Local Heart, Global Soul

August 20, 2013

Hmm… I Wonder If I Can Convince My Kids to be Scullery Maids and Masters?

Filed under: Audley End House,ENGLAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next page of my last summer’s travel diary finds me in a place I hardly want to leave… a Stately Home kitchen.

As the proud owner of a miniscule 1930’s Dutch kitchen, I struggle with space, and of course have only recently graduated to a large oven… but even so, I still find myself with serious  and incurable oven-envy when I come into this kitchen at Audley End House.

As with the laundry it’s located a little way off the house because of fire hazard  but it’s beautiful inside all the same.

It’s not just just humongous coal range that has the Wow factor and some… but also in a separate alcove, a huge bread oven in the wall with another coal range along side.

Judging by the very large square copper kettle on the top, possibly this one was for a plentiful supply of hot water.

Himself and the kids did the whistle stop tour of the kitchen and then bounced back outside to burn off some energy… Leaving our visiting Singaporean friend “Velvetine” (also a fellow Foodie) and I free to browse at leisure and drool  excitedly together over copper pot and pans, jelly molds, and coal ranges in peace.

No doubt some other visitors overheard our back and forth delighted shrieks and exclamations of new discoveries of beautiful kitchen items and probably assumed we were somewhat deranged, but any fellow foodie would have well understood.

I soooo want a kitchen this big… with a few high tech electrical additions discreetly incorporated of course.. and a few scullery maids to do the washing up. (no wait…  maybe I can rope in my kids on that one).

(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)

(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)

June 28, 2013

My 18 Year Old is Finally Leaving Home, (And We Aren’t Talking About Kids…!!!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You can tell I’ve had food on my mind in recent weeks…  not just in my cooking lessons mind you, also in my own kitchen. Here’s why…

My oven is 18 years old.

As is typical in the Netherlands we recieved money from various friends and family as wedding presents and since we had saved to pay for our own small, tightly budgeted wedding,  had just bought a house together and were broke and almost furnitureless, we bought a small freezer, oven and some large bookshelves with the contents of the gift envelopes we received.

Both the freezer and the oven are still functioning… (the freezer is fine) but knowing the tend of today’s planned obsolescence in appliances I know it can’t last forever.

When we bought this oven we opted for what we could stretch to with the funds we had, therefore we got  the most basic and cheapest model on the market at the time and I settled for a smaller oven than I really dreamed about having.  I only realised how small it really was when I started using it, and also when I bought some standard baking trays for biscuits (cookies) back from a trip to the USA and when I put them into my oven they mocked me by sticking out way past the door which could never close on them, rendering them useless.

Any Foodie will know that using a 60 centimeter (23.5 inch) oven, that allows only two dishes in it at a time with no fan assist, baking only one tray of biscuits (cookies) at a time in the centre of the oven makes for considerable extra time needed and additional  frustration, also especially when trying to cook in bulk for special events, for school fundraisers and for relaxed dinner parties.

It sat in the kitchen next to a gas heater that we used in winter but isn’t needed any more now that we have a new heating system installed.

My oven in recent years appears to have some erratic moments concerning temperature control every now and again and takes forever to get to temperature for baking. Ever since it passed it’s 15th year I had been hoping and expecting that it would soon be giving up the ghost but the little oven simply refuses to die, and three years on the frustration of trying to juggle cooking and heating hot dishes has been driving me to distraction.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On special family days like St. Nicolas it’s great to have the family round for buffet dinner but it’s not been so great only being able to fit  two dishes in the oven at one time, with one being directly under the top element getting burnt on the top and the other on the floor of the oven getting it’s butt singed.

We spent a lot of money rewiring the electrics, installing a heating system from scratch and general renovation costs in the last 18 months and wanting the savings account we started for “house stuff” to recover, I bit the bullet and shelved the idea of a new oven for the last 18 months.

Then a few months ago whilst at home on annual leave, I did some baking and bulk cooking and again the frustration of  only being able to use the centre of the oven to get things cooked properly rose up again.  This time as much as I hate to throw out anything that still functions, I decided that my old oven had to go. We aren’t going to just let it be condemned to the compactor though, we will give it away to someone who needs an oven, making it clear that it’s still operating but a little less than at 100% and for as long as it lasts. If it’s a freebie I think that should be an acceptable trade-off.

old oven 1o (Small)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s government policy here in the Netherlands that the cost of disposing of white goods and furniture are incorporated into the cost of the new appliance/goods and so we paid it when we bought the oven.

When our old oven eventually dies, disposal for the new owner is as simple as making an appointment with the city council,  setting the oven on the street  on the appointed day to be collected and compacted.

Since here is no cost at the end of the life of your goods and no mess, this is a policy I’d love to see implemented in more countries.

Then came the magic moment I’d been waiting for all these years: delivery of a new 90 cm electric oven (35.5 inches), that’s fan assisted as well as convection, has  six gas pits on top and can take four deep casserole dishes or four trays of biscuits in one go… bliss!!! One of the  six gas pits is three times stronger than the usual flame and is especially for wok cooking… (next purchase will be a proper wok, as I love stir fries and they are starting to feature heavily in my healthy eating regime).

We had a 92 cm space in our tiny Dutch kitchen but by removing the gas heater we can just squeeze in the new oven next to the gas tap… perfect!

All I need to do now is to get to know and tame this beast of an appliance in my kitchen… I’ve never cooked with a fan oven possibility before so oven times for my old recipes will have to be mastered and adjusted but … hey this is going to finally be a pleasure instead of a frustration.

You can imagine me at the moment… I have a grin as wide as The Netherlands plastered on my face every single time I look at it. This oven is this Foodies dream come true. I’m looking forward to dishing up some delicious items together!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 14, 2010

An easy-peasy oven potato dish, step-by-step Gratin Dauphinois style.

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

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last weekend we were having friends over to share a casual dinner.

I had some store cupboard ingredients on hand and was trying to think of a good way to put  everything I had together.

I had the idea of a gratin dauphinois style dish.

This recipe isn’t exactly  a  true dauphinois recipe, but it is the inspiration from it.

The great thing about this recipe is that it is entirely flexible with regards to the quantities, you can play around with the ingredients to some degree and  if you are feeding more people you can easily  increase the quantities of potatoes, onions etc.

It’s economical to make, you can add more garlic for garlic lovers, or less if you wish. You can  substitute herbs ( or add them as well as the garlic) so basically you can easily tweek this to suit your personal tastes.

I made a large dish for 4 adults and had enough leftovers for another two servings for lunches the next day.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s economical, easy, and good honest comfort food.

I also like that because it’s an oven dish I can keep in the oven and just turn the temperature down lower while we wait if our friends are not quite on time,  as it  depends on how long it takes them to arrive here from another city on public transport.

Here are some step-by-step photos to show you just how easy this recipe is.

Approx 10 large potatoes

2 large onions

8 cloves of garlic

250 ml cream

150 grams cheese

Preheat your oven at 190 C (350 F)

Peel about 10 large potatoes, and sliced them (raw) into circles all roughly the same thickness.  Lay these in rows on the bottom of a large oven-proof dish.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Peel the onions cut in half and then slice into rounds, and lay these in a single layer on top of the potatoes.

Then mince the garlic and spread  evenly over the top of the onions, drizzle over about 1/3 of the cream, and then spread over a thin layer of cheese.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Layer another layer of potatoes evenly on top and then top with the rest of the cheese. To finish, drizzle over the remaining cream.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until potatoes are cooked though and the top is golden brown.

Serve and enjoy!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 10, 2010

Jessica K’s “Fall off the Bone Chinese Spareribs”, for crockpot or oven.

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,
Chinese Spareribs

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

What do you do when you fancy Spareribs but don’t have the time to boil them first, roast them later etc.?

I have to confess that I cheated… Hey ! Shortcuts are good sometimes aren’t they? ( let’s amend that from “shortcuts” to ” efficient time management“, makes it sound so much better doesn’t it LOL? )

We were out at an afternoon Birthday party and were to bring guests home with us… so I threw everything into the crockpot (NO boiling, just meat and sauce) and left it on for the 5 hours that we were away…

It was good timing coming home, we were starving for something savoury to nibble as the only things to eat at the party were overly creamed cakes, but didn’t want anything too fussy, so this with a little salad and chicken on sticks went down a treat.

I didn’t make too much since this was an experiment and my small amount was *just* beginning to get too dark after 5 hours, and since the meat was falling off the bone, I grabbed the salad and next minute it was all gone !

I will play around with the recipe just a little as “more garlic” was muttered by more than one full mouth, but this recipe was a hit and has be a regular feature in our house.

Now that I have made this recipe for the umteenth time I decided to write a blog post about it so that more people could find this gem of a recipe. Depending on your crockpot and how much you stuff into it,  cooking time can be between 5 and 9 hours,  the more meat, the more time needed.

My crockpot has only one setting for heat, no High or Low etc and we like our ribs really well cooked and falling off the bone, so experiment a little until you get the perfect time for your ribs.
We upped the amount of garlic to about 8 cloves but we are all serious garlic lovers, so again, personal preference is everything. I’m usually pretty heavy handed with the grated ginger and sherry too LOL.

Fall off the Bone Chinese Spareribs  By Jessica K. Recipe #123438  (2¾ hours 10 min prep)SERVES 4 -6 , 1 rack (change servings and units)

Jessica’s recipe is printed here with her kind permission, if you make it and would like to leave her a review you can find the link here: http://www.recipezaar.com/Fall-off-the-Bone-Chinese-Spareribs-123438

Chinese Spareribs

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ingredients:
spareribs (1 or more racks)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons chili sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, I use the jarred stir fry mix of garlic and ginger when i run out of fresh and tastes great, and hav
Directions
1. First before you do anything get you a really big pot and fill it up with water. I use my big soup stockpot but whatever big pot you have that’ll fit the ribs is fine. Heat on burner on medium heat. Next put a bunch of spices and herbs in there, I use garlic salt, ground pepper, thyme, rosemary, and oregano, but whatever you like is fine, this is your beef stock.
2. Put ribs in spiced up water. Now let simmer for about 2-3 hours, till meat is gray and starting to pull away from the edges of the bones. Take ribs out of pot, save liquid for recipes that call for beef stock. Put ribs in 9×13 baking dish or pan, don’t forget to grease it!
3. Mix all ingredients listed above in a bowl. Taste, if not to your liking add a little bit of whatever you think will help it out. I usually end up putting in more honey and hoisin. Now brush some of sauce on both sides of ribs and let sit on and absorb for about 20-30 minute.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush more sauce on both sides of ribs. Bake for 15 minute Brush more sauce on. Bake 15 more minute. Sauce on ribs should be brown and crispy looking. Serve with sauce if desired and if enough leftover.
5. Enjoy!

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