Monday, November 29, 2010


On the right is Dutch Raisin Almond Bread.  There is also a Currant Almond Bread.  In the center of the raisin/currant bread is an almond paste filling.  So delicious.

Center is Bonket.  I think of Bonket as the national pastry of the Netherlands.  It is puff pastry wrapped around an almond paste filling.  We love our almond paste.

To the left are Speculaas Koekjes, or as they are called in West Michigan, Windmill cookies.  These cookies are traditionally made in wooden molds, but they can also be done with a cookie cutter.  I hope to have the recipe on line before Christmas.

These Windmill cookies are made by the Methodist Church in Holland, Mi for their bazaar.  They cut out the dough with a cookie cutter and then outline the windmill with white chocolate. 

Eventually I will have recipes to enable you to make all the Dutch pastries at home.  However, I can't move fast enough or have time enough to get all the wonderful recipes done before Christmas.  Therefore I will bring you pictures of different treats from the bakeries around West Michigan.

Van's Bakery was always a favorite place to take our Grandson Tanner before he was in school after a visit to my Aunt who was his great-great aunt.  It is located on Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The windows and walls are filled with their cookie jar collection plus antique cars and trucks.  Tanner never wanted to leave after we arrived there. 

Van's is a coffee shop as well as a bakery.  They make all kinds of Dutch pastries as well as other European pastries.  I first found them after attending an International Adoption Picnic for which they had made the Eastern European treats on sale.

Van's Pastry is located in one of the Fulton St. business areas.

Cookie jars are everywhere.

I like the tea pot.

Cookie jars and more cookie jars.  If you live near Grand Rapids be sure to visit Van's for the wonderful pastries and the fun surroundings.


St. Nicholas Day is December 6th with children putting their shoes out for Sinterklaas in the Netherlands on December 5th or St. Nicholas Eve.  Getting ready for the Holiday we went to the Dutch Store, VanderVeens in Grand Rapids, MI

The shelves at VanderVeens are stocked with traditional Dutch foods for celebrating St. Nicholas Day with chocolate Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet.

Figures of St. Nicholas are also for sale.

The shelves hold lots of shoe stuffers and Christmas tree ornaments too.

This windmill done in traditional Delft Blue Pottery caught my eye.  The Dutch have always been in the for front of engineering which is reflected in this new kind of windmill.  

Any size wooden shoe is available at the Dutch Village in Holland, MI.

Many colorful designs on the wooden shoes can be found.

Sinterklaas comes on a white horse so it is tradition to put out carrots and hay for Sinterklaas' horse.  We live on a sand dune and there is no hay anywhere so we put out carrots and apples.

American-Dutch ideas for Sinterklaas gifts. 

Chocolate Letter traditions go back to when Bonket, the pastry almond paste filled log on the right, was formed into the letter of the person's first name.

Babbelaars--butter flavored hard candy in blue wraps packed in the cone-shape,  Wilhelmina peppermunts, Mentos,  Stroopwafels--waffer cookies sandwiched with caramel (recipe coming soon on this blog), Windmill cookies--Speculaas koekjes (recipe coming soon), and Nusco chocolate spread for toast or waffles.

Foil-covered chocolate "gold coins" are important as one of the most popular stories about St. Nicholas is when he heard that 3 young girls would be sold into slavery because they had no dowries, St. Nicholas tossed gold coins down their chimney to help them.  The coins landed in the girls stockings which were hung by the chimney to dry. 

There are links to the VandeVeens, The Dutch Store, and for the Dutch Village on the Page Titled Dutch Links and Food Links on the right-hand side of the opening page of the blog.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


A while back one of our Grand-daughters said she was coming to West Michigan from Chicago to play in a softball tourament at Grand Valley State University in November.  I said, "November, we could have snow by then and it is usually much too cold."  Relax Grandma, we play inside.  Play softball inside?  I had never heard of such a thing and neither had any of my friends.  Here are the pictures to show you how they do it.

Two of our Grand-daughters before the games.  The youngest is getting taller than the older one.

The indoor football practice area is draped with black netting to stop the balls.

There is lots and lots of netting.

Even more netting hangs from the ceiling.

Grand-daughter at short stop.

It is sooo nice for women of my generation to see girl's sports honored as we had no sports.

We have to talk this all over.

You sure we should try that?

Sounds like a plan.

All set? You bet.

Have to have some laughs too.

Everyone has some time on the bench.

Grand-daughter up to bat.

It's a hit.

Base coach gives his instructions.

She is ready to go!!!

Dad has to give some advice from the stands.

Family cheering her on.

Finally we can see better through the net.

Dad has even more instructions.

It is all over.

Games well played.

And now it is time to SHOP!!  Girls just gotta be girls. 


We spent Thanksgiving in the Chicago area with our oldest Son and his Family.  What fun, what good food, what great stores.  Our Son cooked a fantastic Thanksgiving brunch follow by an outstanding Thanksgiving dinner.  Good ideas to follow in another post. 

It is good to be back at my computer.  I have been trying to work on the Grand-daughter's lap tops and Son's Ipad.  This is much easier.  Glad to be back in beautiful Michigan!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!!
The family "baby" is in the gray shirt with the red, white and blue strips.  When did our baby become a first grader??  Time just goes too fast!!!

For those of you who may be having a difficult day today and believe me, been there, done that, and have the T-shirt in the basement, remember it is just a day. Tomorrow all will be back to normal so find a good book or a great movie and escape your day for a while and remember it all comes out in the wash.  Tomorrow is just around the corner.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


This is another recipe that I fed my children and they liked it so well that they fed it to their children.  If you are tired of turkey and tired from shopping after Thanksgiving this is a great recipe to have in your files. Our favorite version of this dish has a little Italian seasoning in it.  However, change the beans and change the spice and you have a Mexican version.

I am so old that I remember when Hamburger Helper was first introduced to the public.  I looked at the little boxes and knew that it would never feed my hungry family. The kids liked the name so we made up our own Hamburger Helper.  Even thought this is good and filling, when my boys were teenagers, I usually ended up tripling the recipe.

Simple, filling and good!  Enjoy!


1 lb. or more lean ground beef, the amount of meat is personal choice and depends on the budget
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Italian seasoning, taste  
1 (10oz) can tomato soup
1 (14oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 (16oz) box elbow macaroni, cooked

Cook macaroni accordiing to package directions.  In a frying pan, brown the meat and cook until no longer pink.  Drain.  Saute the onion and garlic.  In a large pan, mix all the ingredients together  Crush the Italian seasoning between your fingers to release the oils before adding to the mixture. Stir to mix.  Slowly heat to blend the flavor

Ingredients:  Lean hamburger, garlic, onion, kidney beans, elbow macaroni, tomato soup, and Italian seasoning.

Some good Italian seasonings.

Mexican Hamburger Helper:  Black or pinto beans, green chiles, and chili powder.

Drain beans and rinse with cold water.

Take the skin off the onion and chop.

Onions are ready.

Mince garlic.

Brown ground beef and cook until pink is gone.

Cook macaroni according to package directions.

Beef cooking.

Drain the beef.

Remove a cup of pasta water from pan before draining the macaroni.

Combine ground beef, macaroni, and beans.

Saute the onions and garlic.

Add the tomato soup, undiluted, and garlic/onion mixture to macaroni mixture.

Add some pasta water to the mixture and stir well.

Crush Italian seasoning and add to macaroni mixture.

Mix all together.  Add more pasta water if necessary.

Heat slowly to blend flavors.

Stir to keep blending and so the bottom doesn't burn.

Kid food that adults enjoy as much as the children.  Enjoy!!

Old Dog is learning new tricks again.  If you notice more mistakes than usual it is because I am using my Grand-Daughter's lap top and I have never worked on a lap top before this posting.