Saturday, August 28, 2010

What did we do today- Rotterdam


A few days ago, Seyfi learned that we needed to go to Rotterdam to run an errand. We were not too happy. We had already made plans to go to Brugge and since we didn't know anything about Rotterdam, we were a bit annoyed to have to go there. I was thinking how nice can a city be if it has the word 'rot' in its name?

We started the day with the plan to run into Rotterdam, do what needed to be done, and then head back and spend the afternoon in Antwerp. The thing was, once we got there, we couldn't believe how beautiful the city was. We decided that we would at least walk around a bit and have lunch.

We found a lovely restaurant in a windmill next to a lake. The lunch was great, we had a beautiful soup, and salad. While we were eating our lunch we saw that on the lake there were a lot of sail boats, and wondered if we could go out on the lake too.


Next to the restaurant there was a sail boat rental shop that rented out boats, skippers and first mates to help you sail around the beautiful lake. We did an hour tour of the lake on the sail boat. It was absolutely wonderful. It was the best day for sailing, windy with a bit of warm sun, so we didn't get too cold.

After we got of the lake, had some doner, we drove into the city centre, walked around a bit and saw what a beautiful city Rotterdam really is.

I'm so glad we went to Rotterdam, it is beautiful, we will definitely be going back there. I know now not to judge a city before we get there.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

She's Crafty



Very quickly after we had moved to Belgium, I realized that even though we have a beautiful big yard to keep Alara busy in, I was going to have to find some rainy day activities for Alara. It rains a lot here. In fact, it is raining now.

Alara has liked colouring for a long time now, so I decided to take it up a step when I found a craft activity boxed for 4 euros, and a pack of coloured paper from Ikea. At first I thought she might me a bit young for it, but then I thought, whatever, it's raining again and she is bored! So I gave it to her, showed her how to get started and let her go.

She loves it! She likes sticking things and putting things together and pulling them apart and starting again. Today she told me that she loves glitter glue and pom poms.

I love the way she sits so focused and works on her 'projects'. I try very hard not to step in and try to take over, she hasn't really 'made' anything yet, but I did help her make a card for her baba, and I can feel that there is a craft coming....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Honey Festival- Virelles Lake


On Sunday, while Seyfi was working, again, Alara and I went for a drive outside of Mons to a Honey and Nature festival.

It was held at a nature reserve called Aquascope, which is on a lake in the south of Belgium, about an hour from Mons.

The title of the festival was a bit miss leading, it was not really a festival, and there wasn't much honey (although I did buy a small jar, and a big bottle of the most delicious apple juice), but the nature was beautiful.

The nice thing about this place was that it was really geared to teach children about nature. There were ponds to catch bugs and frogs from, and then microscopes to look at them under. There was information written everywhere about the different birds, trees and insects. There was also a tree top walk.

Alara and I had a lovely time, we will be going back in September when they are having their bird festival, hopefully Seyfi will be joining us too!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What we did yesterday- Ath







Seyfi has been working all weekend, so Alara and I have had to do some adventuring on our own. Yesterday, we went to the town of Ath, where they were having their Town Festival.

Their Festival is a bit different because it involves the use of Giants. The Giants represent David and Goliath, and there is some fighting and then someone gets married.

I'm sure you are wondering, why don't I know more about this? While, we got there late and were only able to see the remnants of a band, some solders from olden times and the two married giants.

Since we had missed most of the festival, Alara and I walked around a bit more and then we found the cutest cookie and candy shop. The sold ice cream as well, so we had some, and bought some macarons for Seyfi.

It was a lovely day, and the weather couldn't have been better. I took lots of pictures, and so did Alara!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gluten free Peach Crisp


When Seyfi first found out he had Celiac, one of the first things he said was 'now I can't have peach crisp.' A desert that came into his life so late, was causing him much distress.

He has never mentioned, 'oh, no more baklava...' or 'that's then end of chocolate cake...' He was more concerned about Peach Crisp, peach crisp that he had never eaten before a trip to Canada five years ago.

So, one of the first things I want to make for him was Peach Crisp. I took my usual recipe, and converted it to gluten free, and it turned out wonderful. I served it to guests, and they couldn't even tell the difference.

I found these different looking peaches at the market last weekend. My new fruit guy said that they would be very juicy, the weren't, so I didn't feel bad using them for cooking rather than just eating them.

Gluten free Peach Crisp

8 Peaches, peeled and sliced
a splash of vanilla

Put peaches in an oven proof dish and add the vanilla and give it a good mix.

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick of butter, room temp.
1Tbsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

Put all of these into a bowl together, get your hands in there and rub it all together until you've got something that looks quite crumbly.

Put your crumbly mixture on top of your peaches and cover with tin foil.

Put into the oven at 200 degrees. Once it has baked for ten minutes take the foil off. Continue baking for another 40 minutes, or until golden brown with peachy gooeyness coming through.

Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What we did today- Bon Secours


This morning we got a phone call from our new friends here in Belgium, asking us if we would like to go for a nature walk in Bon Secours today. Since it was the first day in almost a week without rain, we jumped at the chance

Bon Secours is a little town about 25 minutes from Mons, it has a large basilica and wonderful walking trails.

When we got to Bon Secours the first thing we did was get our tickets to the tree top walk. I really enjoyed the walk, and so did Alara. We were on top of the trees, walking along, looking at the birds and the beautiful view of the tes all around.


When we got down from the tree tops, we started the three kilometer nature walk. It was an absolutley beautiful. The trees were beautifuli the path was clear, the birds were singing and we ate out weight in beautiful blackberries. The girls had a wonderful time running along, jumping off logs and picking up acorns.

The only thing is that when we came to the last turn on the path, we went the wrong way and ended up in FRANCE! How do I always end up in a different country! Luckily we found the road back and walked into the town, had a nice lunch and then ended up finding the car again.

On the way back to the car, we did stop in and look at the basillica. The basillica is located right in the middle of the town looking down on the main street. It is a beautiful old church with wonderful stain glass windows.

It was a wonderful day, with good friends and wonderful weather. It was what we needed after all the rain!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer Fest 2010- Plum Clafouti



I was really excited to see that this weeks Gluten free girl and the Chef's Summer Fest 2010 topic was stone fruit. Why you may ask? As many of you may know, I have just moved into a new house in Belgium, and in the backyard there are two plum trees.

These plum trees are wonderful, they've got loads of fruit on them, and it stopped raining long enough yesterday for Alara and I to pick a big bowlful of the fruit.

This is the first time that Alara has lived in a house with a yard (we've always been in an apartment), and she loves it. She really loves the fruit trees, and her and Seyfi have been eating the plums for the past three weeks, even though they are only ready now... (they like sour fruit).

On the other hand, I am not the biggest plum fan, I like the flesh but I'm not a fan of the sourness of the skin. I don't tend to eat a lot of plums during the summer. Since, I wasn't really sure what I should make with my first load of plums, I hit the net, and looked at all kinds of different plum recipes. I found two things that I thought I would make from my plums.

One of the recipes with be plum sauce. I have looked for it a little bit here, but I haven't been able to find it, I can find egg rolls though, so I feel that some plum sauce with be a must. I'll be making plum sauce sometime next week (Had anyone got a good recipe?)

The second thing is this recipe for Plum Clafouti. Plum Clafouti is a French recipe, and since I am here on France's doorstep, I thought it would be the best one to start with.

Now, the thing is there are lots of slightly different ways to make Plum Clafouti, so I took a few recipes, changed it to what I had available at home, and made it gluten free. It turned out very nice and light. We all enjoyed it. I hope that you do too!

Just a warning, because it was a bit of a shock for us, Clafouti is not a cake, it is much more like a flan that has been baked. It is quite rich and sweet, and can actually be made with any other stone fruit- particularity cherries (actually clafouti is generally made with cherries).


Lori's Gluten free Plum Clafouti

14 plums, cut in half and stones removed, sprinkled with sugar

1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 Tbsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

some sugar and cinnamon for dusting.

Heat your oven to 180C.

Butter a baking dish and make a layer with the plums. The plums should be facing cut side down.

Mix together all the ingredients until a smooth batter. Pour over the plums.

Put in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden.

Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An update...

Just wanted to give everyone out there a little update on where/how we are, now that we have been in Belgium for one month.

Today, while I was sitting inside, watching the rain, wearing a sweater, in my house that has the heaters on, for the third day in a row, I was really starting to miss my nice warm Turkey. This all went away though when I heard that Turkey isn't warm right now, it is really HOT!!

To be honest, I'm not sure what is worse, really hot in August, or really cool in August, either way I'm not too happy with the current weather situation. And, hearing Alara say 'please mommy outside, oh raining' all day is making me sad for her too.

The good news about Alara is that: one she is in her own room, and doing well with it, and two, she has found the magical world of 'the wiggles' and has turned into quite the little wiggle bum. To be honest, it is a nice bread from Caillou, who we have been watching non-stop nearly since we left Turkey.

The biggest Alara news is that we started potty training today... I think she understands better after one day the importance of telling me that she needs to go to the bathroom before she actually goes to the bathroom and is standing in a puddle. She has adjusted very well to the new house, city, country and I'm really happy to be home with her everyday.

Home everyday... I have never vacuumed so much in my life! I am vacuuming everyday (it feels like) and can't believe the domestic engineer that I have become. I am also very happy to report that I have my first dryer in eight years and am using it like crazy! We thought we would be able to get a drier once the summer was over, but with all the rain, it was a must buy!

I also have been cooking and baking up a storm, I have been looking for and making up all kinds of new recipes, some of which you will see here. There are lots of new ingredients to be used and experimented with. For example, tonight I made bangers and mash, which Alara loved. The girl loves sushi, egg rolls, peas and now sauerkraut!

Seyfi is adjusting to his new job, and is very busy, but he (finally) has his PlayStation 3 and some football (soccer) game that he really loves, so happiness has spread to all three of us.

I can't believe we've been here for one month! Time really does go by quickly!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gluten free Pizza


As you have read, we went to an Italian restaurant in Paris and had pizza on Saturday. Seyfi and I were talking about how it was so good, and whether it was because it had been so long since we had last had pizza, or if it was because the pizza itself was so good.

We decided that it was probably a bit of both.

This made me think, why don't I just try making a gluten free pizza crust, I know how to make it with gluten, how hard can it be to do one without?

Let me tell you... it was delicious!

So here is the recipe that I created for really cruchy on the outside, soft on the inside pizza dough.

Lori's Gluten free pizza dough

1/2 cup of warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dry yeast

Mix all of these together in the bottom of your big bowl and let rest of ten minutes

2 cups all purpose gluten free flour
1 Tbsp polenta
1 egg
3 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup milk
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Mix all of these in with the yeast/water mixture and knead for a few minutes, it will be sticky so you may need to put some oil on your hands. Cover and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Heat your oven to 250 degrees celsius. Oil a pizza pan and sprinkle some more polenta over it. Put your dough in and push to the edges using your oiled hands. Bake in the oven until golden.

Take the crust out of the oven and put your toppings on. I used some grated cheese whose name I don't understand and some buffalo mozzeralla, some tomato sauce and some chicken pepperoni.

Put the pizza back in the oven and cook until the cheese is all melty and yummy.

Enjoy!

This really was surprisingly good! I hope you enjoy it!

Lunch in Paris

This is going to sound really silly, but we had the best Italian lunch in Paris on Saturday. Now, I know what you are thinking, why are you eating Italian food in Paris? The truth is, we had just gotten of the boat tour, we were starved, it had started raining and the restaurant looked really cute.

The lunch was fabulous though, the three of us really enjoyed ourselves and the food. To start we had appetizers (which are the only things I remembered to take pictures of). We decide that we would share everything (except desserts), so our meal started with beef carpaccio with Parmesan and greens, and a medley of vegetables marinated in olive oil. Both we super yummy.


For our main dishes, we had caprese pizza, not gluten free, but Seyfi wasn't going to worry about it for one day. The pizza was absolutely delicious it had normal tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes and greens on top and a lovely crisp crust underneath.

For dessert, Seyfi has tiramisu (which is something I completely dislike) and I had the most delicious apple tart with vanilla ice cream. So good!

There is only one problem with the lunch that we had, we never got the name of the restaurant or the address. I think that I could maybe ind it again, but I'm not exactly sure...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Potato and Leek Soup


Today has been a wet one, the entire day was dark and rainy. It was so dark in fact that I hadn't realized it was seven until I looked at the clock while I was chatting with my mom.

It's on cool, rainy days like this that I like a nice warm, filling bowl of soup to go along with my dinner.

Today, while Alara and I were shopping at the outdoor market, in the pouring rain, I came across these beautiful, big leeks and decided that we would definitely need a big bowl of potato and leek soup to warm up.

Potatoes are famous here (although more in fry form then anything else), so a soup made from them seemed fitting. Here is my recipe for warm and fill you up potato and leek soup...

Potato and Leek Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
2 big leeks, sliced finely
2 carrots, grated
4 potatoes. diced
4 cups of chicken stock
fresh thyme
salt and pepper

After you have sliced the leeks, put them into a bowl of water and swish them around, pull them out of the rings and then let them sit for a few minutes. This cleans them as the dirt will all fall to the bottom of the bowl.

Melt the butter in the bottom of a soup pot with the olive oil and add the leeks. When they have started to wilt down a bit, add the carrots.

Once the carrots and leeks have wilted together add the potatoes, chicken stock, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Let it come to a boil, turn it down and let it simmer until the potatoes are soft.

Once the potatoes are soft, you can use the back of a wooden spoon (or a fork) and smush some of the potatoes. Check the salt and pepper, and adjust to taste. Serve hot.

Enjoy!

I hope you and your family enjoy my version of potato and leek soup. There is no cream or milk in it, so feel free to eat that second bowl!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Our Day in Paris

We decided to visit Paris for the first time today, and to be honest I thought I would hate it. I thought it would be big and hot and crowded, that people would be rude and that we would get lost, but it wasn't and I loved it.

We didn't want to do too many things during out first visit, and we really wanted to find this gluten free store that we found online last night. So we woke up early this morning, got in the car and drove to Paris...

We started the morning by walking around a bit until we found a boat tour that went down the Seine. It was nice, not too long and we got to see most things from a very interesting angle.

When we got off the boat, it was time for lunch. We walked around a bit and found a cute little restaurant to eat in... more on this tomorrow...

When we were leaving the restaurant, I asked the waiter if he knew where we could find the gluten free store, it was just two metro rides away. We hopped on to the metro and got to the store,unfortunately only to find that it had already closed for the day.

We walked around that neighbourhood for a bit, and luckily we ended up finding, a different natural food store that stocked loads of gluten free things as well! So we were in luck. We celebrated with a coffee in a local cafe, and then hoped back on to the metro and rode it to the car's parking spot.

As we drove out of the city we drove past the famous Arc de Triomphe and back home to Belgium.

I loved Paris, I especially loved how easy it was to get around by the metro. I loved how everyone was much more helpful than I could have ever expected and I loved how much fun Alara had there. We can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My NEW favourite chicken salad


Last Sunday I went to the market and bought a rotisserie chicken. We ate in on Sunday night, and re-ran it on Monday, but there was still a bit left, so I thought, I'd make some chicken salad. I love chicken salad. My old favourite recipe involved chicken, mayo, celery, onion and grain mustard. But not anymore!

I have found a new chicken salad recipe and want to share it with you. I was looking in the fridge, getting out my traditional ingredients, when I came across something, cherry jam.

I thought, this will give it a nice sweetness and it does. Here is my new recipe.



Cherry Chicken Salad

cooked chicken (cut up)
chopped up celery and red onion
mayonaise (as much as you'd like)
cherry jam
salt and pepper

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, and mix adding as much mayo as necessary to stick it all together. Put on your favourite bread product (with or without gluten). Enjoy!

A funny story from the road

Here's a humorous story that happened on the road...

Let me start with a little background info... When we were getting ready for the big move and road trip, I was feeling a bit useless, Seyfi was running around getting things ready, and all I was able to do was to do was pack boxes (not what I call fun).

So, I asked Seyfi, 'how far do you want to get once we get off the ferry in Italy?' He thought we would be able to get as far as Basel, Switzerland, and my big ideas was that I would book the hotel room there. So off I went to search the internet for a hotel...

Here's the thing, hotels in Basel, Switzerland are very expensive, and we would only be spending the night there, probably not much more than that because we wanted to leave very early the next morning as well.

I searched and searched, and finally found a hotel that was listed as 'cheaper hotel outside of Basel' and it looked great! Mexican restaurant, and breakfast started at 5:30 and was included in the price, with was very reasonable. So I booked it.

We were a bit worried about how we would find it, so I clicked on the map, but it wouldn't open (it's a google map, those in Turkey know why). So I took the address, typed it into yahoo maps and punched it into our GPS and said job well done! I was very proud of myself.

That day, we ended up getting off of the ferry very late, much later than planned. The drive through Sw┼čtzerland was amazing, more beautiful than I ever could have imagined, but it was very late by the time we got to Basel, it was after midnight.

We were looking at our map, looking at the GPS, we could find the intersection of the two streets where the hotel should have been, but it wasn't there. We tried calling, but it wouldn't connect. We were tired, cranky and just wanted to sleep. We even thought about just pulling over and sleeping in the car.

Then we saw a taxi, Seyfi(who is not your typical man), ran over to him with our map and GPS and asked where the hotel was. The taxi driver looked at the map, looked at the GPS, and looked at Seyfi and told him he was in the wrong COUNTRY! Our hotel was in GERMANY, not Switzerland!

Luckily, Basel, Germany is only ten minutes from Basel, Switzerland, so we were able to get to the hotel, and more importnatly to bed in no time.

Here is my question- how are there two towns with the same names, and the same street names that interesect each other, ten minutes apart???

They guy at the hotel told us it happens all the time....

Monday, August 9, 2010

Alara and crossiants



Of course we could get croissants in Turkey, but they aren't like the ones here.

Croissants in Belgium are light and flaky, they are soooo buttery. They have crusty flakes on the outside, and a wrapped yummy dough inside. Alara loves them, she loves them plain or with chocolate. She really is very cute about them, as she stills them from your plate...

We do feel very sorry for Seyfi, who sits there watching us while he eats his gluten free croissants, that are nice, but not as nice. However, we are very grateful that we have been able to find both gluten free sliced bread (the return of sandwiches!) and gluten free croissants.

The other day, Alara and I walked to a local bakery and got some plain and chocolate croissants. We couldn't wait until we got home, so we stopped under a tree and ate one plain and one chocolate. Alara had so much fun, calling it a picnic. We'll have to do it again soon!

Mons Market

You all know how much I love a good farmers' market, and yesterday morning Alara and I went to the Mons Market. It was a very good market, and had a variety of things to buy.

Of course it had fruits and vegetables, and we bought lots of those! Lettuce, carrots, oranges, butternut squash! Blueberries! (two things that I haven't been able to buy in years!!

But there were other things there too, there were trucks roasting chickens and meats right before my eyes! I bought one of the chickens, and it was quite nice.

There were also many different types of cheeses on offer. I chose one of the cheese makers and bought a selection of her cheeses. They were all very lovely (honestly though I didn't care for the camembert (but that might be me, not the cheese).

We could also find lots of differen breads, pastries and desserts, but Alara found the one thing she loves most... waffles!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Road Trip- A Recap


I'm just going to start by apologizing- my camera was packed in the back of the car for most of the trip, so there are basically no pictures from our trip, not that we had much time to take pictures.

Let me start by saying that the trip was FABULOUS!!! I truly loved every minute of it!

The scenery was amazing, between Turkey and Belgium there are so many different things, flat dry areas, forests, little villages, mountains, lakes, seas, cities, flat fields it was all amazing.

Also, the ferry completely surpassed my expectations. Our rooms were the perfect size. We were sure that the food on board would be expensive, but it wasn't. There was a children's' room for Alara to play in. It was truly a wonderful part of the trip.



From the drive, I know that I really would love to go back and see Switzerland a bit closer up, and preferable, not at night.

The one place though that sticks out in my mind as a place I would love to return was Lake Como, Italy. It is such a beautiful place, you are driving along through the mountains, you pass through a tunnel, and wow, there it is. A lake in between the mountains. A true beauty.

Having said that, there are a few things that I would change for the next time.

One, I will add at least one more day to the trip. I felt like we just didn't have time to get out of the car to relax and enjoy anything, we had planned to spend an afternoon in Milan, but because the ferry arrived three hours late, it was impossible to do that.

This wasn't a huge problem though (at it is the second thing I would change), I will not be travelling through Italy on a Sunday again. We really wanted to be able to eat something and shop in a market in Italy because we had heard (through Gluten free girl) that Italy was great for a gluten free person, and had lots of products available.

Unfortunately we didn't get to see any of these, or even eat in a restaurant there. The only things open in Italy were stops on the highway, that didn't exactly have much on offer. It's okay though, we had some great coffee and chips as we passed through.

I really loved the trip, it was a great experience for us as a family, and I know that we all had a wonderful time.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We've arrived (and are finally connected)

Today's post will be quite short....

...because, after a very long road trip, five days of house hunting and staying in a hotel, one week in our house without furniture, one week in the house with furniture, we are finally connected to the Internet, and with all of you!

I will post more about the trip, but what I will let you know about today is that Belgium is a lovely country, and I know that we will be very happy here. It is not as hot as Turkey, and it rains a lot! but the people are very nice, and my French is improving every day.

Seyfi is back to work, and Alara seems to be settling in, (she called our house 'home' today), and I am getting use to the whole 'housewife' way of life.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow, if I find my camera that is...