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Hi, my name’s Ruza and I’m a stressed cook

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I’m a stressed cook and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Kitchen Anxiety Disorder (KAD) has been a recurring issue for me lately. The thought of slaving away in the kitchen after a hard day’s work when I could be going to the gym or watching TV like my beloved husband does, with legs stretched out on the coffee table and ice cream in hand, gives me anxiety attacks and makes me angry. I wonder why I bother to cook healthy meals when our favourite pizza joint is just around the corner?

I love food so much that I drool over food porn every day but procrastinate when thinking about the kitchen.

I’m sure many of you have felt the same way – the busy life of working, running a family or just eating healthy can be too much, leaving very little time to make meals.

Growing up, I enjoyed eating home cooked meals thanks to my own mother, who on most days for the past 30 years of her married life, has delivered home-prepared meals made from scratch.

Born and raised in the Balkans, for her there is no such thing as a meal on its own – say soup or steak, or God forbid, takeaway food.

Oh no. After clocking up a full day of work, she is happy to hit the kitchen whether cooking for one or ten, starting off with an entrée (like goulash) followed by a delicate burek (thin pastry filled with meat or fetta cheese and spinach).

Out of breath yet? She then finishes her food orchestra with a cake and Turkish coffee. You guessed it, homemade.

So, why do I burn myself on saucepans and feel guilty when tucking away leftovers in the freezer? Because I’ll never be the ideal working wife that my mother is. I will never enjoy the thought of serving three dishes each night. And yet, I can’t stop being my own worst critic.

Do you feel the same? Tell me how you cope!

For all those caffeine lovers out there, here’s a different take on your daily hit: Turkish coffee, which is very popular in the Balkans and amongst my family.

Turska kava (Turkish Coffee)

  • 1 litre water
  • 1/3 cup finely-ground Turkish coffee
  • Sugar, to taste


Pour water in a dzezva (a long-handled copper pot – you can buy one from Middle Eastern shops) and stir in a teaspoon of sugar over medium heat.

Once it starts boiling, add the coffee (you can add more if you like yours strong). It’s best to use freshly ground coffee that is usually finer than espresso coffee – you can find it in specialty shops or at supermarkets.

Stir it in and keep the pot on reduced heat and make sure the coffee doesn’t boil over.

The trick is to keep it long enough on the heat and take it off once it looks like it’s about to boil over.

Scrape the foam off with a teaspoon and pour into three to four small cups.

Follow with coffee and sweeten if desired.

Download a printer-friendly version of this recipe here

The ground will usually settle at the bottom of the cup after a minute or two and once you’ve had the coffee you can turn the cup upside down, leaving it for a couple of minutes to settle. You can then attempt to read your cup if you believe in superstition!

I do it for fun but I’m far from a reader!

My mum has a mill in which she manually grinds the coffee beans – it’s such great fun and gives the arm a bit of a work out!

The best thing about the mill is that it looks great in the kitchen as decoration!

P.S. I’m doing the World Vision 40 Hour Famine this Friday to Sunday. I’m going without food for 40 hours to raise money to help kids around the world who are  suffering from chronic hunger. This is a cause close to my heart as I was caught in the 1990s Balkan war in Sarajevo at the age of eight.

My goal is to raise $1000, so I would appreciate all your support as a family of five can be fed for a month on $40.

Could you please support me, and them, by making a donation?

You can do so via this link: http://www.worldvision.com.au/40HF/ProfilePage.aspx?preferredurl=Ruza40

Thanks, and I’ll let you know next week how much I’ve raised and how it went!

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