Local Heart, Global Soul

November 8, 2017

Step-By-Step: Wok Are Your Tips And Tricks?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In yesterdays post I covered our discovery of “Eazie” in Scheveningen, one of a chain of restaurants in the Netherlands.

The principle behind the cuisine is that diners select fresh ingredients which are then wok fried in front of them, the prepared food can be eaten in the restaurant or taken away.  As usual I asked permission to take photographs of the restaurant interior and once given, added that I would love to also take photographs of the cooking process.

Permission was given for that too and soon I was clicking away. During this observation I also picked up some wok cooking tips and tricks. The first tip for doing this at home is probably the most basic: all meat, fish and veggies have to be cut in sizes suitable to them all cooking evenly together.

The thickness of all the carrot pieces, for instance should be as uniform as possible. I have the luxury of having an electric slicer, and during the summer tried an experiment that turned out to be a huge success. I got Himself to bring home a huge bag of veggies from the Haagse markt where  the prices are less than half the price of the supermarkets.

That said, you will need to do a fraction more work with your bargains: (a) often you have to check veggies for bad spots or the odd bit that’s well on the way to going rotten,(b) veggies are often waaay cheaper because they are misshapen, so be prepared to spend more time peeling around knobbly bits of carrots etc. (c) veggies are usually more on the “ripe” end of the scale than the “under ripe” end of the scale, so be careful buying in bulk if you can’t use it all before it’s past being edible.

Since sitting is something I do rather well these days, I sat on a stool and washed, peeled, topped, tailed, stripped off nasty outside bits of carrots, onions, beans, chinese cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum peppers, broccoli, and other seasonal veggies so that I had a massive pile of whole, but prepared veggies for slicing. Then the slicer came out and on a thin setting I started slicing it all.

Soon I was surrounded by mounds of white, green, orange and yellow veggies, which I then mixed up together. The last step was easy: fill up freezer bags and stack them all in the freezer. Whenever we fancied a stir-fry at a later date, all we had to do was grab a bag of pre-cut veggies from the freezer and head towards the stove. The thinness of the veggies means they separate, thaw and cook easily. The biggest surprise is that the onions and Chinese cabbage stayed white and mostly kept their shape, I had imagined I’d get a soggy brown mess once it thawed so this was a wonderful surprise.

Here at “Eazie” the veggies are fresh of course and not frozen; and have already been cut to appropriate thicknesses and even sizes.  An excellent tip I learned from these professionals is that they put your meat/fish/veg into a sieve and plunge it into a pot of boiling water to blanch them for a couple of minutes, then drain/ shake the water off and transfer everything to the waiting hot wok.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This not only partly cooks harder things like carrots, broccoli and cauli stems and the like, it also keeps the colours bright so the end result doesn’t look like a dull coloured mess. (I’ve been there with my stir-frys, I’ll bet you have on occasion too).

Then the hardest bit of all: a serious heat and a decent wok pan. Stupidly when I bought my new stove I was delighted that it had a special Wok burner that goes far harder than the other gas flames.

Less intelligent of me was that on this model stove this element is near the wall and not in the middle row (I have six burners), so I can only use a very small pan to use it with. I have been making do with a regular fry pan but think that I should think about getting a proper wok for the job because then the heat is in the right place at the right time.

The problem with a fry pan is that you have a lot of heat but the flames get too big around the pan so I keep turning it down, and needing longer cooking time and my stir-frys have been a little more wilted than I’d like.

I’ve heard raves about Ken Hom stainless woks so maybe I need to have a word with Santa about that one. The next thing I learn from watching the Eazie chefs is that they keep the heat high and the pan moving more than I imagined they would. They use the long handled spoon/ ladle thingy to work the sauce around the meat and veggies as the meal cooks. I am going to try this technique, especially the quick blanching first and see if I can improve not only the appearance but also the taste of my wok meals from now on.(Please note that my photos are a compilation of several different meals since I was tired and not all of my pics were sharp).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://www.thuisbezorgd.nl/eazie-scheveningen
Eazie, Restaurant Scheveningen / The Hague/ The Netherlands

November 7, 2017

Wok Kind Of Place Is “Eazie?”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi Daughter was responsible for the next stage of our family outing. Actually there was no saying “No” to this one, she was insistent that “Eazie” was the only place we would be going to eat.

The restaurant in question is located on the front side of the Kurhaus almost right on the junction of the Gevers Deynootweg and the Badhuisweg.

Set back just a fraction from the road, this is a place I remember vaguely from the past as a restaurant, but just not as this particular one.

The idea behind the menu is simple: These are custom-made wok meals. First as a customer you  choose from an array of fresh meat, fish and vegetables; these are put into bowl by staff,  you then choose a sauce and the chef cooks your selected wok meal for you in front of your eyes (should you wish to watch, rather than go take a seat).

Kiwi Daughter is sixteen and she and her friends have a series of favourite restaurants that they like to go to eat and hang out in, this is one of them. The food is fresh and tasty, it’s easy to cater to various dietary needs and specific cultural requirements, the prices are very reasonable and the seating areas are relaxed and comfortable for large or small groups. Since these kids are too young for bars, (Dutch law is strict about underage drinking) and they still have a decent amount of study to get done for school, these places are ideal meeting places, especially during weekends and school holidays.

Himself and I had never been here before so she was keen to show us around, point out how it worked and see if we agreed with her about how it tasted. We checked out the menu options: there are various sizes of meals, double portions of meat or fish have a small additional cost and some sauces are very spicy, some sweet. My one and only complaint is that there was no Soya sauce on the sauce menu since I prefer my wok veggies served with just a hint of salty flavour and nothing else. No double portions were needed on this occasion, we just started picking out vegetables with gusto.

Little Mr had been promised chicken nuggets as a treat but was prepared to wait for us to eat here first, so the rest of us got our bowls picked out and into their separate woks. Afterwards the food is transferred into cardboard boxes and served at the table from those into small bowls. Yum! This was excellent! Vegetables were cooked but still with crunch, we each had our favourite ingredients and this was relaxed, healthy and quick. I’d come here again no problem. Even better it’s possible to get food home delivered and there are more branches in the Hague and other Dutch cities.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://www.thuisbezorgd.nl/eazie-scheveningen
Eazie, Restaurant Scheveningen / The Hague/ The Netherlands

November 6, 2017

Spiraling In Perfect Control…

Sitting in a cabin that goes around a big wheel might be one thing, but bungy jumping is quite another level of adventure.Even if I were fit and had the use of both legs, bungy jumping is definitely on my ” No Way Ever!” list.
Suddenly Kiwi Daughter announced that she might like to do this one day. Not here in the Netherlands but in New Zealand, on some future visit.This is a huge change of tune, whenever we used to go past the bridge close the Hanmer springs where it’s possible to go bungy jumping, she always said she would never ever consider it.Mind you, she was my eleven year old Kiwi daughter back then, and my sixteen year old Kiwi Daughter of today has obviously grown in daring as well as in years.

It remains to be seen if this bravado makes the transition from talk into action. If I report a sudden thatch of grey hair it may well be because my daughter is standing with bungy cords around her feet on a little platform above a river, about to jump. I was more than content to look at the building from the big wheel and the Scheveningen pier, and just enjoy the architectural beauty of the way the staircase on the outside of the building spirals around the tower.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.bungy.nl/
Scheveningen Bungy Jump / Attractions The Hague / The Netherlands

(Sorry: This link not working properly either, still working on it)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 5, 2017

Brain Cells Moved Out And Left No Forwarding Address…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ok, I better come clean; I accidently missed out some photographs in yesterday’s post.

You will see that I mention the rain on the window in yesterday’s post but the proper photo of it appears in todays post, ditto the photographer taking photos of the group of girls by the waters edge.

As usual my brain cells appeared to be sleeping (ha! who am I kidding, I think they weren’t just sleeping, they moved out and left no forwarding address!) when I put everything into the WordPress schedule.

My Apologies and a big “Thank You” to Ellen for drawing this to my attention because I realised my mistake when I read your comment.

The Scheveningen ‘Reuzenrad” (Giant wheel) was a delight for three of the Family Kiwidutch, for Himself it was more of an endurance test.

I strongly suspect that he has been listening to Kiwi Daughter express an interest in going skydiving and bungee jumping one day and he’s done this so that he can say he’s “been there, done that” with anything to do with heights and then use the opt out card when she hints strongly that he should accompany her on these other pursuits.

The dark sea and clouds on the horizon give clues to the changeable weather.

In fact it was warm enough that when the rain stopped just after our “Reuzenrad” ride (Murphy’s Law, someone had to draw the short straw, it seems it was our “lucky” day), that by the time we had made our way back to the beginning of the pier, the stone tiles on the Promenade were already completely dry in most places.

I gave fair warning to Ellen in my reply comment yesterday, that todays photographs also contained images that may be difficult for people who find heights stomach churning.

These are the last about the big wheel until probably next summer when we will plan to go again but on a day with far better weather.

Aaagggh, don’t you both love and hate technology? My link hiccup still continues today… Apologies again, I’ll keep trying to fix it until it comes good.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.pier.nl/company/reuzenrad-op-de-pier/
Scheveningen Giant Wheel / Scheveningen Eye / Attractions The Hague / The Netherlands

November 4, 2017

Taking A Spin Around A Giant Wheel…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Although we were on the Scheveningen pier one weekend last summer, it was not exactly the pier we were here for.

It was what was at the end of it that was important; the ‘Reuzenrad” (which literally in English means: “Giant wheel”). I have heard other people call this the “Scheveningen Eye” too, although it is not it’s official name.

This is what Himself and I had been dragged out of the house for, both of our kids agreed (that was a shock all of it’s own!) they really wanted to go on it, together!

Parents of a teenager and an almost teenager will likely gasp as we did, our two are at an age where being seen together in public most of the time is a major embarrassment.

Even more amazing, both Himself and I were welcome too (I think we should have checked them for fever, but it might possibly because of the fact that parents were paying).

Nowhere is the phrase ‘four seasons in one day” more apt than the Netherlands, it was a warm but overcast and patchy day, no sooner had we paid for our tickets and stood in line when the heavens opened.

There is a small amount of cover closest in by the wheel, luckily others in the front of the queue quickly snuggled up so that as many people at the end of the queue as possible could get in under this cover.

The queue moves fairly quickly despite the crowd so even though we were a short time getting wet it was soon our turn nearer the front of the queue.

It was possible to leave wheelchairs and push-chairs at the bottom, assistance was given to help me up the few steps to the cabin (I have my doubts that anyone less mobile than I am could manage this however, it might be possible with prior arrangement with the company, I do not know for sure.)

The cabins have a small table that can be lifted up when passengers enter and extended once they are seated, it allows for a small space to put your camera and other things on but please be warned, the space in the cabin is small so if you have a lot of stuff with you then things may get complicated.

There are also a few steps to negotiate before and after you get to the ticket office. I have a crutches holder on my wheelchair so could transfer to those for these sections but visitors unable to do this will have a problem because there are no ramps. We asked about this and were told that apparently it is somewhere on a lengthy “to do” list because this is a relatively new company and they are still ironing out all of the finer details. There is even a cabin that has a glass floor is you are really brave.

Of course I took pity on Himself and did not even think of suggesting that one!
Once inside our cabin we start to rise slowly in speed but quickly in elevation. I took a lot of photographs for our private family album, rather a lot of them of Himself’s face because due to his fear of heights I have never seen him so far away from terra firma (aircraft excepted). His fixed expression, wide eyes and willingness to only look into the furthest distance rather than straight down confirmed that this was the first and probably the very last time in our so far twenty-three year marriage that I was ever going to see him get on anything like this.

The cabin pauses at various points during your time whilst other passengers before you, exit at the bottom, and you get to make two full rotations before your turn has finished. It was our bad planning that we had chosen a spur of the moment activity on a day where the weather was less than cooperative: we got some clear photographs but others consisted of close-ups of rain filled windows.

Still, I used the zoom to get close-ups of the Kurhaus and of the scenes below us, such a photographer getting snaps of a group of girls by the seas edge. Our time was up too quickly (or maybe not quickly enough for Himself). Three out of the four of us immediately said we would love to come back and do this again on a fine day, Himself was noticeably silent (or still in shock). I was delighted that Kiwi Daughter and Little Mr worked together to bring us here as a family, so a very successful outing!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.pier.nl/company/reuzenrad-op-de-pier/
Scheveningen Giant Wheel / Scheveningen Eye / Attractions The Hague / The Netherlands

(Apologies for the link failure, I will keep trying to fix it until it’s good)

November 3, 2017

Everyone Has Their Own Droolworthy Moment…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 2017 saw Family Kiwidutch make a visit to Scheveningen, more specifically to the pier.

There is the possibility to take either an inside walkway, or an open air top one, but since the weather was changeable and there were steps to the top level we opted for the lower, inside level.

We haven’t been here for ages and it was nice to see food stalls and food trucks along the pier’s length as well as shops, souvenir stalls etc.

The view out of the window is always amazing, despite the summer time crowds.

My only complaint: they leave a little too little space for wheelchairs (or push-chairs if you have small children) to get past some of the shops, adverts and stalls.

I suppose you have to expect this during the busiest months of the year, and we managed some stops too because Kiwi Daughter adores coconut. I don’t mind the stuff mixed with other things but having it as the predominant flavour is my idea of hell. Both she and Himself however, give a very big thumbs up to the “Madame Cocos” stall. Little Mr had his eye on many a knick-knack, none of which were quality or healthy. In return for not wasting money here, he was instead promised a Lego treat on another day; something he was quick to remind Himself of when he then dragged his father off to the shops the next day. My drool moment was something not for sale: a seriously long table at the entrance of the pier that I wished could be made available at my place for Christmas dinner at our place. Of course the grand structure of the Kurhaus is always droolworthy too, no matter the season.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 2, 2017

The First Part Of Their Wish Was Practical…

For someone who lives in a city so close to the sea, it’s a shame that I am not such a huge fan of it. Given the choice I would take a mountain holiday over a seaside one any day, doubly so in the time after my accident. Yes, wheelchairs and crutches are not compatible with mountains either and I do miss hiking, but sand is the most inconvenient medium for my new modes of transport bar none so I avoid it like the plague. We spent most of this summer at home, so when my kids united in a wish for a family day out at the beach, secretly my heart sank. They were practical with their wish however and the first part of our afternoon out was simple; drive to Scheveningen.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

p.s. Long term readers may remember that I have posted photographs of this lighthouse before (March 2015;  Shining A Light On Buildings Bare…  ), however, back then the paintwork was old and it has been recently been repainted giving it a far more dramatic effect.

November 1, 2017

The Real Stars Of The Show Were The Cakes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this last post from my night out learning how to decorate a cake, I set out with my fellow classmates to try and make  decent decoration with fondant.

I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve because I’d seen something on the internet but no real clue about how to go about it.

The first thing was to choose two blocks of ready-mixed fondant colours from the shop stock,  there were small amounts of other colours available from our tutor or we could arrange swaps around the table with other classmates.

I managed to get brown from the tutor which was pretty much all I needed. I wanted to sculpt a the head of a giraffe from my fondant, so with a print from the internet to go by, I set to work.

I found it easier then I expected in some ways, harder in others.

For instance sticking on the flat brown pieces was harder than it looked because you had to paint the back of the fondant piece with just the right amount of water: too little and it didn’t stick, too much and the piece would slide down the cake. I ended up holding quite a few pieces whilst they dried out a bit and this took up precious time. Time in fact was my biggest enemy, if I had tried this at home I would have sat down at a good moment when I had some energy and worked slowly.

The unused fondant pieces keep, and can be stored in a plastic bag so they don’t dry out so this would be an ideal project to have completed over a week. Instead my effort is a bit of a rush job, which is why my giraffe looks more like a dragon instead of a giraffe.Still, as a first attempt it was a learning project and if you got into doing this regularly (which I am not) then you would learn how to use the modeling tools and would get better at it. This was a strange mix of “I knew I could have done better’ and “not unhappy for a first attempt”.

The shop has every tool, cake form and item imaginable for cake decoration. There are even edible coloured powders, two of which I used (brown, and then a hint of gold) to dry ‘paint’ onto my cake. Again the time constraints didn’t help but practice would make perfect there too.The real stars of the show however, were the students cakes; some were for upcoming birthday parties or special occasions, my friend was going to gift hers to her neighbour who always helped her out if she needed a cake pan or other item. The rest, like mine were just heading home to be looked at and devoured…  what good is a pretty cake after all if it can’t be eaten!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 31, 2017

Step-By-Step Tutorial: Silicon Form Fondant Flowers & Decorative Strips.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At the beginning of this year one of my best friends decided I needed that I needed to do something fun outside of home so booked the two of us on a cake decorating course.

We learned how to prepare a round cake for covering with fondant, how to then cover it without wrinkles.

Now our tutor demonstrates how to use silicon molds to make decorations for our cakes.

I did not personally use the molds because I already had a theme for my cake that did not involve them, but have enough photographs and notes about the technique to hopefully help you here.

She takes a silicon form that has on it a long beaded decorative strip (there is more than one pattern on the mold, but she is just using one of them).

This beaded strip of fondant will go around the bottom of the cake to hide the join between the cake and the board. A long thin “sausage” of fondant is hand rolled, it is then picked up and gently pushed into the mold, making sure that the entire length is filled up. Then, she uses the rolling pin to push the fondant into the mold. A small plastic palette knife is used to scrape off the excess in sections, not in one long swipe. The excess fondant is removed. Our tutor explains that a common error is that people try to ‘dig’ the fondant out of the mold, but this often results in breaking or damaging the fondant decoration. Instead the silicon is bent so that the fondant pops out. She then repeats the process as often as needed to complete the edging for the cake. (I have put the photographs for this next, then followed with the instructions and instruction for fondant flowers and other deeper decorative forms, so you may have to scroll a little).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then our tutor progresses to a fondant rose. First she dabbed the silicon mold with a small bag that contained a small amount of cornflower (cornstarch / maizena) because this mold is deeper and the fondant may be more difficult to remove intact. A ball of fondant is pushed into the mold, and the process that was used with the beaded strip of fondant was repeated. A small bend of the silicone form and voila! … a fondant rose appears. One of the other students said that if your form still sticks, then leaving the fondant to dry out a little may help, or even put the mold in the freezer for  ten minutes. I have no idea if this was a real ‘tip” though, or just a ‘via via’ thing that is more guesswork than fact. The lesson however is really helpful information for people like me who struggle to know where to start when it comes to using equipment like this. I have learned a lot and will hopefully now be a little more daring when it comes to decorating a cake!

Fondant Roses… Flowers and deeper decorative forms.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 30, 2017

Step-By-Step Tutorial: Fondant Cover Your Cake, Wrinkle Free, Part I.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As usual I am all up in the air when it comes to concentration.

In yesterday’s post about Step-By-Step Tutorial: Fondant Cover Your Cake, Wrinkle Free, Part II    I managed to miss out quite a few photographs near the beginning that will probably be helpful.

This is why I have labeled this in the title as “Part I” and amended yesterday’s title to ” Part II”.

When I discovered my error I had  several options: leave them out and hope that anyone following my tutorial manages to muddle along anyway (duh, No!), re-do the post completely or, since there were quite a few photographs missing, make a new post detailing what was missed.

Of course it goes without saying that the last option was the only realistic one I would take.

The photographs concern the first part of when the fondant goes onto the cake, and since as the saying goes ” a picture is worth a thousand words” here are the photographs you will need if you are following this tutorial. The block of fondant is kneaded with the heel of the hand until it is soft enough to pull out without breaking off.After using the rolling pin to transfer the fondant to the cake you use the same technique as in yesterdays post to slowly cover the cake.

The real part that I missed was that when the fondant goes over the rim of the cake, use the inside edges of both hands to bring it in neatly. Then very gently pull out the fondant (but not stretch it!) so that the wrinkles are removed from the section you are working on, pat that section in neatly and then keep turn the cake on the turntable a small distance and repeat the easing out, patting in neatly, turning, making sure that you are slowly heading evenly towards the bottom of the cake.

It’s important to read these two posts as one instruction as a whole rather than attempting to do everything in one post and then everything in the other. Apologies for the jumbled up intermingled parts, my brain was not in gear when I labeled the many photographs I took , hence the mess. The last photos are the efforts of my friend and I: if we could manage to do this first attempt, then so can you!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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