The Delightful Dutch Dish

How one can cook oneself back into local reality

Christmas dinner December 25, 2009

Filed under: cooking,main course — orangepumpkin @ 21:57
Tags: ,

Today is Christmas and yes, I did cook. But I won’t post about it, because it’s not really what goes. I cooked maybe one semi-local thing. A pumpkin. I could’ve got one more locally, this particular pumpkin travelled something between 50 and 100 km to the kitchen where it was cooked. While I have one lying in my own kitchen that’s travelled 2,5 km in it’s entire existence. And by bike, I might add. The other one got harvested with a tractor, it got loaded in a truck, taken to a central warehouse of one of the largest supermarket chains in the Netherlands. Then it got sorted and transported to the local supermarket (again by truck, they just don’t do these things by bike or horse-drawn carriage anymore). It got picked up and was brought home (a mere 2 km) by car. So this particular pumpkin, the one I hacked into small bits, threw in a pan, cooked until it disintegrated, it kind of saw a bit too much of the world to make it to the pages of this blog. Which it did eventually, I know how your minds work.

But that one pumpkin was the most local thing I cooked. It was Dutch, grown not far from my birthhouse, on a piece of land I might have walked on as a kid. So that one pumpkin was dear to my heart. You know, I might have cried when I chopped him up, when I scraped the seeds from it’s central… what should I call it? Anyway, it was a sad day for that pumpkin, it got killed and cooked on Christmas. That’s just cruel!

There’s another reason I’m not going to blog much about what I cooked that poor pumpkin into. Because you can guess it. I made it before, I kind of let myself go when I wrote about it. You know what it is, it’s the divine and delicious pumpkin soup. Yeah, who needs a second story about that in a few weeks? (Just so you know: I do still have another pumpkin, chances are there’s going to be more pumpkin soup in the foreseeable future. I might or might not blog about it.)

I’m ashamed to tell you that I broke my Friday-rules so early on in the game. Because the other ingredients in the four course meal I helped cook & serve were way, way, WAY worse than the pumpkin. We had hazelnuts, according to the recipe they had to be from Oregon, I just don’t want to know how far away that is from my stomach. I can tell you these hazelnuts weren’t from Oregon, if that eases your mind one tiny bit. But they weren’t homegrown or anything, either. They might have been Dutch, but more likely they were very exotically European. Sí señor! (Or not, who cares, that’s about enough Spanish to render me speechless). We had lettuce, which is a very local product during the summer months. Trust me when I say that it isn’t very local in December. Especially when you buy it at your lovely supermarket. They buy these lettuces anywhere they can. Probably Spain again. But the highlight were the shrimp. Shrimp do swim in the sea (or walk, if that’s what they do). And also in the Northsea. So the closest to home would be catching shrimp on any of the Dutch beaches. The thing is, they’re tiny little shrimp there. We had big ones. We call them ‘gamba’s’, which is Spanish (is this a recurring theme today?), and it probably just means something like ‘the largest shrimp you can imagine’. And they’re good to the taste buds! Can’t say no to some fancy Spanish shrimp, now can you?

We also had a lot of dairy products in every course and in our dessert. Dairy is Dutch, but still, I do not own a cow, so it’s not as local as can be, unfortunately. We also had pork. Probably Dutch Pork, since the pork produced in this ample country is three times more than we Dutch can eat. A lot is exported, but I’m trusting logic on the fact that the pork we eat ourselves, the pork we buy in our local supermarkets, is in fact bred and raised here, in the low lands. It’s probably killed here too, but don’t be surprised if it turns out to be Italy, then that poor porky friend gets skinned in China, chopped up in sellable and sizable bits in South America and packed in Canada before it returns to our lovely local linguae (lingula is Latin for tongue, I needed it here, forgive me for trying to be more intellectual than I actually am, I know I got the plural wrong, or maybe the whole word, sod it). What else did we have? Oh, I remember, it’s unforgivable! Really, it is. We had fresh fruit. Forgive me for I have sinned. I know, crazy right? I ate fresh raspberries at Christmas. I know I’m not the only one, but whoa!! Wait!!! We had a white Christmas, the whole and entire country was covered in snow. The layer was actually so thick, public life got suspended for days. (On Christmas it thawed, so most of it melted away, oh cruel, cruel world. We never get a white Christmas, when we do, it’s an ironically smudgy one). There’s something you should conclude from that information: it was freezing (before Christmas at least). So, it’s winter. No, seriously? Yes. Winter in the Netherlands? That rarely happens, right? We get to eat raspberries all year long, from our own garden, no problem, all thanks to global warming. Amsterdam is now subtropical, we have big palmtrees lining the canals right now. Great improvement, this global warming thing.


I’m kidding. The Netherlands does not have any wild and lovely palms lining public streets (I had to go way more south to finally spot these, it was still Europe, though). We’re not the new Costa Brava (sorry, is that Spain again?). And raspberries do not mix very well with frost, snow, wintery scenes, the whole lot we had going on right before Christmas. So, there were no Dutch grown raspberries available (who’d have guessed). So the supermarket probably made a great deal with some Spanish dude growing some raspberries.

Oh, and before I forget: we had some Mexican (or maybe, if life is permitting something of a compensation for all my Christmas food sins, Spanish) avocado’s, too. You know, my next move is to Spain. They have all these lovely things in December. I mean, what could we ever be without them? I will sin forever if I don’t move there. Sounds like a great plan, doesn’t it?

How local?
How about: anything but local? Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!
My New Year’s resolution should be to cut the crap and scrap the avocado’s, or move to Spain and have my very own avocado orchard.


Don’t worry December 19, 2009

Filed under: cooking — orangepumpkin @ 23:21

I did cook the past two Friday’s, I just didn’t write about it. Yet. Coming up soon.

Dec 11 I had ‘hutspot’ with pepper steak. Really delicious!

Dec 18 I had mashed potatoes and pumpkin. Oh, and I screwed it up. Again.


Hutspot December 11, 2009

Filed under: cooking,main course,meat,vegetable — orangepumpkin @ 22:30
Tags: , , ,

Today, I had a friend over and I decided to serve something typically Dutch. My friend loves ‘stamppot’, including ‘hutspot’. I myself hate some of the stamppot-variants, but I definitely love, love, love hutspot. Why? Because it’s elegant, it’s whimsical and it doesn’t have you chew on rotten vegetables (I’ll get to that, though I promise I won’t make it).

Hutspot is mashed potatoes, carrot and onion. That’s it basically. You cook the potatoes, carrot and add the onion halfway through the cooking. You get rid of the water, and you mash the whole load. You add some butter or cream cheese for a bit of a creamy taste and that’s it. Super easy! Really, anyone can do it, so that’s probably why it’s the nation’s favourite dish.

I hadn’t had hutspot in ages. Because right now I’m a grown up, I cook my own meals. And somehow my mother has moved on to another level of cooking, so whenever I’m there, she’s not serving hutspot. Which is fine, because I can make my own. I just hardly ever get ’round to it. But I did today. I’d forgotten how much I love the taste. The carrots and the potatoes, and then the onions. Just perfect. Right next to the blotchy mashed mess I served a pepper steak. And boy, did that go well with the hutspot. Wow!

The carrots I used for the hutspot are called ‘winterpeen’ or ‘winterwortel’ in Dutch. I’m not sure what that translates into. If you decide to make hutspot, though, I will advise you to use a type of carrot that’s best cooked. We have ‘bospeen’ here as well, you buy them with the green still on and a big bunch of them. You can eat those raw and they’re very juicy and fresh. Winterpeen however is a bit drier and has more structure, oh and they’re a lot bigger. They’re not at all nice and tasty to eat when they’re not cooked. These kinds of carrots keep their taste better when they’re cooked and they’re sweeter, too. Besides that they don’t end up as pulp straight away, so they don’t get entirely lost in the mashed potatoes. Though I guess other types of carrots would do just fine.

4 medium sized potatoes per person
1 winterpeen (big carrot) per person
1-2 onions in total (add more if you want, they’ll be cooked so you cannot mess anything up)
1 tablespoon of butter (or cream cheese)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes, carrots and onions for about 20 minutes. Drain the water. Mash the potatoes, carrots and onions, you don’t have to be thorough, a little structure can be nice. Stir butter through the mashed potatoes. Serve.

How local?
potatoes: 25-50 km
carrots: 2,5 km
onions: 2,5 km
butter/cream cheese: 50 km?
pepper steak: no idea, hopefully/probably Dutch


Two cook-ups, one save December 9, 2009

Filed under: breakfast,cooking,dessert,side dish — orangepumpkin @ 18:24

At least, that’s what I think.

Yesterday for dinner I decided to get wild on the avocados I bought last week. Errr… no I didn’t. I just checked my supplies and wondered would could be in the brown paper bag surrounded by other fruits. I felt it and it felt squishy. And I remembered the avocados that were in there. And my heart sank (I typed sang, but that’s just wishful typing). Because squishy avocados usually are bad. A little squishy, yes, too much squishy and you’re doomed. You spent all this money on import fruit and then you go and let it rot because you forgot. I didn’t exactly forget, I just figured that it would take at least two weeks for my avocados to be squishy enough for consumption. But they did it in about 5 days.
So here I was, with two very soft avocados that gave in easily under any pressure I applied. I dug out the big old Knife, the biggest knife on the block in fact. I cut one delicious green fruit of paradise open, all the while noticing it’s extreme softness. And my heart sank some more. But then I did the magic trick, i opened the avocado and I actually saw what it looked like from the inside. I’m used to really soft and ripe avocados to be, well, spoiled. they’re brown. The brown might taste alright, but I’ve never tried it, I only eat the green. And those two halves looked majestically green to me. Not a spot of brown to be seen. Not one spot! I immediately dug in with my spoon to check the rest of the fruit. Green as any avocado should be! Wow. Amazing.
On to the next avocado. I was afraid that to pay for my neglect this one would be completely spoilt. But again, it wasn’t. Miraculously unspoilt avocados were at my disposal. So I squeezed a lemon. One whole lemon. While I added the juice I thought: “Hmm, that might be a bit much…”. And you know what I did? I shrugged. I shrugged at my own insightfulness. No! But yes, I did. I have a theory that it might not have been too bad, had it not been an organic lemon of which the juice was now totally masking the avocado flavour of two most delicious avocados on earth, but I guess I’ll never know. (The theory is that in my opinion (supported by all taste buds I have available) all organic produce is tastier than their non-organic counterparts. Apparently including the lemons…). I had only one option: add a whole lot of other stuff to conceal the sour lemon (it was a great lemon, don’t get me wrong, but it totally ruined the greatest of great avocados). I thought I had nailed it, so I spread it on my bread and ate it. But upon finishing my super spoilt me said: no. This was not a real save. This wasn’t good. This sucked actually. Unless you prefer lemons over avocados, but who would do that? Is there anyone in their right minds who would? (Lemons are nice, but come on, avocados win hands down!) I’ll write down the recipe sometime, because with a little less lemon this is just perfect!

Yesterday I made porridge, because I had milk left that was in real need of someone to save it, before it went sour. I like porridge. Not everyday, but usually it’s real nice. It’s not really complicated, anyone can make porridge, but the thing is, once you think it’s easy peasy, you risk ruining it. I did’nt ruin it. I stood by the pot and I watched the milk’s every move. I stirred it constantly and I did not get distracted by textmessages (ok, I did once, but I regained focus quickly and in the time I was texting, no horrible milk disasters ensued, and I still stood next to the stove, with the actual milk in view). You should know that there’s no real secret to making porridge. The burning is the big non-secret. The secret to the non-burning is a watchful eye. Turn down the heat the minute you see water evaporating. Because that is your clue that the milk is hot, and depending on what kind of stove you have (mine is electric), it will warm some more. Leaving the heat on is disastrous. Secondly, you need space where you can quickly move your hot pan of boiling milk should it go wrong despite your watchfulness. Thirdly: you need to stir like a madman. Constantly. Even when you’re not feeling like it, or don’t see the need. There is always a need for stirring with porridge. So that’s what I was doing when I was texting: stirring. With my left hand. Which was quite disastrous, except nothing went wrong. I’m a great multi-tasker when nothing goes wrong. It happens every once in a while. I can enjoy that. When the milk is close to boiling you rest your stirring for a second to throw in a few spoons of oats. Then you stir vigorously. Or not exactly vigorously, as long as you keep stirring. And make sure you touch the bottom. That way, you can feel when the porridge is starting to go wrong in all the wrong places. Because it first forms a thick layer of hard porridge on the bottom of the pot. When you leave that for too long and you keep the heat on… that’s when it gets burned. And when it gets burned you ruin all the porridge. Not just the bit stuck at the bottom. No, you’ll have this delicious burnt taste in every bit of porridge you have. So stirring is in order. Porridge hardly ever fails when I’m making it. It only fails when I’m not just texting, but I decide to check my e-mail. That’s exactly when I know I shouldn’t be making porridge. I deserve starving to death in those cases.

Anyway, the porridge wasn’t the save either, because it was great. No, the save was when I decided to make wentelteefjes. I only had about 300ml of my milk left, I had some old bread and I had eggs and cinnamon. I checked the bread for mold, because that’s something you don’t want to eat, right? Examination did not reveal any mold. So I mixed one egg with 250ml of milk, added cinnamon and started getting the bread ready. I checked again for any suspicious specks. And sure enough, there were. So, no wentelteefjes. But what do you do with milk mixed with egg and cinnamon? I checked the freezer for another bread. There wasn’t one. Oh. Porridge for breakfast again? Sure, but I had only a little bit of milk left, and the milk mixture. So I did something that probably is a great sin against all things culinary: I made porridge with cinnamon-egg-milk. There is a ponit in life when you just don’t care. I figured cinnamon would be good with porridge. I was a bit worried about the egg, though. Wouldn’t that totally screw up anything porridge-related? I’ll keep it short: it didn’t. And I saved the day. Well, my day anyway. It feels good when you can undo a bit of a cook-up. I know now that I should have scrutinized every slice of bread before starting on the real deal of mixing ingredients. You can call me really stupid, but once there’s something moldy with the bread, I’m not going to eat any of it. I probably still could, but I won’t risk it. It’s like the burnt porridge, I’m afraid the rest of the bread will be bad too. I probably wouldn’t die of eating some moldy bread, but still. I do draw the line there. Not really on expiry dates. The milk was two days past its expiry date and it was great. Those dates don’t mean your food is instantly completely inedible. And it also doesn’t mean it’s always completely edible before such a date. I know, because I’ve been there (well, I didn’t eat it, of course, I threw it out).

So, some other time for the wentelteefjes, promise. Oh, and the good recipe (with some good measures on avocado vs. lemon juice) for the avocados. But I’m sure I don’t need to supply a recipe for porridge, now, do I? Just boil milk, throw in a few spoons of rolled oats. Stir, wait until it thickens (at least two minutes, keep the milk close to its boiling point), if it doesn’t add some more oats. I’m not good with measures. I guess a lot (and that’s why I guessed one lemon would be really good on two avocados… so I do guess wrong sometimes, haha!).


Blueberry Muffins December 5, 2009

Filed under: baking,dessert — orangepumpkin @ 22:56

My birthday is in the fall. I’m not the biggest fan of fall. It’s kind of depressing to know that nature’s taking a rest because of what’s yet to come: winter. The rest of fall isn’t too bad, only in November do the horrible rains start and does the temperature drop below anything reasonable (well, usually it’s October, but due to global warming it’s been November for the last few years). I love the colours, I love the blue skies, I love the sun, I love almost everything, it’s just the prospect of winter that gets me down. I’ve learnt a few things about fall: you do have fruits (ah, the lovely apples and pears!), vegetables don’t get so depressed that they abandon the earth. You can even have lettuce. So, fall isn’t at all bad. Especially because during fall there are blueberries. I’m not really fond of blueberries themselves, but I’m a freak when it comes to fruit. I prefer my fruits cooked or baked. So never mind me, just trust me on this one: blueberries rock in anything baked. They do!

For my last birthday I decided to get really childish and bring something for my fellow pay-slaves. But what to bring? Candy? Some cheap-ass cake from some horrible big chain? No, I wanted to do it like the olden days, bake something myself. When I was a tiny little girl, my mother would bake something, but I’m all grown up now (I’m almost as old as my mum was when she had me, so, yikes, that’s old!), so I can bake my own treats. But what to bake? And I remembered two things I had in London when I was stalking Starbucks: carrot cake and blueberry cake. Carrot cake is nice, but the blueberry cake Starbucks served was… well, to die for! So I decided on blueberry muffins (easy to hand out to all kinds of people, not really messy, until you start munching them down). Which posed a very important existential question: how on earth do you make those things? Which is when I use Google. And Google provides the best of answers to the search query ‘blueberry muffins’: the first hit is a recipe for ‘to die for blueberry muffins‘. That honestly sounds like something worth my while. I’ll keep it short today: they were absolutely to die for. Oh my, oh my! They were so incredibly delicious, I almost die again just thinking of them. Because of my poor math capacities I made so many of these delicious muffins that I lived on them for days. I could have shared them with more people (like my family), but… I didn’t. I got greedy, I ate them all. I had them for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner. And I doubled my weight, but it was so worth it!

I don’t think that blueberries are still in season, but I must admit that I haven’t checked if they’re still available. It’s because they’re crazy expensive. Don’t get me wrong, they’re more than worth every cent I spent on them, but it’s not something I should do on a regular basis, I’d be so broke I’d live in a cardboard box on the street, but with blueberry muffins. I just haven’t decided yet if living on the street is worth it, it might be. But I’ve practiced restraint, and I’ve managed to live on.

Today I figured something else out. These muffins were absolutely great with blueberries. But maybe, just maybe, these muffins would be quite alright with apple? So that’s what I’m trying out now. As we speak the beautiful smell of cinnamon and baked goodness is filling the room, while I’m listening to Christmas songs. And all is right. I have a sneaking suspicion that these apple muffins will be just as great. And if you’re not totally freaked out by the thought of raisins, you might want to add those, as well.

So, they’re done, and I’m sorry to say that apple isn’t quite the same as blueberry. Blueberries are a bit sour, tangy. Apple lacks that. Still, the crunchy top layer and the smooth and soft and mushy rest of the muffin are still brilliant. My next try will include raisins. Since I’ve got enough ingredients, my next try will be later this week!

You’ll find the original recipe here. It’s just great the way it is. What I did was I left out the blueberries, I put in one apple (regular size, haven’t weighed it) and lemon zest to the muffin dough. The rest of the recipe was left the way it was. Oh, and I bake them for 30 minutes, somehow that’s what they need in my oven.

Oh, and you’ll never believe it: I screwed my measurements up BIG time. I wrote down the recipe a few months ago with the amounts I needed to feed an army (which I didn’t, I just fed myself for ages). And today I took those measurements and started. Only realising a little late that I had more than twice as much as I needed. I already mixed up the dry ingredients, so I totally did something you’re never supposed to do: I mixed the ingredients, took half out, and continued on my merry way. It probably doesn’t matter, but still… don’t do that!

How local?
Flour:  Germany
Sugar: Netherlands (who knew we made sugar!)
Apple: France
Oil: packed in Belgium
Butter: Netherlands
Cinnamon: far away
Salt: Netherlands?
Baking soda: Netherlands
Eggs: local farm (2,5km)


Watergruwel or Krentjebrij December 4, 2009

Filed under: dessert — orangepumpkin @ 16:09

Let me start by saying that this is probably the worst day in my life. Not because it’s a bad day, which it really isn’t, all that’s wrong today is the weather, it’s dull, gray and very depressing, and it’s not even raining. No, it’s the worst day in my life because a few days ago I already decided what I’d make: a dutch dessert. No! Yes! I wrote up the recipe for some other reason and I thought to myself: wow, this is something I’ve never eaten, in my life. And in some dark second following that thought I decided it would be a perfect day to eat something new, this Friday. Which is today. So, by now I’m freaking out. BIG time freaking out here.

The reason I’m freaking out is that ‘watergruwel’ has a very ominous name. Water is water, that’s not bad. But ‘gruwel’ looks and sounds a little too much like ‘gruwelijk’, which means horrible. There is a chance that in some Ye Olde Dutch Dictionary ‘gruwel’ might have an alternative meaning, but I don’t own such a dictionary and I’m not good in Medieval speak anyway. So I’m scared the word ‘gruwel’ might actually mean it’s horrible. ‘Krentjebrij’ sounds better, it’s still the same dish. So possibly some sneaky parent called it that, and hoped the children would finish their horrible dessert because they were being tricked into thinking it wasn’t horrible.

I do come prepared. I bought all the ingredients. Which is a great start when you’re trying something new. I usually improvise something. But not today, not this time. Over the past few days I’ve searched for ‘gort’, and found it. It’s not at all common, nobody uses it anymore. It makes me wonder, might there be a reason we all stick to pasta and potatoes? I’ve bought unsweetened juice (why? Why? WHY? Who drinks unsweetened juice these days? And most of all, why?). Yesterday I asked my utterly Dutch mum about it, I casually dropped ‘watergruwel’ in our conversation. She was ecstatic, it’s a good thing to eat, it’s healthy. My sister, who happened to be in the same room with us started screaming and making vomiting sounds. She yelled things like ‘eeeewwwww, grosss!’, and asked me ‘WHY?’ on numerous occasions. Apparently something’s lacking in my upbringing, which didn’t exactly lack in hers. She knows the stuff. She didn’t start screaming immediately, she asked a very modest question: ‘Is that the stuff with the raisins in it?’ I said it was. And then she started screaming. And she said it was verrrrrrrrrry slimey, which is horrible.

Now, this pristine hour before I start cooking the stuff, I have serious doubts. First, why? Ok, that’s not really a doubt, but seriously, WHY? I read this recipe and I noticed the raisins. The swollen raisins of doom. I hate raisins. Well, not the dried raisins themselves. But I truly hate raisins that have been cooked, are swollen and bloated and then enter my mouth. The thought is nauseating. It’s the only reason I hate raisins. This recipe is full of it. A lot of raisins. Why? Raisins aren’t even Dutch. They’re not local. They’re shriveled Frenchmen in disguise, asylum seekers in our rustic Dutch cuisine. They’re not welcome in my Dutch cuisine! But here I am, with raisins in my cuisine. And I’m going to cook them for over an hour, in water. They’ll be bloated and swollen and gross by the time I eat them and that sucks.
Another doubt of mine arose only a few hours ago, when it finally hit me that I’ll be using 1 L (yes, one whole Liter) of water. One! Whole! Liter! And I read on and it said that this Dutch Dessert was… a drink! Ok, I don’t get that, drinks for dessert without a truckload of alcohol in them, so: why? But it also means that if this stuff is really as gross as my sister so fervently pictured, I’ll be stuck with one whole liter of the stuff. That thought is unbearable. So I’m cutting down the recipe, I’m using half of the ingredients. I just can’t handle the thought of utter grossness in that amount. Even if it’s good for hydrating.
The other concerns are only mild. Like, what do I do with all the gort and raisins and stuff that will be left after I tried this recipe? Can I think of a way to eat those raisins? Are there other recipes with gort? What is ‘gort’ anyway?

I use Google to answer all my existential questions, including these. I know that I can’t live without knowing the answer. ‘Gort’ is barley. And today I’ll be using ‘pearl barley‘. (Which makes me sing (there’s light on this dark day anyway): You’ll remember me when the west wind moves /Upon the fields of barley. Thank you Sting!) I’m so glad I know this now. And that it might relieve depression (through serotonin, who knew?). This might be a good day to eat ‘watergruwel’ after all! And it might explain why the Dutch ate so much barley, winters can be quite depressing up here in the low lands!
And yes, you can use gort to make other things. Another dessert, or maybe a breakfast called ‘karnemelkse pap’ or ‘gortepap’. Which is a porridge made with ‘karnemelk’ (which is buttermilk). And that might be an even bigger problem. I don’t like buttermilk. My mother mentioned ‘karnemelkse pap’ to me and she shivered. She hated it as a child and she has some dearly disturbed memories of it. The memory of ‘karnemelkse pap’ made her say ‘eewww’ and ‘gross’. I was brave and I said ‘But it’s Dutch, right?’. And she gave me some heartfelt advise after that. First she asked if I liked buttermilk. I said ‘no’, and I added ‘eeewww’ and ‘gross’. And my mum said: ‘Then stay away from the ‘karnemelkse pap’, you’ll hate it’. She meant: you’ll die of misery when you attempt making it. And I will bloody well not save you! Thanks mum!

So, on to the cooking!
Ok, lemon zest might be one of my favourite ingredients. That smell! It reminds me of cake and other deliciousness. Maybe this isn’t going to be too bad. I don’t mind the currants and raisins one bit, either. Promising, promising. But I’m still worried, what happens to gort when it’s cooked? Will it be terribly slimey?

The finished product looks a little, well, weird. It’s watery and basically the swollen pearl barley and raisins and currents are sort of swimming in there, hanging on for dear life. The fluid is amazing! You can taste the cinnamon, the red currant juice, the sugar and it’s so balanced and nice, it’s truly amazing. So, on to a bite of the swollen gooey stuff that’s swimming in there. I’m a bit lost for words here. It’s not gross, but it’s not amazingly nice either. The taste is a bit more stingy than just the juice, and there’s barely any texture. It’s not exactly slimy, but it’s not exactly chewy either.

All in all, it’s not bad, but it’s not exactly great either. I’ll live & it’s ok.

1L water
100 g pearl barley
75g sultana raisins
75g zante currants
zest from 1 lemon
cinnamon stick
pinch of salt
50g sugar
300ml unsweetened red currant juice

Read the packaging of your barley, some barley needs to be soaked for hours on end, and check cooking time. Bring water with salt to boil, then add barley, raisins, currants, zest and cinnamon stick, cook for one hour. Remove cinnamon stick, bring to flavour with sugar and red currant juice. Can be served hot or cold.

How Local?
Lemon: over 1000km more southward
gort: 100km? (definitely Dutch, but where?)
raisins: anywhere between 300-1000km (La Douce France, at least that much more South)
cinnamon: sailed in by the VOC, doesn’t count (it’s ‘so far away from me’, thanks Dire Straits!)
sugar: Africa?
red currant juice:


This weeks’ cook-up December 1, 2009

Filed under: main course,meat — orangepumpkin @ 20:26

Maybe someday, we’ll laugh about this, but right now it just illustrates what a horrible cook I am.

Today I payed my parents a visit and I stayed for dinner. My mother asked me to start up the ‘stoofvlees’, which is meat that needs to cook for a few hours before it’s edible (apparently it’s known to be Belgian and called ‘carbonade flamande’, but they add beer, we didn’t). She said that on the bottom of the packaging there should be something about how to cook it. Fool proof, we agreed. But I’d never made stoofvlees. You know, basically any kind of meat isn’t really my kind of deal. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m not some blood crazed carnivore either.

So I checked the fridge and sure enough, there it was: a package of organic meat. It’s cow’s meat and it looked really delicious. So I grabbed the biggest frying pan I could find. I chopped onions, I’m good at that, I can chop onions. I cut up a clove of garlic, because, you’ve guessed it, that’s another thing I actually can do. I added butter to the pan, heated it, and I fryed the onions and garlic. On the meat manual it said the meat needed to be fried on both sides, nice and brown. Ok, I can do that. No really, I can. So I did it. It was great, as if by magic the meat did turn brown, the onions were sizzling and the kitchen was filling with a nice smell of fried onions (you should know, I love that smell!). I read the package. It said: add bouillon (I’m going to keep calling it bouillon, that sounds so much more delicious than broth). That’s when I entered a blissful unknowing place. You know, we have these instant bouillon making cubes. You have to dissolve them in 0.5L of water and that’s it. So I stood there, thinking about it for a few seconds and then I said to myself: I can’t make proper bouillon with too little water. I tried doing something similar to that and I discovered that things get really, really, verrrrrryyyy salty. And you don’t want that. I didn’t want to poison my family with meat I wasn’t going to eat (I don’t like stoofvlees, however Dutch it is, yuck!). So I took 0.5L of water, added it to the frying pan, added the cube and put the lid on. I decided to cut up a tomato, because that’s what the package also advised to add, turned down the heat and read a book.

Then my mother came in… and she discovered I practically drowned the damn meat and successfully made meat soup. It had been cooking for about 1.5 hours, so it was soup alright. So I said: It needs cooking right? She agreed, it needs cooking. So, does it really matter how much water you use? She removed the lid, turned up the heat and let the water evaporate. It worked really well and it kept all the tastiness in the pan. She kind of avoided disaster and reversed my unintentional attempt at making meat soup.

Just so you know, it tasted great and she and my dad ate it all up. Which is great, because that way I didn’t have to feel guilty for not tasting my own cook-up. I did taste it, but only a sliver, and I know for sure I don’t like stoofvlees.

Meat (I should check how much and which meat exactly)
1 chopped up onion
1 chopped up clove of garlic
butter (or olive oil)
1 bouillon cube
a little water (less than 0.5L)
2 tomatoes
2 leaves of laurel
(2 table spoons of flour)

Fry onions and garlic in butter. Fry meat on both sides until it is brown. Add water (the meat should still stick out of the water), bouillon cube, laurel and cut up tomatoes. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for at least 2 hours.
If the sauce is still very watery, you can add a bit of flour to give it more texture. Be sure to mix the flour with a little water in a cup before you add it to the pan.

How local?
I have no idea, it was my mum’s kitchen. All I know is the laurel came from France, which could be almost anywhere in France. The meat was probably Dutch, but you can’t be certain about that. I don’t know where the supermarket onions and garlic came from, either. It could kind of be local, but there’s no telling.