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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

I have moved!

Dear readers, 

I have moved this blog to self-hosted Wordpress and have also changed the domain name. From now on, you will find me at:

www.europeanmama.com

Hope you'll enjoy the new design and my future post at my blog's new home!

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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Zucchini Soup with Blue Cheese


My husband doesn't like zuchini. However, I do and when I was pregnant, I had a craving for this yummy green vegetable. And I wanted soup. I am not sure how I got the brilliant idea to make zuchini soup, but the idea was brilliant indeed. And I was craving blue cheese, and the only way I could eat it was by cooking it. All came together to create this creamy dreamy soup. Here's how you make it.
1 zucchini
1 tomatoe
1 bell pepper
2 potatoes
water
chicken or vegetable stock (not sure how much)
1 or 2 onions
2 garlic cloves
Olive oil
150g of blue cheese- Danish Blue or Gorgonzola

Cut the onions and the garlic into little cubes and cook in olive oil until translucent. Cut the vegetables into cubes and add: first the potatoe, then the zuchini, then the bell peppers and then the tomatoes.
I actually planned for it to be a plain zuchini soup, but then the bell pepper and tomatoe jumped into the pot and there was nothing I could do. add a cup of water, cook until soft.

Add chicken stock- it depends on how thick a soup you like. I used two cubes of chicken stock for half liter water.

Tranfser to a blender and blend until smooth. Alternatively, use a hand mixer. Then, piece by piece (not necessarily, but I like doing it that way) add the blue cheese. and mix until dissolved.

Serve with these.

My husband and my children loved this creamy soup! And so did I.
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Monday, 28 October 2013

Multicultural Mommy Wars: Weighting In on the Discussion


I swore to myself that I will never, ever write about the SAHM-vs. Working mom - dilemma. But I will. I will write about it because I have an opinion and it wants out. So many posts have been written where one side shames the other side and calls them names and fervently defends their own decisions. I will not write such a post. Instead, I will tell you my story.

My mom loves her job and is good at it. No, not good. Brilliant. She became one of the youngest female professors at the University she works at. She spends lots of time and effort on educating the public on all kinds of science-related topics and is the go-to person for the media whenever something happens in her field. She is the wisest, funniest, most intelligent woman I know. I honestly hope that my children will think as highly of me as I think of her.

At first glance, we couldn’t have been more different: I am a Stay-at home mom, while my mother has been working since she was 18. I have worked here and there during my studies but preferred to concentrate on one thing at a time. She, while being an introvert, is not afraid to talk on radio, television and in front of a huge audience, while I am shy and prefer to communicate in writing.

But there are more similarities. We’re both willing to work hard towards our goals. We both love what we’re doing. We’re both multilingual and we both have the experience in living in different countries.

Which brings me to my next point. We all know that women face many problems when it comes to work, from judgment to glass ceilings and hidden chauvinism. We all know that women judge each other for whatever choices they make.

The same discussion is made far more complex when different cultural norms and expectations are involved. Expat women, especially those who like me followed their husbands, are referred to as “trailing spouses”. Some can’t find jobs because they don’t know the language. Others can’t find jobs because they speak English but not at a native-speaker level, as expats job often require them to. Yet other women find themselves empowered by their newly-found opportunities, change careers, set up their own businesses, find their dream job, work from home.

I told you I am a SAHM. That is only partially true. My children go to daycare because I want them to learn Dutch and because I need lots of me-time. I have the best of both worlds, and I only get it because we just so happen to live in the Netherlands such choices are usually supported and respected.

I know the advantages and disadvantages of both sides. I know however, when I look at my baby boy, or play with my other children than I made the right decision. I also know when I work on a blog post or board the train to Amsterdam to give training that I made the right decision.

My working mom is my biggest supporter. She is this blog’s first reader and biggest fan. She is happy that I decided to stay at home with my children, but would be just as happy if I got a full-time job. I, on the other hand, had the experience of having a happy, self-fulfilled mom.

One of the lessons I’ve learned from living abroad is that women everywhere are all different. And also that women everywhere go through similar struggles.


And I have also learned that women can support each other in their decisions, work together, cheer on each other. Yes, we are all different. But we have more in common than we think. Let’s remember that next time we criticize another woman’s choices.  

You can still vote for my blog on the Expatica blog post competition.
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Friday, 25 October 2013

A Very Special Friday with Katie of Delightso.me

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post and I was rewarded for publishing it here.

Katie is a travel and food blogger at www.delightso.me and she wrote a great post about Canarian child-friendly food, which you can read now. There is even a recipe included! 

Child-Friendly Canarian Food

Eating local food is one of the best parts of being on holiday. Whilst I love trying new foods, my kids don’t share my enthusiasm and aren’t keen on trying unfamiliar dishes when we’re abroad.

The Canary Islands are the perfect location for a family-friendly holiday. With fantastic deals on flights and package holidays from Jet2holidays in the UK and Air Berlin in Germany, a fortnight away with the kids doesn’t have to be expensive either.

If you’re planning on visiting the Canary Islands and want your kids to enjoy the local cuisine, take a look at my list of child-friendly Canarian dishes which your little ones are sure to love.

Papas arrugadas con mojo

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/delightsome/10377740395/

A vegetable dish that your children will love? That’s right! Papas arrugadas con mojo is a popular dish found in almost all restaurants throughout the Canary Islands and is always sure to please. To make this dish, bite-sized potatoes are cleaned and then boiled in salt water before being left to dry until their skins have shrivelled up.

My kids love the salty tough texture of the skins which give way to a fluffy, almost sweet interior when they bite. The potatoes are served with two mojo sauces – a spicy red one and a mild green one. The bright colours always appeal to kids although you might want to avoid the red mojo if your little one doesn’t like spicy food.

Calamari a la romana
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jtoledo/17246660/

This popular dish might seem a bit adventurous to offer children, but you don’t have to tell them that calamari is squid! Calamari a la romana comes in the form of small rings which are battered, deep-fried and usually served up alongside a salad and lemon wedges. They look very similar to onion rings, so getting kids to try them is never usually a problem.

My kids hate seafood and fortunately, calamari a la romana has a very subtle flavour and smell, unlike a lot of other fish and seafood dishes. After they’d gotten into the habit of eating it regularly, I told them that calamari is squid and they didn’t mind one bit!

Pata asada
This is a really simple dish that my kids fell in love with the first time they tried it. Pata asada translates into ‘roast pork’ and that’s all it is. Usually served on a small plate as part of a tapas selection or stuffed into a baguette, pata asada is a part of a huge leg of pork which has been slow roasted and sliced. It’s usually served cold and sprinkled with salt.

If you find a restaurant that does it well, you’ll be treated to a dish which is moist and remarkably addictive, but if you find an eatery that does it badly, you’ll be faced with something similar to shoe leather.

Carne Mechada
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/5040743676/

This is one of my and my kids’ most favourite Canarian dishes. Just like pata asada, carne mechada is also served in a small dish forming part of a tapas selection, stuffed into a baguette, usually alongside a slice of cheese, or sometimes served as the meat of a main meal. This delicious speciality is made from beef which is slow-cooked with a selection of herbs and spices for hours until juicy and tender. The meat is then shredded and left to cook for a little bit in a sauce before being served.

Although it takes a long time to make, it’s more than worth it for the chance to enjoy this delectable dish at home. If you’d like to have a go at child-friendly carne mechada, follow the recipe below:

Ingredients
For the meat:
600g beef
¼ cup red wine
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
For the sauce:
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
340g tomato sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Recipe:

1.       Over a low-medium heat in a saucepan, simmer the beef with the red wine, onion, garlic and bay leaves until very tender – about three hours. Feel free to add more red wine if the beef looks too dry.
2.       Remove the saucepan from heat and leave the beef to cool slightly before shredding with two forks. Remove the beef from the saucepan and leave to one side.
3.       To make the sauce, sauté the onion and red pepper in the olive oil in a saucepan until the vegetables are soft.
4.       Add in the meat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
5.       Cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes before serving in a baguette with cheese, as part of a tapas selection or as part of a main meal.

When you’re unfamiliar with the food yourself, encouraging kids to eat locally can be a really difficult task. This list of child-friendly Canarian recipes has been tried and tested by my kids who loved each dish so much that some of them feature regularly in our meals at home.

Katie is a travel-loving foodie who writes over at delightso.me. Since returning from the Canary Islands she’s enjoyed recreating some of the dishes she tried during her travels and is always on the lookout for authentic Spanish and Canarian cookbooks.


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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Two Apple Pie Recipes



Harvest was plentiful this year. We had pears, plums, red currants, hazelnuts, tomatoes... and apples. Additionally, a friend gave us apples from her garden and I was busy making apple pie, and some more apple pie. I give you two recipes for apple pie because they're both wonderful and I just couldn't make a choice.

Polish apple pie



One is from my friend Kora and she kindly gave me permission to post the recipe here. It is a Polish recipe, the cake is called "szarlotka" (charlotte), and it has a crusty bottom and merengue on top. It is also extremely delicious- and easy!

Heat up the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

You will need:

For the dough:

3 cups flour
200g butter
5 egg yolks
0,5 cups sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
1,5 baking powder

For the filling: 5-6 apples, grated (+some lemon juice if needed)

For the merengue: 5 egg whites, 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon potatoe meal or maizena.

Mix together the ingredients for the dough and form a ball. Distribute 2/3 of the dough on a baking tray, cover evenly with grated apples and add the merengue on top. Grate the remaining 1/3 dough on top of the cake.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, but check after 50 minutes. The cake I made was somewhat too crumbly, but still delicious!

German covered apple pie



This is my MIL's recipe, and it is wonderful. I asked her to write it own for me and made it a while ago with our apples-delicious! The interesting thing about this cake is that it is covered with a layer of dough and the apples are underneath. I think if you skip the sugar in this recipe, you will get a nice dough for quiche- then of course you will have to change the filling as well. I wish I had a better photo of the cake, this was taken with my mobile phone. I wanted to take a picture with my camera, but it was gone before I could!

For the dough:

300g flour
1 egg
4 tablespoon sour cream
150g butter or margarine
125g sugar
1 package vanilla sugar

For the filling:
1kg acid apples
100g sugar
1 lemon
50g crashed almonds
50 grams raisins (golden raisins are best but others work as well)
1 egg yolk
1-2 teaspoons milk

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius

Mix together flour, egg, sour cream, butter, sugar and vanilla sugar and set asied in a cold place for an hour. Peel the apples, remove the seeds and cut them into thin stripes. Add sugar, lemon zest and juice, cover and set aside.

Roll out the dough on a surface covered with flour. Cut out two circles- they should be as big as the form. Put one circle into the form and using a fork, cut little holes into it. If you have leftover dough scraps, press them on the sides of the form. Add almonds, raisins to the apple mixture and add to the form. Put the other dough circle on the pie s cover. Also cut little holes using a fork. Mix egg yolk and milk and "paint" the dough with it. If you have leftover dough scraps, roll them out and cut decorations out of them.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown. If you think the pie is baking too quickly, use a layer of aluminium foil to put over the cake.

Carefully take the cake out of its form and let cool. Serve with whipped cream (I didn't because the pie is delicious as it is).

Enjoy!

And, if you like my blog, you can give me a vote in this Expatica blog competition!
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Saturday, 19 October 2013

Delft, The Netherlands (Show me your Neighbourhood Around the World series)

Show me your neighbourhood around the world

To tell you the truth, I don't live in Delft anymore so it is not exactly my neighbourhood. But I decided to include it instead of the place I am living now. The first reason is that almost all my friends live there and I visit often. Another reason is that  because I've been living there for a few years, it still feels like home. And the last reason... it is one of the most beautiful and amazing places I've ever had the chance to live in. I think that when you see the pictures you'll understand why I chose this place instead of the town where I live. It is of course also amazing but it isn't Delft.

So now I am going to take you by the hand and show you my Delft.

1) a playground- this one is very close from the place we used to live. I mean, one of the places we used to live. 

The playground is cute and even used to have little tricycles for the children to play with. It belongs to a community centre, called Sint Olofbuurt where we used to hold playgroups (sadly they got cancelled).

2) a local mode of transport. Delft has buses and trams, but the bicycle wins. Everybody cycles. The bicycles are often old and in weird colours but they also come in many interesting shapes, like the so called bakfiets on the second picture. Because Delft has so many canals, the bicycles often fall into the canals, get fished out, and look like the one on the third picture.





3) a typical house
Now I know the picture shows actually shows two houses, but this is the Netherlands. Back in the old days, taxes depended on how big the house was. So instead of building big houses, they build tall and narrow houses. The picture was taken in the marketplace of Delft. Oh Delft, I miss your narrow and beautiful houses! 



4) a typical street
I think this picture captures a typical street of Delft perfectly.It has a canal, and narrow and old and beautiful houses.This particular street, called Oude Delft, also shows the world's smallest museum.




  
5) a daycare
I didn't dare to go inside, so you only see the windows- they're very nicely decorated for autumn, I think.



6) a supermarket
How could I not include the all-powerful Albert Heijn? Even though there are other supermarkets. I think that AH is the most  famous one. Of course this particular one in the center of the city is situated in an old houses (yes, in several as you see). There is no canal on that street, but the canals are close enough.



7) a church.
Delft only has around 100.000 inhabitants. But it has three huge churches situated very close to each other. I am enclosing two pictures: on the first one is the Oude Kerk, the Old Church.The second one is the Nieuwe Kerk, the New Church. Of course, they are both old ,the difference is that the Old Church was build earlier than the New one- in 1246, as opposed to 1496, the year the New Church was finished. If you think that the church towers are crooked, you are right. They totally are.



And last but not least, I'm leaving you with my goodbye shot I took before I headed back home.







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Friday, 18 October 2013

I am not a tourist!



When I passed my exams to secondary schools, my mom and I went to a trip to Italy. It was a great trip during which we visited different cities and saw many sights. We went there during the summer and it was very crowded. In Rome, we run into a group of German tourists, and heard one of them say: “Oh, these tourists!”.

I was shocked! After all, he was a tourist himself! Many years, 3 children and multiple international moves later, I found myself thinking something similar while sitting in a beach club in Scheveningen. It was a beautiful sunny cold day. Funnily enough, these tourists were German as well.

And I think that at that very moment it struck me that I am not a tourist. I am an expat, I may not necessarily belong, but a tourist, I am not. I feel very proud of myself when I order in Dutch rather than in English or German. And I feel even prouder of myself when the waiter responds in Dutch as well. My husband speaks Dutch. My children speak Dutch. We are not tourists. We live here.

The other moment that helped me realize how not at all a tourist I am, is the fact that after 4 years of living in the Netherlands, I finally managed to make some Dutch friends. We met through my children’s daycare and when my eldest daughter started school, we decided to stay in touch. Before that, all my friends were expats. Now, I have some Dutch friends as well, and love it.

But I was never a tourist in the Netherlands. My reason for being here was never to come, admire the sights, take a few pictures and come back. My reason for being here was and still is my family. I was the foreigner, the outsider, the odd one, but never a tourist.

I had a baby, no sorry, three babies in a foreign country. I bought a house. I have learned a new language and I made friends. I have found a job here. My child is going to school. Every day, I go out, run errands, cook dinner, work a little or just go for a walk. I have attended dancing classes, swimming classes, language classes and social media classes. My girl attends ballet classes. I went to physical therapy with my little girl. I took all three of them to the Consultatiebureau to get them vaccinated, measured, weighted and evaluated. I took them to the doctor when they were sick. I revelled in hearing my children speak all three languages and feeling at home here.

I may have been surprised by many things here, healthcare being one of them. I had the police called on me, and many times I found myself wondering whether the Dutch really are rude or are these just cultural differences. But I am not a tourist. I am an expat, which means that I am not from here, but I am here. And I am here to stay.

The fact that I am a TCK, a Third Culture Kid, makes my life easier in this regard. Once I had my network of like-minded, wonderful and inspiring people, I finally felt at home, and it didn’t matter at all that I didn’t speak the langue really well. It didn’t matter that my accent, and the fact that I spoke yet another language with my children gave me away as a foreigner anywhere I went.
It didn’t matter that I missed my family and friends that I left behind in my hometown Warsaw, and my other hometown Hamburg. It didn’t matter that I still had to learn all these new things because I was at home.

No, I am not a tourist. Definitely and absolutely not a tourist. After 4 years of living in the Netherlands, I have learned, experienced and grown so much. Through my blog, I am able to share my stories, give advice and hope to help and support other expats. After 4 years, my knowledge of this country has grown, as did my love for it.

I love living in the Netherlands. The beauty of it. The closeness of the sea. The way people smile at me, especially when I am out with my children. The history, the tolerance. I love the fact that the Netherlands are so small that it doesn’t take much to go somewhere else- and the Netherlands have so much to offer. I love my new house with its big backyard and our fruit trees.


There are many things I love about the Netherlands. The tourists? Not so much.

If you enjoyed this post, you can vote for it in th Expatica blog competition.
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