Monday, January 31, 2011

Madurodam - Holland at it's Smallest

Madurodam is a park that represents Holland in miniature size. Located in The Hague, this miniature city is composed of typical Dutch buildings, windmills, canals, and other landmarks such as Schiphol Airport, Port of Rotterdam, the Delta works, all of which replicated to the smallest detail. It is a perfect place to see the whole of Holland without having to actually visit the places !!!

The park was named after George Maduro, a Jewish law student (Leiden Uni.) from Curacao, who served as an officer in the Dutch Cavalry and died in a concentration camp in 1945 at the age of 29. After World War II, Maduro's parents provided the capital (some say seed money) to start the Madurodam project. In fact Madurodam is considered by the Maduro family as a monument in honor of their only son.

We have been to Madurodam a few times already (with our visitors), and to me it's just the place to experience being a giant :D But my dear son (DS) really love the place, in fact most kids love it!! Maybe the small buildings and trees etc make them think that those are toys !!! Moving trains, boats, ships, plane taxiing at the airport, cars skidded on the runaway are just so fun for them !! You can get a mini Mars chocolate from the chocolate factory, just insert 10 cents and a lorry will come out bringing your piece of Mars bar!! At the clog factory, you can get a small ceramic clog by inserting 50 cents (i think, actual price I forgot) and a lorry will come out and bring you a clog souvenir !! You can even witness a ship caught fire and is later doused with water !!

I wanted DS to pose just like this, but couldn't :( No fair !!!

That time, what I loved the most about the place was this .......

It was April 2009, and there were lots and lots and lots of tulips of various shapes and colours !!!!

Couldn't resist the temptation.... just had to be among the flowers :D

Mat bunga... he...he...

And I love this one......

Ohhh glorious spring, since snow is so shy in coming..... please come early :D

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Dreamed....

A few nights ago, I dreamed of him. He was reclining on the hospital bed. I couldn't see much of his body, it was covered by a greenish blanket. But his face, it was.... glowing and looked rosy and healthy, there was no signs of any burnt. There were other people in the room, but I couldn't recall whom. And he was explaining.... how difficult it was to breathe at that time....

It was not the first time that I dreamed of him. This was the fourth time, I think. I couldn't at this very moment, recall much of the other two, but the first dream, it was more vivid. It was a few weeks after the tragedy. He was reaching out to his wife, my niece, in fact they were both reaching out for each other.... Somehow I became their "perantara" and I could see both of them, and she actually couldn't see him.... Does it make sense?? It was a sad dream, I could feel both of their pains. I never told my niece of the dream or the other dreams, I felt that she couldn't take it. I told my mum though.... for the sake of telling somebody so that I didn't feel alone, but not the details. I just said that I dreamed of him. I woke up feeling so sad and depressed, and there was a big lump in my chest. I recited Al-fatihah for him.

I don't know why I dreamed of him, to say that he was very very close to me.... I think it was more of, I feel closer to his wife(who is my niece) and the children. But he was forever polite to me. When I was younger, I used to dream of my mum's niece. She died a long time ago and I was not close to her at all but I dreamed of her a lot. Finally, when I told a friend, she advised me to recite surah Yassin for her. After that, I never dreamed of her again.

When he passed away last September, I wished I could see his burnt face and perhaps body too. I just... wanted to see.... When a friend told me of his officemate's blog, I tried to search for it. I found one picture, he was being carried on a bed, his face was slighly turned to the other side and I couldn't see clearly of any injuries to the face. But when I first saw that picture, there was a sharp pain in my chest and the blood seemed to rush to my face and I cried all over again.... as I did when he died.... as I do now....

Perhaps I have been forgetting him, in the last weeks I have not been reciting any surahs, not even a short and simple one, for him. I just assume, his wife, his parents and his parents-in-law (my sister) do that for him. I pray that he was placed by Allah S.W.T. among the blessed. He was a good husband to my niece, a good son to his parents and always respectful of the elders.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Elusive Poffertjes....

My intention to make my very own poffertjes is again delayed with another hurdle. As of now, I still have yet to find the buckwheat flour and not to mention the special pan. Actually the pan is not difficult to get and it is not expensive either. But I just have this weird habit of making my life difficult, so to speak. Two months back, I found this wonderful poffertjes pan made from cast iron. It is slightly different and much heavier (the normal one is very light) and needless to say more expensive. For someone who do not really like to cook, I find pleasures in looking & keeping odd items for the kitchen. I found this pan interesting, for one thing it looked old fashioned and traditional and I love old items. I didn't buy the pan... but I kept thinking about it. For one thing, a friend told me that readymix poffertjes flour is not so nice. When you make your own, it's somehow doesn't taste the same as the one you buy fresh from the local stall. So I hesitate....

Then I found the recipe !!! And it looked simple enough... and according to the lady it was superb !! The secret was to add buckwheat flour to the mixture !! She claimed that it was just a normal pancake if one is to use the normal flour. Now I'm getting really excited... all I have to do now is get the pan and search for buckwheat!!! Of course shopping in Holland can be very frustrating (according to the British) because of their rather limited products. In this case, it happens to be true. The supermarkets sell basically tarwebloem (tepung gandum) and zelfrijzend bak-meel (tepung naik sendiri), I have yet to find bread flour sold in supermarket, eventhough they do have the ready mix for bread, cakes etc. Haahh.... no wonder my homemade bread never really turns out right !!! But I'm sure I will find the elusive buckwheat flour somewhere, I just haven't found the correct shop :D

So last three weeks, while buying halal meat, I told DH that I wanted to buy the pan. Of course typical of him, he said I should just use acuan kuih cara. He was sure it would turn out the same. But I was insistent, and typical of me, I wanted the pan, not the lighter and cheaper one, but the heavier and more expensive pan !!! After buying the meat, I quickly dragged him to the shop. To my surprise, there were so many people in there. The shop was having a closing down sale !!! And it looked like it was having the sale for quite sometime already !! My heart quickened, the sale was good but the not so many stuff left was not a good sign...., I searched, searched and searched and I couldn't find it. A few days later, I went again, just in case I missed it the other day, still couldn't find it.

I had been drooling with the thoughts of eating my very own poffertjes ever since....

The elusive poffertjes..

Dissappointed and disheartened, I made this as a substitute.....

Kuih cara manis :D

This recipe I copied from Hana Memories :

100g flour (I used 150g)

200ml coconut milk (sederhana pekat)

1 table spoon of pandan juice (I don't use)

1 egg

A pinch of salt

A few drops of pandan colouring

-Mix everything and blend if you like. Sieve the mixture (if necessary)

-Pour into the mold, wait for short while and add sugar and cover the top.

-Keep fire small, and it is ready in 2/3 minutes.

Hmmmm.... yummy :D

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mood M****

Hari ni buat kerja semua tak menjadi.... kenapa entah. Tadi dapat "message" dari kawan yang dah lama tak berhubung, bukan main seronok lagi...sibuk la taip jawapan. Tapi apa pulak yang tak kena... jawapan tu hilang pulakkk, taip pula panjang lebar untuk kedua kalinya... pun hilang juga.. aaikk biar betul!!! Akhirnya, terbengkalai la "message" tu, akan dicuba pula esok harinya. Baju dalam mesin basuh pun belum disidai, rasanya bunyi bising gedegum gedegam mesin tu dah lama senyappp....

Hmmm nak pergi kedai pun m****, padahal nak kena pergi cari roti.... sebab esok anakku nak bawa apa ke sekolah? Patutnya pergi ke kedai semalam, tapi dek penangan kem****an, ditunda kehari ni, pagi tadi anakku bawa pizza segera ke sekolah untuk makan tengahari, nasib baik masih ada sekeping lagi. Buah kegemaran dia pun dah habis... ganti ngan biskut oreo 4 keping untuk makan masa rehat.. Ahhh cukup la banyak tu :D

Lepas tu cuba pulak buat entri kat blog ni... tulis sikit buntu.... tukar topik lain pula.... pun sama juga, buat lagi "draft" yang baru, isu ketiga dah ni.. pun tak jadi juga. Hai.... otak pun m**** juga ke????

Jadi.... layan je gambar-gambar mentari jatuh yang tak berapa cantik nih... Ingatkan boleh dapat gambar yang cun masa ambil hari tuh... tapi kurang pula menariknya bila letak kat komputer. Seperti biasala, kamera cap ayam he....he.... sebab tu gambar tak cantik, bukan salah jurugambar ya..... Apapun tengok je la :D

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Moonlighting, Lollies and Stalactites

I can't believe it!! It's so sunny today and the temperature is currently 11 celcius !! What happens to winter ? Not that I'm complaining... it's just that it's so unpredictable !! We have been looking forward to more snow so that we could play snow sledding (we just found the perfect place for it recently after the snow has already melted). We are also hoping that the canals will be frozen so that dear son could try his luck in ice skating :D

*sigh* I suppose I will just have to show these winter photos before the crocus and tulips decide to show their buds in January he..he.. These were all taken between 18 - 20 December.

I love the sight of these lights topped with the fresh snow. Quickly grabbed my camera and went out in the cold to snap them before the snow started to melt.

Double moonlighting..

Ice cream lollies...


My bird house..

My rubbish bins...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The UnDutchables

I bought this book The UnDutchables - An Observation of the Netherlands: Its Culture and Its Inhabitants ten months ago at the ISA Spring Fair. Even though I have yet to finish the book, but I found that whatever I have read so far, it gave me very interesting views of the Dutch in such an exact yet funny way. Written by two Americans, Colin White & Laurie Boucke who has lived in Holland for 22 years, the book was declared by them to be an impressionistic view of a certain side of the Dutch as it is oftened perceived by visitors to Holland. In the ensuing years since its first publish in 1989, the book has brought laughter to its readers and enabled many to vent their frustrations through joking. The humour of the book has resonated well with most Netherlanders, who find the book to be an accurate potrayal of themselves and their society, but of course there are some who do not find it funny. A Dutch translation of the book was made, and it was claimed to be as popular as the original.

After reading a few pages, I found the book to be interesting, informative, funny and perhaps a wee bit sarcastic by the authors. Some of the sarcasm escapes me and sometimes the way it was written and phrased lost me altogether!! Despite that I do enjoy reading it and find that some if not all are true potrayals of the Dutch. I shall try to write and share on the blog, some of these weird and quirky behaviours of the Dutch as best as I can

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

H and J

Mr H was our neighbour in Amstelveen, he lived alone right in front of our house, whereas Ms J lived not far away. H was a very good neighbour, even though he didn't speak English and my Dutch was nonexistence, it did not prevent us from communicating to each other. We must have sounded like "ayam dan itik" when we talked to each other :D


H and J
I do miss him when I move to Den Haag. Why do I miss him?? For one thing he would take my rubbish bin from the collection place and bring it to the house, every week. And sometimes, when I forgot that it was Thursday (collection day) he would bring the bin to the collection place for me. And another thing, he would scrap the snow from my front door, everytime it snowed and last winter, it snowed all the time until February or was it early March!! So wasn't that sweet of him?? He..he..he.. I suppose one would think that I miss his services he..he..he.. No, truly I miss seeing his cheerful face, and anyway I happen to have a neighbour now in Den Haag coincidently with the same name H and he would also bring back my rubbish bin!!! Aren't I lucky!!! Anyway back to H in Amstelveen, H must be lonely, I hardly saw any relatives drop by, in fact I had never seen his children (he has 2) and grandchildren came, not even on Christmas!!! And being a "nosy" neighbour that I was, I would know if anybody came !!! He was good to my son too, during world cup time, the nearby supermarkets would give out free world cup Gogos (little cute creatures) whenever you purchased a certain amount. Every time he went grocery shopping, he would drop the colourful Gogos through our post box. Ilham had a bagful of Gogos and most of them were from him.
J was a lovely lady from Indonesia. She's been staying in Holland for almost 30 years. She enjoyed talking to me because it gave her the chance to practice her bahasa Indonesia :D
We must have shown good example of Malaysian hospitality, because H decided to go for a holiday in Malaysia recently. DH recommended a few places for them to visit (based on their likes and dislikes) and they celebrated their 10th anniversary(I think) as a couple at the KL Tower.
We invited them for lunch one day, DH earlier promised to serve nasi lemak daun pisang and that's what we cooked that day.

Nasi lemak and sambal udang
Since J said that H could eat spicy food, I decided to cook the sambal the normal way, with only little adjustment to the amount of chillies. I think, the sambal must have been a wee bit hot for H, because he seemed to be "concentrating" on the prawns. Or maybe he found it difficult to eat because it was unshelled prawns!!! I should have bought the shelled ones!!! My initial thought was H couldn't eat it, but he had 3rd helping of the prawns!! so that means he had no problem with it :D

Look at H's flushed face he..he.. too hot for you?

We served them with lempeng pisang as well and sagu gula melaka

Lempeng pisang

We have yet to invite them over to Den Haag since we moved here. Must do it one of these days.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cooking Trauma and Laksam

Cooking is not exactly my favourite pastime, it is more of a chore, something that I have to do rather than something that I love to do. To say that I hate ccoking is a very strong statement, I do once in a while enjoy cooking or baking, when I have all the time in the world and not rushing to finish it in a hurry. But these moments is actually few and far between.

When I first came to the Netherlands, I did not expect to experience any culture shock because I used to live in UK once upon a time :) Amsterdam couldn't be any different from London, could it? I knew how cold the winter was and how I hated it. I knew that I would not miss my working life because I had been itching to quit my job practically from the moment I started working!! Yeah... I was that bad!! Of course my guilty concience would never allow me to quit. And that's why I still worked to the very end until we came here. Ohh... I digress. Let's just say that I knew what to expect !! Boy, was I wrong !!

The shock does not come in the form of how tall the Dutch are, how alien it sounds when they speak with all these "idgham" and "kh" sound or how one has to look down when one walks in case one accidently steps on "booby trap" by man's best friend. It actually comes from unexpected source, cooking !! I never realise that it would stress me to think of what to cook based on my limited gourmet recipes (it should be easy since I don't have that many right?), or that cooking itself and cleaning up can sometimes exerts ones power. The fact that I had long staying visitor who came two weeks after we arrived did not make cooking anymore endearing to me. Cooking for my own family is fine, but cooking in large amount is very stressful for me, I would be full of anxiety. Of course to me, cooking for 4 guests is 2 extra guests too many!!! Ha..ha..ha..

Having said all these things, I admit that living here in a foreign land in a way force me to cook and experimenting on dishes that I had never cooked in my life. Some of the dishes was so unexpected that even my mother did not believe that I made it from scratch. One of them is laksam. I love laksam, I grew up thinking that laksam was a northen dish, all because my uncle's (he married my aunt) niece used to make and sell laksam when I was small. Everytime I went to my auntie's house, I would eat laksam. But in KL, if you want to eat laksam you have to find stalls operated by orang pantai timur.

Anyway, last year we were invited to a Patani's house and they served laksam among other things. It had been sooo long since I ate laksam that I had more than two helpings. Needless to say I interrogated the helpful hostess and she obligingly explained to me. I didn't know that we had to steam the noodle. We came home with more "tapau" from the gracious hostess. My many queries must have convinced her of my love for laksam :D

Anyway, let's just say that I just had to try to cook it. The recipe that I finally used was taken from Myresepi if I'm not mistaken. And this is the end result....

Hmm... sedappp... if I may say so :D

The still uncut steamed noodle.

When I told my mother that I made laksam, she thought I used the dried kueyteow as the noodle. Was she surprised!!! he..he.. Still she seemed to be unconvinced because she said "kukus atas tudung periuk???" Yes Mak... I used tudung periuk and the bottom part of the springform (see the square designs on some of the noodle?)

I did enjoy making and eating the laksam and feel very proud of my own accomplishment :D I had since then cooked it for 3 more times and enjoyed every minute of it. This is one of the few and far between occasion.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Poffertjes hmm... Simply Yummy

Poffertjes (sebut pofferces) is a traditional and perhaps most popular Dutch food. Basically it is called Dutch mini pancakes as it resembles small fluffy pancakes about the size of 50 cent. These yummy poffertjes are made using a mixture of buckwheat flour and normal flour added with yeast, milk and egg and cooked using a special pan with small shallow indentations in it. Traditionally it is served hot with a slice of butter and powdered sugar. The taste of melted butter and the powdered sugar on the freshly cooked poffertjes is simply heaven. Though you will find ready-made poffertjes sold in supermarkets, the taste of the freshly made ones sold by the local stalls at the markets is much, much better hmmmm... simply yummy.

10 pieces for 2 euro

Take a generous slice of butter, the more the better.... :D

Poffertjes stall at the market with the big pan...

Poffertjes batter, hmm... they eat them with nuttela as well it seems

The history of poffertjes is linked to a Dutch Abbey during the time of the French Revolution. Due to a shortage of wheatflour, the batter was made using the buckwheat flour resulting in a thicker and tastier pancakes (need to check more on this history)

Though it is traditionally served with butter and powdered sugar, other toppings like cream, strawberry, jam and chocolate sauce are niet verboden (not forbidden). But, reading one of the comment from a Dutch reader in one of the website, it may have been a British interpretation! But for us, we like it the traditional way :D

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sonata Di Musim Salju...

The last of the snow has melted away leaving only the lump in front of the kitchen window that used to be our snowman. Walking past it this morning, I could see 5 or maybe 6 hardened and brown coloured limes scattered in front of it. Ahhhh. . . . there goes the eyes and buttons of the snowman :D I could also see the red chillies mouth and the 2 branches as the hands, hmmm. . . but where is the carrot nose??? Gone with the birds?? Can't be. . . ahhh . . . I know, must be the hare that had taken it!!!

I feel so sad really to see the snow gone, we have not had enough of it yet, we are not tired of it yet. Last year the snow kept coming until February or was it March? Anyway, we were sooo tired of it, we just wanted for spring to come early :D

These photos were taken on our way back home from school on 17th of December. Heavy snow had fallen through out the night before and was still falling as we walked to school. The sight of fresh snow on the ground and trees was so beautiful, words simply escapes me . . . .

Ducks and swan walkin on the frozen canal

My home for now....

Everything is just white and black.... I love it so much. Normally at home, I keep the inner curtains on for privacy, but during snow time, I like to draw it aside so I can enjoy the view of the white snow. And at night, it's so bright you don't need to switch on the outside light.

If it's not because of the splash of colour, one would think that its a black and white photos....

Our little snowman :D

And what happened to it the next morning :D

Thank you Allah for giving us the chance to enjoy this....