I have a new Saturday job. Unpaid. And it may remain that way for a while, .
My duties include:
#1 Making fresh filter coffee, which I’ve never done before. And NO, I’m living serious. First of all, I love coffee but according to the Dutch, I have it verkeerd (WRONG!) – with lots of milk and sugar! When I make filter coffee, I make it in a pot and then strain out the ground beans! I grew up on instant – Nescafe’s Gold blend. My friend (aka ‘new’ boss) is stunned when I don’t know where to put the coffee in the machine. Her large smile slowly becomes disbelief when she sees my confusion/blank face. The truth hits hard.
How amazing life is. On the other hand, we always see it as a point of amusement when our Dutch friends/workmen come over and we offer them instant coffee. The confusion on their faces is a picture worth seeing. They ask ‘So how many teaspoons do we need in a cup?’ They have NO idea because they NEVER drink instant coffee…..two ends of the same world.
Task #2 is stripping paper off the walls (and preserving some for photoshoots) ! See, my friend is renovating her house and I’m ‘helping’. This task too, is a completely new thing for me. I have never held a paint brush, to paint a door or wall or anything like that! Again, A is stunned but in Nigeria, I never had a need to paint. When something needed to be done, we called in a painter and he did the job, qualified as he was.And I wasn’t!
I am always amazed at how our lives differ – Europeans/Americans/essentially the west from how I grew up in Nigeria. Living in a non-English speaking country now (you know what I mean) makes the differences so obvious and that for me is the best part about being away from home. I can no longer take things for granted. I get to see another side to life and appreciate where I am now and also where I come from!
Final task #3 is cleaning out the trash, which I do with ease. Then I tell A that growing up, we ALWAYS had nannies and house helps. She finds this strange but if you have grown up in Asia/Africa, you’ll know what I mean. There are always people in a home, more than just the nuclear. However, even though we had help at home, my siblings and I still cleaned and cooked and did our duties. Our parents were not the type to ‘spoil’ us,…rotten. So why did we need nannies then? Well, both my parents worked, we were ‘many’ – 5 kids in total and it is the norm, the tradition, a way of life.
All these things make me thankful that I have a chance to experience all I have, including the ‘headstrong nature’ of the Dutch who insist ‘Pancakes‘ and Poffertjes are NOT for breakfast. No different from the Swiss who reserve their Bircher muesli for dinner too! Note that these recipes feature ever so strongly in my brekkie repertoire.
Poffertjes are mini Dutch pancakes, baked with a special yeasty batter in a bottle, in a special pan with little circular depressions,flipped with a special two-pronged fork. Phew. What a mouthful! They resemble the Danish Aebleskiver, which are slightly larger however. I have no information about what time of day Aebleskiver grace the table though! Poffertjes are super popular at summer fairs and other folksy dos in the Netherlands.
Paraphrased from Dutch Delights by Sylvia Pessireron
They are generally made wth buckwheat flour though….numerous variations are allowed! Their history is linked to a Dutch Abbey where they were used as a type of ‘host’. However, during the French Revolution, a shortage in wheatflour led to pancake batter being made with buckwheat flour – resulting in a thicker and tastier ‘host’!
Once church going market sellers and merchants tasted this at communion, they realised the $$$$ and ‘acquired’ the recipe from the founders. Then they contracted a blacksmith to make a furnce with a couple of hundred furnaces on which they began preparing the ‘little friars’! That name soon changed once the ‘escaping sounds’ from these mini friars were ready, landing them the name ‘Poffertjes’!
And at home, we often do the same – not the booze mind you – the sugar. My kids don’t fancy the (melted) butter on them so we skip that little step. I’ve made them properly from scratch using a yeasty batter only once! Before that, I did made them using pancake batter!
So, it is Friday night and we’re at friends, having dinner. While the parents tuck into some serious cheese fondue, the kids stuff their faces with poffertjes, freshly made – from a box! Box mixes in the Netherlands are common, even popular. People rarely make them from scratch. Who needs the stress, or comments from kids like:
‘Hmmm, these are ok but not as nice as A’s last night!’
3 guesses for who said that? Oh yes, it’s Doubting Thomasina. She thinks, and perhaps rightly that I should use the box mix…….. and in future I will but till then, enjoy mine!!!!!!!
This recipe came from a cookbook that’s available in Dutch and English. The English version has the recipe for making poffertjes with cheese and herbed butter and the Dutch one? Has a box mix on the list of ingredient !!!!!!!
The recipe, adapted from Dutch Cooking Today (Kook ook Holland)
Ingredients400ml milk 15 g fresh yeast or 7 g dried yeast 200 g flour (I used whole-wheat flour) 100 g buckwheat flour (I used white flour) Pinch of salt 1 egg Note: if you don’t have a poffertjes pan, increase the milk by 350ml and fry small pancakes with 1-2 tablespoons of batter!
Warm the milk until lukewarm. Crumble/sprinkle the yeast into a small bowl, add a splash of milk and mix until smooth Then mix the yeast with a bit of warm milk in a small bowl, stirring till it dissolves.
In a bowl, beat the flours, salt, yeast mixture, egg and the remaining warm milk with a whisk to a smooth batter. Whisk well to remove any lumps.
Place a teatowel over the bowl and place in warm place for an hour to rise.
They puff up…quite nicely, but I can’t hear any huffing and puffing!
After a few minutes, gently loosen them and flip over, when the underside is golden.
There’ll always be some that look ugly but worry not.
I’m sending this on to Sarah @ Yeastspotting – a weekly showcase of bready/baked yeasty goods!
Overall, I enjoyed the poffertjes, though they were a bit yeasty, perhaps I erred and put a bit too much in! In future, I will stick to my regular pancake mix and maybe acquire one of these!
As for the new job….. I loved the hours I spent with my friend, surrounded by dust, brick, plaster and other building parts! Whether or not it’ll become a regular weekend undertaking is another matter!!!!!!! I am also grateful that this…is my occassional weekend job! I’m quite happy to leave A to the mortar, plaster and dust.