The Quiet Musings

In Defence of Low Salt

- March 24th, 2015 -

Everyone talks about low calorie, less sugar, low carbs, etc. You can stock a whole bookcase in a bookstore with diet books. But “no one” talks about salt. That has a lot to do with the fact that if you eat too much calories, sugar and carbs it will show in the form of fat on your body. Eat too much salt it will only show in a medical test.

When like me you were forced to really think health wise about food before you even got out of college, you realise that we still have a long way to go to really healthy eating habits. If you never eat out, cook all your food with fresh produce, no store bought bouillon, no spice with salt or sugar in it, no processed sauce, etc. You are golden, you control all your food intake. You get platinum if you grow your own veggies. If only I had a garden.

We don’t have to eat salt free, your body needs salt, some more than others. The daily recommendation is 6 grams for a healthy adult. Low salt diet means eating less than that. Most people eat 9 grams a day according to studies 1. The European Union is actively working on getting salt levels in processed food lowered.

I’m a personal believer that we should stop automatically adding salt to everything. Think about what you are cooking and the ingredients that already contain salt. Cheese, processed meats(even unprocessed meats), ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc. Just put salt on the table and let everyone decide for themselves how much salt they want in their food.

Ever watched the Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro’s cooking show on TLC? Every time he adds salt, he says: “Now we add a pinch of salt” and he proceeds to scope 3 fingers full of salt and dumps them in the dish. Believe me if you are cooking something like pasta with sausages your sauce for sure doesn’t need added salt. The sausages and the salt you added to the water for the pasta will make the dish salty enough.

When I cook and eat at home I can easily stay within the salt limits appropriate for my health.

Spaghetti & Bean Balls

The dish pictured above is a recipe from Thug Kitchen. I did not add salt to the pasta cooking water(I never added/add salt to cooking water) and did not add salt to the sauce plus I skipped the nutritional yeast. The only salt comes from the beans because I got them canned instead of dry and cooking it myself and the canned tomato sauce. Even so it was less than 0.5gr of salt for the whole dish from which I ate two days.

Just put salt on the table and let everyone decide for themselves how much salt they want in their food.

I’m a foodie tho and I like eating out, actually I like eating out when not in the mood for cooking and a sandwich won’t do. But mostly, I finally started reaching that fase when I can make certain dishes better than when I eat out. It’s when I crave ethnic foods like Vietnamese, Indonesian and such that I really dine out. But on that those day that I’m tired, lazy or in no mood for cooking I’ll get a burger or something like that.

Hudson Burger

I tried several burger places and some of them add a lot of salt to the meat. I mean the burger already has processed sauce on it, some cheese and one strip of bacon. There is no need to add salt to the meat.

The fact that so many food contains a lot of salt, every time I eat out, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I have to balance, balance and balance even more to keep the salt intake within limits. The culinaire world might scuff at using less salt, but salt is as addictive as sugar. We are just not used to eating less salt. Once you are used, which takes one to two weeks. You won’t miss the excessive salt and will find a lot of food taste better with less to no salt.

1. Read on Blendle Ongemerkt minder zout consumeren zonder dat later te compenseren | Or download the PDF of the article here.

fat·soen·lijk·heid

- February 6th, 2015 -

Dat het politiek met alles is verwikkeld op Aruba wisten we al. Je bent groen of geel, zelf als je neutraal bent word je door anderen “gelabeld”. Er is geen ontkomen aan op Aruba behalve emigreren. Deze week heb ik van dichtbij “gezien” hoe vuil politiek echt is, of beter gezegd, hoe vuil mensen kunnen zijn. Het is tijdens ziekte en politieke aanval dat je leert wie je echte vrienden zijn en wie je hoe dan ook kapot willen maken om een beter gevoel te hebben over zichzelf.

Dit keer is onderwijs het recentste onderwerp van strijd. Veel mensen kunnen het niet slikken dat het schoolgeld van SKOA word verhoogt. Schande, schande dat goed onderwijs geld kost. Want in Venezuela is het gratis, hoor je? Gratis! We laten even terzijde dat een diploma in Venezuela nergens iets waard is. En dat je een dag of twee in de rij moet staan om een schrift en potlood te kopen.

In plaatst van 30 gulden per maand opzij te zetten voor goed onderwijs voor je kind, gaan we als een goede Arubaan het gezicht van SKOA persoonlijk beledigen en voor alles uitmaken. Nou laat me meteen eerlijk zijn en zeggen dat het gezicht van SKOA mijn bloedeigen moeder is. Dus dat je weet dat ik niet 100% neutraal ben, maar wel heb ik nu voor het eerst inzicht vanaf de kant waarvan je voor alles word uitgemaakt.

Op Aruba hebben we een beeld dat omdat je een “hoge” functie bekleed, je wel rijk moet zijn. Dat je via “friends & family” je positie hebt gekregen en dan dat je je via duistere wegen blijft verrijken. En eerlijk gezegd kan je niemand de schuld geven dat ze zo denken, corruptie zit overal op het eiland. Dus het is voor velen moeilijk om te bevatten dat niet iedereen corrupt is en dat sommige zich echt inzetten voor het welzijn van het eiland.

Afgelopen dagen zat Facebook vol met dreigementen aan het adres van mijn moeder, ze zouden wel wat klappen uitdelen om duidelijk te maken dat ze geen schoolgeld gaan betalen. De meer gedurfden gingen tijdens het manifestatie wel even in haar gezicht vertellen dat ze een dief is en nog ergere verwensingen dat ik zeker ben dat ze mij niet over heeft verteld. Een dief.

Nou laat mij jullie vertellen wie jullie dief(en weet ik nog allemaal wat) noemen. Die persoon heeft zich meer dan 30 jaren ingezet voor het onderwijs. Ze begon haar carrière als kleuterleidster, werd schooljuffrouw, waarvan de meeste jaren op San Nicolaas. Solliciteerde naar de functie van staffunctionaris bij SKOA en werd volgens sollicitatie procedure gekozen. Heeft jaren als staffunctionaris gewerkt en uiteindelijk gesolliciteerd voor de functie van directrice. Oh ja, ze heeft als alleenstaande moeder op haar schooljuffrouw salaris ook nog 3 kinderen opgevoed waarvan 2 naar Colegio gingen. Voor zover ik weet is ze nooit bij Colegio gaan staan schelden en schreeuwen dat ze duizenden guldens per kind moest betalen zodat haar kinderen naar Colegio konden gaan.

Sinds haar baan bij SKOA heb ik ook niet gemerkt dat ze een duurdere auto heeft aangeschaft en elke jaar naar Miami gaat om te shoppen. Wel heb ik gemerkt dat ze 24/7 op haar persoonlijk huisnummer en mobiel wordt gebeld door docenten, ouders, pers en iedereen die wat van SKOA nodig heeft. Die vergeten even voor het gemak dat zondagochtend thuis geen werkuur is. En niet te noemen alle persoonlijke beledigingen die ze regelmatig te verduren krijgt.

Wat ik hiermee allemaal bedoel? Het is je goede recht niet eens te zijn met een hogere bedrag schoolgeld. Ga dan als een fatsoenlijk persoon op een fatsoenlijk manier je bezwaar indienen en zo nodig ga je naar de rechter. Op Aruba is er een serieus geval van onfatsoenlijkheid, mensen aanvallen en kapot maken. Er is geen respect meer. Wanneer een moeder blij is dat haar kinderen en kleinkind duizenden kilometers ver weg wonen van Aruba dan weet je dat het echt goed fout is.

A Day Eating Out in The Hague

- January 10th, 2015 -

Keeping a reasonable healthy diet means I usually stick to the same places when eating out. I seldom try new places without research first. Plus I usually avoid your usual standard lunch like bread(pistolet) with cheese/ham/kroket and other standard staple Dutch lunch.

Even at home I never just eat a cheese sandwich, at the most basic I’ll eat a cheese sandwich on sourdough bread with a bit of mustard, tomato and green on red onion. Peanut butter sandwich? Make that Zeemansboter with banana and sprinkle of brown sugar on sourdough bread. They don’t sell Zeemansboter anywhere in The Hague but you can buy it online. Or check their site for stores that sell them elsewhere.

Back to eating out. I’m listing three go to places for every meal of the day. My dinner choice here is questionable, I wasn’t overly impressed but the place is worth a try.

Breakast

Will’s Pancake House

A household name in The Hague. Situated in the city center in China Town. Run by Will’s son Berry and his wife. The best pannekoeken, American pancakes and poffertjes. They also have waffles. Good price, fast and friendly service. My go to place when craving a sweet breakfast. Notice: you can only pay with cash.

Lunch

‘t Achterommetje

Hidden in the alley street that runs across De Passage. I walk by almost every time I go to Marqt for groceries, which is a lot. I finally decided to have lunch there. Healthy and delicious food, good prices but very busy during lunch, you have to be lucky to get a table. Or eat there after 14:00 which I noticed is more quiet. You can get sandwiches, soup, salads and high tea. They also have warm meals later in the day but I haven’t gone there for that yet.

Pumpkin Vega Burger
Pumpkin Vega Burger

That was one of the best veggie burger I had. It was large and left me completely full, I even skipped dinner that day.

Dinner

B.I.T. Grill & Café

This new restaurant annexed to Hotel Corona is focused on meat and more meat. I went there for their Gourmet Cheese Burger. Good price and premium meat. You get fries or baking potato with it and some slaw. For no more than 13 euros. Service is a bit uptight. It wasn’t busy at all when I went but when I asked for a table at 17:00 they had to get the reservation book like it would be a major imposition. I ate and went leaving the (big)place more than half empty. I can imagine they get busy after 19:00 so make reservations to be safe. I may go back to try their meat stew. I’m big on good service when dinning out, so if I don’t feel it next time it will be the last.

The Burger Quest

I’m currently looking for a good burger place. Hence I tried B.I.T. out, the meat was good but I wasn’t impressed with the burger as a whole. I currently have two more places to try and one in Rotterdam. I’m not a big meat eater so it will take a while before I have tried them all out. Once you have tried The Kim Chief Burger you won’t be happy with just any burger.

If you rather make your own burger I recommend getting a Merguez burger at Marqt. Grill it on the grill pan and serve on lightly toasted bread with mayo(Hellman’s), ketchup, mosterd, onion, tomatoes and slaw. Simple, easy and beats most burgers you can get at café’s.

An ode to retro

- December 12th, 2014 -

Just like most, I can barely remember how I passed all my free time without a computer, internet and a smartphone. Being a kid from the 80’s it was a two channel TV, play outside, comics and books. Which probably explains why I started reading the newspaper at an early age and watched the obituary news every night on the local channel. That’s how I spend most of my days. It’s probably also why I have some jingles and commercials stuck in my head, you watch them over and over again enough times, they’ll be forever burned in your mind.

For all my love of shiny gadgets, there is one item I won’t replace for a smart version. And that is my wristwatch. I have been wearing one every day since I was 10 years old. My first one was a black digital Casio. I used to wear my watches till they stopped working and were beyond repair. I never leave the house without my wristwatch, if I forget it I have a constant feeling of missing something. The same feeling you get when you forget your smartphone.

This year a lot of wearables came on the market with the highlight being the Apple Watch presentation. Companies are doing their best to get traditional watchmakers to come work for them in an attempt to give smartwatches the same classic look as traditional watches. Wasted energy in my opinion.

Just like hard copy books are still popular and small bookstores are making a come back. The traditional wristwatch will be a classic that won’t go out of fashion. There wasn’t a moment I thought about switching over to a smartwatch. I have enough anxiety already thanks to my smartphones that vibrates and blinks all day long with new messages, emails, tweets, etc.

Give me a nice retro watch that does just what it needs to do: tell the time and make me look fashionable.

Nixon - The Sentry watch

The battery usually lasts more than a year. Changing the battery is as simple as going to wherever they sell watches, wait 10 minutes and pay less than 10 euros.

Aruba, que vadis?

- October 31st, 2014 -

Fourteen years ago at the age of 19 I left Aruba for Holland to get an advanced education and I stayed. In those 14 years I think I went back 6 or 7 times, an average of every two years. I spend the last 16 days on Aruba for vacation time and family visit.
As always I was excited, I haven’t been there in almost three years and I was craving home. Never ever did I think I would return to The Netherlands one illusion poorer.

The one happy island I left behind 14 years ago is no more. Sure for the tourist it is still all fun and great most of them won’t notice anything except the ones who have been coming for more than 10 years. But for a lot of locals it has become a disappointment or at least for this local living abroad.

This was the first time I saw the new main street, full of palm trees, beautiful sidewalk and all, but no people, it’s almost a ghost town. Half the shops have closed down. A few “lost” tourist wandering around, nobody is shopping, although there isn’t many stores left to shop at. I think my heart ached a little when I thought back to how it was before, full of car and foot traffic, seeing familiar faces on the street. All that is gone, wiped out.

There is nothing to do at Renaissance Mall except if you need a Louis Vuitton bag or Ralph Lauren clothes. Which made me wonder, how can all those shops stay in business while here in The Hague, the city of politicians and royalties, Ralph Lauren can’t even manage to stay in business for a whole year.

All the shops are now at the hotel area but during the day it’s abandoned because all tourist are out at the beach or sight seeing and it’s too far for kids after school to walk too. At night it’s very very busy, but with 90% tourist. I could have been on any Caribbean island for all I knew.

I was the most happy when lying on the beach away from the high rise hotels or deep in the nature away from all the concrete. I mean seriously how many damn hotels can you have on a tiny island. It is fucking ridiculous.

I feel for San Nicolaas always being ignored, but now, now they should be happy they still got their old buildings and culture intact. If you want to see and experience the true local Aruba you go to San Nicolaas, greediness hasn’t reached there…yet.

When in Aruba I love eating local food, I make sure to go to Cocoplum at the end of main street. They got fresh seafood and local food for a good price. Simply the best. But thanks to a dead main street this iconic little eat spot that has been there for years is losing business. Meanwhile the Burger King across the street is still going strong. Let me not even start about Burger King. You can’t spit without hitting a fast food restaurant.

This time in Aruba I spend looking for the drugstore that hasn’t been franchised, where you can still buy the odd things like hairspray that doesn’t cost an arm and leg, also they have DAX hair pomade! Not that I use it but you don’t get those things at the franchised drugstores. Or the grocery store Mundo Nobo in Santa Cruz were I can still get McCain chocolate cake my grandma used to buy. Where the cashiers are the same people who have been working there for years. It’s the details and the familiarity that is worth it.

People will say, things change, we have to “progress” and keep up with modern time. Of course, but this isn’t progress, this is the defacing of an island identity and its culture. drops mic

The haiku formulation

- August 13th, 2014 -

For an island girl who grew up with sun, sand and sea, I’m unusually dependable on rainy dark days to get a creative flow going from scratch. If the sun is shining my brains struggles with creativity and I’ll need to be in an inspiring environment to think up new ideas. No wonder I never mastered art classes back then. My current job requires a certain level of creativity and having co-workers chipping in and brainstorm sessions gets me going, so I get things done on sunny days.

This summer was supposed to be rainy, which it was not. On one hand I’m glad, on the other hand I need those rainy dark days to get started with a new idea. I’m working on a weblog post which right now I feel won’t see the light of day anytime soon, if ever. This is my last week of summer vacation, I already have a nice deadline lined up at work next week, so I doubt I’ll have time to sit and stare until I make more progress on that weblog post. Or maybe that will help, nothing like a good dose of procrastination when you have a looming deadline. Suddenly I’ll feel motivated to write and read anything but work.

To try get the creative juices flowing I draw and doodle anything while thinking about everything and nothing but mostly food(and Schrödinger’s cat, I’m awesomely weird like that).

While trying to get inspiration, I read a prose I wrote a couple of months ago and felt relieved I didn’t share it, it’s more something to share personally than to the whole world. Which brings me back to this post. While thinking about the aforementioned prose I thought about a haiku. Why not try writing a quirky haiku? The perfect antidote to a soul baring prose I’m glad I didn’t share.

First thing, I googled how to write a haiku. A basic haiku has three sentences with a total of seventeen syllables. First sentence must have five syllables, second sentence seven syllables and third sentence five syllables. Punctuation and capitalization are not required and it doesn’t have to rhyme. Second thing, read haiku to get a feeling for it. Third, write haiku.

Sandwich haiku

Thus a sort of creative flow has been created, despite the sun that has been shinning by day while the rain has been kept to nighttime.

The social conundrum of being late-deafened

- July 16th, 2014 -

Coming December I will be deaf for seven years. Seven years of daily intense lipreading, weird looks, impressed looks, comments, confusing my deafness with my IQ level and so on. I also learned a lot about people. Nothing like a disability to know right away who you want around you and who you don’t. A lot of things changed afterwards, I had to find work again and I started living alone for the first time. Before I always lived with roommates or family.


Late-deafened (or latened deaf): A person who lost his/her hearing as an adult after being hard of hearing for most of their lives. Most late-deafened people were raised in the hearing community and do not use sign language, because they connect more with the hearing world.

Because I was always hard of hearing lipreading came naturally to me. I was doing it since I was a kid. Once everything went completely silent I was able to lipread even better than before. As a matter of fact I was so impressed with how I well I could understand my sister that I didn’t even grasp the consequences of going deaf on the moment itself. That came later.

I’ll save the details of getting work and living alone as a deaf person for another post or story if we ever meet up. Obviously the living thing isn’t that a big deal, I’m just never bothered by sales people at the door.

Being deaf and depending on lipreading takes a toll on your social life. Especially if you become deaf in a period of your life that you are starting over again due to moving and changed life situation. The good thing is I already knew my current friends well so I could understand them pretty good, same for my family. Most of them forget I’m deaf at times. But meeting new people is a whole different thing.

Think about the times you met someone randomly at a random place and you did hit if off and became friends. Now imagine you were deaf, would it still have worked out? Now admittedly I have a few more blocks in my way, I’m an introvert(although I do tend to talk a lot) and I don’t dare strike up a conversation with strangers partly because of my deafness. Imagine how it would go and went, because some days I wake up feeling like Superman instead of Clark Kent and I’ll do something daring.

Me: Hi!

Nice/cool person I want to know: Hi!

Me: *insert situation appropriate question here* and by the way I’m deaf and I lipread, so can you please speak clearly?

Nice/cool person I want to know: *answers question of which I understand about 1/3 of it*

Me: I’m sorry, I did not get that fully, mind writing it down?

Now this sounds pretty straight forward right? But don’t forget, even when you are not deaf you are already struggling with fear of rejection, etc. A lot of the time people give up talking to me when they find out it takes some adjusting to communicate. It can be hard to get people to ease up and relax. I try to keep my questions contained so I don’t get long answers to make it easier.

The thing about lipreading is you have to ‘learn’ it with each new person you meet. Everyone has a different way of speaking, unique facial expressions and body language. I learned in this past seven years that the more I interact with some the better it goes. It will never be 100% but way better than the first time.
It takes some time and adjustment. Some people react instinctively and use hand signs which helps a lot. These people always get a star in my book.

Some facts about lipreading

  • I understand about 30% of what is being said in Dutch, a lot of it is guess work and anticipation. It doesn’t help that the language has almost any to none obvious articulation like Spanish or Papiamento, my native language.
    • It happens regularly that I’ll just nod along, gamble and say yes or no. I get so mad at myself when I do that. Because it means I give up and don’t say to the person “can you repeat that, please”, especially if I have already asked them to repeat more than once. Nobody likes to be a burden.
  • I can lipread like 70 to 85% in my native language which is very high but also depends on if I know the person for a while.
  • It’s very intense mentally and on my eyes, after a full day of lipreading my brain starts turning to mush and I can barely understand anything.
  • People who have a beard or mustache are almost impossible to lipread.
  • People who mumble, don’t articulate and talk fast are also a no go.

Before I would just ask someone for a coffee(or something) to be able talk without interruption. This way I can figure if it’s worth it to give a try and vice versa. But that doesn’t work either, because of ego. People immediately assume you want something more from them beside getting to know them.

Real case example of communication

One of my co-workers is a philosopher and he also has a beard. We have a lot to talk about and we have talked a lot, about philosophy, psychology and journalism. When we are out of the office he just types on his phone what he wants to say. Sometimes I wonder what people think when they see us: one person using his phone and the other person talking. Good thing I don’t care what people think. In the words of Wanda Sykes: “I’ma be me”.

When I’m out with co-workers last minute, I just take my macbook or iPad along and someone will type for me what’s being said. Not verbatim but enough that I can follow. If it is a planned outing I book a text interpreter. Which is someone who types everything verbatim for me, they have an ethic code which includes complete confidentiality.

People who “have” to interact with me a lot, learn how to communicate with me and soon they don’t have to think twice about it. I also learn to lipread them better than the first time we met. In a casual situation no one “has” to, it’s harder for me to show to others the person I am beside a deaf person and for me to get to know them.

Just recently I came across this weblog post about someone who went deaf for a day to experience what it is like. I highly recommend this read, even I was like, “oh yeah, that is hard”. Deafness has become a way of life for me that I don’t always think twice about it, except when I’m having a bad day.

If you have any questions about my deafness or deafness in general hit me up at darice {at} darice.org, Facebook or Twitter.

Just remember, if we get caught, you’re deaf and I don’t speak English.

A foodie’s battle with eggs

- May 11th, 2014 -

For as long as I have been a foodie, I have been a picky eater. The first 15 or so years of my life my favorite food were; french fries, peanut butter sandwich, chocolate sandwich, pasta and chicken. Even at McDonalds(in the 80’s) I would take all onion and pickles out of my hamburger and only ate ketchup on it, no mayonnaise or mustard, thank you.

Later on I started liking new things, especially when I moved to the Netherlands at 19 and I started cooking for myself. Now at 32 I eat almost anything although there are three things I really really don’t like: salmon, ham(and ham like meats except bacon) and eggs. Let me tell you it is not for lack of trying. I dislike salmon so much I can’t even stand the smell of it, ham is just yuck while bacon is walhalla. Make that bacon, avocado and hummus. You can wake me up anytime of the night for those three things.

And then there are eggs. I so want to like eggs. It would save me so much time. I could have a warm breakfast of scrambled eggs or an omelette, I could have eggs for dinner when I don’t have time to cook. All you egg eaters know what I’m talking about. Eggs are practical and time savers.

When I got good at cooking I decided that maybe if I made the eggs myself I would like it. All eggs I had tried up until then were just made with salt and peper, nothing fancy. One time I decided to make eggs sandwich. Omelette with cheese, sour cream and chives. I love the smell of slightly browned eggs but that liking did not pass over to taste. After a couple of tries I gave up, I did not really like it. I tried boiled eggs so I could eat the white and yellow separately and than maybe figure if it is the one or the other I don’t like about eggs. Still, no dice. I left the eggs for what it was. Only time I buy eggs is for baking a cake.

That was until now. Last week during a high tea they served a piece of quiche. I didn’t ask what was in it and just ate it, even ate the rest from my sister. I could taste a faint trace of eggs but it tasted good. Later I figured it must have been a frittata. And if I liked that frittata than by goodness I might have found my holy grail of eggs. I decided to make a frittata for dinner, with mushroom, leek, bacon and sharp cheddar.

I looked up a couple of recipes, read about how people make theirs and then made my own recipe. With good hope I went to the organic grocery store, because if I’m going to like eggs, only the best ingredients for the frittata. I got eggs, real butter, crème fraîche, flat leaf parsley, Irish sharp cheddar and the rest.

Heat the oven and broiler, cook everything in a cast iron skillet, add some more cheese on top, broil and done.

It turned out perfect and smelled heavenly. I cut out a piece and the first two bites where pretty good, filled with mushroom, bacon and cheese. Seriously this is cook for guests good. And then the taste of eggs started accumulating with each bite, by the last bite I was queasy. I was defeated by eggs.

Sheldon Cooper
The eggs experiment

It took one glass of cranberry juice and one small piece of chocolate to erase the egg taste and a cup of camomile tea to stop feeling queasy.

I fought a hard foodie battle and now I must admit defeat. I just plain and simple do not like eggs. If you ever eat with me and I tell you I don’t like something, know that I tried, by goodness I did try. As for the rest of the frittata? Don’t fear, one lucky co-worker will get a treat from me tomorrow.