Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Being Understood: Jesus rising from the dead

I use to think it was easy for people to understand me. Being a world walker and being an ‘American’ Mom to YFU world walkers has revealed this not to be the case. I have discovered that it may take a couple of tries of rewording my large vocabulary (caused from being a bibliophile) and my American/Midwestern/Ohio slang. Lately I find myself grasping a Japanese dictionary or looking up words on Google translation to find the right word.

I remember my world walking experience in Dresden (Germany not Ohio’s tourist destination). Tom was getting the train tickets and I decided to get some fruit for the ride. I asked the woman at the fruit stand in my Midwestern accented German: “How much?” (Wie viel gelt?) She mumbled something. Okay, she probably didn't mumble and said it clearly, but to my translating ears and rapid brain synapses that was another story. I asked her again. I closed my eyes to concentrate on what she said; I got it the second time. Immediately, I fished out money from my purse and paid her. Its been more than ten years ago but I can clearly remember her comment to me: “Lernen, wie man Deutsch Sprechen.” Yes, I admit my German wasn’t too good, but I did try. (Politely, I kept this thought to myself as I took my fruit.) I chose to smile and say danke with a Midwestern accent.

My friend Rebecca H. told me about her world walking experience in Mexico. She said the first few months living there, she’d come back home each night mentally exhausted. All day she’d be translating back and forth between English and Spanish – her brain hurt. Rebecca told me about hearing the soothing sound of the crickets outside her window and the frustration of not being able to tell this to the family she was living with. The only word in Spanish she could think of was “Frog” (la rana). And, we all know a frog sounds different than a cricket (el grillo). Instead of saying: I like hearing la rana and using the wrong word – she remained silent.

I wonder how many immigrants and foreign guests to the US feel the same way That it’s sometimes easier to remain silent amongst the English speaking folk. I wonder if my ancestors from Ingelheim, Germany felt the same way living in Cleveland. And, Tom's ancestors from Poland and Slavakia? In the same vein, how many of USans expectations are like the fruit seller in Dresden? Meaning, if you come here to the US you need to speak English and know our customs automatically. And, if we have this fruit sellers' attitude, how many missed opportunities have gone by for building a friendship with someone new?

During Jakob’s year (2007-2008) with us, I found this great cake recipe in the NY Times. This cake, Teddie’s Apple Cake originally appeared in NY Times article by Jean Hewitt in 1973 and was being republished in 2007 by Amanda Hesser (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/magazine/04Food-t.html ). I baked it a couple of times and consider it a great fall cake with its 3 cups of apples. Jakob and Z gave it four thumbs up.

On a whim, I decided to share it with Jakob’s Mom. I admit it; I’m like Jakob’s Mom and only able to speak my native tongue fluently. Carefully, I converted the ingredients into metric and then put the ingredients and directions through an ‘on-line’ Danish translation. Jakob laughed at the translation I’d e-mailed his Mom. Baking soda was translated into a word used only at Easter – think along the lines of ‘Jesus rising from the dead.’ We all got a good laugh out of that. And, it put a new spin on cake baking for Christians – Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon and Jesus rising from the dead.

Jakob sent his Mom the correct name for baking soda and she and his sister baked the cake. International comments - the cake is very rich – probably because of the amount of sugar we use in our recipes in the US. My comments - I like the way the crumbly cinnamon cake, crunchy nuts and the softness of the apples blend together in my mouth.

Teddie’s Apple Cake
This recipe appeared in The NY Times in an article by Jean Hewitt (1973).


  • Butter for greasing pan
  • 3 cups flour, plus more for dusting pan
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced tart apples, like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.

2. Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts and raisins and stir until combined.

3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Serves 8.

Final comments:
Who the heck is Teddie? No one seems to know on out the web.

Here are two other bloggers take on this cake. Both made some changes to this recipe – I haven’t baked their recipes yet. Jaynie’s Kitchen – she used less sugar http://jaynieskitchen.blogspot.com/2007/11/teddys-apple-cake.html and The Wednesday Chef – Luisa Weiss has substituted: pecans for the walnuts and cranberries for the raisins http://wednesdaychef.typepad.com/the_wednesday_chef/2007/11/teddies-apple-c.html

To my family members who are gluten free - I haven't tried to make this cake that way yet - I usually choose one with less flour. Maybe Heather and Melanie are up to the challenge?

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