Ellen's Blog

From Dubai to Kazakhstan

Archive for February, 2010

what’s cooking?

When you know you are moving the thing to do is start eating stuff from freezer and kitchen cupboards, You only buy the essentials and as days are too short to get everything done anyway, you just cook as simple as possible and eat standing in between piles of stuff.

Not me of course. I start going through cookbooks I have not touched in 5 years and as the pictures look soooo yummy I pick a lovely vegetarian dish that is simple and quick – according to the book. Now that I am not working (read: I now work without getting any recognition or money) I pretend I have all the time in the world and slowly move through all the isles. I did not make a list because the simple dish only needed a few ingredients. I already smile when I think of the excited and surprised faces when – like magic – this beautiful delicious dish will appear on the dinner table (if there is space that is.)  Wow, this woman organizes the move all by herself , runs errands while answering emails and cooks like a chef???

The first two instructions are easy. Admit it, the smell of onions browning is a good start! Hmm whilst going through my spice rack I now regret that just yesterday I got rid of all those spices that were (almost) expired and no one used for years anyway. That’s funny, I don’t remember that I needed Mace for this dish. What the f**k is it anyway? I am sure the dish will be just fine without it! And how can it be that I don’t have parsley!! Everyone has parsley in the cupboard, apparently not me??? Well, who will notice I skipped this part? I pour myself a lovely glass of Chardonnay and want to get the grated Cheddar from the fridge – ahhhh – where did it go? I now remember that although this cheese  is always part of my weekly  shopping list I decided last Saturday (organized that I am) that from now on I was only going to buy the real essentials….hmm, I rummage through the fridge and find two almost empty containers and a small piece of fresh parmesan. I mix all together and frown. does this look like 3/4 cup of nicely grated cheddar? Come one girl, cheese is cheese!  I also find some tarragon (looks like parsley) and some thyme (can replace the Mace) and stir like crazy. It looks different then the picture, but still smells good. Some fresh pepper is always a winner, although not mentioned on the ingredients list. And voila, a beautiful dish did appear and tasted really good! What the name was……well……lets just call it “magic”.



Spent a week house hunting in The Netherlands – it is an unreal experience! You just march through a stranger’s house, make nasty remarks about wobbly shelves, rusty pipes and bedrooms that are too small whilst opening fridges, underwear drawers and musty dishwashers. I’ve seen cluttered houses which made me feel good (see, my house is not that bad) and minimalistic cold places with no soul at all. To all these people who have piles of junk and messy drawers: it is these houses that give you a warm feeling when you enter. It is these houses that appeal to most prospective buyers. Unfortunately it is also this mess that gives you this choking feeling when you know you have to sort, pack and make a reasonable amount for the movers out of all of this. I made an amazing step forward yesterday. Heard about an old friend who is now full of cancer and is my age. Complaining about too much stuff is taken of my list. Carpe Diem my friends!


For a few days in Amsterdam. From here I will attempt to do some house hunting. This is not so easy. First of all there is a lot of snow and the government ran out of salt to keep the roads safe to drive. So traffic was horrendous, the temperature was below zero and there I was, trying to find my way in a country that is really no longer mine.

I saw houses that were big, I saw houses that were old, I saw houses that were too far away from the workplace, I saw houses that were definitely too expensive.

And time is not on our side. the longer we wait with making a decision, the longer I will have to sit in a small flat in the centre of The Hague with two dogs that are utterly confused: not something I am looking forward to. Although Holland is not showing itself from her best side, I still try to be positive and make the best of it all. Life is too short to be miserable about all this, it is in fact a luxurious problem to have. We are staying in one off those minimalistic hotels that pretend to be Scandinavian, but really had no budget for proper furniture and more than one picture on the wall. Breakfast is good, but you have to sit on a uncomfortable stool and drink coffee that could double as tar for the holes in the roads.

The place is full with business guys, most of them dressed in wrinkled suits with loud ties. At night in the bar they raise their voices to be heard and drink a lot as the boss is paying for it. A few skinny female colleagues mingle – regretting that they put on high heels in the morning. I know how that is, it looks great with your outfit – makes you look taller and you think thinner, but my God they would pay a fortune now for my flat moccasins. Strange enough they try to dress like the boys, grey pinstripes with white crispy button down shirts. Always long hair, tied back in a  pony tail  – again to look like the guys really.

Not me of course, I am here on different business. Jeans, comfortable shoes but the only one who can work with a Mac computer.