Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Any excuse to use my ramekins

Although my pasta in cream sauce last week was a bust, the creamy chicken pot pies I made did not disappoint.  My brother-in-law and his girlfriend came over for dinner last week, so I felt like we needed to make something other than pasta or frozen pizzas (both insanely popular choices for us two sleep-deprived souls).  I keep checking the weather every morning, and in case you're wondering, yes it's still cold outside.  Cold weather means my go-to entertaining recipes require the use of the crock-pot or the oven.  Chicken pot pies, I thought, would be a good choice, and they're "easy." 

The chicken pot pies of my youth came frozen in single serving boxes.  Usually my mom would heat one up for me on nights they were going out.  I loved them even though I almost always burned my tongue in my impatience, probably because they were mini.  While I could make this recipe in a large casserole dish, it would really take something away from the novelty of an individual serving.  That is why I truly love my ramekins.  I bought the ramekins not even knowing what I would make in them, but I just couldn't resist their cuteness.  Someday I'll make crème brûlée, someday.  Until then, there's chicken pot pie to be baked...
It still surprises me when I make meal so deeply ingrained in my American cultural context, and it seems foreign to those around me.  A chicken pot pie, everyone knows what that is, right?  Of course, this one is slightly different from the Swanson pies we kept in the deep freeze.  The Dutch make all sorts of baked dinners, ovenschotels as they are categorized.  A stewed oven dish is something they've seen hundreds of times, but I think it's the biscuit topping that throws them for a loop.  Even though they love their buttermilk--have I mentioned before that my drink choices at Dutch history conferences usually consist of milk or buttermilk?--they don't seem to cook or bake with it at all.  Maybe it's because they also don't really use baking powder or baking soda?  For whatever reason, biscuity things are a novelty to our guests.
So glad they were a success.  Staring at that picture makes me want to make them again, and that might yet happen.  We've still got plenty of chilly days left on the calendar.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day in the Life

Laura over at Navigating the Mothership likes to do "day in the life" posts quarterly and invites others to join in.  I've always thought it would be fun but was never sure if it fit into the theme of my blog.  Since my blog seems to be fairly theme-less at the moment, I thought why not.  There's not much going on here at the moment: pretty much same ol' thing, which became painfully clear to me after spending Thursday "documenting" myself.  Oy, I need to do more!
Lest the above freezing temperatures would have us forget, the utter darkness at 7:15 reminds me that it's still winter out there.  Better than in December, though, when I swear the sun rises at 9:00.
Dirty pan I left to soak overnight.  Our sink is small, so I could only soak half.  What's that I hear?  A baby?  No time for tea!
Niek doesn't have to leave for work quite yet, so he gets Johanna washed up and dressed while I make his Dutch lunch of four sandwiches and have some breakfast.

 Niek leaves for the day, and I putter around the house, folding laundry and kissing a baby.

Inevitably, Johanna poops.  So, you know, off to the changing table.
Some friends of ours just had a baby, and I do the proper Dutch thing: I send a card.  I don't really know what to write, so I browse back through our cards and google a bunch of sentences to make sure it's all spelled correctly.  My spelling in Dutch is really atrocious.
After that, we pack up and walk to the post office.  I miss being able to leave outgoing mail in my mailbox, but the Dutch just don't do that.  I shouldn't complain; we live a stone's throw away from a post office.
Five minutes later we're home, and Johanna is ready for her 10:00 nap.  She sleeps.  I try to get some work done.   When she wakes up, there's a diaper change involved somewhere along the way and I'm ready for lunch: grilled cheese and a tangerine.
While she plays, I answer some e-mails, eat some chocolate and make the bed.

1:00 time for another little nap for her and time to read blogs and to do a little more work.
1:45 the baby is up and we head out to run errands.  On this particular day, I have to go to a store west of Amsterdam, so I catch the tram near our house.

Ugh, I don't know why, but Osdorp depresses me.  I think it's all the low-cost housing from the 70s and 80s.  I feel like I've entered another universe.
The weather is holding, and I'm only a few miles from home.  I decide to walk back instead of taking the tram.  Johanna sleeps in the carrier, and I get to enjoy some fresh air.  Because she's sleeping so well, I stop at the drugstore to get her some baby nasal spray for stuffy nose.  Why is there a creepy worm on the packaging?

Also, this sign amuses me.  English is quite prevalent here but not always appropriately employed.  "Street corner work," really?  I'm not sure they really thought that through.

We're home by 4:00.  There's another diaper to be changed.
Playtime on the ground and an attempt to read the paper.
After a bit of a struggle, Johanna conks out for her last nap around 5:30.  I head to the kitchen to make dinner.

Just pasta with veggies in a cream sauce.  I think it would have been better had I run to the store for actual cream instead of just using the milk I had on hand.  Still, it wasn't bad.
6:15 Niek comes home and the baby is awake.  Just in time for our family meal.
Around 7:00, we put the munchkin in her pajamas and settle down for a few stories.  Of course, Johanna wants to get in one more meltdown before bedtime.
Johanna is asleep at 8:00 but woke up a few times.  No time for adult conversations.  By 9:30 she is down for good (I hope), and we do the geriatric thing by going to bed.  You know, I believe that someday I will feel well rested again.