Boxes and stress = moving house

Moving house and moving country is exciting but its also very stressful. Im currently breaking out like convicts on mothers day, just to add insult to injury.

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Last weekend was spent at the new house in the Netherlands, putting together beds and organising/putting away the first delivery of goods. New mode of transportation was bought, Im officially now on two wheels! If Im not a size six by Christmas, there is something medically wrong with me. The irony being that I really hate cyclists and now Im a proper dodgy one.  If you’re going to live in the Netherlands, then you need to ride and have several bikes! Ive now started the process of pimping my bike. 3 beds were put together, 2 bikes were bought, and a mountain of cardboard was created.

This week is my official move week, I have the 7am flight on the 17th of August, which is also the same day the cats will cats will arrive in the Netherlands.

The living room has been turned into a literal box room, with boxes taking over the entirety of the room.  The kittens have enjoyed what can only be called a the cardboard box jungle gym that has now been provided to them.  20170812_113934

 

The kitchen cabinets are slowly yet quickly being emptied! Which does make me wonder what and how Im eating over the new few days!
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I traditionally put everything off until the last minute, as I then have no time left to procrastinate. Ive tried to be prepared for this move but Im still putting off a few things until the last minute, as nothing quite motivates me like having literally no time at all.

Ive been waking up every morning at 4:30 for the last two weeks with my brain on go, go, go, thinking of all the things I need to do.  This is frustrating and earns me lots of nasty looks from the cats, as its simply too early for them.

Im still as convinced as ever that the move is the right thing. Brexit has changed the UK and not for the better, is no longer a country that I recognise.

I think its easy to get excited about moving and having a new life but you cannot forget all the hard work, long hours, and stress that goes into the actual move.

Peanut what? Peanut Butter!

Learning to bake in the UK has been an experience for me and learning how to substitute ingredients for other ingredients has been a sharp learning curve. It turns out there really is no substitute for American peanut butter. Peanut butter from the UK and other European countries does not melt when cooked (which was a unique experience for me when I was desperately trying to get it to melt the first time). The answer is to buy in bulk (this makes my inner hoarder happy), I found out that my local Costco stocks American supplies in mega sizes (hooray) including Skippy Peanut Butter. Sometimes when you find a product you’ve not had access to, all you want to do it literally sit in the middle of the isle with your hand in the peanut butter and it smeared all over your face trying to eat it! Ill be honest, this wasn’t me but its absolutely what I wanted to do it.  Its exactly what I was doing in my head whilst at waiting in the line to buy it.

Here are some recipes that I recently made using peanut butter.

PBB

Peanut Butter Bread/Loaf

Makes: 1 loaf and 1 mini loaf   Prep time: 10 mins  Cook time: 50 for large loaf and 25-30 for mini loaf  Total time: 60 mins at most

Required Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (250g) creamy peanut butter, American!
  • 1/3 cup (75g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 (75g) cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 (180ml) cup milk
  • 1/2 (125g) cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 (256g) cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Now how to make these yummy loafs:

1.Preheat the oven to 350º F. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray, I use Fry Light spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer until combined. 20170803_100048

3.Beat in the eggs. 20170803_100406

4. At this stage, it does look abit ‘gross’ but thats fine. Add the milk, sour cream and vanilla extract, mix briefly. 20170803_100851

5. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing with a spatula to prevent over mixing. 20170803_101145

Only mix just until just combined, you will see a few lumps and or some flour streaks. (this is half way mixed, if you have this much flour left, you still need to mix, it is NOT combined)20170803_101207

6. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 48-52 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. You can add toppings on it, like I did, I went for dutch sprinkles! You can use banana chips, chocolate chips or anything you fancy.20170803_101617

7. Check the bread 10-15 minutes before its due to come out, if the top of the bread is browning too much, tent the loaf with aluminum foil and then continue baking until the bread is cooked. Or if you are concerned about the top of the load being too dry, tent the bread as well.

8. Allow the loaf to cool maybe 15-20 minutes before removing from the pan and placing on a cooling rack.  Allow the loaf to cool completely before slicing.

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Notes: This bread can be a bit dense, so absolutely have a drink available, a glass of milk works a treat! Also great if served with Nutella or more peanut butter.

 

Nutella Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes: 24 stuffed cookies and 3 spare peanut butter ones   Prep time: 3 hours Cook time: 11 mins Total time: 6 hours but best done over 2 days Level: Not overly difficult but time consuming and a bit messy

Required Ingredients:

1/2 cup (220g ish) Nutella
1 3/4 cups (210g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 sticks (175g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup(100g) packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup (190g) creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

NSPBC

Now how to make these double whammy cookies:

The night before you plan to bake! Do not skip this step, you will regret it and it will just add more time on later. The dough can also be made the night before and put in the refrigerator, this actually makes it much easier and less stickier to work with.

1. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof/parchment paper (I think aluminium would work too?). Using two teaspoons, spoon out 24 to 28 sized balls onto it and pop into the freezer.  I did 24 balls, as per below (as I ran out of Nutella) and then had enough dough that I just made 4 non stuffed cookies at the end.20170803_094153

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until smooth (roughly 1 to 2 minutes).20170803_113110.jpg

3. Beat in the peanut butter until fully combined.20170803_113245

4. Beat in the egg and then the vanilla until combined. 20170803_113614

5. Now with a spatula, gently fold in the flour, salt, and baking soda. 20170803_114152

Using a spatula ensures that you do not over work the dough and combine until just combined.  20170803_114310.jpg

This is what it should look like, with small bits of flour let and not over worked.  I used a small ice cream scoop to ensure equal amounts of dough is used for each cookie.
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6. Take your very frozen Nutella out of your freezer, I used a small ice cream scoop and put a ball of dough in your hand (at this point you kind of need to work quickly to stop the Nutella from defrosting).20170803_115132.jpg

7. Flatten the dough, so that its roughly the same thickness throughout.20170803_115149

8. Take a ball of the Nutella and put it in the middle of the cookie dough, and start to wrap the cookie dough around the cookie, to ensure that there are no gaps and the Nutella is completely covered.  ( I decided to cheat and only had my Nutella in the freezer for an hour, this didn’t freezer it and I made 4 cookies, I put it in for another 3 hours, this allowed me to make 9 cookies, so I was constantly waiting for the Nutella to freeze, do yourself a favour and let it freeze over night. I also learnt that letting the dough ‘harden’ in the fridge helped a lot too and made the dough less stickier and easier to work with).
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9. The ‘finished’ cookie should look a bit like this, no obvious Nutella showing through.  Then just make the cookie slightly ‘prettier’ by rounding out the edges to give it more of a circular shape.  20170803_115223.jpg

10. Bake for approximately 11 minutes or until slightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve immediately for gooey Nutella or store them in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
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Enjoy a yummy stuffed Nutella Stuff Peanut Butter cookie on its own or with a nice glass of milk.20170804_113513

 

Remember to share with friends and enjoy!

Expat in Amstelveen

So boxes are packed, the cats are upset and stress levels are at moderate to high.  First truck of stuff has gone over and keys are obtained on the 1st of August for the house.moving-e1501533308751.jpg

The house is located in central Amstleveen, which is a suburb of Amsterdam. Its just over a 30 minute tram ride to Amsterdam station, whilst going through Amsterdam. Its just under a 15 minute bus ride from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. It a expat location, with 134 different nationalities living in Amstelveen, the two largest nationalities (outside of being dutch) are Indian and Japanese.

The rental Ive chosen is rough a 5 minute walk to the central shopping centre and has public transport links to the bus, tram, and a short distance to the Amsterdam South train station.

Im in love with the rental, the broker had 12 properties lined up on the day and this was the 12th! Sometimes you just enter a property and everything about it feels right and like ‘home’, this was what I felt.

The countdown is officially on and keys are held for the property. In less than 3 weeks time I will be a full time resident in Amstelveen.

Ive been travelling since I was 12, I spent a few summers in Germany living with my Aunt and Uncle who were stationed there with the American military. When I was 16, I was an exchange student in the Netherlands and now speak the language badly but with confidence. Im hoping to pick dutch up again, hopefully accurately and correctly. When I was 18 I moved to England, where I have been ever since.  Im currently at 16 years in England.

Luckily a lot of dutch people speak English, which can make it difficult to learn Dutch, as most Dutch people are trying to improve their English and practise with you.

Im stressed and nervous but ultimately excited for this new adventure. It feels like my life has been on hold in preparations for the move, so a year, Im ready to move on and go and do and see.  Amsterdam has excellent links to the rest of Europe and whilst I have travelled Europe, Im ready to see and experience more.

Moving isn’t easy and Im seriously not the kind of person who can just pack a backpack and call it done. Im rather envious of people who can do that but it will seriously never be me (lets call a spade a spade).  I can totally understand why people only ever move once.

I plan on blogging about the move, all things Dutch and travelling, and naturally cats and baking!

Links providing information on Amstelveen.

Amstelveen city website

Amstelveenweb

I am expat Netherlands

Expat Advice: Living in Amstelveen, Netherlands