The “Stork Flats…”

Also interested in a hassle free, safe and utterly calm environment to raise your kids? TFR44 023

These storks know a thing or two about that. They built their nests in a pylon of the national grid where they are protected by live wires that carry a whopping 350.000 volts. Not many intruders are mad enough to try and sneak up!

TFR44 014_2

Here’s mother Stork, preening herself while her young kid serenely looks down at us earthlings from their airy, commodious and safe apartment …

Advertisements

The Lure of the Ocean…

130826_T9 049Those of you who have sailed – not on a cruise ship or a ferry – know the feeling.
The wide, far-away horizon; the immense cupola of the sky and the glittering path of the sun. The ship forever moving and forever seeming to stay in one place, day after day…
To you, I dedicate this photo, taken from a vantage point near Den Helder in the north of Holland.

 

Brighten up your day

“…qui fleurit sa maison, fleurit son Coeur…”

An old French proverb and believe me, it is true.
There’s nothing like flowers to brighten up your day, your house, your heart…
TFR43 002

These are roses from my own garden

TFR43 004

Decorating the living room now

 

Moules Marinéres a la Belge

A real winter treat!

 

6b4aadfd-cb72-4121-848e-60dd469303df

When I smell  black mussels cooked in beer, I am immediately back in old Amsterdam, where one of the better restaurants – quite close to the university – had a little booth in the street outside. There, one of their cooks prepared “Mussels to go”, just like they do at the Sunday market in Brussels. And the delicious smell on a cold, grey winters’ day always made me hungry…

Making this famous dish is not difficult; you need

  • Fresh black mussels (large or jumbo size), count on 1,5 Kg per person;
  • 3 – 4 bottles Belgian beer (NOT the bitter tasting Pilsner type);
  • 500 – 750 gr winter vegetables (depending on the amount of mussels)
    for instance a carrot, some leek, sprigs of celery, onion, chopped but not too finely
  • a large pan to cook them in
    (Tip: If you have to cook a large quantity, cook a fresh batch when the first one is nearly gone…)

Nowadays, only “clean” mussels are sold. If you’re lucky enough to be able to gather them yourself or buy them straight from the ship, you’ll have to clean them first.
Preparing them is easy:
– cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of vegetables
– put in a layer of mussels
– spread another layer of vegetables on top of the mussels
– repeat the process until the pan is full;
(Don’t forget to leave some space between the last layer and the lid!)
– pour in the beer
– put the pan on the cooking range and bring the contents to the boil

11dd960b-9b98-4e44-8795-d723f183024dThe dish is ready when the juice (beer + mussels) is bubbling and the topmost mussels are open . Take the pan from the fire. And now comes the only tricky part:
Put the lid back on the pan, close firmly and shake, to hustle the mussels around, making sure they’re all cooked evenly., then put the pan on the table.

85f8bd5a-1493-4532-936e-0cfcf4af3a19
It is a wonderful finger food!
Use the shells for cutlery – as everyone in Belgium and France does.
Or buy some ‘Mussel cutlery” (see picture) if you can find it!
Serve with a nice crusty “Baguette” , maybe some dipping sauces and of course a well chilled glass of Chardonnay or (Belgian) Beer.

Enjoy!