Friday, 26 February 2010

recipe day | homemade bread by auntie aggie

I enjoy making my own basic essential food (or beverages): carrot and orange juice, soya yoghurts, vinaigrette, smoothies and same goes for baking (cakes, cookies, muffins etc.) but most of all bread. Homemade bread...with no machine! Not only it is cheaper but it is certainly healthier. I have to specify I have no breadmaker because when I usually mention bread-making to people the first reaction is: "oh, so you have a breadmaker!" as if bread can only be made with a machine (trying to remind people that man was there before machine should be effortless but it is not).  I then explain the usual: don't own one, don't see the need for one when I still have my hands and don't have enough storage in my kitchen even if I wanted one.
Bread is one of the most essential, most used food and easiest thing to make. It is the least rocket science of all baking. It can be rather messy but it's FUN! When it comes to cooking or baking, each one of us has her/his own way of doing things (including in my own household with my partner who seems to have taken my bread-making habits and made it his own). So what I'm sharing here is how I usually do it.  For a big enough loaf of bread use the following: 

  • 500g/1lb 2 oz flour*   > any type will do: wholemeal,wheat, spelt but 'strong' flour is even better
  • 300ml/10 fl oz water  > warm not hot otherwise it will kill the yeast  
  • 1 sachet/1tsp of dry or live yeast ** > my preference goes to live yeast if you can get hold of some
  • 1 tsp of salt 
  • optional: 1 or 2 tsp of sugar > although optional, it gives added flavour and thicker crust
  • optional: 25g of butter or olive oil according to taste 
  • mix the ingredients in a large bowl
  • knead for at least 10 minutes (somehow therapeutical)
  • cover with a (damp)  towel and leave to rest for about 1 hour until it doubles in size
  • in the meantime pre-heat oven to about 200 degrees Celcius
  • knead again one last time to get rid of air in the risen dough and leave it to rest for another 20 minutes or so
  • put dough in tin 
  • optional: decorate by making oblique stripes with a knife and spread a tiny amount of flour on the top
  • bake for 30-35 minutes 
  • remove from oven, let it cool down and ENJOY the smell and taste of your own homemade bread.
Et voilà!!


* For those living in the Netherlands, you can also buy flour from your local windmill like I did the other day

**  What I also do when travelling to France or the UK is to buy other brands of yeast instead of only using Dr Oetker, which is the only yeast I found so far in  supermarkets in the Netherlands. You could also ask your at local bakery if they have live yeast to give away. I find that live yeast helps the dough double in size considerably. 

Thursday, 25 February 2010

get ready to sweat!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

mean nature | Montserrat volcanoe eruption

[Photos: courtesy of a geology site on the net]

This is how Soufrière Hills looks nowadays: active and mean.  A week ago today the Soufrière Hills volcano of Montserrat, small English-speaking island in the Caribbean, partly exploded and left the neighbouring island of Guadeloupe and later Dominica and Martinique covered in a big cloud of ashes. This had not happened since it suddenly erupted back in 1995. Consequently, the airport and schools were closed 2 days before the Carnival Holidays started and the most sensitive people had to walk around with masks to avoid breathing the nasty air. I was reported that as it suddenly turned dark on Thursday last week, the whole island was covered with ashes transported by the blowing wind from Montserrat.  You were not able to see in front of you if you were outside. The inhabitants had been hoping for rain to wash away the ashes but now entering the Carême  period, which is the Caribbean very hot season, it's not likely to rain soon.  Fortunately, as reported today, things are gradually returning to normal.  

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

hilarious foreign language attempt | Italio-Germano "mussen alleine Spiel gewinnen, (I repeat) mussen alleine Spiel gewinnen!!"

The Game Did Not Go Well!

In the following video: Giovanni Trapattoni (football coach for Bayern Munich) is not only giving a go at the German language despite his mistakes and re-make of the language but at that moment he was not a very happy man, and being Italian he certainly is a very passionate one. No matter what language he uses, I'm sure the message is clear: he is bloody pissed off!!  The game did not go well and he is certainly not pleased with a few players.  [NB: Even if you do not know German you will notice the repetitive words 'spiel' and 'spieler' (player), which makes sense since it is in the context of the football game but you will manage to follow somehow as it gets more and more intense.]

[Thanks to Bjørn I was able to share this one with you! Cheers, mate, for the link!]

Monday, 15 February 2010

another hilarious try at the English language

I really wanted to share this one. Speaking English cannot get any better than that!

[Thanks for the link & info., Lucia!]

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Nelson Mandela | 20 years freedom anniversary

What happened 20 years ago on 11 February 1990? Nelson Mandela, turning 92 in July, tasted freedom after 27 years spent in prison in his own country, South Africa. 

To mark this day,  ZAM magazine is organising an event @ 19:30 in the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mr Mandela release from prison, which includes a mini exhibition called 'Free Nelson Mandela'.                  

[Photos: courtesy of Getty Images Europe]

Friday, 5 February 2010

Günther Öttinger | English as the working language?

"Englisch wird die Arbeitssprache" (English will become the working language), declared Günther Öttinger a while back. Now appointed EU Commissioner for Energy (2009-2014), it appears somehow to be a challenge for him to put it into practice.

Monday, 1 February 2010

dining out | national restaurant week, a culinary event not to be missed

How about eating out everyday of the week in prestigious restaurants at an affordable price (and that also goes for eating in some award-winning Michelin star restaurants)! I have been going to Restaurant Week for the past 3 years and have always found it a success. The choice of restaurants across the country is varied but you  have to be quick to book, for they get filled up in no time.  Restaurant Week 2009 summer edition apparently attracted 165.582 guests in 1139 restaurants. Despite the financial situation people in the Netherlands did not fail to attend.   

Organised by, the national Restaurant Week  takes place twice a year: in March and August, and is once again up and coming next month  in 1250 restaurants in the country where you can pay the mere fee of €20,- for a three-course lunch and/or 25,- for a three-course dinner. 

  • The winter edition will be held between 1 - 7 March 2010.  
  • You can reserve online from 3 February at:
  • Cancellation is allowed 24 hours prior to the booking time. 
  • Please make a note of any dietary restrictions when reserving online, for the menu in each participating restaurant is a surprised set menu of the chef.