My hopes, dreams and wishes for 2014

I’m not one for New Years resolutions. I joked on Twitter about it.

But there are some things I’d like to do.

Life, home and garden:

Lettuce and strawberries

  • I would like to visit the nearby Zoo a little more often. We went to a different, bigger Zoo last year and it really was a disappointment. We still have enough tickets to go at least 4 times this year, so I would like to do that.
  • I’d love to get the hallway done. Right now, we (still) don’t have a coat rack. We haven’t had one since we moved here 2 years ago. I’d like to try and finish that next week.
  • I hope my dad can get a Velux window for the attic. There’s a really old Velux and it’s drafty and leaky. We have talked about glueing it shut, but I like to have a new Velux, so I can get it open in Summer. My dad knows a few homes that are being demolished and they’ve had new Velux windows installed about 3 years ago. So he’s going to ask them if he can buy one or two for a reasonable price.
  • I haven’t yet made plans for my veggie patch. I have learned a few things from last year and I’d quite like to try to get more out of it. I think I can do that quite easily.

Books and Bookcrossing:

Books from the summer lottery

  • I have signed myself up for the 365/365 Challenge. It’s in the Dutch forum of BookCrossing and it’s started by Aaltsje. It’s nothing much, just release at least 365 books this year. Now, with lots and lots of books already registered and more to go I think I need something like this to get books out of the attic. I’m quite the hoarder…
  • I think I’ve said this last year as well, but I’d like to get on with my TBR pile. Right now, there’s more coming in than there’s going out. There’s at least 135 books on the pile, but I think it’s actually more. Sometimes I move books from the Release boxes onto the TBR box, but forget to update their status on BookCrossing. And yes, the “onto” was deliberate…
  • I’m going to try to make a list of which books I’ve read and am reading every month. Just to keep the books flowing. There’s so many books I’ve had for years now and I think it’s time to see them go.
  • I should go through my TBR pile to see if there’s books that can travel further without reading them first. With so many books on there I think I should be more picky about what goes on there.

Crafting and Hobbies:

  • I have to find a way to get googly eyes and coloured paper without paying too much for them. I have agreed to make lots and lots of little owls and other cute paper crafty things for a charity in our town. They give out boxes of toys to people who don’t have money to buy toys themselves. I might have to contact them and ask for sponsors. Not sure how I can do that…
  • I want to do more sewing. Sis in laws baby is having her birthday in May and I’d like to sew a slip dress for her. No idea what size it should be as I have no idea about babies… Might have to get help from mom in law to get the right size.
  • I want to do more cooking and baking. I have been doing a lot of it last year, but I love it, so I’d like to do more. Main problem is that I’m picky with food… Oh well, we’ll see what happens.

 

I think that’s about it. What are the things you’d like to do?

Christmas Shopping

Today I went grocery shopping for Christmas…

I tried to do it online, but the grocery stores won’t deliver in our town. So off I went. I knew it would be madness, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad…

I was glad to find a parking spot relatively close to the stores, parked my car and headed for the first grocery store. Only to find they ran out of carts…

So I waited until someone returned a cart. The handle was warm and sticky. Too late I realised there’d been a kid sitting in it who may or may not have been drooling all over it.

I had worked out a route beforehand and thought I could walk through the store without any major problems. Boy oh boy, was I wrong.

Upon entering I was hit by the blast of the heater, slamming millions of germs in my face. Only inches from the door there was a stepladder. I still have no idea why, but it might have been there to trip me up. Then I heard a buzz, as if thousands of bees were swarming around. It was worse, much worse. Lots of people, most of them complete families with the average 2.4 kids. Very little parents actually looked out for their kids. I got rammed by several carts, slammed into several people myself because they were walking backwards and got rammed by more carts.

But I made my way out of the chaos and went to Aldi. Now the Aldi in our town has just moved into a new building. It’s light and most of all big. Upon entering the store I found just a handful of carts at the entrance. So I expected the worst. But oh boy, what a peace. Yes, there were a lot of people, but in contrast to the other store Aldi was at peace. The shelves, the fridges and freezers, all were full with stock. I could even get my hands on a ham on the bone. Which has been sold out in the other store for several weeks now.
There were a few kids running around, but they got told off by the staff, something I much appreciate!

I managed to cross the road back to my car after a few minutes of waiting. I was packing everything in the car when I noticed something behind me. Two cars, one on each side, were waiting for me to get out of my parking spot. And I couldn’t help it, I packed slower and slower. I than brought my cart back to the store and walked off. I had more shopping to do…

Kitchenalia

Claire, over at 20somethingmum, did a great blog post about how she loves kitchenalia. I love kitchenalia too. I’ve thought about a blog post like this for a long time. Claire’s made me go ahead and do it.

So, why am I so in love with kitchenalia? Simple, it makes life a whole lots easier. And more fun. I love baking and cooking. But I didn’t do it as often as I do now. The reason being I didn’t have good appliances. The last combi microwave we had didn’t a good job with the oven. It left cakes and pies raw on the inside. So I didn’t make them.

When we got married my mom let me choose a wedding gift. I had been looking at a new combi microwave for quiet some time, but the prices put me off. When my mom offered I chose one that could do everything I wanted it to, for a modest budget. I chose the Whirlpool JT 379 IX. I wanted one with a ovenlike door. I wanted one that was easy and came with a lot of functions. I wanted a big one, that could easily hold a pie, a cake or one of my giant pizzas. This one could do all of that. Admittedly, I didn’t pay nearly as much as they are selling for on Amazon. And I bought it earlier then the date first available Amazon gives. Which is a bit weird, but there you go. I still think it’s a great buy!

WhirlpoolJT379IX

My second gadget that I can’t live without anymore is my food processor. I’ve bought one for my birthday some years ago now and I’ve been using it a lot. It’s the Kenwood FP 736. It came with a lot of attachments. I haven’t been using all of them, but I do use many attachments a lot. There’s three downsides with this food processor. One is the speed. Even the slow speed is quite speedy(…) and that makes it hard to use sometimes. For instance, if I’m making pizza dough, the flower is almost exploding inside the bowl. You can’t start mixing it slowly. There’s no slow speed on it. The second thing is the cleaning. It has a lot of fiddly edges and this makes it harder to clean. The third thing is the rocking when it’s turned on. You see chefs walking away from their machines all the time on tv. Just don’t try that with this one. Stay near it or it will walk off your countertop!
But these things are small compared to what it can do and what it does. I love it and wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Kenwood FP 736

The last thing that has made my life better is actually very simple… It’s an oven mitt. I’ve been having problems in the past with many oven mitts. The Ikea ones were quite good, but not similar in size. Also, they lacked lots of stitching and were quite easy to set on fire…
I then bought some nice ones from an el cheapo shop. These were set on fire the very next day and resulted in some minor, first degree burns on both hands.
The next pair did relatively good until they needed a wash. it ruined them. After that I’d been searching for a good pair, but apparently there’s not a whole lot of reviews on oven mitts… Jay offered me to buy a pair of Flame Guard Flame Retardant Quilted Oven Mitts. At first I wasn’t too sure, especially since they’re quite long. But as I’ve had problems with bear arms touching the inside of a hot oven in the past I said yes. And they work great. They’re quite thick, making it much easier to hold hot stuff. Before, most oven mitts were still getting very hot on the inside. You don’t have to worry about that with these. They will stay cool for a long period. They don’t seem to catch on fire as quickly as some of the others I’ve had. The only downside is their thickness. It makes it hard to keep hold of things like pan lids. But I’d rather have trouble getting hold of a lid than burn my hands (again).

Flameguard oven mitt

What is your favourite kitchenalia?

Celebrity Chefs and Cooking Shows

Earlier today I read Melanie’s post here. I totally agree with her on the fact that I can watch cooking shows all day. I love them. But I think they make it all seem a bit too easy. I can never get anything to look like they do. Plus it always takes me way longer than the celebrity chefs.
Of course this is probably because it’s their job. If they would do my job they’d take ages too…

What I learned from cooking shows:

  • I really need a bigger stove. Just 4 burners is a bit tight with most recipes.
  • I need more pots and pans.
  • I need generally more workspace.
  • I need a chef to do my cooking! 😛
  • I need a dishwasher.

Lettuce and strawberries

Chefs always make everything seem so easy. So quick, so simple. Yet it’s almost never as simple as they make it look.

That’s one of the reasons I love Nigel Slater. His Simple Cooking show really is simple. The recipes are usually made with only one pan, sometimes two. And in his Dish of the Day show you can see how you could use up the left overs. My left overs usually end up in the garbage can…

So, I’m sorry Melanie, for not voting in your poll, but my favourite chef isn’t on there.

Balanced diet? What balance?

You’ve being exiled to a private island, and your captors will only supply you with five foods. What do you pick?

I thought this was going to be easy, but it’s not…Where is the island? Is it a tropical island? If so, I’d choose different products than on an island near the arctic circle. I wanted to go with a healthy balanced diet, but simply couldn’t give up on some of my favourites.

I’ll just go with the tropical island theme here.

TropicalIsland

  1. Dr Pepper, you can never have enough of that.
  2. a whole pig please, there’s enough meat on it for a couple of days.
  3. Watermelon, from the seeds I can grow new ones.
  4. Chocolate. Dark chocolate with hazelnuts.
  5. Lemons. I assume they’ll grow on the island, but in case they’re not, I’ll have some to make lemonade.

For more entries for today’s Daily prompt, click here.

Photo courtesy of PINAR.T

 

Horsemeat in our food

Ever since the horse meat scandal broke out I’ve been amazed with the way people react. Instead of being concerned about the mis-labeling of the products they simply seem more upset about eating horse meat.

Let me just tell you that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating horsemeat. Horsemeat is a delicacy in many countries. It has been for thousands of years.
In the late Paleolithic (Magdalenian Era), wild horses formed an important source of food. In many parts of Europe, the consumption of horse meat continued throughout the Middle Ages until modern times, despite a Papal ban of horse meat in 732. Horse meat was also eaten as part of Germanic pagan religious ceremonies in northern Europe, particularly ceremonies associated with the worship of Odin.
Domesticated horses and cattle did not exist in the Americas until the Age of Discovery, and the Conquistadors owed much of their success to their war horses. The Europeans’ horses became feral, and were hunted by the indigenous Pehuenche people of what is now Chile and Argentina. At first they hunted horses as they did other game, but later they began to raise them for meat and transport. The meat was, and still is, preserved by being sun-dried in the high Andes into a product known as charqui.

horsemeat
France dates its taste for horse meat to the Revolution. With the fall of the aristocracy, its auxiliaries had to find new means of subsistence. Just as hairdressers and tailors set themselves up to serve commoners, the horses maintained by aristocracy as a sign of prestige ended up alleviating the hunger of lower classes. It was during the Napoleonic campaigns when the surgeon-in-chief of Napoleon’s Grand Army, Baron Dominique-Jean Larrey, advised the starving troops to eat the meat of horses. At the siege of Alexandria, the meat of young Arab horses relieved an epidemic of scurvy. At the battle of Eylau in 1807, Larrey served horse as soup and bœuf à la mode. In Aspern-Essling (1809), cut from the supply lines, the cavalry used the horses’ breastplates as cooking pots and gunpowder as seasoning, and thus founded a tradition.
Horse meat gained widespread acceptance in French cuisine during the later years of the Second French Empire. The high cost of living in Paris prevented many working-class citizens from buying meat such as pork or beef, so in 1866 the French government legalized the eating of horse meat and the first butcher’s shop specializing in horse meat opened in eastern Paris, providing quality meat at lower prices. During the Siege of Paris (1870–1871), horse meat was eaten by anyone who could afford it, partly because of a shortage of fresh meat in the blockaded city, and also because horses were eating grain which was needed by the human populace. Many Parisians gained a taste for horse meat during the siege, and after the war ended, horse meat remained popular. Likewise, in other places and times of siege or starvation, horses are viewed as a food source of last resort.
Despite the general Anglophone taboo, horse and donkey meat was eaten in Britain, especially in Yorkshire, until the 1930s, and in times of post-war food shortage surged in popularity in the United States and was considered for use in hospitals. A 2007 Time magazine article about horse meat brought in from Canada to the United States characterized the meat as sweet, rich, superlean, oddly soft meat, and closer to beef than venison.

You should be more upset by the fact that a few people have been mis-labeling your food than you now are with the fact that you’ve eaten horse meat. You enjoyed it when you didn’t know what it was, right?

Which flavour is the best?

What flavour is your favourite? Is what the Daily Prompt wants to know.Lemon
Now the first thing that popped into my mind was: Lemon!
I love lemon ice cream. Simply can’t get enough of it. Every time we walk into an ice shop I get lemon flavoured ice cream. I don’t even want it in a cone, the cone distracts from the flavour.

But then I thought, wait a minute, while the address bar suggests it’s about ice cream, the post doesn’t specify what food this is about. And there’s so many flavours that I like. Granted, lemon is my favourite in pies, in a good tonic even, but there’s so much more.

Chocolate for instance. I love dark chocolate, preferably extra dark. The Côte d’Or Sensations 86% is my favourite. But their BonBonBloc dark is great is well.

Then there’s the drinks. I’m a big fan of Dr Pepper. DrPepperBut there’s only one flavour sold in all the supermarkets I visited so far. And that’s the regular. So I have no idea what the vanilla, the cherry, the diet or every other flavour out there tastes like. I never tasted them.
I know I like Cherry Coke, but Coca Cola isn’t my brand. I got stomach aches from it. So I don’t buy it all that much.

Then there’s the tea. I know the Netherlands is one of the few countries that sells lots of flavoured teas. We have it all, strawberry, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon, orange, cherry, raspberry, forest fruit, tropical fruit, you name, we can get it. The one that I like most is the Rooibos Vanilla flavoured tea. I like almost all teas, but this one is my favourite.

For fragrance oils I like vanilla best. But green apple is also very nice. I ‘m not too keen on other fragrances as they make me ill most of the time. They’re too heavy for my liking.

And don’t get me started on spices. I love spices, they smell so good. The ones I use most are PiriPiri for my pizzas, a mix called Cajun for my BBQ meat and  a mix called Stroganoff for my Goulash. (recipes for goulash and pizza are found under the recipes tab on the top of the page).

So yeah, if we are talking about ice cream, it’s Lemon all the way. But if we are talking about other flavours it’s way more complicated then that.
What are your favourite flavours?

Photos courtesy of:
bogdansuditu
The Pack

Filled Eggs

This recipe I got from my stepmom and everyone loves my filled eggs. So I thought I’d post it here.

Ingredients:

  • As many eggs as you like
  • mayonnaise
  • Masala curry
  • Pepper

Directions:

Boil the eggs and let them cool down until they’re completely cold.
Remove the shell and half the eggs.
Scoop the yolk out with a teaspoon. You can try squeezing the egg, but it doesn’t work every time.
Put the yolks on a bowl and mush them with a fork.
Mix the mushed yolks with the mayonnaise and the Masala curry. Use as much as you like (I use about 200 ml of mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons of curry for 14 (whole) eggs).
Put in some pepper.
Put the mixture into a piping bag and start filling the eggs. You can make a nice dollop on top. Sprinkle some paprika powder or chives on top just before serving.

How much of the ingredients you need is hard to say as you can make them how you like. I make the mixture just a tad on the hot side, as the egg white will neutralise the taste a bit. You can make the eggs a day ahead of your party.

I didn’t set no challenge…

Dear Gods, When I said my life couldn’t get more glamorous, it wasn’t ment as a challenge…

I was about to pick up the lid when, suddenly, the handle came off. The handle is screwed into the glass lid and the screw dropped in my rice. I managed to find the screw in the rice, cleaned it and put the lid back together again. I sent the above tweet. Little did I know the Gods thought I’d set them a challenge…

Only a couple of minutes later I grabbed a plastic container of goulash from the microwave. I should’ve known it was boiling hot, but I kind of forgot. I burned my fingers big time. Tried to place the container on the counter despite the pain, but failed to do so. Thus the container dropped to the ground, the lid flew off and the goulash managed to get itself all over the kitchen. The floor, the wall, the counter, the cupboards, everything was covered in hot, delicious smelling goulash…
Needless to say, with two cats running around, I had to clean up first. Dinner was served almost cold that day…

Snert

Snert is the dutch word for pea soup. It’s a wholesome meal that’s very tasty. I make lots of it every winter and wanted to share my family recipe. This might be a bit different from other recipes, but it’s the way I’ve made it for many years. Make sure you’ve got a large pan, as this recipe is enough for 10 to 12 liters!

ingredients:

  • 4 L water
  • 750 Gr split peas
  • 10 stock cubes
  • 4 onions
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 big potatoes
  • 1 celeriac
  • ½ a head of celery
  • 750 Gr pork meat (with or without the bone, just what you prefer)
  • 2 rookworsten
  • 250 Gr bacon, in cubes
  • few bay leaves

Directions:

Bring the water to the boil. Put in the 10 stock cubes and the split peas. Boil it over a low heat for 2 hours.
Chop the vegetables and the meat into cubes. Pour in the vegetables and the bay leaves. Let it boil for another hour. Stir every now and then.
Put the meat (except the rookworst) in and let i boil for another hour. Put in the rookworst and let it boil for 10 minutes.
That’s it, your snert is done.