Thursday, December 31, 2009


New Years eve brings more Dutch traditions. I think I've mentioned before that New Years Eve is a big deal in Holland. Everybody celebrates it in a big way. Parties, Fireworks, and also clubbing all night are common place. I've tried to carry on these tradition, except maybe the clubbing part. This house has been very condusive to great parties. Living out in the country means we can build huge bonfires, set off fireworks, and make as much noise as we want. What a blessing.

Tonights party planning and prep is in full swing. Oliebollen are a traditional Dutch New Year's eve treat. They are kind of like a scone with raisins and apples. They can also be made without the raisins, but I prefer to have them included. Last night I put the raisins in water to soak. As soon as I got up this morning, I started chopping apples, warming milk, sifting flour. But it's not all idealic. I didn't add enought liquid to the flour right from the start, so the dough got too thick, which made the additional milk spill right out of the side of my mixer. I sure hope people will eat my oliebollen a lot more than previous years, because it seems I am usually the only one.
Hosting a party also brings the obligation (in my mind) to clean my whole house. Luckily I've got 3 good helpers these days!
If you plan on doing any substantial amount of baking, you should really invest in a good food scale. One that can measure both pounds and grams. Most Dutch recipes use gram measurement, which are much more acurate than cups/volume measurements.

Oliebollen Recipe (makes about 48)

1 kg all purpose flour (1000 grams)
1 liter milk (1000 ml)
4 granny smith apples
250 gram White raisins
250 gram regular Raisins
2 tsp Salt
24 gram Instant Yeast
2 tsp Sugar
4 Eggs
Vegetable oil and 1 cup shortening for frying

The night before you plan to make oliebollen, wash the raisins. Then let them soak in water overnight.
It's important that all of your recipes are at room temperature.

  • Peel and chop apples into small pieces
  • Drain the raisins, and blot them dry with a paper towel.
  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl (I use the mixing bowl of my Bosch)
  • In a seperate bowl, slightly whisk the eggs, so the yolk and eggwhite are mixed together.
  • If you don't have instant yeast, combine yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup of lukewarm milk, and let it sit for about 10 minutes (this will activate the yeast)
  • Warm up the milk until lukewarm.
  • Make sure your eggs are room temperature
  • Add Yeast, eggs, and half of the milk to your flour. Mix well, until all lumps are gone
  • Slowly add remaining milk. Mix until well blended.
  • Carefully fold in raisins and apples.
  • Cover the dough with a damp rag, in a warm environment (I heat up my oven to 100, and let it rise in there). Until double in size -- about 2 hours

About 15 minutes before you are ready to start frying, you can heat up your vegetable oil. The oil needs to be about 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 180 Celcius). The way to know if it's hot enough, is to drop a piece of bread into it. It's ready when it turns brown quickly. If it's too hot, the outside will get brown too fast, and the inside won't cook. If it's not hot enough, the oliebol will soak up way too much oil.

Use an ice cream scoop (or 2 regular spoons) and drop balls of dough into the oil. Make sure you don't put too many in at the same time, because they need room to "swim". Fry them until brown and done on one side, then flip. If it's ready to be flipped, it should be very easy to flip, and sometimes it flips itself. After they're done, place on a paper towel, to blot off extra fat. Serve warm, covered with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Julia Child

Julia Child has entered my life. Kelly got the cookbook: "Mastering the art of French cooking" for Christmas. Yesterday we watched the movie "Julia and Julie". What an inspiring movie!

I see similarities between Julie and I, in that I also like to try out new recipes. Quite often, I will hear of a recipe, and look it up online. Or I'll find an exotic ingredient, and then try to find a recipe that calls for that ingredient. The most recent examples include Taai taai, Dutch babies, and French baguettes. Also eggplant, sausage, and ginger root recipes. Sometimes there's total disaster. Other times I tweak the recipe over and over until I finally get it right. Rarely does it turn out right on the first try.

So now the 2 volume set of "Mastering the art of French cooking" is in the mail. I exchanged a Christmas sweater and $20 for those books. I can't wait to get them, and start cooking and baking from them.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Vacation from Vacation

We just keep plowing through the festivities. Our poor house hasn't seen more than a blur of us. We're always off to more exciting places. Living in Texas has the distinct benefit of being a central hub for family. Each year at least one of Joe's siblings comes for the holidays. This year we had 4 out of the 6 kids here: Josh, Ruth, Mark, and Joe. Mark and Kelly made the 1900 mile trek in just 2 days. Now that's commitment! Of course the Benacs 9 children come and go throughout the year, and this time it was the New Yorkers that joined us (Annie and Mary). Of course the Texan variety was also there (Allreds, Morphis, and Billy Jr).

This promises to be a busy week as well. Today we had a Wii face-off at our house. Tonight Josh made delicious Gumbo. In the morning the girls are going to the wonderful world of Sam Moon's to spend our Christmas gift card. Tomorrow night there's a party at the Taylors. Wednesday is Winter's birthday, so of course we'll have a birthday party for her. Thursday is New Years, when we will host our fabulously famous New Years Eve bash. Friday the Allreds are coming over for airsoft wars. Finally, and most importantly, Winter will be baptized on Saturday! Wfew.. I'll need a vacation when this vacation is over!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Let it snow

Christmas did come. Fast. It's here. It still didn't seem real, until it started snowing this afternoon!! Apparently this will be the first white Christmas in Texas since 1924. I need that glistening white glow! Now if only Texas could grow some mountains, I would be totally satisfied.

I spent today, Christmas eve, with Joe's grandma. We organized her sewing room, wrapped some last minute presents, and watched a fun Christmas movie. I also managed to squeeze in baking some chiffon pumpkin pies for tomorrow. Tomorrow, we were supposed to eat Biggy Smalls for dinner. However, we never figured out how to cure the meat to make ham, so he's still in ice in our garage.

The Christmas eve festivities are about to commence, with Josh's arrival and a yummy dinner. Ruth also got here this morning, from blizzard ridden DC. She must be the one who brought the snow!! Thanks Ruthie!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lot of parties

The holiday season is upon us. With it come fun parties. Dee hosted a wonderful Cajun /white elephant gift party. Don't get mad Renee, but I totally forgot to bring my camera. At least I didn't miss taking pictures of any ugly sweaters, because everyone pooped out, and didn't even wear sweaters. (Except Joe, but it really wasn't very ugly)

I was introduced to a Southern type all-out eat fest. Shrimp, sausage, potatoes, onions, and corn are all cooked together in a bunch of spicy cajun seasonings. Your supposed to throw all of this food on a banquet table, and have people just come up and eat from the table. We went the more civilized route, and actually used plates.

After dinner we had a white elephant gift exchange; or as Dee calls it: a dirty Santa party. Don't ask why "dirty"? The exchange included some typical awesome/random gifts. Like a fart machine, toilet paper, hot sauce, toy soldiers, ducky soap, and Jeep flashlight. While some were in high demand, others were avoided like the plague.

Saturday night, the church had a Christmas potluck dinner. The meat was delicious, and the food scarce. Some people must have come in empty handed, because all the side dishes were gone in a flash. Santa made a fun surprise visit at the end of the evening, and my kids excitedly went up to tell him all their wishes. Winter wanted a kitty, Sterling a puppy. Notice a theme? I thought we had enough animals by now. I guess we are down to only 2 cats though....

Sunday we went over to the Morphis house for a pizza party. We rolled out 8 balls of dough, added 20 pounds of cheese, and lots of yummy toppings. After 19 people filled up their bellies, still 4 whole pizzas were left over.

Now the last week before Christmas, things are finally winding down. I would like to have a clean house before we head off to Plano for the holidays, and still need to finish 2 stockings, but I'm vowing to take it easy. The kids are out of school, so maybe we can do some little crafts or something, and I will definitely try to catch up on some sleep, and finish my book. Wait,... all of a sudden it's sounding like a busy week. I want a slow week!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Christmas stockings are somewhat of an American tradition. I never owned one, until I spent Christmas with my friend Jessica Teeples in Georgia in 1999. Never wanting to spend any money on cute stockings, we ended up with the dollar store variety. Those have served their purpose just fine, but this year I wanted something nicer. The internet gave me inspiration, so the sewing commenced. My embroidery sewing machine is awesome. It can create things that look like they are straight out of the "Neiman Markus" catalog. It does take a while to set it all up, and to actually wait for the embroidery to finish, but I am loving the end result.

Of course fancy stockings need a fancy way to be displayed. Hobby Lobby had this cute "Peace" stocking holder set. 5 letters, 5 family members. Christmas is coming way too fast this year. I still have 2.5 stockings to make, and only 7 days to do it in.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Life's good

I realize that both the quality and quantity of my posts have gone significantly down. See, I've just been busy with other (funner) things. Instead of spending hours on my computer, I spend hours laughing with friends. Instead of pouring my creativity in writing, I pour it into making Christmas presents. I have been baking a lot (trying to get a good taai taai recipe). I read books. Play with our new Wii and Wii fit, until I can't walk anymore. Practice my harp for church harp gigs. etc etc. After all of that, I'm pretty exhausted, and would rather take a nap than take the time to think of a fun way to write about my life. In other words; life's good!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Damaged in Transit

I'm not really in the mood to blog, probably because of the series of unfortunate events that have unfolded. First, our suburban broke down. Therefore, in order to get my harp down to Richardson to play on Sunday, my friend Tracey had to pick it up in her car. Her car's metal seat holders apparently stick up higher than the ones in ours. As we were putting the harp in, the top hit one of them, and a chunk of the column broke off. I didn't actually notice until Sunday morning, right before I was supposed to perform. I wanted to cry, scream, curse, etc. All I could do though, was put on a brave face, and perform as best as I could. This whole scenario made me reconsider my future "free" peformances. It's always a big risk to move the harp, and no one will pay if it gets damaged but me. The only upside is that we still have the piece that broke off, so hopefully a professional instrument repairman/builder can make it look good. I'm too ashamed to even post a picture of the damage!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The end

Man, am I glad this week is almost over! I had the creche performance tonight, which I was pretty nervous about. I hadn't practiced as much as i should have, so when I got an extra hour to practice at the church, I was very relieved.

Not so much relieved about our suburban breaking down though.... Luckily I have great friends to help me out in a pinch. Gangsta Barbie drove my harp home, and Joe and the kids got home in Mama Barbie's car. We're just really hoping it's not a $2000 transmission repair. Man, I hate older cars. (unbelievable that our sub is already almost 10 years old). Tomorrow is the first day that I get to do fun stuff that I WANT to do. Some baking, sewing, sleeping in, and partying with our friends. Why does sleeping always end up at the end of my to do list? It should be the first thing!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Different directions

I feel like I'm being pulled in a thousand different directions this week. My brain is in a fog. The kids need me. I have 3 (unpaid) harp gigs, Doctor's visits, Dinner to make for a new mom, playdates with my barbie friends, work with grandma Helen, Creche, Sinterklaas, and other things I can't even remember. Maybe compared to other people's lives, this doesn't seem like much, but my life is normally pretty slow. I can't set up anything, without first consulting my calendar. Plus, Joe is out of town, so I have to take care of the cows, goats, pig, chickens, cats, and dogs. On top of all of that, I still stay up till midnight, and get up at 6am every day (don't ask me why I do that to myself). Hopefully next week will be a little slower. But I can't tell you for sure, because I don't have my calendar open in front of me.........

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