“The Antwerp Zoo is stunning, it’s really a botanical garden with animals,” a fellow expat friend told me last fall. “Have you been?” she asked. Despite the numerous times we’d visited Antwerp while living in the Netherlands, we never had taken the kids. Passed it plenty – it’s just steps from the Antwerp Centraal Train Station, but with daily prices at a rate of 19 Euros/child and 24 Euros/adult – 86 Euros just seemed like a lot to shell out in one go. Upon moving to Antwerp we quickly discovered the beauty of the zoo membership. For 189 Euros, the
This one goes hand-in-hand with my Not Your Fergie’s Black Eyed Peas recipe. If you’re like me, I like to make my black eyed as a side-dish for a country meal (perhaps some savory pork chops or fried chicken) but then I have half a pot of beans left over! This is a great way to revamp those peas. I last served this cold as a side salad, but I’ve also served as a dip with a side of tortilla chips. Preppin’ 4 cups (about 650 grams) cooked black eyed peas (if you’re pressed for time, a couple cans of
Belgians and BBQ – it’s what they do in the summer. Kids hop in and out of blowup pools (and not the kiddie ones you have in your American-mind – these babies are about the size of a hot tub). Guests sip iced tea or glasses of rose’ while the host fires up the grill. Everyone is invited to bring dessert or a side. We were the only Americans invited to a Belgian BBQ a few weeks ago and I thought I’d treat them to one of my favorite, and most Texan, side-salads I could think of – Texas Caviar.
Any true Texan knows the best Mexican restaurants in town aren’t off the highway, but tucked into those strip malls in your neighborhood – next to the Kroger, the dry cleaners, and/or the nail salon. These restaurants – with their neon signs and ceiling tiles (painted black, if they’re fancy), rubbery booths and plastic tablecloths – aren’t out to win any decor awards. It’s the fantastic food, always served hot in ridiculously large quantities, the house special margarita, and the salsa that brings the neighbors coming back again and again. I made salsa before. Using a fork, I’d dangle fresh
The wind whips through our hair as I gaze at the fearless below. A lone girl lounges back on her hands, one leg outstretched – a black boot dangling over the edge of the wall – undeterred by the fifty-foot drop to the glistening water below. A respectable distance away from the quiet one, a boy and girl laugh. Their legs tucked and arms wrapped around their knees and they rock back and forth on the stone pier. They sip from red cans of Jupiler beer between gazes at the water. The sunset casts glaring reflections on the muddy water.
So, I have a confession to make. My favorite fajita marinade in the whole world is Claude’s. I’ve carried countless bottles of this glorious stuff over the ocean in suitcases. If anyone is looking for a hostess gift when they visit me in Belgium, this is all I want. Well, that and Bath and Body Works hand soaps. But, with my contraband supply depleting and the temperatures rising here in Belgium (thus, making me always think of Texas) we’ve been grilling like crazy. I have been tapping into my backup homemade fajita marinade recipe. I like to call this one,
My mom’s special French toast was always my favorite. Slices of Roman Meal wheat bread were dipped into beaten eggs and milk and then she’d add her secret ingredients. She’d press the egg-dipped slices into a mixture of crushed corn flakes and sweetened shredded coconut. She’d melt butter in a skillet to brown on both sides then serve with a generous amount of maple syrup. It was heavenly and I thought that’s how all French toast was made. Imagine my surprise when I ordered French toast at a restaurant as a teenager and found they had forgotten the corn flakes
The majority of the members of my bookclub in Leiden were vegetarians and I brought this dish to one of our first meetings. The girls were so impressed. “Oh my, did you boil the artichokes yourself and use fresh spinach?” the hostess asked. I laughed, flattered that she thought I’d go to so much effort, and I had to admit – “Uh, no. . . I used frozen spinach and canned artichokes,” and in between mouthfuls she nodded. “Well, it tastes fantastic,” and we agreed. This recipe is so easy, but tastes like a million bucks. Preppin’ 1 package (8
“I saw those red stemmed goblets one day when I came into work at Hemphill Wells and I just had a fit over them!” (“Had a fit,” is Southern Belle slang for “I absolutely adored them, Dahling!”) My Belgian living room is cast in a soft glow from stained glass lamps. Frank Sinatra croons from our Pandora radio. With my phone tucked into my ear, I lean forward and grasp a heavy red goblet, swirl the French wine, and take a sip. I continue to jot down notes. “Did you ever actually, use the glasses, Grandma?” I cock my head
Trees as thin and packed as matchsticks line the one-lane gravel road. Shafts of silver light pierce the forest. The GPS arrow hovers above a green blob on the map, and the indicator on the dash says “offroad”. A crooked tiny sign points to the left and our small caravan follows. The rocks and potholes challenge my Skoda sedan, but determined, it climbs toward the invisible destination – De Kluis, (Dutch for “The Safe”). A comforting name for a campsite. “Places in Belgium are hard to find, period,” my husband admitted a week earlier, “I can’t imagine trying to find