simplicity pears

In a time when I’m inundated with stuff to do (my to do lists are numerous and scarily interconnected, like one to do list spawns another and another. For example, Uni stuff. Then, Study and Work On Assignments. Then, I work unit by unit, prioritising by when I’m going to have that class or when that particular assessment is due, counterbalanced by what’s easiest or more fun. And we move on to my other to do stuff, long term and short term – I make lists when I’m stressed. And some of those lists may have to do with 1) why I’m stressed and 2) what I can do [will do, should do] to become destressed.) I can’t believe I digressed so easily already, so when I have so much stuff to do, I want to bake and I want to cook and I want to write for you (and for me, it’s more about me than you at this moment in time, sorry) SO MANY PARENTHESES, I’M SORRY! when I do cook it kinda has to be simple.

Enter vanilla baked pears. Not bears, I’m vegetarian, I’ve had this space for seven months and I still get asked if I’d like some baked bears, no thank you unless they’re tiny teddies.

Wow, I am so distracted. So, the lowdown is, make these. Pears are in abundance because it’s still winter (and aggressively so, it’s freezing!) so you can buy them and they won’t be too expensive. You don’t have to do much – peel, cut, and place the pears in a roasting dish.

Rub vanilla extract or the insides of half a vanilla bean in sugar. Sprinkle it over with lemon juice and water. Dot with butter.

Put in the oven for longer than I did. Eat with whipped cream, ice cream and lots and lots of pan juices. Feel better about everything.

Best Wishes!

Vanilla Baked Pears

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

I did not follow this recipe exactly, my pears were ripe rather than underripe, I should have left them in for longer, I had no vanilla beans. This was amazing anyway. So just do it.

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

About 600g which is probably about 6 slightly underripe pears, whatever kind, peeled, halved, cored

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp (approx) butter

Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius.

If you have the vanilla bean, scrape the insides out and rub them into the sugar, and use the sugar to scrub the vanilla bean itself and also the vanilla off your fingers. Mmm, vanilla sugar.

If not, just rub the vanilla extract into the sugar.

Place the pears, cut side up, into a baking dish. Sprinkle with the sugar, dot with the butter, sprinkle with the lemon juice and water. Put the vanilla bean in the dish also, to make pear vanilla caramel juices (yum).

Bake about half an hour, basting every few minutes. Turn the pears over so the cut side is down and bake another about half hour, basting every now and then. Serve with whipped cream and/or ice cream.

Try not to burn your mouth when you wolf it down because it’s so delicious.

swedish visiting cake

Every now and again, I get this urge to declutter. I have to get rid of my stuff and recently, it’s been gnawing at me a whole lot more. It’s not just the ‘oh, I have to tidy and I don’t really use that stuff anymore’; rather, I’m feeling like I need to live a lot simpler and enjoy life the way it was meant to be.

Plus, I have way too much stuff.

So recently, I’ve been sifting through the piles of stuff that I own and sorting them into piles. Stuff I want to keep, stuff I want to keep but don’t have room for at the moment, stuff I don’t want to keep, stuff I want to form into something else, stuff I’m using and stuff I’m not using. It’s a pretty big job and it doesn’t help that a lot of my stuff is still at my parents’ house. Yay, more stuff to go through.

My sister and I are planning to have a garage sale. We both have stuff to get rid of, but not enough for a sale each. (Although going through my stuff, I’m not so sure about that…:)

I come from a family of packrats. Hoarders. My Opa kept stuff in the back room, in his two garages and the tiny shed in the backyard, all over the back yard… my mum is queen of ‘we might use it later’ which is a mindset I’ve adopted. I’m also a collector, of sorts; I like pretty things, those free postcards, business cards, ribbons… I like to remember things.

I write things down and put them on my walls… I have a lot of paper related products lying around that need to go. Where, I’m not sure. They’ll probably end up in the recycling bin. Or possibly the fireplace, not sure yet.

With the help of Love and Trash, Courtney at be more with less, the bloggers at SuperForest and a whole bunch of other influences (including Jesus and some of his followers) I am on a journey to live simply so that others may simply live. On that note, let’s talk about cake.

This is a simple cake. It comes together in about ten minutes, takes about half an hour to bake and is simply delicious. It’s called a Swedish Visiting Cake and so in another, yet somehow related train of thought it immediately brings to mind not only visitors, but visiting – getting to know your neighbours, connecting with real people instead of a computer screen.

And yes, I’m aware that you’re reading this off a computer screen.

The point is that by learning to live without, others can live with. And you don’t even notice the difference, except that you’re happier, more content with yourself and with the world. Surprising, isn’t it?

So make the cake. Bring it to a neighbour’s house and share it over stories, stories that remind you that each person you encounter is the star of their own story, just as you are the star of your own.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Adapted from Baking: from my home to yours

zest of one lemon

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 tsp salt

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste/scrapings from one vanilla bean/two teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup plain flour*

125g butter, melted and cooled


Preheat oven to 180 degrees and butter your pan. Traditionally this is made in a cast-iron skillet. I don’t have one so I made it in a springform tin – I suggest using a nine-incher, as my ten-incher cake turned out a little thin. Not that I’m complaining…

Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until incredibly lemony and you can just help yourself licking your fingers. Or not. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Add the salt and vanilla and whisk until incorporated.

Fold in the flour, then the butter. Pour into your pan and sprinkle the almonds over the top. Bake about half an hour.

Share with strangers.

*The first time I made it, I made it with spelt flour and it was amazing. I think you could also do this with a mix of almond flour and perhaps another type of flour for the gluten-free among us. Just a thought.