Friesland! What a place.
I spent three days exploring the splendor of this Northern region of The Netherlands and it has been a fantastic experience.
As you may remember, I stayed at my sister’s mother-in-law’s house.
I have to figure out how to explain that Gerbrich (i.e., my sister's mother-in-law) is just a part of my extended family at this point. I know it may sounds awkward because most people don't know their siblings' in-laws; but to me, Gerbrich feels like family.
Can I just say? What a doll.
She's the perfect host and a dear, kind, intelligent and well-travelled lady. I cannot think of a better person to stay with.
She has a beautiful home in which she me made me feel as welcome as her own son.
The house is surrounded by a beautiful garden blooming with flowers of vibrant colors. I became kind of obsessed with an old water pump...
...as well as with this rainwater tank and the chicken coop...
What about Friesland?
For starters, it’s a gorgeous place.
It’s flat, like the rest of The Netherlands but it has the lowest population density of any other province. Acres and acres of pastures, hayfields, woodland, and of course water.
In The Netherlands water is everywhere. Ditches, canals, rivers and lakes. You name it.
And if there's water, you can bet there's a windmill somewhere...
Monday was rainy and windy so we decided to stay in. We just took a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up things to munch on.
The next morning we woke up to the most glorious sunshine. After breakfast we took the bikes for a nice ride to the historic town of Dokkum, which is about 10 miles away from Gerbrich’s house.
First off, let me tell you how much I like to ride a bike for pleasure and not to hit some target training goal. It’s so refreshing.
Plus, Holland is ideal for cycling. There's probably no better way to discover Holland than by bike.
Bike paths are everywhere, the flat landscape means the cycling is rarely strenuous, and there’s always something interesting around the corner to explore.
I actually stopped so many times on our way to Dokkum to take pictures of the scenery, I think my sis and J (i.e., her husband) wanted to kill me at some point. [Sorry guys!]
Dokkum is an historic city full of charm and beauty.
We were exhausted by the time we got back home, so I offered to cook dinner.
“What shall I make?”
“Do something American, something like spaghetti and meatballs!”
“Wait, what? Spaghetti and meatballs? For real?”
“Yes, please, we love it!”
So I did. But just the meatballs and the marinara sauce. I don’t care about spaghetti...
I made mini meatballs, because I knew the kids would go nuts for them.
To give it a bit of a Dutch twist, I added a cube of smoked gouda in the middle.
The meatballs are juicy and tender and when the melted cheese oozes out...well, you have a winner there my friend.
The marinara is sweet, tomatoey and tastes really fresh. I love adding fresh herbs and garlic to any tomato sauce, because they really elevate the flavors of it.
The dinner was a huge success and there were no leftovers. Zero, or in dutch Nul!
Print this recipe!
Serves 6 to 8
¾ lb / 340 gr grass-fed organic ground beef
¾ lb / 340 gr organic ground pork
3 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ cup / 2.65 oz / 75 gr almond meal
2 free-range organic eggs
¾ cup / 2.3 oz/ 65 gr grated Parmesan cheese
2 large handfuls chopped fresh parsley
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 oz / 113 gr smoked gouda, diced (into about ¼-inch cubes)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 handfuls chopped fresh basil
In a large bowl combine ground beef, ground pork, garlic, almond meal, Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, pepper and parsley in a mixing bowl.
Mix together well with hands.
Scoop a teaspoon of meat mixture. Flatten it in your palm to form a roughly 2-inch circle. Add one piece of the smoked gouda. Carefully fold the meat around the cheeses. Roll in your palms to form the meat ball. Repeat to make all meatballs (about 50 meatballs).
Heat olive oil in a large skillet (or heavy pot) over medium-high heat. Add meatballs, in batches, turning to brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel after each batch. Set aside.
In the same skillet (or pot), add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes, or until translucent. Pour in whole tomatoes and crushed tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, sugar, and parsley.
Stir to combine and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
Add meatballs to pot and stir in gently. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for further 15 to 20 minutes, stirring very gently a couple of times during the simmer. Don't worry if the cheese oozes out a bit; it will just let your guests know that there is a cheese inside!
Just before serving, stir in basil.