Dutch House Hunting Drinking Game

It's ungrateful of me, but a mere three weeks of house hunting in Leiden was enough to inspire this drinking game.

"But wait, Kim, you don't..." I know, I know. Just imagine me taking calming sips of tea.


A Buddha
A Buddha in the toilet
Anything from the HEMA[1]
...and another sip if you own it
Anything from Blokker[2]
...and another sip if you own it
IKEA furniture
...and another sip if you know its name
House owner destroying stereotype of all Dutch being neat freaks[3]
A locked room mystery[4]
A living museum (R.I.P. gran or grandad)
A Temple to Brown
A Temple to White Walls (actually don't bother, there's not enough alcohol in the world)
Leiden Special: any reference to the "beloved", "well-loved", "much loved", etc, Professors' neighbourhood.

How about that? There is such a thing as too much tea.

[1] Think Farmers
[2] Think The Warehouse
[3] Along with any chance of selling their house
[4] No idea how the photographer got in, but, if the photos and floor plan are any guide, they're not getting out.

Bikes - some of the bad bits...

The Netherlands is often praised as a paradise for bikes. Well, who knows where bikes' souls go after they've been drowned at the bottom of a canal?

But here in the corporeal realm, I can tell you that while cycling is mostly heavenly, there are also plenty of moments from hell.

Let's go to hell first, it's more fun.

Beginning with the low-grade aggravations which gradually poison the soul... Tourists who can't distinguish between a road and a footpath. New students in September who don't know where they're going in the twisty maze of alleyways, all alike. High schoolers cycling three abreast overtaking high schoolers cycling three abreast. Trying to get a new-fangled bike into an old-fangled bike rack. It goes on.

Actually, I caused my share of moments when I first came back. I badly misjudged overtaking one time, but the offended party responded with a kindly, "no harm done." It's something I strive to remember when someone makes a mistake in front of me.

However, it's hard to hold onto that spirit of forgiveness around mopeds. They're allowed on many cycle lanes but most are souped-up to exceed the 25kph limit. Furthermore, they have a bad habit of getting impatient with, e.g., high schoolers cycling three abreast, and then pulling out far too wide to overtake, to the possum-like horror of any cyclist coming the other way.

But clearly, there's a difference between a mistake and deliberate flouting of all common sense.

Texting while cycling, for example. I have no words. (The Netherlands also has no words in law -- it's legal!)

Which brings me to the single outright most stupidest thing I've seen. It's common enough to see romantics holding hands while cycling side by side. But this pair on the Breestraat...

Let me explain. The Breestraat is one of Leiden's two main shopping streets. It's car-free, to leave room for the 600 buses that pass through there every weekday. And taxis, delivery trucks and anyone who thinks the rules don't apply to them.

This is where our two lovers decided to stage their parting kiss, while cycling, one on a regular bike and one on a CARGO bike...!!!

Romance isn't dead. At least, not yet.

Toasties : A Very Dutch Thing

As the English are to tea, so are the Dutch to toasties. Toasties are a staple on café menus (though ham 'n' cheese is about as exciting as it gets) and most households have their own well-used toasted sandwich maker. Most, but not ours, so I decided to buy Wingnut one for his birthday. A pretty boring present, even though he's Dutch, right?

Wrong. I'd forgotten he's Dutch AND had been deprived of a toasted sandwich maker during all his long sojourn in foreign lands.

He was very happy. So happy, it was immediately produced for the Dutch lunch guests, who found in it a topic of conversation to last almost the entire meal.

Granted, its ugliness is something to talk about, once you've caught your breath. It's big, black and so clunkily space-age that a countdown from 10 could send it blasting off to the moon. But the Consumentenbond recommended it as its best buy, so that's what I bought.

At the table, I learned that the metal plates on the inside can either be shell-shaped or shaped so the toastie is cut into two triangles. Sudden panic: had I bought the wrong kind?! But apparently, there is no consensus. They can argue this one 'til the cows come home.

I also learned that the non-stick surface is holy, at least to Wingnut... Ent moved to prise a toastie loose with his knife and the LOOK Wingnut gave him almost felled him on the spot. Even though Wingnut knows full well that Ent respects non-stick surfaces as much as he does. :D

As a last thing, have you ever tried to persuade a Dutch child that it's possible to put something other than ham and/or cheese on a toastie? Don't even go there. Climb Everest instead, it's easier.

Taaitaainoten - Dutch "Tough Nuts" Recipe

baking tray of die-shaped dough

saucer of baked taaitaainoten
These honey and aniseed-flavoured nuts are another Sinterklaas favourite around here. The bigger you make them, the chewier they are. So "die-shaped pieces" could actually be anything up to a d20. :-) And obviously, the longer you leave them in the oven, the crunchier they are. Which is what happened to mine when I suddenly realised Wingnut was cycling home in a Force 8 hailing thunderstorm, so ran away from the oven to find a mop...

250g liquid honey
1 egg
1 tbsp speculaas mix
1 tsp ground aniseed
pinch of salt
350g self-raising flour

Mix the honey, egg, speculaas mix, aniseed and salt in a bowl and stir the flour in.
Cover the bowl and leave the dough in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Roll the dough into rods and cut into die-shaped pieces. Makes 90-100.
Place them on a greased baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes until (light) brown.

Taaitaainoten recipe - DutchCollapse )

Kruidnoten - Dutch "Spice Nuts" Recipe

saucer of tiny round brown biscuits
This is a simple version of the seasonal recipe which C gave to me, along with some speculaaskruiden, when I was kruidnotenless in London. I thought I'd put this up before, but that was the speculaasbrokken, which are the kruidnoten's equally moreish giant cousins.

Dutch Spice Nuts

40g butter
50g flour
50g self-raising flour
50g soft brown sugar
salt (if using unsalted butter)
1/2 tbsp speculaas spice (or you can try mixed spice)
2 tbsp milk

Knead all ingredients to a stiff dough.
Roll into small "nuts", about 1cm big, and put them on a greased baking tray. Makes 50, give or take.
Bake for 20 minutes at 160°C.

Kruidnoten recipe - DutchCollapse )