Chapter Nineteen – “Magic doesn’t exist, kids”

Magic has become a bit of a running theme this past month. Today, lunch prep was accompanied by the sounds of squealing children being taught magic tricks by a (very patient, very lovely) volunteer. The kids took delight in showing us the magic they had learnt, as well as revealing the secrets of the tricks.

At Rami’s a few nights ago, he had pulled out a pack of cards to show us his favourite magic tricks. When Daisy gasped in amazement (they were very impressive) he repeatedly informed her that “magic doesn’t exist”. Just in case you didn’t get that, magic DOES NOT exist. But for the children at the OH today, the slips of the hand were as magic as the tricks themselves and we spent the next few hours faux gasping and giggling as multicoloured chopsticks magically turned green and elastic bands hopped over fingers. Despite Rami’s insistence, we know magic exists at the Orange House.

Lunch was simple today to make way for the afternoon activity… carrot cake making. We were joined by Marcus, a Congolese friend we made in our first week at OH, and Siena, the newest OH resident. They both already knew carrot cake and what went into making it, so we stood back as the recipe was doubled and they expertly cracked 10 eggs, weighed out whole bags of sugar and creamed entire blocks of butter with remarkable ease. Warm from the oven and drizzled with cream cheese icing, the result was “the best carrot cake I’ve ever had” (- mama Aida), and plenty of it. Seriously, there were a lot of people at the OH but the carrot cake just kept giving as small children carried a second, third and fourth tray of cake upstairs to eager mouths.

The Best Carrot Cake I’ve Ever Had aka Whole Bag of Sugar Carrot Cake 

  • 900ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 800g plain flour
  • 4tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1100g sugar (just close your eyes, tip the bag, and pretend this isn’t happening)
  • 10 eggs (cracked against one another)
  • 1tsp salt
  • 5tsp ground cinnamon
  • A bit of grated nutmeg
  • 1050g grated carrots (this makes up for all the sugar, right?)
  • 200g walnuts, crumbled by hand
  • 1 bag of optional zbip (unwanted raisins or currants from the storage room)
  1. Mix everything in a bowl, except for carrots, walnuts and zbip
  2. Fold in carrots, walnuts and zbip
  3. Pour into two double greased baking tins (we’ve just discovered that Daisy buttered after Kim had oiled. Maybe this is the secret? Feedback welcomed)
  4. Bake at 180C for a long time. Like, over an hour, or until a knife comes out clean
  5. Leave to cool for a bit outside, then drizzle with…

Eat-it-with-a-spoon Cream Cheese Frosting (iced two large cakes with a whole yoghurt pot left over)

  • 400g cream cheese
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 200g butter
  1. Cream together butter and sugar until soft. It’s still cold in Athens so this took ages. Keep going, or ask Siena to…
  2. Mix in cream cheese
  3. Realise it’s a bit sloppy so put it in the freezer for half an hour
  4. When an hour passes and you’ve forgotten to take it out, break up ice crystals on top, mix again and hide it from Kim and Daisy
  5. Drizzle as much as you can on top of cake, saving leftovers in an empty yoghurt pot to be eaten later (with a spoon) by Mohamad


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