Tips for a more conscious 2019

Tags

, , , , ,

I cannot pretend to be back just like any other post in the past, because it’s been 18 months since my last post. But life changes, routines change, circumstances change and priorities change. Which doesn’t mean that anything cooking-related is not my priority anymore, or that the things that were important to me two years ago are not, it just means that I don’t take the time to document all of what I’m doing anymore.

Still, as continuously striving to live a life that does good to people, to the environment and to animals, or let’s say to do as little harm as possible to the above mentioned by the things I buy and consume, I am writing this post.

I don’t live a zero-waste lifestyle. I am not vegan. I sometimes take the plane when I travel. I sometimes eat a chocolate cake in a conventional restaurant. I buy oat milk in tetra-pack.

And still, the rest of the time, I try to do things – sometimes very little things – that, in my opinion, have an impact. The impact might be little, it might be tiny. It might not make a difference at all. I still do it. Because I believe we all have responsibility to contribute. For some it might be that they live in a very small apartment. For some it may be they never travel by plane. For some it may be they eat vegan. For some it may be they live zero-waste. For some it may be they eat organic. For some it may be they don’t own a car. For some it may be they collect trash from the floor. For some it may be they buy fairtrade products. For some it may be they don’t do any of the things and donate to organizations that do good. Possibilities are endless.

I want to share some of the things I’ve been doing. They are my way of contributing to a cleaner planet.

#1 | I always carry some cotton bags with me, no matter where I go. They prove nice when you realise you have to do some kind of shopping on the way.

#2 | I always carry my water bottle with me. In Graz you can officially fill up your water bottle at many places. Check out Refill Graz to see all the partner places. When not in Graz, I fill it up in café or bathroom washrooms or ask for it to be filled up and haven’t made any negative experience.

#3 | In the bathroom, there are several things I replaced by homemade products. Apart from saving money, I don’t put chemicals on my skin and produce very little waste.

You need a big pot, about 3 litres of water, 4 tablespoons of washing soda and 30 g of grated or finely cut curd soap. Place the ingredients in the pot, bring to a boil and let simmer until the soap is dissolved. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Fill into the sterilised bottles. Shake before use. I usually add a drop of bought washing detergent because of the smell, but it’s not necessary. Can’t be used for wool.

  • As a deodorant, I use half bicarbonate of soda (the same you use for baking) and half corn starch. I keep it in a little jar and spread it with wet fingers.

  • As dry shampoo, which I never used before, I mix cinnamon and corn starch and apply it with a brush on my scalp. For light hair use only starch, for darker hair cocoa powder. The same mixture I use as a powder for my face, when I put on face cream or olive oil and need the shininess to go away!

  • To wash my hands, I use normal soap. It often comes package-free or, at least, wrapped in carton or paper, whereas liquid soap causes some trash or the other, no matter how you buy it.

  • I also use soap for showering (though I wash my skin only with water most of the time) and every now and then I wash my hair with hair soap and rinse them with an apple cider vinegar rinse. I sometimes just wash them with bicarbonate of soda, and when I wash them with shampoo, I add a little bicarbonate, which reduces the amount of shampoo needed significantly.

#4 | For cleaning, I use the following:

  • Descaling: dissolve about a spoon of citric acid (or vinegar) for 1 litre of water and use to descale just about anything (kettle, glasses, shower glass etc.)
  • Toilet: Every now and then, I throw in 1 tbsp of bicarbonate and 1 tsp of citric acid after I go to sleep and let it do its magic overnight. Proper use of toilet brush is key, too.
  • Cleaning sink and shower: put some bicarbonate on an old sponge and rub.

#5 | In the kitchen, these are the main things I do

  • Replacing milk with water: when a recipe calls for milk, I often replace some of it with water, the rest with oat- or soy milk (which have the lowest ecological footprint and are produced in Austria). These are my favourites:
Crépes, pancakes and cakes (also Kaiserschmarren): 80-90% water

Bechamel sauce: 30-50% water, oat milk works great as the natural starch it contains lets it thicken much quicker

Hot chocolate: dissolve cocoa powder in hot water, then add milk

Even if you buy your milk in glass bottles from your local farmer, water is always more sustainable than anything that has been produced. 

  • I buy organic vegetables at the farmer’s market and take my own bags with me. Therefore I produce zero waste when it comes to buying fruits and vegetables – and I make sure to buy regional and seasonal as well. Win-win.

  • Spices and things of which I need little and which come in a lot of packaging (hello 4 g spice in a plastic bag!), I buy at the zero-waste store. For things like millet, polenta, the zero-waste store is always an option (for any other thing, too, of course), but I know they aren’t existent in every city. Ordering big quantities (5, 10 kg) of staples you use a lot (legumes, nuts etc.) and sharing with friends is a thing I did once and want to do again, as you save money and a lot of packaging!
  • Whenever something is in season, I try to preserve it in some way or the other (jams, compote, fermented veggies etc.). One of the best things is making your own vegetable stock. I use 10 g salt per 100 g vegetables (onions, garlic and celeriac, carrots are a good base – add leek, parsley, parsnips, curcuma). Mix everything and place in glass jars. Keep in the fridge for up to three (!!) years.

  • #6 | Anything I need, I try to buy second hand. I buy clothes at second hand stores, or if I’m looking for something specific I use Kleiderkreisel. Swapping clothes with friends is a really cool thing, too. My absolute favourite for anything is Willhaben and there is almost nothing you can’t find there. I haven’t bought fast fashion for about two or three years now and knowing about the environmental risks and health risks for workers doesn’t want me to go back to anything else anymore. When I want to get something new, I buy fair fashion.

Before I buy something, be it used or new, I ask some questions to myself:

  • Do I really need this?
  • What would change if I didn’t buy this?
  • How often will I use it? Can I maybe lend it from someone if I don’t need it often?
  • What will I think of this in one year?

Before throwing something away, I consider reusing it. Ribbons of presents are such a thing. I keep them in a jar and use them when I give presents (which I ususally don’t wrap to save paper). I use toilet plastic wrapping as trash bags. Flour bags I use when buying groceries at the zero-waste store (much lighter than jars!).

What are your pro tips when it comes to a more conscious lifestyle?

Urban Monkey Juice Cleanse + a 10€ voucher

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Last week, I got an e-mail from a Viennese Startup. They offered to send me an Urban Monkey Detox Box that includes 18 juices and will replace my food for three days. I am usually very sceptical about these kinds of mails, and you might have noticed that I’ve never accepted such an offer. Juice cleanse? I’ve heard about them, made my own juices for half a day and then decided that food is nicer. I had no system. So I never really gave these cleanses a try, because I didn’t have the guts, and to be honest I just didn’t fancy the idea much. Then I realised that I am very prejudiced, and decided to actually give this offer a chance. I had a look at their website (Die Lieferei) and found it pretty cool. I liked the design and pictures, I liked their approach and I liked their product range (in fact, I am scrolling through the drinks they have at this very moment and am considering ordering all of them). So I made an exception and accepted the offer.

They announced that the box will arrive between 4 and 7 in the morning, and already I felt sorry for the post man, so I left him a note.

When I opened the door at 8, a black box awaited me. I opened it and there they were: 18 juices that smiled at me.

I was expecting complicated instructions on how to change my lifestyle during the next three days, but the only thing I found was a 2-pages-booklet that told me what was in the juices and what the suggested order of taking them was. It said that headaches and fatigue were possible and gave a hint which I followed happily: I prepared myself a veggie broth out of my homemade veggie stock to nip from when my palate yearned for something salty. Also, my fridge turned into this:


Day 1

I started with juice no. 1 (apple, pineapple, spinach, kale and mint) and was relieved. The juice tasted good (which isn’t surprising, considering the two first ingredients are fruits aka. sweet).

I knew I had to really plan my first day well, because first days of challenges are always the hardest. Luckily enough, I had already planned a quite intense day (music session + busking with friends and a talk in the evening). Because we were pretty busy, I had only drunk three juices til 6:30 in the evening, and I felt normal. I wouldn’t say I was more tired than usual, but neither was I feeling like Speedy Gonzales. After we were done singing to people on the street, I felt a slight headache coming, which isn’t a very unusual thing for me and can have several reasons (contact lenses, intense days, sleep-deprivation). I was optimistic it would vanish when I would drink my fourth juice, but surprise, surprise: it didn’t. I still went to the talk, realised it didn’t get any better, drank my fifth juice and left in the middle of the talk because I didn’t want it to turn into a migraine, which it almost had become. So I went home, and went to sleep. It was 8:45 p.m..

Day 2

In the morning I felt fine, as I always do when I go to sleep with a headache. After my breakfast juice, I was seriously craving something salty, so I prepared some veggie broth again, and this time, I didn’t have two sips, but a whole bowl and still felt that sweet taste in my mouth which I don’t particularly like. After that I met some friends and we “brunched” together (i.e. I had my second juice of the day). Not the best idea I had, because being surrounded by food when you haven’t chewed anything for 1,5 days, is not cool. In the afternoon I had my third juice (my fave! with curcuma and cayenne pepper). In the evening I really didn’t feel like something sweet, so I prepared myself some veggie broth again and that was it for the day. If the juices weren’t that sweet, I probably wouldn’t need it; but I’m really not used to taking that much sugar (albeit natural).

Day 3

I woke up with a slight headache, but it went away during the day. Again, I didn’t feel any increase or decrease in my energy level. Rather, I was not very excited to drink a juice again; I was really craving something solid, something salty, something I could chew. I really planned to be steadfast. The problem was a children’s birthday party I was helping out with in the afternoon. I might have succeeded in being steadfast, were it not for the mum who was looking forward to eat together after the birthday party. There was amazing cake, I baked pizza with the kids and that was it. I decided to end the cleanse some hours in advance, because it was too much. Too much fruit, too much liquid, too much sugar. I calculated the sugar I would be taking if I drank all six juices in one day, and found that 160 g is definitely too much, although it’s only natural sugar. Also, I didn’t lose weight, which is very unusual for me as I use weight pretty quickly.

My conclusion: I loved the juices, I really did (my favourite: Pine Fiction). I just wouldn’t do the whole three-day-detox cleanse again, but rather order the box to drink one juice a day as a snack or breakfast. The juices don’t go off after some days (due to the high pressure pasteurising), as would fresh homemade juices do, so it’s safe to order the whole box to save some money (vs. buying single bottles). I’m in love with Die Lieferei, which supports really cool brands, delivers to your housedoor (no, I’m usually not so much in love with ordering everything online, but when it comes to heavy things, I don’t mind it :)). They even take back the boxes with the empties you have, and you can get a voucher for the next order (= basically zero waste, as the bottles are being reused and the packaging is a reusable box. I LIKE).

AAAAAAND the news you’ve been waiting for: get a 10€ voucher for your next order at Die Lieferei by using the code nadeinthekitchen10

Enjoy. 

Brioche Striezel: A braided (vegan) yeast bread

Tags

, , , , , , ,

I came across an old blog post some days ago in which I was writing about how I applied for the university of teacher education. The fact that I handed in my bachelor thesis makes me realise once again that time flies. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I’m starting to feel old. Not in a bad way, and for now, I don’t care too much about age, but it’s the little things that make me realise I’m not a teenager anymore. I see my parent’s friends kids grow up and think: where has time gone? I remember holding them on my chest and singing lullabies to them, occassionally bursting with laughter because of the hickups that wouldn’t stop and made them wake up every two minutes, and now they turn six. WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?

You might remember that I posted a recipe for Osterpinzen, a traditional Austrian Easter Bread about a year ago. And you might also know that I’ve been trying to reduce my waste in the last couple of months. A way of doing this for me is also to cook with ingredients that don’t produce waste, and even if I make my own nut milk which is technically a zero-waste product, I am aware that not everyone wants to. I’m also avoiding palm oil by all means, which is why I don’t necessarily want to use margarine. This recipe is as a really low-waste recipe, if you wish, and I am absolutely thrilled by the result 5 ingredients can produce.

Makes 5 braids

  • 280 ml water
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1/2 cube fresh yeast (20 g)
  • 500 g flour (I used spelt) + some extra flour for dusting
  • 70 g oil
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam + some water

In a pot, heat a little water to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a short boil and add to the remaining water. The mixture should be luke warm, not hot.

Add the yeast and mix until it is dissolved.

Place the flour in a large bowl and make a mould. Add the yeast-mixture, salt and oil and mix with a spoon, then knead until the dough is nice and shiny. Depending on the flour you use, you might have to add some more.

Place the dough back into the bowl, rub with some oil and cover with a dish towel. Let the dough rise for an hour or two, until it doubles in size.

Form small buns to braid your bread(s). Size and style really depend on your taste. I tried to braid them with six strands until I decided that complicated braiding styles are not made for me (but it admittedly looks really cool, so maybe you want to give it a try).

As you might know, usually egg is used to brush them for a nice and shiny look. An amazing vegan alternative is apricot jam with water. Make sure to use pureed jam without skins (as opposed to me) to obtain an even shinier look.

Let them rise for another 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 180° C and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they have a golden-brown colour.

Enjoy. 

Cashew Grießkoch with Caramelised Pears

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Life updates:

My zero waste lifestyle experiment is going pretty well. I realised that first of all, zero waste means to cut things you don’t actually need and renounce seriously unnecessary things. The first steps are: Always, always, have one or two cotton bags with you. Carry your water bottle with you at all times. I was tired of carrying a glass bottle (hello heavy!), so yesterday I bought this cool bottle at a cool shop and hope that it will stay with me for a long time. Buy your fruit and veggies at a farmers market if possible; if not, take your own bags to the supermarket and put your stuff in there. Buy in big quantities (for things you use often) – if you shop online, you find shops that send the things in paper bags.If the quantities are too big, there are always friends who will be happy to share. For other things, there might be a zero waste shop in your town or at least shops where you can buy single ingredients packaging-free. Use soap and not shower gel. I even went as far as trying to make my own mascara – this will need some improvement, but for the first go, it isn’t all too bad. This is the waste I produced at home the last three weeks:

  • A bag of pasta I had at home
  • the plastic my diary was wrapped in (I want to stop being dependent on my phone for appointments!)
  • the ticket to a glorious improvised theatre show in Graz
  • a car park ticket
  • the receipt of a restaurant (no, receipts cannot go into the paper wastebin as there are are other substances that cover it!)

zero waste - waste in three weeks

I gave an interview for the Austrian radio transmitter FM4. You can read the article here and listen to the interview here (7:10) and here (16:10) – klick on Foodbloggerin Nadine Reyhani.

Other than that, I am interviewing teachers for my bachelor thesis and therefore have a new hobby: transcribing interviews.

Because I have loads of cashews on hand at the moment, I’m coming up with all kinds of recipes that include cashews. This Grießkoch (semonlina porridge, what a weird word combination) is a childhood memory with a twist.

Veganer Grießkoch Rezept

Vegan semoline porridge with pears

Serves 4

For the Grießkoch

  • 50 g cashews, soaked overnight and rinsed
  • 400 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 50 g semolina
  • sugar (I used brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (for the taste, can be omitted)

Cashews for making milk

For the caramelised pears (side note: apples work as well)

  • one or two soft pears
  • some neutral oil, like rapeseed oil
  • brown sugar

pears

Add the cashews, water, cinnamon and cardamom to a blender. When it has a milk-like consistency, transfer to a pot and bring to a boil. Add the semolina while stirring with a whisk and reduce heat. Let simmer for some minutes, until the semolina is cooked. Add coconut oil, sugar to your liking and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Soaked cashews at least overnight

Cashews and water make a milk-like liquid Cashew Milk

semolina

Cut the pears into quarters and halve or (I make up the word to third for this purpose) the quarters, depending on the size of your pears.

Birnen karamellisieren

In a pan, heat some oil and add the pears. Roast them until they start becoming brown on one side. Sprinkle with sugar and turn flip them over. Cook until brown.

how to caramelise pears Caramelise pears without butter

Put the Grießkoch in small bowls and decorate with the pears. You can sprinkle it with some honey/agave syrup, cinnamon or powdered sugar.

Enjoy. 

austrian semolina porridge

caramelised fruit and porrdige

Mash Polo – Persian Rice with Mung Beans

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Posts have gotten rare and the reason for this is that in a few months time, the three magical letters B E and D, also known as BEd., or Bachelor of education, will (hopefully) attach themselves to my name. I am very well aware that Austria is a country whose people are very proud of their academic titles and I earnestly hope to not become one of them. Because what can three letters possibly reveal about you, your attitudes, beliefs and expertise? Not much, I believe.

I wish I could say that I am only busy with my bachelor thesis and find myself in a flow all the time, but as a matter of fact, I am still trying to figure out what direction I will be going in. Sometimes you feel a little stuck and thankfully you have professors who make this clear to you: you won’t find the right way unless you make a step forward. The wind won’t be able to push you if you put down roots. It took me quite a while to understand, but I think that I can say that I’ve learnt a life lesson. Make a step, and the next steps will be so much easier.

Also, if you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I’m trying to reduce my waste a lot. One step towards this aim, which can sometimes seem impossible, was to buy big quantities of ingredients we use a lot and sharing it with friends and family. I’m deeply in love with how beautiful things look in glass jars.

Zero Waste Lifestyle - Storing food in Jars

Apart from the fact that I am highly annoyed because I should be in Stockholm right now, (but my flight was cancelled, I found out less than 12 hours before it should have taken off due to my father telling me and not understanding how I could possibly not have heard anything about it – sometimes, a radio would be a nice thing to have on hand), I am very happy to finally post another recipe for a Persian main dish – thanks mum for the recipe and for making it!

Persischer Reis mit Mungbohnen

Serves 4

  • 200 g mung beans
  • 350 g basmati rice (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 small onions
  • 25 g dried dill (1/3 cup)
  • oil
  • salt and pepper

Dried Mung Beans - Zero Waste

Mungo Beans

Rinse the mung beans and soak overnight in a bowl or pot (make sure to use enough water!).

On the next day, wash the rice and soak it for an hour. For a detailed how-to watch my video (don’t go past the soaking step!).

Drain the mung beans and put them into a pot with enough water (the water should be about 1 inch above the beans).

Soaked Mung Beans

Before it comes to a boil, a foam forms. Remove the foam until the water stays almost clear.

Foam builds

img_0067

When it boils, reduce to middle heat and add the turmeric and 1/2 tbsp salt.

Turmeric added to Mung Beans

Let cook for about 15 minutes. The beans should be on the al-dente side and certainly not overcooked. Drain and keep about one cup of the water. Set aside.

Straining Mungo Beans

Mungo Beans cooked in Turmeric

In a small pan, heat some oil and squeeze the garlic clove. Fry for a minute, until the garlic has a golden colour.

Frying Garlic

In a big non-stick pot, bring some water to a boil. Add salt (the water should be saltier than the rice should be). Drain the rice and add to the water (mum’s special trick: rinse the rice with warm water so it doesn’t take ages until the water comes to a boil again). Let cook for about 7 minutes and drain. Set aside. Again, if you need a more detailed idea of how to do this, watch the video.

Slice the potatoes and the onions into thick rings.

Sliced Potatoes for Tahdeeg

Sliced onions for Persian Rice

Dry the potatoes and add some salt and pepper.

Preparing Potatoes for Tahdeeg

In the same pot you cooked the rice, heat some oil (bottom of the pot should be covered). Place the potato slices on the bottom of the pan.

Tah-Deeg in the Making

Add a layer of rice on top, put the onions on the rice, a layer of mungo beans, half of the dill, garlic, rice, mungo, dill, rice.

Mash Polo

Maash Polow

Dill Fried Garlic

Mung Bean Rice Rice with Mung Beans Recipe Iranian Rice Recipe

Iranian Mung Bean RiceHow to make Iranian Rice with Beans

Add the cooking water of the beans, make three holes and cover. Cook on middle heat (caution: the needed heat depends on your pot! The thicker it is, the higher the heat must be to get a nice rice crust, known as tah-deeg.)

Maash Polo Recipe Iranian

When steam starts to come out, place a dish towel around the lid and cover again.

Cover The Lid - Iranian Basmati Rice

Cook for about 50 minutes and flip on a tray or serve directly on plates.

Persian Mixed Rice Recipe Tahdeeg

Enjoy. 

Sholeh Zard – A Persian Rice Pudding

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I get excited when my phone tells me I received a new e-mail. In the case that it is not highly annoying advertisement from some company which somehow thinks it’s a good idea to keep spamming their customers even after they UNSUBSCRIBED from their mailing list, very often it’s cool stuff I really want to read. In some cases too cool for school. Like the mail I received from Das Gramm, the first package-free store in Graz, announcing they wanted to have some blogger over in their kitchen to cook their lunch menu and if I was interested. Ummm, yes?!

I have to admit I have no experience when it comes to cooking for more than 20 people, but to be honest, I couldn’t care less, because in two day’s time I will do. Boy, am I excited.

I just came back from there as I prepared the stew in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises. Boy, am I tired and exhausted, and boy, am I EXCITED FOR TOMORROW.

Because I believe Persian (next to Indian, Ethiopian and Italian) food is above-average superior to any other kind of food, I decided to go for a Persian stew with rice. And because a menu isn’t a menu without dessert, I decided to give the traditional Persian rice pudding which turns out to be ridiculously easy to make a try. And because it was so easy and so good, it will be my extra for the first guests to be there. Starts at 12. Be there.

What other logical thing would there be than to share this recipe with you? None.

Vegan Sholeh Zard

Continue reading

Rye Shampoo and Vinegar Conditioner. Sounds crazy? It is.

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Two weeks ago, I started to wash my hair with rye flour and using apple cider vinegar as a conditioner. Sounds crazy? It is.

My hair routine, if you wish to call it like that, consisted in shampoo and conditioner the last couple of months, but a look into my bathroom-cupboard revealed the countless products I put my hair through in the last couple of years. Styling mousse, serum, hair oil, hair spray, heat and sun protection spray, anti-dandruff serum etc. etc. etc. Chemicals, in one word. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Parabens, Polyethylene Glycol, Fragrances, Triclosan. I have no clue what they are, but I know for sure that I don’t want to put chemicals I can’t even pronounce the names of on my body.

Although I invested so much money and time into my hair, I had to wash them every other day. I found this pretty annoying, and I read about washing my hair with baking soda.

I thought it was pretty cool you could wash your hair with baking soda, and as baking soda is a great thing and cleans about everything, I thought it must definitely work with your head and hair, too. The author in this article is definitely very happy with how well it works. Because I personally felt only using baking soda on my head is not great, I used shampoo once a week and washed my hair with baking soda or simply water the other two times in the week. It worked well, but apparently baking soda, after all, turns out not to be as great as I thought.

Just in time I read this and was over-the-top excited about the news from Day 4: Washing your hair with rye flour. And rinsing them with apple cider vinegar. No waste produced and no chemicals that are poured down the drain and make their way into the food chain. Brilliant. This video was published some days after I had tried washing them with rye flour for the first time, and helped me discover some cool new ideas.

No-poo shampoo

Continue reading

Easy Vegan Tomato Risotto

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I spent the past two weeks at a camp for children with disabilities. I’ve rarely learnt that much in two weeks and I am grateful beyond description for this experience.

Before the camp, not only did I have back pain so painful I actually considered backing out, but also was I worried I wouldn’t be able to handle the situation. Because the setting was so new to me. I had no experience whatsoever with physical and mental disability and although I knew this would change the coming two weeks, my feelings alternated between fear, excitement, helplessness and worries.

The day soon approached where all the children arrived and the first two days, I actually thought wow, maybe I really can’t handle this. I was absolutely desperate. I was hurt by children several times, I was sleep deprived and I had no time to enjoy a meal without being interrupted 20 times by either having to feed a kid, getting some more food or something to drink for a kid, or having to go to the toilet with them. It might work for a day or two, I thought, but I cannot possibly do this for two weeks.

Turned out I could, and five days after the camp, I miss the kids and feel bored most of the time. What I learnt in these two weeks was to put the needs of others before my own ones. This, I think, is something everyone should learn at some point in their life, and I am grateful for having had this opportunity and having been forced to do so, because who knows when I would have had the chance to learn this so intensively. I learnt to be grateful for what I am able to do by myself – and I am not saying that these children are not grateful and happy, because I think that most of them are much more than us adults because they learnt to see the good in everything.

Some kids I could handle better than others, and I realised that I find it very hard to work with children who can’t communicate with me or cannot answer my questions. If I don’t know if they understand what I’m saying, how can I make sure they’re alright? After the camp I read a book I wished I had read before, because it would definitely have changed my behaviour and language towards one kid. It’s written by a 13-year old autistic boy and explains the behaviour I have seen from this one particular kid so well. Naoki Higashida, thanks for letting me look into your world and understanding autism a little better…


Italy has definitely done something to my taste buds, and this risotto has become one of my favourite things to eat.

Vegan Risotto

Continue reading

A Padova Food Guide

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

"They always say time changes things, but you actually have to 
change them yourself.” 
Andy Warhol

My experience in Padova has come to an end and I know for sure that I’m not leaving this city, this country, this university as the person I was before.

There is one thing that is very important and dear to my heart, and I want to share these thoughts with you, because I think they are important. Important, because it can help us remove barriers. Between cultures, between people, between souls.

Before I came to Padova, I researched. I looked at what the internet had to offer about the university. I also heard some things about it. And about Italians in general. About their bureaucracy, about their non-existent organisation skills, about their laziness. Wow, I thought. Wow wow wow. Maybe I should rethink this whole thing. Maybe this is not where I want to go. As a fairly organised and structured person, it sounded like a nightmare to me.

Relax, Nadine, I thought. Relax, relax, relax. Maybe this is not true. Maybe this one experience is not at all true. Forget what you heard, and just be prepared. Be prepared for what is going to come, and accept it.

And I did. I tried my best to take everything as it was, and it was definitely very different than what I was used to.

Organisation: very low. Punctuality: Pun…what?, Bureaucracy: a catastrophe, to say the least. What I mean by this is that to do my internship in a primary school, I had to go to four different offices, because first you have to complete this form, then you send it to that person, after that you need to go to that office, and then they need to send another e-mail to confirm, after which you need to see this person (which is available about an hour a week, most probably when you have a lecture you don’t want to miss), and so on.

Punctuality: professors show up twenty minutes late for the exam which is supposed to  be at 2, and then realise that oh, the lecture hall is booked for 3:30, “COME ON, HOW CAN THAT BE? I WAS ON TIME!” We saw you park your car at 2:19, but ok, you were on time. On-italian-time, maybe.

In Austria professors come 10 minutes before the lecture is supposed to start to set up their laptops, make sure technology works and they can start on time. In Italy professors come 5-30 minutes late, or ask if they can go and get a coffee before starting the lesson.

Organisation: for oral exams, in my university you enter your name in a list with time slots. You know your turn, you come some minutes before, you take the exam, and go home. I know this might be not true for other universities in Austria, so they way it was done in Italy may not surprise either. Here you enter a list online. First come, first serve. At some point the professor sends a list with when your turn will be (1-20 on day 1 at x o’clock, 20-40 on day 2 at y o’clock etc.) and you show up on that day, on the time shown. What you don’t know is that there is another list for another course and that they are 20 people, too. What happens then is that you wait until it’s your turn. Being number 10 then means being number 20 (because taking turns with people from the other group), and depending on the talkativity (i know this is not word) of the professor you might be sitting there for three hours until it’s your turn.

With all these experiences I made, I soon realised that there are two options for me: 1) complain and declare that the way things are done here is bad and inefficient. This will leave you the same person as before, because you know how things are done. You know that the way you do it and the way you’re used to things being done is the only way.

2) Embrace the culture. I am not saying that being late is praiseworthy. But neither am I saying that being so strict that an excuse for why you were late should be unacceptable.

I learnt that the way things are done here is not bad, but different. People are not inefficient, they take things easy. People are not lazy, they’re much more relaxed. Waiting for three hours until it’s your turn for an exam might be annoying if you sit there and focus on how disorganised this system can be. But waiting for three hours and talking to your uni friends, getting to know them better and meeting some now people doesn’t sound all that bad.

Always having to wait for people isn’t cool either if you stand around, looking at your watch every two and a half seconds, but if you know that people tend to be late, accept it. Take a book with you and read. Problem solved.

Living in Italy as an organised person might be hard, if you think that life needs to always be organised and can’t have that little “go-with-the-flow”-touch, sometimes. I have the feeling that exactly these people, including me, are doing themselves a favour by going to a place where things are not done in a certain way. In a way THEY think is right.

We all can learn from others. And we should. Because in life, you won’t always meet people who do things you want them to be. But if you have a mindset of learning from others, this gives the whole thing a twist. You accept them the way they are and learn something. And they might learn from you, too. If we’d all be a bit more sympathetic, the world could be such a nice place.


Because Padova has some crazy good food to offer, I thought it’d be nice to share some of my favourite spots with you. These are my personal experiences with places and they might deviate form yours.

Focaccia ai Pomodorini

Continue reading