Friday, 21 February 2014

Everything From Tattoos To Mice

Luckily , apart from wall to wall Winter Sports ... Clare Balding seems to have moved into our sitting room , together with her trolley ... this week has had a few other diversions .

 Behind the church , I discovered a Tattoo supplies wholesaler  and a rather splendid new graffiti . The Rumanian accordeonist outside the health shop has learnt a new tune  and there's a new Japanese supermarket nearby with deep frozen Swimming Crabs , in case I ever need them .
 A quick trip to Amsterdam for lunch and a wander around Albert Cuypstraat's market was very cheering .... I'm really looking forward to seeing someone carrying one of these bags over one shoulder this spring

 and Disney-esque bluebirds being worn ( you'll find the tattoed lady's on her shoulder ) . Though the restaurant was so full I ended up at a table tucked under the stairs , the company was pleasant ,

 and lunch delicious .
 And , in a strange shop a bit further up the street , I found just the knife I've been hunting for ; devilishly sharp German steel , perfect for peeling potatoes ... and only a couple of Euros , so I bought two  . Since the shop also stocked herbs and spices , a huge supply of fruit and herbal teas , old-fashioned sweets with names like Polkabrokken ( caramel cushions to chew or to melt in hot milk as a bedtime drink ) and Hete Bliksem ( Hot Lightening ) , sage-flavoured cough drops , an enormous range of whisks , garlic presses , cheese slicers , incense and brushes and , they boast  , "592 other things "  , I was there a while .
 Oh , and the mice ?  Well , I met YD later for a drink before I got the train back  and as we sat in the covered terrace with some wine , we were startled to find a tiny brown mouse popping in and out between the tables . When a couple of women sitting at a table further up  squeaked and fled  , we realised that our mouse must have brought his mates with him ... a  party , perhaps ... but there seemed to be enough room for everybody , so we finished our drinks in peace before we left .
Back at home , when not waving the flag for yet another Dutch skating medal ( we won't be asked next time , I fear ! ) .... I've been reading Rosie Tremain's Music And Silence ... and loving it .
 But it's just as well Sochi ends this week . It's about time I got off my behind and stretched .....

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Reduced To Pot Noodles

So far , 2014 hasn't exactly had the Wow! factor .  Even the little , wild-haired chap I see whenever I go to the supermarket , who springs  to attention waving a handful of plastic keyrings , "Hello Madame ... Buy One , Pay For Two ! " , seems deflated . His marketing ploy seems to have lost it's sparkle and his cackle's not so loud . Only Liz , whose photos of her Antarctic advenure are keeping us all enthralled , seems to be having fun .

Bored to a frazzle , Winter Olympics notwithstanding ,  I've been rummaging through my cookery books to find something to perk us up . Ignoring oddities like Mexican Risotto ... bananas , eggs , bacon and almonds  added to the rice  ....  from Lady Maclean's Cook Book (  Lots of worthy staples such as Chicken Liver Patè  , "makes enough for thirty" ... or Lady Sykes Pheasant patè , "will serve eight over a weekend" , as well as the 1960s abberations ) , I hovered over a recipe for Hooihaantjes from the morning paper . Cockerel cooked with hay , apples and beer . Though where , in a first-floor flat in the middle of town , one was supposed to get hold of a small quantity of hay , clean and appetising enough to soak in beer and stuff a chicken with , I didn't know . A pet shop ?  Anyway , we ended up having Pot Noodles for supper .

Well , not the real thing ... I don't even know whether they still exist . But I used  an Indonesian ready-mix for chicken soup

and , instead of the recommended additions of rice and potatoes  ... bleugh! ... , added a leek , egg noodles and baby spinach to the chicken . Looked hideous but cheered us up enormously !