Saturday, November 22, 2014

Choc Rocks

These are super simple to make and heavenly!

1 cup nuts (almonds, pecan, etc.);
2 cups pitless dates;
150 grams of 70% chocolate.

Grind the nuts in the food processor. Add the dates to grind to an even mix.
Melt the chocolate au bain marie and stir well through the nuts-dates mixtures.
Spread on a tin and press together firmly. Chill for at least 4 hours.

Don't eat them all in one go!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


This is Tuscan comfort food. I made the easy version with cans:

1 onion chopped,
Can of white beans,
Can of chopped tomatoes,
Any left over veggies, but at least some greens, a potato is fine too,
Country style bread,
Olive oil,
salt and pepper,
herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, bayleaf.

Fry onion in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the herbs, the chopped tomatoes, the beans, half of which are mashed, and some water. Add the veggies, except for greens. A vegetable stock cube would be fine too. I never do.
Simmer for well over an hour. Add the greens and cook a little longer. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the bread, or do as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall; rub the toasted slices with garlic and trickle some olive oil over them. Then put a slice in each bowl and ladle the soup on top. Grate some cheese over the soup and trickle on some more olive oil.
A feast!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lingua Frenglish

Alright, so English has become the lingua franca of modern times. It is good to have one, and English will do just as well.
It has advantages and disadvantages. English is a language with a relatively uncomplicated grammar, even though linguists may claim otherwise. So many people can speak it – all be it most of them badly. This will lead now and then to snooty non-native speakers thinking they are a cut above the others, and giving themselves the right to ridicule the mistakes of the others who try so foolhardily.
It is true: many non-native speakers believe that they do really well, and that are quite clever in their being able to speak a foreign language. A little self-knowledge would not hurt. But hey, we can’t all be perfect.
I see more of a problem with the native speakers, who see no need to learn a foreign language and some of whom even look down on those who don’t make the effort to speak their tongue. They will never experience what it feels like to try to express yourself and not succeed as well as you would like.
In an interesting way the bunglers and blunderers of English are at an advantage. Recent research has shown that those not speaking their mother tongue in a business transaction are able to take decisions based on reason.  Native speakers will unknowingly rely more on emotion.
These two aspects of foreign language learning come together in Nelson Mandela’s language advice: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
It was the reason why Mandela learned Afrikaans when imprisoned. In this later study his wisdom turned out to be more true than he could know at the time! 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Spinach-cheese Bisquits

Grandson O. is not a favourite of vegetables. So we have to construct ruses to sneak them in.

200 gr. flour: half white, half whole meal;
100 gr. Butter;
A handful of grated cheese.
About a cup of cooked, chopped, drained spinach.

Mix ingredients as for making shortbread. So cutting in the chilled butter, then working it with your fingers, then adding the cheese and the spinach.
Chill the dough for at least half an hour.
Roll out on a floured table or board to 1 cm thickness, and cut tractors and butterflies and other shapes with your (grand)child.
Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes in a preheated 180 degrees oven.

These were a success!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Les Enfants du Paradis

My mother often talked of the magic of Les Enfants du Paradis when I was a child. And no wonder. With thousands of others she saw it shortly after the end of the second World War, and obviously, its magic was so far from the hardships that they had just endured, that it must have made a huge impression.
The story is one of impossible love; a story that has been told many times. So it is not the tale itself, but the way in which it is told that makes it stand out.
What I liked best was not the plot, but the magic that was woven by the theatrical world. This is not a romance of reality, this is a magical world, both within the theatre and on the streets. Never was I lured into thinking that this was real.
The characters are pastiches of themselves: the crook, the actor, the high and mighty, the romantic lover. Hence the story is an allegory. Its allure is in the very theatrical sphere it depicts.
Everything is made big, enormous: all emotions, all action; thus commenting on the actual world outside. It was funny, moving.
However, most captivating of all were the mimed episodes by the main character Baptiste. How expressive he was, how utterly poignant and mesmerising!
In spite of the lack of clarity of an old black-and-white movie, this was 3 hours of enchantment. Its power came across so strongly, that the medium became irrelevant. Or possibly the medium was part of its attraction.