03 December 2010

Only in Holland

When I started this blog I wanted to post pictures and recipes of the food I made and I seriously took pictures already, but there is still so much to talk about. So I want to get it off my chest first. Pictures and recipe will definitely follow soon.

There are a couple of things very typically Dutch. We are from Holland or The Netherlands but we are Dutch people. Where did "Dutch" came from? Why aren't we Holland or Netherlands people? Of course I can ask Google (god) as he knows all, but I am to tired at the moment. You have to know that I work for a mortgage advise company (for more then 8 years, so I am almost part of the furniture as we say here) and today it was extremely busy. In times of economical crisis being busy is very rare but it seems to happen to me quite often. Me and the girls worked our butts off. Holland is one of the few countries where you can have tax relief on your mortgage so that can almost be considered as typically Dutch.

In 2 days we celebrate the one thing no one else in the world has. It is "Sinterklaas" and "pakjesavond". Sinterklaas is not the same as Santa Clause. I don't think there is a good translation for Sinterklaas, so Sinterklaas it is. For little kids till the age of around 6 it is a very exiting time. It starts somewhere in October, when Sinterklaas arrives on his "stoomboot" (the one like in the picture below) from Spain together with his white horse and lots of "zwarte pieten", his helpers. From that time kids will make drawings, poems, whatever creative things they can come up with and put that in their shoe. Before bed time they will sing a song and if they were good in the past year they will find a little present or candy the next morning. The day all kids look forward to is 5 December, pakjesavond. If there is any big present to be received it will be on that day.
My Sinterklaas goodies, marzipan, chocolate Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet and chocolate Euros.
Me and my hubby bought this boat for our little neighbour boy Spyros (very cool name huh). It is his first Sinterklaas and now he has something to remind him of this day.

I enjoyed Sinterklaas very much when I grew up. With 3 little sisters I got to believe in this tradition for a long time. I just regret that my very youngest sister couldn't enjoy it as long as I did. We are about 9 years apart.

Now I enjoy this time of the year in a different way, by eating all the jummie cookies and candies, like pepernoten, banketstaaf, speculaas en marsepein. These will be available somewhere in August till the end of the year.
We had a very nice selection of Sinterklaas goodies at the office today, but unfortunately I didn't had time to take a picture. It would've shown a nice collection of typically Dutch goodies.


Winter time is always good for making and eating "erwtensoep" or "snert" which I translate to pea soup. There are many different recipes for this soup, but I think that mine will be easy to make even if you don't have lots of time. All you have to do is buy all the ingredients and put them in a large pan. There will hardly be any chopping and you don't have to worry about dishes, since you will use one pan only. Check out how I put this soup together. These are all the ingredients I used. From left to right: a can of peas, pre-cut vegies, diced smoked bacon bits, dried raw peas (spliterwten), potatoes, fresh bay leaves, carrots and smoked sausage (rookworst).
The canned peas, carrots and potatoes are optional, but I always add them to make the soup thicker. And I love to see whole peas, after all it is pea soup. If you can always use the pre-cut vegies because it has everything this soup needs and it will save you chopping time. The pre-cut vegies are only available in winter time so if I crave this soup in the summer I need to get all the ingredients separately: leeks, celery roots, onion, carrots and parsley.These are the diced smoked bacon bits. They are very salty so for this soup you will not have to add a lot of extra salt. I use these cuz they give the soup great flavour.And in a large pot of water they go.Add the fresh bay leaves. I got these from my little herb garden. Surprisingly they survived the freezing weather.
If you don't have fresh leafs you can use the dried bay leaves also. But the fresh ones definitely have my preference.I'd like to add some fresh grounded pepper. Of course this is optional. I love grounded pepper on everything.While waiting for the water to boil put the dried peas in a strainer and rinse with lots of water.Put the pre-cut vegies in a colander and rinse them also. Although you can use them right out of the package I prefer to give them a rinse also.Peal the carrots with a peeler and slice and dice them.
My peeler doesn't look like much, but it's been around for ages. Mom got it for me from Vietnam and it is the one thing that's always sharp.By this time the water starts to boil.Time to remove the foam. Some people use some kind of strainer, but I just use the scooping spoon. The way to do it is to move it around the side of the pan slowly let the foam into the spoon. Try to scoop up the foam only.This would do it. Whenever you see any foam, just remove it. I did it couple of times.Remove the ends of the rookworst. It is rope and metal and will not taste good in the soup.
Slice the rookworst as thick or thin as you like. Since I used 2 rookworsten I sliced them thin.
After boiling the bacon bits and the bay leaves for a while add the dried peas. The carrots has to be boiled a little bit longer then the rest of the vegie package so separate them.When your peas look like this, it is time to add the rest of the stuff to the soup. You are looking for a pea that's almost losing its shape.In goes the carrots.You will then have time to peal the potatoes, rinse and dice them. You don't want them too small since they will loose their shape in the soup.In the soup the potatoes go.After the potatoes starts to soften add the rest of the vegies.And add the rookworst. At this time taste the soup and add salt if needed. Let everything cook through and serve it hot. Tradition is to eat it with roggebrood (rye bread), but it will be good on its own also. I know cuz I already finished 2 bowls for dinner.Don't that just looks delicious! I know some people like a smooth soup so they blend everything together, but I like to see every piece of goodness.Eet smakelijk!

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