For the last six years I’ve had a folder on my computer labeled ‘dream homes’. Over time I’ve collected a lot of pictures of houses I love, or used to love. Some pictures still show my style while others are memories of what I liked before. Recently I deleted a lot that just wasn’t my style anymore. I always knew this folder would come in handy and now the day is finally here! I’m using it as my personal home inspiration guide to inspire and guide me when buying stuff for our new house.
A year and a half ago, we sold all of our belongings to fund our travels. And now we’re starting over. We don’t have anything, not even cutlery. There were so many things we’d been dragging along for years without really using them. We’re not doing that anymore. This time, we’re going to invest in quality pieces and grow our new life bit by bit. We’re going to completely skip the phase of buying a lot of cheap stuff, just so you have something to use. We’re starting with nothing and we’ll see where we end up. We’ll gladly eat on the floor if that means saving money to buy the perfect dining room table. I’m so excited to start hunting for great pieces.
In a few weeks we are moving back to the city we fell in love with many years ago, Haarlem. At the moment we’re living with Nick’s dad who lives on a small island. There isn’t much to do here which, granted, can be amazing at times. Even though we really love the countryside, we sure miss living near a city. We’re very excited to move back to the city and to live close to all of our friends again. It’s time to grow some roots.
I have a confession to make. I don’t like chocolate. I just don’t like it. Never have. So for Nick to make me a chocolate cake that I like, that’s something unique. This cake won me over to the dark side (of chocolate). This cake is SO good.
Everyday, for the last two months, we’ve been cooking something we have never tried before. With this we’re trying to make an amazing collection of recipes. We’re going to perfect all of those recipes and share some of them with you. For all of the recipes we won’t be sharing you will have to come over for dinner.
This cake didn’t need a lot of tweaking. It’s perfect just the way it is. We just added a shot of espresso. Because espresso and chocolate go well together.
250 ml of Guinness
250 grams of unsalted butter
75 grams of cocoa powder
400 grams of white castor sugar
140 ml of sour cream
2 large eggs
1 vanilla pod
275 grams of plain flour
2,5 teaspoons of baking powder
1 shot of espresso
For the topping
300 grams of cream cheese
150 grams of powdered/icing sugar
125 ml of whipped cream
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350ºF. Get out your 23 cm/9 inch round baking tin and butter and line the baking tin. I never had Guinness so before I started baking I took my first sip. It’s actually quite nice!
Put on a large saucepan on medium heat. Take the rest of the Guinness and pour it into the pan. Spoon in the butter bit by bit. When it has melted, whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
Get a bowl and beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla. When smooth, pour it into the brown buttery, beery pan. At last, whisk in the flour and baking powder. Pour the cake batter into the baking tin and bake for 45-60 minutes, it took an hour here.
When it’s done, take it out of the oven but leave it in the tin. Place on a cooling rack and let cool completely. When the cake has cooled to room temperature, start with the icing.
Whip the cream cheese until smooth. Get out your sieve and sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them together until smooth again. Careful at the start, unless you like breathing sugar. Add the whipped cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. We did it by hand, but use a processor or mixer if you have one, it will make your life a lot easier. Now start icing! Put it in the fridge for an hour or two if you can control yourself.
Have you ever been apple picking? This Saturday was my first time and I had so much fun. We took our bikes to the orchard, which is really close to our house.
We were handed a box which we could fill up and fill it up we did. We haven’t been out much the last week and we made sure to soak up every bit of sunlight.
At times it feels like I’m always working. I do this to myself. Because if I relax, work will never get finished. But when I take a break, pick some apples and relax. I suddenly remember why I need to relax. I need to refuel my creative mind and sometimes all it takes to have some new ideas is to get away from it all.
What did you do this weekend?
(big thanks to Nick’s sister for taking some really great pictures of us together!)
Lunch at our friends house. She has the best kitchen ever
Last night I woke up in the middle of the night with a sore throat. I don’t know what it is about waking up in the middle of the night but somehow everything seems so much worse.
In just a few minutes I convinced myself this was the worst I had ever felt. I started thinking about what could be wrong with me, because these pains could not possibly be just flu. I have had the flu and this was so much worse than the flu. After some Googling I was pretty sure this was a belated Malaria attack that would for sure be the end of me. Needless to say, I did not sleep well after that.
‘Yes I think I might have Malaria and I need you to tell me if I’m right’. On the phone with the doctor my craziness started sinking in a little, but I went through with it anyway. Because what if it IS malaria? I could be slowly dying and I wouldn’t even know. Turns out, it’s just a mild case of the common flu.
One of the reasons I worried so much: we never took any anti-malaria pills while we were traveling and we did visit some high risk areas. I also got a million mosquito bites. So there, I’m not completely crazy for thinking I have malaria. I’m just a little prone to overreaction every once in a while.
So here’s to crazy midnight thoughts and the flu! I hope you all don’t catch the flu the coming fall season!
I’m a huge fan of anything coconut flavored and when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. It did not disappoint, but I do feel it needs some tweaking. I like spicy cakes with a little bit of special. And even though this cake is super tasty, it lacks that bit of special.
This friday it was our 6th anniversary. I can’t believe it’s already been six years since we met. He lights up my world, makes me smile when I’m down and he is the best man I have ever met. Up to another 6 years, I can’t wait to spend it with you.
2 large eggs
300 ml of organic full fat milk
1 vanilla pod
320 grams of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table of salt
10 grams of baking powder
3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
200 grams of granulated sugar
140 grams of unsweetened flaked coconut
85 grams of unsalted butter, melted
zest of half a lime
Heat oven to 160°C. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add sugar, coconut, vanilla and lime zest, and stir to mix. Make a well in the center, and pour in egg mixture, then stir wet and dry ingredients together until just combined.
Melt butter and add it to the bowl.Stir until smooth. Don’t over mix!
Now get your loaf pan and butter and flour it. Put the batter in the pan and put it in the oven. Bake it for 1 hour to 1,5 hours. If you want to check if it’s done, get a wooden skewer and stab that cake right in the middle. If it’s comes out clean, your cake is done! Take it out of the oven and let it cool for five minutes. Now take it out of the pan, put it on a cooling rack and slice yourself a piece of heaven. (very tasty with a dab of butter)
Note: we added the lime to the recipe after baking, because we think it will give the recipe a little extra zing.
Collected thoughts about how much travel has changed me. I hope it makes a coherent story.
Fragments of our old life in Amsterdam were flashing by as we sat in a tram, on our way to a late breakfast with a friend. Raindrops on the window, slowly spiraling down. How much have we changed? How different are we compared to 5 years ago? With Amsterdam floating by, I realized just how much this past year has shaped me. People told me our trip would be life changing beforehand. But I have to see and feel to believe. And I believe.
In the tram I made a list to describe how I was feeling at the moment. Growing up. Changed perspective. Mature. Confident. Open minded. Loving. Caring. Compassionate. Open armed. Free. Understanding.
On the road we talked a lot about how this trip might affect the rest of our lives. We talked a lot. But we never ever thought it would be like this. I was surprised when I realized just how much I have changed, we have changed, us has changed. You see, I believe people can change. If you want to, you can. But it’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be pretty. But you can. And you’ll be proud of yourself.
I let go of almost all of my fears.
I have learned to go with the flow, roll with the punches. I have learned to let go. I feel confident. I have found my limits, broken through them and imposed new limits on myself only to shatter them as well. I have learned to love, with all my heart. I learned to smile. Smile as wide as I can. Smile because I’m alive. Smile.
Do things that make you happy. You only live once (yes, I went there). Cliché’s are often true. You will never get today back. Today is your day to shine. And so is tomorrow. Learning to embrace this is the most valuable thing you will ever learn. If you live each day exactly the way you want to, you will be grateful to yourself when all is done and said.
Embrace what you have, but learn to let go. Your body is your own. Treat it well, it needs love to be at its best. Learn to let go of all the clutter in your life. Learn to let go of resentment, regret and hate.
When you’re traveling, the traveling itself becomes everyday life. I didn’t walk around exclaiming ‘oh my god, I’m traveling the world, it’s so awesome’ all the time. It’s just how it was. When it’s your everyday life, it loses most of its ‘oh my god’- factor. Now I’ve had some time to process it all. Looking out of the tram window it finally hit me: ‘Oh my god, we’ve traveled the world for a year and it was awesome’.
There’s this restaurant. When I lived in Amsterdam, I passed by every day and I never understood its name. Somehow I always thought it was a made up word. We passed by it again in the tram and for the first time I understood its name. It was ‘hello’ in Thai. Simple things like this make me want to travel more. I want to learn more of the world around me, I want to learn about the simple things and the deep insights. About myself and about the world. I want to experience. I want to eat sushi in Japan, speak Spanish (and eat tortillas) in Mexico, climb mountains in Nepal and swim with whales. I did find out I really need a place to feel at home, a place where I have some roots and where I can hide when the world overwhelms me. A place that is mine and ours.
I believe that everything that happens, just happens. There is no regret, just lessons.
It’s not just travel that changes you, it’s everything. You’re always changing.
Please share your thoughts, I would love to know what you think!
As some of you might know, Nick did one year of bakery and pastry school where he learned a lot about kneading dough, making pies and baking bread. I love this about him. He gets in the kitchen, grabs a bag of flour and some butter and he creates something yummy. This sunday, after a lot of begging from me to please start baking again, he made this heavenly piece of pie.
In the next few weeks we’ll be sharing more of Nick’s own recipes. They’re awesome. He is awesome. I love a man that can bake. And cook. And cuddle. God I love a good cuddle.
Apple & Pear Crumble
Ingredients Pie Crust
100 grams of sugar
200 grams of butter
300 grams of flour
8 grams of baking powder
pinch of salt
some lemon zest (optional)
4 apples (crisp and a little sour), peeled and in cubes
4 pears (the green ones), peeled and in cubes
handful of raisins
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom
marrow of 1 vanilla pod
pinch of salt
30 grams of butter
100 grams of flour
50 grams of butter
50 grams of sugar
pinch of salt
Pre-heat your oven at about 170°C.
Soften the butter with your hands, until it’s room temperature. You shouldn’t be feeling any cold pieces in the butter any more. Mix in and knead through the sugar, followed by the egg. Mix the salt and the baking powder with the flour. Get your hands dirty and knead the flour through the butter until you’ve got a nice and smooth dough. Add a little flour if it’s too sticky or add a little water if it’s too dry. Wrap it in some plastic foil and put it in the fridge.
Put on a pan and melt the butter until it stops bubbling and sizzling. Throw in the apples and pears, followed by all the spices and the raisins. Bake for about 4-5 minutes on medium-high heat. It shouldn’t get too mushy, but the apples and pears should get a little softer. Take the pan off the heat and set aside.
Mix the flour and sugar in a bowl. Make sure your butter is cold. Cut it into small pieces in the bowl. Get your hands in there and try to make the pieces of butter as small as you can and mix them well until you get a crumble. Don’t make it into a ball, you want to keep the little crumbles.
Butter up your favorite cake pan. Its shape or whether it’s metal or whatever doesn’t really matter. Take your pie crust dough out of the fridge, and knead it through a little. You don’t want to get it warm. Roll it out until approx. 3-5 mm thick, and cover your cake pan with it. To do this, lightly flour your rolling-pin, roll the dough loosely around your pin, and unroll over your cake pan. Cut away the overhanging edges. You can stick this together to cover up some pieces of your cake pan you might have missed. Or put it in your fridge and secretly take little bites out of it when nobody is looking. You can keep this dough for up to a week in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer.
Put the filling in there.
Cover the filling with the crumble.
Put it in the oven until the pie crust is nice and golden. The crumble is going to stay a little lighter.
Store on your kitchen counter (it gets sloppy in the fridge). It tastes best if you leave it for a day. But I know you’re not going to be able to stop yourself.