The Wonders Of Nature

I will keep it short today, because I firmly believe that a picture says more than a thousand words. There is not a moral to this post, I only wanted to share with you what I thought was a beautiful wonder of nature:

A rose is a rose is a rose… Wait, what?!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this sight; this is what you get when you chop the root off of a crop of paksoi/bok choy. Not only is this veggie delicious and healthy, but it’s a bit of a feast for the eye as well :)

Don’t you just love it when nature plays small jokes like this? I know I do! And this particular one always makes me smile somehow.

Thanks for stopping by!

Love,

ML-X

 

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Easy & Yummy: Cheese Rolls

Today’s recipe is one that I always used to make for my younger brother every time my parents would go on holiday (giving me the chance to play around in de kitchen as much as I liked), and they never lasted for longer than a day! I believe they’re pretty Dutch (they don’t call us “cheeseheads” (kaaskoppen) for nothing), so if you don’t like cheese, you might want to look away now ;)

It’s going to be a little more complicated than my previous recipe, but I promise they’re worth the trouble. So what do we need?

oil (any vegetable oil should be fine, but you can use butter instead)
25 grams of flour
2dl milk
150 grams of grated cheese, preferably slightly matured
10 sheets of puff pastry
1 egg (optional)

So first, we have to start off with making the filling for the puff pastry. I’m by far not a chef, but I believe this method is fairly common for making all kinds of sauces. First, heat up some oil in a sauce pan, and add the flower. Be sure to keep stirring (I usually use a whisk to avoid clumping), flour tends to burn quickly, and it’s not a fun job to clean your pan afterwards. Let this simmer for approximately 3 mintues, then little by little, add the milk while stirring. The mass will turn into a clump now, but that’s supposed to happen, and it should liquify again after you’ve added all the milk (and if not, little by little add more milk). The texture has to be a bit creamy at this point, like this:

Sauce

This is what your sauce is supposed to look like now.

The next step is to add the cheese to the mixture. You can do this all at once, but I recommend adding the cheese little by little, to give it a chance to melt in properly.

AddCheese

Adding the cheese, one little bit at a time...

And of course, don’t forget to keep stirring. When you see the old clumps of cheese have disappeared, add more and repeat this until you’re out of cheese. The filling should be done now! Leave it to cool.

Finished adding the cheese... Creamy cheesy goodness!

Take the puff pastry out of the freezer, and put all the sheets on the counter. Make some slices in one half of the pastry, like this:

If you're right-handed, it's best to slice up the left side. I had to learn that the hard way ;)

When the filling has cooled down, it’s time to put it on the “intact” half of the pastry. You can use a spoon for this, but because the cheese mixture is a bit sticky, using your fingers to spread it is the easiest option. Be careful not to overstuff them, cheese tends to leak out if you do. Fold the sliced side over the filling, press the edges of the pastry together (you can use a little water to make it stick better). You can brush some beaten egg or egg yolk over the top part to make the colour a little more golden-y. I’ve put some grated cheese on top of them as well, but that might be a bit of an overdose for some.

All yolked up and good to go!

Pre-heat the oven up to 180°C (hot air oven) or 200°C (electric oven), line a baking tray with non-stick paper, bake the cheese rolls for 15-20 minutes, and… We’re done!

Mmh... Golden and yummy, enjoy!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s recipe, thanks for reading!

Love,

ML-X

Easy & Yummy: Chocolate Truffles

Having so much time on my hands from being in between jobs, I decided to spend some time on doing something I really like; playing with food! FYI – that’s my word for cooking :) And yesterday I felt like something chocolate-y… Chocolate truffles, to be exact! It’s insane how easy it is to make these delicious clumps of heaven, and I want to share my recipe with you guys :)

This is what you’ll need;

300 grams of bitter chocolate (70%)
8 tablespoons of whipping cream
unsweetened cocoa powder

Break up the chocolate in small bits, and put them in a heat resistant bowl. You’ll need to melt the chocolate first, “au bain marie” style, so put the bowl into a pan filled with boiling water and stir until the chocolate has melted into a creamy, clumpless mass. Heat up the whipping cream until it’s lukewarm, and add it to the chocolate. Stir this until the mass is even. It might look a bit off at first (light brown liquid with dark bits), but that’s okay, you just need to stir it some more until it becomes smooth and semi-liquidish. Because it’s too liquid to work with, the chocolate mass will have to stiffen in the refrigirator. This will take approximately 60 minutes, depending on the size of your bowl.

When the mass has stiffened enough to be shape-able, you can start making balls from it, either with your hands or by using two teaspoons. The latter option will make them a bit more messy looking, which I personally prefer :) Take a plate, and put a good layer of the cocoa powder on it. Roll the ball of chocolate mass through the cocoa and voilà… A truffle is born! After you’re done, you can put the truffles in the fridge for another hour or so, because the chocolate mass has probably melted a bit. They’re best served at room temperature though, so take the truffles out a little while before serving them!

A little goes a long way with these guys, so you don’t have to worry about ruining your diet ;) And remember… Chocolate is good for you! Bonus feature; you can get as creative with these truffles as you like! Want nuts? Add them! Coconut instead of cocoa? Go crazy! The only limit here is your imagination :)

I hope you’ve enjoyed the recipe, and if you decide to make it, let us know how they turned out!

Love, (and chocolate!),

ML-X

Quote Of The Day: I

One of the things in life I love most, is hanging out with people that I love. They’re all so very different, but they have one thing in common: a crazy sense of humor. My best friend is, of course, one of them. So the other day, after I had that horrible job interview, we decided to meet up because he was curious how things went. I told him pretty much everything I’ve told you, and that “80%” thing has even become an inside joke for us.

After a while I got hungry, and at exactly that moment a TV commercial was on, which announced that the Big Tasty was available again at McDonald’s. And that calorie bomb (I believe it was over 1000 kCal) happens to be my favourite burger ever. Of course, he didn’t quite agree, and started about this Chili Chicken Burger that was waaaay better than a Big Tasty, according to him. I told him that it sounded disgusting, and he replied;

“It’s the best thing ever. If I could fuck it, I would!”

At first I thought I misunderstood and asked “What the fuck did you just say?”.  I should’ve known better, because he repeated the above and I almost peed my pants laughing. It was the funniest thing I had heard on that humorless day, and I thought it deserved to be mentioned in a post. Hell, I even laughed my ass off writing about it now! So I hope you’ve enjoyed this small and useless post!

Do you have any funny quotes/anecdotes to share? Feel free to share them in the comment section!

Thanks for reading :)

Love,

ML-X

Crazy Dutchies: Part II

Our politicians have lost their minds. Supposedly, we need to cut back approximately 10 billion euros this year, on top of the cutbacks we’re already got. I guess that makes sense, if you (as a country) spend more than you actually have. I mean, just look at Greece and the shit they’re in these days. So fine, let’s cut back on a few things. Our politicians have already made a list of stuff to cut back on or make more money from:

1. Health Care
We used to have a really good health care system. Everybody over 18 used to pay an x-amount monthly, and in return, when they get ill, a lot of the expenses were covered. This system changed a little bit when I turned 18, with the main change being the monthly rate; it went up from around €40,- a month, to €100,- a month. On top of that, they decided that the “base insurance” was mandatory; everybody who didn’t have one, would get a fine. You did get to choose if you wanted any extra insurances, because the base one didn’t quite cover everything. You could also get some money back after a year if your expenses stayed under €250,- that year. In the years after that, the monthly rate went up and up and up while the base insurance covered less and less, and they even had a new idea: a mandatory “own risk” thing. The “own risk” was a kind of threshold; if you stayed under an x amount (it started around €120, and this year it’s €220), you had to pay most of your medical expenses yourself. Everything above that amount would be covered IF it was in your insurance kit. I guess this is “good” when your expenses are way over that threshold all the time, but I, for instance, spend maybe €60,- a year, if anything. So I pay €130 a month for a year, only to pay all my expenses myself anyway. Where’s the point in that? But it gets better: To make their cutbacks possible, they want to raise the “own risk” policy with another 25% next year. All in all, the mandatory insurances get more expensive, cover less, and when you’re not terminally ill you’re screwed. Way to go!

2. VAT (taxes)
Almost every country has a certain rate of VAT you pay over everything you buy. Here in the Netherlands, it’s either 6% (on food) or 19% (“luxury goods” like clothes and everything that’s not food). As if it’s not bad enough that 33%-52% of your well-earned salary goes to the tax administration office! And now they’re even thinking of raising the VAT rates! But wait, it gets even better…

3. Salaries
They want to freeze salaries! So combined with point #2 here, we’ll earn the same money, give the same amount to the tax administrations, and then give some more to them through VAT. What the fuck? Please do note that these ideas come from people who earn what, 300K yearly. If I had that amount of money, I wouldn’t mind freezing it either. The average yearly income for the rest of us is around €33.000 this year.

4. Mortgage
They’re bitching that the economy is so bad, that people hardly buy houses/apartments any more, but they want to skip the Mortgage Interest Deduction for everybody. The MID is a small amount (approximately €180 a month) you can get back from the tax administration office when you own a house/apartment. Despite being a small amount, it helps a lot of us; without it I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills, and a lot of people with me. And now they want to quit it. How can they expect that the rate of home sales can ever rise again? Sure, for people who have 50K houses it doesn’t matter, but again, what about the rest of us?

5. Education
The Netherlands were a pretty good country, educationwise. The government would cover an x amount of schooling money, leaving us with “only” a yearly fee of between €800 and €1700. This way, everybody who wanted to go to college, could do just that. Imagine all the possible benefits coming from us being super educated! But noooo… They’re cutting back on that as well. Partly, I understand: If you seriously need 5+ years to finish a 4-year college program, you’re stupid and wasting money anyway. But if you’re smart and super motivated and want to do another college course, you shouldn’t get screwed by having to pay €10.000 yearly to do that.

Days like this, I wish I was a politician. What I would do?

1. Cut back on politicians’ salaries. They don’t need 300K if the rest of us can manage with a lot less.
2. Take away the MID for houses over 4K. Again, a lot of us don’t even own a house that expensive.
3. Don’t buy the Joint Strike Fighter. We don’t need it. Hell, we don’t even have room for it.
4. Invest less in warfare.
5. Encourage education (within limits). Knowledge is power for a reason.

Anyway… Enough for today. Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed part II of this series.

Love,

ML-X

Newsflash: Chocolate Makes You Skinny!

Being an avid chocolate lover, you can imagine my surprise (and sheer delight) upon reading in the paper this morning that American scientists have discovered that eating chocolate seems to have huge dietary benefits. In other words; it doesn’t necessarily make you fat, it can even make you skinnier!

Delicious! And good for you as well!

In short, a couple of scientists from the University of California, San Diego, conducted a research, where they found that the subjects who ate chocolate had lower BMI’s, despite having a higher calorie intake. The scientists state that moderate chocolate intake leads to a lessened uptake of fat, which compensates for the extra calories. Of course, this counts for moderate chocolate eating only, so don’t even think of getting super slim by eating 200g bars at a time ;) You can find (an excerpt of) the article on the Archives of Internal Medicine website. It’s gotten me super curious, so I’m gonna try to get my hands on the entire article. Tips and suggestions are very welcome; I’ve lost all of my access to medical journals etc. after leaving Uni and I don’t feel like coughing up $30 for this article :( Better to spend it on chocolate!

But seriously, is that good news or what? It surely has made my day! So thank you, dear scientists from the University of California. I think your findings will make a lot of us very, very happy!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Love,

ML-X

Annoyances: Part I – Every Day I’m Dieting

First off, I want to start by letting you know that I don’t have anyting against dieting in general. It’s a good thing to be aware of what you eat and how you treat your body. But please… Do that shit in private.

Personally, I love food, and I can really enjoy a good meal. So that’s what I do, unlike 90% of the people I talk to. It seems like everybody is so focused on calories and “light” products, it’s turning them into brainless zombies. Again, it’s all fine, until they start bothering me with it.

There’s one person in particular that has a special talent for doing exactly that. She’s very proud of her dieting, and sure, she’s lost some weight. Good for her. But it’s common knowledge that the weight loss is gonna slow down eventually, and you’ll have to work harder to lose more weight. Oh, and it does come in handy to keep watching what you eat after losing that weight. I guess you already see the next part coming… She doesn’t. Well, actually, “she doesn’t” isn’t exactly true, because she does, but I have a feeling that she just isn’t getting the point.

An example; she’s eating some high fiber cereals with yoghurt and dried fruits. Sounds pretty low calorie but saturating, right? Sure. But is it really still that healthy when you add half a pint of  sweetener to it? I wouldn’t say so.

Another one; after the super sweetened cereals, she remains hungry and eats one or two sandwiches, which again isn’t that big of a deal because there’s a lot of diet products out there that you could put on a sandwich; diet cream cheese, diet margarine, whatever you like, there’s a diet version of it. But what does she do? She makes a sandwich LAYERING diet products. Now I know, some things are better when layered, but I’m talking about some seriously unnecessary layering here. Who layers diet ham, diet cream cheese and diet margarine? I mean, seriously, what the fuck? You just tripled your calorie intake, idiot! And you’re complaining that you aren’t losing any weight or even just gaining more? Well, big surprise there!

To me, this is a classic example of “Hey, you’re doing it wrong!”, and I swear, sometimes I just want to slap her for being so stupid. But I don’t… Instead, I enjoy my own yummy food and my full fat Coke, knowing that I’ve found my perfect balance between healthy and tasty, and most importantly, I’m finally happy with who I am and what I look like.

I do want to add a side note, because I feel no-one can ever say it enough times; please be happy with who you are, and only change what YOU don’t like about yourself, and not what society thinks you should change. I promise, in the end you’ll see it was the best thing to do. :)

Thanks for reading, I hope I managed to make at least somebody smile.

Love,

ML-X