Visiting M Leuven: Hieronymus Cock – The Renaissance in print

What to do when you’re on vacation? All the things you can’t when you’re not, of course! In this case, that means going to exhibition(s), sitting in a cafe people watching, going for a walk, and just enjoying ourselves without caring about work or university or schedules.

Thursday we headed to Leuven to see the exhibition about Hieronymus Cock, a publisher from the 16th Century that made his living making prints based on drawings from artists such as Breugel and Raphael. Remarkable too is that his wife continued with the business after his death, for 30 years, until her own death. Not something you hear often from that period.

Some prints are plain surrealistic. Like these two:

Hieronymus Cock © Joannes and Lucas Van Doetecum after Allart Duhameel, The Siege of the Elephant, c. 1563 © Royal Library of Belgium

Hieronymus Cock © Joannes and Lucas Van Doetecum after Allart Duhameel, The Siege of the Elephant, c. 1563 © Royal Library of Belgium

"Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Big Fish Eat Little Fish (17.3.859)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006)

“Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Big Fish Eat Little Fish (17.3.859)”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006)

These prints are a work of art. And they are also very entertaining. You can spend a lot of time looking at all the details, the crazy theme, or just the absurdity of using a giant knife to cut a big fish open.

There are also prints that were with artists in mind. They depict classic art, mostly found in Rome. Ruins, statues, landscapes… I loved this one particularly:

The Statue Court of the Palazzo Valle Capranica, 1553. Maarten van Heemskerck, (1498 - 1574). Printed by Hieronymus Cock, Flemish (Antwerp 1510 - 1570 Antwerp)

The Statue Court of the Palazzo Valle Capranica, 1553. Maarten van Heemskerck, (1498 – 1574). Printed by Hieronymus Cock, Flemish (Antwerp 1510 – 1570 Antwerp)

The exhibition itself takes four rooms from the first floor of the M Museum. There must be around 150 prints from all styles: classical art, landscapes, religious, portraits, imaginary creatures, maps. It took us about two hours to see the whole exhibition, pausing at some prints more than others (some are just too interesting and you keep finding details). The price is not bad (9€ for adults, 7€ for students older than 26, etc) considering you can visit the whole museum for that price, and then go visit the Treasure of Saint Peter’s.

All in all, a recommended visit. And you have until the 9th of June to go.

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’s a fishy affair

After a month of working in safety boots, my feet needed some TLC. And Groupon came to the rescue with an offer for a fish spa & pedicure not to far from me. So I bought it, and booked it. And then one Monday it was time to go to my first ever fishy pedicure. And where was this? At Beauty Studio Fauvelle, (also on facebook), in Eeklo.

I was received with a smile by Chloe, the owner, and directed to a nice private room, with low light, a comfy  chair, and my personal tank full of hungry fishies. After cleaning my feet with a nice warm moist towel, I got to immerse them and say hello to the fishes, that then went happily about their business of nomming my toes, I mean, sucking the dry skin from my feet. They did a great job of it! I also got a free coffee to enjoy while those little friends did their work.


After 15 minutes of relaxing that passed rather fast, I slowly pulled my legs from the tank, and got them dry. We then went to another room, where the rest of my pedicure took place: filing whatever was left of dry skin, trimming & filing nails, nail polish and a nice foot massage with cream.

You can also can enjoy this, for the reasonable price of 40€ (35€ for fish spa and pedicure, 5€ for the nail polish). And she also has a fish spa for two, so you can go with your best friend!

KickAss Sangria

We had a big BBQ to attend this weekend, and I wanted to take some sangria along so they’d try proper sangria (instead of the bottled stuff they sell here). So I asked my best friend for her recipe, and she obliged. I’m sure she won’t mind I spread the taste of great sangria with the rest of the world. So, recipe for all of you!

Sangria a la Sus


  • 3l of (cheap) rose wine – I used a partybox from Aldi
  • 500 ml of lemon/orange soda (I used Agrums – all in one, what can I say?)
  • 60 ml of whisky
  • 210 ml of cane sugar syrup (purchased, because well, I wasn’t feeling like making it)
  • 1 orange, scrubbed, cut in wedges and then sliced
  • 1 lemon, same as above
  • 1 pear, scrubbed and cut into cubes
  • 1 nectarine, scrubbed and cut into cubes

Make it:

  1. Pour the wine in a big container (a 6-8 l pot is ideal). Add the soda and whisky, and mix well. Add nearly all the syrup and mix well, taste and add more syrup if necessary.  Warning: the sangria should still taste sharp-ish at this stage, it will mellow after macerating in the fridge.
  2. Add the orange and lemon to the sangria, you can squeeze / mush some pieces so they release some juice. Add the rest of the fruit and let rest for at least 12 hours, ideally 24, in the fridge.
  3. Serve cold, adding some fruit to each glass.


Forty days without meat : day 8


  • Musli with milk (surprise!)
  • Orange juice


  • Chervil soup (I’d never thought you could make soup out of something akin to parsley – live and learn, they love it in Belgium!)
  • The usual three half sandwiches (spread cheese, sliced cheese, veggie salami – Delhaize brand)


  • Rice with spinach, raisins & pine nuts
  • Quorn cordon bleu


  • Apple
  • Fresh cheese
  • Cookie



Bonus recipe:

Rice with spinach, raisins & pine nuts


  • 125 gr whole grain rice
  • 400 ml water
  • 300 gr frozen spinach, thawed in the microwave, liquid removed but not squeezed dry
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp raisins
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp pine nuts

Make it:

  1. In the bowl of a rice cooker (or a stove top pot) put all ingredients except pine nuts. Cook until all liquid has been absorbed.
  2. Before serving, heat a pan until very hot and dry roast the pine nuts for a minute or two, shaking often, being careful that they don’t burn.
  3. Mix pine nuts into rice, serve warm

Makes two side servings.

Forty days without meat: day 6

The menu of the day:

Breakfast: (yes I am that boring)

  • Orange juice
  • Musli with half skimmed milk


  • Broccoli soup
  • Bread with spread cheese, veggie “ham” & nutella (3 half sandwiches)


  • Roasted root vegetable soup (it is a lot tastier the day after!)
  • Spinach filled tortellini with spicy tomato sauce & some grated cheese


  • Cuppa tea
  • Soyjoy bar – got it for free, won’t buy it for myself
  • Apple

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: 3

Yup, still veggie here. Today I discovered that there is a campaign to make all the restaurants at Gent’s university serve only meat on Fridays. I would start by making more veggie options, and healthier at that, available. A typical day menu has three dishes with fish or meat, and one vegetarian, plus one soup that is not always veggie (chicken cream soup). I would aim to make the menu: one meat dish, one fish dish, two different veggie dishes, and either make all soup veggie, or serve a second veggie soup on the days the chicken soup is served.


  • Usual musli with milk
  • Orange juice


  • Tomato soup
  • Sammich with cheese & veggie “meat”loaf
  • Mini sammich with nutella


  • Veggie spaghetti bolognese


  • Apple
  • Mandarin
  • Coffee & tea
  • Speculoos cookie


Forty days without meat: day two

Eating vegetarian for a day reduces your ecological footprint by 11m². Doing this for 40 days means 440m² less on your footprint. Which is a small amount considering the average person living in Belgium has an ecological footprint of 8ha (or 80.000m²!) per year, (see the trend here). So let’s keep the veggie up. Today’s menu:


  • Musli with half skim milk
  • Orange juice


  • Slice of bread with cheese
  • Slice of bread with vegetarian “meatloaf” slice
  • Slice of bread with carrot pate (vegetarian martino)


  • Curried cauliflower & tatters
  • Veggie burger


  • Apple
  • Tea
  • Mandarin
  • Bread pudding