Saturday, September 18, 2010

Meatloaf, baked potatoes and happiness at home

I'm home for the weekend. Home as in at my moms. That's my real home, where I feel most comfortable and where true happiness can be found. I have so many siblings and I love being around them. I have one real sister (22), one real brother (19), one stepbrother (15) and one stepsister (13). I also have a 5 year old half-sister but she lives at my dads. And, of course, I have the best mom and stepdad.

Today was a typical Saturday at home. Woke up around 10, stayed in PJs until 1. Did some laundry, did some homework checking (still a teacher, even on weekends) and did some major relaxing.

Listening to my brother playing the piano and guitar is always a treat and instantly makes me feel at home. Last year he was travelling through Australia and I immensely missed his music.

(don't mind his foul language at the end of the second video, lol)

I went into town with my mom, which is always a treat. Again and again, she tries to give me all sorts of stuff. Clothes, kitchenware, magazines... Today's score was a grey scarf from HEMA, a fake bouquet of roses and some toiletries. She also gave me lots of her old clothes that she doesn't wear any more, such as knitted cardigans which serve perfectly as work-outfits.

We also love to go to the grocery store together. Today being Saturday, I told her I had to cook something American.
So I took the American cookbook my mom owns (which is an amazing cookbook!) and browsed through it.

My mom suggested meat loaf. Fine by me. I cooked it a few weeks ago with peas in it and mashed potatoes on the side, but decided to make a simpler version for today. Regular meat loaf with baked potatoes with sour cream, chives and bacon bits, and a salad with homemade croutons. As I couldn't really find a recipe in the cookbook, I decided to make up my own version. And it worked perfectly. It was delicious!

Here's the recipe for 8 people (2 meatloafs)...yes told you we are a big family:


1500 gr. ground beef
3 eggs
100 gr. breadcrumbs
1 onion
salt, pepper, garlic powder

(and I think the baked potatoes and salad are pretty much self-explanatory)

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (Celcius). Chop the onion and sautee until goldenbrown. Mix the ground beef, eggs, onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a big bowl and knead with your hands (watch out: the beef is cold, whilst the onion can be quite hot = interesting effect).

Add the breadcrumbs and knead until you have a solid mixture. Place the meat mixture into two greased cake tins and add some breadcrumbs on the top. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour.

My family loved it :-)      
(although they do think that this blog is the ultimate cheesefest..which I have to admit is true)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11

It's 9/11/2010. Nine years after the disastrous fall of the Twin Towers, I have finally taken up the courage to watch a documentary. I've chosen to watch the documentary 'the 102 minutes that changed America', which only uses footage from locals on camcorders or cell phones. Of course I'd seen the live footage of the planes crashing into the buildings before, as well as the collapsing towers. I've seen the main shots.

But never have I fully realized the enormous impact on the New Yorkers and the aftermath in NYC. The smoke rushing through the streets after the buildings have collapsed, while people are trying to get away from it by running up north. This is the stuff you see in movies and computer games. And then, when everybody has been evacuated: The white debris changing the always-crowding-on-the-streets-city into an eerie ghosttown.

I found the documentary highly impressive and for the first time really saw the disaster through the eyes of New Yorkers. I could feel their panic, their fear, their disbelief. I will be traveling to New York next summer and I am most certainly planning to visit Ground Zero and show my dedication to the people who have lost friends or family members, or those who have died themselves.

In order to commemorate the events on 9/11/2001 I've decided to cook a New York meal, albeit simple. It's nothing to brag about from a culinary point of view, and I won't add any recipes, as these are nothing more than a quick bite into a memorial service. However, I will show you some photos of the things I made and consumed, whilst watching the impressive documentary.

Bagels with Salmon and Cream Cheese

Bagels were introduced to America by the many Jewish immigrants. These boiled breadrolls with a donut-like hole in the middle quickly became popular in New York City, and are thus known as typical NY food. Salmon and creamcheese on a bagel is a classic combo.

Twin Tower Brownies 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My favorite recipe: Banana Nutbread

I go nuts for banana nut bread.

I cook it every so often and it is really so simple.
You want to go for overripe bananas, because these are easier to mush. I always make it with walnuts, but pecans would be good too.

Here's the recipe as I know it and always use:

2 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 overripe bananas
1 cup chopped walnuts

Pre-heat the oven at 190 degrees Celcius (for you Europeans of course, that is). Mix the dry ingredients together with the eggs and the butter (I prefer to melt the butter) and stir with a fork (no need for electric equipment) until you have a smooth batter. Cut the bananas in small pieces and squeeze them with your hands through the batter until you have a lumpy mush. Add the walnuts and again, mix.
Place the batter in a greased bake tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Eat warm, or cold. It's both delish.

The Cookbooks

These are the cookbooks I will be using:

The Joy of Cooking

America's classic cookbook by Irma Rombauer. My hostmom Autumn taught me about the book and my real mom bought it for me as a birthday gift while in New York. I happen to have the 75th anniversary edition. While it is not very interesting graphically, it does provide the reader with lots and lots and lots of takes on the American cuisine.

Cooking USA

A small retro style cookbook with recipes from every state. Gotta love the vintage prints.

De Verenigde Smaken van Amerika

A Dutch cookbook, or more like a travel / cookbook, in which the author describes several culinary roadtrips across the USA. A nice read, although it will certainly leaves you hungry.

Het Kleine Huis Kookboek

Laura Ingalls Wilder's popular series, presented in a cookbook. All the delicious meals she described in her books, whether the luxurious meals of the richer Wilder family as well as the simple homestead meals of the Ingalls family, it is a lovely trip down culinary memory lane.

And of course, the infamous Martha Stewart never fails to help.

America Homemade

Who says America doesn't have any culinary culture? Sure, it's hamburgers and hotdogs galore, but just take a second and read the following words:

Barbeque, Tex-Mex, cornmeal, avocado, brownies, clam chowder, turkey, Ruben sandwich, corndog, apple pie, cheesecake, grits, French toast, it's a whole gumbo!

America's cuisine, just like its inhabitants, is a melting pot rich in flavors.

I love America, and I love cooking. I have all these American cookbooks and since I now finally have a decent enough kitchen to cook a proper meal, I've decided to tackle those recipes and actually cook some true American meals. In the past few weeks I've made several dishes and loved feeling close to the USA through my own cooking. That's why I've decided to cook an American meal at least once a week. And now I've decided I'll blog about it. I will add my cooking explorations, photos included, and will add the recipes as well. And we'll see, I might add some more interesting information on American cuisine as we go along.

I'll admit it, I'm a bit inspired by Julie Powell who cooked her way through Julia Child's cookbook. Now I don't intend to finish the Joy of Cooking within a year (although I do own it and use it for reference quite often), also I don't want to be made into a movie. But I do like culinary blogging. And I love America.

So here it is:

America Homemade!