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Old finds at Xenos (Or: Sinterklaas chocolate letters in January)

Back on the day that stores were allowed to reopen (January 15) I saw a curious find at Xenos. Xenos is a national chain here in The Netherlands. The Dutch Wikipedia page summarizes it well when they say Xenos specializes in selling “mass produced exotic goods”.

Well, apparently they also had a leftover stock of chocolate letters (English Wikipedia) from the Sinterklaas holiday, celebrated on 5 December. I know the stores had to close in mid-December due to the lockdown, but still! Albert Heijn and Hema always clear out their stock even before 5 December.

Of course, at this point they only had the most common letters (M) or some rarer ones (O, P). They still had all of the usual flavors, though. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, hazelnut…

In other news, for the history buffs among us:

Digitalised Holland Amerika line passenger lists reveal famous names from dutchnews.nl. “The digital archive, which is kept at the Rotterdam city archive and accessible to the public, covers the period between 1900 and 1969 when millions of people made the journey [from Rotterdam to the United States] and took three years to complete.” Apparently Albert Einstein was also one of the regular passengers, as he frequently taught a course at nearby Leiden University. The direct link to the list is available here (stadsarchief.rotterdam.nl, in Dutch).

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Pathé movie theatre (Or: Closed due to corona)

As noted, everything is closed at the moment due to the lockdown. With the exception of course of supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential stores. It doesn’t seem to help that much though, as the omicron wave has hit the Netherlands (nltimes.nl in English).

Here is a look at the Pathé movie theatre on the Spui:

In the background you can see the escalators leading up to the cashiers and theatres. As I blogged previously, at least we got to see Spiderman the day before lockdown started.

Of special note is the sign in the foreground: “We’ll be back… again and again”.

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New Years Eve guests (Or: Teddy bears)

For New Year’s Eve, Marco and I spent the night at Roger’s as we always like to do. This time we had some guests over at the dinner table:

That’s right – a stuffed teddy bear and reindeer decided to pay us a visit in their Christmas best.

And not to be forgotten, the oliebollen-themed napkins that they were sharing. New Year’s Eve gourmetten (link to iamexpat.nl in English) does get a bit messy at times…

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Happy New Year! (Or: Another oliebollen photo)

I did forget to post a picture of the oliebollen Marco and I made yesterday. Opps!

In the foreground is krentebollen (oliebollen with raisins) and in the background, just barely visible, is oliebollen (no raisins). I am a fan of the no-raisins variant, partially because raisins make everything sweeter. And I want to save my extra sweetness levels for a bit of powdered sugar. Although in the last few years or so I have realized that cinnamon sugar – just barely pictured in the background – is even better than powdered sugar. Although perhaps that opinion makes me a bit of a heretic…

Outside it is fairly quiet although I do hear the occasional boom from fireworks off in the distance. That is slightly surprising, since fireworks have been banned for the last two years thanks to corona. Even these fireworks have been illegally stored in people’s basements or they made the trip to Germany or Belgium to purchase fireworks. Hmmm.

Although who am I kidding. It is not surprising at all to hear fireworks today: Belgian border towns busy with firework-mad Dutch, despite the ban, from dutchnews.nl.

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A batch of homemade oliebollen (Or: 2021 New Year’s edition)

Marco and I made oliebollen tonight (Wikipedia). Or, more accurately, Marco made oliebollen and I helped/looked cute/cleaned things occasionally. Now that we have a bit of experience, we’re definitely getting better and faster at making them. The longest wait is letting the raisins soak for 15 minutes and then letting the oliebollen dough rise for 45 minutes. You then fry them at around 190C/375F for about 3-4 minutes each.

This batch of oliebollen is for tomorrow evening’s New Year’s Eve festivities. I will also stop by the Grote Markt oliebollen stand (official website) while I am in the city centre to pick up a few apple beignets.

Speaking of oliebollen… Koopmans (a major distributor of boxes of oliebollen mix) forgot to put yeast into a small percentage of their boxes. Opps?

It’s not harmful, but the mix won’t rise at all, meaning your oliebollen will be more like bricks then fluffy donuts. It’s a bit of bad timing on their part as everyone and their mother bakes oliebollen around New Year’s Eve.

The funniest part? The affected products have a production code of L212447 and a timestamp between 02:30 and 05:00. Yeah, I wouldn’t be awake at that time of the day either, so it makes sense that someone forgot to press the button to add the yeast in…

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Goober jelly and peanut butter (Or: All the way from America)

It has finally happened – jars of Goober have arrived in The Netherlands, spotted at the Albert Heijn grocery store. Goober is jelly and peanut butter in the same jar (!). I thought it was an invention from the 1990’s, but according to Wikipedia it has been around since the 1960’s. Who knew.

I am a bit particular about my jelly and peanut butter ratios (about 1x jelly to 3x peanut butter) so this arrangement doesn’t work for me. Also, I have realized the awesomeness of Dutch peanut butter (aka less sugar and a bit thicker) so going back to American peanut butter would be a bit difficult. The only time I have it these days is when I am at an American hotel and I get one of those individual peanut butter containers for my toast. I do miss American style breakfasts.

Of course, it is entirely possible that this product has been available in The Netherlands for a while and I just noticed (it was hiding up on the top shelf after all)…

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Made of bread (Or: A Christmas tree for snacking)

Check out this Christmas tree made of bread rolls:

It is as tasty as it looks. It is actually bake-off bread – you buy it at Albert Heijn and finish baking it in the oven. Perfect toppings include butter, peanut butter, speculaas paste (Wikipedia), and/or hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles). If you’re Dutch you would add a layer of butter and then the hagelslag sprinkles, but luckily I am not Dutch so I am exempt.

We also split a mini kerststol (Wikipedia) between us, a sort of sugary Christmas bread with almond paste inside. And it was one of those rare mornings where I went and made a second cup of coffee… Good times!

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Looking up (Or: Our new Christmas tree)

Our old Hema tree lasted for 9 years before we retired it last year. Actually, going to Hema to pick it up was our first stop after I moved to The Netherlands – I arrived on 18 December and on 19 December we picked up the tree at the local Hema store.

We have upgraded to a slightly taller tree (so we had to rearrange a few things and place it somewhere else). This tree comes in three parts and is pre-lit. Unfortunately we could only find a pre-lit tree with warm white lights, not the colored lights that most American trees have. But otherwise it was a nice purchase. A bit more annoying to set up then we expected, but we will be old pros by next year.

🎄 Merry Christmas and happy holidays! 🎄

Categories: Holidays, Marco&Niki | Tags: | Leave a comment

Mauritshuis museum (Or: Christmas trees)

Marco took a photo of the Christmas tree in front of the Mauritshuis museum here in The Hague (official website in English). Since we are in a lockdown again, the museum is promoting their virtual museum, aptly called the Gigapixel museum. The museum is most known for having Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring on display. Aka room 15, floor 2, in the lower right corner of the Gigapixel museum.

Here’s hoping for a quick reopening in 2022!

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Christmas decorations at Casa (Or: Reminders of my childhood)

Earlier this month I took a photo of Christmas decorations at a local homeware store called Casa (Dutch website). This was of course before the lockdown started and stores were closed, although pickup and delivery are still allowed.

I like the toy in the front, of an pendulum-based amusement ride. It reminds me of the Zipper ride (English Wikipedia) which is an even crazier design where your individual carriage also flipped while the ride spins. When I was just a kid, my mom would occasionally go on the Zipper when the carnival was in town (sometimes with my cousin Roxanne, I think?). I was always pretty shocked by this, as I never wanted to go anywhere near the contraption. I liked watching others go on it, though. From a safe distance. At some point as I grew up Mom stopped going on it, as it can get pretty painful to ride it of course. But whenever I see a ride like that I always think of her riding it.

As a kid my biggest accomplishment was riding the Tower of Terror. Twice. I was pretty proud of that. But I did skip on the (admittedly wimpy) Thunder Mountain roller coaster, until years later when Marco and I went on it. The first time around I kept my eyes tightly shut and kept whispering “No no no”. Oh, and I watched a few YouTube videos to help me get a sense of where all the turns would be before getting on it. Things went much better after that first time and I decided it was safe to actually look around on the second ride. Heh.

Categories: Everyday purchases, Holidays | Tags: | Leave a comment

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