I grew up in Holland where the staple food was potatoes, fresh vegetables and little meat. (too expensive). My mother was not a great cook, but a magnificent seamstress. I really didn't get exposed to international cuisine until I visited the United States in the late 1950's and was taken to fancy restaurants. Afterwards I lived in France and of course food is sacred there. As a young bride I learned the techniques of cooking there. Fast forward to present times. Now I am retired I have the time to create dishes that are based on fresh ingredients in the French style. I pride myself of being able to cook a nutritious and tasty dish from scratch in 30-45 minutes each day for my husband and me. Simple but delicious is my motto.
My favorite things to cook
I love to make soups, sauces for cold chicken, shrimp etc. and to present dishes in an attractive way. I have no interest in baking at all.
My favorite family cooking traditions
When I grew up Dutch cooking was very plain, not unlike American cooking. When you went to a very good Dutch restaurant the cuisine was really French. Of course today that all has changed, just as it has changed in America. But there are some traditional recipes I like to cook occasionally. Foremost is a combination of carrots, onions and potatoes cooked with short ribs. This is a famous recipe from the meals left behind by hastily departing Spanish soldiers during their siege of Leiden in 1574 during the Eighty Year‘s War when the city flooded its own dikes in order to drown the invaders. As my mother was born in Leiden it has a more profound meaning for me.
My cooking triumphs
I take no credit for this recipe, but my most admired recipe is Julia Child's Creme renverse au caramel. So easy to make and so delicious. I also do a mean cauliflower soup and a great cold chicken salad with mango chutney.
My cooking tragedies
Cooking greenbeans and then submerging them in pure vinegar. My first attempt at creating a cold salad with vinaigrette. Our landlady in Paris whose refrigerator I was using was not amused. Obviously I had no idea that oil, salt and pepper in moderate amounts were required. I learned fast after that! The first time I cooked spaghetti I flushed it all down the drain as I did not keep the lid of the pan closely enough on the pot, when draining the pasta. My husband and I are still laughing about that one.