Grandma

Grandma

Grandma

The day, thick and heavy with grey drizzle irritates like a soaked wool blanket. My restless children cling to my sides, whiny and needy from being inside all day. I shiver – trying to shake off the damp creeping from under the gap in my patio door. I shake – trying to free myself from the children. My task of the week – toilet training my 2-year-old – was a failure, cleaning up messes off the floor, dragging rugs out to the porch to be hosed off, and washing his hands after playing in his own pee. A true holiday

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LamberMontMartre

LamberMontMartre

The depressed clouds had been crying off and on all morning – their tears flooding our patio then drying just as quickly. Like a confused husband, we shrugged and decided to move forward with our plans. It was a once-a-month outdoor event (only occurring during the summer months, at that) and promises had been made to our daughter. We skipped the tram and drove into the city – to the free parking lot just a few blocks from the impressive but lonely museum. We’d seen the museum the week before – after a visit to Antwerp’s newest and (in my

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Blue-Green Beans

Blue-Green Beans

“Hum, so you add blue cheese to green beans in order to make me eat them?” my husband eyes the bowl and twists his lips. Visions of my mother smothering broccoli in velveeta to get my brother to eat them when we were young pop into my head. I shrug, cast a sideways glance in his direction. “I guess. Will it work?” and I raise an eyebrow as I chop carrots for the couscous. “Uh. . . yeah!” he says, and he loads up his plate. Just like the Lemon Herb Couscous, it just takes a few simple ingredients to

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Lemon Herb Couscous

Lemon Herb Couscous

If you can boil water, you can make couscous, it’s that easy. Rice and potatoes are pretty standard, but couscous makes a simple meal, just a little fancier! I’ve made this recipe with traditional couscous, but I think I like the pearl better. Just follow the directions on the box, and add these few ingredients to really wow your family, and your guests. Preppin’ 1 box Pearl Couscous (or 2 cups water and 1 ½ cups traditional couscous) 1 chicken or vegetable bullion cube 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 Tablespoon olive oil Zest from two large lemons ¼ cup

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Karate Chop Steak

Karate Chop Steak

Chopped steak, basically a pan-fried hamburger sans bun, is the ultimate man food. Salisbury Steak has been a Hungry Man frozen dinner option for decades. Simple, but tasty, I used to make this recipe years ago when my husband and I were first dating and he always loved it. Paired with Lemon Herb Couscous and Blue Green Beans, it transforms the meat patty TV dinner of our youth into something grown-up-dinner-party-worthy and female friendly. The meat is given a surprising flavor of soy sauce, to make this not only my husband’s, but one of my kids’ favorite as well. Enjoy

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Alice

Alice

“Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland. Droplets of wax pool at the base of an antique candlestick holder. An orange flame breathes and extends towards the painted ceiling. Rows of teapots smile from the shelves – winking and whispering to the suiker and sucre jars across the dining room. Glistening chandeliers cast a glow over tea-sippers and bounce rays of warmth off walls the color of a rain-kissed rose. This is Alice. I’ve found my new favorite tearoom in Belgium. We’ve come to Gent for the GentseFeesten,

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Planckendael

Planckendael

The crush of cars choke the roadway. The children – shoulder-to-shoulder in their carseats in the backseat compete for dominance and attention. I press my head into my hand and stare out the passenger window. My husband grips the steering wheel and leans forward, willing the vehicles to move beyond the bottleneck traffic light. The green light allows us and one other car forward before teasing the others and flashing red. We take and left and are free! Only to gaze in horror at the packed parking lots, the cars jumping curbs and grinding to a halt in the weeds

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Cool American Ranch Chicken

Cool American Ranch Chicken

I remember my first few months grocery shopping in the Netherlands. I’d peruse the stores, translating, hoping I’d find the right ingredients, and looking for familiar brands. The familiar brands were few and far between – but my local Jumbo grocery store stocked Doritos. Yum! I eyed each flavour (yes, spelled with a ‘u’). Nacho Cheese, Natural, and what’s this? Cool American? What the heck does that mean? Curious, I exchanged my Euros for a Cool American flavoured bag of tortilla chips and opened it upon entering my house. I reached in, grabbed and chip and took a bite. Ranch!

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Island Margarita Pie

Island Margarita Pie

Cool and salty, like an island breeze, describes this Island Margarita Pie. It’s one of my Mom’s most favorite desserts to bring to potluck functions, especially in the summer. I requested the recipe from her, knowing the re-creation in Europe would be the ultimate challenge – the key ingredient is Cool Whip! Cool Whip – not frozen, not watery, but that perfect consistency every time, is not available in Europe (that I know of anyway). I put my Google skills to the test and ran through a couple of trials with errors. The final result (I’m happy to say) is

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Te Boelaerpark

Te Boelaerpark

Gravel crunches under my feet. Naked trees loom above me, their skinny limbs reaching into the grey cold sky. I push faster – dodging patches of ice and slow Belgians. I must be the coldest and fastest person in this country right now. The red thermometer flashed outside the Chinese restaurant around the corner: 3 degrees. Celsius to Fahrenheit mental conversion is just something I have little will to master, but I do know this. Three degrees is cold. I chase the puff of frozen air ahead of me while jamming to my American rap and pop music buzzing in

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