"Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest."
~ Henry Van Dyke

Friday, February 26, 2010

Wet spring weather - warm soup!

Spring has come to Holland. We are greeted each morning with birdsong and the bulb flowers are starting to poke up through the cold earth to say hello. We put our garden pots that were planted up with bulbs last autumn back out in the garden. They were so ready to come out into some sunlight but it has been far too cold up to this week.

Now I say sunlight but this week has been rather gray and dreary. It is our normal Dutch winter weather and normally we would already be seeing many bulbs in bloom by now but it has been colder this winter. In December, I received a potted helleborus from a dear friend. It was struggling having to go in and out of the dark shed since it was so cold. We really thought it was dead as it was looking very sorry for itself but, suddenly, it decided that spring was a good reason to perk back up and start blooming again. Now it has a place of pride by my front door.

Now I am not turning this into a food blog but enjoy sharing recipes with you. I think that cooking is a big part of homekeeping. I love creating a nourishing meal from totally fresh ingredients. The chill in the air makes us long for a bowl of hot soup so here is my recipe for fresh mushroom soup. Once you have made this simple recipe, you will never want to open a can of mushroom soup in your life.

You will need:
250 gr fresh mushrooms
4 spring onions (you can also use a medium regular onion for this)
butter and olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
750 ml vegetable bouillon
salt and pepper
low fat half and half (koffiemelk)
fresh parsley
warm oven baked bread

Chop the mushrooms...

Chop the spring onions and cook them in a combination of butter and olive oil...

Add the mushroom to the pan and cook...

When your mushrooms are cooked, mix in the flour until it coats the mushroom and onions then pour 750 ml (3 cups) vegetable bouillon a little at a time stirring well. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer this for about 15 minutes and then add about 3/4 cup low fat half and half (koffiemelk). You can use low fat milk but we find it does not give the soup a nice creamy taste.

Serve the hot soup with fresh parsley and warm oven baked bread. I served warm Italian black olive ciabatta this time.

Edit: This soup is for two people. We never have any leftover after dinner so if you have a large family or want leftovers, do make more. I try to make our dinners exactly right for the two of us so we are eating fresh each night.

"As the days grow short, some faces grow long. But not mine. Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness comes early, I am suddenly happy. It's time to start making soup again."
~ Leslie Newman

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Simple moments in the kitchen...

"I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."

~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Tasha Tudor illustration

Today I made a recipe from a fellow blogger with a few changes. The changes started as I was not able to get all the ingredients but grew to changing it to make it a simple dish for us. I love taking fresh ingredients and making a nice warm meal for us to enjoy as soon as Jos comes through the door each night. Cooking is enjoyable and rewarding. I hope you will enjoy my version of this dish...

Crunchy chicken casserole

2 boneless chicken breasts, cut in cubes
2 onions
3 celery stocks, diced
handful of smoked almonds, chopped
1 green chili, chopped finely
200ml Creme Fraiche
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
green or black olives (either kind taste great in this dish)
1 cup of (old Dutch) grated cheese (use any cheese you prefer)
salt and pepper
2 cups potato chips

Preboil the celery. Cook the chicken and onions until brown. Add the celery, almonds, chili, tomatoes, olives, creme fraiche and mayonnaise. Mix in half of the cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture in a greased baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Crush the potato chips and place on top of the mixture. Bake in a 175C/350F oven for about 35 minutes. This dish serves 2 to 4 portions.

This is simple to make and has a slight Mexican taste to it. Cooking does not have to be difficult to be really good. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Of chocolate, flowers, gifts and aging...

Oh my! It has been so long since I have posted. I have been less online lately. Sorry to all my friends in blogland! I will get around and visit you all soon. I am afraid I have totally slowed my pace. I am on a very high dosage of two allergy medications, one of which is even addictive, which is leaving me feeling extremely tired. I am hoping that I will be able to stop or change the medication when I see the specialist again next week.

But in the meantime, I am also a year older and a year wiser? Well, let's not push our luck and simply settle for a year older. *grins* Jos surprised me with a heavenly chocolate truffle pastry. And believe me all you girls out there, it was chocolate heaven!

He brought me a bouquet of pink tulips with blue anemones. I really love tulips which are in abundance in Holland at this time of year. It is nice to have a little ray of spring in the house while it is snowing outside.

One of my friends loves reading English language books so I pass all my books on to her as I read them. This year, she brought me a new book for my birthday. Isn't this cover beautiful? I am looking forward to reading it.

Yesterday, I went over to Sonja's house to give her a patchwork lesson and she surprised me with these beauties! I already hung the silver heart door hanger in my entrance hall but am feeling inspired to maybe work some patchwork magic on the post and keys holders as I did recently on a wooden sign. You can catch a glimpse of what I did here.

Friday, February 5, 2010


I love books! I used to tell my mother 'Mother, don't read!' and guess what? I became a bookworm myself. *grins* But even as a little girl, I used to play librarian. My mother bought me the date stamp and my sister helped me make library cards for my books. I loved the smell of books and still do to this day.

Did you ever see The Music Man? Remember the song Marian the Librarian? Turn on your speakers and enjoy! If you click video you can even see it...

If I am not working with needle and thread, I am reading a good book.

I love new books...

...but have a passion for old books too.

I use them throughout the house. These are in my guest room.

Or vintage books with bookends. I think I must be reading too much by the looks of the dust on that bookend. *wink*

With a quilt and flowers stacked on a quilt to decorate the dining room table.

Under a lamp to give it just the right height in front of a mirror. Do you recognize the framed painting? It is The Bronte Sisters who are high among my list of favorite authors.

A book mill helps show off part of my vintage book collection.

Yes, there are even books in the bathroom. I love to start my day with reading a book while I have a hot bath.

Books with secret storage. A great way to hide your remotes.

And books with special meanings to decorate for a holiday like Valentine's Day. This book was a gift from my sister to Jos and I for our 4th wedding anniversary.

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."

~Charles W. Eliot

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Baby it's cold outside!

Today I sadly saw the beautiful snow we got over the weekend just disappear under the winter sun. But oh, it was such a pretty sight while it lasted. We have had a wonderful winter here in Holland.

What a wonderful view of the moon and then you try to capture it in a photo which really falls short. Still I wanted to share how the moon low and glowing peeked out from the houses across on the next street. Can you see it just in the middle of the photo?

Do you have your speakers on? Enjoy this song which is timeless and just right for winter!

Snow gives little items in the garden an artistic flair.

The snow covered blanket over our front garden...

...and nice big snowflakes falling at the back of our house which is built in the water.

How is winter where you are on the globe?