Local Heart, Global Soul

September 30, 2011

Drama at the Dinner Table… I’m a Big Fan.

Filed under: Kids and Family,LIFE,Miscellaneous,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

As a kid I always looked forward to staying the weekend with my New Zealand Grandma, because we got to do fun things together.
Since she was home baker extraordinaire, and baked with the patience of someone who was totally at ease with family recipes that she made on a weekly basis, she was happy to let me into the kitchen to learn.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I would fetch and carry in the kitchen as she patiently oversaw my rubbing butter into flour to make scones, or creaming butter and sugar for biscuits (cookies) or cakes.

In the evenings when we weren’t in the kitchen, we sat in her little back sitting room that had the yellow deco fireplace in it with a tray table each and endless games of cards. Every so often I would help out with some ironing… and accidently pulling down some cloth serviettes from the linen cupboard one day, I got an introduction to the art of napkin/serviette folding.

Gran knew quite a few basic folds and I mastered them quickly, but it was in the years between then and now that my interest and my  “stash” of various folding techniques grew.

These days, with a busy household and the perpetual lack of time, this napkin fold is one that you can iron into accordion  strips whenever you have a moment, build up a stack of them in the back of the linen cupboard and whip them out at a moments notice to make your table suddenly  impressive.

Because this fold suits a very large serviette very well, a few years ago I actually cheated and snapped up some plain solid colour tea cloths that were in the bargain bin of a local shop … they make dramatic serviettes and I can use them to dry dishes too!

Beautiful, lazy , dirt cheap and dual purpose… what more do you need?             … Instructions?    (it’s your lucky day…)

Serviette/Napkin, Dramatic Fan

1. Place your serviette flat before you in a square shape.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

2. Carefully make accordion pleats from the very bottom of the serviette to the very top. You will have before you a long thin rectangular strip of pleated material.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

3. Starting at one end of the strip, carefully roll it up until you reach the 2/3 mark of the strip.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

4. Lay the spiral shape down so that it sits upright and gently fan out the last section that isn’t rolled up.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

5. Holding the rolled up spiral section firmly, reach into the centre of the spiral and pull it the beginning edge and form it into a small peak in the center. Arrange the serviette on a plate for dramatic effect.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 29, 2011

Berlage, a Beautiful little Kiosk on the Buitenhof…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You can’t complete a visit the Centre of the Hague without seeing this little gem of a building situated on the Buitenhof.

It’s a beautiful little kiosk designed by Hendrik Petrus (H.P.) Berlage, (1856-1934) one of  The Netherlands most notable architects.

Berlage  was a student of Gotfried Semper, who taught the renaissance style and held to the idea  that the use of ornaments should not be a goal in itself.

Later, the works of Viollet-le-Duc made Berlage see that a historic style should not be copied when designing a modern building. As a result he started to look for a new rational  style, using geometrical plans and geometrical shapes.

Berlage was influenced by the Neo-Romanesque brickwork architecture of Henry Hobson Richardson and the combination of  iron and brick in his structures.

Together they believed that elements of the ironwork in construction need not be hidden but could become part of the overall style of the building, so sometimes these elements are made decorative but often they stand just as part of the structure without being covered or disguised.

Considered the “Father of Modern architecture” in the Netherlands and the intermediary between the Traditionalists and the Modernists, Berlage’s theories inspired most Dutch architectural groups of the 1920s.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Important buildings that he designed include:  the St. Hubertus section of the Kröller-Müller Museum, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (City Council Museum the Hague), the Amsterdam Commodities Exchange, the plan for extension of Amsterdam, the ‘Plan Zuid’ or ‘Plan Berlage’ and the Berlage brug (bridge) in Amsterdam.

The little kiosk was built on the Buitenhof   in the 1920’s when the area was being renovated, and was designed in partnership with P. Black.

Together the pair worked in a compact design of  two concentric octagons and in 1924  it opened to sell flowers, magazines and newspapers on it’s street level and  a ladies restroom on the underground level. The design of the dome allowed light into the ladies restroom below ground.

There was also apparently an additional gent’s urinal on the other side of it but  information on The Hague’s website page    http://www.denhaag.nl/home/bewoners/to/Kiosk-Berlage.htm   tells me this has been closed since 1963.

In 2005 the berlage kiosk had it’s dome painted white whilst being renovated, but this changed it’s look so dramatically that there was a public outcry.  Both public opinion and the fact that the building also enjoys Monument (listed building) status, saw the Berlage roof quickly returned to it’s characteristic grey colour that so well suits it’s design.

I’ve taken these photos of it at various times of the year, when it was open and when it was closed…  I’m sure that one day when I’m back on my walking tours again, there are sure to be more photos to take of it in the future  too, because I simply can’t resist this photogenic  little building.

Today the kiosk houses a little café, so it’s possible to sit  at one of the outside tables in the Buitenhof with a cup of tea or coffee and watch the trams, and people go by…

Berlage  /   Buitenhof 19   /   2513 AG    /    Den Haag

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 28, 2011

My Life in Slow Lane just Took the Exit to a Lay-by…

Filed under: LIFE,The Hague,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am

As many of my regular readers know,  I’m slowly recovering from an accident I had  in November 2010.

I spent until February in plaster, seven casts in total and have been a regular with a rehabilitation specialist, surgeons and physiotherapists since then, as we work hard to get my distrophic foot back into working order.

We have progress, definite progress:  not the sort of thing that you can see on a daily or weekly basis but over months it clear that the amount of flexibility and pressure I can bear is ever growing and that my exercises are getting progressively more intensive and extensive.After some frustrating months at the beginning of the year I demanded a long term projection for recovery and the surgeon said “best case scenario = Christmas this year, worst case scenario  = next Summer“.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At this point my plotted course of  ever increasing graded activity is going well, it’s painful and it’s tiring but we just keep plodding away at it.  Being off crutches by Christmas  has already been ruled out at this point, but there is hope that  that might happen early in the New Year for short distances at least.

Meantime I have been trying to make the best of my recovery time, of course most days that means exercises, sleep, work and  since everything on crutches takes a stupid amount of effort nothing gets done in a hurry.

As others rush past in the fast lane of life, I am chugging along in the slow lane hugging the hard shoulder of life. At least the engine is still running, but the slowness does get to me some days.  That’s normal, and I’ll survive it, boredom and frustration are not usually life threatening unless you add extra stupidity and  my new middle name is ” mega-cautious”.

Anyway,  you usually have to catch stupidity with both hands and mine are firmly on the crutches. … and Himself will tell you that I’m the worst catcher in the whole world (if you don’t count colds). The silver lining to spending vast amounts of time cooped up at home resting has been that my asthma has been good this year. I’ve dodged three colds that Little Mr shared around, each of them being more annoying than nasty and giving me a head like a brick but not lung problems, after several days they departed and I  was a happy bunny again.

In recent weeks though I’ve been nursing a cold that doesn’t want to give up. My lungs are chemically damaged and my asthma is severe,  so a bad cold needs to be taken seriously therefore after a week of coughing and sniffing I phoned my Lung Specialist and we did a telephone consult of symptoms and medications.

I have my own portable nebulizer so  try to avoid necessary additional hospital visits if I can via an arrangement where I let the Lung Specialist know when things are getting out of hand and he faxes though prescriptions to my local pharmacy so that we can hopefully intervene  in the early stages of a bronchial meltdown. We did that last week but the coughing is worse not better so Himself dropped me off  Monday for an emergency visit. Yuck and darn, Bronchitis.

The coughing on the hard shoulder of life has now turned into a small pit-stop in one of life’s lay-bys as I tank up on enough drugs to equip a third world pharmacy.   The cards I got dealt on the health front  in the last year have been a  pretty lousy hand, but I’m not folding,  let’s look at it positively, I may have slipped from First to Neutral right now but at least it isn’t Reverse!

Once again I’m appreciating your comments and support, the main reason I’m not replying much is that I’ve concentrated on getting a lot of blog posts up whenever I have a good hour and have no energy left over for the rest. Life IS still good, it’s just got a running nose, sore throat and constant cough at my place so it’s in bed laying low.

I’ll be back to my chattier self soonest I promise!

September 27, 2011

The Typical Dutch … Tea Box?

Filed under: FOOD,THE NETHERLANDS,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You know that the Dutch are a truly a nation of coffee drinkers because the smallest spoon in the cutlery tray in their kitchen is of course, translates from Dutch as “coffeespoon” and not  a “teaspoon” as it is in anglophone countries.

That said, tea drinking has taken off in the Netherlands and the varieties of tea on the shelves in the last decade has grown ten-fold.

I know that tea is often seen as more of an evening drink, something to drink before bed, but without the caffine kick that nice strong Dutch coffee would give, and generally I didn’t think much more of it than that.

Then, last week we had a fellow blogger around to join us in a quick family dinner  before she departed the Netherlands and I asked her about what were some of the “different” experiences she had had during her three month stay.

To my surprise one of her answers was “tea”!  … and more specifically, the fact the end of  every Dutch dinner party is rounded off with a cup of tea or coffee.. without fail (I have to admit,  that’s really true… for many people it’s also the social signal that the evening is over and it’s the hint that guests are expected to leave soon LOL).

The other aspect that she found striking about the tea and coffee “ritual” was the little container of various teas that most Dutch households (yes including ours) now find themselves with.

Inside this container are the various teas that you have in the house, if you have guests, you bring out the little box and let your tea drinking guest choose the flavour they like the most. I never thought anything of it  …but it’s true,  it’s like this everywhere.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ll be brutally honest why our various tea bags are all in little compartments in one little box: it’s because  my Dutch kitchen is so small microscopic that it’s easier to have these all in one place than to keep five half empty cardboard boxes in my cupboards taking up space, and the disorganised rummaging it would take to find “the flavour  you know you have, … it must be at the back of this cupboard somewhere”  is also thus eliminated.

Our tea selection pales in comparison to others I know. I like herb tea but like my herbs ‘pure”. By this I mean: peppermint and mint tea is made from actual mint leaves and Rooibos tea is made from leaves from the South African Rooibos shrub, camomile is made from the camomile  herb so there is no “tea” leaf  with say, “apricot flavour” or “vanilla flavour”etc,  just the pure herb.

This means there is also no caffeine or tannin, and since I like my tea strong and without sugar or milk, I can leave my Rooibos tea to “stew”and it gets strong but not bitter. If I’m out somewhere and only the “flavoured’ tea is on offer then I have no problem to drink it,  it’s just not my preferred choice.

Himself prefers pure  black tea (in quantities that would engulf our little tea box) so the back tea gets a container of it’s own.

So would the Dutch way of signalling the end of an evening dinner party with a cup of tea/coffee be a new idea where you are?.. and if you do serve tea, and you have more than one sort, how do you go about letting your guest choose (or do they not get to choose?).

Start your peculators and boil your kettles… Kiwidutch has become very curious.

September 26, 2011

Should “Medicine” to Keep You Regular Ever Taste this Good?

Filed under: FOOD — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another one of my favourite recipes from the ex Recipezaar (now Food.com) website.

I  particularly like this  recipe from “mummamills”  because it’s so ridiculously easy and because a little  of this every so often helps keeps me regular. It tastes brilliant too! If you try it and would like to leave a review too,  just follow the link at the bottom of the page.

Prunes in Port

40 pitted prunes
2 cups port
2 cups red wine
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup sugar

Soak prunes in the port overnight.

Next morning combine everything and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.Take out vanilla bean. (You can wash it and use it again).Bottle, or store in the fridge.


September 25, 2011

Credit Where it’s Due…

Our ” Travelling Two” friends owned a spare bicycle…  friends of theirs (Alisha and Evan from our beer tasting group)  wanted a bicycle.  It was meant to be a freebie and no cash was required but Alisha and Evan wanted to pay for the bike. They got together and found a compromise: “Could they please donate the Euro 50,–  bicycle buying cash, to the hot lunch fund for the School for Disabled  kids in Kiribati?”

Yes, they can, and Yes they did.

None of them did it for the publicity, but I thought they deserved some anyway.

I Thank you… and more importantly, these  are some of the 101 kids from the school who also Thank you!

(photograph used with permission)

(photograph used with permission)

(photograph used with permission)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 24, 2011

Ingredient Search: Food Colouring and Flavouring…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Two of the things that home bakers  find hard to obtain in The Netherlands are food colourings and artificial flavourings.

In very recent times, there has been a small explosion in the amount of baking items on Dutch supermarket shelves, cake decorations different sorts are available, and pre-packaged icings (glazes) are available in a few limited colours, but if you just want the actual food colours so that you can make a Birthday Cake or playdough etc of your own design and colour scheme then you won’t be finding the food colourings anywhere close at hand in the baking section or anywhere else in the shop either.

I’ve bought food colouring back with me from my trips to New Zealand and have also gotten it from expat shops like “Thomas Green’s” http://www.thomasgreen.eu/shops/nl/denhaag   and “Kelly’s Expat Shop”     http://www.kellys-expat-shopping.eu/  here in The Hague but have also found myself wondering: “Where have the Dutch traditionally gone to get food colouring when they needed it? ”

The answers appears to depend very much on where you live in The Netherlands…  and the answers are many and varied.

Your first stop in your Food colouring search may well be your local neighbourhood Bakery. “De Banketbakker”  (The Patissier).

Banketbakkers usually make Birthday cakes to order and use food colouring in their marzipan work etc, but they tend to buy their food colouring in commercial quantities  so if you come armed with small bottle(s) with your request,  they may be  inclined to sell you a small amount.

Each local baker is different so maybe build up a repore  with the bakery first and take care to not  go at the shops busiest  time of day when the customers are four deep at the counter and  maybe your request will be met with a  favourable response.

You won’t have to have lived in The Netherlands long to have discovered a local ‘Toko“. The actual word “Toko” means “shop” in Malay, but ask any Dutch person how to find one and you will be directed to a shop that sells Indonesian, Surinamese and other various Asian products.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Quite often there will be a  small deli of freshly made Asian (usually Indonesian)  food for you to buy too.

Some Toko’s sell food colouring but since they are all individually owned and run and what’s stocked is up to individual owners, you will have to take pot luck with this one and try a few. Geography plays a big part in success if this one, but who knows? … you might just hit the jackpot at a Toko close to you.

I have heard that some Turkish supermarkets also stock food colouring… it’s much the same hit and miss deal as with the Toko’s, with the one difference that there are a heap more Toko’s spread throughout the Netherlands than Turkish supermarkets.

One strange place to look (yes I think it is strange) is a nationwide chain of shops called “Pipoo’s”. It’s strange because Pipoo’s are a primarily a Craft Shop and are usually where you would get craft paper, pens and the like. Suddenly cake baking and decorating is apparently an art form, because Pipoo’s have a small but rather amazing selection of cake making supplies.

Either pop along to a Pippo’s near you or browse their internet site (Dutch language only and it’s not really intuitive, so here are a few hints)

Pipoo’s  http://www.pipoos.nl/  (click on: “webwinkel”->“taart en cupcakes” ->” bakmixen en fondants” (page2+) for ready to use rolling fondants and marzipan in various colours)   To find any of the 30+ branches thoughout the Netherlands:  http://www.pipoos.nl/winkeladres.php?Sort=13

Click on “bakvormen uitstekers”  if you are looking for any unusual cookie forms and rollers and on “toebehoren”  ( pages 3,4,5 etc   for food colour pens and “verf poeder” (colour powders) and liquid food colours.

Several other places cropped up when I did my research:  “The Jumbo” supermarket in Zwolle is said to have food colouring, as are the small chain of   “de boerenbond” shops    http://www.boerenbond-welkoop.nl/advies/advice.html?id=72496 (yes I know, another strange one as  it seem that this is an extra section in a shop where you’d normally pick up a garden shed, tools and rubber boots)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Of course the Internet is on hand   … if you know the correct search terms.

For  colourings try: de geur- en kleurstoffen,   evensmiddelenkleurstof,  voedings kleurstof,  kleurstoffen

For flavourings try: smaakstof

I did a quick search and came up with these, but you should be able to find something near you.

Cookie Cottage (Utrecht) http://www.cookiecottage.nl/

Taartwinkeltje (Eindhoven) http://www.taartwinkeltje.nl/  (large ranges in different size selections)

De Zuidmolen  (Groesbeek)   http://www.de-zuidmolen.nl/

de Peperbol (Amsterdam) http://www.depeperbol.nl/ (concentrated and in powder form)

Duikelman (Amsterdam) http://www.duikelman.nl/  (extracts, fondants, ready to use icings, Wilton decorations)

A.J. Van der Pigge   (Haarlem)   http://www.vanderpigge.nl/ (Note: I could only find the colour blue on their website but there is a note to say that the website is under construction so there’s a fair chance that not all stock is on the website yet.  Heck if you live near this one I’d say it’s worth a visit  just  to enjoy the fabulous beauty of an old fashioned drugist!)

Oldenhof  (Hilversum)  http://www.kookwinkel.nl/  (click the “Food” tab)  They have extracts, fondants, ready to use icings, and colourings.

I can’t personally vouch for any of these later links, I haven’t been to any of them: but if you have, or even better, if you can extend my list of places in The Netherlands where Food colouring and Flavourings can be obtained then I’ve love to hear from you in the comments so that I can make a comprehensive list here as a resource for  my readers.

Many Thanks to reader Anastasi who recommended both  http://www.jamin.nl    (many branches nationwide) and  www.deleukstetaartenshop.nl  (6 shops nationwide) for colour pastes and baking supplies.

September 23, 2011

What Disappears and What Remains (and Why) is a Mystery Royal…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is another archive  post from the photographs I took  when the Haags Gemeentearchief (the Hague City Council Archive ) put up billboards around the city to celebrate their 125th anniversary a few years ago which showed old photographs depicting the locations where the billboards were.

This one was situated on the  corner of  the Stevinstraat  and the  Badhuisweg  and the caption reads: “” Stevinstraat hoek Badhuisweg met rechts Huize Royal,  juni 1936”  which translates as (Stevinstraat corner Badhuisweg  with Royal House at right, June 1936).

The buildings on the left side of the photo are all still standing, the deco building is now the Hotel Corel, now desperately in need of a lick of paint and the brick building behind it is still neatly kept and in good trim.

Of Huize Royal however, there is no sign at all, instead there are some non-de-script (actually, I really mean ‘ugly’) apartment blocks in it’s place.

I tried to do some research on it but every link to “Huize Royal” these days appears to lead to an Old People’s Care Home of the same name. At first I thought the apartments that I could see might be the Care Home itself, but the care home is located on the Rusthoekstraat  a few streets away so it seems that the name was reincarnated but the building was not.

The other two striking differences are of course the massive increase in traffic, car parking and the road use and also the addition of trees. In fact the trees made taking the photos here really difficult,  the photos are at bits of odds and sods angles or there would have only been tree branch photos.

Let’s take a look at what can be seen from this corner today…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 22, 2011

The Lange Voorhout and it’s Coat of Many Colours…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I was going to post these photos in August at the same time as my posts on the Binnenhof but decided that since Summer was in full swing (Well, “somewhere” is was at least, since all we got was rain) that photos of  rust coloured autumn leaves and tree branches getting rapidly naked would somehow be like telling people that Summer really was doomed, so just get used to it, Winter isn’t far away.

No, I decided to be more positive and wait until autumn would “really” be starting to show it’s coat of many colours… and although these photos were taken out of my photo achive folders and are not from this year, you can at least see what’s happening here in The Hague.

These photos were taken on the Lange Voorhout …


(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)



September 21, 2011

Statuesque Compositions in Music Too…

In partnership with my post of yesterday there is a another statue in the Sweelinckplein,  just a short distance across the grass from the fair lady in stone.

This one is a male figure and is called  ‘Nude Orpheus ” and the dedication below is a simple one to Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, the renowned Dutch composer. They are very different but also, I think rather complimentary. After all, some music inspires your imagination and makes your spirit fly, other music is calm and reflective.

This one sits close to where the trams and cars go past so will be the better known of the two… but both, I think are beautiful.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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