Sunday, 28 June 2015

Taking Stock

The other day, my OCD playing up, I decided to clear out my kitchen drawers. I just knew my whole life would fall into place if I just managed to somehow put the order back into my kitchen drawers. And today was the day I was going to tackle it.

The plan of course being, that after the kitchen I would straighten out the rest of the house. Just entering the front door would be enough to put me in a Zen like state from now on. That was the idea anyway. Long before I opened the kitchen drawers.

Who knew that I had so much food stashed away, I could feed the whole village for a week, without once having to go to the shops. I count eight (eight!) tins of tomato paste; another seven tins of chopped tomatoes; enough flour to bake bread and cakes to last us for months (years?) and twelve half empty bags of different types of pasta, all with slightly different cooking times of course.

I have long since suspected the Pasta Mafia of intentionally selling pasta in such quantities to guarantee people always end up with an odd assortment of non-matching pasta shapes, wasting away in cupboards world wide. But I digress (although from now on we are buying just one type of pasta). Back to the drawers. The sheer volume and diversity of my rice collection makes me giggle. There is sushi rice, basmati rice, risotto rice, wok rice, brown rice, white rice & wild rice. And then their is couscous, bulgur, quinoa, organic quinoa and barley.

I could also perfectly see my tendency to completely getting hooked on a food trend to only abandon it within weeks. But not before buying all the necessities to change my diet for ever. So I shamefacedly look at tubs filled with (expensive) poppy & hemp seeds, dried cranberry's, apricots and dates. Undoubtedly very, very good for you, but not that easily incorporated in a life, in which I eat breakfast in my car four days a week (after several 'accidents' I decided that peanut butter sandwiches don't leak, crumble or otherwise spill my outfit for the day, whilst at the same time fill me up for a good couple of hours).

Pulses turn out to be another weakness. Buying pulses that is. Because I find packet after packet of dried split peas, lentils, chick peas and mung beans. And then I have not even mentioned the tins of mixed beans, chick peas, white, red and brown beans, butter beans & kidney beans. Funnily enough I do not find countless packets of crisps, chocolate biscuits, or Maltesers, nor do I find dozens of bottles of forgotten wine, or ten different flavoured chocolate bars. These items clearly never last for more than a day.

Now that I did take stock, I feel I should eat all this food. Two spoons full of hemp seed a day, topped up with some butter beans straight from the tin should do it. Lentil soup, lentil salad and lentil casserole will be a daily fixture from now on as well. And of course lots and lots of rice and pulses. Hungry anyone?

PS: Please, feel free to come help me eat all this food. There is only one condition. You have to bring chocolate!

Sunday, 31 May 2015


47. That is right I turned 47 the other week. My children are of the opinion that 47 is still quite young, some of my older friends and colleagues call me a 'spring chicken, Mr S., bless him seems to think I do not get any older at all, but I feel perilously close to 50 and yes that does make me feel a tat old.

The birthday is lovely though. It all kicks off with strict orders from the 12 and 13yo to stay in bed and a cup of tea from Mr S. to let me know they really mean it. Reading a book in bed - totally guilt free - for an hour and a half in my book makes for an extremely good start to the day. (The fact that I cannot a week later remember what I read is a bit worrying, but I guess that is being 47 for you).

When the three of them finally make me come down, I find the living room decorated with a string a blue and pink balloons, adorned by my daughter with smiley faces, happy birthdays and mum's-the-bests; all upside down, as she had not realised that you do not string balloons the same way you hold them. It is just lovely.

Every breakfast item known to man is laid out on the festive table and Mr S., who normally starts asking me weeks in advance what he should get me for my birthday, now surprises me with 47 red roses and a harrowing tale about how he visited every florist in our village fifteen minutes before closing time, to find exactly 47 red roses.


The 13yo, completely true to character had not managed to find me a gift, as a consequence of which he had to get up ridiculously early (from his point of view that is) to cycle to the market, shepherded by the 12yo, who knows exactly what he should have bought his mum in the first place: three dark petunia's. How very me indeed. My daughter, who started planning my gifts weeks, if not months in advance, surprises me with a hand made voucher for a 'luxury dinner for two, completely free!' (providing I buy the ingredients of course) in her own restaurant, which she, with a keen eye for detail, has given four and a half stars.

My daughter by the way also gives me another hand made voucher with some banknotes taped onto it to go and buy myself some make-up, which has me thinking I do look old and in desperate need of some 'glow-in-the-dark nail varnish', hot pink lippy and bronzing powder. On the purchase of which, she no doubt will advise me. I can not wait!

Firing squad

Shortly after breakfast, they all leave. The 12yo to go to an all day party, involving all her friends and a subtropical pool and the 13yo and Mr S. to play slash watch some field hockey. I spend the morning (and the better part of the afternoon) food shopping and baking, because that is what you do in the Netherlands on your birthday. To the amazement of my expat friends and colleagues, Holland is the only country they have ever been, where etiquette requires you to bake several cakes and then bring them to work. Or else the firing squad awaits you.

I never looked at this tradition from their perspective, but after baking four (!) lemon meringue pies, I can totally see how lovely it would be if someone else would do the baking for you. The good thing though is since the children are out all day and most of the evening too, I decide it is totally okay to accept an invitation to a BBQ from our lovely friends P. and M., who conveniently live a five minute bike ride away.

So totally against Dutch protocol someone else cooks me a scrumptious birthday dinner, invites some more friends and then gives me some lovely presents on top. All I have to do is turn up, drink some bubbles and be merry. The evening is such a triumph, that from this day forwards any invitation for the 23rd of May will be gratefully accepted! (Mr S. will happily throw in a couple of bottles of fizz).