Friday, December 30, 2016


As I hinted in my last posts 2017 will be a year of change and with the end of year looming, I always find myself reflecting. The years since my last blogposts have been turbulent: in parallel to getting divorced I changed jobs and took a position that I was overqualified for. At the time, i thought it was an opportunity but in hindsight the combination of that, low self-esteem, bad dating experiences, a bad manager and lack of recognition led to a nervous breakdown in 2013.

I was lucky that several friends who saw the signs early and convinced me to go on sick leave early in the process. I'm still grateful for that as therefore the consequences were limited and with support from professionals and friends I gradually returned to work, felt better about myself, got recognition and this culminated in a new professional opportunity in October 2015.

This job met my expectations and ambitions in so many ways; level of responsibility, part of small department but wider project team, a supportive manager, an inspirational project leader, improving patient lives and lots and lots of science. I enjoyed the challenge, made progress, contributed, realised I was good at it despite the ever increasing workload (chronic understaffing). At the same time, I realised I was still unfulfilled for many reasons;  long hours were one, but more importantly was the detailed level of knowledge required. I had not been in a situation like this since i my time in academic research, when it was a topic I was fascinated by but I left because I didn't have a burning question I wanted to solve/dedicate my career to. Here I was again, expected to gain knowledge, read papers and be at the scientific forefront but on a subject that, though relevant,  didn't interest me to get that deep into.

In parallel, I have always had the wish to explore working with food. I've been cooking for as long as I can remember with my family and friends, working in hospitality at university, writing this blog,  tested recipes for cookbooks and been on the verge of starting a venture a few times.

So when the opportunity came to potentially help out a friend next summer season at a small place that does not involve much financial commitment the decision was easily made. Sometimes I feel it's a strange manifestation of a midlife crisis being late thirties, single and with no kids. On the other hand, it is a very conscious decision, at a point in my life where I am confident in myself, can afford to take a calculated risk and have the change to live a lifelong dream. Details still have to be sorted out, it may all fall through, but I hope not and am resolved to document my experience, the process, my thoughts and some images here for myself and anyone who's interested. Have a good end to 2016 and looking forward what next year will bring....

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Is anyone still there?

It's been very quiet here the last few years and much has happened....marriage, divorce, an amazing new apartment,  several new jobs, a successful career in drug development, several trips to japan, lots of mountains climbed in summer and winter, inspiriting "dinnerclub" dinners, a new developed love for modern art and now a new's a little too early to share so will keep you in the dark a little longer but will share more the coming weeks/months....

Monday, February 09, 2009

No more least for a while

So, I guess you know what I'm gonna right based on the title....I'm hanging up my blogging, at least for the foreseeable future. It's very sad but life is just too busy at the moment and I just don't have enough time to do it all. Between a new job, a wedding to plan this summer, making the most of the snow with countless skiing weekends, pottery classes, yoga, cooking and crafting, I have no time to sit down and write. But still, I always feel like I should in the back of my mind, which is why this post should help make things a bit more final.

So thank you all for reading and commenting, it's been a great few years and I've learned and gotten so much inspiration from the blogging world out there! Perhaps one day I'll be back but for the moment I say goodbye.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On culture and cheese

I'm determined to stay with the blogging at the moment but let me explain why I haven't posted for two weeks. Last weekend we had a three day trip to Vienna which was amazing. A beautiful city filled with fabulous buildings and museums, a bustling Christmas market, comfy coffee houses with tasty cakes and a delicious food market filled with many cafe's. After our stay, the feet were very sore from all the walking, the bellies full of the delicious tarts and sausages and the senses overloaded with their plethora of museums.

Then this weekend has been filled with dinners and meeting friends with at the top of it all, a scrumptious cheese fondue in a friends vineyard this afternoon. It's a small plot of land that first her father and now her brother work as their hobby. We walked up there around 3.30 in a snowy winter wonderland. Once we got to the little house they have, we cooked the cheese on the wood stove and drank their white wine....the most perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon if you ask me! The way down was a bit more challenging as it had started snowing again and there was a fierce wind making it very exciting in the dark.

Finally, a little bit of crafting with this year's dinner table light decoration. Still sticking with a natural theme like last year but using a different plant. And the little leaves swing happily around if you have some candles lit on the table.

Cheese Fondue a la Bischof
(calculate between 150-200g cheese per person depending on the appetite)

600g of cheese (equal amounts of Gruyere, Vacherin Fribourgeois and Appenzeller - or what you have at hand)
3 cloves of garlic (making for a fairly garlicy taste so reduce if you don't like it too strong)
300 ml of white wine (and plenty more for drinking!)
grated nutmeg
2tsp cornflour
a small glass of Kirsch (again, have some extra on hand to sip as it aids the digestion)
black pepper
a pinch of bicarbonate soda
plenty of your favourite bread (we had potatobread with walnuts and also half white)

Chop the garlic roughly and put it in the pan, add the cheese, wine and cornflour and place on the heat. Stir until all is dissolved and then stir in the kirsch, nutmeg and pepper. Mix well and just before serving add the bicarbonate soda and mix well. Serve with the bread whist stirring in the shape of eights - this prevents the cheese from burning at the bottom and makes for a fantastic "Grossmutter". This is the crust that forms at the bottom and make sure you have some room left as it's the best bit of the whole fondue.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

First pottery piece..

...that I made in my new course (started in April). The progress i this course is much slower but the pieces are finished better and I learn a lot more then before. One down side is that the glazes are a lot less spectacular then in my last class. But at the same time it's nice to glaze thing simply and make a form that suits that.

This cake stand is the the perfect piece to present these small savoury tarts on (made with some delicious Cashel Blue and left over beer and coconib jam)and it was soon empty again.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Where have I been?

It's been quiet on the blog for the last few months but real life has been busy and bustling. We've had a summer of fabulous sunshine and Rhine swimming coupled with friends visiting, music festivals and mountains. Interspersed there have been many dinners, bbq's, crafting, pottery and testing Japanese recipes.

In addition, some life changing events have taken place: I finished my job at the university at the end of July. After months (even years) of doubt I finally made the decision to change careers. After 2 months of job searching (a wonderful week at home and lots of the above mentioned Rhine swimming) I found a new position and have very happily transited to the pharmaceutical industry since the start of October.

Last but by no way least, there has been a very unexpected but welcome proposal on the middle of a glacier a few weeks ago followed by a very swift OF COURSE! filling life with lots of champagne,celebrations and this incredible happiness. Who would have thought this would change so much in our happy living together state ...says the Dutch girl always skeptical of marriage, I guess I have to eat my words but boy, they taste sweet :-). With that comes lots of planning/organizing to be done in the next few months.

So with all that I fear the blog will suffer even more!

I had great plans of overhauling it this summer which obviously hasn't happened and have now decided to merge the two back here and abandon the other one. So this will see a bit more craft which will be interspersed with some more food and general ramblings. Thanks for hanging in there and look forward to sharing the experiences with you...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas and more excitement

So I had a whole series of posts planned but the last few weeks have just flown and not it’s boxing day! And in an hour we’ll be getting onto a bus to get to a plane and another one and another one and then in about 26 hours we’ll be landing in Melbourne to start our 4 week holiday! I’m so excited! Good friends of both Barry and me are getting married in Tasmania in January and we decided it was a great opportunity to catch up with them, see them on their special day, meet other friends who are attending and spend some time on what promises to be a fabulous island. So there won’t be so much posting done although I'll definitely be enjoying lots of nice food and wine. I hope you all have a fabulous New Years Eve and see you in 2008!

ps...a fab tip I found in one of my cookbooks, if you have any mulled wine left over, freeze it and serve it as a sophisticated granita

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A wintery pizza

Another brief post as this week we are in Ireland visiting Barry's family. We're getting all are family visits sorted now as we won't see them for Christmas. The reason?? We're going on a 4 week holiday to Melbourne and Tasmania! I'm so excited as we haven't had a holiday all year and we've been saving days for this one! Anyway, more about that in a later post.

With all the traveling, socializing and getting presents organized, the cooking has been somewhat limited recently but I still wanted to share this recipe with you. Its another one from my friend Simone who is a source of great recipes that are often easy but totally delicious! For this one we were lazy and bought a ball of pizza dough at the local store, which here is as good as home made, topped it with thinly sliced potato and Taleggio cheese. After baking it in the oven for about 20 min at 220°C on a pizza stone the cheese was melted and golden. Topped with some truffle oil to give it a nutty earthy smell, it was an incredibly tasty dinner that we'll be making much more this winter. I also think my little bottle of truffle oil won't last very long (even though a little goes a long way) as we've already been using it on this pasta and I think it would work well on something like a mushroom bruchetta.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

In a pickle...

...that's what happened to these baby onions, herbs and spices using this recipe. I've made this recipe for the last several years and they are great! so much better than the store bought ones. They make a lovely present or are great to keep and eat with fondue, raclette or meat. I normally make half the liquid suggested in the recipe or use twice as much onions...whatever you fancy. This is my entry for A Spoonful of Christmas hosted by Zlamushka I know it's a bit short but am in the Netherlands up to my ears in Sinterklaas poems and surprises.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

On Snow, Parsnips and SHF

How fitting that my 100th post is about one of the most perfect days I've had in a long time! Last Sunday I went to the mountains in my friends new camper van. After an early start we arrived in Lauterbrunnen, took the gondela up and walked to Mürren. This is why I moved to Switzerland!

The weather was perfect, sunshine, blue skies and the most amazing snow I've ever seen! About 70 cm deep and covered with a layer of crystals several cm big, they were like little Christmas trees. We made a beautiful walk, played in the snow, built mini snowmen and ate lunch in the sunshine.

When it comes to walking food, I'm just not one for sandwiches. I always find that by the time you get to eat it its squashed, cold and often tasteless. Therefore, I prefer home baked lunches, preferably with nuts and cheese for lots of flavour and energy. For this walk I used parsnips as they are back in season! I developed quite a liking for this root vegetable whilst living in Scotland. Before that I'd never even seen a parsnip as they are very hard to come by. However, this year the local supermarket has started selling them as an "ancient vegetable" so we'll hopefully be eating a lot more of them. I know parsnips mostly as a savoury vegetable but they also go well with sweet (think honey roasted) flavours and I'd heard that they can also be used in cakes, like carrots, but that this somehow fell out of fashion after the WWII.

I adapted this recipe (a firm favourite for summer walks) as I wanted to make a savoury and a sweet version to take along and use some of the walnuts from my parents garden. They were a great success. For the savoury I used gruyere, walnuts and fresh herbs (rosemary, sage and thyme), whereas the sweet ones had raisins, nuts, nutmeg and ginger. Both yummy and with lots of energy to keep me going on the walk, hopefully the season will be good, there will be many trips and I can make them loads. This post my entry for this months sugar high friday - The Beta Carotene Harvest - hosted by Definitely not Martha

Sweet or Savoury Parsnip Muffins (makes 6)

1 cup flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 eggs
2 parsnip - grated
1 tbsp creme fraiche
1/2 cup vegetable oil

60g raisins
60g walnuts - chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger

60g gruyere - grated
60g walnuts - chopped
2 tbsp fresh herbs
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the over to 180°C, in a large bowl, mix the creme fraiche, oil and eggs. Then stir in the flour and grated parsnip. Finally, add the extra fillings and the spices. Or at this point you can divide the mix in two and make both (make sure to halve the amounts given above). Pour the mixture into buttered molds and top with either raisins or walnuts. Cook for 30 min or until a needle comes out clean. Leave to cool and enjoy!