European-Adapted Green Bean Casserole

European-Adapted Green Bean Casserole

European-Adapted Green Bean Casserole

One of my favorite things to eat for Thanksgiving and Christmas is the classic green bean casserole. My first batch was when I was fresh out of college and with canned green beans. Luckily, my cooking skills have matured since then and I’ve adapted that classic cream-of-mushroom soup recipe to the cream-of-mushroom-soup-less country. I’ve made it with fresh fried onions in the past, but the essence of this dish is simplicity, so you can jazz it up if you’d like – but I think this version gives you the balance of fresh and fast. I like using haricot verts, the

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Lockdown Part II

Lockdown Part II

  October 30th, 5:23 p.m. Antwerp, Belgium My daughter and I are on our way to the grocery store in our car. The Belgian radio is on and as usual, I’m catching pieces of the news report. Cosette is in the backseat, listening as well. She interprets most of what she hears, which is more than my quarter. “What are they saying, Cosette?” I ask and she confirms what I had expected. “Belgium is going into lock-down again. Well, kinda . . .” A tram passes, I maneuver my car behind it to head to Deurne’s new Jumbo. I had

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Celebratory Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

Celebratory Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

It’s been a wild week! Before last Monday, our television wasn’t even hooked up basic cable. On the eve of the election, my husband snaked chords across our living room floor to connect us to CNN and other news channels – the BBC, Antwerp ATV, and others. Unlike U.S. sports, which we often miss in the wee hours of the morning, the U.S. news stations were covering the election 24-hours a day. “Vinny,” I said on Thursday morning as I sipped my coffee and checked the clock, “They look great. . . how is that even possible?”  My eyes darted

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An American Abroad. . . Election Day 2020

An American Abroad. . . Election Day 2020

An American Abroad. . . Election Day 2020 Years ago, during the plane’s descent onto a runway surrounded by South African grasslands my friend turned to me and said, “Quick. What is your opinion of Bush?” We’d been traversing the globe for 24-hours. We were jet-lagged and dirty and all I could think about what how I wanted to get off the plane to sleep, shower, and eat decent non-airplane food. This was hardly the time for a political discussion. “What? Bush? What about him? I have no opinion,” I told her as I gripped the armrests with white knuckles.

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Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch

“Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one.” – Linus Van Pelt, The Great Pumpkin 1966 Saturday evening, October 24, 2020. Our family had spent the afternoon underneath the flittering golden leaves of the Draakplaats. The restaurants and bars ringing the neighborhood square were shuttered, but the basketball court, playgound, and spaces-in-between were speckled with children. Vinny and I watched our children bike and rollerskate on the asphalt, their wheels slipping on the

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A Socially Distant Social Club

A Socially Distant Social Club

Many things have changed throughout 2020. My children’s Happy New Years’ card mocks me lovingly from a corner of our kitchen. Happy 2020 it says! With smiles all around. Who would have ever thought?  And isn’t that the thing? Just when we thought we had challenges, we thought battles were worth fighting for in 2019 or before, perhaps we have realized that we had been stressing out about relatively small things.    In October 2020, you’re now a rebel if you give a friend a hug.  The American Women’s Club celebrated our 91st anniversary in February and at one point

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Hopelessly Devoted to You

Hopelessly Devoted to You

“I loved, loved, loved that movie. I mean, really. I was border-line obsessed. I’d watch it and then rewind it. And I’d play it again and again. Perhaps even four or five times in a row!” The sunlight is streaming through the panes of glass, golden rays darting between our organic ginger and mint teas. The last gasps of a beautiful Belgian summer are holding strong on this Tuesday morning. My friend continues, “I mean, Sandy. . . I thought she was just so beautiful,  so virginal with her beautiful blonde flipped hair. . . Sitting on the pavement at

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The Quieter Front Lines

The Quieter Front Lines

The following was an introduction during our American Women’s Club Monthly Meeting for October. My brother works as an occupational therapist in an Oregon Hospital. My mother works for a library in Dallas.  As noted, my best Belgian mom-friend works at a grocery store. Stay-at-home working mandates are the rule throughout Europe and speckle the United States. My daily challenge is to keep the house quiet during my husband’s conference calls, a challenging feat. But we are all navigating unchartered and inhospitable waters right now. Our world has turned upside down. While many of us hunker down and shush our

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National Daughter’s Day

National Daughter’s Day

I never knew there was a National Daughter’s Day, but I’ll jump at the chance to tell the world how grateful I am to be her Mama. Cosette is loving and thoughtful, strong, and determined. Nothing fazes her or brings her down. I can’t tell you how many times in the past year during lockdown (when the boys were running around crazy and Vinny was in conference calls) she asked me, “Mama? Are you okay?” and I smiled to her and said “yes, yes, I’m okay. Mostly!” She knows me too well.   I can see, in these past few

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Back to School

Back to School

The following is an excerpt from a Letter from the President that I wrote to the membership of the American Women’s Club of Antwerp in September. At the time, I had spent almost five months at home with my children. Although it made me question my sanity, we had formed a bond. It was as if they were as close to me as joeys in a kangaroo’s pouch. We were contained in our own bubble  – as intense or as crazy as it was – it was ours. It felt safe. The morning I ushered them off to school I

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