Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!

Dear friends,

I have been hearing that Christmas cards are causing problems for some on the internet, so decided to put my greetings here. Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season, enjoying friends, and taking a bit of relaxation. I thank you for taking time to spend a moment here with me, virtually, at least! I thought I would share a bit from my last visit site, the Netherlands.

Our world teems with things both beautiful and wonderful, and I have been blessed with a splendid panorama, full of both. I was in the Netherlands for most of November and I really love it there.

Fonz and Marjolein sent in some photos, but I cannot upload them just yet. Maybe check back in a bit. They show the results of frozen mist.

Mostly flatlands, crisscrossed with canals and dikes, with lots of agriculture and woodland somehow (most densely populated country in the EU), there is gentle beauty everywhere (I am mostly in villages or the countryside when there).

Besides the ubiquitous cows and sheep, the Netherlands has many beautiful birds and wonderful mammals. I had the great adventure of working with badgers with Bernice Muntz and Erica Bokelmann. These animals are in the mustelid family, along with otters, skunks, weasels, wolverines and mink. They tend to have strong odors and teeth, and are inventive and fierce when need calls. In the Netherlands, there is an effort to protect animals from road traffic by building overpasses and underpasses for them. You will see fenced overpasses, covered with trees, spanning major highways, in order to allow safe passage to local animals. It turns out that just as we have traditions and favored travel paths, so do animals, and when roads cross those, it can be dangerous for all involved, but especially for the animals ( read more ). Das en Boom (Badger and Tree) foundation is working hard to protect and support badgers (and trees), and they have a wonderful site well worth visiting, with the various Dutch ecotopes done in beautiful miniature models ( visit Das en Boom ).

The Dutch also harnessed wind power in a big way in the 1600’s. Using the wind to turn windmills, the Dutch were able to really speed their labor, and there are over 1000 traditional windmills today. Some are open to the public, and I visit everyone I can. Whether used to grind wheat, rye, mustard, or pigment or used to crush seeds for oil or to saw boards, the windmill was crucial to the Dfor utch economy and permitted the Dutch to become a major sea power. The Dutch could build a whole fleet in less time than it took most countries to make a single ship.

Dutch food is often bread and cheese, or bread and some rather interesting toppings, like spice cookies, chocolate candy with mayonaise to hold it on, or coconut. I do not eat bread, but the cheeses are wonderful, and I particularly like the herb cheeses, like Brannetel (stinging nettle), bliesboek (chive) and cumijn (cumin). Once, I brought home a lot of cheese to give as gifts to friends. My suitcase was very heavy. In Chicago, the elevator was out and I was faced with having to get all my luggage up an escalator. Woe is me! Two pilots passing by were kind to offer to take the large suitcase for me.

“Be careful! That is heavy”

“No problem! OOOMPHH!!!!!…. What do you have in here, anyway!??”, looking at me suspiciously…”

“I am bringing a bunch of Dutch cheese home for friends.”

“You must have a lot of friends…”

Silence as we ascend the escalator until we reach the top, and the two pilots land the large suitcase safely on the floor. And one turns to me and says, “Good luck with that cheese shop you are opening!”


Here are some recipes of foods that I really enjoyed in the Netherlands.

Stamppot: Fons en Marjolein van Koningsbrugge


potatoes (boiling type)
lemon juice
worcestershire sauce

endive (kale, fresh sauerkraut, arugala…)

smoked Dutch cheese (Gouda and Edom, for example), cubed
(can all add or substitute crisp bacon, roast chicken, chunks of sausage)

olive or sunflower oil


Potatoes – cook and mash them with some of their own cooking moisture, a bit of lemon, salt, worcestersauce and mayonaise to make it smooth.

While they are cooking, you take enough endives, preferably some of the inside that is softer and yellow too. Cut it in small slivers.

Cut the smoked cheese in small blocks.

Cut a big union in fine blocks and smother it in a bit of oliveoil (sunfloweroil).

Add to the mashed, and done-in-good-taste potatoes, the smoked cheese and the smothered union and stir that.

Add the endives. Make it hot again in as short a time as possible and serve.

Bon appetit !

Hot Chocolate

And here is my adaptation to the wonderful experience of REAL hot chocolate (cocoa). Forget about packets unless you are backpacking. This is so easy, and has a velvet texture I had almost forgotten. Served in the Netherlands with whipped cream and a cookie.

your favorite beautiful mug (no metallic trim)
milk (I prefer organic, can also use a nut milk)
cocoa, your favorite kind
honey (much easier than sugar)
vanilla, almond, mint or other extract if desired (also helps cocoa to mix)


Cover the bottom of the mug with honey (about 1 Tablespoon)
Add 1-3 teaspoons of cocoa, to your taste
Add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of extract

Stir to make a smooth paste.

Add a bit of milk, stir again. Add milk to 3/4 level and stir once more.

Put in microwave and heat (usually about 1 minute in mine, but keep an eye on it so it does not overboil).

I like to top it with cool milk, to bring it to a comfortable temperature (I am a bit of a wimp…)

Froth it with a whisk, or top with whipped cream or marshmellows, if you like.
You might like to add a cinnamon or peppermint stick to stir it
Or add some other spices, like cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, anise or ginger.

Love and blessings to all,
Kayce and Critters