"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." ~ Charles W. Eliot
"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" ~ Julia Child
"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." ~ Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Daily Life in a Victorian House

I am working on making space in my bookshelves by reading some books that have been there for a longer period of time. I picked up this book which I bought from a museum in England by The National Trust. It is a look into the life of The Smiths who live in London. It shows life in detail both upstairs and downstairs. There are timelines of many of the things that happened with innovations during this time period. A small book packed with lots of fun facts and social history!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brussel sprouts with rice

Come autumn, you will find fresh Brussel sprouts on the menu in our house often. One of our favorite ways to eat them keeps them very healthy indeed...

Brussel sprouts with rice

400g / 1 lb. fresh Brussel sprouts
3/4 cup rice
bacon chunks or bacon cut into strips
1 onion, chopped in large chunks
1/2 tsp thyme
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh ground garlic flakes

Prepare your sprouts by cutting a slit into the core and removing any bad outer leaves and cook until just tender. Cook the rice as instructed.

Fry the bacon is a scant tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and when cooked transparent, add the thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Freshly ground garlic flakes is optional but adds kick to the dish. Now mix in the cooked Brussel sprouts and rice. Stir together well and be sure it is heated through. Enjoy!

This recipe is enough for 2 people. If you like larger portions, you may want to increase the amounts.

Bon appitit or eet smakelijk!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Summer of Roses

I had read Summer's Child by Luanne Rice a while ago. While my mother had given me this book, I had not realized it was a sequel to Summer's Child. It was nice to be back in Cape Hawk with Lily and Marisa....Liam and Patrick....Rose and Jessica. This book is a story about the strength of woman who can overcome even physical or emotional abuse. It is a story about mistrusting love and learning to trust it once again. It is a story about endings and new beginnings. It is a story that in the end, right can win.

This is my third book by Luanne Rice and I must say that I really do enjoy her work.

Happy reading!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Forgotten vegetables...Tuscan cabbage

Jos and I enjoy going to a farm in the north of Holland called De Cuynder. They sell their own vegetables including forgotten types or old varieties that are slowly disappearing. We bought a cooking pumpkin, two ears of sweet corn (they were only 25 cents which was an amazing price) and a crop of palm cabbage also known as Tuscan or black leaf cabbage. It is similar to kale but has a stronger taste. We tried it yesterday and it was delicious! Luckily, I have enough left to make another recipe which I will share in my next post but this is what I did with some of it for last night's meal.

Spaghetti carbonara with Tuscan cabbage for two

150 gram / 1/3 lb. spaghetti
1/4 lb. bacon, cut in chunks
3 spring onions, chopped roughly
1/3 lb. Tuscan cabbage, remove center vein and chop
3 eggs
1/4 lb. parmasan cheese
olive oil
pine nuts
freshly ground sea salt and pepper

Cook the spaghetti as directed on package. Roast the pine nuts if a dry pan and set aside. Fry the bacon in a little olive oil. Add spring onions and cabbage to the bacon until cooked.

In a bowl, mix the eggs with 3/4 of your parmasan cheese. When spaghetti is cooked, drain and add to the bacon and cabbage mixture. Now stirring constantly, add the eggs and cook until the spaghetti is coated and slightly cooked. Place the pasta onto two plates and add the remaining cheese and pine nuts, salt and pepper. Mix together and serve immediately.

If you are unable to get Tuscan cabbage, you can use kale in its place. It was fun trying a new vegetable and it really had a much better and more intense flavor than regular kale.

Bon appetit or eet smakelijk!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Murder is Binding

Cozy mysteries are great fun to read and this one is one of the best I have read. From the first page, I wanted to slap a character who was just too mean and cantankerousness to live in the quaint town of Stoneham, New Hampshire. Well, by the end of chapter one, there she lay sprawled out on the floor of her bookshop. But when neighboring mystery bookshop owner Tricia is accused by the sheriff of committing the murder, what else could she do but find the real killer. Add to that mix, her sister has moved to town, like it or not, the sweet Mr. Everett who is a daily regular customer she hires to work for her and her bookshop cat Miss Marple and you have the recipe for a very good cozy read!

I loved the twist of an exciting ending and know I will be reading more in this series now. Maybe it is because any book lover is attracted to a village like Stoneham and its variety of bookshops selling old and new books. The second in this series is already on my wish list.

This has gone up high on my list with my favorite cozy authors like Laura Childs, Susan Wittig Albert, Monica Ferris or Nancy Atherton. A must read for mystery lovers!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Provencal Chicken in Cream Sauce

This recipe is from the book The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher. It is a 4th generation Provencal recipe from Sara Wilford. I tried it last week while reading the book and it was divine!

My own changes are written in parentheses. I made this for two people by using two large skinless and boneless chicken breasts as we were only have meat and vegetables.

Provencal Chicken in Cream Sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small chicken, cut into eight pieces (I used two large skinless, boneless chicken      breasts)
16 whole baby onions, peeled (I used two regular onions chopped in chunks)
1 cup heavy cream (I used about 3/4 cup and it worked very well)
1/4 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Chopped fresh parsley

Coat the chicken pieces in flour, salt and pepper.

Heat butter in heavy large skillet (I used Dutch oven) over medium-high heat and lightly brown onions. Set aside. Add olive oil to butter and raise heat.
Add chicken to skillet and cook over medium heat until brown on all sides.
Add cream, wine, thyme, and the onions. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning the pieces once. (Sauce should be slightly thickened by the flour used to coat the chicken.)

Transfer contents of skillet to cocotte or other deep seerving dish if desired, sprinkle with parsley and freshly ground pepper, and serve with rice. (I wilted some fresh chopped andive leaves in a pan and then placed it as a bed for the chicken. We did not even have any pototoes or rice with it as it was enough on its own.)

Bon appitit or eet smakelijk!