Hey, look! Something happened to the blog!

A little bit of free time, and boredom while waiting for a delivery (I didn’t want to work on my sewing project, in case they rang the door at the wrong time) and we have a refreshing new look on the blog!

For those interested but that don’t want to go all the way down to the footer, it’s the Mantra theme, a bit tweaked by yours truly. Besides that, not much else. I did have fun working with the theme and finding fonts I liked on Google’s webfonts (cool thing, you can download the ttf files as well and use them on your computer). Oh yeah, some work has to happen with the sidebar, but that will be for another day, unless it bothers me to no end.

And as I said above, yes I am working on a sewing project. You’ll have to wait a bit to see it. Right now everything is cut and ready to be assembled.

The best way to turn 30

Is as follows:

Come home to a bunch of balloons:

And two dozens of roses:

And a chocolate cake:

And then follow it with a luxury dinner at Restaurant Lof:

Amuse Bouche:

Jerusalem artichoke cream with kale and truffle as starter for me:

and Jan’s Cabbage and curry with poached quail eggs,black olives and peppers:

Red beet with inlayed pumpkin, gherkins, airy cashew nuts, polenta and red beet sauce as main dish for me:

And Baked pear with parsnip, red onion compote, roasted shallots, crispy salsify & creamy porcini sauce for Jan:

Dessert was Pear cake with mascarpone, coffee and dark chocolate for me:

And ‘Our’ tarte tatin with apple, vanilla ice cream, caramel and sugared pastry for Jan:

Followed by tea for me:

chosen from a fancy tea menu:

And coffee for Jan:

It was a lovely day!

It must be autumn

And all I can think of is pumpkin. Ok, not really, but there was some in my mind. So I bought one, and made a risotto and a soup with it. Recipes have been requested, and here they are.

Pumpkin Risotto



  • 2 tsp (~10 gr) olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (or use a garlic press)
  • 2 shallots (~100 gr) , peeled and chopped finely
  • 400 gr pumpkin, in 1 cm cubes
  • 1/2 tsp dry thyme
  • 130 gr arborio rice
  • 1/2 glass dry white wine
  • 1 l veggie broth (from a cube, can, home made, I won’t judge you), simmering
  • salt & pepper
  • 50 gr parmesan cheese, for serving

Make it:

  1. Bring broth to a simmer and keep it simmering.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a wide heavy bottomed pan (I prefer non-stick, requires less stirring). Add shallots & garlic and cook on medium heat until a tiny bit golden. Add the pumpkin & thyme and stir for a few minutes.
  3. Add the rice to the pan, stir to cover all grains with the oil, about 1 minute. Add the wine, stir and let the rice absorb all of it. Then start adding the broth by the ladle, stirring after each addition, and let the rice simmer and absorb the broth before adding more. Keep doing this until rice still has a tiny bit of a bite left. It should take about 20 minutes,
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt & pepper).
  5. Serve warm with cheese on top.

Serves: 2 as a main dish. (Approx.: 450 calories, 72 gr carbs, 12 gr fat, 15 gr protein each)

And the second recipe is

Pumpkin soup 

(no picture of this, sorry, just imagine a bowl full of pumpkin orange soup!)


  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion (~130 gr), roughly chopped
  • 550 gr pumpkin, in 2-3 cm cubes.
  • 1 l broth
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • salt & pepper

Make it:

  1. In your favourite soup pot, heat up the oil. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until it starts to turn golden. Then add the pumpkin and cook a couple more minutes.
  2. Cover pumpkin with broth, bring to a simmer, and let cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender, mix soup until smooth. You might need to add more liquid to get a soup consistency instead of a puree.
  4. Add soy sauce & mix. Taste, adjust seasoning, serve hot.

Servings: 4 bowls (Approx.: 72 calories, 12 gr carbs, 3 gr fat, 2 gr protein each)

Forty days without meat: 41 to 44 – look, more crocheting happened!


Today was Knit Flanders again, so I went there, had a great time, relaxed, talked, laughed, and even got around to crocheting two hexagons. I might even attempt to make a whole bunch of them and join them into a blanket some time!

The boring menu stuff:


  • Orange juice
  • Musli with milk


  • Usual sammiches


  • Spicy lentils with tomato (from the freezer) (41)
  • Mushroom & carrot “meal soup” (42 & 43)
  • Mac `n cheese with mushrooms, veggie schnitzel (44)


  • Cookies
  • Drink yogurt
  • Apple pie with vanilla ice cream (as a treat)

Forty days without meat: 4 & 5

Still at it!


  • Musli with milk
  • Orange juice


  • Open faced sammiches on day 4
  • Tomato based curry, with random veggies & quorn, and tandoori spices, on day 5 (bonus recipe)


  • Salad: pasta, sun dried tomatoes, lettuce mix,  apples, cherry tomatoes, walnut pieces and goat cheese, honey dressing (day 4)
  • Open faced sammiches (day 5)


  • Coffee, tea
  • Waffle
  • Chips (crisps)
  • Fruit
  • ….

Tomato tandoori curry


  • 500 gr assorted sauteed veggies (I cook a big pot and portion it. It contains a mix of: garlic, onion, carrot, bell pepper, aubergine & courgette).
  • 300 gr quorn pieces (it could also be made with lentils or beans)
  • 2 heaping tsp tandoori spice mix (or to taste)
  • 70 gr tomato puree (one small tin)
  • 500 gr tomato pieces (from a tin)
  • 1 dl water
  • 165 ml coconut milk (one small tin)
  • 1 tbsp  + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 240 gr basmati rice
  • 600 ml water
  • 1 flat tsp salt


  1. In a 3l pot, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil. Once it’s hot, add the quorn pieces and cook until slightly brown. Then add the vegetables and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tandoori spices and stir through. Cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat.
  2. Add the tomato paste and stir through. Cook it for a couple of minutes before adding the tomato pieces & 1 dl water. Bring to a boil. Add the coconut milk, stir and lower heat so that the curry simmers. Simmer for at least 15 minutes.
  3. While the curry simmers, cook the rice. Put 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, rice and 600 ml water in a 2l pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat so it just simmers, and let simmer, covered, until all water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let rest for 5 minutes before fluffing up with a fork.
  4. Serve curry over rice.

Makes four servings. Curry freezes well on it’s own (no rice).


Extra bonus recipe:

Roasted root vegetable soup


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, whole
  • 2 turnips, peeled, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, clean, chopped (remove the inner white nerves)
  • 1 medium potato, peeled, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1,5-2 l vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Make it:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C / 400F.
  2. In an oven proof dish, mix all the vegetables with the olive oil, some salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45 mins, stirring half way through.
  3. Once veggies are roasted, transfer to a big enough pot. Add 1,5l broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Blend soup until smooth (you might need to add more broth). Add lemon juice and adjust seasoning.
  4. Serve hot!

Makes 6-8 servings.

Forty days without meat

Forty days without meat (40 dagen zonder vlees) is a campaign of a student in Maastricht. She proposes to eat vegetarian for Lent (the forty days between Ash Wednesday -today- and Easter Monday). Another interesting campaign in Belgium is Donderdag Veggiedag, where people are encouraged to eat vegetarian one day a week (Thursdays).

I am not taking part because I am already vegetarian, and the point is convincing people that eating less meat (and fish) can be healthier for them and for the planet, as well as tasty.

What I do want to do (hopefully) is during these forty days tell you (and perhaps show you if I remember to take pictures) what I eat as a vegetarian. So, without more blabla:

Forty vegetarian days – Day 1:


  • Glass of orange juice
  • Musli with milk


  • Bread with quorn slice (vegetarian cold cut), cheese, and nutella (not all on the same slice!)


  • Pasta with mushroom sauce and quorn pieces


  • Apple
  • Tea
  • Mandarins
  • A cookie

And as a bonus point, the recipe for the pasta dish:

Pasta with mushroom sauce and quorn pieces


  •  olive oil, salt & pepper
  • 500 grams mushrooms, clean, sliced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 150 gr quorn pieces
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 1/2 glass white wine
  • 1/2 glass water
  • 1 tsp maizena
  • 2-3 tbsp light cream (7%)
  • 125 gr whole wheat pasta


  1. Put a pot of salted water to boil to cook the pasta. When it starts boiling, cook pasta according to package instructions. I like my pasta al dente so I tend to boil it for a couple minutes less.
  2. In a wide bottomed pot, heat two tablespoons of oil. Sautee the quorn so it has some nice color and remove it from the pot. In the same pot, add another tablespoon of oil, and sautee garlic & shallot until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and let them cook until they have more than halved their volume. You can help them along with a sprinkle of salt. If the pan seems dry, wet it with a tablespoon or two of water. Add the thyme.
  3. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the wine and boil for a few minutes. Add the marmite and stir. Dissolve the maizena in the rest of the water and add it to the pot to thicken the sauce. Boil for two-three minutes. Add the cream and the quorn pieces, and heat through.
  4. By now the pasta should be ready. Drain it and add it to the mushrooms. Stir to combine.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese if desired.

Makes two servings.

Pasta with mushrooms and quorn


So, first of January and all that. You say “Happy New Year!” (Happy New Year!), you kiss and hug, you smile, and then you make an unreasonable list of new years resolutions like going to the gym five times a week, eating seven servings of fruit & veggies and clean the house from top to bottom every month.

I am not going to make resolutions. Because we all know that most resolutions are not kept anyway. But I do want to put here things I’d like to do this year. In no order of importance, small or big, doesn’t matter. I’m not even going to call them goals, like other bloggers are doing this year. Because having a goal (or a resolution) will most likely set me up for failure. So this is just a list of things I want do do!

Here we go:

  • Getting my bachelor’s! Yes, halleluja. Moving to Belgium and finishing my studies here was the smartest move ever I think. Right now I am one exam period and one semester (with its own exam period) away from this. I still can’t believe it!
  • Sewing more, and drafting some more patterns. I want to try a t-shirt and some trousers.
  • Knit more. I am enjoying knitting my first cardigan, so I might jump in and make a second.
  • Crochet more. I’m still taking toddler (not any more baby, I’d say) steps in crocheting. I prefer knitting, but there are some things that are more suited to being crocheted.
  • Keep reading. Brain candy! Something to let my brain rest after studying in Dutch.
  • Cooking. I want to try new recipes, adapt some Belgian classics so they’re vegetarian.
  • Blog more. I wrote a whopping 5 posts last year :(
  • Getting acquainted with our Nikon D7000. Maybe even read the manual gasp
  • Be happy!

And there is probably more to it. But that covers the basics. Enjoy the year, and don’t be hard on yourself. Who’s going to love you if you don’t?

We Went to Amsterdam… And Survived!

So this summer vacation we went to Amsterdam for a few days. It was between Amsterdam and London, but we couldn’t find anything decently priced for London (train and hotel), and we could find something for Amsterdam (drive and hotel). And this is the story of our trip.

Tuesday 5 July
We got up bright and early (not really), packed a suitcase with all of our stuff, and hopped in the car to drive to Amsterdam. We made a stop for lunch before we left our beloved Belgium, and then went on. We managed to get close to Amsterdam without the GPS or a map and not get lost! And then we turned on the GPS to find our hotel, Hotel Casa 400. And that’s when we took a wrong turn in a crazy Dutch roundabout (or traffic circle, or rotary, whatever you want to call it), and ended having to drive a couple extra kilometers. But in the end we made it safely and found the underground, locked, parking garage where our car would stay for the rest of the trip1.

I Amsterdam logo

We checked in, and puttered in the room until around 5, when we decided to head out and do something. So we bought an I Amsterdam card that includes transport and entries to most museums and other attractions. With this in hand, we went out to explore the transport system and got to the Museumplein. We walked around a bit, and took some pictures. It was getting late-ish, so we decided to have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe since neither of us had been to one before. We had a Veggie Leggie burger each, that came with a nice side salad, and we had troubles finishing. And eating, actually, because they pile it so high, it’s impossible to take a bite.

After eating, we kicked back a bit, had a peek at the Hard Rock Cafe store and got scared at the prices of merchandising, and decided to heat back to the hotel to watch some tv and get some rest.

Wednesday 6 July
We got up with time to go down for breakfast in the hotel, where we enjoyed the usual fare in a continental breakfast buffet. Then we grabbed our stuff and headed out to the center, taking the tram to the Museumplein again (easiest route for us). We spent the morning visiting the Rijksmuseum. The general exhibition is magnificent, an we got to see some famous paintings, and lots of not so famous ones. There is a lovely replica of a ship on the left of the first room that is lovely.


We grabbed some lunch from the Albert Heijn supermarket (salads to go), and picnicked in the park / Museumplein, like so many other tourists and not-tourists. Observation: Dutch people are weird and like to have milk / milk based drink / yogurt based drink with their lunch.

After lunch, seeing as it might start to rain soon, we headed to the Van Gogh Museum. Two tips: 1) do get your tickets in advance, or use the I Amsterdam card here, 2) they have free WiFi. Why should you do number 1? Because there are always queues. Long queues. With advance tickets or the card, you get to skip those queues and get in way faster! Number 2 is handy sometimes ;-) Anyway, we enjoyed viewing the exhibition, including the room where they explain about restoration, x-ray, comparisons, etc. Oh, and they have some tablets where you can explore certain paintings and their x-rays and so on. Quite nice. Since it was still raining when we finished, we had some down time in the Museum Cafe, where we enjoyed some coffee & cake.

Van Gogh Museum

After the Museum, we went for a boat trip through the canals. They give you quite a nice overview of the city and point out some things that otherwise you wouldn’t see. Of course, it started raining again while we were on the boat, but luckily it was covered, so we didn’t get wet. Since it was too early to have dinner, but too late to go anywhere (museums closed already) we went to an Irish pub to have a beer and decide where to have dinner. We walked to De Bolhoed, that came highly recommended. However, it seems to be very recommended and it was full (another couple got also turned down). Then we tried to find another veggie restaurant called Green Planet, but it was no longer there (that’s for having an older travel guide). Finally we gave up and went to have dinner at Wagamama, a noodle bar chain we had tried in Canterbury. Tip: if you use FourSquare, check in here and get a free drink with your meal2! We ordered some spicy food that was quite mellow, so we had to order some extra spice!

Once fed, and tired from the exploring day, we headed back to the hotel to sleep.

Thursday 7 July
Wake up call. Or rather, alarm on the cellphone. Breakfast, and then some planning for the day. We headed to the Centraal Station, and from there walked to NeMo, the Science Museum. It’s mainly oriented towards children, but we are children at heart and it was quite fun to play with all the experiments and learn some new things. We also climbed to the terrace, where you get an incredible view of the city.


Afterwards, I wanted to visit Ons Lieve Heer op Solder, a traditional 17th Century canal house that hides a complete church in the attic. However, we didn’t find the street, and I got frustrated with it, so simply gave up. Now I see that it’s undergoing restoration and it’s empty, so we didn’t really miss much in the end.

View of Amsterdam

Lunch time arrived, and we went again for a picnic in the Museumplein. Well, it is cheaper than eating in a restaurant or a cafe! And the Albert Heijn has a nice selection of take away meals. Afterwards we headed for the Diamond Museum, mostly because I was curious, since Jan had already been in it with work on a previous visit. Lots of bling-bling to see, but most of the jewels are certainly not my style at all. Probably because of too much bling-bling.

We then decided to take a look at the House Boat Museum. It is, as its name says, a house boat. You can see the bedroom (two small chambers that fit a tiny bed, and that’s it), the kitchen with stove and cupboards, the family room with tiny B&W tv. Basically, all you’d need to live in a boat. You can also have a cup of tea or coffee in the family room if you wish.

Family room - house boat

When we left the museum it was still early but we had had an overdose of visiting, so we decided to relax a while with a drink. We were lucky to get a table on the terrace of the Hard Rock Cafe (great place to people watch), and ordered a cocktail each. Apparently, people are willing to wait, standing, for over an hour, for a table to eat here. And they give pagers to let you know that a table is free. Crazy! How do we know? Because there was a couple with one of those pagers waiting around, that jumped at our table the moment we stood up to leave. At least they were nice enough to give their pager to another couple so they could still be on the list to dine inside.

View of Amsterdam

We had decided to have our dinner at an Indonesian restaurant that was recommended to us, Kartika (warning, website with music). And we have, in turn, recommended it to friends that have gone to Amsterdam. Why? It was, simply, delicious. The service was amazing as well. We ordered the Shinta rice table, a selection of 12 vegetarian dishes, served with rice. For 18€ per person, it was a very cheap dinner, considering all the dishes we tried. Happily stuffed, we headed back to the hotel to sleep.

Friday 8 July
Our last day in Amsterdam, we got up and had breakfast, and decided to spend a couple hours in the center doing some shopping. Jan had brought a couple of gift-checks that were only valid in the Netherlands, and we used them to buy a Wii remote. Yes, we could have bought the same here, but this way we got rid of those checks. I wanted also to pass by Penelope Craft to have a look. I only bought two knitting needles of a brand I can’t find easily locally. The yarn, while pretty, didn’t really call my name. Our last purchase was lunch. We also returned a (plastic) bottle to the store, since they give you credit for even plastic bottles.

And with that, we returned to the hotel to pick up our car, and come back home. We thought that leaving around noon we would be able to avoid all the traffic jams, but we were wrong. A trip of 3 hours turned out to be more than 5. But we got home, and were happy to be back.

To see all the pictures of our trip, please visit our gallery.

  1. We got warned several times that parking a foreign car on the street in Amsterdam is risky, and you can wake up to a vandalized car. So underground parking for us.
  2. Actually, just check in everywhere you can, it is widely spread and many places offer specials for a simple check in (meaning, you don’t have to be the major)