Category: In My Life

Antique Market Finds

I love everything vintage and antique, especially French vintage and antique! Nothing makes me happier than suddenly bumping into a vide-grenier or antique market in the French countryside. It’s almost guaranteed that I’ll walk away with something beautiful and original, sometimes for almost next to nothing. My prettiest plates, glasses, kitchenware and silverware were purchased in France, and that makes them even more dear to me. It’s such a joy to dream away as I set the table or drink my morning coffee from an antique French bowl. Imagine all the meals, conversations and people that are part of their history!
Every year at the end of summer, my city also hosts an antique market. Vendors from all over the country gather in front of the harbor to sell everything from vintage toys and clothes to all kinds of stunning items for the home. For some reason, I missed it the last couple of years, but this year I made sure to plan a few hours in the morning to go in search of new treasures. And I’m so glad I did! Have a look at the lovely things we purchased!
PS: We ended our antique hunt with a plate of fish n’ chips¬†and a cold glass of Chardonnay! How could we not?! Happy Sunday!

antiques
Look how cute that terrine dish is! Enough reason to finally develop a proper terrine recipe of my own! And the small dish next to it is perfect for baked eggs or a small crumble for the three of us.
towel rack
This one caught my husband’s eye first. A lovely tin rack for kitchen towels… and if you look closely, you can see Pastis in the center! ūüėČ
mirror
A convex mirror! It really reminds me of the one in Van Eyck’s ‘Arnolfini Portrait’. What do you think? Now the only questions: where do we put it???
glasses
Three gorgeous glasses with a delicate flower pattern. So pretty!
dish
An oval-shaped serving dish, perfect for asparagus or for slices of French bread to serve with dinner.

 

Apple Caramel Muffins with Confiture de Lait

I have a beautiful apple tree in my garden. We bought it ten years ago when we were living in another house. We had a huge garden back then. It was lush and full of trees that produced the most colorful blossoms in the spring. There was even a hazelnut tree, which believe it or not, we discovered that very last autumn before moving away.
My daughter loved that garden. Sometimes she would lie by the pond and dream away, or sit at the picnic table and color or do other things that kids do. We had a husky named Meiki back then, and she loved that garden, too.
garden
It was a bit of a wild garden. Though we mowed the lawn when necessary, we never really tended to it much. It just sort of did its own thing — and it did it quite well. We were so eager to move to our new house, but how we hated having to leave that garden behind.
Luckily, both our apple tree and cherry tree hadn’t been planted for long, so we dug them up and carefully transported them to our new house, where they got a lovely place in our new, much more civilized garden.
apple tree
Every year, right around this time, I head outside armed with an old French colander to pick just a few apples for the muffins I am sharing with you today. Be warned, they are as addictive as they sound, so you may have trouble restraining yourself to just one. Because they are filled with confiture de lait, that gloriously silky French caramel sauce, they are somewhat reminiscent of candy apples. Wonderfully seasonal at this time of year, of course. Enjoy, and happy September!

Apple Caramel Muffins with Confiture de Lait
Makes 12 large muffins
apple caramel muffins

  • 250g flour
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 small apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 150ml milk
  • 65ml sunflower oil
  • 2 small eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Confiture de Lait

Notes:
*You may want to line a baking sheet with foil and place it in the lowest part of your oven. Getting caramel off the oven floor is no fun!
*The confiture de lait doesn’t work the same way jam would when used as a muffin filling. The gooey sauce rather disappears into the sponge giving it a bit of extra sweetness around the center!

Preheat the oven to 200C and prepare your muffin pan. Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl. Add in the apples and stir to coat them with the mixture. In a jug, whisk the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix gently. Fill each muffin hole with about 1 tbsp of the batter. Then top with a tsp confiture de lait and about ¬†¬ĺ tbsp of the batter. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes. Ice them with a little more confiture while they are still hot. These muffins go so, so well with a nice chai!

Back to School… and Best Egg Salad Sandwich

egg saladMy teen daughter is going back to school today, and I think I’m probably just as nervous as she is. How I wish I could keep her next to me forever. Safe, sheltered and with no worries to fill her head. And how I wish I could stop time. She’s 16 1/2 and talk of where to go to school in a few years has already begun. I was looking at a friend’s baby photos this morning and wondered where the time went. How did my little girl grow up so quickly?
This new year at school will probably be tough. She’s going to Dutch gymnasium, which is the equivalent of prep school in the US and takes six years to complete. It’s very challenging and demanding, but it’s the highest and best form of education, and I’m happy and honored that she can take part in it.
While she was home this summer, I always made lunch for us and we would eat it together, sometimes while watching crappy shows on TLC. Most of our lunches consisted of healthy salads, but every once in a while I would take her to a local caf√© for a tuna sandwich and an iced coffee with a ton of whipped cream. Or, I would make her a whopper of an egg salad sandwich. There’s something really comforting about an egg salad sandwich, I think. Here’s my recipe. We’ll probably be eating this sandwich for lunch today as some comforting is definitely in order. Here’s to a new school year… and to all the moms who are in the same boat — much love!

PS: The number one tip I can give you with a recipe such as this one is to use the very best ingredients. That really makes all the difference with simple recipes that don’t call for many ingredients. All my ingredients are organic and as fresh as possible.

Best Egg Salad Sandwich
Serves 2

  • 4 small eggs
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp each chopped chives and flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp curcuma
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsps mayonnaise
  • fleur de sel
  • ¬†freshly grated pepper
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • lettuce leaves, to serve
  • thinly sliced cucumber, to serve

Hard boil your eggs, let them cool slightly, peel them and put them into a bowl. Add in the onion, herbs, curcuma, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Break up the eggs using a fork and knife. You want it to be chunky, not smooth. Now, mix everything gently. Layer the slices of bread with the lettuce leaves and top with the egg salad and a few thin slices of cucumber (or pickle, if you like a stronger taste). Cut at a diagonal and serve to someone you love.

Raw Cauliflower Tabbouleh with Shrimp

cauliflower tabboulehI hate, hate, hate the word diet. Probably because I’ve been on them all when I was in my teens and even later on in my early 20s. I shudder to think about how much time I wasted downing magic pills, powders, teas and other ridiculous potions. Or counting calories, weighing myself, depriving myself of the joy of eating, and trying to be something I wasn’t… and would never be — skinny. It took time (and a lot of episodes of Nigella’s cooking shows) to convince me that curvy was fine and that food should be a source of pleasure. At the ripe old age of 38, I am comfortable in my own skin and will never ever, ever EVER turn down a burger or a pizza (p.s.: my WORD did we eat a great pizza last Saturday at Woodstone in Almere!) Oh yeah, and I also eat sugar and bread!
For me, it really is all about balance. I could care less what the latest scientific findings say I should be eating. My diet involves a bit of common sense, a bit of running and walking and a LOT of enjoyment.
But what is ‘common sense’? To me that means eating a mostly organic diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, consuming good sources of dairy (skyr, kefir and goat milk products), eating small amounts of meat and fish, staying well hydrated, and adding healthy foods to my diet such as turmeric (I drink a cup of turmeric tea every day), chia seeds and coconut. This, is something I do most of the time. I often joke that calories don’t count on weekends…I think that also applies to our French vacations!
During the week, I try to keep my carbs in check by substituting grains as much as possible. I adore cauliflower rice and mash, for example. Recently, I used the vegetable in a flavorful tabbouleh which I am sharing with you today. It’s a great no-cook, low-carb meal that you can tweak in many different ways by substituting other ingredients. If you want a less ‘raw’ dish, you can cook the tiny bits of cauliflower in a little olive oil for 5-8 minutes.

Let it be said that I overindulged in freshly-baked croissants with confiture de lait this past weekend! Enjoy!

Raw Cauliflower Tabbouleh with Shrimp
Serves 4-6

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsps good olive oil
  • fleur de sel
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • small bunch each of parsley and chives
  • 60g capers
  • 100g sundried tomatoes
  • 300g large cooked shrimp

In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper into a vinaigrette. Put the cauliflower florets in a processor and blitz them until they resemble rice. Add the cauliflower to the bowl along with the fresh herbs, capers, sundried tomatoes and shrimp. Stir everything well and leave in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.