Made almost entirely by our 6 years old.
Made almost entirely by our 6 years old.
My alarm went off at 7:00am sharp this morning, and with it, I heard some banging noise from our kitchen.
Our daughter was already dressed for the day, and for whatever reason without any advance notice, she started preparing our breakfast. Swinging her messy hair, she was running back and forth between the kitchen and dining table, with a huge smile on her face.
Still in our pajamas with our droopy eyes, my husband & I looked at each other in amusement. Peeking from the side of her eyes, she knew we were looking. I could tell she was enjoying our attention. Diligently putting plates & cutlery (as well as Dutch appelstroop & cheese) on the dining table, she pretended she hadn’t noticed our presence.
After a while, with a little help from me, she even made our coffee using the Italian mocha maker with frothy warm milk (microwaved, but still).
At the age of 6, our daughter has proudly mastered the Dutch style breakfast in style.
As requested by my daughter, I made sandwiches for her bento today.
Coming home, she told me that she had diligently followed my instruction by starting off with savory cheese sandwich, moving on to ham & cucumber, then to peanut butter & jam, and finally finishing it off with Nutella.
She also followed my instruction not to tell anyone she had Nutella in her bento, as sweets are not allowed for the bento time at school. I want to show her that sometimes the rules can be broken and live life a little, so she can learn how to be lenient and flexible in otherwise quite a disciplined environment. So every once in a while, I enjoy sharing this small piece of delicious secret with my little cheeky girl.
Dutch Sweet & Sour Chicken for my daughter’s bento, the leftover from the dinner party.
We had some guests over for dinner on Sunday, and I cooked Dutch Sweet & Sour Chicken which recipe I got from my Dutch mother-in-law. Whenever I tell our guests I cooked a “Dutch” dish their faces go blank – Dutch kitchen is not widely known, and people just have no idea what to expect.
This Sweet & Sour Chicken is also not a traditional Dutch dish, but is a modern interpretation of historical backgrounds of the Dutch. It has some influence from Indonesia as well as West Indies, and of course The Netherlands. It is actually a complex dish, just like their history can be, and usually people cannot figure out exactly what’s inside apart from the main ingredients (chicken, tomato and curry).
If you’re interested, here is the rough recipe I posted a while ago.
Our daughter loves half boiled egg served in egg stand. That’s how her Dutch grandmother (Oma) prepares it, and our daughter calls it “Oma Egg”. She loves cracking it horizontally at the top with a knife, and eating gooey golden egg yolk with a sprinkle of salt using this tiny egg spoon. It’s a whole pleasurable ritual for her.
Now back to our kitchen in the morning, while preparing bento, I went auto-pilot, boiled an egg for 5 minutes, peeled it, cut in half and saw the shiny yellow egg yolk spilling out of the egg white. Only then did I realise it was meant for her bento and needed to be fully cooked. As is always the case it was the last egg in the fridge, and as being Friday I had no other ingredients to fill up the bento box. Panicking, I put the halved egg into a small bowl of boiled water, but nothing really happened. I then put the bowl of egg into the microwave, being afraid it might explode, so ran it for 10 seconds, check, and repeat. After five times of pathetic efforts, it finally solidified, and with a feeling of relief I packed it into my daughter’s bento box.
Every year at my daughter’s kindergarten, they hold an annual spring picnic at the large public park, with compulsory attendance of at least one adult from each family. It was our third time and the last time, since it is her final year at kindergarten. With a touch of relief I mostly felt sentimental, that we wouldn’t be coming here any more in this style, with her teachers, friends and other kindergarten families, following some tedious instructions and these comical, animal-like dance moves to kickstart the day. I found myself enjoying every minute of it, even wishing that this peaceful moment would last longer.
My daughter promised to eat the savory tortilla wraps first, and then the sweet ones.
When we came home I asked her if she kept her promises. She grinned and told me she ate the jam ones first and the ham ones at the end.
I appreciate her honesty.
Over the past Christmas holiday, we visited my husband’s family and relatives in the Netherlands. After about 18 hours since the departure, we safely arrived at my husband’s mother’s place in the south of the Netherlands, two days before Christmas, where the year-end chaos back in Tokyo felt like distant past. I love the quiet, serene, family focused and heartwarming atmosphere of European Christmas, which is quite different from what we have in Japan (more commercialised with strong attention to romantic setting, in some cases involving expensive jewelry and an overnight stay at a luxury hotel). The following day on Christmas eve, we were ready to kickstart the festive season to begin, only to find out our poor girl got some tummy bug somewhere along the way and had to give a miss to all the Christmas celebrations. Luckily, a few days later she was fully recovered, and all of us resumed to enjoy our time-off.
After our rather miserable Christmas, the three of us were invited by the mother of my husband’s Dutch friend, who lives in the small village close to the city called Tilburg. The farm house where she lived was filled with holiday atmosphere with handmade Christmas decorations all over the place. Our daughter’s eyes widened with excitement as she walked into the front door. The house was warm, kind, and sparkly, just like an old house you’d see in a fairly tale. In her lovely kitchen there was a large pot heated in the gas stove, and whatever inside it gave an amazing and appetizing aroma of winter dish along with the heaping steam coming out of it. The candles were lit, the dinner table was perfectly set, we were all seated, and it was time for the dinner to be served… And I was dumbstruck when the lid was opened – I just didn’t expect how it would look like, and I couldn’t resist myself taking a photo. Voila, this is as hardcore Dutch as it can be – the famous Dutch “Stamppot.”
This was followed by delicious vegan Rhubarb Crumble, which apparently was not necessarily a traditional Dutch dessert. Nevertheless, it was absolutely divine. I wish I didn’t eat the second potion of the gigantic sausage so that I could eat more of this amazing dessert.
Talking about the traditional Dutch delicacy, they have this pudding like, or maybe more like custard type of dessert called Vla. To me, it’s like eating vanilla (or cocoa) cream that usually comes with spongy cake, but any Dutch people I’ve met strongly insist Vla is not cream nor pudding, but is Vla. OK then, it is Vla. Well, our half-Dutch daughter loves it, especially when mixing vanilla & chocolate Vla before eating. During this holiday, she’s had it numerous times, including her last cup of Vla 10 minutes before leaving her Oma’s place back to Tokyo.
My strained back is gradually getting better, but I still cannot carry anything heavy, including groceries. The stock in our fridge is running out, and there’s one more day until the weekend when my husband can help me with groceries.
I managed to drop by at a bakery on the way back from my daughter’s afternoon activity and bought a loaf of white bread. By the way, in Japan, this white fluffy toast bread is super popular and can be found mostly any bakery (except for the modern fancy ones). Anyway, I knew there was still some eggs, bacon and cucumber in the fridge, and we always have cheese and appelstroop being the Dutch household, so I decided to make sandwich for my daughter’s lunch.
Menu: Sandwich (bacon/cucumber/cheese & appelstroop, Broccoli omelet, Peanut butter & banana, Strawberry jam), Cherry tomato, Cucumber sticks, Leftover potato in pesto sauce
Strawberries & mikan tangerine for dessert