Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Recipe for traditional Dutch "kruidnoten"

With all the controversy around the Dutch Sinterklaas holiday, I thought it would be nice to share something positive about it. Something sweet, so to say ;) One thing that Sinterklaas brings along to celebrate his birthday with us, is traditional candy and cookies. My favourites are "kruidnoten" (often called "pepernoten", although these are a completely different type of cookie), which translates into "spicy nuts". They are small, crumby cookies, flavoured with special spices, souvenirs from another controversial part of our history. As with many traditional Dutch flavours, the origin is actually found in Indonesia. Controversial or not, the cookies are bloody delicious and I thought it would be nice if people outside of the Netherlands could also enjoy them.

This is how you make your own kruidnoten:

250 gr self-raising flower (or 250 gr of regular flour and 3-4 teaspoons of baking powder)
125 gr brown suger
100 gr soft butter
2 tablespoons of "speculaaskruiden" or "koekkruiden"
3 tablespoons of milk
a good pinch of salt

Now I can imagine that not every supermarket around the world sells speculaaskruiden or koekkruiden. In fact, I mixed my own spices as well, since I had all the necessary spices in stock. This is a recipe to make the spice mix for kruidnoten. You can also use it to make for instance a spicy sponge cake or use them in an apple pie.

Beware, this might very easily become a sneeze fest!

Speculaaskruiden contain the following spices, all in ground form:
cinnamon (8 parts)
nutmeg (2 parts)
cloves (1 part)
cardemom (1 part)
white pepper (1 part)
coriander (1 part)
ginger (1 part)
aniseed (1 part)
mace (1 part)

For the Dutch among us, that's: kaneel, nootmuskaat, kruidnagel, kardemom, witte peper, koriander, gember, anijszaad en foelie.

I used a scale to measure these spices, because I hate fiddling about with measuring spoons and spice containers that have tiny holes. So I measured 1 gr of all spices, except nutmeg (2 gr) and cinnamon (8 gr). If any of the spices aren't available to you, just leave them out. You can also tweek the mixture to your personal preference. For instance, you can make it spicier by adding more ginger. If you prefer a milder version, leave out the white pepper or substitute the nutmeg with mace (these spices are from the same plant, and have similar tastes).

To make the kruidnoten:

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees centigrade. Sift the flower (and the baking powder) into a bowl. Make a well in the middle and add all other ingredients. Work all ingredients together with your fingertips until the butter has completely incorporated everything. Then kneed to form a dough (this is still quite brittle, that doesn't matter). Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper. From the dough, form small balls, about the size of hazelnuts (I made mine too large.. oops!). Place them on the baking tray and bake for around 20 minutes.

Enjoy your kruidnoten!

And an encore because I bloody love this spice:

Monday, 28 October 2013

Crochet tutorial: textural jumper

For a while, I've wanted to make a very textural jumper using crochet stitches. I love how, when worked back and forth, single crochet stitches make a square-like pattern and I thought it would look really good on a jumper.
This is the jumper I made:

I intended to make the whole thing in the grey colour, but I soon found out that I didn't have enough yarn for that. I keep forgetting that crochet "sucks up" more yarn than knitting. I used the black contrast yarn in strategic places to make up for the indeficient grey yarn (there are some stripes in the back as well). I am actually quite happy with the result.

This jumper is made up of really easy stitches, so it can be made by everyone who knows how to do simple crochet stitches. I thought you might like to know how I made it. This is not a pattern for the jumper, but a tutorial on how you can make your own. It still requires some calculations on your part, but in return it gives you a lot more freedom! You can make it with thicker or thinner yarn, to get a warmer or cooler jumper and you can also work in as many colours as you like. If you decide to make this jumper I would be very happy to hear about it and see some photos!

Determining the gauge by swatching
I started by making a swatch to determine my gauge. Of course I made this swatch in pattern. The pattern is worked as follows: on the first three rows, start with one chain stitch, then work a single crochet in all stitches; on the fourth row (this is a wrong side row), start with one chain stitch, then work single crochets only in the front loop of the stitches. This creates a ridge on the right side of the fabric (see photo below). To prevent the fabric from stretching out at the edges, it is wise to work the first and the last stitch through both loops.

From your swatch you can determine your gauge. In this case it is easiest to measure the length of a pattern repeat instead of determining how many rows go into 10cm. The yarn I choose was to be worked with a 5mm crochet hook. Horizontally, I could fit 17 stitches into 10cm, one pattern repeat was 2.2cm high.

Determining the size of the jumper
Next you should determine the size of your jumper. For this you need a few measurements:
a: the circumference of your wrist (add around 5 centimeters for ease)
b: your armscye, which is the circumference of your upper arm when measured vertically around the shoulder (add around 5 centimeters for ease)
c: the length of your torso, measured from your arm pit to the desired length of the jumper
d: the length of your arm measured from your armpit to your wrist
e: the width of the widest part of your torso (add a couple of centimeters for ease) divided by 2 for front and back
f: the desired width of the neckline (keep in mind that there will be an extra edge worked onto it afterward, so f should be a bit wider than the intended width)

The jumper is made in dolman style, which means there is no shaping of the shoulders and the sleeves make a 90 degrees angle to the body. This makes it a bit complicated to obtain the correct sleeve length. I checked the length by holding my arms at 90 degrees and measuring the span from wrist to wrist. This span should add up to two arms plus half the width of your torso: 2 x d + e / 2. If this measurement differs a lot from the calculated measurement, decrease your sleeve length d to obtain the right span.

To determine the amount of stitches and pattern repeats that go into the sweater, multiply and divide the measurements with the gauge you measured.
This is how you obtain A, B, C, D and E as shown in the schematic drawing:
A = a x #stitches in 10 centimeters / 10
B = b x #stitches in 10 centimeters / 10
C = c x #stitches in 10 centimeters / 10
D = d / length of one pattern repeat
E = e / length of one pattern repeat
F = f / length of one pattern repeat
For D, E and F round off the calculations to full repeats. If E is an odd number, make F an odd number as well. If E is even, F should be even.

The pattern
Now you can start crocheting your jumper! You will start at one wrist and work your way to the other. If you want to use multiple colours, switch between them when you start a new pattern repeat.

Chain A stitches. You will now work the pattern D times, in the meantime you will increase to obtain B stitches. Increases are worked at the beginning and end of a round by working two single crochets in the second and second last stitch. Increases are made regularly along the edges of the sleeve. You have to increase a total of B - A stitches, in D x 4 rows. In my case, I had to increase 28 stitches in 21 pattern repeats (= 21 x 4 = 84 rows). Because you increase 2 stitches in an increase row, that meant I had to work 14 increase rows. To space them evenly, I had to increase every 84 / 14 = 6 rows.

After the first sleeve is made, ending with row 4, you chain C stitches to the end of the last row to start working the body. The first row you work C stitches along the chain, than B stitches along the sleeve, then C stitches along the back of the chain. This means you are already folding the work in half (and that you have to sew one less seam). You are now working across 2 x C + B stitches on all rows. Keep working in pattern. Work (E - F) / 2 pattern repeats. You are now going to work on the front and back separately to create a neck hole in the middle of your jumper. You are working the back first and then the front. Mark the middle of the jumper with a stitch marker.

For the back:
On the first row work until a number of stitches before the stitch marker. This number depends on how deep you want the neck to fall in the back. In the first pattern repeat, you can decrease 2 or 3 stitches on the neck edge to round off the neckline a little bit. After the first pattern repeat, work in pattern on the remaining stitches for F - 2 pattern repeats. Then work another pattern repeat, increasing stitches in the same way you decreased them in the first pattern repeat. If you decreased on row 2 and 4 of the repeat, you should increase on row 1 and 3 of the repeat to make it symmetrical. When you have worked F pattern repeats in total, save the last stitch on a stitch marker and start working the front of the jumper.

For the front:
You will start working again on the right side, a number of stitches down from the stitch marker that marks the middle of the jumper. I started the front panel about twice as many stitches away from the middle than the back panel. The front requires more de- and increasing, unless you want it to be square. To get a nice round-off shape, make sure that you work many decreases in the first pattern repeats and decrease less and less toward the middle of the front panel. I decreased 4 times in the first pattern repeat (in rows 1,2,3 and 4), 3 times in the second (in rows 1,2 and 4), 2 times in the third (in rows 2 and 4) and one time in the forth and fifth (in row 4). Because F was an off number in my jumper, I worked one pattern repeat without de- or increases. Than I worked five pattern repeats, increasing as many stitches as I had decreased before. As for the back, if I had worked a decrease on pattern row 1, I worked an increase on pattern row 4 to make it symmetrical.
When the front panel is worked for F pattern repeats, fasten off the thread.

Start working again with the stitch you saved on the back panel. Work along the back panel, then chain as many stitches as you skipped to form the neckline and then work along the front panel. Calculate how many stitches you should chain by counting the unworked stitches around the marker in the middle. The total amount of stitches you now have should be 2 x C + B, just like it was before. Work in pattern along these stitches for as many repeats as you have done before starting the neckline. You should have worked E pattern repeats in total for the body of the jumper, end with a wrong side row (row 4) to complete a full pattern repeat.

To start the last sleeve, ch1 and sc C stitches, place a marker in the last stitch to mark the beginning of the sleeve. Then sc B stitches and turn, this was the first row of your second sleeve. Work the second sleeve in the same way as you have worked the first, mirroring the increases with decreases (hence, if you increased on the last row of the first sleeve, start decreasing on the first row of your second sleeve). Work in pattern, including the decreases for D pattern repeats. Fasten off the thread. Your jumper is almost done.

Sew the sleeve seams and the one open side seam. Fasten a new thread in the back of the neckline and sc along the neckline. Slip to the first stitch and turn. Sc along the neckline again, decreasing approximately every 8 stitches. Repeat this until the collar has the desired width.

Sew in all loose ends and wear your handmade jumper with pride :D

Monday, 23 September 2013

Wolkenbrei Design Story I

Ik werd een paar weken geleden gevraagd om een vestje te maken voor een de baby van een collega van... in ieder geval iemand die ik niet persoonlijk ken. Dit vond ik heel erg leuk, want het is mijn bedoeling dat mensen bij Wolkenbrei aankloppen als ze cadeaus voor baby's zoeken. Nou bleek wel dat die collega een schoonzus is van mijn beste vriendin van de basisschool. In die tijd waren we onafscheidelijk, maar dat is op de middelbare school snel verwaterd. Niet erg, want ik ben niet sentimenteel genoeg om relaties te onderhouden alleen omdat het relaties zijn. Mensen groeien uit elkaar, mensen leren elkaar kennen, het is allemaal goed. Ik herinner me mijn vriendin dus voornamelijk aan de hand van onze basisschooltijd. Het meisje dat ik toen kende is de inspiratie geworden voor dit baby-vestje.

A few weeks ago I was asked to design and make a cardigan for a baby of a colleague of a... well, in any case someone I don't personally know. I was really happy with this, because it is my intention for Wolkenbrei to be a place where people find baby gifts. As it happens, this colleague is the sister-in-law of my best friend from primary school. When we were kids, we couldn't be separated, but in high school we grew apart. No problem, I am not sentimental enough to keep a relationship for the sake of the relationship. People grow apart, people meet, it's all good. Consequently, I remember my friend mostly from our primary school times. The girl I knew then was the inspiration for this baby cardigan. 

Op de basisschool vond ik mijn vriendin het mooiste meisje dat ik ooit had gezien. Ze was half Indonesisch en had prachtig lang zwart haar. Ik herinner me nog alle rituelen die gepaard gingen met dat haar, van haar moeder die wekelijks haar pony knipte tot het kammen en het vlechten. Met carnaval (ik kom uit het zuiden) werd het haar goed ingezet: ze verkleedde zich regelmatig als Indiaan. Ik kon bijna niet anders dan een Indianen-vestje maken voor haar nichtje. Natuurlijk wilde ik het niet te letterlijk maken, want ik was niet gevraagd om een carnavalskostuum te maken.

My best friend in primary school was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She was half Indonesian and had the longest, blackest hair. I remember all the rituals that went along with the hair, from her mum cutting her bangs weekly, to the combing and the braiding. For carnaval (I am from the catholic south of the Netherlands) the hair was always a good asset: she often dressed up as a Native American. It felt natural to me to create an Indian-like cardigan for my friend's niece. Of course it shouldn't be too literal, because I wasn't asked to make a carnaval costume. 

Dit is het resultaat:

This is the result:

Ik heb mezelf eerder dit jaar leren haken en ik wilde graag voor het eerst een gehaakt vestje maken. De textuur die ontstaat bij haken leek me uitermate geschikt voor een Indiaan-achtig vestje. Het was voor mij ook een logische keuze om een vierkante hals te maken. Ten slotte heb ik het vestje gedecoreerd met strepen. Niet in de meeste typische Indianen-kleuren, maar wel met die referentie in gedachten. Ik ben erg blij met het resultaat. Het vestje doet me denken aan het meisje dat ooit mijn beste vriendinnetje was en ik hoop dat haar nichtje het met veel plezier zal dragen.

Earlier this year I tought myself to crochet. I wanted to make my first crochet cardigan. The texture that crochet stitches make seemed very appropriate for an Indian-inspired cardigan. And the choice for a square neckline was obvious to me as well. Finally, I decorated the cardigan with stripes. They are not in the most typical Native American colours, but I did have this reference in mind. I am really happy with the result. The cardigan reminds me of the girl that was once my best friend and I hope her niece will enjoy wearing it. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Wortelsoep | Carrot soup

Soep is wat mij betreft het ultieme comfort food. Het is warm, gemakkelijk te maken, vol met smaak en als bonus voel je je niet eens slecht nadat je het gegeten hebt.

Vanavond heb ik wortelsoep gemaakt met lekkere specerijen. Ik vind wortels, vooral gekookt, vaak te zoet, maar de specerijen maakten het geheel wat pittiger. Hieronder het recept voor 3 tot 4 porties.

800 gram wortels
1 ui
2 teentjes knoflook
1 tl komijnpoeder
2 tl gemberpoeder
2 tl korianderpoeder
0.5 tl kaneelpoeder
1 sinaasappel
1 bouillonblokje
1 l kokend water

Snipper de ui en de knoflook. Fruit ze op laag vuur in een grote pan. Ze hoeven niet te kleuren.
Snijd ondertussen de wortels in blokjes en snijdt met een dunschiller drie flinke stukken schil van de sinaasappel.
Voeg, als de ui en de knoflook glazig zijn, de specerijen toe en laat ze even mee fruiten. Voeg vervolgens de stukjes wortel en de sinaasappelschillen toe. Laat dit even meebakken en voeg daarna het bouillonblokje en het kokende water toe. Breng het geheel aan de kook en laat het op laag vuur ongeveer 25 minuten pruttelen tot de wortel zacht is.
Verwijder de sinaasappelschillen en pureer de soep. Breng op smaak met peper en zout.

Eet smakelijk :D

To me, soup is the ultimate comfort food. It's warm, easy to make, full of flavour and as a bonus it doesn't make you feel guilty to eat it. 
This evening I made carrot soup with some nice spices. Carrots, especially when cooked, are usually a bit too sweet for my taste, but the spices counteracted that sweetness really nicely. This is the recipe for 3 to 4 portions. 

800 gr carrots
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 orange
1 bouillon cube
1 l boiling water

Dice the onions and the garlic. Cook them in a large pan over low heat. They don't have to change colour. In the meantime, dice the carrots and use a peeler to slice three big strips of peel from the orange. 
Once the onions and the garlic are soft, add the spices and cook them for a few minutes. Then add the carrots and the orange peel. Cook them shortly and then add the bouillon cube and the boiling water. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer over low heat for about 25 minutes until the carrots are soft.
Take the orange peels out and puree the soup. Season with salt and pepper. 

Bon appetit :D 

Friday, 16 August 2013