The Outing

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The Picknick

Interracial dating may be complicated, but how about inter cultural?

I can tell you romance and love don’t mix with food when it comes to a Dutch girl and an all American boy. No-one’s to blame. One (the boy) has been brought up to just open the fridge upon hunger signs reaching the brain from the stomach, grab something, anything - and have it over with. The other (the girl) has been told never to open the fridge herself. To wait for set times in the day. Upon which the mother of the family, who has opened the fridge, grabbed selected goods and cooked or prepared them, presents these gifts of the earth in a creative manner. Follows a sit-down part that will take at least 20 minutes (breakfast) to over two hours (a nice family dinner). To my boyfriend this is nothing more than feeding time at the zoo behavior. And he’s no wild animal.

He does really try, I have to give him that. He no longer gets up when I’m one third through my plate to get himself more food. He waits for me to dish it up! And we have second helpings together to bring romance back into our life a little bit. His friends don’t wait when they come over. The first time this happened I asked my boyfriend upon their departure, what on earth he thought they were doing. ‘They were waiting so long I’m sure they thought it’s Dutch custom to go the kitchen and get second helpings yourself. And Mike did bring the pan out to serve all of us’, he added in a defensive voice. ‘Please don’t ever think of saying anything to them about it. That would be so embarrassing.’

Sometimes when we eat in a restaurant I feel there must be a contest going on that I don’t know about. Get out as quick as you can. But the sad thing is there’s not. No free dinners to win. There’s absolutely nothing to gain from that frantic American serving pace. You end up with far too little room on the table - thanks to the fact that the plate, with half your starter, ends up next to your main course. Which was brought out after it had already substantially cooled of in the kitchen. It had been waiting there so long (whilst you were working on your starter), that the sad wilted veggies had started to cry. And your waiter, who could not deal with their grief, decided he just had to bring them out.

Inter cultural dating, inter cultural friendships, or fine dining for that matter may not always be a pick nick in New York. But I like it here. So….when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

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I Can Hear Warningbells

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Food Issues

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Cheap Shot

My cooking goes with the flow of my life and right now it’s just busy, busy, busy. So instead of marinating and smoking my tempeh, I got those smoked tempeh strips. Cheap shot, I know. But I’m sure you’ll appreciate it if you’re busy too. Because doing it the cheap-shot-way within half an hour you can create a really yummy dish. Red and raw is missing from my color scheme, so a little side salad with cherry tomatoes is highly recommended to complete this meal.

POTATO DELIGHT

Ingredients (all organic please!):
3 medium potatoes
1 big onion
1 bunch of asparagus
1 package of smoked tempeh
1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
pinch of sea salt

Procedure:

1. Cut the potatoes in 1-inch squares. Let them soak in (filtered) water for about 5 minutes.

2. Cut onion into sauté slices.

3. Cut smoked tempeh strips in 1/2-inch pieces.

4. Drain potatoes; bring them to the boil with sea salt. Boil for about 5-10 minutes; as soon as they start to soften, drain.

5. Heat olive oil and start sautéing tempeh. After about 3 minutes add onions and keep stirring for about 7 minutes whilst on medium heat. Onions should be soft, but not caramelized. Keep on low heat until you’re ready to mix with potatoes;

6. Steam asparagus for about 5 minutes (depending on thickness).

7. Sauté boiled potatoes in a little heated olive oil for 5 minutes.

8. Combine the tempeh/onion mix and the potatoes, season with a little salt and serve with asparagus.

Optional:
After combining tempeh/onion mix with potatoes, you can put grated soy cheese over it in the pan. Leave it covered for 2 minutes on low heat. Now you’ve transformed this dish into melted potato delight! Pepper for those who want a bit more spice in their life does work, but takes away from the onion potato sweetness of it all.

Dree tip:
If you’re a vegan who has skeptic non-vegan friends over, this is one of those hearty dishes that may have them come closer to their ‘AHA! moment’. Are they really difficult to please and very dear to you? Separate their portion(s) and make them the above option with traditional (but organic!!) cheese.

The Delivery

A girl should always look her best. You never know when and where your Prince Charming is going to show up.

“Morning! Coffee for you?” asks the Starbucks barista. I have to give it to him. He’s a handsome dude alright.
“No, tea please”, my friend Suzy, who has come from LA to visit me, answers whilst demanding his undivided attention. She has her ways. And that’s okay. This has been our dynamic since we were teenagers. She’s excused.
“What kind of tea?” The barista is affected by her charms. What man is ever not?
“Green tea. Non of that herbal stuff that you guys carry. I’m trying to cut down on the coffee. But I need the caffiene to wake up. So herbal’s no option.”
“I get it. Hot?”
“No, I’ll have it cold. Looks like it’s gonna be a hot day today.” Suzy removes a layer of her clothes to illustrate her statement. Clumsy but oh so charming, almost knocking over a counter display with Barry White CD’s. Bearing a lot of flesh.
“I think you’re right on the money there. Pretty humid too. Tall?”
“No, a grande. Or let me have a venti…why not, right?!
“Why not indeed. Whipped cream with that?”
“No, thanks – I need to fit in a bikini in two weeks. Going to the Hamptons with this guy I met. I have no idea if it’s gonna go anywhere….”
” Sounds exciting. Let me know if it doesn’t work out.” The barista winks at Suzy. “Infusion today?”
“No infusion. You know what, let’s make that a frappucino actually.”
“So we’re talking a tall iced skimmed green tea frappuccino - hold the whip.”
“Hold the whip?!! Isn’t it a little early for that kind of talk?”
At this point it is like I have vaporised. I no longer exist. This is between Suzy and the Starbucks Hunk. He seems completely oblivious of the huge line that has formed. Maybe there are just a few too many choices at Starbucks, I think to myself. This way no matter how many branches they open, it’ll never be a real quick fix.
“No, seriously”, Suzy smiles at her object of desire, “that sounds about right.”
“Anything to eat with that?”
“Do you still carry those low fat sugarless double mocha chocolate brownies?”
“No, but we just got in this new all natural rasberry almond muffin. Checked it out myself this morning. I highly recommand that,” the barista says passionately.
“But that has sugar, right?” Suzy frowns.
“I guess so.” De barista smiles. “I know, the bikini.”
“ Right.”
“So that’ll be it then.” I can see that he is dreading Suzy’s departure. And lost for the words that are needed to prolongue their present encounter. There had to be a very strict policy that prohibited Starbucks employees from asking out their customers. Either that, or he was married. Suzy, fortunately for him, always had a creative solution ready when it came to men.
“No, wait a minute, let me just grab a bottle of water.” She picked up some water and a bottled ice tea.
“Or what do you think, maybe ice tea?”
“A much better choice.” The barista hunk no longer looks cheerful. “Looks like you’re all set. Your total is $ 8.49. Care to donate to the Starbucks Coffee Drive this morning?”
I can see how the poor guy had to ask, but boy, did that take the romance out of it. For me that is. Obviously not for Suzy, who is frantically searching her bag. For a businesscard?
“Not today thanks. Hold on, it looks like I forgot my Starbucks Card. That’s a problem. I never carry any cash. Let me go get some at the ATM. Where’s the closest ATM around here?”
“There’s a CHASE two blocks away,” the barista volenteers - obviously already eagerly awaiting Suzy’s return. Then suddenly, she remembers. I’m there with her! She turns to me.
“Dree! You don’t happen to have…” I order a Zen tea and pay for our drinks. Suzy throws her long blond hair over her shoulder.
“Have a great day!” she coos.
We walk towards the subway.
“When it comes to relationships”, Suzy says, “Starbucks really is the place to be. There’s nothing like a potential lover ordering a venti soy light vanilla double expresso over ice without a hint of hesitation. You just know you found yourself a real man.”
“It’s great therapy for those of us who can’t make decissions too”, I say, thinking of the three men Suzy is currently dating. Where else can you go and make at least four major decissions before you even start your day?”
“You’re so right”, Suzy says. “Therapy, eye candy to flirt with and a caffiene fix - all for under five bucks. Who ever said living in New York is expensive?”

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The Perfect Dress

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Guilty Pleasures

It’s like watching Nip/Tuck. You don’t really want anyone to know. And I’m certainly not proud of it. Yet I can no longer deny you the pleasure and convenience. Especially if you are a one-man band. I just have to let you in on this.

I graduated as a chef so I should be firing up my cuisenart and vega-blend my heart out. Which I often do! But when I’m alone and I have to whip up something really great really quick, I cheat on those loved ones. With my magic bullet.

If you want to make a lasting impression on a vegan, try this for a creamy tongue-tickling experience.

HEAVENLY VEGAN SHAKE

Ingredients (all organic please!):
1 cup rice milk
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup pomgranate juice

Procedure:

1. Fill your bullet cup with raspberries, rice milk, pomgranate juice and walnuts.

2. Screw on bullet blender lid.

3. Turn cup with lid around and screw on bullet base. Twist to start blending. Blend for 45 seconds. Take off the base, turn back around and unscrew the blender lit.

4. Screw on the colored ring that comes with your bullet if you like to make your glass look pretty. Pop in a straw and you’re ready to enjoy!

Optional:
For those of you with a sweet tooth - add some agave syrup or 1/2 banana. Use any old blender - but it won’t make it as creamy (Why? Beats me! It must be that good old bullet magic!)

Dree tip:
Freeze rice milk in cubes in your freezer. Instead of the rice milk - use those. Freeze that optional banana too! Your shake will have more of an icy texture.

Wanna get your own bullet?

The Yoga Class

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The Date

The truth is I have never been asked out on a date in my life. Not ever. Don’t feel too bad. It’s just not a question that existed in our Dutch vocabulary ten years ago - when I was datable.

When I tell this to New Yorkers they ask me; ‘Then how DID you guys ever manage to hook up?’ Well, we engaged in what I would call initiating co-responsable get-togethers. The following is a short example of how the above would be executed at a party - between two potential lovers. Person one mentions a movie. Person two says he or she hasn’t seen that movie yet. And suggests;
‘We really should go see it before it leaves town.’ Subtle opportunity presents itself. Leave it to us Dutch to deal with that.
‘How about we check it out on Sunday, let’s say, the first performance?’ Now scoring the goal is easy;
‘Sounds like a plan! See you there’, will set the stage. In those days movies only played in one location at the time. That was helpful. All you had to do is get on your bike on Sunday. No pressure. Not a word exchanged about the definition of the encounter. Who is dating who? Are two friends just getting together? Who knows? You each pay your own way so who CARES??!!

Gracefully declining without inflicting refusal trauma was painless too;
‘Sorry. I need to take my grandmother to church on Sundays.’
Taking the hint one would change the subject, and the next question could be;
‘What church does she belong to?’ Easy as pie. No harm done.

I know. Must sound like a dream come true to you American men out there. Here’s an interesting detail. My American boyfriend never asked me out on a date either. Not once. All he ever continued to suggest was; ‘Let’s go Dutch!!’

I blame the famous saying You can take the girl out of the culture, but you can’t take the culture out of the girl. Hey, I love him. But when the subject of his behaviour came up during the research for my documentary on dating, my American girlfriend Liz looked at me as if I were an alien. (I am. Legally!) To say that she was shocked and disgusted is an understatement. So my advice to you American guys (unless you’re dating a Dutch girl) is; ‘Don’t try the Go Dutch thing at home!

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