Holidays with a Dutch Girl

Although you’d never know it by looking at me, I am one half Dutch. My tan and coloring are courtesy of my other half, Native American.

My mother and grandmother are full dutch and of the many important things they’ve taught me over the course of my lifetime, one of those things is that we Dutch have quite the sweet tooth and the means to satisfy it with some of our delicious recipes!

One of my favorite times of the year to be Dutch is December, for our delicious Christmas and New Years traditions. I’ll start with Christmas and Jan Hagel! (Pronounced “Yawn Ha-Hul”)  Even the sound of it makes my mouth water a little bit! It’s an incredibly delicious cookie that we bake this time of year and I always seem to forget just how much I love it until that first bite.

These are photos of the batch I baked this year at my apartment (before slicing them into small bars). And yes, as you’ll see in the second photo, I enjoy sipping on a gimlet while I bake and listen to Christmas music!

photo 1

It’s basically shortbread cookie on the bottom with sliced almonds and Christmas colored sprinkles on top! It tastes a lot better than you’d think! It’s like magic! 🙂

photo 2

And after Christmas comes NEW YEARS!

The Dutch have a fantastic New Years Tradition – it’s called Olliebollen and it takes like heaven in your mouth!

If I had to reduce said magic to the nuts and bolts, Olliebollen is dough that you make with raisins and deep fry then serve with powdered sugar. It’s ridiculously good, but not the best for your waistline so it is only made once a year, at New Years.

This photo is from the batch I made at my apartment last year, and does a good job illustrating the full baking process.


This year I made them with my mom at my Oma’s house. Oma is the Olliebollen queen, but at 92 years young this year, we thought we’d let her hang up her wooden spoons and retire after what is probably 80 plus years of making them, and she passed the baton to us.

It was a fun  and special experience, bonding with mom over this family tradition, while the pro (Oma) supervised our every move making sure we were doing it right! haha! Followed by the Olliebollen Master herself trying and (more importantly) loving our finished product! (Big sigh of relief!) It was a Success!! And a great day I will remember every time I make these in the future.

Below is a photo of some of the ones we made at Oma’s house this year.

photo 4 Sooooo delicious! Now I just have to wait 12 more months to taste them again!

Ladies drink Tea

Probably one of the longest relationships in my life is with tea. After 28 years I still love it, crave it and can’t get enough of it.

My affinity for tea began as a baby when my mom put it in my bottle. Not all the time, relax, but I loved it. And why deprive her darling baby of something she was so clearly fond of. I suspect her mother may have done the same thing with her. My mother’s family is from the Netherlands and like all good Europeans, they enjoy their afternoon tea. A tradition that my Oma has passed down to her granddaughters and I am fully confident my sister and I will pass down to ours. The men in my family always drank coffee, but not the women. The women always preferred tea to coffee. Thus began my stereotype at an early age that coffee is for men and tea is for ladies. To this day, I have never consumed a cup of coffee. It’s for boys.

Tea in the morning, tea in the afternoon and tea at night. Even as I sit at my mac right now writing this I have a refreshing glass of iced tea to my right.

Tea wakes me up in the morning, perks me up in the afternoon and (with a little switch to decaf) calms me in the evenings. In addition to that it provides a familiarity and comfort that few things do. Without even realizing it while I stir in my spoon of sugar and take that first sip I am transported to my Oma’s house and being a little girl who would get up from the breakfast table, walk over to the sink and top my hot cup off with a little cold water… because as the baby of the family I wanted nothing more than to be on the same level as my Oma, mom and sister, but I just couldn’t quite drink it at the same temperature they could. Despite my best efforts to appear older, matured and similar to them – the water was just too darn hot for my baby lips so off to the sink I went each morning. During the summer mornings of my childhood my mom would take my sister and I to Oma and Opa’s for the day and have breakfast with us before she left for work. We would talk, sip our tea, and eat precision-thinly sliced gouda cheese, beschuits with slickies (this will be a future post I’m sure), and a host of other things my Oma would prepare for us. Remembering these mornings will always bring a smile to my face. Always.

Tea is a tradition in my family and will always be. One that my husband has done a beautiful job of incorporating himself into without even trying or realizing. My husband, heaven help him for being married to me, is a morning person and a complete romantic. I am a night owl who pushes the snooze button like it’s the buzzer a jeopardy contestant is ferociously clicking in desperation to stay in the game. Waking up has always been a challenge for me, to put it mildly. My sweet husband recognizes this about me and so every morning when I awake, I can look directly to my right and right next to my electric blanket dial and framed photo of us when we were dating – there it sits on my nightstand- a perfectly sweetened warm cup of tea. Just waiting for me to reach and drink so that my eyelids can feel slightly less heavy, my senses slightly more alert until at last I can peel myself from the bed I’ve made entirely too comfortable to leave.

Every morning Garrett makes me this cup of tea (without being asked or coerced – I swear!!) and I love him more than he’ll know for that, not just because it tastes amazing – but because he has seamlessly ingratiated himself into my family’s tradition completely unknowingly. When he began doing this he had no idea, but my Opa did the same thing for my Oma every morning over the 50 plus years they were married. And when I see that cup of tea waiting for me on my nightstand I think of my Opa and Oma and fall a little more in love with my husband for making us a part of their tradition and love story.

While I can be a bit of a “priss” with somethings (so I’m told anyway – just a matter of opinion) tea is one thing that I am the polar opposite of prissy with. The more potent and industrial the better. I am not a fan of those “frou-frou” teas with Jasmine, Rasberry, passion flower or any other sort of pollutant (as I see it) in my tea. I am partial to it’s truest form, black tea. I only buy Twinings English Breakfast or PG Tips!

I have been told by my Brit friends that Twinings is the more “posh” tea while PG Tips has been the best known and most popular brand in the UK for over 75 years and is the tea of the “working class” if you will. It’s much stronger than Indian and African teas and has a taste similar to an English Breakfast.

So in keeping with my previous post about being an oxymoron, it’s fitting that my two favorite teas are polar opposites of each other and one is viewed as the chic and aristocratic blend while the other is the stronger more blue-collar brand. I don’t live in England so I don’t subscribe to those theories, all I know is that they both taste like heaven in a mug and they are my preferred choice every time.
Tea is my tradition and tea is my favorite.