it's the little things.

Sunday's gig was nice, thank you for asking: lovely-sounding room, friendly and conscientious organizers, and a crowd made up of almost no one I knew. And, I was home by 8pm! And, I made enough money to go grocery shopping with afterwards!

Mara returneth from France, bringing all manner of tiny little jars of pates and confits: duck + armagnac, pork + green peppercorn, black cherry, plum/cumin, etc. My favorite is a jar of black fig preserves given to the band by the drummer (bassist?) of one of the tour's opening acts: he made it himself, from his own figs. Where else besides south of France does this happen?



one more thing.

I roasted rutabaga tonight. And I didn't like it! Bad texture, mealy. That never happens. Anyone got rutabaga (swedes is another name) love?

Never mind...I just didn't cook it long enough.



If you're here for the food, this won't interest you. If you're here for the me: it looks like most of my writing effort is being aimed somewhere else right now, which should not be taken as any kind of death knell for VDuck. VDuck will roar back into action during our December In America adventure I'm sure. But until then, it's thundersticks or bust.



white radish.

It's quite a challenge to use up a whole daikon when you're cooking for one. One person I mean. Luckily I was totally out of other food, so I had to improvise, and lo, behold, etc: this came out totally satisfyingly for a light snack. I was trying to think of another Japanese flavor that would've been nice here. Pickled ginger would've been my first choice but we were out. Could've gone totally wrong anyway, this was fine. Proportions are, as always, approximate.


daikon, smoked mackerel, horseradish salad.

1 cup daikon, cubed smallish
200 grams smoked mackerel filets, shredded
2 tbsp prepared horseradish
apple vinegar to taste
a little stevia or sugar to taste, or an apple, cubed
optionally, 2 tbsp of sweet onion, chopped

Combine, eat immediately.



small fry.

Last night (was it really only last night?) I did something highly unusual: I had frites. Not just any frites, but "the healthiest frites in the Netherlands", according to some kind of scientific survey/poll/test thingie.

More details as soon as I feel like parsing Googled info, but just know that the place I'm talking about is Bram Ladage at Utrecht's hideously mallish central station. Thus, neither of the places mentioned in the above video. In the four seconds of Googling I did do, I found out a couple of irrelevant but stimulating things.

For example? Well, there's a relatively new food item sweeping the nation, and it's called a frietje kapsalon that consists of frites, lamb or pork shoarma, garlic sauce, Gouda cheese, and sriracha or similar sambal. All baked/reheated like a lasagna. And then they pile lettuce on top. I would imagine this dish is also known as Imminent Naptime. It looks like this, which is not especially appetizing, and yet somehow I find myself thinking about this dish more than I would like....


But back to my regular old frites. And? And? How were they. They were....salty, almost too much so, but not. Nicely crispy. Good, solid frites, worth having. Would have liked just a little better mayonnaise and actual Heinz ketchup, but....still above average. I think my favorite part was watching the guy peel and cut real potatoes at lightning fast speed and then when he got to the bottom of the pile he was working on, he yelled out "that's it", as in, they were out of potatoes, and the cashier said "Good, I'm ready to go home", and they closed up shop after another 30 minutes or so.

Now, as penance, I'm making a vegetarian version of that daikon/chicken soup I did last month, which has now been turned into a real recipe, by an actual food writer, by which I mean it now has accuracy and coherence going for it as well as deliciosity.



weekly reader.

Still enjoying not doing anything, it's nice!!! This is where we played Friday.


This week at the Dirk, our sale items are: Rubens apples (Mara's making apple muffins from this recipe to take on tour tomorrow); Napa cabbage (should I try kimchi?); organic pears; and leeks.

Still dealing with last week's pumpkin overload. Maybe it's time to try that smoked mackerel and pumpkin combination that Ivo mentioned here a million years ago.




It is I, returneth from the swampdom of Work, hereforth and thencewith, etc. etc. etc.


Currently roasting bargain pumpkins and enjoying the feeling of not having a looming deadline for a while. Had a wonderful post-gig meal last night of crusty bread, cheese, and charcuterie from De Avondmarkt...felt like a well-deserved treat. Now back to vegetables and fish.


smoked pumpkin soup with rosemary and gruyere.

possibly butter
pumpkin seeds



big chicken.

This is based on this, and though we found it lacking just the tiniest bit of someting, we all ate the heck out of it, the sauce was pretty perfect and in general it gave us a warm and homey Cantonese feeling. Seems like a good template for braised chicken legs in general.


beer-braised chicken legs with sriracha.

16 drumsticks
2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 bottle dark beer
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1 large onion, chopped
2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 to 3 tsp sriracha
1 clove garlic, pressed
4 scallions, chopped

Brown chicken in oil. Mix beer through salt together and pour over chicken, braise covered for 30 minutes on stove or in oven. Remove chicken, add onions, mushrooms, and garlic, plus sriracha to taste. This is your sauce, cook it down for 10 minutes or so. Put chicken back in skillet, place under hot broiler to crisp up skin, flip chicken, do other side, serve over rice or noodles, scatter with plenty of scallions. Serves 4.



haagse stuff.

Bourgeois/Bellmer in Den Haag. Two uses for cheap carrots.


szechuan carrot pickle.

500gr carrots, julienned
1/2 cucumber, diced large
4-6 tbsp rice or apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp szechuan peppercorns, pulverized
2 tbsp peanut oil
4 szechuan chiles, crushed
scallions or cilantro or both


roasted carrots.

500gr carrots
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, smashed

Roast at 200C for 45 minutes, turning every so often. That's it.