Archive for ‘July, 2012’


We had this fruity drink at our last barbecue. The sangria is full of fresh fruit and orange juice and this gives it just the right amount of sweetness.

Note to self: Even though it tastes like lemonade, it doesn’t mean you should drink one glass after another. It does make a barbecue way more fun though.

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For weeks in a row the weather wasn’t what it’s supposed to be in July and I didn’t have a summery feeling at all. We had a day out with our student house planned a week ago and we didn’t really expect the weather to be anything else but rain, but we still wanted to go kayaking in the canals of Leiden and end the day with a barbecue. Good thing we pushed through, cause it was the first sunny day in weeks. Of course I forgot to put on sunscreen and my face turned into the color of my pants.

We had the barbecue on our 6 m2 balcony, which some people would call a bit small to have 8 people sitting there, with a table in the middle and a barbecue out there as well – but it was really fun.  Even the crappy barbecue – it was a disgrace to normal, working, barbecues – couldn’t spoil our moods and the guys in my house grilled the meat. I had made cumin lamb skewers and a big roasted eggplant salad. We also had (store-bought) chicken thigh skewers, sausages and a different kind of meat on a skewer. All the meat was accompanied with bread and these sauces and in case the weather wouldn’t cooperate I’d made a couple of pitchers of cava sangria to make sure we would still have a summery feeling.

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This is yet another salad I made as an unnecessary side dish for the freaking delicious ribs we had last week. And this is yet another salad that I made from one of the Ottolenghi cookbooks. I’m pretty obsessed with the mouth-watering pictures full of vibrant colors and the flavor combination he makes. What I like best about these books is the infinite variations on salads with different ingredients. I used to only make salads with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, but these books opened a whole new world for me.

This salad is made with lentils, home-made oven-dried tomatoes, lots of herbs and cheese – I did one with blue cheese and one with buffalo mozzarella. It’s a combination I would never have thought of myself, but it worked very well. It even took me some effort to make sure no-one was eating the dried tomatoes before they were tossed into the salad.

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I can tell you today how exciting this Moroccan salad is, how easy it is to make, how you just add herbs and these boring carrots change into this incredibly tasting salad which is a feast for your taste buds or how the vibrant colors want you to dig in immediately.

But I won’t, because what I really want to tell you is that I received my admission letter in the mail yesterday, which stated that I’m enrolled in the Master of Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages at Renmin University in Beijing from September 2012-July 2014. Hopefully I’ll be able to get around the Great Firewall of China and continue blogging, but I probably won’t have a kitchen in the first few weeks, so the pictures and stories will be more Beijing and life oriented – with of course, a lot of pictures of the amazing food available in Beijing.

Anyway, in five weeks I’ll be in Beijing studying my ass of – so there’s still a lot of cooking that needs to be done before I leave.

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The cucumber salad I made a couple of weeks ago kind of reminded me of my two summers spent in Taiwan, but this salad really comes close. Except for a couple of tweaks, it tastes similar to the cucumbers we used to order as a refreshing side dish. I made this salad as a side dish with the most amazing ribs ever, so it didn’t get a lot of attention. But this salad doesn’t need to be the center of attention, it’s very refreshing: the salad helps you to wake up your taste buds and it will cool you off if you’re eating spicy food.

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Last week we had the last get together with my boyfriend’s family before everyone is going to travel for the summer or, in our case, is going abroad to study. My boyfriend’s brother, who also made the delicious food for the barbecue we had a while ago, made spare-ribs and oh my, they were good!

As side dishes I made a cucumber salad, a carrot salad and a lentil salad. I also made my own mayonnaise, garlic sauce and spicy sriracha mayonnaise. But needless to say, this evening was all about the ribs. Everyone started binging on the ribs and we just had some salad to get the feeling we had a balanced meal.

We thought we wouldn’t have enough food – which off course was a pretty naive thought – and when everyone got over the worst part of their foodcoma’s, we took out a cake tin full of blackberry parfait and a humongous brownie.

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This utterly delicious lemon cheesecake is soft and creamy and has the summery taste of lemon without being too acidic. The bottom is made of bastogne cookies, which is the perfect match for the lemony cream cheese mixture. Because it’s a no-bake cheesecake, it’s totally foolproof, but there isn’t any compensation on the flavor – it truly is a heck of a cheesecake.

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If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be studying in Beijing for the next two years. In the beginning of June I received a phone call that I’m enrolled in university in the master program I applied for and I will receive a scholarship, but that’s all the information I have right now. I’m still waiting for further details and although there isn’t a lot of time left till the end of the summer, I keep telling myself that the lack of any details regarding my whereabouts of the couple of years keeps it interesting and exciting. Last week I’ve booked my plane ticket from Amsterdam to Beijing for the end of August and everything starts slowly kicking in. I’ll be leaving my fantastic student house, my amazing friends and family, my new job that I love and the one that I’ll be missing the most, my boyfriend.

I still have to hand in some papers, but with all the exciting things going on right now, I find it very hard to focus. Yesterday I couldn’t concentrate anymore and I suddenly felt a bit sad at the thought of having to miss my housemates. Therefore I got some chicken at the supermarket, cooked it and then we sat on our small balcony and ate some chicken together. I hope we’ll still have some of these moments in the next one and a half month.

*Maybe it doesn’t come over very strongly, but I’m really excited about moving to Beijing, enjoying the food and culture, meeting new people and having new experiences.

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