fresh fruit, or because the eggs were from a friend’s chicken coop.  I’d visited there two days earlier, admiring the “girls” who were settling in for the night, having negotiated possies in the chicken house.  I felt like I was in the flow, dashing from garden to fridge to fruit bowl to pantry, making no mistakes and everything coming together nicely in the trusty mixer.  The yellow was so enticing; I just had to taste it – yes, best ever!  I used my trusty loaf tin, lined with baking paper that I’ve reused for at least 4 batches of biscuits, meaning the paper is nice and greasy with butter.  In went the cake for 50 minutes, giving me time to do the dishes and leave the kitchen tidy for my flatmate.  Yay for the mixer! - it made my task so much easier.  Fifty minutes later, the kitchen gleaming, my bags picked for Tech, bedroom tidied and house vacuumed, the cake was done, passing the skewer test but a little dry.  I should have checked it earlier!
If I think about the aesthetics of the cake, it is important that it looks edible – golden brown on the outside, and usually white and moist on the inside, although yellow today.  Now that I know I can get the cake all lovely and yellow, it will never be the same to me when it’s white inside, although others won’t know the difference.  For the crust, you need to stop baking at the exact right point to get the exact right golden colour, that hue that makes you go “mmmmmm”.

Reference:  Johnston, A. (2008). Ladies, a plate: Traditional home baking. North Shore: Penguin Group (NZ).


  1. Hi Hannah. I am enjoying your blog. Baking is such a great tradition for a lot of us. Baking can be given with love, at a time of celebration or at a time when support is needed. When you mentioned you're long loved and trusted wooden spoon travelling with you from Australia it made me think of my favourite wooden spoon made for me by my son at woodwork when he was just 12 years old. It is a much loved piece of equipment. A photo of some of your favourite cooking utensils would be great for you’re blog followers.

  2. Hi Hannah
    Erin here, coming to you from Hamilton, thought I would branch out and have a look at some Otago blogs. I really enjoyed reading your blog, your cooking mind set sounds very similar to mine. I also have a few gluten intolerant friends and have also dabbled a bit in different baking myself. I would love to see a photo of house your cake turned out. I'm a visual learning so I find that photos always help me.
    Good luck with exam and assignment weeks.

  3. Thanks Erin and Janine! I too love photos and learning with pictures, but decided not to for this mainly as I don't have enough time! All the best with your assessments, Hannah :o)