vrijdag 4 december 2009

Foody friday 's Saint Nicolas Speculoos

Sunday the children of Belgium and Holland celebrate Saint Nicolas. He is the patron saint of the Children. Children put their shoe out with a carrot for the horse of Saint Nicolas and hope that in the morning the carrot will be gone and there will be presents instead.
One of the presents we got every year was a plate full of candy.
The staples where, speculoos, oranges of clementines, golden chocolate coins, nicnac's ( a very small cokie in the shape of letters) and guimove( a sort of sweet) and of corse some chocolade figurines.
My hometown is famous for its very special speculoos.
What is it exactly. Well it is a big cookie, a bit soft and the main ingrediances are, real butter, cinnamon and almonds.On the picture above you see two different kind. The small cookies are the commercially made one. These are very sweet and hard and thin and you can get them in every shape.
The big ones are the ones where my hometown of Hasselt is famous for.
These ones contain almons (the commercial ones don't have that) and are thick and a bit soft.
The Dutch also have a sort of filled speculoos.

Here is the recipie that I got from my great grandmother, Anneke.
Cream 2,5 cups or 500 grams of sweet real butter.
Please do not subsitute the butter for crisco of margerine or something.I is a very big part of the flavour.

Then add 3 1/4 cups or 650 grams of dark brown sugar

Work in 4 XL or 5 L eggs

Then add 2 heaped theaspoons of cinnamon

Then it is time to add 6 cups or 1 kilo of plain four and the right amount of baking powder

Another vital part of speculoos of Hasselt and unique to that is 1 cup or 100 grams of almond powder and 1cup or 100 grams of slivered almond. This time my shop had no slivered almonds so I used all almond powder.

You need to work the dow by hand by now since it is a very heavy dow.
Don't work it to long. Just enough to combine everything. Then put it in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight. Cover it with clingfilm.

Next day you preheat your oven at 325°F or 175 °C.
Take a piece of the dow and make a roll out of it about 2,5 inch or 6 to 7cm diameter
Slice fingerthick slices and put on a baking tray.

The baking tray should be coverded with some baking paper. Just flatten the slices ever so slightly. Leave room between the slices since they will spread.
Bake for 15 minutes.
The cookies should have only a lightly brown rim on the outside. The will be hard after cooling down but when you store them in a tin they should get softer.
You could keep them for weeks but I bet they won't have the time to get bad!
I know they are heavy on the calories but I only bake them for Saint Nicolas and for Christmas.
These cookies are for Belgium and Holland what Shortbread is for Scotland and Chocolade chip cookies are for the USA. Please try them, I know you will love them.

These days speculoos is so popular in Belgium that in the last two years they intruduced a speculoos paste that you can put on bread. It was the winning thing in a tv contest to invent something new and it is a huge succes.
Since this years there is also chocolate with pieces of crisp speculoos in it and there is even Speculoos ice cream.
I also use the paste to mix with buttercream and spread that on apple cupcakes. Yummy!

dinsdag 1 december 2009

Tree or more....kittens

I'm sorry I did get of track and left you all waiting for news and a new entry for "Three or more".
But know I have news. This is the best Three or more....We have new Maine Coon kittens.
Let me present them to your.
This is our " Arctic Litter"

This is little "Beluga Whale of the White Witch".

This is fat little " Polar Bear of the White Witch"

Brother number tree is chubby little " Arctic Fox of the White Witch".

And this is brother number 4, the odd one out with his blue coat. He is called:

"Spotted Seal of the White Witch"

All boys and OOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHH so sweet.

How lovely Christmus will be with all these little chaps running around our feet!!!

A happy mum with her four sons. Still a bit looking a bit ragged but such a good mum.

dinsdag 10 november 2009

Tree or more antiques with cats

Ever since we have cats, we also collected art and antiques with cats. You already seen my oil paintings.
This is one of my very first Ebay buys. It's a teapot from the Wood factory. It is a bad example since the body of the teapot is very pitted but I love the shape.
A small French mustardpot with a white kitten as a handle. Usualy you see the milk can with this kind of design so I thought this mustard pot was kind of special

This little piece is made of metal.I think it may be cold painted bronze. I love the little cat with the tub on its side.It's ideal to put your pins and needles in.

This porcelain figure is so ugle that its becomes lovely.I love this one very much just because he is so ugly.

This are two Artd Deco craquelé pieces. The cat in the middle is very royal. In the front you see two little book stands. Both very lovely pieces and also my absolute favorites.

vrijdag 30 oktober 2009

Foody Friday Witch and Pumpkin cupcakes

Let me first of all present you to my own little White Witch. This is Caitlin, the mother of my cattery. http://www.everyoneweb.com/cupcakefairy/ She is born on Halloween night and will celebrate her 6th birthday on Halloween. She is pregnant at the moment and will have her kittens by the end of november. For those who don't know, she is a Maine Coon.

These are not spooky at all, even the witch looks kind of friendly

I could give you another recepie today since you must have found dozens of pumpkin recipies but I thought, why not, maybe this is just the one you are looking for. I promise you they are very moist en delischous.

You need

1 can of unsweetened pumpkin or 400 grams cooked and pureed pumpkin.
1/4 cup or 50 grams of melted butter
1 big egg
1 1/4 cup of sugar or 200 to 250 grams of sugar
1 1/2 cup of flour or 250 grams of flower
1 teaspoon of white vinigair
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg and cloves

Mix and devide in to about 18 cupcake papers and bake for 15 to 16 minutes on 375°F or 180°C

I have spread a mixture of mascarpone and sugar on top of it and that was delishous but...I don't advice putting any sugar paste decorations on it since the mascarpone is to moist and the sugarpaste will melt. Just put it on on the last minute before serving.

The witches are made with a silicone mould and then dusted with some sparking powder and the little pumpkins I modeled out of some marsipan.

Enjoy and have a very spooky but fun Halloween.

dinsdag 27 oktober 2009

Tree or more quilts

Some of you already know that I am also a quilter and because I am late ( had a quiltgroup here today) I will just showcase some of the quilts I have made.
We start with a Halloween quilt because it is Halloween this weekend. My own design inspired by the fabric of the border. Handquilted with treads of silver.
And I must show you this one. Ok it is not a quilt but I could'nt pass this opportunity to showcase my little granddaughter in her first Halloween outfit made by me. See the little black cardigan with the black cat brooch( button) and het pumpkin bloomers??
A quilt fo a little girl called 'Diethe'. Very simple and in colour inspired by her birth announcement.

Another child's quilt called ' Animal House'. My own design with all kind of stables and housing for animals. The doors open and the doorknobs are buttons with the animal that lives in this house. The tree top also lifts up and under it live some birds!

My impression of our front garden with the blue fence. The entire quilt is handquilted with hundreds of leave and flower shapes.

"The French Garden" A very fast and easy quilt to make. Contrary to all my other quilts that are entirely handmade this one is made by machine but handquilted

maandag 19 oktober 2009

Three or more Tuesday Art Deco glass

Some 10 years agoo I saw this vase in an antiques fair and I was stuck by its beautiful Art Deco form.I had just enough money to buy it and brought it home. I like the shape with the two wings very much so I went off in surch of more vases with wings.
I found a couple more and on those trips I learned that this vase was called " Romeo" and it was from the famous Belgian Cristal factory of Val st Lambert.
I came from there Luxval range. A range of glass that was made during the depression time when people did not have the money for fancy cut crystal.
A few years later I ommitted my search for vases with "wings" and started collecting only Luxval glass. So I came across the little sister of the vase 'Romeo' and found this shape .It has the same wings and the same pattern.It was the sellers of this " Mais" or corn vase that told me the story of Luxval and gave me some information on shapes to look for.
This 'Footballers' vase is one of the most seached after models.You want believe it but instead of finding this in my own country I detected it on Ebay USA. After thinking a while if I should take the risk I bought it and it was shipped and arrived in a perfect state.
After two years I stopped collecting Luxval.Not because I had everything, no, not at all but because I lack the space to place it in my house.
And I do not want to have a collection and then have to store it in the cellar.
On a later date some more of my collection of about 110 pieces.

donderdag 15 oktober 2009

Foody Friday Easy Pasta dish

A very easy and quick pasta dish.

I like these fresh tortellini filled with ricotta and spinach. One pack is just enough for us two.

Just cook the pasta in lots of salted water. These fresh pasta's are ready to eat after a few minutes of boiling.
In the mean time fry some bacon pieces in a pan and when they are almost cooked trow in a spoon full of flour and mix. Make a sauce by adding some milk or cream and a handful of grated emmenthal cheese or gruyére. Season with salt and pepper.
Put in some small pieces of un cooked zucchini and some froozen pea's. Sautee for a few minutes. I like my zucchine still to be with a bite. Trow in some fresh shredded basil .
Toss the tortellini's in the pan and mix and serve.
I had this on the table in about 20 minutes.

It was delish!
Want some dessert??
What about a slice of one of these cakes??
After the cupcakes came the cakes. Below is the cake I made for the birthday of my daughter in laws mother. There is 1 rose for every year of her live. I call it " The Rose Garden" cake.This one (did'nt I show you this before?), is just a try out to see if I could do this. I call it " The Briar Rose" cake.

I love making these sugerpaste flower decorations. Luckely in november we have a lot of birthdays coming up, so I will be able to bake cakes till I drop. Each cake takes at least 5 hours of work to make all the decorations and so. Every sugarpaste flower is handmade in a silicone mould and after hardening for a few hours, handpainted.

dinsdag 13 oktober 2009

Three or more Tuesday favorite paintings

Since I was a child I had an interest in the arts. My father followed painting lessons in the local academy and saw him do his paintings in the evenings and in the weekends. I have one memory of me being a model for him. He took me on his bike to class on a cold february evening. I remember the hot burning coal stove and the fact that I was wearing my hair in a ponytail. That I had it in a ponytail was special since my mom always braided my hair . I hated that and it was very special for me that I could have it in a ponytail. Helas the portrait of me is gone missing in the last 15 years.
The painting above is one of my fathers paintings. He was not a great artist but this painting is double special to me. He made it when I was 9 and it depicts his hometown seen from the little mount there was. It's called "Bilzen seen from the Borreberg". It hangs in my hall and I love the cool winter theme and the understated colors.
This second painting I found in a fleamarket. It costed almost nothing. It's painted on a wood panel and the frame is black with handpainted tiny golden stars. I believe it is at least 100 years old. It only costed about 60 dollars but I am in love with it. It has such charm. I love paintings with black and white cows on it. A reminder of my father being a farmers son??

The third and last painting I found in a second hand shop. It's big, almost 27¨ square.
It stood there in the second hand shop with a very havy gold frame on it. I immediatly say its potential. The painting is very well done and I love the braekfast scene on it. The eggs, the bread and the herings, the jug of milk and the cup and the Sanseveria plant. This plant was once's in every household. I remember my mother having one too. It is very strong and if your lucky it blooms once a year with one big stem of Ammaryllis type flowers. The painted costed about 150 dollars but I think it is worth every cent. It is the perfect picture for our kitchen wall.

donderdag 8 oktober 2009

Foody Friday Belgian National dish

As you could read in my previous blog entry we where at the Belgian coast last weekend for the wedding of my niece. The whole of the Belgian coast is only about 40 miles long!!! It is very flat without rocks and with fine white sandy beaches.
We had beautiful fresh autumn weather with lots of sun.
And when you are there you need to buy some scrimp.
Not the scrimp you lot know but small brown scrimp.

In the olden day they where fished by fisherman on horseback like you see in the picture above. Now a day there are only a few fisherman left that honor this old traditional way of fishing .
As you can well see they use big farm horses for the job. These are " Brabantse Trekpaarden" a very strong enormously big horses but they are very gentle. They drag a net trough the water and go as deep as there belly into the sea. On each side of the horse, the fisherman has a basket to keep the scrimp in. Fresh uncooked scrimp are only 1 inch long and almost see through.
The scrimp are then cooked in seawater. Now a days small trawlers fish along the coastline to catch these valuable scrimp and every Belgian LOVES these small but delishous tasting beasts.

So when you are at the coast you buy them unpeeled. You sit down with a good glass of Stella Artois beer and start peeling. You wriggle the tail and pull it of en then you pull the head of.They are so yummie that hardly any are left to make a meal.I usely peel one to eat and one to keep! You need a lot before you can make a meal of them!

Here there are a few browny pink peelde scrimp.
When you have enough you mix them with a good mayonnaise, nothing else.
You scoop out the inside of a tomatoe , season that with white pepper and salt and fill with the scrimp mixture.
Give a salad with it and serve the tomatoes with some french fries or eat with some crusty bread.
It is truly the national dish. We simply call it ' Tomate crevettes'. This is the French expression for a tomatoe with scrimp. In Flemish we would say ' Tomaat garnaal'.
You can also serve it in a tiny tomatoe as an appetiser. Eat them quickly since the scrimp don't keep long, certainly not when you have bought them fresh.
Don't trow away the heads and tails! Sautée these with some fresh vegetables, add some water and cook for a few minutes. Put trough a siff and press out all the juices after a few minutes of cooking. It will give you a delishous base for soups and sauces.

maandag 5 oktober 2009

Three or more pictures of an autumn wedding...

Last weekend we where at the Belgian coast to celebrate the marriage of or goddaughter. It was a very joyful affaire with a very happy bride and groom.
It started with the priest being in the wrong church and the whole congregation waiting for more then 30 minutes. Time to make a jolly picture of the mother of the bride and her daughter.
At last, Dad could walk his daughter to the altar where her bridegroom was waiting....

Te vows

The happy young couple.

Coming out of the quaint old church (annoo 1641), there was a big gust of wind and rice and red paper hearts flew everywhere.

The wedding reception and meal took place in a very old barn. The young married couple listening to the speech of Dad. The oild barn was set up with very modern white tables, white calla lilies and red waterglasses. The theme of the wedding was inspired on New York where the groom asked his bride to marry him. Every table had a name inspired by the burroughs of New York.
Now it's up to La Reunion for the Honeymoon.
I wish them every happiness in the world.