June 30, 2011

A Blog Facelift & Contest Prize

I wanted to give a BIG...

To Blog Guide Book for hosting a Blog Layout Facelift Giveaway & for choosing A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Market as a contest winner!



Through Blog Guide Book I won a credit to Christine B.'s  Blog Beautiful Designs services and she was amazing at helping me put into cyber realization what I envisioned wanting as a blog.
BWS tips button
Her service was speedy, creative, and flexible - she was a joy to work with.  Thanks Christine!

So head on over to Blog Guide Book to get a free listing for your blog and find others like yours OR head over to Christine's site Blog Beautiful Designs if your blog needs a snazzy pick me up.
(Christine's Blogger Blog also has great Blog freebies and tutorials).

June 29, 2011

If You Give A Mouse Some Muesli

Slim had never heard of the book "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie" - but I'm guessing for some of you from the Western Northern Hemisphere, this literary children's masterpiece was a staple in your childhood reading (along with if you Give a Mouse a Muffin)


I read these books until they were worn soft with my mom.  I really loved If you Give a Mouse a Cookie - that was - until Slim and I  had our own live version of the book only enter "Muesli" for "Cookie"- this past 6 months.

I've heard that the insane amount of canals paired with the hundred year old row houses in Holland - lead to mice being plentiful as secondary members in Dutch households.  We have had a little gray, tailed, rodent pet of our own for the past 6 months off and on.

We kept thinking he found another snug house to sleep in or a local neighborhood cat got an extra special dinner with our pet because we would only see him every few weeks, late at night, in the kitchen, running under our heater - while we were sitting on the couch watching a movie.

We would gasp, throw a shoe, and hope he would like what we sat out on the "Lucifer" mouse trap I found at Blokker - or the box of mouse poison our crazy landlord set out.

However, after 5 sprung Lucifer traps and cookie bait (I went by the book) taken as recent as a week ago we had only shared paranoid glances at little house sounds and no dead mouse.

So I bought the "Claws of Death" (as I lovingly refer to them) off of Amazon.co.uk and waited for them to arrive.
Then.....this weekend.....
Mousepocalypse happened.  
Slim and I were sitting on the couch watching "Kill the Irishman" (a great movie) when I heard...

"Munch, munch, munch" - I looked at Slim and gave him the military two finger point to the eyes and two finger point to the sound (because I sure as heck wasn't going to see what it was).
He heard it then - "munch, munch, munch" - and tiptoed over to the kitchen counter to investigate.

You see, when first realizing we had a little unwanted pet in our apartment -  I Tupperware up literally EVERYTHING in our kitchen - except the boxes of bran cereal and Muesli we eat for breakfast because they didn't fit in our cabinet.

Guess where the munching was coming from? Oh you guessed it - the Museli box.

Slim hit the box, once... the munching stopped.  He hit the box again.... and the mouse came flying out of the box about 2 feet in the air, in Slims direction (no joke, who knew mice could fly?!).
We both made loud noises (mine was a scream & Slims was an explicit word) and jumped on the couch.  We watched the mouse dart behind the microwave and then  probably back into the walls.

After catching our breath, we resolved that our friend was getting ballsier and fatter off our breakfast cereal - and that he was in deed not deciding to take up residence elsewhere.  Thank the Lord the next day the claws of death arrived from the Amazon.co.uk angels - and we baited those bad boys.

Slim also did some mouse recon in his mouse hunting gear from the cesspool that is our porch (or veranda as he calls it) after a rainy morning.

During his baiting expedition Slim realized that although our crazy landlord had put down the box of poison - he failed to realize that one must  open the bags of poison and dump them into the box. Maybe he got confused by the word stop which is probably referring to "stop - don't eat"


Needless to say - we opened the poison, baited all four of the traps with some Muesli/Peanut-butter, and threw away the rest of the box of Muesli (after shuttering at the fact that maybe those burnt nuts in our Muesli were not really burnt nuts after all).  I bought new muesli and an extra tall Tupperware container the next morning - hopefully we also bought some good mouse catching luck with these claws of death as well.

I don't think after Mousepocalypse I'll be reading our future children "If you give a Mouse a Cookie" with the same love as I did before.

On a side note - does anyone in Holland have a cat they need babysat over the next few weeks?

June 26, 2011

A Sunny Sunday Morning with Healthy Harvest Muffins

Its' a sunny Sunday morning over at Chez Slim & Shera.  A rare occurrence in the land of wooden clogs where I swear it rains more than it does in Seattle.

To bring the sunshine in to our apartment Slim brought me some of these - two Brownie Points gifted to Slims piggy bank for this sweet purchase! :)


I had to spend my Sunday studying for the Bar Exam - a two day exam that I have to take in July to be licensed to practice law in the U.S.   Fun times let me tell ya'.  Sitting down, listening to lectures, and trying to memorize 100's of pages of legal notes is driving me crazy.  So what do I do to compensate?  I run, I do bickram yoga, I entertain myself with Slim and I bake.  

I have been a baking fool - I swear Slim and I will be 10 lbs heavier at the end of this bar exam.  I've never been a chef of any kind, unless it comes from a box or a can  - so the cooking and baking are new endeavors for me - especially in a country where I have no idea what the names of ingredients are from reading the package in the store.

My study baking break this sunny Dutch Sunday?  

Here they are before they head into their baking sauna. 
Here is the recipe with my modifications integrated.
     
 Ingredients:
 Muffin "Meat"
1 cup whole wheat flour
    1 1/4 cups uncooked old fashioned oats (whole grain)
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    1 teaspoon powdered ginger

    2 cups bananas, ripe & mashed (about 4 medium bananas)
    2/3 cup of all natural applesauce
    1/3 cup carrot, shredded
    1 large egg
    2 tablespoons butter (melted)

Topping
    1/2 cup walnut pieces
    1 tablespoon butter (melted)
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

16 muffin wrappers/cookie sheet or 2 muffin pans 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C - 180C for a convection oven).
  2. Line muffin pan or set up cookie sheet with muffin cups
  3. Squirt each cup with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large mixing bowl (flour - ginger). Stir until well blended.
  5. In a separate smaller bowl combine next 5 ingredients (bananas - butter). Stir until well blended.
  6. In another separate small bowl, combine next 6 ingredients (almonds - nutmeg) for muffin topping.
  7. Add banana mixture to the flour mixture along with the raisins, if you desire.
  8. STIR JUST UNTIL MOISTENED. Do not over stir.
  9. Fill muffin cups 2/3 way full.
  10. Press enough of the brown sugar-nut topping into each muffin to cover the top, and to your taste.
  11. Bake in oven at 375 for about 20 minutes, until the muffin springs back when lightly touched.
  12. Makes 16 small muffins, or 8 giant-sized muffins. 

These muffins are go-go-gooood.  Super hearty and healthy at only 180 calories a pop with the original recipe - probably even less with the alterations I made considering I cut the sugar, butter and nuts in the topping down by half (the original recipe asks for another 1/2 cup of sliced almonds and double all the other topping ingredients).  Plus you get carrots, bananas, and oatmeal goodness packed inside!


I had a freakout half way through baking and thought my nutmeg was hazelnut - batter covered hands I ran to my computer and knuckle typed in "nootmuskaat" - thank God for Google translate.

The finished product - I didn't have a muffin pan so mine came out a little flat and a little lopsided (as much as I love muffins with personality I would recommend using a muffin baking sheet if you have it).

Dutch word of the day - "Cakevormpjes" - I don't know how to pronounce it but it looks neat!


For the next month expect lots of lb. enducing food cooking/baking posts!

Dang That's Good Grade - 4 out of 5

June 24, 2011

Whats for Dinna' ? - (Leftovers) The Cous Cous Veggie Quiche

Usually when I ask Slim what he wants for dinner his response is "Whatevea's easy for dinna'" (in his cute Aussie accent).  This is especially true after a really stressful day or week - his exams were this week so dinner definitely fell in that category. 

Searching for "Whatevea's easy" inspiration I found it in a Tupperware container of leftover Couscous, some onions and mushrooms, and a great recipe from Cafe Cyan .  I had to alter some of the items because funny things happen at the market when you are across the pond looking for specific ingredients.

First - the original recipe - that was linked from Janet is Hungry's Blog:



Onion and Wild Garlic Quiche with Parmesan in a Couscous Crust

2 cups leftover Couscous
1 tbsp butter
2 cups thinly sliced onion
25 bulbs wild garlic (or 2-5 blubs of minced regular garlic)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Mozzarella
1/2 cup Parmesan
4 slices tomato
salt and pepper
Directions:
1. Mix 1 tbsp butter with leftover Couscous
2. Dump the couscous into an 8" pie plate. Press it down and up the sides of the dish.
3. Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil
4. Spoon onions and garlic into the couscous crust.
5. Mix together the milk, eggs, Dijon, 1/4 of the Parsmesan, and salt and pepper. Pour over the pie.
6. Top with tomato slices, then remaining Parmesan, Mozzarella and cilantro.  
7. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, or until set and the edges have started to brown. 


Shera's Alterations:
 - Size of Pie Pan:  I have no idea how big our pie plate is, I hate doing conversions into metric from english so I couldn't tell ya - but it worked regardless (so a bigger pan just = a little thinner crust, add extra couscous and butter if you want a thicker crust with your bigger pan)

-Veggies Used:  I don't know what wild garlic looks like and I have no idea what the term in Dutch is for wild garlic so I opted for the good old regular garlic and used 5 blubs crushed.  We also added Spinach, Mushrooms and Peppers.  Why you ask? They were sitting all lonely in our refrigerator and I try to sneak in veggies to Slims belly at any opportunity.  It was really delicious and if you need some meat I bet after sauteing separately you could add it in as well!

I also added more tomatoes on top - we covered the whole quiche

- Cheese Used - I have no idea what kind of cheese I used.  I will tell you the one for the egg mix-in was shredded and the label said "oud".  I know this means old and hard - kind of like Parmesan - so I thought what the heck and threw it in to the egg addition.  I added some other softer cheese for the final topping.
 So be creative, use whatever you have lying in your drawers and is hard (like parm) and soft (like mozzarella) it will probably work.   Especially if you can't read the label of the cheese you are using.

- Seasonings - I love gharrrlic.  So I added some garlic powder to the eggs.  I also added seasoned salt (just a little bit) and cayenne powder.  Get wild with your seasonings - whatever suits your fancy.


 
The couscous is a great healthy alternative to a flour dough crust and is surprisingly super delicious!



Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner this meal its full of protein, calcium, and veggie nutrients - but it is rich in butter, milk and cheese so portion it out to enjoy.  Pair it with a salad for a dinner so you balance out the cheesiness!  It's even microwaves well and is tasty as leftover leftovers the next day.

Dang That's Good Grade: 4 out of 5
Bon Appetit!

June 23, 2011

Healthy Globetrotting Habits - The Banana Spoon Trick

Staying healthy can be a challenge, this is especially true when you are globetrotting and doing a lot of "foreign food experiencing" (my favorite kind of experience).  One book I've mentioned before has really served as the light at the end of my healthy living struggle  is Mireille Guiliano 's -  French Women Don't Get Fat.

Mireille provides the basic tools in her book for a complete mental make over on approaching food.  Her tips, tricks, and recipes allow you to still eat chocolate, drink wine and most importantly feel satisfied and fulfilled with what you do consume. You do this by focusing on portion control, quality over quantity, and really slowing down and  experiencing your food every time you eat.

Although I don't follow everything she suggests (i could never and don't want to ever get through a leek soup detox), while reading her book I've adapted some habits that I really think helped me get to a healthy weight without feeling cheated or like I am restricting myself (I lost 20 lbs. over 4 months this spring & feel really good physically).

One behaviour is what I call the "banana spoon" trick - it's as simple as eating your banana with a spoon.



I know - it sounds weird but it is a great idea.  The rationale behind eating your banana is a spoon is that often we shovel, eat on the run, and quickly consume food during the day without really enjoying the food experience - the tastes, feels, and smells of what we are consuming.  Banana consumption for me is a frequent offender of each of these manners of munching.

Although a banana only has 135 calories - they should still be 135 calories that you really experience and enjoy.  As odd as it sounds I feel more full and satisfied if I eat my banana with a spoon than just pealing and biting right off the banana.

Although a banana is no substitute for chocolate (thats not even debatable) it almost feels like you are eating a little dessert when you slow down and experience your food, when instead you're eating a potassium loaded, fat/sodium/cholesterol free healthy snack!

Try it and I promise you'll go bananas for the trick. :)

June 21, 2011

European Style - Summer Scarfs


My sisters and I have a long affinity with scarfs.  

Warm woolen scarfs in the winter/fall and lightweight cotton scarfs in summer/spring.
Not to mention scarfs are a GREAT travel accessory! They serve not only to make you look cute, but as a sleeping mask/extra blanket on a plane, train or automobile.

Luckily the Dutch also have an affinity with scarfs and my stockpile helps in toning down my "sticking out like a sore thumb" Americanness while we are living in Holland.

It's never super hot in Holland (60-65 F degrees high temps in the middle of June) so a scarf makes for a good layer of subtle warmth, which can be much needed even in the summer if you are riding your bike (like a true Dutch woman) and it starts raining (which it often does).  Plus, they just look great.

In the summer, paired with a solid colored tank, lightweight tee, and a pair of jeans - a cotton scarf allows you to dress up a really comfortable relaxed outfit without suffocating from the heat.

Lightweight striped scarfs are a huge current trend on this side of the pond right now.  Considering how popular nautical themed pieces are in generally this season it makes sense.  The theme also seems to be really popular in Hollywood.

I am loving these stripped scarfs Jessica Alba and Hillary Duff are wearing.



One of my favorite ways wrap these long, rectangular types scarfs.

1)  Fold the scarf in half 
2) Hang the scarf over your neck with a loop on one side and the two ends on the other in the front of your body
3) Tuck the two loose ends in between the loop
Viola!

Alternatively, I've been seeing a lot of "middle eastern"fringed square style scarfs hanging around the necks of Dutch women - and I love them. 
  

All photos via

Wrapping these types scarfs is really easy.  

1) Start by folding the scarf to look like a triangle.   
 2) Place the scarf so the two ends are hanging evenly down your back and the odd point of the scarf is pointing down, then wrap the pieces hanging down your back to your front - crossing in the back around and tuck into the front part.  
3) Loosen up the pieces   - the sloppier the better for this look.
Viola!

 The uneven edges and change is colors/patterns create a really great pop for the eye.

Are you a visual learner?

For a good online step by step tutorial on how to wear scarfs check out one of my favorite websites - "Who, What, Wear"'s scarf tutorial.  

The first and second methods they present are my favorite ways to sport a scarf 
(it looks like Who, What, Wear also really loved Rianna's scarf!).

How do you wear your scarfs - any good reader tips/tutorials?

June 19, 2011

The Day of Thanking Dads


"A father is always making his baby into a little woman.  
And when she is a woman he turns her back again."  
~Enid Bagnold


Happy Fathers Day to all of those dads out there reading the blog - and to all of those who are acting in a dad role.  I hear that it can be one of the toughest and most rewarding jobs around.  

Happy Fathers Day to my Dad especially.  
You are my coach - mentor - inspiration - strength in difficult times - favorite comic - shoulder to lean on - comfort when I am in pain - ideal example of a parent - one of the reasons I am the woman I am today.

 I love you so much Dad, but I know you know that.
  I think you are the greatest dad ever - thank you for the gift of your unconditional love every day.


June 18, 2011

A Great Giveaway - Enter Today!

Happy Saturday Everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying your holiday weekend,
ours is surprise - full of lots of studying.

While you are lounging around this weekend head on over to Michelle's blog at
  Hot Pink Combat Boots and enter her give away!


Michelle is a stylish American living over in Germany who sold her boutique store in the U.S. of A. and joined the Air Force Reserves to help wounded soldiers.
She is giving away all sorts of European indulgences to a lucky winner in her June giveaway.




Oh yeah, thats right she's giving away chocolate and something fun to drink.
 All you have to do is comment for an entry -
 but hurry on over she's choosing a winner Tuesday June 21st!


Goodluck!

June 16, 2011

Love and BBQ Pulled Pork is in the Air

Today is Slim and I's One-month wedding anniversary  - it's crazy how fast a month passes!

To celebrate I made him his favorite american dinna' (in Australian) - BBQ'd pulled pork.  I rounded it out with fresh slaw, corn on the cob, and a big ole' salad.

Slim had BBQ'd pulled pork for the first time this spring at a dive restaurant near our family's lake cottage.  He was actually frightened to go in the restaurant at first - but after his first bite he told us it fell in his "Top 5 Last Meals on Death Row List" and he eyed the rest of my sandwich while I finished. :)

The pork I made tonight was a quick and healthy twist on the really good, really involved, really delicious normal pulled pork recipe.  While it wasn't exactly the same  - it was pretty yummy, and much more realistic for working folk!  Interested in the recipe? Check it out through the link below.

Modificaitions: 
  • Halved the vinegar and cinnamon in the sauce
  • Substituted honey for molasses (you can't find any here - other options brown sugar, real maple syrup, or corn syrup - I try to add honey to any and everything I can to help my allergies)
  • Added two extra cloves of garlic (4 total) and crushed not diced the garlic 
    •  I love garlic but hate dicing it - who wants stinky fingers? Not this lady.
Dang That's Good Grade: 4.5 out of 5

We are spending some quality time (spliced in with studying) so no delicious food photos tonight... But, I will give you some deliciously fun photos of our shoot gun civil ceremony (our big wedding to follow with more photos next year when all the Aussies, Expats, and Yanks we love are in one place)!

The Day of Our Big Day...
Via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com
In the Court House...
Via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com

Saying our Vows...
Via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com

Kissing my Dad After...
Via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com

 More Photos in the Court House...
Via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com
We are excited to get to celebrate our big day twice! Thanks Jess S. from www.j3designz.com for your beautiful artistic work!

June 15, 2011

Delicious Desserts - A Protein Packed Peanut-butter Treat

Living on the other side of the pond I often long for treats from home like starbursts, Archers Lemon Cookies, and Peanut Butter Cups.


While I usually come up short trying to find these great items - sometimes I can whip up something that serves as a great stand in until our future glorious reunion.  

Even better - sometimes these stand ins happen to be healthier than the real deal.  

Tonight while browsing the web - I found & made a tasty understudy for my Peanut Butter Cup star...

 The Nutella, Cinnamon & Peanut butter ChickPea Bake

I got the recipe from a fellow peanut butter lover who is a healthy eater -  Peanut Butter Fingers

 I made a few variations of my own from her original recipe that I explain below...


Our Spin on the Chickpea PB Bake

Ingredients:
2 cups of canned chickpeas (approx. one can)
1 tbsp. of natural peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
A small amount of Nutella (optional)
Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Ground Ginger
A sprinkle of cocoa powder (optional)
1 tsp of imitation vanilla flavoring
Baking Sheet 
Directions:
  • Rinse and Drain the canned chickpeas
  • Toss chickpeas with vanilla flavoring & spices until the chickpeas are fully coated
  • Spices:  cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg, and dash of ground ginger 
  • Roast chickpeas on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray for 15 – 25 minutes at 375 degrees (190 degrees C).  
  • Remove chickpeas from the oven and place them in a bowl.
  • Immediately swirl the chickpeas with the peanut butter and nutella, & stir until the peanut butter/nutella covers all of the cinnamon/spice-roasted chickpeas
  • You can eat them hot right out of the oven, or refrigerate them for a harder cold treat



A serving size is 1/2 Cup (save/store the leftovers)

Here's the Nutritional Info for the recipe with a syrup twist.

Alterations on the Recipe:


  • I doubled the chick peas because my can of peas had 2 cups. 
  • I kept the same amount of natural peanut butter, but because Slim isn't a big peanut butter fan I added a little swirl of Nutella (you don't need much to add some hazelnut goodness).  Alternatively, two tbs. of peanutbutter would do it.  Another option to add sweetness is through a squirt of syrup or honey
  • I add imitation vanilla to literally everything I bake that is sweet (just about) - at 2 calories a tsp. it is a great way to fake sweeten up something & make it taste like comfort.
  • Also - we don't have readily available pumpkin pie spice seasoning in Europa - so I substituted nutmeg and a dash of ginger (not very much) as well as upped the amount of cinnamon.  I also added a little sprinkle of cocoa for fun.


Overall tasty, packed full of protein and sweet as a PB Cup understudy -  
as you can see from the photo - slim ate half the bowl before I got it into the fridge!  

Dang That's Good Grade:  3.75 out of 5 

June 13, 2011

Daylight - Nightlight?

It's 10 p.m. in Holland and this is how dark it is outside.


Crazy!  Life in a northern town....at it's shortest the night here only lasts around 6 hours.

The super long days lead to later nights, earlier mornings, and insomnia - but they also lead to longer summer evening celebrations!  With such great Belgium beer so cheap - its a much appreciated gift of mother nature.

On the flip side you imagine how brutal it is making it through the winter here? Especially with 4:30pm sunsets and 80% of the days full of rain or snow. You have to get pretty creative to make it out alive and into March (including using sun lamps and wake up lights - no joke).  

Have any of you been to Alaska or another northern state where the evenings are even shorter? 

I would love to make it further up north to see the northern lights on a globetrotting venture.

June 11, 2011

Sweet Home Chicago - Globetrotting

As Slim and I globetrot I'll make sure to post on the blog the yay's and nay's of our traveling. One city that got all yay's was Chicago, Illinois U.S.A. - or as some refer to it as ... the Windy City.

After Slim & I's civil ceremony in May - we went with Slims parents for a quick two day trip to Chicago, one of my favorite cities on earth.  It was great spending time with some of my favorite people in one of my favorite cities.



Chicago is -  in my view - a cleaner, kinder, and easier city to navigate than NY (but maybe I am biased growing up so close to the windy city).



It was a quick two day trip, but was really great fun and a first for Slim's parents.  Slim's dad said he loved the city - even more than Paris, and he loves Paris ... Mon Dieu!

I just love the sights, sounds and eats - but more than anything I really love the eats :) (no surprise there)

We stayed at a great hotel the Hotel Sax, with a great rate I got from finding a deal as a subscriber to Travelzoo.com We both loved the decor - it was very funky but chic (I was scheming on how to get myself one of these rounded back chairs that were faux fur backed as an addition to our apartment in Holland).

The customer service was amazing as well - it's a great hotel to stay at if you are headed to the windy city.

We ate at two great Chi-town restaurants during our trip.

Carnivale for dinner with Slim's parents, my sister Wonder Woman and her boyfriend.  Carnivale is a South American fusion restaurant in the Upper Loop where neither my sister nor I have ever had a mediocre meal or drink!

I suggest getting any beef or pork dish - it will literally be so tender you can cut it with your fork.  Also - the guacamole, is amazing.  The best part?  Incredible value, considering quality for the price.

Photo via

Of course one can't leave Chicago without trying Deep Dish Chicago Style Pizza.  We had both that and local Goose Island Beer at one of our favorite non-touristy pizza places  Lou Malnatis  (my mouth is literally watering looking at this 3 in., cheesy, gooey - pie of goodness).
 


Don't worry - for all of you who can't swing the Chi-town trip but have some dinner envy, Lou's delivers in the U.S. via their website!

We also explored the city by going shopping, checking out the bean in Millennium Park, grabbing a coffee, and just strolling.


 (Thanks Slim for most of these Pics <3)

Next trip - we are going to hit up my favorite neighborhoods - Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Wrigleyville and Wicker Park.  If you are ever in Chicago - you should check out each of these hoods - you'll find great shopping, vibes, and sights in all of the above.

What are your favorite eats, treats, sights and sounds in the Windy City?

June 9, 2011

Half-Way Homemade - Mint Tea

This week is the unintentional "get your hot drink on" week on the blog.

First coffee and today - tea (I blame it on the heavy amount of studying going on for both Slim and I). I am a sugar and sweet addict.  One way I've learn to satisfy the cravings is by instead of having dessert after dinner, having a cup of fruity tea.  Recently I've added a new after dinner tea to my list - mint tea.

I first discovered mint tea when I moved to Holland, they drink it all the time to lift spirits on dreary days.  Why hadn't I gotten the memo on this oh so easy, and oh so delicious smelling type of hot drink on the other side of the pond?

Not to mention - mint is really good for digestion!  I may be behind the jump on this one, for all of you who already know the splendor of mint tea - but for those of you who don't here is the scoop.....


Mint Tea Ingredients:

1) A few "sprigs" of fresh mint (leaves, stems and all)
2) Water
3) A cup for your tea
**Mint is very easy to grow, or easy to buy in the grocery store :) **
Optional Add In's 
Honey, Sugar, A lemon slice


There are two ways you can make mint tea

The Hard Way
- Boil water in a large pot
- Place the mint sprigs in the pot (Amount varies on how minty you like your tea)
- Let it simmer for 3 - 6 minutes (Time varies depending on how minty you like it) at least until the water turns a bit of an off color (here you can throw in lemons if you like lemony mint tea).
- Figure out a way to strain the mint leaves out of the big pot without getting annoyed
- Figure out a way to pour the tea into your cup or a serving dish without getting the tea all over the place and all over yourself.

The Dutch Way
- Use an electric kettle to warm your water
**If you don't have an electric kettle - you are missing out!  They are great for quick water boiling for all sorts of things and really reasonable to purchase.  After living in Europe this has become one of my must have kitchen gadgets**
- Place full mint springs into your cup (2 - 3)
- Pour water over sprigs 
- Let seep and inhale the minty goodness as you look at the pretty leaves in your cup.

**Suggestion: The Dutch often use a clear tall drinking glass or clear glass mug 
for their mint tea so the drinker can see the beautiful leaves while he or she sips**

Dang That's Good Grade:  5 out of 5
Both methods result in delicious healthy tea that satisfies that oh so annoying sweet tooth ailment.  However, one method is a bit easier.  I am a half-homemade woman myself and  I tend to go with the easier method for all things kitchen related.  You braver souls may want to try the first method - it may also be better for those who want to serve it in large quantities  (if you do let me know how it turns out!).

The mint tea smells so good, tastes fresh, and is great on a cool summer or fall night to keep the mosquitoes (or as Slim says "mossies") away.  It's also a perfect reminder of life and warmth on a dreary rainy day.
The Dutch definitely got it right by incorporating this drink into their cafe menus!

June 7, 2011

My cafe is bigger than your cafe...


I'm not talking about a shop - no I am talking about the bitter, delicious, get your morning going black stuff - coffee.

I love coffee, some-days its' the first thing I think about as I fight the urge to get up and snuggle in what Slim calls our "Dunna'". I like mine with cream, a big ole' cup of it - and I like to sip it really slow while I wake up (thank God for crest white strips).

However, on this side of the pond a cafe'/coffee isn't what I as an American typically think of as a filter drip cup of joe. No it is a much smaller, much stronger, cup of what we Amerikans call espresso.

Slim flat out will not drink American coffee - he says it makes him feel ill. However, he loves Euro cafe's so much that we are the proud owners of a pretty nice Quick (Italian brand) Espresso Machine. It's a money and a brain ability life saver in the mornings.

I do miss my American filter drip, but am happily content with espresso in the morning - the stuff is like diesel fuel. I have even found a really great independently owned coffee shop in town that sells nuttier, warmer blends (my favorite).

The coffee tastes much better than what you buy at the supermarket, and it is a minimal price difference (maybe 20 cents a lb). If you buy coffee or espresso and are having it ground for you at an independent shop, make sure you let them know what kind of machine you have - grinds come in different coarseness's and different densities. Bigger retailers usually differentiate between espresso and drip - it really does make a difference.




I just make sure I drink my morning brew in one of my favorite cups that Slim got me in Italy last summer, splash in some koffiemelk, allow a little water to run at the end. Then I sip it real slow. It's just like being home with my "Chicks Rule" coffee cup and a "tea consistency" cup of filter coffee with creamer.




For my American readers who share my love of the filter I highly recommend the coffee from this website - Fonseca Coffee.

My old roommate lived in Philidelphia and she introduced me to the beans - I've never looked back or elsewhere for my morning caffinee fix. For $8.50 a lb. and minimal shipping you can have yourself a fresh roasted bag of delicious coffee beans that really are a step above the rest delivered right to your doorstep.

Not only that the Company ships the day after receiving your order and proceeds help provide medical and material aid to the people of Central America.

My favorite? The Tanzanian Pea-berry - my roommate also loved the Ethiopian.

In fact, I love this coffee so much that when I reach 20 followers I will do a giveaway of a lb. of my favorite type of the delicious beans.

Fonnseca even has a espresso blend for those of you who are more European style inclined. ;)

How do you take your cafe?