Tag Archives: rhythm

In My Kitchen: Fish

First Chestnuts!

Pancakes for School

Fish Day


I’m playing along with Heather over at Beauty that Moves. Here’s a look at what’s going on in my kitchen!

This week started with a considerable collection of chestnuts from our first collection trip ever. It was fun. I haven’t perfected the art of roasting in the oven, but I will eventually. We also celebrated Peanut’s sixth birthday. One of the great things about living in the Netherlands is that pancakes count as treats. The kids love them! Dutch pancakes for kids are thin, pan sized, covered with powdered sugar, and rolled. I modified our American pancake recipe with a bit of extra vanilla sugar and a big wallop of cinnamon. I cooked the sliced apples briefly on the griddle and then popped them on top of the batter cooked side down. After they finished cooking, I rolled them up and held it all together with a toothpick. A relatively easy and relatively healthy birthday treat. Whew!

But the thing I was planning to write about was psrt three of my meal plan series. I covered soup and pantry days over the past two weeks, so now it’s time for fish. For reasons I cannot explain, fish continues to feel like an intimidating food. Maybe it’s because I so rarely have a fish eating experience that really satisfies. I like my fish fresh, light, and tasty. Soaked in sauce or battered and fried do little for me. While I’ve long wanted to do more fish cooking, only this fall have we successfully added a fish day to our menu.

It might be more accurate to call Wednesday market day. There is a market in a neighborhood near us on Wednesday mornings so Pumpkin and I bike down after dropping Peanut off at school. We have two goals; fish and our bread and olive lunch. The Wednesday market is a fairly sensible market. It’s neither organic nor gourmet, just good food and friendly people. There’s one stand with all pet foods. There’s another with sewing notions and a gentleman who fixes zippers. Is that not genius?

So, every Wednesday we bike over and get ourselves some fish. It’s fresh and delicious. We’re big fans of salmon but I don’t want to risk salmon fatigue. I’ve had the food fatigue experience before with both shrimp and crab. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing! We’ve fallen into a salmon every other week rhythm, which means I get to try something different every other week. So far, we’ve also tried tarbot (heavy, the kids didn’t like it so much) and halibut (very light and flakey, I loved it).

We’ve gradually been reducing our meat consumption over the years and are at an all-time low. It’s also usually our only meat-and-potatoes type meal all week. On salmon nights, we have salmon steaks pan-fried with a good seasoning of salt and pepper. I add a Turkish pepper to the adult pieces. A friend gave it to me ages ago and it’s the best spice in my cupboard. After doing a bit of research, I think it’s urfa pepper. Pan fried on a low heat, the salmon turns out beautiful every time. Boiled and broiled potatoes are a scrumptious accompaniment.

Do you have a favorite fish recipe that we should try? I’m always looking for new ideas!


Let me know how things are going in your kitchen, then click that link and go see more kitchens at Beauty that Moves.

Picture: Fish stand & bread & olive lunch

In My Kitchen: Pantry day

Stocking the fruit bowl

Big beans!

Cilantro and Parsley - fall bliss!


I’m playing along with Heather over at Beauty that Moves. Here’s a look at what’s going on in my kitchen!

I’ve been getting a lot of help in the kitchen this week. That little girl likes nothing better than to help, help, help!

This is the second week in my series elaborating on our meal plan. Last week I wrote about soup day and shared two recipes. This week, I want to tell you about pantry day. Pantry day was inspired by an entry on my Flow magazine 2014 daily calendar. One day back in July, I read, “Look in your pantry and make a meal tonight from products that should have found their way to your tummy months ago. Good for your wallet and your overflowing pantry.” The tip came from Els Jacobs’s book Vrolijk huishouden. It’s also good for reducing dinner time stress and saves you a trip to the grocery store.

I keep a pantry and a full freezer for basic, emergencies, and bargains. Keeping basics means when the olive oil runs out during the middle of cooking, I can walk to the pantry and get a new bottle. Crisis avoided. Emergencies arise when a trip to the grocery store doesn’t work out or you get to add a person or four to your dinner table. A well-stocked pantry and freezer means you can put together a last minute meal. Hopefully it will also be an easy, non-thinking, mid-week type meal. Finally, having extra storage space for food means I can take advantage of sales and deals at different stores. Sales here are usually buy one get one free, so you can really save money buy buying when your favorite jam is on sale. I shop at about three different grocery stores regularly, one in my neighborhood for incidentals, one larger shop that has everything we need, and one in Germany that has broader selections of organic products and some great deals. I make the Germany trip once every three weeks and a lot of what I buy there goes into the pantry.

Adding a pantry day to our meal plan was a way to make myself use the staples I’ve bought along the way that I either bough too much of (soup pasta and polenta, of all things) or bought after being inspired by a new cookbook and then put aside (spelt and gerst – what is gerst?!). The good news is that I love polenta. That, however, was one of the easier items on the shelf and I’m going to have to tackle some more intimidating purchases and a whole lot of Chinese food in the coming weeks.

The happy ending to all this is that I’ve got more space in the pantry after just a month of eating out of the pantry once a week. I’m also more careful about what I buy to put on the shelves. That means I’m also spending a bit less at the grocery store every week. With less clutter in the pantry, it’s becoming more and more clear what I need to keep in stock and what can go on a shopping list if I plan to use it. Canned tomatoes in the pantry is good. Eight cans might be a bit of overkill. As an extra bonus, I’m less inclined to let special items sit and get forgotten. We received a delicious tapenade from friends and have been enjoying it shamelessly. There’s a seductive honey and nuts concoction sitting on the edge of the shelf now waiting for it’s turn. Neither of us can wait!

By now, you’re dying to know what actually keep in the pantry, right? Here’s a list of some things I like to keep in stock.

Pantry Freezer
olive oil
sunflower oil
flour
sugar
salt
pasta
vanilla sugar
yeast
jam
honey
peanut butter
tinned tomatoes
corn
beans
onions
garlic
condensed milk
baking soda
extra box of dishwasher tabs
walnuts
raisins
frozen peas
fruit for smoothies
blanched, frozen beans
butter, salted and unsalted
grated cheese
homemade broth
homemade pizza sauce
homemade pizza dough
bread
ground beef
sausage
homemade soups
homemade stews
homemade pasta sauce


Let me know how things are going in your kitchen, then click that link and go see more kitchens at Beauty that Moves.

Twitter: flowmagazine

Quiet Time

Quiet time in the workroom.

I like my quiet time. Time when my mind can pick a direction and follow it for more than, say, 30 seconds and I can start to feel my body and mind rest and open. As a stay-at-home mom with two littles, there isn’t a lot of quiet in my life. My most important category of parenting tricks is quiet time. Quiet time as we understand it is not play time. Instead, it’s time in which everyone in the house is happily doing quiet, individual activities. Everyone in our family needs quiet time during the day and we do our best to make sure it’s part of our daily rhythm, usually just after lunch.

Peanut is five. He’ll be six soon and just started the first grade. At the moment he is going through what one of my books (yes, I’m that kind of mom) accurately described as mini-puberty. We’re toggling between flinging accusations and utterly sweet on a moment to moment basis. He is a sensitive kid who needs to turn off once in a while in order to recover and re-energize. Pumpkin is three and wants to play or help. Helping is a great alternative to play because she gets to be right next you and continue to ask a question every 30 seconds. To illustrate, when she gets her little chair to stand next to me at the counter, she explains, “If you need help you can say it.” That’s the sign that she intends to plant herself right there until I need help. She hasn’t napped in at least a year and is on the go from 7:00 in the morning until 7:30 at night. Without some quiet time to add a real break to our day, things just fall apart.

Quiet time started when Peanut was two and refused to nap. I once spent three hours trying to get him to sleep. After that, we needed new approach. We started with a pile of books nearly a foot high. I put Peanut and the books in his bed, and left him to it. Reference or art books with lots of pictures were the best and most engaging. He would sit and look through all the books before coming out 45 minutes to an hour, happy and calm. In all the years he sat with books for quiet time, I think he fell asleep once. These days he still likes looking at books but also uses quiet time to draw or listen to audiobooks. We have quite a few audiobooks (the Roald Dahl collection is amazing) but limit his time with them.

Pumpkin is a different story. She doesn’t enjoy books as much and thrives on being around people. We’ve try to find ways to do quiet time together. When I wrote the first draft of this post, she sat next to me at the table imitating my typing on her Fisher-Price cash register. A notebook and stickers are also great at the table. She might get out her little ironing board and “iron” scraps while I work in the workroom. Sometimes, I will lay on the couch and she will snuggle up between me and the back of the couch with a book or two. Other times, she will invent silent games to play while I take my quiet time.

We’re finding our way as the kids get older and quiet time changes. What’s important is that it’s a part of the routine in our home that we all participate in. If we’ve had some busy days or if they’re tired, the kids will ask for quiet time and we know how to give it to them. I like that they learn to listen to their bodies and feel when they need a break. As a family, it’s also a good and powerful thing that we’ve found ways to give ourselves a break in a way that maintains peace and energizes us for more fun later! Clearly, this isn’t the only way and I’d love to have more tricks up my sleeve, so tell me, how do you manage breaks in your home?

In My Kitchen: Soup

Frozen broth
Adding frozen broth to a recipe

Freezer containers of "base"

1/4 cup servings of base to add to soup
Soup in the make
Quick homemade soup that’s actually homemade


I’m playing along with Heather over at Beauty that Moves. Here’s a look at what’s going on in my kitchen!

I got a lot of positive feedback on my meal planning post and thought it would be interesting to share a bit about how I fill in my theme days. During the school year, Monday is soup night. We have soup, bread, and cheese. It’s a great meal for us that is comfort food, relatively easy to make, and fun to eat. This week, I thought I’d share some tricks we have for making soup making even easier and a favorite recipe.

With only a few variations, soup making comes down to chopping up vegetables, adding broth, and cooking. Sauteing the vegetables before adding broth adds depth of flavor. Pureeing before serving is another option. Adding pasta, beans, or grains before serving is also good. As an added bonus, kids can usually help with soup making. School is out at one o’clock on Mondays, so it’s nice to have a dinner project that we can do together if the kids are interested. It’s also always cozy to have a big pot cooking away on the stove while we fill our afternoon.

I like to make broth from scratch. It sounds so time consuming, but it’s not and I prefer broth from live vegetables to broth from mystery powder. I’ve done it a couple ways. One involved saving all my “clean-ish” veggie cuttings. Think onion peels, carrot peels, ends of zucchini and so on. I keep them in the fridge until I had a bag full and then cooked it up in water for 15 minutes or so. Lately, I’ve been doing a cleaner version. The tops of a couple leeks that I’m planning to cook the coming week, a couple pieces of celery, a carrot (we get gigantic carrots in the Netherlands called winterpeen that are great for this), peppercorns, and a bay leaf. When I make it, I usually end up with enough for two or three batches of soup.

You can freeze extra broth in one-liter zip-lock bags. Put the empty bag into a liter measuring cup, fill it with strained unsalted broth, close the bag most of the way, squeeze out air bubbles, close it up, label it, and put it in the freezer. It’s a good idea to put something heavy on top of the bag so it freezes flat. A bag left on its own freezes with a bulge in the middle. Flat bags are easy to file in my freezer drawers and defrost just a bit quicker. The bags usually develop get a tiny hole somewhere when they freeze. When I take them out to use, I put them in a large bowl catch the drips. The other alternative is to tear the bag open and drop a big old frozen broth tablet right in the pot and let the stove do the work. It’s liquid broth within 5 or 10 minutes.

I also freeze batches of base and red pepper. The base is sauteed onion, carrot, and celery. The red peppers are sauteed with onion until tender and then whizzed with the hand blender. I put the base in small containers and freeze the red peppers in ice cube trays. In a pinch, I have been known to put together a bean soup with a base cube, a few cubes of red peppers, water or frozen broth, and soaked beans. It’s like magic!

The most popular soup at the moment is beef barley soup. We eat it once every three weeks, the Monday after my butcher trip. It’s very simple: chop an onion, a couple carrots, and a couple celery sticks. Cook them in water with a piece of soup beef (I usually use a shank slice), a bay leaf, and a can of tomato. Cook on low heat for a couple hours until the meat is tender. Take out the meat, shred it, and return it to the pot. 20 minutes before serving, add barley or pasta (alphabet pasts is a huge hit right now). When the past is done, season and the soup is ready.

A couple weeks ago I made a last minute soup came up with a new winner. I haven’t worked it out to a recipe, but I’ll be using the framework again soon! I chopped up an onion, red pepper, bit of leftover raw pumpkin, and carrot and sauteed them. Add one container of base and broth. Once the veggies were tender, I whizzed it with a hand blender. Then, I added a big dollop (3-4 Tbsp) of tahini and whizzed it again. Total nutty creamy soupy bliss.

I’d love to share some new recipe idea. What are your favorite soups?


Let me know how things are going in your kitchen, then click that link and go see more kitchens at Beauty that Moves.

These days

These days, these days full of school and pre-school commitments, holiday preparations, sewing, and taking care of the family, these days are full. Sometimes we get to dinner and it feels like the first time I’ve really sat down all day. Taking time to enjoy the forest across the street, the rare sunny moments, and these two amazing little people I get to live with – sometimes it doesn’t happen without a big dose of intention. So yesterday, we did just that.

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