Local Heart, Global Soul

October 20, 2017

A Cheery Sight From Earlier In The Year…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS,THE HAGUE / DEN HAAG/ s'GRAVENHAGE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

I have been very busy of late with medical appointments galore, so my sorting of photo albums has slowed considerably. Some photographs I intended to post earlier in the year, like these beautiful daffodils got missed. Coming onto the Sportlaan from visiting friends I had my camera at the ready as this cheerful slight came into view. The bank of colour as these greet us on a cold, early Spring day made me smile and marvel at the wonder of nature. Here a new winter is approaching … a new spring will have to wait until the New Year.

(photograph ©Kiwidutch)

(photograph ©Kiwidutch)

(photograph ©Kiwidutch)

October 2, 2017

A Few Of My Many Snapshots Of The Hague…

The Hague has many interesting buildings and sights. This photographic post shows just a few…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then the same building a few days later…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 30, 2017

“Still Life With Bicycle”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If Himself and the kids want to go to the beach, it’s easy; they go by bike.

If I want to join them then the places we can go become more limited since we have to go by car.

On these occasions, because our car is large we can also take a few extra kids.

Some friends of ours were sick during the summer so we offered to pick up their kids and take them to the beach so that parents could rest properly.

We drove to their place and I stayed at the car whilst Himself and Little Mr went to collect our extra passengers.

It started to take a while before they came back so I opened the car door because it was hot.

Directly outside  was a bicycle, and feeling like photographing something I got out and took a few kind-of-arty style photos.

I am discovering that still-life is more difficult than it looks but this is an attempt at getting various textures and things into focus. I think I will call it: “Still Life With Bicycle“.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 28, 2017

You Only Have A Hefty Supermarket Bill To Loose…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I love to use root ginger in my cooking, there is nothing better in a stir-fry or a curry.

I have several pet peeves about the stuff though when it comes to the practical side of things.

Who of us can say we are not guilty of buying some ginger for a recipe we are making, using a centimeter or two of it and then leaving the remainder in the fridge until it dries up and withers?

During the time of our gingers demise we glance at it with “good intentions” of using it, but it doesn’t go into our pasta or potato dish so our good intentions gather dust.

Eventually the now offending piece is unceremoniously scooped out from the bottom of the veggie bin and thrown out as we or our families lecture about food waste and we swear we will not ever do it again. Until next time.

For a long time I stored my root ginger immersed in a jar of sherry. The two flavours go very well together and would fuse, adding a wonderful extra level of flavour to marinades, and whenever you needed a spoonful of sherry in something it’s ginger accompaniment would make it shine. My mother used this method for years and never had a problem but for some reason I have had a layer of mold form at the top of my jars,  I stopped using this storage method. Then a friend suggested her method: peel the ginger and store it in a plastic bag in the freezer, grate from frozen whenever you need it. Seemed ideal, but I quickly found that my fingers do not function well when stuck to a stone cold piece of ginger and in charge of an uber sharp micro grater.

Then comes the biggest and not insignificant problem with root ginger. It has all of these tiny little nodules that stick out from the main root, I loath to waste them but at the same time they are a pain in the butt to peel and grate.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I also have to be brutally honest; at base level, I am lazy, both the freezer and sherry storage methods require hard word right at a moment when I want it least: in the middle of cooking a meal.

It’s hard to get enthusiastic about peeling and grating awkward bits of ginger whilst pots are boiling over, the oven timer is pinging incessantly, the pain in my foot is killing me, a kid decides to get under my feet wanting to rummage in the fridge in my nano-sized galley kitchen, half of the groceries are still needing unpacking on the bench so I am desperately short of space to work in and I am turning the kitchen over for the fresh garlic I had in my hands minutes ago but can now not find for love nor money.

I need a root ginger storage system designed for a very lazy me.  Now I think I may have found it.  We get a lot of our vegetables at the Haagse markt, and in doing so have made a very big dent in our food bill.

Last Saturday Himself arrived home with a bag of root ginger and a question: ” Guess how much this lot was?” Several seriously off course guesses later he told triumphantly told me; “Three Euros!”. Wow… that would be the price of just the largest piece at the supermarket. What a brilliant find !!! Now I had to deal with the stuff. I blocked off the entire kitchen by hauling up  a chair, and armed with a veggie peeler and a knife, set to work. It was slow but mindless work, I took several tea breaks and one nap during the process but liked that no real concentration was involved so no stress.

The pile of peelings grew steadily larger as I tried to save as much of the ginger as possible.  My food processing machine took out the hard graft of grating for me and in doing a bulk amount, justified the extra washing up.I had some plastic inserts from a special biscuit (cookie) tray in my cupboard, intending to using when next making my chocolates. Having made them last well over a year ago I am kidding myself, so these became freezer containers instead.

I packed the ginger in and added some water to seal and hold it together. The rest was such a large quantity that I put it into a zip-lock bag, added a little water and then froze it flat. Later I can cut or break off a chunk of this ginger and put it to thaw ready-grated into my stir-fry pan and curry spice mixes.

Added to the fact that this bag of ginger cost literally  next to nothing, we also save a bomb when prices skyrocket in winter no matter where you want to buy it. Yes, it’s all the preparation work in one day, but I found this far less frustrating than trying to prep miniscule amounts at moments when I am tired and cooking is enough of a job for me to manage. If you have a local market / farmers market / market garden where you can stock up on veggies and things like this, I can not recommend it highly enough.  Take leeks for instance: supermarket sells them priced per leek, market stall sells bunch of leeks for the same price… or less!  You will save a shocking amount of money in a very short amount of time. If you can, then go do it… you only have a hefty supermarket bill to loose.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Landmarks in Den Haag (The Hague): The Haagse Markt… Part 2.
Landmarks in The Hague: The Haagse Markt…

September 27, 2017

When The Person Picking Out a Double Bed Is The One You’d Least Expect…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our biggest household task this last summer school has been a long awaited and vastly overdue update of Little Mr’s bedroom. His room was last renovated some eleven years ago when it was still our bedroom since both kids were still sharing a room back then.

When we bought the apartment below us fourteen years ago it got priority as we had an older foster kid with us and his room was down there. Himself’s new office went down there too as he started his business from home, the smallest bedroom became a guest room and the tiny room by the front door (formerly a very cramped bedroom in the previous owners time) became a box room with eventually space for stuff like a freezer.

As the years progressed the foster kid left, friends came to stay temporarily whilst starting a new life in the Netherlands and after getting jobs and finding a house they left our place ten months later to live very locally, more today as family than as friends.

Always interested in meeting new people we have billeted various other people for short stays ranging from a few days to three months (I even drove to Schipol airport and rescued a few random people when the Icelandic volcano grounded all flights over a large part of Europe) and hosted visiting friends and family from around the world.

Our upstairs hall ways, stairs and living rooms got priority after that, and somehow Kiwi Daughters room managed to sneak in two makeover’s, mostly because she opened her mouth and complained more often.

This summer it has been the turn of Little Mr,  and it’s been a summer long project because Himself is doing 98% of the renovation work in between pauses in his normal work. My contribution has been sitting sorting out Lego, of which there has been an almost frightening amount.

I average anywhere between half and hour and an hour and a half  per day, and on quite a few days I sat and fixed all the sorting mistakes I made the day previously due to complete concentration malfunction.

I am still finding multiple piles of the same part because I would forget I’d already made a previous pile and Little Mr spent more than one day on the floor after I knocked over plastic containers of tiny bits and then could then not get onto the floor to retrieve them.

After not having a living room table since the end of July, I am now making ever increasingly loud noises towards Little Mr that he better help me clear the last of it, not an easy thing because as he discovered more and more sorted containers his “need” (his word not mine) to build outweighed his need to help finish sorting.  His building then in turn meant that I had more to sort and thus we are fast in danger of forming a never ending circle and me never seeing my dining room table ever again. I’ve told him that I want to build too so my sorting days (well, ok, hours) are severely numbered. New curtains have been ordered for his renovated room and the biggest change was a new bed,  a double no less!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yes, it did seem strange having our twelve year old son pick out his own double bed but we didn’t want to repeat the mistake we made with Kiwi Daughter.

She was about eleven when she swapped her smaller light blue room with a pink stripe (her design) for plain white walls and we splashed out on a very fancy and (looking back at it) stupidly expensive raised single bed that had a massive desk underneath.

Eighteen months later our teenage daughter was torturing us with the refrain that bunk beds were for little kids, she hated her room, a cool room would have a bed she could lounge on with friends and so forth.

Worn down we relented and guess that, no one wants to pay even 10% what we paid for that fancy get-up as a second hand item, no matter how pristine or how good quality it was.

Determined not find ourselves having the same heated rows with Little Mr as the teenage years and probably another half meter of height is added to his frame, we headed straight for the big bed, much to the bemusement of the gent in the showroom. So, gone are the pale yellow painted walls, in is the new white, and slowly the bits and bobs are on order to make his room complete. Now all I have to do is one day summon up the courage to remind poor overworked Himself about the state of the paint work in our kitchen.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is less than half of Little Mr’s Lego. His extended family nickname: “The Lego Master”… is well deserved.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 26, 2017

An Unexpected Favourite Hidden In The Core…

Filed under: FOOD,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE HAGUE / DEN HAAG/ s'GRAVENHAGE,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You never know when you will discover some new gem right under your nose.

Broccoli is a vegetable I love and the smaller stalks at the top always get thrown into the pot or steamer with the florets.

Then I was cutting broccoli a few years ago and just out of curiosity, instead of  just cutting off the biggest stalk and throwing it away, I decided to investigate it further.

Trimming off the outer woody edges and removing the already open dirty end, I was left with a firm, fresh core of the stalk. I cut off a small piece and tried it.

This tasted seriously good and from this moment I have never looked back. Since then I have added finely cut broccoli stalk cores to salads, soups, stews and of course used them along with broccoli as a general vegetable.

I would completely recommend that people try this, the taste is fresh and subtle and it’s often now my favourite part of the vegetable. I like that I am also cutting down on food waste, one small (or sometimes not so small) broccoli stalk at a time!  Please give this a go and let me know what you think about the taste, and see if like me, you now find the inside of a broccoli stalk to be one of your new and surprising favourites.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 25, 2017

The Delight In Busting A Coke Habit…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have always been partial to a drink of coke-cola. In an effort to cut down on sugar I switched from regular cola to the diet variety,  and managed with just a few drinks per week.

Then I had children and during pregnancy the smell of coffee had me turn a wonderful shade of green and since my coffee intake was already very high I took the decision to not return to coffee after my pregnancies.

I drank black tea before I discovered coffee as a teenager, the main reason that coffee took hold was that I didn’t actually love black tea very much. After my accident all alcohol consumption stopped, something I missed, and still do, even though the amount of bottles of wine I drank in a year could be counted on one hand.

It wasn’t even the amount, it was just that I could have a small Pineau des Charantes, port, sambuka, baileys or wine a few times every month or two whenever I fancied one. When that choice was taken away I started drinking more and more cola.

In an effort to be healthier I started to also drink rooibos (literally= red bush) tea, from a native tree of the same name in South Africa that contains no caffeine, no tannin and a large amount of vitamin C.  I drink this tea warm rather than hot and it’s a type of tea that doesn’t get bitter if it stews, a bonus because I love this tea strong.

If rooibos isn’t around then I might drink mint / peppermint tea or chamomile, but black tea and flavoured teas based on black tea are still not, well… my cup of tea. Long term pain brings many changes and moods so it was hardly surprising that my comfort drinking of cola steadily increased even though I was well aware that aspartame is not a healthy ingredient of sugar-free drinks.

Knowing about it and caring about it on many days are two different things.

Finally, last November I decided to kick my cola habit completely and thought that cold turkey would be the best way to do it. I won’t say it was the easiest way to do it but for me at least it was the best.

Headaches and mood swings ensued. Luckily these side effects were fairly short lived and I am pleased to say that except as a rare treat I have not had any coke-cola since then. In fact I am delighted that even “treats” have added up to a grand total of  some 5-6 glasses in the last ten months and I aim to keep it at this level, or less in the future. I have had a few drinks of  bitter lemon during this summer but have forced myself to drink water, not a drink I ever gravitated towards as a drink of choice in the past.

Little Mr was impressed with my decision and cold turkey efforts, but also took the opportunity to play a prank. About a week into my cola detox he came into my bedroom early one morning and announced that he was bringing me some cola. Surprised, I roused myself to find this decorated water bottle, and he disappeared with a fit of giggles. Then, about 30 seconds later he bounded back into the room with a concerned look on his face saying: “Mama, please don’t drink it, it’s not real cola and I used food colouring for the colour and dish detergent so that it would have bubbles“. Clearly he maybe thought that any dark liquid may severely tempt me so early into the cold turkey process even though the “bubbles” were rather different to the ones usually found in carbonated drinks and the label a fraction more generic than even supermarket cola home brands. I loved his genuine concern.

No one would have thought that I could have stuck this out, least of all me, but when you set your heart on making lifestyle changes, if you want it badly enough then anything is possible. Now I just have to watch out when, where and to whom my family boast that I have finally busted my coke habit.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 23, 2017

Another Little Snippet Of Information…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sometimes you learn tiny bits of information about your city. For instance I learned that the  title of “Longest flat / apartment building in The Hague” (and possibly one of the longest in the Netherlands also) is located in Loosduinen.

It’s a long curved building that has one end on the Laan Van Meerdervoort and the other on the Ockenburghstraat and is close to the beach at Kijkduin.

The big roads are main arterial routes in and out of the west of the Hague so are ones local use often. One of the biggest cemetery / cremation / funeral places is opposite too so sadly many people visit this side of town for less joyful reasons even if they do not live close by.

Himself and I are lucky to not have to live in a large apartment block, both of us agree that having so many people as direct neighbours would not suit us well at all.

Our small quiet street with older, character houses suits us much better. That said, at the end of the day, a roof over your head is not to be grumbled at and with house prices what they are, many have little choice. Large blocks of flats have a variety of private and social housing, the whole block as a community organise upkeep and the day to day running and there are lifts available, a must for many older people and families with very young children.

Houses often vary in size so families and single people can live side by side (whereas in a street such as ours, every house is more or less a ‘family” home) and in a time when the city council is trying ver hard that elderly people live at home (with local community nursing assistance for example) rather than move into care homes at the first sign of ill health, these kinds of buildings are often very much needed.

Some people even prefer larger block appartement living to other styles of housing, citing more modern building materials, sometime extra such as underground parking and less maintainance as reasons for their preference. Whilst it would never be our ideal style of living, we have the luxury of choice and can see that for many people it is ideal, so now we drive past knowing one more tiny fact about the character of our city… and that’s never a bad thing.

(photograph © Google Earth)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 22, 2017

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Summers have not been real “summers” or winters been real “winters” for a long time now.

Gone seem to be the days when the long school holidays could be counted on to give us sunshine and allow kids to play outside together for days on end.

My father will often recount the winters of his childhood, thick ice on small canals and ponds and chain-skating adventures on larger ones. Chain skating apparently involved a long line of skaters hand in hand: the trick was to have one or more strong skaters at the head of the chain and one or two smaller skaters on the end.

Water didn’t freeze easily underneath bridges so between bridges there would be solid pieces of ice that tapered off at each end until it became open water under each bridge.

The sport was that the chain of skaters would speed as fast as they could towards the bridge, coming as close as they dared before the strong skaters performed a sudden “U” turn and dug in to speed back in the opposite direction.

The person who was second to last in the chain would often be whipped around and find themselves skating over seriously thin ice that began to sink under their weight, the last person in the chain was by now almost travelling over submerged ice and almost open water, but moving so fast that the water flicked away from under their skates as they flew past the thinnest of ice and back onto the safety of the thick stuff.

Nano seconds counted, strong grips in the chain did too, sometimes it went wrong, calculations or under estimated and the kid on the end ended up in the freezing water. My father told me that if that happened then the kid was fished out (sometimes needing the assistance of passers by to achieve that) but under no circumstances did they go to their own homes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Canals were polluted and rank, kids greatly feared the wrath of their mothers who had to get the stink and mess out of clothes after express instructions not to play this kind of game. That’s not counting the fear of drowning that did not seem to ever occur to kids as a possibility, but I am certain was the stuff of their parents worst nightmares.

If a kid ended up in the drink, they were fished out and hurried to a friends house, and since this was oft a weekend sport, if they were exceptionally lucky the mother of the house was not at home, but the father was.

The attitude was then ” boys will be boys / no one drowned”, with a big grin, water would be boiled so that a hot wash was available before being lent spare clothes from one of your friends.

The friends mother would later wash and dry the damp and smelly laundry and the kid who had taken the icy dip in the canal was left to sneak home in borrowed clothes and hope his mother would not notice. Of course she always did, and it was always the worst kept secret in the neighbourhood.

Borrowed laundered clothes would magically reappear back to whoever they had been borrowed from, stinking ones would be washed and returned to their owners too. It seemed to just be part of growing up, both parents and children ‘played the game” but small punishments would also magically ensue.

Extra household chores, more of a hated veggie on your plate, and never a complaint because everyone knew that everyone knew (well, maybe the kids did not twig to this until later) and it was one of those rites of passage things that was part of many a Dutch child’s childhood.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Snow and big freezes were standard every winter of my father’s time, his two grandchildren who live here now however cannot say the same. Little Mr looked longingly at his sled without a snowdrop in sight, and then one day we woke up to the white stuff.

Himself and I had to go to Delft for a hospital appointment so I took photographs on the way there and back, especially enjoying the small open space between Rijswijk and Delft where there are trees that stood in their white coats in the strange stillness that even the proximity of the cars creeping along the nearby motorway could not break.

There is a peace and stillness that comes with snow, it blankets the noise of every day life and gives a pretty as a postcard look to even the plainest neighbourhood or grayest day. Personally I love snow, but preferably from a distance, either rugged up warm inside or on the postcard whilst I sit somewhere tropical!

Even though I will never miss snow, I do realise that I should miss where it should be, Dutch winters should have some, the seasons should be as they were meant to be and not the product of man-made mis-management on a global scale.

I can only hope that the small spattering of snow that arrived in the 2016/ 2017 winter and stayed barely a few days will not be photographed as some of the last winter snow we see in years. I hope that Little Mr’s sled does not stand forlornly waiting for the seasons to be as once were. Snow, even though it’s no personal favourite of mine, is still a stunning work of nature and it has it’s place. I can but hope that this winter it will let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Cycle paths are often as quickly cleared as main roads…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 21, 2017

Not Your Average Tricycle…

Regular readers will know that I love to photograph quirky, unusual sights. With my pocket camera regularly on hand, I can quickly snap things that pique my interest: decorative drain covers, walls, gates, letter boxes, buildings, the list goes on. Unusual vehicles feature regularly and in this particular case I managed to get a few photographs of this unusual motorbike, or should I say, Trike. Unlike many three wheeled cars and bikes this one does not have the usual two wheels rear, one wheel front layout but rather the opposite; two wheels in the front and one in the rear. It gives the bike / trike a rather surreal look, definitely a ride that makes people look twice, maybe even three times.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.