Archive for the ‘food’ Category


Nesting. A complete foreign concept to me, something I’m heard about from expectant mothers. Preparing their warm little homes for new arrivals. From what I can figure out since my illness, I’ve been nesting with the best of them! My house used to be a place I came home from after long working hours, always. My entire adult life. I always tried to keep some semblance of order in my abode, to allow it to reflect who I was. Sometimes thanks to the help of a wonderful, Trinidadian cleaning lady in Montréal who allowed my place to sparkle and smell like pine trees, to here in Wildervank, by my Wilfried, who loves order and the smell of a warm meal cooking on the stove. Although I managed to live 9 long years of my life in another town in the Netherlands, with another man, I had never felt nested, it never felt like home. Something was missing, always. I suppose one can still manage to work long hours, be in a relationship and feel nested in their houses, but I always felt like a boarder in that dark, little, dusty corner of Assen, sometimes an unwanted one at that. I have memories there, some good, mostly ones I prefer to forget. It has been quite the revelation moving out of that situation and into my own little paradise, regardless of the illness which has accompanied me. It does seem rather ironic and cruel, but dear readers, please do not fret about me and my present situation, for I have been given many other opportunities and blessings. Now, I feel different in my skin. I have found peace. I am home.

We are now almost a year here in Wildervank, but initially I saw so little of my new little, white cottage on the water, it has only been recently, since my illness, that I have learned to respect and settle here properly.I surround myself now in gezelligheid, spend my time wisely, feel pride here. It has given me purpose to take care of my little family and home. Do I wish things were different? Do I wish this cancer had never crept into my life?  Of course. Who chooses to be ill? Who wants to live in fear, who wants to die?  However, without this pause, I would have missed out on so much. I always felt as though I was rushing, top speed, through life. Even living in the country, I was always in high gear…running to work, running home…time just to relax for a few minutes, then once again. Every…single…week.  Work also ceased to be a place I could relax at, it became something I would lie awake worrying about, conjuring up ways I could make peace with a few broken work-relationships.  Now that ceases to be a problem…I am home-bound. I must say with all certainty and abandonment, I am happy. I am the queen of my little castle. I busy myself looking for new, taste-bud tingling recipes which could break-through the chemo fog, slowly developing a folder where they all nestle, happily waiting to be lovingly baked and cooked by me. I joy in the harvest of our very own vegetables, handfuls of delicate courgettes making their way into my salads or being baked up in deep, cinnamony, cocoa muffins. I enjoy this…I am taking back control. I will not succumb to this medically induced stupor. I focus on contentment, peace, feeling balanced, a happy tummy!

Life-changing it is. How strange how things alter. Worries, fears, happiness, contentment. We are at the mercy of our health, our environment, of others. However, our nests are sacred. I wrap my lovely cottage and my small family around me like a prized quilt. I allow wonderful, loving friends in my little nest. I love sharing these feelings, my home, my cooking. Attempts at blocking the negative energies thus far is working well. The necessary journeys to the hospital and to chemo are steadies in my life. It won’t be forever. There is always the very welcome ride back home…down the long canal to Wildervank. My tiny corner of Groningen, my warm kitchen with the big green stove, my furry little animals, my man…my Wilfried, the protector. My nest. 


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Time for thyme…..

Quick continuation of yesterday’s post about my bland taste buds and funny tummy. After once again insisting a trip to AH will be the answer to this issue, I’m back home and dying to share my latest taste sensation. I’ve discovered thyme honey from spain! Yes, people, my larder is filled with all kinds of honeys..all sorts of bland-tasting sweet-floral nothings..until this came under my glance this morning. It is sheer heaven. I squirted it’s golden scented swirls upon my greek yoghurt, oozing goldenly over my handful of walnuts…I could even smell its thymey goodness! I could actually taste it’s nuances as it sweetened the sharpness of my yoghurt …I’m hooked!

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A lot of you know me well, some only from the internet, but most realize food and I are good friends and close companions. Until chemo and getting sick that is. Oh my elusive taste! Since my diagnosis I’ve gone off food, initially some sort of repulsion caused by thinking I was going to die anyways, why bother eating…now completely, caused by drugs called chemotherapy. Among its other rather un-pleasant side-effects, knocking out your taste buds is the major one for me. Believe me, feeling nauseous or funny in the tummy is nothing compared to losing one’s fine art of taste. I used to pride myself being able to discern between coriander and cumin…from a crisp chardonnay to a pouilley-fumé, from that delicious piece of homemade brownie to a cheap box variety…all…..gone….in a flash. Not that I don’t dream about food! oh yes! constantly! I troll the food blogs, gasp at my food magazines, hunt for episodes of Nigella and Jamie Oliver on-line, pick my friend’s brains for delicious recipes and tips…I’m so there…but helas, so far away. YES! I’ve lost my hair and my right breast…believe me, no easy feats to endure. But by far, the most horrific and indecent loss has been my unadulterated love of taste and food. What cruel games men play. I endure chemo. The means to an end…but my god, my god…this has been such a cruel and nasty amputation. One of my life’s pleasure, gone…

I sat, sadly on the sofa this morning, once again contemplating this fate. I thought a lot about what my friend Carol has been telling me about food and how it’s figuring now in my life. She’s encouraging me to keep a diary about this very “tasteful”  subject, perhaps choke a book out about it at some point. “Just find your taste again, Suz”…find a way around it…perhaps helping someone else in the wake! I sat with my ipad this morning making menu’s and designing dishes and came up with a recipe that was easy to conjure up (I’m incapable of standing too long in one place…get too dizzy!) and I was sure would touch my buds. I threw together tastes and ideas into my brain…then…Finally! My god!! I think I found it!! It was just a matter of pulling on my wig (I’ve become very hat-scarf-wigless at home, I feel if you want to come over and see me or if someone comes to the door unexpected … you’ll find me bald…hey, it’s me only in the pure form and I love it now! so cool and fresh!) and hauling my shaky carcass to Albert Heijn to buy the wear-with-all to make it. You see, my cupboards are always filled to the brim with exotic spices and potions, but never what I need at any one time to make any dish I want! How is that possible? But I digress. Wilfried and I took the large push-cart at AH, I figured I could always hang on to the handles for the entire journey into the hallowed halls of Heijn. Not to keep you all longer in suspense, here is what I came up with…and believe me, dear readers, after I (and sweet Wilfried) both slurped down hungry bowls of this heaven sent dish, I am feeling wonderful and strong and couldn’t wait to pass it on to all of you!

Suzie’s Miracle Bowl

1 pack thais roerbakgroenten (hmmm…fresh cut up chinese veg, AH does Thai ones which are super but you could do any kind of chopped chinese veggies, small pieces)

1 organic veg soup cube or a spoon full of veg soup crystals (you don’t have to do organic but I had them in-house)

katjap manis (Indonesian,thick, sweet soja sauce, I like the one in the white squeezy bottle, was once told by an old Indonesian lady that it was the best …AH)..as much as you like or to taste

fresh garlic (i used 2 cloves, squished as I’m nuts about garlic)

thumb sized grated piece of fresh ginger or more

chopped up fresh coriander and parsley (the parsley was from my own garden, also optional)

snipped up hot chili pepper (this is optional, I was looking to hit my taste buds and I did!)

if you want…little pieces of chicken..AH sells little strips of smoked fresh turkey that you can fry up which are wonderful…in the same place in the shop as the bacon or ham blokjes.

chinese noodles, any kind. I bought organic chinese egg noodles which were really good, but mie or angelhair or glass noodles can as well

fresh lime juice

…you can also add coconut milk here but I didn’t…I wanted a clearish broth

how to:

I heated up my creuset pot (heavy) and added about a spoon full of olive oil, lowish heat…added the turkey and stir fried it a bit, then all the fresh veg and garlic, coriander, parsley, etc…till all limp. Meanwhile I boiled up a kettle of water, about 750cc or so. When I could smell my mix in the pot, I dumped the water in and the soup cube (1 or 2, depending on your taste) and then brought it back to the boil then chucked in the noodles which in fact just need to soak a bit and not really cook like pasta. I left the hog on a bit at this point and started tasting my broth. I squirted in lime juice and the ketjap till I was satisfied. OH YUM! (I also sprinkled in some sweet/hot seasoning salt I bought once in here…but it didn’t really need it, I was a girl with a mission, and my mission was pure heat)

I then called Wilfried into the kitchen and warned him I-MADE-LUNCH and asked sweetly if he’d like to join me. He said it smelled good and was willing to give it a go. You see, dear readers, Wilfried is a good Dutch/Belgian boy and doesn’t usually go far off the line in terms of taste…but man, he’s changed! He wasn’t sure if he should eat it with a spoon or a fork so he got both out the drawer AND a big bib (tea towl) and we tucked in. We looked at each other in glee!!! I was tickeled…it tasted incredible! It was the first thing I’ve managed to completely eat since the diagnosis. Wilfried ate every single drop and strand. Even if you aren’t sick this should taste great! It is my miracle of the day!

this wasn't it exactly, but gives you the idea...actually, the green onions aren't a bad idea! next time!

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