Dealing with a “Peuterpuber”

In American English, there is something called “the Terrible Twos”.  This describes when a child reaches the age of two and starts becoming little monsters that think only of themselves and sees no reasoning.  Often people wonder why it is called “the Terrible Twos” when it is a phase that usually starts a bit before two and ends around four years old.  This is practically the toddler years (2-4 years old).   In Dutch the toddler is called a peuter and often people rightfully add the word puber after the word.  Puber means “teenager”.

Personally, I love the Dutch expression for the toddler phase a lot more than American English expression because it describes exactly what the child is like in this age span, and with alliteration!  These little creatures are adorable little humans that act like hormonal teenagers.

The strange peuter puber.

The strange peuter puber.

So my son is now three and a half and drives me crazy-mad.  My daughter is now one and a half and she is starting to pick up the naughty things my son is doing as she’s preparing herself for her peuterpubertijd (toddler-teenager-time).  I am currently struggling to get my son to eat (with a fork), to stop sucking his thumb, and well, just getting him to do anything and to just doe normaal (act normal).  It is a daily struggle.

Peuterpuber on eating.  Nearly everyday on every hour he complains about being hungry and how he wants to eat.  But by dinner time, he says he doesn’t want to eat.  I’ve tried not giving him food after 4pm to “starve” him a little before dinner which is at 6pm.  It doesn’t work.  He once even got excited after seeing and getting his dinner, and then SUDDENLY said he didn’t want to eat!  His reasoning?  Daddy wasn’t home (and won’t be home until later).  But aren’t you hungry since you’ve been complaining about being hungry the last 2 hours?  Not hungry.

Peuterpuber on sucking his thumb.  He sucks his thumb all the time now.  Before he used to do it when he’s tired.  Then he started doing it when he’s watching TV.  Now he just does it whenever his thumb is free.  This drives me mad since I was never a thumb sucker and it impedes speech development as well as ruin teeth development, especially if he doesn’t stop by 4 years old.  Other people I know whose sons stopped sucking their thumb was after they sustained some injury (wart, blister, etc.) on the thumb.  Sometimes I do wish he gets a wart or blister!  But I wish mostly that he will have the courage to stop by himself.

Peuterpuber on doing anything.  Everything takes longer.  When told/asked to get dressed, he is still not dressed 10 minutes later.  When told/asked to finish drinking his milk, it is not done unless constantly being told multiple times.  With a little sister around, he is always taking things from her and causing her a lot of distress from that or even from giving her too much love like “hugging” her which looks more like a wrestling hold.  I do my best to not constantly get on my son’s case because my daughter does try to use the crying and whining to her advantage sometimes….


This potty reward chart worked for us!

If anything, potty training is something I am proud of for my son.  It was a real struggle that ran for weeks at first, but after making a sticker reward chart for him on potty training, it was like he flipped a switch and completely became potty trained from the start of the chart until the end.  At night we still had him in diapers (which made poop training a little longer because he’d poop in the morning when his diaper was still on), but after about a month of night time diapers, we let him decide what he wanted to wear to sleep.  He only wet his bed two or three times in the first weeks (which he cried over because he felt shameful but we gave him lots of love) and has not done it ever since.  He will even wake up late at night to pee if he needs to. 🙂

Anyway, I am glad my daughter is not a thumbsucker so that is one less thing to worry about my daughter.  Now it’s about time to start the ol’ pot for her.  For my son, I’m planning to try a reward chart with him on thumbsucking.  It worked for potty training, I hope it works for thumbsucking.  I just need to find a good one.  I might even have to find another one for him to eat all his dinner without so much complaining too.  Well, one bad habit at a time!

If you are trying to potty train and looking for a good reward chart, I suggest the one I used which I found on Sherbert Cafe.  The reason I chose this chart among the thousands out there are the lollypops on the path to the ice cream.  Basically my son would put a cool car/plane sticker on the circles, but when he got on a lollypop, he got a sticker AND a piece of candy.  His final reward was not ice cream, but a trip to the local kiddie-gym which he chose as a reward (as suggested by me).

So back to the topic of my peuterpuber.  What I found most important in dealing with a peuterpuber is to really try to keep your cool.  Most of the time they are not really trying to make you mad.  They are just being this way because everything in the world really doesn’t make sense to them.  Often, they have some idea in their head and if something happens to change or upset what is in their head, then the world is just not “right” anymore!  They often find it very difficult to deal with disappointments, change, fear, setbacks, etc.  There is a lot of anxiety!  Keep a cool head and realize how funny they are being.  Keep reminding yourself that it will get better.  And it is also normal to get upset and mad with them because it is not realistic to be 100% in love with them all of the time!  Finally, I’ve realized that a peuter is not much different from an expat.  They are little humans thrown into a “foreign” world where they have to learn the foreign ways (i.e. becoming more independent like getting dressed, eating with utensils, breaking from certain comforts, etc.).  This is probably why many expats feel anxious and depressed often.

And now for the Dutch portion:

mantauIk hou heel veel van chinees eten omdat ik chinees ben en opgegroied met chinees eten.  Onlangs had ik mantau (chinees gestoomd brood) gemaakt .  Ik houd niet van brood, maar dit was ZO lekker!  Er zijn heel veel recepten, maar gebruik ik dit recept van Yi Reservation.  Waarom dit recept?  Omdat het was in metriek stelsel!

Ik wil mantau maken leren omdat ik wil de mantau met chinese kleefrijst of cha sieuw (gebarbecued of geroosterd vlees, namelijk varkensvlees) binnen.  Mijn eerste keer mantau maken was een sucess! Het was zacht en smaakt lekker!  Dus, volgende keer ga ik mantau maken met iets binnen.

So that was a bit about my recent adventure in making mantau (Chinese steamed buns).  I think I might have made more Dutch errors this time, but I’m also very tired.  Time to sleep!  Slaap lekker and Be Happy!


My tongue is turning Dutch: Mayonnaise

Image by artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Dutch love their potatoes.  They love it so much, the potatoes are indeed the “apple of their eye” because they call them aardappel or earth (soil) apple.  Yet the Dutch have a peculiarity when eating their potatoes: they dip it in mayonnaise.

Slowly, my tongue is turning Dutch, but what turned it was ironically something American!  I’m starting to like dipping my potatoes in mayo too and it’s all thanks to an American brand of mayonnaise: Hellmann’s REAL mayonnaise.

As a child, I never cared to dip my fries in any sauce, not even the American favourite of ketchup.  At home, we rarely ate potatoes since we’re Chinese and it’s rice all the way!  The only time my mother used mayo was to smear it on my bread instead of butter and it tastes great with ham.  (On a side note, my Dutch husband thinks mayo on bread is weird, but most Dutchies do not share his opinion on this.)  Or I would mix the mayo with tuna or egg to make a tuna or egg salad.  Our jar of mayo usually took a year to finish too.

So when I moved to the Netherlands, I was of course curious about this whole mayo business.  My husband, his friends, and I went to a McDonald’s and they told me about fritessaus:

“It’s not really mayo. But it is. Sort of.”

“McDonald’s fritessaus is different. They make it special.”

“In Belgium, it’s different too.  It’s more sour, I think.”

So I tasted it and was absolutely not wowed.  After all, I like my fries sauce-less!  Yet after 7 years of living in the Netherlands, I finally decided to try ordering fries with something on it.

It's the onions I love.

It’s the onions I love.

It all started when  I decided to order a patatje speciaal, fries special, and my tongue fell in love.  A patat speciaal is fries with a sauce that is comprised of mayo or fritessaus, curry sauce (it’s ketchup with curry powder), and chopped raw onions on top.

Then at home, my husband enjoys his potatoes with mayo (except when they are boiled, then no mayo).  So to keep my husband happy, I bought mayo… but was quite overwhelmed with the selection at the store!  We begin with your regular mayonnaise, then there’s fritessaus, then your less fat mayo which spawns many different ones (lite, halfvolle, 3%, light and creamy, etc.), mayo mixed with yoghurt, mayo mixed with olive oil, and American fritessaus.  The last one is still very strange to me since as far as I know, Americans do not eat their fries with any kind of mayo-like sauce.  However, my understanding is that it tastes like the special McDonald’s fritesaus I mentioned about earlier, but since McDonald’s does not sell sauces in grocery stores, it became “Mad Sauce”, so people can have the taste of McDonald’s at home.  Different companies decided to make their own version of Mad Sauce and labeled it as American fritessaus.

So, at first I bought regular mayonnaise.  Then I bought both mayonnaise and fritessaus because some of my husband’s friends mentioned how it’s different and how they prefer one over the other when eating their fries and we often have friends over for dinner.  Then I bought Calve’s Yofresh, and this was a hit with my husband’s friends as well as I.  Then what really won me over was when I bought Hellmann’s REAL mayonnaise.  That’s right, I went from not liking sauce on my fries or potatoes to now dipping it mayonnaise and it is all thanks to the American brand of mayonnaise!

Hellmann's_logoFinally, as an interesting tid-bit, the reasons why Hellmann’s won me over is because I grew up on the east coast of America where Hellmann’s is originally sold.  I grew up liking Hellmann’s, but when my family and I moved to the west coast, there is no Hellmann’s but Best Foods.  Best Foods and Hellmann’s have almost the same logo as they are sister companies (Best Foods bought up Hellmann’s), but each have their own mayo recipe which is almost identical.  So when I was in California, I always felt that the mayonnaise did not taste the same (now I know why) and did not like it.  Years later and thanks to Unilever, a British-Dutch company that bought up Best Foods thus bringing Hellmann’s to Europe, I have been reunited with my childhood memory and flavour.  And with that, my old childhood memory has expanded to turn my tongue more Dutch.

What a fascinating life I live, that’s why I can tell you all to Be Happy!



Recipe: Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

When I moved to The Netherlands, I found that there are a lot of things I cannot find or get here. One of the things I missed was Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup. The name brand soup in this country is Unox and of all the 25+ variety of soups they have, their version of this is called “Romige Kippensoep” which was far from the simple soup I grew up with. Contained in this Romige Kippensoep were carrots, leeks (sometimes it feels like the Dutch put leek in everything), shallots, cream cheese, and so forth.  Sounds great, but I just want *my* comfort food.

So for a time, I would stuff my luggage with Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup when I visit my family in America, or ask my family to bring me some when they came to visit me.  But let’s face it, Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup is not exactly the healthiest soup, let alone any soup that has been canned to last a very long time on the shelf.

Cream of ChickenFinally, I decided to learn to make my own Cream of Chicken Soup and I never realized how EASY it is!  All you need are 3 ingredients:  butter, flour, and chicken broth.  I don’t have precise recipe measurements, but it’s very easy to make.  You can make your own broth (kudos to you!), but I like using the ones sold in stores that also has the chicken in it (Albert Heijn’s Kippenbouillon or Struik’s Krachtbouillon kipfilet).  These are actually condensed liquid broth where you pour the contents of the jar into a pot and add 3 more jar amounts of water.

The following is a “recipe” written for any (American) expat living in the Netherlands.

First you need to make a roux.  On a medium-low heat, melt some salted or unsalted butter (about two tablespoons) in a pot.  When the butter is all melted, put in about two tablespoons of flour.  Mix and add a little more flour needed until you have a doughy consistency.  If you want a thicker soup, then make more roux.  The butter and flour ratio of the roux should be 1:1.  However, there is also another way to thicken your soup at the end.

Make the soup!  After your roux is made, time to pour in the broth.  Tip!  Pour the broth a little bit at a time into the roux and mix between each pour.  This will help prevent your soup from having clumps.

Since I use the condensed liquid broth, I add the water/milk after instead of making the broth “ready” in another pot.  So, after I pour out the contents of the jar of condense broth, I then add 2 jars of water/milk.  You can do 2 water, 1 water 1 milk, or 2 milk.  I prefer the 1:1 water/milk ratio since the milk makes the soup sweeter, and I prefer my soup to be more savoury.  Also, please note that I mentioned above that I needed to add 3 jars to create the broth, but I find that the soup tends to be somewhat bland so I add 2, but I taste to see if it might need more water/milk and add more of whichever until I like how it tastes.

If you want to make your soup thicker, you can use the cornstarch thickening method. Cornstarch is maiszetmeel in Dutch, name brand would be Maizena. To thicken your soup (or sauce as well), take a little bit of cornstarch, add water (must be cold or room teperature or you will ‘cook’ the cornstarch, which is what makes soups and sauces thicker) and stir. Ratio is also about 1:1. Pour the mixture into the soup (not boiling) while you stir and then turn the flame off. And if you want to make it thicker, just repeat until it is your desired thickness.

And that’s it!  Try making the soup and Be Happy!



Recipe Share: Ketjapkip – Sweet soy sauce chicken

Today I would like to share a really delicious recipe I found while watching 24kitchen: Ketjapkip, or Sweet Soy Sauce Chicken.  Being Chinese, I really love Chinese (and most other Asian) foods.  This recipe’s language is originally in Dutch, but I have translated it into English in hopes that people in other countries can try making this dish.  The other great thing about this recipe?  My toddler also eats it up, including the veggies!  I am all for any dish that has my son eating vegetables because even though he’s not a picky eater, he’s will not eat his veggies “straight up”.

Ketjapkip –  Sweet Soy Sauce Chicken

(From: http://www.24kitchen.nl/recepten/ketjapkip – original recipe in Dutch here)
Servings: 3
Time: 15 minutes


The sauce really makes it so delicious!


Lemongrass rice

  • 1  lemongrass stalk
  • 225 g uncooked white rice (personally, I prefer to use pandanrijst, or jasmine rice)

Sweet Soy Sauce Chicken

  • 400 g chicken (I recommend using the chicken thigh with the bone in because the bone keeps the meat juicier)
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
  • peanut oil (I use olive oil in all my cooking)
  • 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 150 ml water


  • 1  onion (I generally like using the sweet yellow onion variety)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1.5  bok choy (or 1 large one)


  • Paper towel

Lemongrass rice

  1. Bruise the lemongrass stalk.
  2. Cook the rice with the lemongrass, following the directions on the package. (I use a rice cooker, so make the rice as usual and toss the lemongrass into the rice cooker to cook along.)
  3. Remove the lemongrass.

Sweet Soy Sauce Chicken

  1. Dab the chicken dry with paper towels.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken with Chinese 5-spice powder and a little bit of salt.
  3. Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan and cook the chicken for about 4 minutes until golden brown..
  4. Pour in the sweet soy sauce, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and water into the pan.  Mix the sauce around while bringing it to a boil.  Lower the flame to let the chicken simmer for another 10 minutes.


  1. Hull and cut the the onion into small pieces.  Hull and finely chop the garlic.
  2. Cut the bokchoy in strips.
  3. Heat a bit of oil in a wokpan and lightly cook the onion and garlic until it is slightly brown and soft-ish – approximately 2 minutes.
  4. Toss in the bokchoy and stir around until it is cooked – about 3 minutes.  Season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

To serve
Place the cooked rice onto the plates, some bokchoy on top, and the chicken on top of the bokchoy.  Drizzle the sauce from the chicken over the chicken, bokchoy, and rice.   For the little ones, place everything into a child-safe bowl.  Make sure your chicken is de-boned.  Then, cut the chicken and the bokchoy into little pieces and stir everything around.

Eet smakelijk and Be Happy!



Recipe Share: Best Oven Baked French Toast

This past Easter, friends and I had our annual Easter Brunch/Lunch.  Same as last year, I made French Toast, which is my husband’s favourite breakfast food from when he was in America.  It is something he said he would wake up super early for.  Since we are a large group of over 10 adults, I wanted to make French Toast without having to do it the “old fashioned” way I learned at school: dipping bread in the sweet egg batter and frying each bread slice one by one.

So I found a really simple-to-make recipe that doesn’t take much time to prepare or cook.  I have copied the recipe (in metric system) from the original onto my blog with my own notes added.  My notes contain cooking information and also small differences due to the fact I live in The Netherlands, thus I get ingredients from a Dutch grocery store.  You can find a link below to the original recipe which you can choose “US” system too.

Best Oven Baked French Toast

(From: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/best-oven-baked-french-toast/)
Servings: 6-8


3 layer french toast with maple syrup. I do not suggest 3 layers, however. The eggs only got to soak up to the 2nd layer so the top was just a crispy sugary toast.

115g butter, melted
165g brown sugar (lichte basterdsuiker)
7g ground cinnamon – I just sprinkled however much I liked, did not measure.
12 slices sandwich bread – I used white casinobrood, but most any bread is possible.
6 eggs – I used 7 medium since I’m assuming they meant large because it’s an American recipe
120ml milk (halfvolle) – I used more milk because my husband likes the french toast just a tad bit soggier.
1g salt – Just a pinch is enough

1. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish (I used 35x25cm glas ovenschaal van IKEA) with melted butter. Spread any remaining melted butter over bottom of dish.

2. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over melted butter. – I didn’t just sprinkled, I stirred it and also used only about 3/4 of the asked sugar.  The 1/4 I saved for later.

3. Arrange bread in two layers over brown sugar mixture. – When I put the first layer, I sprinkled half of the remaining brown sugar here, and also some cinnamon.  Then I added the 2nd layer.  I saved some sugar again.

4. Beat eggs, milk, and salt in a bowl; pour over bread. – Here, I sprinkled the remaining brown sugar again and cinnamon.

5. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). – I cooked the first 10 minutes at 200 degrees C because I wanted to make sure th eggs were cooked all the way through, then lowered the temperature back to 175 degrees C.

7. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

There you have it!  It’s not a super sweet dish and it comes out a little crispy on the top and soft and fluffy in the middle.  As mentioned, add more milk the the egg mixture if you like it a little soggier (like my husband).  Then, if you want to sweeten it up, then drizzle some (maple) syrup on top!

I haven’t tried other oven-baked french toast recipes, but I don’t think I need to.  I really like this recipe, that’s why I am sharing it.  Eet smakelijk and Be Happy!