Snow in Rome, frozen canals in Holland, and just a general-OMG it’s SO cold in Belgium feeling. . . winter seems to have a tight hold on us in Europe. How in the world can you cope with the coldness of winter? With beef. And beer. How about beef and beer, slow-cooked in the oven for hours? Yes. That’s the ticket. Eat it by the fireside for an extra special winter treat. In March. I’ve taken the traditional pot roast and stew recipes from the U.S. and combined them with my Belgian favorite – stoofvlees – to create this one.
The metal gate glides open and the guard waves me through. I hand him my passport and he smiles. Asks me to pull my car off to the side. I turn the engine off and step into the cold, walk the short distance to the guard’s booth. Another mom traverses the second barrier, hands the French-speaking guard her ID. The two frozen men in the tiny booth joke they want chocolate in return for the favor. I offer Girl Scout cookies instead. There’s document signing, ID checking, photo-taking, etc. etc. etc. After giving them a blood sample and a promise
“Waar is de vuilnisbak?” the little seven-year-old girl looks at me with dark brown eyes. Her head is cocked. A mischievous smile plays on her round face. She is taunting, entertained, and curious. I bite my lip. Where is the what? “Ah, sorry,” I say in my best Dutch accent – flash a toothy smile in her direction. “Can you say that again?” She blinks. “Waar is de vuilnisbak?” she repeats. Her eyes tease me again. Her head leans another inch to the left, so it’s now horizontal to the floor. She’s so cute and yet. . . She knows
A wise friend once told me – there are seasons in life. There’s of course, the big ones like school, college, marriage, motherhood, etc. But then I like to think of the subsets – the everyday life. With each transition, there’s a learning curve and then there’s the stuff that goes a long with it. I remember my first time out of the house with two children. My daughter was 18 months old and my son was a newborn. I was on my way to introduce our baby to my husband’s co-workers at his office in Dallas. I’m on
Following my last post about a New Year’s Do-Over, I must admit that the real New Year’s Eve was fabulous (credit: The Husband). Following stops in Heidelberg and Austria, we head back west towards Germany on January 31st with a very important pit stop on the way to Munich. The fog drifts from the earth trapped in the belly of the Austrian mountains like a steamy bowl of cotton soup. We push our Volkswagon Touran through the water vapor until we start to climb. We weave our car along the breathtaking edge – the slope of the mountain stretching to
A month into 2018, my husband and I decided we needed a do-over. For the past months, there’s been a darkness that fell over Antwerp that lulled all its residents into a slow, silent depression. You think you’re okay – that you’re immune to the cold, the darkness, the lack of sun or perhaps you embrace the gloom by curling up with a cup of tea or a glass of wine on the sofa, but then. . . it gets bad. “It’s the first winter that can really get to you,” I remember telling my friends in Texas last spring.
The best part about wintertime is the food – just how the world around us has drawn hearthside, slowed down, and warms up with blankets and fuzzy socks – my favorite foods slowly cook in the oven for hours and warms my family’s insides with each bite. (My favorite recipes also make enough to freeze the leftovers, which is handy for those really lazy winter days when I just can’t be bothered to do more than defrost.) My kids lovingly titled this one White Wine Coq au Vinny, after their Dad. In Belgian and Holland, most grocery stores sell pre-sliced
I’m shivering in the shower, covered in shaving cream, and screaming to my six-year-old. “Holden! Holden! Where is Daddy?!? This is an emergency!!” Tears press at the back of my eyes. There’s worse things. There are. My hair is full of conditioner. The space heater in the corner of the bathroom is on full blast, but it can’t do anything to warm the ice-cold water spewing from the spout. I’ve turned it off five times in hopes that it reheated, only to be blasted with more melted snow. I try to calm myself. It’s not working. “Mama, he’s outside getting
A flight over the ocean. An embrace by a colleague. A walk through the FRA terminal. A drive on a bus. A crumbling castle atop a hill. A flute player. A toss of a few coins. A view. A photo. A memory. The year was 2007. I was an American Airlines internal auditor. My job was to fly around the world, visit the different airports the airline operated in, and audit them. It was a very cool gig. Especially for an accountant. The team was small – we had five staff/senior auditors and a manager. I remember the first time
“NO!!! NO!!! NO, MAMA!!!! I DON’T WANT TO GO OUTSIDE!!!” I shove one arm into my winter coat while grabbing a tiny leg with the other. There’s a loud thud and the half liters of German beer shake on the thick wooden table as I bonk my head – trying to escape from the dark cave with my treasure, my love, my third child. I emerge from its underbelly – squirming into the other half of my coat, wrestling my three year old, and dying of embarrassment. The low roar of the restaurant is no match for my precious angel’s