:: Steps towards Sustainability – tap water ::

I have a confession to make: I don’t like tap water. And as I only drink water most of the time (the occasional juice aside), that is a real bummer. Because, as if the whole not-liking-tapwater isn’t enough, I have also a strong preference for a certain brand of bottled water. Plastic bottles, I know! To make it even worse, I was so attached to the brand, that I took my reusable bottle to school, filled with bottled water. Sigh, that doesn’t help much, does it?

I am pleased to tell you that I am slowly changing my ways. Thanks to Little Boy (who’s actually not that little anymore, it’s scary how fast those kids grow!). He consistently and specifically asks for tap water. I do the same for his little sis, for whom it doesn’t matter, as long as she can drink from a glass, like her mother. And I?
Well, I’m trying. When I’m really thirsty, I first drink a glass of cold tap water and then decide if I want bottled water. It helps if it’s cold, so I often keep a pitcher of tap water in the fridge. And to get my husband on board too (which seems nearly impossible), I make infused water.

He likes fresh tastes, like lemon and lime and cucumber. I prefer a sweet touch, like watermelon or strawberry. For Little Boy it doesn’t matter, as long as he sees it’s infused, he’s over the top enthusiastic.
It has been a few weeks since our last can, time to start again. And because Pinterest is my friend and those pictures scream summer all over, I’ll share with you my best finds.



grapefruit @ rosemary  actually this is a gorgeous article on infused water, with plenty of interesting combinations. I particularly like how fresh herbs are involved.

pomegranate & ginger & lime  jamie oliver. The pomegranate did it.

lavender & blueberry  I know, that’s a site in Dutch, but the picture says it all: lavender!

autumn flavours  I love to have a plan for other seasons.


It’s a real infused water galore out there!
What’s your favourite?

Frugal fail: the nettle episode

I like the beginning of a month. First of all: all money is in, possibilities are lurking. Strangely enough, this motivates me more to be frugal than when money is tight at the end of a month.

One thing I’ve always wanted to try, was to use nettle in the kitchen. As it is still rather early in spring, my husband has not yet completely taken over the garden and dug out all the weeds, so I had spotted some fresh, young, tasty looking species. Hurray!


Once picked (wearing gloves, of course), I rinced them in luke-warm water, thinking most of the sting would be out of it. No, it was not. Luckily, I remembered that vinegar helps with the itching. Learned that the hard way when I was a kid, lol.

I completely forgot about the nettles in the colander, focusing on making a delicious red dahl with rice (recipe to be found here, for those who understand Dutch or just want to be tempted by the gorgeous photography). The dahl was only a success for me. Little Boy had a taste, decided he liked it but started to beg for chocolate eggs. Meal time turned into a mess and when he tasted again thirty minutes later, he spitted it out. Husband, I already knew, would eat it politely and then decide to ditch the rest of his plate once he decided to have swallowed enough healthiness. Oh well, the more for me for lunch tomorrow.

A few hours later I remembered the nettles. Doing a quick search on the web, I let them sit, once more, for ten minutes in warm water (really warm this time), and then blanched them for a few minutes in boiling water. Smelt like fish?! Hmm.

I drained and cooled the green leaves, and got only a cubic inch of it left. Uh-oh. Then had a taste. More uh-oh. Frankly, it didn’t taste like anything. I had the feeling I could run out, repeat the process with any green leaf in my garden (let’s say our hedge, or the camelia plant my mother gaves of for Easter). Subtle taste? Try bland. Try grass. Try “I’m playing in my mud kitchen, want some?“.

So I chopped the whole bunch (oh yeah), and mixed it with a few spoons of cream cheese, to which I added lots of pureed garlic, pepper and salt.  Looks good. Tastes like garlic. Maybe I’ll fill a few little onions with it tomorrow. Or just put it on a cracker. Remembering it must be very healthy. Glad I didn’t go for nettle soup.


But it’s weekend and my husband will be home and gardening.
I’m quite sure there won’t be a nettle left.

Puff pastry pea rolls

Almost three years into mothering my sweet little boy, I’ve had to bend a lot of the principles I had in my mind before entering parenthood. There are others though, that with the cooperation of my little gourmand, I never had any trouble to instill – and those all have to do with food.

One of them was that I absolutely wanted him to consider vegetables as an essential part of the meal. Not something I would have to push. Not something we would have to fight over. One condition: taste everything. Even just by licking.

So from his very first day at school, vegetables are in his lunchbox. September and October were still nice and warm, so raw carrots, tomatoes or cucumber were no problem. When the weather started to change though, raw vegs came back untouched – and to be honest, I can understand why. So I started to look for new ways to fill up his lunchbox with all these vitamins and nutrients.

Enter puff pastry pea rolls. Tasty hot and cold, so perfect as leftovers to feed a toddler who likes something different from the traditional sandwich. And dead easy to make.

healthy lunchbox pea pastry

You’ll need two hands full of frozen peas, cooked and well drained. Put them in a blender with a spoon of cream cheese, freshly grated parmesan. (You can add some wilted leafy greens too, if you want.) Season to taste. Blend until creamy, maybe just a tad chunky.

Preheat the oven to a 200°C. If you like them, you can bake some lardons until they’re crispy. Flatten a sheet of puff pastry, spread with the pea mixture, sprinkle with lardons. Roll up and cut into strips.

Put on a baking sheet and in the oven until the pastry is golden.


If you manage to have leftovers (or be smart and bake twice the usual amount), let them cool down completely before packing them in an airtight container. Lunchbox will be empty. Promise!



Redcurrant jelly for dummies

The day I moved into a house with a garden (a rental first, or own house now), we’re the proud possessors of a particularly generous redcurrant bush. We didn’t plant them, they just came with the house. Never had to put nets on it, birds weren’t feasting on them, and still both of the bushes were abundantly covered with red berries. That I love to look at, but don’t really like.

So I handed them out to friends and family, until my elderly neighbor told me that I just had to try to make jam. She promised me it wouldn’t be hard at all and that she did nothing fancy with her recycled pots and it would keep 6 months anyway. So I finally decided to give it a try. But it had to be jelly. Redcurrant should be eaten as jelly, not as jam. Don’t ask me why, that’s just the way I feel it. So here I bring to you: redcurrant jelly for those who never attempted to make anything jam-ish before. Foolproof, so to speak.

berry picking
Berry picking with the cutest helper on earth


Pick the little red berries. I cute little helper makes that job even more enjoyable. Leave those stalks and stuff on and put them in a strainer. Rinse thoroughly. Weigh them. I had about 600 grams.


Cook them like you would make cranberry sauce. I added about 200 ml of water. Stir so they don’t burn. You want them to burst open and release their juices. Don’t mind the stalks and stuff. They will add extra pectin to the mix, which is a good thing when you’re making jelly.


extracting juice berries
No fancy equipment needed for extracting the juices

Find a pristine kitchen towel that you’re not too attached to (I used those gauze-like baby cloth towels) and a bowl (or maybe a good size measuring cup). Put the redcurrant in the towel, and hang them above the cup (you could let them rest in a mesh, if you want to, but I happened to have good knobs on my kitchen cabinets). Don’t push through to speed things up. Leave them hanging for quite a while (some say a whole night, but I reckon that two drops during the last two hours isn’t worth the wait). If you squeeze them, the jelly might become cloudy. Of course you could decide that doesn’t bother you at all (why should it anyway).


When the end of that process is near and the actual jelly-making is about to begin, grab your well-washed pots with lids. I simply used recycled pots (from jam, sundried tomatoes and mayonnaise), ran them through the dishwasher so they were really clean and put them in the oven. For about 15 minutes, 100°C, make sure they heat up slowly, with the oven).


testing jelly spoon
testing and tasting

Grab a pack of special jam-making sugar (jelly sugar) and closely follow the instructions. Meanwhile, put a plate in the freezer and oven mittens on your working space. When the four minutes cooking time are over, test your jelly, by dripping a bit of it on a cold plate (told you to put one in the freezer). Wait for a minute and then test the consistency. If you like it (and can’t stop licking the plate), get out your jars (hence the oven mittens). Pour the hot (!!!) jelly into the hot (!!!) jars – would be a good idea to use a wide funnel to do that. Fill them to just under the top, firmly put on the lids and turn them upside down.


pots jelly upside down
Turning the pots upside down


I was told to let them rest for five minutes and they would seal themselves, to be heard by the click. To be honest, I’ve left them for ten minutes and haven’t heard a click. One of them was sealed when I turned it around (I couldn’t push the middle down), an other one clicked the moment I turned it around and the last one didn’t do a thing. Of course I went online to see what I had done wrong, decided to put it upside down again (which made for a jelly shake that probably shouldn’t happen). It finally clicked when I turned it around again after half an hour. And then the jelly floated on air that was on the bottom. Ugh.
Don’t worry, it will come down anyway.

redcurrant jelly
Redcurrant jelly. All homemade!

Try not to hand out everything out of proudness. Save some for yourself. It’s so good!


What’s your favorite jam?

Kitchen crushes: roasted peppers

red bell pepper
“A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste—it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.” – 
Diana Vreeland

The best things are discovered by accident. At least that’s how roasted peppers entered my life. I did like the occasional pepper, but removing their skins was not my favorite job. I was told to burn them in the oven and put them in a plastic bag to cool. Skins would fall right of. Of course I used the time peppers were in the oven to call my mum. And of course I lost track of time.

The result? Peppers with burnt skin that removed easily and melting goodness underneath. I’m addicted since. Whenever they are on sale, I pick up more than I normally would, just to roast and freeze them.

roasting peppers

Roasting is very easy. Halve the peppers, and spread them on a baking tray, skins up. Put in a hot oven and wait until the skins start to blacken. Then wait some more. You want them to be almost melting. You’ll see the juices on the tray and how the peppers shrink. Get them out, allow to cool, quickly peel and try not to eat all of them.

My favorite way to eat them is with gnocchi. I cook the gnocchi, bake them in some butter, and then add the pepper puree with a spoon of mascarpone, just enough to coat them. Season to taste.
You could also add them to cream cheese and spread on toast. Or mix them through your pasta sauce.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out these fabulous ideas:

roasted pepper recipe
photo credit: see sites mentioned underneath.

You got to love risotto. It’s the best comfort food ever made. Bev has a great recipe for it. And if you don’t get what she’s saying – no worries, the recipe is in the end. It’s a funny read though!

Kevin uses cauliflower to give smoothness to his soup. Creaminess without cream! Plus, it gives an interesting depth of flavor.

Sometimes simple things are the best. Jessie gives you a pretty straight forward, vegan roasted pepper soup.

I love to dip. My son loves to dip. He even adores cucumbers since he’s allowed to dip them into something. Suzy gives the perfect example of hummus with a little extra.

What is your favorite way to use roasted peppers?

Monday on earth – bottled water

I confess: I love bottled water. Actually one kind in particular. I drink it since I was a kid and I never learned to appreciate tap water. But now, with a family of three, realizing how much it is costing me, and seeing the enormous amount of plastic bottles in our recycling bin… it didn’t feel comfortable anymore. And when last week I used it to make grenadine, well… I couldn’t justify using that good tasting, expensive water to make something in which I couldn’t even taste the water anymore.


So in came the water filter. It’s a simple system: you put tap water in a recipient, it runs through the filter, and you’re done. Let me be honest: it isn’t necessary at all to filter tap water here. It’s just fine and perfectly healthy to drink. I just don’t like the taste. I hoped filtering it would make things better. Actually, it doesn’t. It still tastes horrible to me. Even worse than before. Buh.


But I’ll stick to it. Maybe I have to cool it. Maybe it’s a learning process. Maybe I’ll like it in the end. And if not, I’ll watch documentaries like Tapped. Sometimes, I need some reminders to jolt my conscience.



Monday on Earth – lunch skins

Today I finally ordered something I had laid my eyes on for quite some time now: lunch skins. I first saw them with a colleague and I remember thinking: nice, but I don’t really need them. I’m not often taking bread to school, I prefer leftovers.
But then this morning when I was preparing the breakfast-on-the-go of my husband, I realized that the tin foil habit had sneaked in again. First we used plastic lunch boxes, but he often forgot them or he didn’t take them back because he couldn’t put them in his laptop bag. So I cut the cord, let him chose a nice design, and added one for me too. And a bigger one for when I do take lunch that’s not leftovers. And water bottles. And a lot more that I eventually cancelled because I was overdoing it. There are snack skins too! And lunch bags!


I ordered them from a local company: Kudzu, situated in the town where I was born. I think they are very sympathetic, as when you live in Bruges, they deliver your order by cargo tricycle! I don’t live in Bruges anymore, but still… And one percent of their profits go to a charity that supports our environment, you get to choose which one!


It felt really good to do this. I do care about our environment, but a lot of my behavior doesn’t reflect that and I know I should change it. My husband won’t be on the wagon, but he will take his lunch skin instead of tin foil, because it doesn’t make a difference and a lunch skin is easy to fold and put away. Baby steps.

I might order again in September though… those snack skins seem worth it after all.

This post was inspired by a post I saw on mundane ecstasy: Do Good Monday for the planet. It’s actually a weekly series in which she tries to focus on doing something good. So far it included your body, animals and earth. I’m curious what’s next!



This week in my kitchen

Inspired by beauty that moves, encouraged to make this kitchen a warm and welcoming one, where there’s always something to enjoy. Here is what has been going on this week…


garden produce

new knife

kohlrabi curry


:: making up a meal with fresh garden produce. chopped paksoi, chard and snow peas worked wonderfully well with brown rice and a soft-boiled egg, still runny, broken on top of it.

:: my parents gave me two new quality knives for my birthday! They’re a dream to work with.

:: I managed to put together a lovely curry with all the kohlrabi I had laying around. You can find my recipe here.


Want to see more kitchens? Come and join!

Mouthwatering kohlrabi curry

Kohlrabi. You love it, you hate it. Or you simply don’t know it, which was my case until it showed up in a veggie box last year. It was a veg I would never ever buy myself. I like the occasional raw diced kohlrabi salad, especially when they are young and fresh and sweet. But while they keep long, they don’t keep forever. And I had no idea how to cook it in a way it did the veg justice. So now it’s kohlrabi season apparently and they kept living in my fridge and multiplying with each veggie box. Not to mention the two beautiful cuties that came from my proper garden (yeah, I bought seedlings and forget what they were. I just put them in and they thrived! I can really recommend them for your vegetable garden).

Help was needed. Google was my friend. (I deliberately decided not to use Pinterest for this one, as my green kohlrabi friends would still be partying in the fridge while I was gasping at all those creative food pictures of the most amazing recipes from the most amazing sites. In which case I could not write this post. And believe me, you would not have want to miss it!) I found kohlrabi purees and salads. But I wanted something more fancy than a puree and I wanted it cooked, not raw. I could roast them in the oven with olive oil and salt, but I was feeling more ambitious. In came the curries.

Oh lord, the curries. We’re not big curry eaters in this house. We don’t particularly like spicy or hot food.  You could say we’re more into the pastas than into the curries. This recipe might have changed this. I made it up combining elements that kept coming back in other recipes and added my refusal to run for the store for extra ingredients. It was my day off and I had been grocery shopping the day before. (It’s not good for my wallet to stroll through the supermarket more than I need to).


You’ll need:

  • kohlrabi, preferably with the leaves still on, but you could do without them just as fine (or replace them by kale or chard or spinach or any sturdy leafy green).
  • tomatoes (I used two on three kohlrabis, but you can play around easily, this is a very forgiving and adaptable recipe)
  • onion (one large one) and  garlic cloves (three)
  • red curry paste
  • a can of coconut milk/cream (mine said milk, but it looked more like cream, I guess texture wise cream would work best)
  • cumin (I used powder, but you can grind some seeds or maybe leave them whole?)
  • pepper and salt to taste


How to make it:

  • Dice the kohlrabi. Young, small, fresh ones don’t need to be peeled. But I would not peel them anyway, since you’re making a curry and you can let it cook for as long as you want. And I’m lazy like that. I pre boiled them in slightly salted water, mainly because I wanted to reserve some for milder version for Little Boy. But I guess you could skip that and boil them in the curry, but then adding more liquid in the beginning.


  • In a little oil, let the onion and garlic sweat for a while, add a decent amount of curry paste, the cumin and let it fry a little. Then add the chopped tomatoes. Let it reduce a little, a bit like a sofrito.


  • Add the kohlrabi and  the coconut cream. If you’ve already boiled it, you can turn the heat quite low and just make the flavors come together, seasoning  to taste and adding the chopped greens (kohlrabi leaves or whatever substitute you use) right away. If your kohlrabi is still raw, you’ll have to let it cook for quite a time on medium heat. Using the thinner coconut milk might be the way to go then. Or some stock. I haven’t tried, I’m just thinking aloud here. At the end of the cooking process, add the greens and season.


kohlrabi curry

I might this batch especially to freeze, but I really had to bit my tongue to not dive in (even if it was only 9 a.m.! ) I froze two two-person portions, and I had kept some kohlrabi apart to put together with the cooked sweet potato. I mixed those with a teaspoon of the curry paste and two table spoons of coconut cream to make a mild version for the Little Boy. Everybody happy!



Linking up with:

Natasha @ Say G’day Saturday

Wanted: raspberry recipes

I remember a summer holiday in France with my parents. In the field next to our little rental house, there was a magnificent raspberry bush. From that moment on, I knew I wanted raspberries if I ever owned a garden. So here we are, in our very own house and our very own garden and one of the first things I put in were two raspberry bushes. A yellow one and a classic red one. The yellow one never really took, but the red one did. We had some nice berries of it. Then we had to replant it somewhere else, and I was quite afraid to lose it. Especially since my husband really trimmed it down to zero after the growing season. Guess what: it’s back. Boy, did it come back! It’s a big and lush and huge bush that takes all the space it can claim (and that we have to trim every now and then, just to get at our front door).



It looks so promising that I promised myself not to let go  to waste a single raspberry this year.

And here’s where you come in.
Do you have/use/know a fabulous raspberry recipe without which my life just isn’t complete? Please do leave a link (or more). I promise you to check them out, and I’ll pin them all to my raspberry recipe board!


Linking up with

Natasha @ Say G’day Saturday