Because you can let your inner G0s-geekness shine:
Phew, what a productive Sunday I had today. I finally finished Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot (good, but nowhere near as memorable as Middlesex), baked a loaf of English muffin bread (it is gooooood), cleaned the flat, made cover for my new Kindle:
I followed the instructions on Instructables and then added a few more bits and pieces to make it a bit prettier. I was admiring these upcycled book covers on Etsy and thought I could save myself a bit of money by making one myself. So, instead of EUR 40+ for a cover, I spent EUR 15 and spent an hour making it.
Then I made a colourful display my vintage sunglasses:
We have a few canvases in the back of the closet collecting dust, so I took one out, measured off some rectangles, painted them and then hot-glued some clothes pegs to it. Voila, now I can take my vintage/oddball sunglasses collected over the years out of the shoebox.
And finally…I did something with all of those passport photos we’ve collected off our friends over the years:
I used another canvas, painted it, covered it with a textured medium, stuck the photos on, and then nailed the canvas to the back of a frame that we bought on Queen’s Day four years ago (yes, it’s been sitting in the closet that long).
Voila, a great way to spend a freezing cold Sunday in Amsterdam.
I’m trying to bake off-recipe these days. Taking what I’ve learned over the past however many years and just trying stuff out. I went to a dinner party last week and wanted to bring a dessert. Something comforting (it’s cold here) and warm and seasonal. I didn’t have a lot of time…crumble? Or something a bit special?
I decided to make a crumble…er, tart? It’s base is a mix of toasted pecans and hazelnuts, chestnut flour, melted butter, rolled oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. I then filled it with a vanilla and mandarin infused custard and layered thin slices of pear and apple on top. Then, to be a fancy pants, I made a rose out of thinly sliced apples and placed it in the middle. And then to be extra fancy pants, I made a salted caramel sauce. And admittedly, I had to make a second batch because I melted the rubber spatula in the first batch. Woops.
Anyways, this is how it worked out:
The verdict was that the tart was a success. It was gobbled up pretty quickly and I’m pretty happy that I can now bake and cook without a recipe and have it turn out, well, pretty damn tasty.
Last week I hosted a small brunch crew and made a pumpkin pie stuffed french toast. I don’t want to brag, but it was pretty EPIC.
As a Canadian expat in Amsterdam, I’ve never been shocked when non-Canadians are surprised to hear that yes, we too, also celebrate Thanksgiving.
And not only that, we celebrate Thanksgiving in October.
Everything else is pretty much the same, minus the tie-on to a weekend of manic pre-Christmas shopping and the horrific marshmallow-on-sweet-potato side dish (horrific).
For many Thanksgivings and Christmases here in Amsterdam, I’ve been hosting pretty epic dinners. I’ve taken all the Canadian favourites and melded them with my passion of food to create a SUPER THANKSGIVING FEAST. And this year, I’m super-thrilled to be working with The Kitchen as their “guest chef” for a special Canadian Thanksgiving event on Sunday, 9 October.
So, basically, a small group of food-lovers get together and we all cook a special Canadian Thanksgiving in The Kitchen’s AMAZING facility. We cook, we laugh, we learn, and then we drink and eat, and eat, and eat. I’m even curing bacon: peameal/Canadian bacon!
Space is super limited though, so be quick to register: http://thekitchen.nl/menus.php?currMonth=10&currYear=2011&currDay=8&currKitchen=All&currType=All&currChef=All#menu
Phew, my last post was in MAY people. Serious slacking, right? My spare time has been occupied in Nomzilla, on vacation in Canada, and finding ways to avoid this awful, awful Dutch summer weather. And I also turned 30 (more on that in another post). I was pleased that after 3 weeks away, the non-stop rain and lack of sun didn’t absolutely destroy my plants. In June, it looked as if the aphids and leaf miners had left my beets and rainbow shard in tatters, but they stuck it out and I’m happy to say I enjoyed some sauteed beet greens last night!
This is the third year I’ve grown fruit and veg on the balcony, and definitely the most successful. Here it is:
I added the calle lillies and the violets to get a bit of colour in there. I’ve also got basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano and mint. I’ve been eating fresh raspberries every morning for the past two weeks!
And my super-strong beets have been my proudest achievement. The beets are small, but tasty. Quite honestly, I grew them for the beet greens because it’s my absolutely FAVOURITE veg ever. Steamed and then tossed in butter and balsamic = dreeeeeaaaamy.
This year, I grew my tomatoes upside down. Have you heard of this yet? It’s a great space saver. I got the idea because my Aunt Sharon did it a couple years ago and had success with it. You grow the plants from seed, and when they get their first true leaves (plant is maybe 10-15cm tall), you transplant them into a bucket with holes cut out in the bottom. It’s a two person job. One person has to hold the bucket up (once the plant’s root balls are placed upside down into the holes), and the other fills the bucket with soil. The benefit is that you don’t need to stake the plant, and the water goes straight to the roots. The plants have lots of little green cherry tomatoes waiting to ripen, if only that goddamn sun would shine. SIGH.
So, all in all, pretty successful balcony crop this year. Even on a tiny balcony, I can still enjoy produce that I’ve grown from seed, not too shabby at all! Next year, I’m going to see if I can get a long, deep trough or maybe some larger grow bags. I’m also going to plant some garlic…and hmmm, any other suggestions for small-scale growing? Let me know!
Er, in case you couldn’t discern from the title of this blog, I live in Amsterdam. If you’ve never visited, let me tell you that living space is at a premium. We live in a 55 square metre apartment on the first floor. We have a 4×1.5 metre balcony that (lucky for me) is south-facing.
As a Canadian gal, I grew up having a vegetable garden in our yard. It’s so satisfying to grow your own food from seed.
This is the fourth year that I’ve had a balcony garden. The weather obviously is the deciding factor on how my plants grow. Last year, it was gorgeous here until August, and then it rained non-stop. The lack of rain and no sun stunted (or ruined) my strawberries, peas, and carrots. The fail-safes (lettuces, tomatoes and herbs) were fine.
This year I’ve got: rainbow chard, cascading cherry tomatoes, beets, Asian lettuce mix, raspberries and herbs (cinnamon basil, regular basil, flat-leaf parsley and oregano).
I don’t know how or why and I don’t want to question it too much but we’ve had one helluva spring. And by “helluva”, I mean, the entire month of April has been not only sunny, but extreme above-average temperatures for this time of year. Last year in mid-April I was wearing my winter jacket still. This year? It’s been 24-27 degrees. Unbelievable!
Here’s how the weather’s been on the balcony garden:
Maximising space on the balcony is always a challenge and a compromise. Not ALL plants can be grown in pots successfully. I’ve opted for easy growers (lettuces and herbs) in hanging grow bags (which I got at Hema if you’re in Amsterdam) and wall-mounted pots + larger pots for the beets, swiss chard and raspberries. When the tomatoes grow their first true leaves, I will transplant them into a large bucket, which will be modified so that the tomatoes grow upside down.
I’ll post more on that soon.