Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cats, Cookies & Trains – Katten, Koekjes & Treinen

If you were Dutch, you might think the dutch title of this post sounds a little like an old André Hazes’ song – “Bloed, Zweet en Tranen” …but it’s not about that! Heh heh! (Ok maybe the post title doesn't sound like the Hazes song, but if you're learning dutch, sometimes these odd thoughts go through your head - so says our "mom" ha!).

Although, a lot of blood sweat & tears (bloed, zweet & tranen) did go into the Christmas cookie making this year. *eek* :o)

On with our story about the past two days ...

Christmas Cookies (Kerstkoekjes) :
“Mom” had the grand idea that she would be able to bake all sorts of cookies before Christmas ... that didn’t happen. Nice thought though.
Below is an inkbrush drawing of one of the chocolate cupackes she did make!

©2006. Judith Nijholt-Strong,
"The Chocolate Christmas Cupcake"
Pentel Inkbrush pen, Micron pens, colored pencils

We really did help her! Well truthfully, Sacha helped her... Finn slept through the whole thing.

The “Jam Thumbprint” cookies, before baking ...

© 2006. J.Nijholt-Strong

Oops! They flattened out during the baking, but they still are tasty.
Sacha is doing a little taste testing here for “mom”.

©2006. J.Nijholt-Strong, "Watch that Paw!"

A large stack of “Soft Ginger Snaps”(Gemberkoekjes) fresh from the oven.


Here is an assortment of the cookies that “we”made ... yummy!

©2006. J.Nijholt-Strong

“Mom” is making more cookies this weekend and throughout next week... “ mom” is very determined when it comes to baking! Afterall, she did buy loads of anise seed (anijszaad) and real cinnamon extract (echt kaneelaroma) from a lovely spice store (kruidenwinkel) in Utrecht. The store, Abraham Mostert, is located near the Neude square on Schoutenstraat 11. Abraham Mostert was a 16th century, Dutch-Jewish, spice dealer and the original business was located on this street in Utrecht. The current store has all the charm & atmosphere of the old kruidenwinkel . "Mom" plans to make Frisian Dumkes ( anise-flavored cookie) for her mother-in-law (schoonmoeder) who is originally from Friesland. We’re sure our “grandmother” (oma) will like them and be surprised.

Sacha promised to keep her paws out of the Dumkes ... we’ll see.

Lekkere dagen! (Tasty days!)

Trains (Treinen) :
In the mood for Chirstmas at the National Dutch Railway Museum, Winter Station – Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum, Winterstation

We really didn’t get to go to the Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum ( Dutch Railway Museum), because we’re cats (bummer), but our human “mom & dad” went to get in the Christmas mood! (Good thing too, because they were being a bit “scroogie”.)

This is a photo of the restored/rennovated, original late 19th century, Maliebaan station in Utrecht. As a museum, it first opened its doors in 1927 and was then housed in the part of the former (pre-restoration) Maliebaan station - which was still in use as a train station up to the 1930's.

©2006. Judith Nijholt-Strong, "Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum at Christmas"

Over the years, due to varying circumstances, the collection had temporarily been housed in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, but it eventually found its way back to its original home in Utrecht. The recent rennovations, (begun in 2004), were two years in the making, but well worth the wait, (according to “mom & dad”).

The entire building (and station) has been brought back to its original glory through extensive rennovations. Below is a view of the grandeur of the main departures/arrivals hall.

©2006. Judith Nijholt-Strong
"Christmas tree in the grand old departure hall- Nederlands Spoorweg Museum"

The Spoorwegmuseum is located in Utrecht, not far from the current Utrecht Central train station (Utrecht Centraal) . In fact, you can take a “special train” that runs the short line between Utrecht Centraal & the Spoorwegmuseum.

Utrecht Centraal is the main hub of all the rail lines that run through the Netherlands, although it wasn’t always this way. The first rail line in the Netherlands was completed in 1839 and ran the short distance between Amsterdam and Haarlem. The first Dutch steam locomotive's carriages were designed by an Englishman, Michael Longridge, and called the Arend (the eagle). From his plans, the carriages for the Arend were built in Soeder's workshop in Maarssen, Netherlands. Another Englishman, George Stephenson, was the father/inventor of steam locomotive engines (first "The Rocket", England 1829) and it is one of his engines that powered the Arend. The first conductor for the first Dutch train was also an Englishman.

Today, many, many trains criss-cross the Netherlands via the Dutch railway system (which is now electric), and you can also catch the International high-speed trains ( the French Thalys or the German ICE) to destinations throughout continental Europe.

This is a photo of the ‘special installation’ of the first Dutch steam locomotive train, the Arend.
©2006. Judith Nijholt-Strong "Oude Amsterdam Station & the Arend - Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum"
She sits in front of a replica of the first Dutch train station which was located just outside of Amsterdam (long before the current Amsterdam Centraal). The installation represents the celebration of the opening of the station in the year 1839. We don’t think our humans would have liked riding in a train car (wagon) with only canvas to cover the windows! Of course, this was 2nd class seating (tweede klasse). Only first class (eerste klasse) had enclosed carriages with windows, while third class (derde klasse) was totally topless/openair (openlucht) ! Yikes!!! However, "our humans" did enjoy being able to sit in the Arend's carriages on exhibit and imagine what a thrill this 'new' mode of transport must have been for travelers in 19th century Netherlands. "The Industrial Age" had arrived in Holland!

From December 16th to January 7th, the Spoorwegmuseum's 'Winter Station' is in “Chirstmas atmosphere” (Kerstsfeer) - full of decorations & twinkling lights, market stalls (kraampjes) , choirs (zangkoren) , orchestras, Santa (Kerstman) , an outside manger with live animals (levende kerststal) , an ice rink (ijsbaan) , a carousel (draaimolen) and, of course, “poffertjes” (tasty, tiny Dutch pancakes).

©2006. Judith Nijholt-Strong
"Winterstation 2006, Spoorwegmuseum"
Utrecht, Netherlands

For any train enthusiasts, the Dutch Railway Museum is a great place to visit all year 'round.
(click for larger image)

©2006. Judith Nijholt-Strong
"Images of the Spoorwegmuseum" Utrecht, Netherlands

So, “our humans” came home happy and in the mood! We’ve heard they even bought something for us at the Spoorwegmuseum, though we can’t imagine what it might be??? Finn is hoping it’s a catsized train... Sacha is thinking he’s crazy!!!

Goede reis! (Good trip/bon voyage)
Sacha & Finn

Abraham Mostert store site (in dutch only)
Frisian Dumkes recipe, in english(though not the one "mom" is using because she's too tired to translate!)


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