Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bitterballen [Deep Fried Meat Balls Hors D'oeuvre]

When in Holland you must try the famous Dutch bitter balls. Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas just loved it: they ate them in front of the cameras while doing a TV interview for talk show presentator Jensen.
These little meat balls are frequently served at parties and otherfestive occasions. The Dutch usually serve them with mustard for dipping, and you might want to serve them with a variety of dips, including mustards, chutneys, and barbecue sauces.

4 tbl. butter or margarine
1/2 lb ground beef or veal
1/4 cup carrot, finely diced
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A grating of fresh nutmeg
1 tbl. fresh lemon juice
2 tbl. parsley, finely chopped
5 tbl. flour
1 cup beef broth or milk
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water
Oil for deep frying

Heat one tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat and cook the meat, carrots, and onions until the meat is browned and the carrots are tender. Drain the meat in a colander, then place in a mixing bowl. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, lemon juice, and parsley and stir to combine. Set the meat mixture aside.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook this for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the beef broth or milk. Continue heating, stirring constantly, until the sauce boils and becomes quite thick. Combine the sauce with the meat mixture, stirring to combine them thoroughly, and chill this mixture for at least two hours in the refrigerator, until it has become solid.
When the mixture has solidified, roll it into balls about 1 inches in diameter, using your hands. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs, then in the egg and water mixture, then in the bread crumbs again. Fry a few at a time in a deep fryer with at least 2 inches of oil at 375 degrees until golden (about 2 to 3 minutes). Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

It goes very well with beer, caipirinha or ice-tea.

Have a great weekend !

An Odd Queen's Day [Bizarre Koninginnedag]

Max and Lex in shock

8:45 Today is a national holiday in the Netherlands. I am at the office at the moment because I work for an American company so it is "business as usual". I must confess that I did not prepare any material (written or photos) for this special day. I celebrated it during my first years in the NL and then not anymore. If you wish to know more about this holiday with informative photos and texts please visit the blogs of Andy and Isabella or LifeAbroad clicking on their names. Enjoy !

12:30 Hubby told me over the phone that he is presently in the posh Vondelpark in A'dam with our children and another family. Ahn, I think I do not like the idea of bringing children into a mass of people. He mentions an "aanslag" (attack) to the royal family.

13:00 I have just seen in the Telegraaf on line that during the royal family visit in Apeldoorn a black Suzuki Swift car just run nearby the open bus with the family and hurt 8 to 12 people. "Car has ploughed into Queen's Day parade - two killed, twelve wounded." It happened just before noon. Horrible. The Dutch press is speculating whether it was a premeditated attack to the royal family. The driver is physically hurt and presently being questioned by the police. Eyewitnesses said te driver "clearly intended" to ram the bus carrying the royal family on its way to the royal Palace Het Loo.

15:45 A press conference is scheduled

16:45 the car driver is a 38 year old Dutch man. He is under an operation in the hospital. It was not a terrorist attack, but and individual act. Total of dead: 5, including children. Sad, sad, sad.

I go home now. It was an odd Queen's day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bike Saddle # 4

Oh, polka dots !
Check the site of Basil to see more models. I like the red with white polka dots and the blue flowered one (and my birthday is in May).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Free Time During Spring Season

I have been updating the list of my favorite blogs with lots of blogs about Holland. They are all very different from each other and suit different tastes. They are (so far):

A Touch of Dutch / Amsterzanne / Andy in Amsterdam / Bad News from The Netherlands / Dutch Blue / Elf in Amsterdam / Pantibar / Sobre Holanda (in Spanish)  / Zo Zuidas (in Dutch). 

This week is May vacation in the Netherlands (up to 5th May). Children are free from school and parents have generally some days "off" approved from work. What to do in your free time ? I have a list of links to sites on the right side of this page. Suggestions of amusement parks: Efteling (near Kaatsheuvel) , Drievliet (The Hague), Juliana Toren (Appeldoorn).

Efteling is one of the most visited children's amusement park in Europe. It is a lovely fairy tale amusement park for kids. Drievliet has lots of bold attractions for a bit older children, 5-6 years and older. If you are looking for more "mellow" attractions I then suggest Juliana Toren. It is heavily packed with attractions for very young children. And something that pleases parents and children is the Dolfinarium in Aarderwijk. Amazing !! I strongly recommend it.

If you manage the Dutch language in a medium level I suggest a lovely book to read this spring/summer: Wonen op Vakantie - Een Leven in Frankrijk (Antos) written by best seller author Esther Verhoef. I was introduced to her work by my mother in-law who is a person who always knows the last news in travel literature. The author is a known contributor to Dutch feminine magazines such as Libelle. Her book is a collection of columns, easy French recipes and survival tips based in her own experiences when moving into France. Absolutely deeelicious ! The second half of the book is a short story called Nouveau Riche. Verhoef's style is unpretentious and the reading goes very easy. She has written other bestsellers such as Rendez-vous (2006) which filming rights were sold to Endemol Netherlands - and Close-up (2007). Lately, Verhoef  has writen together with her husband Berry under the name "Escober" psychological action thrillers, such as Ongenade. If you wish to know more about this author check the following site:
Enjoy !

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Week

I have no idea what I will be posting this week.
No lack of material though. I guess it is more a lack of inspiration.
Maybe the contribution of a special reader and her very artistical photos ?
Maybe a mini-interview ? I am not sure because the person did not want to pose for photos.
Queen's day ? A recipe ? A special shop ? A book ?
I have been in Amsterdam today for some shopping. I have seen interesting things but (there is always a but) I was not in the mood to take pics. Yesterday happened the same too: I have been in Drievliet and was bored with the whole amusement park (my head spinned too much in those  I do- not-know-the-name -things). Maybe I need a break to guess where the blog is taking me to.
Any suggestions ? Please post a comment or write to:
Thanks !
P.S.: I have updated the list of Dutch sites on the right side of this page. Please have a look, I am sure you will find many interesting things ! I will be updating it regularly with many, many more sites. Keep tuned !

Friday, April 24, 2009

Flower Fields

As I promised to you guys, here is THE post about the fields of flowers. Last week I had to go with my family to a birthday party nearby Haarlem. Of course we decided to visit first the fields in the area of Lisse. Already in the car we could enjoy the vision of multicoloured stripes of flowers. We decided to open the windows to smell the honey perfume of the jacynths.

Bikes, tourists, cars, joggers, old cars taking part in a rally contest. It all ended up in a traffic jam.
I noticed that some fields were alredy dried out or empty. After the harvesting of the bulbs, that is what is left behind: a bed of petals, wow! Throw yourself into it !

My children started to dance and to jump. They wanted to visit "every beautiful colour" field. Sometimes I could spot a little card bord: "Do not enter in this field". But every tourist was posing for pics in the edge of a Mondrian's square.

So far, I have not seen the special black tulip. But I have always my camera with me and I keep myself alert. I do recommend people wishing to visit Holland to do it during early April and before the end of May. The weather is more pleasant, and you can couple the visit to the flower fields in Lisse with Keukenhof. Because I have already visited Keukenhof a couple of years ago with friends from Brazil (hi there Carla and Patricia !) , it was no use to go there this year again. We had to hurry for a party in Vijfhuizen. Have a nice weekend readers !

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Food for Thought ?

( Brazilian readers can check the same text below translated into Portuguese going to another blog I also write for: under the title "Tofu or Not Tofu ?" )

Readers, as you know from my previous posts, I do not work on Wednesdays (by the way, like most mothers in the Netherlands). Therefore I have the opportunity of eating home made food and not sandwiches or microwaved meals. I love eating what my husband calls “crazy food”, such as tofu. This pictured above I just baked slightly with some sesame oil in a tefal pan and seasoned it with oyster sauce and sesame seeds. My children also find it yummy. One of these days I had my mother on the phone and she mentioned how much she has reduced the consumption of red meats (and all sorts of meat in general). I suggested her to try tofu. She refused cause according to her the Amazon Wood was being eliminated for the cultivation of soya. I had a guilty feeling about my lunch.
Walking weeks ago by the streets of Zaandam, I have spotted these posters. Curious as I am, I started to photograph them. My camera has limited resources, but it is an honest one and I think you can understand the photos well. The title of the poster says: “The Drama behind Cheap Meat”. You can read: " No, supermarket A.H. does not sell monkey meat. But does sell pork and chicken who were fed with soya ingredients. For the cultivation of soya, tropical woods are eliminated. Therefore animals and plants also disappear. This has to be different. Sign now:” It is a campaign from “Milieu Defensie”. I have checked its site, and it s very interesting. Vegetarian recipes, videos, famous people preaching the reduction of red meat. Lots of idealism.
Now, I am feeling very guilty about everything. For enjoying chicken meat, for having a wooden floor, for using the car half way to my work, for eating soya, for using the airplane. And you ? What do you feel guilty for ? Have you changed your life style in any terms ?

Monday, April 20, 2009


Guys, I know we are still on Monday and a working week is waiting for us. But c'mon ! The temperatures are going up in the Netherlands. Spring is the perfect time to start practising how to make the perfect caipirinha (my in-laws enjoy it so much that they will have it even during Christmas, birthdays or any other excuse).

1 lime (not lemmon) / 1 or 2 tablespoon granulated sugar / 1/2 cup cachaça / ice cubes

Directions: Cut the lime in quarters then cut them crosswise. Put lime and sugar in a tall glass and mash with a pestle (or a wood spoon, rolling pin, etc). Add the same amount of liquor on the lime juice and stir it up. Add ice and mix it up again.

In Brazil, the guys that sell it at the beach put another glass upside down over it, hold both with one hand and shake. Great trick at parties.

For some variation, you can change limes for kiwis, pineapple or passion fruit, or mix them, but you may cut on sugar. Brazilian girls looove it with strawberries instead of limes, and the colour is just soooo beautiful ! Just do not call such variations “caipirinha” anylonger !

For a perfect recipe click here. If you wish to know more about the origins of this drink and detailed blend instructions click here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

An exquisite hit

Now and then I hear on the radio this old hit from Dutch group Ten Sharp. The lyrics, that voice, lots of memories.


It's all right with me as long as you are by my side
talk or just say nothing, I don't mind your looks never lie

I was always on the run, finding out what I was looking for and
I was always insecure, just until I found
Words often don't come easy, I never loved to show you the inside of me oh no my baby
You were always patient, dragging out what I tried to hide
I was always on the run, finding out what I was looking for and
I was always insecure, just until I found you

You were always on my mind, you, you're the one I'm living for ... you !
You're my everlasting fire, you're my always shining star
Nights always are good friends, a glass of wine and the lights down low
You lying beside me, me full of love and filled with hope
I was always on the run, finding out what I was looking for and
I was always insecure, just until I found you
You were always on my mind, you, you're the one I'm living for ... you !
you're my everlasting fire

You're my always shining star

My home interior

I have a piece of furniture for my shoes, I am still trying to figure out how to display objects on the top of it. I lke to mix styles and thought about a portrait with one or more objects. I first considered the arrangement above.

Or maybe only with the stone girl bought in Elise Chauvel's store (see previous post) ? Hummm...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Auto RAI

Special reporter (and reader of this blog) Willem sent to me the text below with his impressions about the AutoRAI. He visited the fair in Amsterdam with his colleague Edwin last week. The guys made pictures of the cars with their cell phones.

Last Friday I went to the AutoRAI with my colleague Edwin. The AutoRAI is the Dutch car fair which happens every 2 years in Amsterdam. Actually it’s no use to go there, but it’s a good excuse to have a beer and a caipirinha afterwards. We had to get used to the new concept of the fair.
Because of the recession there were no expensive stands per manufacturer, but they put the cars together per theme, separated by sea containers (which probably can be rented very cheap because there is no transportation anymore due to the recession).

We, family men, started with ‘Family & Travel’. Edwin is interested in the new Opel Insignia Sports Tourer (even after he is towed away 4 times in his current 2006 Opel Vectra Stationwagon). The Insignia is the car of the year 2009 and indeed it’s a nice car.

The rest of this part of the fair is quite common : beautiful and unpractical Alfa’s, overpriced Audi’s, BMW’s and Mercedeses and boring VW’s, Skoda’s and Toyota’s and much more. Also this year I concluded that compact 7 seaters don’t exist, unless you have 2 very small and flexible children. Time to move to the next section: Green Innovations.

Lately, Green is very hot, but boring. Only interesting for people who care about the environment (and really want to do something about it) and for cheap bastards like me who like to pay tax as little as possible. My feature car was also there, the Kia C’eed Sporty Wagon ISG.

Of course there was also the new Toyota Prius, which is much better than the previous one, but still not a beauty and the smart 3.5-seater Toyota IQ.

Time to move to the cabrio’s. Yeah, they are also sold in our cold and rainy country. I prefer the beautiful Alfa Romeo Spider instead of the trendy Mini Cabrio, but of course there was much more like Porsche, Jag and Lambo.

When you don’t need a fast and comfy Cabrio, you can go for the Dutch Burton. A very interesting offer (see photo below). It’s based on a Citroën 2CV, the ugly duck (see post on this blog: The ugly duck [lelijke eend] under the label “cars”). When you buy an old ‘ugly duck’ and strip it, you can build your Burton for EUR 4000,- (P.S. the cheapest ‘car’ in the Netherlands starts around EUR 8000,-). When you don’t have time you can buy a ready one for 11.000,- to 21.000,-, depending on your wishes. I have no idea who buys such a thing. Maybe retired men who prefer to spend their time in a cold garage instead of spending sometime with their wives.

After the Cabrio’s we arrived in the section ‘City & Compact’. No spectacular things to see here. A lot of common stuff. Very small cars like the new Ford Ka. Very nice for a small car, especially when you compare it with the old one, but that is my own opinion.
Another new category is the medium size box liked cares, like the Kia Soul, the Citroën C3 Picasso and the Toyota Urban Cruiser. I don’t know if I like it. Maybe you have to get used to it.

In the ‘Adventure’ section there were a lot of off-roads and SUV’s. Not my cup of tea! Some years ago it was very cool to bring the kids to school in a Land Rover Discovery or a Volvo XC90 (at least in certain parts of the country), but now I think it’s not done.

The last section was the reason to go to the AutoRai: ‘Luxury & Sportcars’. Here you see cars you don’t see (regularly) in ‘the wild’. Edwin’s favorite, the Nissan GT –R:

Ferrari !


Bentley !

Mercedes (McLaren)!

My favorite: Aston Martin !
The most expensive (2,5 million Euro) and most powerful (1001 hp) car, the Bugatti Veyron and some more Lamborghini’s.

And much, much more !!!!
After all there was a life show with a lot of sound, light and … ‘moving’ cars. Just driving around, but also a lot of drifting cars like Porsche, Aston, Lambo, etc. I love the smell of burning rubber.
The legs were tired, so time to go.

Time for dinner, some beers and … Caipirinha’s !!!
Thanks a lot Willem for your text contribution above and also to playboy/motorider Edwin for all the work with photos !