About Me

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Antwerp, Belgium
Welcome to the new, and improved version of Heaven in Belgium. I am Jientje. "Jientje", like the boys name Gene, followed by "chu"? "Gene-chu", that's how you pronounce my name. Yes!!!!That's it!! So now you know huh? I am an addicted blogger. I was born and raised and am still living in Belgium. Yeah, the "this-is- Tuesday-so-this-must-be-Brussels" kind of Belgium .. There, you see? Maybe you couldn't find it on the map, but at least I'm trying to change that a little by sharing lots of pictures. I really love to cook and create new things, like this blog for instance. I am a mother,a grandmothe and a wife too! They say I'm a traveler, and a photographer. Well that's just what they say, I love to make pictures, but I am far from professional ... If my English is not perfect, that would be because it's my second language. I do hope you'll forgive me any possible misspellings or strange vocabulary ... Now, as a result of all of the above, I get way too little sleep and my days are always much too short!


Heaven is in Belgium

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday's Fave Five, the Home Edition

friday fave five 12


Another Friday, another Fave Five. This meme, hosted by Susanne at Living to tell the Story is something I look forward to each week. Knowing that I’m going to be sharing my favorite moments makes me enjoy them even more intense. This week was just an ordinary week, nothing big. No visits, no photo walks, no meetings with friends or family, no big purchases. But that does not mean it was a dull or a boring week. Not  in the least …

This week was all about HOME SWEET HOME …

1. Waking up to a gorgeous pink sunrise. Keeping busy all day with whatever it is that needs to be done around the house, and just enjoy doing it. Finish the last bit of ironing in front of the television, watching a new cooking program.
I don’t watch much television, but I’m a huge fan of cooking programs. In this new program two three Michelin starred chefs  (numbers 26 and 29 of the world’s top 50 chefs!!!!) – I’m very proud to be Belgian, thank you! - are looking for the amateur cook of the year. It’s based on the Master Chef concept. This week they were separating the wheat from the chaff, and some of the candidates were absolutely hilarious. To serve top chef Peter Goossens peas out of a tin? Or mussels that smelled nasty? In a cooking challenge? I mean really!!
They should have called the new program” So you think you can cook?”  ROFL!!

2. This week I challenged myself to watch my budget a little in the kitchen. I used some leftovers and made a lovely pasta dish with it. And I had some fish stock left in the fridge to make the sauce. It made a delicious meal. And then yesterday when  I went shopping I noticed that two pieces of chicken breast filet cost as much as an entire chicken!! That’s ridiculous!! So I bought two chickens, I filleted them myself, packed the pieces separately and put them in the freezer. I cooked the other one and the extra wings and bones made my chicken stock extra tasty. With that stock I made chicken noodle soup, and a lovely ragout with a velvety white sauce with mushrooms.
I know we can eat at least twice from that, I’ll just put the rest in the freezer and have a delicious home cooked meal stashed away for one of those days when I have no time to cook!

And then there were the stuffed tomatoes …

3. The stuffed tomatoes. I’m giving you the recipe.
I emptied the tomatoes, and used the pulp to make the sauce. I chopped some fresh thyme, flat leaved parsley and oregano and a small shallot. I used half of the herbs in the meat mixture, and the other half to make the tomato sauce. I mixed the minced pork with an egg, pepper salt and the herbs and some breadcrumbs , and stuffed the tomatoes with them. A little olive oil drizzle on them and put them in the oven for about 35-40 minutes, I think. I’m not sure, I did not really pay much attention. LOL!( You should test it with a knitting needle, if the needle is warm, they’re cooked )
To make the sauce, heat some olive oil in a pan, add the herbs, let it cook for a little while before you add the tomato pulp and a little bit of water. You can add some white wine if you have some. Let it simmer under a closed lid, and reduce a little at the last minute before serving if necessary. I added just a pinch of dark brown rock sugar to remove the tartness. I think the caramelized flavor of brown sugar works better with tomatoes than plain white sugar.

4. Another little tip from this blissfully domestic housewife! Ahem. Vinegar!
I use vinegar all the time. I need it to make my own mayonnaise and yesterday I made tarragon vinegar with some of the harvest from my herb garden. I washed and dried a couple of sprigs, put them in a bottle and filled it with plain vinegar. Put a cork on it and let it rest a couple of weeks. It’s perfect for dressings and as a base for a béarnaise sauce. I chopped the rest of the tarragon and put it in the freezer.
But there is a lot more I use vinegar for. It’s perfect to clean your pots and pans when you have burnt something ( yes, that does happen to me too!) I let it soak for a while with vinegar, and I can clean it without effort! And then when I cleaned the windows yesterday, I used some on my sponge to remove some very nasty stains that would not go away. They’re spotless now! It costs nothing and it’s probably a lot more eco friendly than all the other cleaning products on the market.

5. My downstairs neighbor who is vacationing in Greece at the moment gave me four of her hanging baskets. By the time she gets back they would have withered and she figured it would be a shame to throw them away. She gave them to me so I can enjoy their last blooms. In return, I promised to keep an eye on her garden and water the plants when necessary. I enjoyed every ray of sunshine this week. There have been a couple of good days in between some rainy and windy ones, and I used the sunny hours to be outside as much as possible. I cleaned the other half of the patio, oiled the table, worked on my lace outside and had fun watching all the birds feasting on the feeders. And of course, I had my camera within reach at all times… 

So there, another wonderful week in words and pictures …

Look for more Fave Five posts at Susanne’s Living to tell the Story.


Melli said...

Ohhhhhhh Jientje! What you DO to a boring old lonesome week! As long as you have your camera, you are NEVER lonely!!!

I have never had a HOT stuffed tomato... I have only ever stuffed them with a cold tuna salad in the summer... and of course, Dennis doesn't LIKE stuffed peppers... so now, I am going to have to try your stuffed tomatoes! They look HEAVENLY! As does everything you cook! YOU burn things? NO! I don't believe it!

Wanda..... said...

Jientje...your photos have a way of making housework and chores seem ejoyable and enviable!!!

Islandsparrow said...

Jientje . . . that is one of my favourite kind of weeks - blissfully domestic - and I bet you feel very productive. I always do.

Have a wonderful weekend.

PS - I love your wirebound photo frame.

United Studies said...

Hmmm....it seems that we are living in parallel worlds here. I am addicted to cooking shows and have just vowed recently to start watching our food budget! I had been spending about $150/week on groceries, but now that it is just the 3 of us, I want to keep it at around $100/week. Else I buy stuff that we end up throwing out before it gets eaten.

And I agree with Wanda.

BioniKat said...

Does vinegar really work for cleaning windows? I usually have a bottle of clear vinegar in the house and my windows really need a clean!

MaR said...

These meme always makes me smile. Your shots are wonderful as always and you made me very hungry this time!! You seem to be a very good cook.
I am a fan of vinager too, it's wonderful!

Melli said...

LOL! I just opened my email! Thank you SO much for all the little bouncing HAPPIES!!! I LOVE them! :)

moneythoughts said...

I enjoy reading about your life style and looking at your pictures of the food you make. What a contrast between you and what I do. Cooking is not my thing, so I enjoy looking at what you make. My soup comes out of a can. There is just me, so one can of soup works for me. I try to put my energies in to my art work. Poor excuse, but it is my excuse.

Carletta said...

All this food - I haven't even had breakfast! :)
You've had a busy and productive week. I feel a little lazy now that I've read about YOUR week.
Have a great weekend!
Carletta’s Captures.

Unknown said...

The food - and I haven't had breakfast yet, either. And now I'm REALLY hungry.

Susanne said...

You sure know how to make a girl hungry! Homemade chicken noodle soup is my all time favorite comfort food. When my mom made it I ate it breakfast, lunch and dinner until it was gone.

And your stuffed tomatoes look scrumptious. I never would have thought of that. Yum!

Kelly de Kooiker - Chriske said...

Hoi Jientje, ziet er allemaal heel mooi en lekker uit. Groetjes en poot van Kelly.

Brenda said...

Sounds like a good week, I too have been careful with my budgeting, especially with food. Its easy to spend too much and waste.

I love your pretty sunrise as well.

Melissa said...

You make the mundane gorgeous.

Love Melissa

Jerralea said...

Sounds like a blissfully domestic week!

As always, I enjoyed your photos!

ellen b said...

Jientje! I'm thinking you need to be on that cooking program. What great looking food you made this week. I have had 2 stay at home days and I'm wondering why I don't do it more often. Have a great weekend!

Quilly said...

FOOD! You make it look so easy and I know it must take hours! When we move to Friday Harbor and have dinner parties I will import you from Belgium! We will be all the rage with our imported Belgian Bombshell Chef!

I love that last pic of the real bird standing on the wooden bird! Too cute.

Unknown said...

Jientje, you are totally AMAZING! I wish I lived near you and could visit....you seem so down to earth and just everything in stride. I love to do just what you were up to this week. Only I am NOT as prepared of a cook as you are! I can see that you totally enjoy cooking. If I knew what to put together I might enjoy it too. Maybe I should watch some cooking shows!

Bill ~ {The Old Fart} said...

One thing about visiting you Jientje, one gets an idea for what to have for Supper. Love chicken so guess what I am having later on.

Kristi @ Mi Vida Ocupada said...

Those tomatoes look so delicious!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful my friend. I love the home edition. :) Everything looks excellent. :)

Momisodes said...

Everytime I come here I find myself salivating over your food photos! I love watching food programs on TV as well. I love gathering different ideas and tips for cooking.

That pasta dish looks wonderful!

Willow said...

Yes, I agree with all the other commenters. You make a domestic week sound like a jet setter's holiday in Monaco. Vinegar is great for so many things, and I use it for cleaning, too. So, if I ever stop knitting, I can use my needles to check tomatoes for doneness. Now I know...

Alida said...

Thank you, thank you for posting the stuffed tomato recipe. I'll let you know how they turned out. My favorite show here is Hell's Kitchen with Chef Ramsey. He's a bit of a jerk, but I love watching and I spend Saturday afternoon glued to the T.V. for two hours watching cooking shows. It always strikes me how similar our weather is. Have a wonderful weekend.

RA said...

Housework definitely looks good here! I'll have to keep your shots in mind. Have a wonderful weekend, my dear :)

Bientje said...

This is a fantastic favourite five! You make us all feel jealous of cooking and washing up and cleaning! Hehehehe
Can't wait until it's friday!
Big hug!
Your little sister

Jientje said...

@ Melli:That is so true! I'm never lonely or bored as long as I have my camera!
Let me know if you try the tomatoes eh? And YES, I DO burn stuff!!
@ Wanda: Well, maybe that's because I had fun?
@ Islandsparrow: it was a very productive week, and I like that!
@ Jacki : somehow we always end up thinking alike, don't we?
@ momcat: Yes it works. I use plain washing up liquid and I add a good splash of vinegar. And I use some extra on my sponge when I'm dealing with real nasty stains. It works perfectly!
@ Mar: Thanks! Whatever I do, I want to do it good!
@ Melli: Happy birthday Melli! I'm glad you liked them!
@ moneythoughts: That's okay Fred, whatever works for you is fine. We cannot all be the same kind of people, can't we?
@ Carletta: That's true, mine was productive, but that does not mean you were lazy?
@ Lou: Oh you poor guy, did I make you hungry?
@ Susanne: It was the first time I made stuffed tomatoes too, but they were delicious!
@ Kelly de Kooiker - Chriske: Bedankt om binnen te springen Chrisje! Knuffel voor Kelly!
@ Brenda: Yes, I'm hoping to keep that up, we're wasting way too much, and that's a shame! Loved that sunrise too, it made me jump out of bed the minute I saw it!
@ Melissa: And your comments make me smile!
@ Jerralea: Thanks!
@ ellen b: That's exactly what my husband said too!
@ Quilly: LOL!! Now THAT would be fun!!! Yes, I really love that bird feeder pick with the swallows, it's very photogenic! That's why I put it there in the first place!
@ Linda Higgins: I DO enjoy cooking, a lot, that's true! And I wish we lived closer too! I'm sure the two of us would have FUN!!
@ Bill : You're gonna have chicken!! Bon appétit!
@ Kristi: They are!!
@ Thom: Thanks, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
@ Sandy: That pasta was delicious!
@ Willow: a jet setters' holiday in Monaco!! ROFL!! I loved that comment!!! And yes, you can use your needles for that too! I remember my Mom used and old crooked bended knitting needle for that, I can still see it, it was a blue metallic one!!
@ Alida: I promised, didn't I? I love Ramsey too, would not want to work in his kitchen, but I love him!
@ ROSIDAH: Have a good weekend yourself!
@ Bientje: Can't wait either!!

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