An O’Goddess in the kitchen

The Latvian men in my life see me as many different things – unintentionally hilarious Irish person, friend, drinking buddy, teacher, last-minute proofreader, shoulder to cry on when their mad Latvian girlfriend does something mad, Plan B girlfriend…

However, the one thing I’m pretty sure none of them have ever seen me as is marriage material. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I actually want to marry a Latvian, it would just be nice to be asked (once or twice) while I’m still young enough to be able to visualise myself walking up an aisle without the aid of a zimmer frame.

I can understand why they don’t see me this way. I’m not maternal. A girl I know posted a picture of a lump of pork on Facebook today with the description, ‘Look out! We’re cooking up trouble!’ Turns out it was a scan of her unborn baby girl.

I’m also not exactly the home-maker type. I don’t own cushions, throws, plants, vases or more than 2 plates. I do have a kitchen – of course I do. Where else would I keep the fridge that keeps the wine? A Latvian guy looked into my fridge once – he was out the door and running back to mammy before I could lie explain that I just hadn’t done my weekly shop yet. 

Anyway, in an attempt to ‘homey up’ my image a bit, I’ve decided to become a domestic goddess. Not permanently, you understand – just to prove that I could be one if I wanted to. I gamely turned to the ‘Latvian National Cuisine’ book that a friend had bought me (as some sort of joke, I think).

Funny guy

Funny guy

I quickly ruled out the main dishes. Not only do I not have any desire to cook a piglet, I also have no idea where to buy one; I do not do anything with liver except pickle my own; and I had to look up ‘aspic’ in a dictionary. I flicked to the ‘Desserts’ section. Even though it’s an English book, I felt like it was in Chinese. How on earth do you ‘remove an island from milk’? How do you ‘carefully fold’ jam? What is a ‘stiff foamy peak’ when it’s at home?

In a domestic-goddess-flop-sweat, I sent a message to my Latvian friend. Explaining that my plan to become the next Nigella Lawson overnight was being thwarted by my inability to make sense of English, she helpfully sent me a recipe IN PICTURES for ‘fast apple pie’. She had me at ‘fast’.

As the only ingredients I had in my kitchen were eggs and salt, I made a list. After another look at the pictures and a look around my kitchen, I quickly added a mixing bowl, a baking tin, a wooden spoon and a whisk/blender. Realising that this was going to be a hypermarket trip instead of a run-of-the-mill jaunt to the corner shop, I added 2 bottles of wine to the list. For my nerves, not the cake.

Three hellish days and nights later (in reality, around 40 minutes), I emerged victorious.

What cakes look like before you buy them in the shop. Who knew?

What cakes look like before you buy them in the shop. Who knew?

After a little lie-down, I got busy. Bringing the laptop into the kitchen (I was afraid to be too far away from the pictures), I set about making my first ever cake.

Things got off to a bad start when, in my nervous excitement, I prematurely pushed the button on the blender and sprayed sugar all over the kitchen. Not to worry. I’m sure these kinds of things happen to Nigella all the time.

So far so horribly wrong

So far so horribly wrong

A few blueberries and some cinnamon to add a little je ne sais quoi

A few blueberries and some cinnamon to add a little je ne sais quoi

With the flour and stuff poured over the fruit and stuff, and the whole lot bunged in the oven, there was little else to do but sit back with a glass of wine and wait and see what happened. It was then that I discovered what the incredibly comfortable armchair in the kitchen is for. It’s where Latvian women used to sit watching their cakes in morbid fascination, waiting for them to explode.

I knew what it was supposed to look like…



…but I couldn’t bear to watch. I made myself go into the living room, finished off the glass, and then slunk back 20 minutes later to see what had happened. It was at this point that, wherever you are, you may have heard me yelling, ‘Holy shit! It actually looks like a cake!’ And it did:



I also realised that neither of my plates would be big enough for it so it would have to live in the cake tin.

And now for the moment of truth – what did it taste like? It was, amazingly, delicious! Slightly crunchy on top, moist and spongy in the middle, apple-tastic with a little blueberry surprise every now and then.

Sod men and proposals. There’s no way I’d share this anyway.

About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Expat, Food, Humor, Humour, Latvia, Latvian men, Love and Relationships and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to An O’Goddess in the kitchen

  1. TK says:

    That you don’t cook it`s ok, you can learn, but I am surprised you mention wine and beer so often… That`s weird! You drink so often?!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Not SO often 😉 I like a glass or two of wine some evenings – it feels like the end of the workday when I pour it 😉 I’m drinking tea with ginger and honey at the moment though, so don’t panic 😉

      I’m turning into a great cook actually! 🙂 Thanks for the comment! Linda.

      • TK says:

        With cooking good luck! But with alcohol be careful, I`ve noticed people in Ireland and UK can have every weekend and just in the middle of the week sometimes a bottle of wine or pack of beers or smth else for evening to have a couple of glasses of drink. And after all that in the whole world people say Russians drink a lot? 😀 Bullshit!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha, my Russian students were really funny this year! We’d walk through the centre of the town and they’d be like ‘Um, Linda, why is everyone drinking at 10am?’ I didn’t really have an answer for them. So they tutted a bit and went ‘Huh, and people think Russians are bad.’ 🙂

  2. Dii says:

    Linda,don`t worry,that you can`t cook! Neither can I:) ok I can,but it`s nothing like from the cook books or them cool tv programms teaching you easy cooking 🙂 and I do take my laptop with me into kitchen just to follow the picture recipies :)…and guess what-I`m married :). Greetings from rainy Ireland,hope the weather is better in my home country 🙂

  3. Brilliant! May I say congrats to you and your victory, er I mean cake.
    I had to giggle quietly as I read this as I just put my son to sleep, and did not want him to wake. Ooops to bad he did, but it was so worth it.

    • Expat Eye says:

      If he woke up on Friday, it was probably because he heard me yelling all the way from Latvia 😉 I’ll try to make the next one giggle-free… maybe 🙂

  4. Hey, that looks great! It does, like you said, look like a real cake. Haha I’m afraid my attempts at cakes have not turned out so successfully – perhaps that’s why I have yet to receive a marriage proposal from a Spanish man? 🙂

  5. Maybe I should get you to write a guest post on baking?

  6. natalye says:

    I just recently stumbled across your blog and am having a great time going through the past entries… sounds like quite an experience living in Riga!

    Anyway, I also can’t believe this is the first cake you have made, but it turned out look great! Good work! 🙂

  7. rigaenglish says:

    Impressive beginnings! At least now when you get fed up of all the Janises mangling articles and tenses you have something to fall back on. The world’s first Michelin starred Iru-Latvian restaurant suddenly doesn’t sound so unrealistic after all.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Seemingly there’s a chain of Siberian-Irish bars in Russia so it’s only a matter of time! 🙂 Still eating the cake – it’s the one ‘downside’ – when you bake it, you just have to eat it! And now I’ve gained an extra hour of cake eating time! 🙂

  8. bevchen says:

    Wa-hey, you didn’t brun the kicthen down! Cake looks good too 😉

    I bake all the time and I have NO idea what removing an island from milk even means. Did you make that bit up?! Folding is easy… we learned that in school in year 7!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I most certainly did not! Quote ‘Remove the islands from the milk and arrange them in deep dessert dishes’ – like I could make that shit up?! I never did Home Ec. – I never felt I needed it – until I tried to read that damn book! 🙂

      • bevchen says:

        We had to do Home Ec until it came to choosing GCSE options. I then did Food Technology for GCSE on purpose… the other options would have been Systems and Control (whaaaaa??) or woodwork – and I was terrified of all the sawing machines and things.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Hmm, with no idea what Systems and Control would have entailed, I would have picked woodwork! Could have put together my bedside table then! I did Business Studies, Music and Physics – physics was a mistake 😉

      • bevchen says:

        We had to do all three sciences! Our choices were single science (one lesson of each per week) or double science – science every day with different ones being taught twice a week so it all evened out.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Uh, science overload! We only had to do all three until Junior Cert (GCSE)

  9. Vanessa says:

    Can recommend Claudia Roden’s Jewish cookbook for the best apple cake and plum tart recipes ever….

  10. Great Job! Can you fedex that cake to me? 😉

  11. barbedwords says:

    Mmm, cake is always good and yours looks great. Never mind getting a man, cake always gets me new friends – next time make two cakes, so you’ve got one to share and one to eat on your own!

    • Expat Eye says:

      God, then I’d have to go and buy a second baking tray… I thought I’d never get out of that hypermarket alive. Easier to stay alone I think! 🙂

  12. Pecora Nera says:

    Wow you can bake a cake…. Now you can go find your Latvian man 🙂

  13. Awe, look at you all domesticated 🙂 Who’d have thought? 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      And now I’m cooking bacon – and it’s all for me, me, me!

      I did just wake up though – guess the baking took it out of me. I’m sure a domestic goddess would have been up at the crack of dawn cleaning or sewing or doing whatever it is they do! 🙂

  14. pollyheath says:

    It looks wonderful! Watch out — soon you’ll be on to main courses and you’ll be beating off the Latvian proposals with that heavy-looking cookbook.

  15. lafemmet says:

    Great hilarious post! Again! I am sure you did a great job. Baking is not as hard as it is made out to be… The art of international baking is… trying to find the right amount of ingredients because they are not the same as at home. FML! Finally after 5 or 6 tries, adjusting flour amounts and cocoa from 1/3 to 1/2 cup and making the oil 1/4 cup and butter 1/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup butter… got a brownie recipe that works. Where are the box mixes when you need them!! oh, back in the U.S. of course. On the bright side, cooking from scratch is healthier blah blah blah…. where is the wine? I must try cooking with wine from a bottle. I already having been cooking with wine. It just came from my toddler.
    I think I will convert this to a blog post! not kidding. 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha, go for it! Yes, box mixes are everyone’s friend! They don’t really have them here either. You actually have to work and ask local friends which one of the 16,000 varieties of flour is the right one 😉

      • Antuanete says:

        There are some box mixes in Latvia too – look around flour shelf, and you’ll notice some “Hercogs” cake mixes. Not many, though, and you have to have some eggs and butter as well as bowl and whisk at hand anyway 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Well, now I’ve got the bowl and the whisk, there’ll be no stopping me! Pancakes might be the next step. You need flour to make pancakes, right…? 😉

      • Antuanete says:

        Yes, indeed you need flour (there are some pancake mixes available, too ;)), but I’d like to point out that pancakes, though being a staple food, can be tricky, i.e. you can make pancakes easily, but can fail to make GOOD pancakes (I learned the crucial difference between crepe and pancake mixing process only recently, and few Latvian cookbooks or online recipes mention it). But that shouldn’t stop you from trying and impressing your readers (and Janises!) with your achievements in kitchen!

      • Expat Eye says:

        God, I thought pancakes would be easy! I’d still be happy if they ended up as decent crepes though! 🙂 The Janises will be lining up!!

  16. Anna says:

    This is the beginning of the end, isnt it? Next thing we know, you’ll be sitting around crocheting while dressed in head to toe leopard. Sad.
    (I kid, I kid. It looks FANTASTIC. I can almost smell it from here. Domestic O’Goddess indeed!)

  17. Oh my, I’d marry you now!!! …but seeing as you don’t need a visa, I’m guessing your answer is no.

  18. linnetmoss says:

    O’Goddess, you had me laughing out loud! Now it’s time to move on to chocolate cakes!!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’m not sure I’ll be trying again 😉 It was a novelty but very stressful! Plus I could have bought 5 cakes for what I spent on equipment, ingredients and wine 😉

  19. Well done! So you do have a little chef hidden in you after all 😀 Your cake looks awesome, and since these types of apple cakes are my favorites I would not lie to you on this. Trust me I’m a self appointed expert on this LOL
    And not to worry if you do not have a plate big enough for the cake. I don’t either, or rather I don’t bother with them, and I either let the cake sit in a cake tin or… wait, there’s no ‘or’ there. I’m an obsessive compulsive cake eater when it comes to home made apple pies (same as the rest of my family members), so the cake’s usually gone in like half a day 🙂 so why bother with ’em plates

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’m with you there! I don’t think it’s going to last that long! 🙂 I might just eat it out of the tin with my hands haha! It really is good! I was expecting it to be absolutely terrible but it looks like Latvia has brought out a hidden talent in me 😉

  20. mikemajor9 says:

    Well done! Cripes I know exactly where you’re coming from. Before my wife and I finally had kids – our fridge tended to hold a bottle of ketchup, a Gatorade and a few stray beers. We ate out virtually every night – hit the bars all the time – neither one of us had much of a clue about cooking or any of that nonsense. Now, after years of being a stay-at-home-dad and immersing myself in Gordon Ramsay cookbooks and such – I’m cooking up a storm. I still have to say though, drinking copious amounts of beer and/or wine really does help the whole creative process when in the kitchen. Cheers 🙂

  21. Mr Kev says:

    Why on Earth wouldn’t you like to cook a piglet?! Don’t you know the rule?! The cutre the animal, the better it tastes!

  22. gina4star says:

    Oh Linda, you make me laugh soooooo much! I just guffawed out loud at work reading this, my colleagues surely think I’m crazy. Glad you made it clear that you don’t actually want to marry a Latvian, I think I would have been super shocked at your domestic-goddessness had you not explained that! Hehe, and as for your cake? Looks pretty good for a first time cake making effort!

    Also… the armchair in the kitchen! It all makes so much sense now!!!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I know, right?! And I never would have figured it out had I not tried baking a cake! I’ve never been in the kitchen that long before 😉 My neighbours must think I’m mad – put some eggs and sugar in a bowl, take a picture, add some flour, take a picture, jump around when I spray it all over the place, take a picture 😉

      • bevchen says:

        I often wonder what my neighbours think when they see me taking photos of things in the kitchen 😀

      • Expat Eye says:

        And other random stuff! I take pictures of puddles, mad old women, sweeping women, trees, spiders called Janis… actually, 2 Janises fought to the death in my kitchen this morning. It was quite something!

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