Dutch Hutspot with Beef

The traditional Dutch kitchen is a fairly limiting one. At least for the average person. Whenever you ask a Dutch person what traditional Dutch food is they will probably say, ‘cheese, haring, pancakes and hutspot’. In modern times this has changed by another Dutch tradition – trade. International trade is almost overpowering in Dutch history and culture. The modern Dutch kitchen is very diversified with a variety of foods readily available from around the world and the Dutch are very quick to integrate these foods into their daily lives.  Whether this variety comes from their openness to other cultures, their economic endeavors abroad or their lack of a traditional kitchen boring their taste buds to death I cannot fathom, but the traditional Hutspot is still served in many Dutch homes today, particularly in the winter months.

Hutspot is basically a mix of mashed potatoes with various ingredients added into the mashed potatoes and served with smoked sausage or some kind of beef and gravy. Here are some variations.

Traditional Hutspot Hutspot

Although all recipes vary, traditional huspot is basically 50/50 mashed potatoes and mashed carrots with onions, salt and pepper. Serve this with sausage, small hamburger, steak or pork.  Some people add small cubes of fried salt pork or spice it with bay leaves and parsley. But they are just being fancy.

Boerenkool met Worst – Kale with Sausage


This is really popular in the Netherlands and is also sold ready made at every grocery store in the winter months. Again you cook 50/50 potatoes and kale then mash them together. Serve with gravy, smoked sausage, small pickled onions and piccalilli. Season with salt and pepper. Variations are adding onions to the potato/kale mix, adding fried salt pork cubes and butter.

Zuurkool met Worst – Sauerkraut with Sausage


Unlike the other stampot recipes the sauerkraut in this recipe can be overpowering if you over do it. A 50/50 amount between the potato and sauerkraut will be a bit to strong so it is more 60/40 with potato and sauerkraut. The sauerkraut is also sweeter if you fry it in a pan before adding it to the mashed potatoes. Traditionally you also add fried salt pork bits, salt and pepper. Variations are to add clove powder and I have seen a recipe which adds apple chunks into the potato mix. Serve with sausage and gravy.

Hutspot is a cheap and easy food. It’s extremely easy to make so is also good for kids to make. For those with boy scouts and girl scouts, it is also easy to make over an open fire so great for family fun.

We All Get Old – Eplaining Age to Teens

I have been dealing with middle age for some years now. As a teacher it is often difficult to explain getting older to teens so here is how I say it.

You know when you start turning into a young man or woman you expect certain physical changes but even so, it’s still a little shocking when you notice hair sprouting in new places and your voice changing. But even while this is happening you feel the same inside. It’s very much the same as you get older. One day you realize you have a few gray hairs. What! I’m only 25. Where’d that come from? But it happens and before you know it they multiply. Then one day you notice you have wrinkles around your eyes or mouth or you notice you have spots or extra freckles on your face or hands. HUH? How’d that happen?

It’s the same with everything. Before you know it, you have lots of gray hair and lots of wrinkles. Your skin becomes flabby, your muscles and skin sag. It all happens over time but on the inside you don’t feel any different. You still feel the same. At least, to a point.

On the inside you still have some insecurities about some things, you still like rock music and dance and hanging out with your friends.The difference is you don’t care about staying up all night. You can if you want but you just don’t want to. Or you want to go out with your friends but there are no real places for 40 plus people to go to. Still, you feel the same just older.

When you are young you get frustrated by not being able to go out when you want or you have to go to school. When you are older it’s all the same only your body doesn’t always wants to cooperate. You’ve worked hard all week and just want to chill. You don’t have as much energy as when you were young and going to the gym becomes more of a mandatory act of maintenance rather than something you enjoy.

In short, getting old can suck, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I no longer question what kind of person I am or want to be. I don’t look in the mirror every ten minutes.  I am much calmer in what I want to do. I no longer spend hours trying to make a simple decision like, do I go out tonight or what am I going to wear. I still go out but no longer care what others think. Age has given me confidence in myself. I feel good about myself and would not want to be a teen for any money in the world.

That said, I haven’t quite decided if I am going to grow old well or not. I try to keep in shape and I have had facial treatments to try to keep my skin looking healthy. No botox…I’ve earned these wrinkles. But I want to look healthy. I also color my hair but I don’t try to hide it. If you ask I’ll tell you everything…no problem. But I do want to look my best. I enjoyed my 20’s but my 40’s were nice too. Now I’ve turned 50 and I love it. I am more carefree than before and I have a lot of confidence. There will be a time when getting old will become more difficult. No matter what you do, time will catch up with you in the end but that does not change what is inside.  They may not be able to dance like they did when they were young but surely they want to.

So the next time you see an elderly person at the store or on the street, remember they are just as young on the inside as you are.  That old person in front of you at the grocery story is probably a very cool person.

Similarities not Differences

85464-81306[1]Living on Mars makes it easy to always see the differences between cultures and peoples. The daily differences that you are confronted with urges you to constantly re-evaluate yourself like a teenage kid. This doesn’t get easier or change with time.

I have lived on Mars for 25 years and still on a daily basis someone mentions that I am from another planet. Evidently raising kids, teaching Sunday school every week, being a volunteer mom at school, laughing at the same jokes, working and paying taxes all those years still makes me a ‘foreigner’. You know those strange weird alien people with purple skin and googly eyes. As we all know,  ‘foreigners’ or ‘immigrants’ have strange ways and are not as intelligent as the locals…comes from the googly eyes I’m sure.

They never seem to understand that I get tired of things to, like not being able to speak my own mother tongue with anyone who really understands what I am saying or without having to explain every single thought which, by the way, makes me think they are the stupid ones. Although I speak the local language fluently I still get strange looks when I say something not quite with the correct accent. These frustrations really push you to forget the similarities. But there are similarities and no one seems to pay any attention to those. I would like to now.

For one thing, men all over the world think they are going to die when they have a cold. Strange thing that, but it is true. This is one of the things women of all cultures joke about. Something we all have in common.

Food. Everyone eats, buys or cooks food. The food is different from one place to the other but people talk about it all the time. Even here, where the traditional food is not very good. They all agree it’s not very good and talk about what they do like or exchange recipes or favorite restaraunts. Food is a very universal thing.

Childbirth. At least between mothers. talking about babies and childbirth is a common thing. The way in which a doctor or hospital treats a women is cultural but the actual experience is the same. Childbirth is so drastic and radical to a women’s body and psyche how can you ignore it?! All women talk about it.

Sex is a strange one. All over the world people have it and talk about it but how they talk about it is culturally different. Still, people talk about it and joke about it only the culture your in may dictate who and when you’re allowed to do so. Generally speaking, put a bunch of women alone in a room and they end up joking about sex one way or another.

Cute babies. Everyone likes to look at cute babies both human and animal. Baby kittens, baby puppies, babies of all kinds. Youtube films of cute babies are popular all over the world. You’re always safe with babies.

Another thing is, women want nice hair and nails. Women who don’t have nice hair and nails talk about it all the time (which is about everyone).

People talk a lot. Ya, they do, and like most people everywhere around the world there is always some who talks to much and doesn’t know when to shut up.

Now there are probably lots of other similarities but I have a few questions about some. Like, in most countries I have lived in everyone distrusts or even hates polititians, bankers and lawers. Is that true around the world? I would like to hear from others if this is true. I can certainly vouch for the U.S. and western Europe what about the rest?

Extreme Social Control here on Mars


Most of us living on a different part of Mars who have fully integrated into the local society have learned to view our surroundings in many ways. We enjoy the beauty and uniqueness’s of the new culture around us, have learned new ways of doing things, accept or tolerate other things, some things you just get use to and other things just piss you off. Everyone accepts there is no true utopia on Mars yet it certainly is not hell either. Like most places here on Mars there is the good and the bad and you try to focus on and the good and ignore the bad.

I am often asked what I miss of home and although the list is long I can live without much of it. Whoopie pies, root beer, marshmallow fluff and donuts are not particularly life sustaining items and I do get my fix of junk when I go home. Of course my family is the number one thing I miss the most but that goes without saying and everyone around Mars accepts that. What I really miss the most is the lack of extreme active social control.  It drives me nuts. Let me explain….

This part of Mars is very densely populated thus everyone lives close to shops, stores, schools and other amenities. This should be convenient. Certainly coming from a rural area myself I do enjoy the ‘idea’ that everything is close by but because of government, store, school  and general social policies on control a simple visit to the grocery is a major task. Lets say I want to run to the store to get a liter of milk and lets say I choose to use the car. First I need to drive my car out of the parking spot which has been marked for me. If I park over a line ‘technically speaking’ I could get a fine (although I never have, it is legally possible). While driving to the store which is less than a mile away, I have to drive over no less then 12 speed bumps, park the car and pay for the parking. I get a shopping cart which I get by putting a 50 cent piece into a slot on the bars of the cart (which is store policy even if you only want a few things you must have a cart). I go inside the store, get my milk, pay for it, put the shopping cart back in the place I found it, go to the car and drive home. The drive home however is not the same route because of the one-way street I took to get there I can not go back the same way. I therefore have to drive the long way around to get back home.

Now what has just happened? The local town has decided to put parking lines on the road to ‘encourage’ us to park in specific areas. This is not really needed because everyone does it anyway even without the lines but they want to control every little thing we do so the lines stay. The speed bumps ‘encourage’ us to drive slowly. I suppose you could drive quickly over the bumps if you cared to replace the whole bottom side of your car every month or so. I park the car and pay for the parking. Paying for parking is more of a tax then control but it certainly has an effect on people because I (like many people here) often take the bicycle or scooter to places because of the paid parking and I am very conscious of the time I spend in the shops. I get a shopping cart by putting a 50 cent piece in the slot. This 50 cents I get back when I am finished. This policy is to ‘encourage’ people to put the carts back where they find them. There have been times when I forgot to take a 50 cent piece with me or just didn’t have one and its quite a deal getting one. Especially since I haven’t payed in cash for anything for at least 15 years (I usually use a debit card) I almost never have change. I drive the long way back home because of one-way streets. About 20 years ago some brain did a study on traffic and found that when streets were narrow people drove slowly. Local governments thought that was great and started rebuilding most the streets to make them narrower then made them one-way to ‘encourage’ safer driving. I wonder if it was the same brain that said, ‘put a speed bump every 20 yards’…..idiot.

Obviously I do not take the car to the grocery to buy just a few items because of the hassle. I usually go on a bicycle which is easier the only problem being the incessant rain. I get soaked and add a new item to my ‘to do’ list…change into dry clothes and hang the wet ones out to dry.

The locals have no word in their vocabulary for ‘convenience’. The Latin word was never grasped onto. Probably because the concept was so alien it was just to hard to understand or maybe it was because the idea of letting go of a little control was JUST TO SCARY. These people need to lighten up a little. Live dangerously. Put a little excitement into your lives. However you look at it, extreme active social control is the one thing I will never get use to.

What Happened to Wooden Sidewalks?

When I was a kid growing up in central Maine our town had wooden sidewalks. I can remember walking on the sidewalks and my shoes making that clicking hollow wood sound they make when walking on the sidewalks. I can even remember thinking as a small child how it would be awful if the sidewalks disappeared. Well, sure enough, they disappeared when I was still very young and I miss them. They still have them in Portland, Maine on a small street in the harbor which I see whenever I go home for a visit but its such a small place.

Today I was watching an old western and saw the wooden sidewalks in the film. I was wondering why they got rid of them.  They were cheap, functional and environmentally friendly not to mention a natural atmosphere. Maybe we should bring them back but then, there’s probably some kind of law saying you can’t. Seems like anything simple has a law against it. Are there any towns that still have them? I’d like to know.