Two Dutch Girls on a Road Trip to Wiltshire

Road Trip 2017 (2) - Richmond to Chawton to Salisbury.

Good afternoon! Would you like to join me for the second part of my road trip in the South-West of England? A long time wish of my daughter...

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Snow! Take Care on the Roads, and Have a Wonderful Day!

Waking up to a world with her bridal clothes on... who doesn't like that?
There is snow.

In the Wetlands that means:

* panic (we hardly ever get that white stuff; are not used to it)
* looooooooooong lines of cars going slow
* trains and buses being delayed or simply not arriving
* Twitter exploding with angry tweets about public transport and road management

But it also means:

* all dog turds covered with pristine white clean crystals
* all children happy
* sleighs got down from attics and out of sheds
* beautiful photo opportunities
* Earth Mothers towing their kids to school on sleighs, with glowing cheeks and eyes
* outrageously happy dogs (dogs love snow, have you ever noticed that?)
* cocooning indoors suddenly appeals much more

Have a lovely snowy day, enjoy it!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Haiku on a Full Moon

Full moon standing proud Over bus shelter and me Shine me some peace please

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Monday, 2 February 2015

Dutch Chicory Easy-Peasy Oven Dish

Today was a cold, bone-cold day, with slush falling from the sky and a wind that made your lips crack spontaneously. What a great day for my Chicory Oven Dish!

(Especially suitable for absolute beginners or not-so-confident cooks)

What do you need?   (serves 4; or 3 if they are large eaters)

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C.
4 chicories (fat ones!)
8 medium potatoes (don't know about you, but in my book 'medium' is as large as a tennis ball)
250 grams of bacon in cubes
150 grams of grated cheese (suitable for gratin)
125 ml creme fraiche (30% fat) or sour cream
fresh black pepper
some sea salt
some real butter (you only need approx. 50 grams)

How do you make it?

* Start by peeling, washing and slicing your potatoes in thin slices. Boil them until just about ready for eating.
* While your potatoes are boiling, put the cut up bacon in a frying pan and fry until brown and crispy. Take from the fire and put in a place safe from your cat (essential in my house).
* Slice your chicory in thin slices, take out the toughest (and most bitter) innermost part (your kids will thank you) and feed this to the rabbit if you've got one (it will love you) and quickly boil this (the chicory, not the rabbit!) as well. This will not take long! (Unless you like it to turn into snot)
* Take an oven dish, butter it with real butter.
* By the time your potatoes are done, the rest will be as well. So let the potatoes and chicory drain (!) in a colander, and then put them in the oven dish.
* Use the remainder of your butter; put it in cubes on top of your potatoes
* Sprinkle with the bacon.
* Sprinkle with the pepper.
* Spread it evenly with the creme fraiche (or sour cream)
* Sprinkle your grated cheese on top.
* Put it in the oven until the cheese has melted but take it out before it turns too brown. This will not take long, so stay around.

It tastes fine on its own, but it loves to be combined with a glass of dry white wine or, alternatively, Dutch Trappist Beer (**).

I hope you'll enjoy it.

** Yeah, yeah, you think Dutch beer, you think Heineken or Grolsch. Wrong!
We happen to have quite a few independent small wonderful beer brewers who specialize in
 'brown' beer.  Trappist is a brown beer, but the name is coined - it can only be used when it is connected to Trappister monks, who brew this type of beer near or within their cloister walls. The mother of all Trappister beers was brewed in La Trappe, France.
Truth be told we only have 2 proper Trappist beer breweries in The Netherlands, while there are many in Belgium.

Still, this has never stopped me enjoying this wonderful beer. Believe me, when you have tasted a proper Trappist, you will think Heineken/Grolsch lager booooooooooooring!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

I Saw the Kingfisher Today - Good Luck!

Hi there, all you bird lovers and assorted internet friends.
Out walking my dog I had a rare sighting of the Kingfisher living near our home. This elusive bird is so shy that I've spotted it only 4 times in all the 22 years we have lived in our house!

But this time it sat there, at ease, on the branch over the sloot I always look at in the hope of spotting it, near the weir.
No, not the one in the photo; that one was out there in cyberspace, and I've borrowed it.

But it made me very happy, this little gem of a bird. Just because I see it so rarely, I consider it great good luck when I do.
The last time I saw it was almost exactly one year ago, also on a sunny day when you can believe that Spring is on its way. And just like last year it sat there watching me come nearer and nearer, until I crossed an invisible line. Too close for comfort, so it flew away, ducking into the sloot and using the high banks of it for cover so I lost sight of it almost immediately. Clever little bird.

Gina didn't pay any notice, she was more interested in sniffing out which neighborhood dogs exactly had walked the path before us. Ah...dogs...

I hope you've had an inspiring, restful Sunday!