Monday, October 30, 2006

Chestnut Soup

This is an amazingly simple and delicious soup:

Fry some onions in olive oil until translucent. Add water and a vegetable stock cube, and a can of chestnut puree, puré de marrons. Simmer for 30 minutes, adjust the seasoning, add fresh parsley and puree with a mini masher.

A proper starter for an autumnal meal!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Talking to Eve

When I talk to Eve, she is listening, her yellow eyes wary and curious. When I talk to her through the window, she will even stretch out on her side in a flirtatious pose. But as soon as I approach her, she turns her back, seeking a safe distance.
We’ve narrowed the breach to a few hands, but touching is still absolutely forbidden.
Today my talking got a verbal response: a weak meow. That is progress indeed!
For some reason I believe it is Eve to whom I’m talking, who is the braver: the girl the more daring one. Adam is lagging behind, but becoming less shy nonetheless.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Friends in the Country

Having a house in the country means developing a new set of friends around it. Expats tend to cluster around each other, but we generally find them boring, and too much like us, although there are some we really like. We have, however, also managed to befriend some of the locals. Our most intimate contact is with a local farmer and his wife, who are every bit as intelligent, interesting and warm as any city contact.
The other day our twenty-seven-year old deux cheveaux broke down, and the president of the DEUCH club helped us find a garage that could fix it. We bounced along to find it, and chatted all the way. Small talk, testing the ground. It is an activity I don’t like too much, but it is part of establishing social ties with the residents, of creating a circle of friends.
And that is what we want. Not to isolate ourselves and stick to our kin, but to spread our arms, and embrace this new and different world.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mushroom Ragoût

Sauté thinly sliced onion or shallot in olive oil or butter and add salt and chopped leaves of sage. When browning and translucent, add chopped wild mushrooms, like cèpes, cantharelles, pieds de moutons. Or use a mix of cultivated ones. Sauté for a few minutes, and then add a sweet wine like Madeira. Stew for some 15 minutes or more. Stir in crème fraîche, and serve over rice.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Parentage and an Ashtray

One of my ancestors was a rather important man in the Dutch East Indies. The story goes that he married an indigenous princess, which explains “the drop of eastern blood in the eye”, as my aunt calls it. Our daughter clearly has it.
However, our lineage is not quite as illustrious as that. It turns out—if we are to believe the information on the Internet—that he was offered a slave by an indigenous princess. I suppose in much the same way, as business relations would receive an ashtray from the government on a business trip.
The man fathered several children by her. He bought her freedom and she was baptised as Helena Pieters, not a very Indonesian name.
So much for our regal ancestry! We descend from a promotional gift: no more than an ashtray!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Cauliflower Pasta Sauce

Fry onions and garlic with a little salt in olive oil until softened. Add thyme and chunks of tomato. Cook to a saucy consistency. Plunge in cauliflower florets and cook some more until they are tender but still firm.
Serve over penne or other pasta, topped with a cheese sauce, made by melting grated medium Gouda or Cheddar into warmed crème fraîche. Don’t boil, or the cheese will become chewy.
Grate some nutmeg on top. And pepper, of course.
Cauliflower could be substituted by broccoli, or fennel, or chicory, or ???

Friday, October 06, 2006

Genocide of Politionele Actie

Meneer Wouter Bos heeft volledig gelijk om Turkse politici op de vingers te tikken, omdat ze de Armeense genocide niet erkennen. Kunnen we niet hebben. Recht door zee, daar houden wij van. Moeten die Turken maar begrijpen.
Genocide is genocide, en d’r een beetje omheen draaien, daar kunnen we niet aan beginnen. Hebben wij ook nooit gedaan. Altijd helder geweest: politionele actie is politionele actie.
Dus: het is buigen of barsten. Klaar uit.
Dominee Bos heeft wel eens eerder zieltjes verloren. Daar ligt hij niet van wakker.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Savoury Pie

In France this is really easy to make, as they sell round, readymade puff pastry. Otherwise for regular pie dough, mix 2 parts flour with 1 part oil or butter. Add a pinch of salt and enough cold water to knead into a ball that hangs together. Roll out on a floured board to fit the greased mould.
For the filling, stir-fry your vegetables (leeks, cauliflower, broccoli, etc) until half done. Mix eggs with crème fraîche, or some milk or water. Cover the bottom of the dough with a layer of breadcrumbs to avoid its getting soggy. Spread the vegetables on top, then pour the egg mixture over it. Sprinkle with some grated cheese if you like. Slide into a preheated 200º C oven and bake until golden. 30-40 minutes.
Serve with a leafy salad.