Zalig Kerstfeest!Or rather, Merry Christmas to you from Holland, our second destination in our Christmas Around the World Series. On December 5, Dutch children await a visit from the religiously clad Sinter Klaas riding his white horse. In harbor towns, Sinter Klaas will actually sail in to the harbor, with children waiting to welcome him. With Sinter Klaas is the stern-faced Black Pete , ready to punish the naughty little children. He looks a little like an Oompah Loompah gone bad. (I think perhaps American children would be less scared of Santa Claus if we gave him a stern companion. As it is, children have every right to be scared to sit on the lap of an old man that knows their every wayward deed and is willing to dole out coal accordingly.) On December 5th, little ones in Holland (and other Western European countries) leave out shoes filled with carrots and hay for Sinter's noble steed. In the morning, they hope their horsey offerings will be replaced with candy and little surprises. The two charges are exceedingly grateful that Sinter Klaas goes out of his way to visit the American little children who remember to leave out their shoes as well. It's so much easier for me to resist candy once it's been inside someone's shoe. No temptation there.
I do know one just one Christmas song in Dutch, and I'll bet you do too. Remember that little scene from Miracle on 34th street when a orpaned girl from Rotterdam insists that Santa Claus really would be able to speak to her in her native tongue? And then lo and behold, in one of the most tear-jerking moments in all of filmdom, the two of them sing something that sounds like"Sinter Klaass kapooncha ka, heifa den mine shooon sha." Help me witht the slaughtered spelling readers, but in the meantime you get the idea.
That little Dutch ditty comes in handy, too. I sang it to a little Dutch girl that I met in France this fall. Only because I don't know how to say anything else in Dutch. I'm sure even at age 5 she recognized that I might be cuckoo; I suspect she was right.
And last but not least, a Dutch soup recipe to aid in your world-wide celebration. This one is a belly-warming quickie, cheap and scrumptious. Don't skip the bread and cheese-it really makes it special. And for a fun Dutch Christmas tradition, place a chocolate initial (piped from a ziptop baggie) on each person's side plate. When I taught school, I simply squirted each student's initials with Hershey's syrup on waxed paper and let them lap it up with pretzels. No one ever complained. But if I have time, I prefer to use real chocolate. Now on to the soup!
Money Saving Tips:
Check the price of bagged cauliflower compared to whole cauliflower and buy the best deal. It won't take much time to cut up a whole head. Look for canned broth to be on sale during the holidays and stock up. Otherwise, you can you use homemade broth if you're lucky enough to have it, or bouillion cubes. Hit up the bakery for day old baguette, since you're going to toast it anyway.
Dutch Farmer's Soup-adapted from Bon Appetit
Estimated Cost for 6 servings: $6.50
Notes: The cauliflower becomes very mild, and if you cut it small enough, almost invisible. Good for sneakiness...
1-4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
squeeze of lemon
slices of crusty bread
grated cheese-I used swiss to save pennies, but gouda would be very good also
scallions, for garnish
In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, potatoes, cauliflower, and carrots. Saute until golden brown. Add broth, cover and simmer for 15 minute or until vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, toast bread on both sides under broiler. Cover toasted bread with cheese and toast until melted. To serve, give soup a squeeze of lemon and divide between bowls. Float bread slices over soup and garnish with scallions, if desired.
Coming First light of Tuesday:
Grandma's Sugar Cookies for Tuesdays with Dorie
Christmas in Germany to come later this week....