April 6, 2014

fields of gold, violet and pink.

it's no secret that i could photograph my latest finds and west german vases full of pretty blooms all day, everyday. most saturdays when treasure hunting and vegetable buying, i always make sure there's space in my bike basket to accommodate the most beautiful bunch on offer. from powder pink carnations to sweet smelling hyacinth in all of my favourite pastel tones, flowers are a must have to brighten and inspire my daily life. so when the chance to visit some of holland's flower packed fields came about...i was first in, adorned in a floral topshop number, field wandering worthy boots and a fully charged i-phone in hand. from the moment i stepped out of the car, i felt like alice in wonderland and my face was not only blushed from a day out in the unexpected sunshine but aching from the constant smile that was plastered across my freckled face. we decided to avoid the crazy crowds at keukenhof, instead venturing to the quieter fields that we would end up having to ourselves. i walked through fields where the incredible scent of hyacinth in every shade of purple and pink ignited my senses and nestled below the shoulder-high walls of tulips coloured in shades of the burning sun. if anyone in holland is wanting to get their floral fix on a sunny saturday, head towards the charming bulb flower business town of Lisse and onto the surrounding areas of Katwijk and Noordwijk. this notorious dune and bulb region has many little roads and flower businesses just waiting to be discovered and is a breath of hyacinth scented air. happiness truly is found amongst the flowers. 

March 30, 2014


i've baked brownies for parties for as long as i can remember (must be long as my short term memory is horrendous), so with the party season starting, i thought it was time for a new slice. i have to admit, i've never been a huge fan of 24 kitchen's favourite kiwi chef annabel ...BUT, after seeing her work her magic with this slice...i was soon drooling with respect. one of the simplest slices ever imagined and one you'll wonder why you haven't braved before. it's seriously decadent and more importantly super delicious. after wondering if holland had even heard about condensed milk, i was soon supermarket sweeping the shelves of my local supermarket. to my absolute delight, i unearthed the cutest can around. i've always managed to stay away from slices as i don't find they often present themselves as beautifully as cakes. BUT, ladies and gentleman after MANY happy mouthfuls (and that's just me), this slice definitely takes the cake. 

choconut slice

  • 175g melted butter
  • 250g digestive biscuits, crushed to fine crumbs
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks or chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 160°C and line a 24cm x 24cm slice tin with baking paper.
To make the base, mix melted butter with biscuit crumbs and cocoa. Using a wet spatula or wet hands, spread over base of slice tin and press down firmly. Sprinkle coconut, chocolate, cranberries or raisins, and almonds evenly over the base. Drizzle with sweetened condensed milk.
Bake until lightly golden (about 20-25 minutes). Cool and chill before slicing into squares or fingers. Choconut Slice will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for several weeks. makes about 30 pieces for 30 very lucky people. 
recipe courtesy of annabel langbein.

March 16, 2014

flowers and fleamarkets.

something holland isn't short of. last weekend was a fleamarket frenzy of sorts. we hit two big markets, one on saturday (at my boyfriend's football team's stadium) and the other slightly hungover (at a favourite snuffel markt) on sunday. both were fruitful trips and my pocket was lighter by only a tidy 11 euros. we appear to have become magnets for west german pottery and with the prices just right, we've collected three over the past week. i remember admiring their colourful textures back in australia but the price, Larry, was definately not right. now i border the country where the beautiful vases are made, so they flourish happily at my local markets and thrift stores. my local flower markets have also provided me with a myriad of pastel beauties as of late and as spring is fast approaching, the incredible ranunculus, tulips and hyacinths are becoming a necessary weekly purchase. 

our third west german find of the week with a side serving of marimekko.

these guys are incredible.

powder pink carnations. filler flowers, yeah right.

i could dive right in.

a flemarket at the football stadium. the boy and i were both in heaven.

for 80c, these two were coming home with me.

as soon as the seller found out i was from queensland, he was bagging these babies up for a euro. bargain.

bright beauties.

a cute collection for 2 euros from the local thrift shop.

staffordshire potteries and pastel plates, come to me. 

perfect sunday behaviour.

my 9 euro treats. 

design perfection for a euro.

i think i took a photo every half an hour of these blooming beauties.

tulip perfection.

so affordable and so beautiful.

March 2, 2014

one year ago...

this girl moved herself and her heart to holland...

to be with this guy, who she'd known for a little less than 48 hours in person followed by 8 long months of making a long distance love work.

a year on, she couldn't be happier and has truly found where her love and life belong...

and it was celebrated at a favourite place over a shared donut...

and a bunch of tulips in hand...

in the city she now calls her home.


one of the presents i received for my 30th birthday was a weekend away in zeeland. being the busy bees we are and a trip to london in the mix, we finally booked a date and took off  for a windy weekend away. the weather was kind to us and it was exactly the time-out  that we had both been waiting for. we drove to nearby towns, stopped for a bit of thrifting, fries indulging, picture taking and of course the obligatory zeeland bolus (imagine a donut and a cinnamon scroll had a delicious baby) buying. i fell instantly in love with zierikzee, a little town i could happily see myself growing old in. we stayed in an incredible hotel, walked the windy beaches, collected shells and i was taken aback by the beauty of the coastline. it was no gold coast, but this beautiful province filled with endearing local villages and drenched in dutch history is a beautiful reminder of why i'm living here.

February 24, 2014

labour of love.

why has it taken me this long to attempt one of my all time favourite baked goods? firstly i was scared they wouldn't live up to the amazing hype of the scrolls i've enjoyed over the years and secondly it can only be the very idea of getting up close and personal with dough. embarrassingly enough, this baker has never attempted bread making and therefore the idea of using yeast in baking and have it fail is more frightening than starting a new life across the other side of the world. as i have always known that these scrolls would be a labour of love, my perfectionist nature was waiting for just the right moment to attempt them. after i indulged in an amazing scroll at the greenwich market a fortnight ago, it was the final straw...i needed to bake these beauties and leave this ridiculous fear behind. so, my friends, i come to you with a recipe. a recipe that even a dough virgin can attempt and succeed at. i raise my spatula to you, grandma dottie and your awesome cinnamon scrolls. you made this recipe doughable. ;-)

dottie's cinnamon scrolls


1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1/3 cup sugar (1/2 cup if you like it sweeter)
1/3 cup shortening, or margarine or butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour(if using self-rising flour omit salt)

Cinnamon Mixture:
2 tablespoon margarine or butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions for making the cinnamon rolls...
Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, shortening, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours. (dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched).

Punch down dough; on a lightly floured surface roll dough into rectangle about 9-x18-inches; Once rolled out spread with margarine. Mix sugar and cinnamon together in small dish. Sprinkle over rectangle.(This is optional - If you like raisins or chopped nuts you may sprinkle a 1/2 cup of each) over the sprinkled cinnamon before rolling up. 

Roll up tightly, beginning at wide(18) side.Seal well by pinching edges of roll together.Stretch roll to make even. Cut roll into 1 to 1 1/2 inch slices. Place a little apart on greased pan or cookie sheet . Cover and let rise until double in bulk, about 35 to 40 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. 

Spread rolls with Glaze cinnamon rolls while warm. Makes about 18 cinnamon rolls. Glaze: Mix powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until glaze is smooth and of desired consistency. Add little more milk if too thick.

Shared by Dottie.