February, 2009 | Bettina Network's Blog

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SNERT or "Erwtensoep" – A Breakfast Soupp*

Friday, February 27th, 2009
copyright 2009 The Bettina Network, inc.
The National Dish of the Netherlands!!

We have many guests from the Netherlands visiting several of the Bettina Network homes.  They have left an unmistakable mark on breakfast.

Snert has become a popular and much requested breakfast at the Bettina Network.  So, we put our heads together, shared the different ways we’ve made Snert,  adjusted for comments and suggestions from our Netherland guests and have come up with “Snert By Committee”, a successful bed & breakfast morning treat.
Ingredients:
         pork short ribs                      two onions                            six garlic cloves
         andouille sausage                 one green pepper                  one celery root
         frankfurters                         four celery stalks                   sea salt & cayenne pepper
In a large pot of water (average pot for us is 25 cups) boil three large pork short ribs until they are tender – falling apart tender!  This could take from 45 minute to 1 1/2 hours.
Take the ORGANIC short ribs out of the water and add four or more cups of dried green peas – according to your taste.  If you like stronger tasting pea soupp*, use more.  If you like a weaker more watery soupp* use less.
Put aside two onions, about 4 stalks celery, one green pepper, a celery root which has been peeled and cut into several pieces and six garlic cloves, which you mash before chopping.  Put these through the food processor or cut into very fine pieces and add them to the soupp*.
YES, YES all organic!! No “natural”, “pesticide free”, or whatever other labels are being put on the food you normally buy for less money – make this ORGANIC! If you are going to pay more it should be for the real thing – not a marketing group’s substitute, which they are trying to bring along to move you away from “organic” but have you pay very close to the same price – lining their pockets and attempting to fool your health.  They should beware of Mother Nature, she takes her revenge whenever you violate her laws!!!!  Open your pocketbook – pay more, eat less, but only for the foods that are grown organically.  Otherwise, it is just a way of raising the price of ordinary non-organic food making you think you have something special when the only thing ‘special’ about that ‘natural’ food is the extra money you have to pay for the same thing you bought months before that didn’t have those labels.  If that pig hasn’t been fed an organic diet – leave him in the store!!!!!!!  The same goes for those vegetables – especially the root kind.
Simmer the soupp* for about an hour.
Then add organic sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste.  Let this simmer for 15 minutes to half an hour.
This soupp* is best eaten without the meat added.  If you insist on meat in your soupp* you can shred the pork short ribs, having removed any fat and you might also add either andouille sausage or frankfurters.  The Netherlanders seem to prefer the andouille sausage, while others prefer the frankfurters because they think this makes it ‘more authentic’.  If you use andouille sausage – remember it adds ‘heat’ to the dish, which already has its share of cayenne pepper so be careful with your seasonings.
Simmer for another 1/2 hour after adding the meat and serve with wonderful home baked organically made bread with lots of butter.
You can close your eyes and pretend to be in the Netherlands country side (the ‘pretend’ countryside which you have now conjured up may be the only country left in the Netherlands).
This is one of those rare dishes that is comfort food for lots of people – even some who have never had this dish before.
A NOTE: instead of putting the pork short ribs back into the soupp*, you can make an excellent dinner by spreading a barbecue sauce on the ribs and putting them into the oven for 1/2 hour or so.  Serve this with rice, your favorite vegetable and a salad and you have two meals.
Also notice there is no cornstarch, flour or other thickening agent in this soupp* – it isn’t needed.  If you have leftovers you will find each time you reheat snert it is thicker than it was the last time you heated and ate a little.  The ingredients used naturally thicken this snert.
*soupp – a word coined by the Bettina Network Snert Recipe committee for a breakfast dish that somewhat resembles soup, but has different qualities.
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A New Orleans Review Post Katrina

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

copyright by Marceline Donaldson 2009

We receive many notes, cards, telephone calls asking us what is happening in New Orleans and asking me to please write something.  Probably because some of you know New Orleans is home and am I your only real live contact with what is happening there?  Ready or not, this is a response to your requests.
I’ve resisted going home and responding to the questions because it is very painful to know that many of my memories about growing up in New Orleans are now memories detached from actual geographical places and to know that some of my more painful memories about growing up in New Orleans now have a verifiable history which cannot be denied.  Looking closely at what happened via Katrina has caused a lot of introspection, retrospection and just plain grieving.
Finally, I went back and it was as bad as I’d heard.  Friends, family and guests who talked about what they saw and experienced didn’t go far enough to prepare me for what I experienced this past week.
Going back for the funeral of a relative whose end-of-life time was very negatively influenced by what happened to her via the ‘unintended consequences’ after Katrina made it all that much worse.  Added to that are the many people I knew and grew up with who experienced an early, difficult and needlessly painful death without the support of friends or relatives.
Those who have said the ‘Big Easy’ only got what it deserved – God wrecked God’s anger on New Orleans for its transgressions, etc. really haven’t either been to New Orleans or don’t know its history.  They put their uninformed and uneducated spin on this horrendous event.  An event which I hope will remain in our collective consciousnesses for generations.
What I saw in New Orleans was Christ crucified all over again and many times over as the victims, those transgressed against, bore the brunt of and paid the price for the sins of the transgressors, and the transgressions have been many and have been very aggregious.
One part of this human tragedy which connected my teen years to today was the experience I had in the 1950’s working as a receptionist after school at a subdivision being newly built called Pontchartrain Park Homes.  Out in the sticks – so to speak – with nothing around it,  just wild land.  The entire area has since been intensely developed and is an area around which upwardly mobile minorities now live.  All are suffering, in some way, from the devastation of the flood.
I was hired to work at Pontchartrain Park Homes by two white men who were the developers of what is now called by some ‘the village’.  My job was to greet people as they arrived to look at the model homes and make sure they had a salesperson who would follow their interest.
It was great fun for me! My picture was taken many times.  It was put on the marketing materials for the subdivision; it was put on billboards advertising Pontchartrain Park Homes. This was a new day for African Americans – because it was a subdivision for blacks.  The model homes were a dream come true for many ‘colored folk’.  – That was the terminology in those days.  African American was not a term in use and black was considered an insult. It was almost as bad as being called the “N” word today.
It is bitter-sweet to remember my pictures being used, with me in one of my favorite dresses of the time.  Bitter-sweet because I did look cute, but I didn’t get paid a penny for my second part-time job which made me the face of Pontchartrain Park Homes.  What I also didn’t realize was that my picture being all over the place on their literature really put my family’s stamp of approval on the entire project.
Sad to tell, I didn’t expect payment.  In my world at the time, why would anyone pay money to use my picture – money that would have gone far to help pay my college tuition and help my struggling grandmother, who still somehow found the money to send me to New York University.
Money is one of the valuers of what our work is worth and clearly, while my work was worth much to the developers and they saw the benefit of using my picture in some of their marketing and advertising, the habit of taking from minorities and giving nothing in return was the operative factor at that time and in that place.
I heard a lot, being on the front line  – sitting by the front door.  Basically, I heard questions being asked constantly about the wisdom of building homes in a flood plain on a concrete slab in a ranch style in a city prone to hurricanes and possible flooding.  I heard the jokes of the developers talking to friends who raised issues about the ‘safety’ of the project,  commenting on their whereabouts when this project was finished.  They wouldn’t be around in one of those houses.
I heard arguments among families I knew, where one was going to buy a home because it was going to be a really ‘class’ community and such a great place to raise children.  Some in their family didn’t see moving from one flood plain to another flood plain as a move ‘up’. The argument about a better ‘class’ of people, a safer neighborhood, etc. etc. didn’t hold water with one part of a family, while it meant everything to the other.
I saw piles being driven into the ground all over the place and didn’t see any reason for alarm. In my ignorance and naivete, it just seemed to be how new communities were built.  That same ignorance and naivete kept me from understanding a lot of what I was hearing, but my heart kept the conversations.
I didn’t understand why it was desperate and tragic for African Americans and their future generations when the zoning changed and you were able to build such homes in New Orleans. My grandmother’s house was a couple feet off the ground on strong foundations with nothing between the ground and the raised first floor.  I didn’t understand the gasps when neighbors built an apartment on the first floor of their two family houses where before it was illegal to do so.  The driveway, the carport, the patio were what happened on the first floor – all open. Today, older and wiser, we know – open, so in case of a flood the water could rush through without damaging the rest of the house.
The people who built the homes, elevated and open on the bottom, were growing old and dying. The young people were moving out and up and experiencing other cities with ranch-style houses built on the ground; or with homes which used every inch of vertical space for interior living.  Those pushing to change the zoning were once again the people taking advantage of the ignorance, naivete and ego of the young people who were replacing their parents – young people who were not listening to the lessons their parents tried to put in front of them so they could learn from their elders experience and wisdom and so their young people could be saved.  That younger generation cast aside their elders as ‘too old’ and ‘too out of touch’.  That younger generation, had no idea there was another agenda behind all of this change.  None of us knew and all of us are today engaging in denial.
There was and is geographical racism in New Orleans.  In its early days, pre-1850-60-70, New Orleans was as open a city as one could find in these United States.  Open – racially.  That doesn’t deny that racism existed or that slavery happened in New Orleans, but so did integrated neighborhoods and racially mixed marriages – out in the open.  After Plessy v. Ferguson things changed; after Woodrow Wilson segregated Washington, D. C.; after the Federal Government demanded the trains have separate coaches for whites and blacks; after New Orleans began to make sure ‘white’ neighborhoods were the ones on high ground and its ‘colored’  and minority population was in the swamp and the flood plains; after this, the fix was in for the Katrina disaster to begin.
Anytime now Mr. DeMille,  I am ready for my close-up.
to paraphrase Hannah Arendt:  ‘The banality of evil’…..is such that ‘there is an abyss between the actuality of what they did and the’………..intended or unthought through carnagd consequences of those actions.  Or to paraphrase Elie Wiesel, Is ‘it possible to defile life and creation and feel no remorse.  To tend one’s garden and water one’s flowers, but two steps away’…..from your neighbors sufferings, now and for several generations into the future, from the unintended or unthought through carnaged consequences, not of a flood, but of the pre-flood neglect, irresponsibility, racism and sexism of massive proportions, brought home by Katrina, for which we all are partially responsible?
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Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to bettinanetwork@comcast.net or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you.

Volunteer with Bettina Network Foundation, inc. to work estate sales; to help move items from one home to another; to contribute your ideas on how we can better use our resources in this effort to relieve and eliminate homelessness and poverty. We also need photographers; designers; and more. However much or little time you have, we are grateful.

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Coconut Marshmaples

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

copyright The Bettina Network, inc. 2009

A variation on the Marshmaples for those who like coconut.
Once you have finished mixing the Marshmaples and before you put them into an oblong glass dish, add 1/2 cup shredded organic coconut to the mix and carefully stir until the coconut is dispersed throughout.
Then continue to finish the dish – butter the glass dish; put the Coconut Marshmaples into the dish spreading it so you will have an attractive finished product.
Let it sit several hours (I let it sit at room temperature) until it finishes gelling.  You could let it sit overnight.
Cut the Coconut Marshmaples into squares. I use a very sharp paring knife and it cuts beautifully – cut vertical lines through the Marshmaples and then cut horizontal lines to get your square.  Take each one out carefully and roll each square in shredded coconut.  Put them on a cake plate to sit a few minutes before serving.
Heaven for Coconut lovers!!!!
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Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to bettinanetwork@comcast.net or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you.

Volunteer with Bettina Network Foundation, inc. to work estate sales; to help move items from one home to another; to contribute your ideas on how we can better use our resources in this effort to relieve and eliminate homelessness and poverty. We also need photographers; designers; and more. However much or little time you have, we are grateful.

Send your event information to be included in Bettina Network’s Menu of Events to: bettina-network@comcast.net

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Heavenly Marshmaples

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

copyright the Bettina Network, inc. 2009

name ‘Marshmaples” under copyright to Marceline Donaldson 2009
Once you’ve tried these you will never be able to go back to buying a marshmallow in any store.
They are unbelievable.  You try to eat them, but they melt in your mouth before you can even begin to chew.  They improve hot chocolate – with a heavenly taste – or –  make a batch in a glass dish and pick up the entire slab of ‘marshmaples’ placing them on top of Japanese White Sweet Potatoes, which have been mashed with a stick of butter and a pinch of salt, and then put the entire dish in the oven for about three or four minutes.  You will never again be able to eat Sweet Potatoes full of sugar topped with Marshmallows full of corn syrup and only God knows what else!
One cup organic highest grade Maple Syrup
One cup water
One cup raw organic turbinado cane sugar
2 packets gelatin
One/half cup water
pinch of salt
French Vanilla powdered flavoring
Put the Maple syrup, one cup water, sugar, salt in a glass Corning pot and let it come to a low boil, cooking until a candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees F.  Do not stir this, simply put the above ingredients in the glass pot and bring it to a nice boil.
While waiting for your pot to reach 240 degrees, put the gelatin and one/half cup water in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and let it sit.  We prefer the Cuisinart 1,000 watt mixer.
When the sugar and syrup mixture has reached 240 degrees, take the pot to the mixer and turn the mixer to low. Pour the sugar/syrup mix very slowly into the mixer bowl taking lots of care because this mixture is HOT.
Once you have poured all of the syrup/sugar mix into the mixer bowl, cover your mixer with a dish cloth so you don’t ruin your kitchen.  This will be liquid and it will jump out of the bowl all over everything.
The Cuisinart mixer has a wonderful plastic cover for the mixer bowl, but it has a small opening into which you can pour additional ingredients.  That small opening is enough to allow the ‘marshmaples’ to fly all over the place so PLEASE don’t try this without covering your stand mixer.  Those stand mixers which don’t have a cover for the top of their bowls could be a recipe for a day spent cleaning the kitchen.
Turn the mixer to high and let it RUNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It will take a good 10 to 15 minutes for the mixture to fluff up and turn white.  When it does, add the vanilla and let it beat a few more minutes.  Before you send emails asking the obvious question – no I don’t know why this brown maple syrup, raw very lightly processed sugar (which is also brown), turns white through this process, but it does!!
With organic butter, grease an oblong glass baking dish.  Put this mixture into the dish using a spatula or very large spoon, since it will be too viscous to pour.
If you like ‘marshmaples’ about one and one/half inches high you will need two of these baking dishes.  If you like them to the top of the baking dish, really big, then use only one.
Cover the baking dish with another oblong glass baking dish and set this aside until your ‘marshmaples’ gel – about 4 to 6 hours.  If you want the traditional square shapes of marshmallows you can cut these either with a sharp knife or scissors into squares.
If you want something fancier, use a pastry bag with a large tip and squeeze them out onto a buttered steel baking sheet (yes, with organic butter), in whichever shapes you fancy.  Again, let these sit for a few hours for the gelatin to take hold – if you can keep everyone away from them.
They are delicious now or later.
You can make special shapes for your hot chocolate; you can push out all kinds of stars, circles, puffs, etc. for whatever you choose.  If you like shiny ‘marshmaples’ leave them alone.  If you like matte finish ones pour a little organic powdered sugar in a dish and put the marshmaples’ in the powdered sugar to coat them.  Careful with this step because you could be making them too sweet.  You might experiment with using less sugar in the sugar/syrup mix if you want them to have a matt finish.  Serving them on a cake platter, sprinkling powdered sugar inbetween and on top makes a lovely picture and you can get some of the same affect without using a lot of extra sugar.
The taste makes you want to slap whoever makes and sells those store bought marshmallows because look what you’ve been missing.
Please let us know what you think once you’ve made a batch.
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Want to join us? Have a home that you want to open to become one of Bettina Network’s Hedge Schools? Call us and lets talk – or email us.

Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to bettinanetwork@comcast.net or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you.

Volunteer with Bettina Network Foundation, inc. to work estate sales; to help move items from one home to another; to contribute your ideas on how we can better use our resources in this effort to relieve and eliminate homelessness and poverty. We also need photographers; designers; and more. However much or little time you have, we are grateful.

Send your event information to be included in Bettina Network’s Menu of Events to: bettina-network@comcast.net

This is a curated blog so you cannot write your responses at the end of each entry. TO RESPOND TO THIS BLOG email bettina-network@comcast.net or info@bettina-network.com

TO LEARN MORE try www.bettina-network.com

 


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