Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Candy Apples for Haiti

To bring in some extra money for Haiti, my daughters school has decided to come together and do a "vasten markt", which literally translates to fasting market.  Most children will bring bake goods, used books, toys and crafts to sell.  The children are instructed not to put much money into what they sell because the idea is to make money.  I couldn't help but put a little extra money into this time then requested but I am sure it will come back 10 fold.
What better than candy apples?? When I would go back to Canada there is this store in the mall that just makes me drool.  They have these big beautiful chocolate candy apples that cost around $10 (CDN).  I have never bought one but one day when I can afford the calories I promise I will. These very chocolate candy apples gave me the idea/inspiration for the "vasten markt".  

First I started out with 18 clean small/medium Elstar apples.

Then I melted chocolate glazing.  Melting chocolate would work as well. 


We crunched up some favourite toppings such as m&m's, pindarotsjes (chocolate covered peanuts) and I had some cupcake toppings on hand - for those in the Netherlands, Hagelslag would work great too.

Sorry for the picture overload but get used to it LOL

I found some sticks (at Xenos) that I had my daughter stick in the bottom of the apples.

I loved that these skewers had a handle.  More than I was actually looking for.

I made a double boiler to keep the chocolate at an ideal temperature. Otherwise it would harden too fast.
I didn't take a picture of dipping the apples - I guess we got carried away with that part. After dipping the apple just roll it in the topping or sprinkle a topping over it.

Don't those look sooo delicious?
These can also be done with white chocolate and caramel which will be my next attempt for my daughters birthday party perhaps.

After they were totally cooled off we wrapped them with clear foil and decorated them with some ribbon.


Although I am sure we could make a fortune on these, I think we are going to keep the prices affordable for the children and sell them for around 2 euros.
My husband thinks I should make another batch to sell to the local chocolate bonbon store as a second job possibility - I don't think my hips could handle it!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Netherlands helps Haiti!

I was not surprised to hear the radio stations coming together to raise money for Haiti because they have done this type of charity work before.  Every Christmas they set up a "glass house" where they can not eat (they can only drink non alcoholic beverages/soups/smoothies) and they raise money for Africa.

This time the radio stations, journalists and celebrities came together and people could text message or call to donate money to Haiti.  All together they raised in 24 hours time...41,2 million euros and Minister Bert Koenders doubled that amount bringing the total to around 83,4 million euros!!!!!

Nederland, Ik ben trots op je!!!

(Holland, I am proud of you)


My youngest daughter, Kiana,  is very small especially for a (half) Dutch child.  My husband is just about 6 foot 2 inch and I am about 5 foot 6 inch, so you would think she would have some height to her. But no, she has decided to take after my mother (5'4"?) and grandmother (we're lucky if she is 5 foot).  Kiana is 4.5 yrs old and still wearing size 2 (or 86/92 Europe size), the healthy size for a 2 year old.  There is nothing unhealthy about my daughter - she has always followed the growth curve perfectly, she is just tiny and my dreams of having a 6 foot blond model daughter is over.
She eats pretty good except supper - she just doesn't care much for warm food.  So recently I have been on a mission to find more foods she would like enough to eat everything on her plate (usually failing miserably).  I finally found one and if she would have her way she would only eat them 24/7..... "wentelteefjes" Now I am not letting her call them wentelteefjes the Dutch name for French toast because there is just something that makes my eye twitch as if I am eating raw lemons when I hear a small child say "turn around little bitch" - which is the literal translation to wentelteefjes.  It's hard enough hearing it from her Oma's mouth as if it's a normal word like apple let alone hearing it from a child the size of a 2 year old.

Today I made french toast and put it in her lunch box.  This is the third time she is getting french toast this week.  At least she is now eating good - eating more than myself I must add. 

I don't have a special recipe just the common one (I believe it to be common anyways)

1 lrg egg
2 slices of bread
a sprinkle of cinnamon
a drop of vanilla flavoring (I don't measure)
a few drops of milk

whisk it all together - drop bread in - cover both sides while melting butter in pan.  cook on medium heat reducing to low heat.
I found this sugar maple sprinkle that I sprinkle over it while it is cooking that gives it that extra maple flavour (can u tell I am Canadian yet?).

I top it off with maple syrup and sugar powder.  Mmmmm Smakelijk eten as the Dutch would say.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dutch Children are the happiest

According to new studies Dutch children are once again at the top of the list at being the happiest children in comparison to other industrialized countries.  Unfortunately Canada was a disappointing 17! I didn't think I was unhappy growing up in Canada but I do see where this study is coming from.  This country does seem to focus a lot of their time on the well being of the children.  Here is the article .   I know my children are very happy and I know I am now even more reassured I am doing a good thing by raising them in such a fabulous country!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


One thing that is hands down better on this side of the world is the CHOCOLATE!  As a woman who (like most) LOVES chocolate I am so grateful to live in Europe with the best chocolate of the world.  On vacations back to Canada I have wish lists from friends and family for chocolate and lots of it and I bring extra for my own supply (Lord knows I can't go with out).
Funny thing is, I never needed the most expensive chocolate either.  My favourite chocolate is actually one of the cheapest coming from one of the cheapest grocery stores, Lidl.   

Before I moved here I sent my new Dutch family some cheap chocolate from Canada, at the time I thought it was pretty good stuff..... man my tongue did not know chocolate back then.  I think my Dutch family ended up throwing out the cheap Canadian chocolate and I don't blame them one bit.

I most recently found Milka Mousse chocolates and O.M.G. I think I went to heaven!!! Who needs men when you have chocolate!!!  (Sorry hun you might be on your own tonight).  A few months ago I tried the caramel one and YUM like serious YUM. Today I tried the chocolate Mousse it was also extremely good, not quite as good as the caramel I have to admit but I am not giving it up for ... um men :-)
here's a little eye candy.... litterally..

Lunchbox lunches

My public school never had a cafeteria although I have heard that many do in North America.  My childrens school also do not have a cafeteria and as far as I know, not many public school's (basis school) in the Netherlands do.  This results in sending the kids to school with a lunch box.  Actually, I only send the youngest to school with a lunch box and the oldest comes home for lunch and makes her own lunch while I work.
I found all the lunch boxes here very small.  I felt like I was jamming everything in there and not able to fit drinks into the box and often not being able to fit the fruit in.  So I started my search for a durable large lunch box that preferably had separate small containers fitting in one big container. After much searching I found it... The Bento Lap top lunchbox .  Finally I can feed my child more assortment than the usual sandwich and cookie. My husband was so impressed with this lunchbox that he had me order two... one for our youngest daughter and one for him.
My youngest daughter is so happy with her new lunch box that it has turned into her new "toy".  She has been lugging it around everywhere - opening and closing it constantly.
She helped me make Fridays lunch. Everything was her idea (except for the heart shape sandwich).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Typical Dutch Winter Dish

It only took me 9 years to even attempt to not only try this dish but be willing to make it before I even know if I would like it or not.
The only reason I attempted it, is because our local grocery store was giving the vegetable mix away for free and we already had the spice mix in our cupboards (also a freebie).  
To make hutspot you basically boil carrots, onions and potatoes together for about 20 minutes then mash them all together - add some milk and the spices.  You really do need the spices or at least pepper and salt other wise it is VERY bland! Traditionally this is served with a sausage or some beef.  We went untraditional and had some chicken schnitzel.
It was better tasting than I expected but like I said, it really needs the spices or it is very bland!  I can see my self making this winterkost (winter dish)  more often.

Edited to add the seasoning:
Luckily I still have the package.  I only used half of the recommended spices since I used about half the recommended amount of potatoes and such (we are a small family and I hate left overs).
So on this package (brand name is Silvo for any  Dutch inquiring minds):
nutmeg, parsley, red paprika powder, mace, lovage, coriander, turmeric, white pepper, cumin seed, dill and salt.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dust your Skates off

The ponds have frozen over and Holland is practising for the elfstedentocht (the worlds longest speed skating competition on our Friesland canals).  The Dutch are super excited about this race.  The last time the whole 200 km's of canal froze over and was in good enough condition for an elfstedentocht was in 1997 and before that was 1980.  The temperatures have been well under the freezing point at nights and just under or around freezing during the day making the thoughts of an elfstedentocht promising. If it stays like this with little snow then we may have one in another week or so - I will post if we do have one. If this does happen, you can be sure that stores will close their doors and children may even be sent home from school just to watch the race on television. 

Kids and families will usually find anywhere they can skate in the winter, from safely frozen over canals and ponds to flooded over frozen farm fields.  Children will be put on the ice as soon as they can walk but for me that is no different from growing up in Canada.  I believe I was about 3 years old when I started ice skating lessons. 

My youngest daughter at just 3 years old getting her first lesson at skating with papa. 

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

A new year in Holland can not be celebrated with out sounding like a war zone from the fireworks and a lot of oliebollen.  In this country of 16 million the Dutch spent about 65 million euros ($98 million Canadian or $93 million US) on fire works alone!!!!  That is a lot of money that got blown up over night!!! 
No, as a family, we do not buy any!  When I brought my 3 year old daughter to the Netherlands with me, she was so terrified of the fireworks that my husband nor I could even step out side to wish our neighbours a Happy New Year.  9 years later, I still doubt she would hold a star sparkler in her hand.

Here are some very unprofessional video pictures taken with our pocket camera of the war zone fireworks.

Now back to the infamous oliebollen that can not be resisted.... that is if you have a thick lining to your stomach that can handle pure lard.  These raisin dough balls are soaked fried in fat and then served with a thick "sprinkle" of powder sugar. Perhaps this was the origin of the "Dutchy Doughnut"?

Also popular and a bit easier on the tummy is applebeignet's - a slice of apple covered in batter and deep fried then topped off with powder sugar.