Eurotrip 2011 – Amsterdam

Rome > Siena > Florence > Venice > Munich > Brussels > Amsterdam


March 26.  We caught the train from Brussels to Amsterdam at 9am, and arrived around noon.  It was a relatively short trip, and we found our B&B pretty easily via the tram.  Hans at the RAI Bed and Breakfast checked us in and we headed back out to the downtown area for some lunch.  We ended up finding a place that had Dutch food which was proving to be hard to find since typical Dutch food is comfort food and really only made at home.  We headed out to the Heineken Brewery/museum afterwards and found it to be a complete waste of time and money.  They don’t do any brewing on site anymore, and the whole thing is one long, drawn out Heineken advertisement filled with drunk or nearly drunk obnoxious tourists.  Random side bit, the cashier who took our money was actually from the area where we live now!  The brewery site did make for pretty pictures (to the right) but it was a big disappointment especially for the 15 Euro per person cost that included two beers.  We walked back to the hotel later that evening, after walking around and taking in Amsterdam and were passed by a group of people marching in solidarity for the victims of the tsunami in Japan (bottom photo, right). DSC_7451



March 27.  Got up and Hans made us breakfast and we chatted for a while.  It’s one of the nice things about staying at a smaller B&B, and I’m glad our last hotel-keeper was SO friendly and accomodating.  We decided to rent the two bikes he had, but they turned out to not be all that great, and we turned out not to really be able to handle the hordes of skilled bicyclists on the streets.  The most we get to ride at home is on trails and such, not in busy traffic.  Plus, the seats weren’t quite securely fastened and wrenched themselves free and wiggled around more than was comfortable.  Oh well, it was worth a try.  Tried to go to the Van Gogh museum, but the line was around the block even at 10am.  Walked around and made it to lunch with a fellow knitter who ran a bit of an errand for me (it was for Wollmeise and she was going anyway, and I still love her to bits for offering!).  Had a great time chatting with her!  We found out about a proper brewery (you know, one that actually makes beer and isn’t just a building that used to make beer) that was next to a windmill.  Well two birds, one stone, right?  The Brouwerij ‘t IJ was FANTASTIC.  We really just went for the tour, but ended up hanging out all afternoon enjoying the beer and cheese and sausage.  The brewer was trained in Belgium, so the beers were mostly Belgian and were all absolutely knock-you-over amazing.  So, my advice?  Skip Heineken, GO TO THE IJ!  Also?  Check out the prices on the wall in the bottom photo – you can’t beat that with a stick.  We wandered around for a while, checking out some of the little shops, trying to see if they made wooden shoes in Doug’s size (they did!  Size 14 US!), and eventually wandered back to the B&B. DSC_7486



March 28.  We signed up for the countryside Mike’s Bike tour.  I’m really glad we did this because we were both getting tired of the touristyness of the downtown/old city area.  We made a little stop at the Albert Cuyp Market just to check it out (and, we were out and running VERY early for the bike tour).  Having not found a stroopwafel, we headed onwards.  The bike tour was four hours long and took us out of the city, to a windmill, and then to a farm where they made cheese and wooden shoes.  They showed us the cheese making process and then the wooden shoe making process which was all done by machine using a template.  There was a fair bit of hand finishing involved from the sanding and then painting and decoration, but they said it made no sense to make them exclusively by hand anymore since they’re shoes.  You wear them in the garden and get them muddy.  They are also pretty darn comfortable for being made of wood.  After that we headed deeper into the countryside, checked out the system to control flooding in the city (those Dutch, they’re pretty brilliant that way), rode through some parks, and really learned a lot of history and backround detail about Amsterdam.  HIGHLY recommended.  We were completely beat but managed to find dinner and then head back to pack for an early early flight.  Hans (our B&B owner) was kind enough to offer us a great deal on a ride to the airport which we got to with time to spare. DSC_7518



Slideshow of photos from Amsterdam

One Local Summer 2011 – Week 20


This one I REALLY knocked out of the park. I mean, REALLY REALLY. Fennel isn’t a popular vegetable in our home mostly due to the husband’s hatred of all things anise/licorice. Since he was away, I figured I had a chance to give it a try.  I stumbled across a recipe for roasted fennel and potatoes, but I only had sweet potatoes from the farmer’s market, so I figured hey, starch is starch, right?  Well it was amazing.  The sweet potatoes roasted with the fennel covered for 30 minutes at 400F in the oven, covered in some olive oil, salt, garlic, and pepper.  Then the browned sausage was laid on top and left uncovered for another 30 minutes.  The amazing way these flavors worked together has made it a staple, and what really surprised me was that the anisey flavor of the fennel really disappeared in the baking process.  Needless to say, the leftovers didn’t last for very long, and I’m making this combination a staple for future recipes!

Sweet Potato, Fennel, and Sausage Bake:
Sweet Potatoes – Jack’s Farm
Fennel – Jack’s Farm
Garlic Turkey Sausage – Mountain View Organics
Garlic – Jack’s Farm
Non Local – Salt, pepper, Olive Oil

One Local Summer 2011 – Week 19


Here’s where I admit that we were away for two weeks and I’m not going to catch up and make up those two lost weeks.  I love doing this project, but it was starting to feel like a bit of a chore, and that’s the last thing I want to happen.  So, since we weren’t even in the country, I’m going to call those two weeks lost, and just go from there!  It’s finally getting to be fall and all of my favorite vegetables are out – all the squash and pumpkin I could possibly ever have!  This meal was a crock pot meal and consisted of a pork shoulder purchased at the Anselma Farmer’s market from a vendor whose name escapes me now, Onions, homebrew beer for the liquid in the crock pot, and pumpkin layered on top.  It came out LOVELY and was just the perfect meal for a rainy day.

Pork and Pumpkin:
Pork  – Anselma farmer’s market
Onion – Smith’s Produce
Pumpkin – Smith’s Produce
Non local – Beer, salt, pepper

One Local Summer 2011 – Week 18


This one was pretty simple. We were getting ready for vacation and I had little time to get something together, so I went with what I’d already stashed in the freezer. The pasta was made a while back and frozen, the sausage was frozen as well, and the peppers and tomatoes came from the garden. Pretty simple, but it counts as local, and even super local considering the maybe 100ft walk from the house to the garden.

Pasta with Peppers and Tomatoes:
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – Mill at Anselma
Peppers – My Garden
Tomatoes – My Garden
Chicken Sausage – Mountain View Poultry
Non Local – Olive Oil