Dinner with Esther from Babyccino Kids


Dinner time usually occurs around 6.30 pm in our house, because that’s when my husband comes home from work. Cooking is my thing — my husband usually takes care of breakfast (I’m worthless in the morning!), but dinner-time cooking is my task and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love to cook, I love the creativity of it! With three little and hungry children it’s not always a relaxing time though, so I often turn on a movie when I start to cook so they can relax a bit and I can focus on what needs to happen in the kitchen. Or, when I have enough patience and time, they like to give me a hand. Six-year-old Sara already makes a fantastic salad Caprese, and Pim (5) is quite proficient at slicing cucumbers and other salad ingredients. I also quite often ask our nanny Katherina to stick around ’til my husband gets home to help me keep little Ava (1) entertained. This is a huge help and it makes this time of day much more pleasant than what it used to look like: me cooking with an upset, crying one-year-old on my arm, and often ending up overly tired, frustrated and angry. Not worth it!

Because I work full-time and often don’t start cooking until 5.30 or 6 pm, I usually cook something within an hour, or even half an hour. But since my work is fairly flexible, on occasions I am able to prepare dinner beforehand and I can make more time-consuming dishes. Sometimes I’ve had such a crazy day and I’m un-inspired to cook, and we order in: usually pizza, Thai food, or sushi (our favourite!). Or we prepare an easy dinner like cheese fondue (exception to the homemade rule: this comes from a package — always handy to keep in the fridge for an easy and quick dinner that we all love). On weekends, we occasionally take the kids to a restaurant, a treat!

Sometimes I cook a bit extra, because once a week my husband and I have date night — we go out for dinner together and Katherina feeds the kids and puts them to bed. To make her job easier I try to have a dish ready in the fridge! My husband and I have been going out for dinner once a week since our first child was born almost 7 years ago. We’ve been religiously doing this, and we both love it. It’s the one night where we are not surrounded by children (or laptops!).

I’m adamant about my kids being good eaters; I teach them to sit at their chairs during dinner, eat properly, finish their plates, etc. I do feel like Anita Renfroe’s ‘the mom song‘, and it’s not at all my favourite part of being a mum (and pretty exhausting), but I think good table manners are important. We usually discuss our day at the table — What did you learn today? Did you have a good laugh? Have you been sad at any point??
We only have one table in the house and it’s in our living room. It’s pretty big, and usually one part of it is taken up by my sewing machine, piles of paperwork, toys from the kids etc. I guess this is a serious ‘clutter zone’ (and it frustrates me majorly but that’s a different story).

My kitchen is tiny. I’m not kidding when I say that the counter space I can work on is limited to about 60 cms wide (2 feet)! To make the most of the space we have, we put a lot of pots and pans on the wall, which I actually like, it’s cosy! (You can see photos of our kitchen here.)

What I cook during the week varies since I’m dependant on what ‘De Krat’ brings me. Every friday, I get a surprise selection of seasonal, organic fruit and vegetables and some meat and/or fish, bread, cheese etc. I tend to make everything myself — I try not to buy prepared / processed food too much.

Last week we had on the menu:

- Wiener schnitzel (breaded veal escalope) with homemade fries and coleslaw.

- Grilled salmon, gnocchi, oven-fried kale chips, steamed broccoli and salade Caprese (made by Sara)

- Hamburgers with toppings to choose from, homemade pickles, and salad

- Penne with an as-many-as-possible-vegetables sauce, covered with courgette and cheese gratin; green salad. (I made loads so the kids and Katherina ate it as well when we were away for date night)

- Moroccan chicken with chickpeas and apple/cranberry sauce

- Mash of potatoes, homemade sauerkraut, bananas, sultanas and minced meat. (Sounds weird but it’s really delicious!)

I rarely make a dessert, or a starter — I try to keep dinner time fairly short as the kids need to be in bed before 8 pm. But I always have yoghurt with fruit for takers.

In summer, we eat in the garden as much as possible, and we use the BBQ a lot. We have a gas BBQ, which I know for a lot of people doesn’t count as ‘the real thing’, but I love that I can just turn it on and use it to grill fish, veggies, and the occasional sausage. Because we eat seasonally, a typical menu for the week would look completely different in summer than the one I just described!

Lastly, I wanted to share the recipe for the coleslaw I made with the Wiener Schnitzel (recipe found here). With all the cabbage I get in my ‘Krat’ these days, this is a recipe that I use all the time!

  • 1 small cabbage, shredded or cut in very thin slices (I used a mix of white and red cabbage)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, in fine slices
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, onion, carrots, and celery. Sprinkle with 1 cup sugar, and mix well. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, oil, salt, mustard, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Pour hot dressing over cabbage mixture, and mix well. Enjoy when cooled down.

Bon Appetite!

xxx Esther

17 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Joanna | March 8, 2012 | Reply

I loved your supper time story Esther, it’s really nice to see how other people do it and to get some new inspiration. I also mostly cook myself with food from the Noordermarkt and Haarlemmerpleinmarkt but I just tried tonight for the first time something I can really recommend for other busy Amsterdam families – http://www.marleenkookt.nl – Marleen makes homemade, mostly organic, locally sourced food and her husband delivers it to your door, for free! It’s great value when you compare it to getting take away (€10 for one, €18 for two, €25 for three adults of a family of 4 or €30 for that plus an extra portion). It was super yummy and it made a change not to have think what to make. I think it’s a great concept and I’ll definitely be using it again. I’m looking forward to hearing more supper time stories!

2. Esther in Amsterdam | March 8, 2012

Thank you!!
I wish I lived near to the Noordermarkt, it’s wonderful to do grocery shopping there! We now have a little organic market on the Johannes Verhulststraat every Saturday, which is nice, but not as nice as the Noordermarkt… Marleen Kookt sounds great — will definitely try it out. Thanks for the tip! xxx

3. Courtney in London | March 8, 2012 | Reply

I’m so impressed with all the cooking you do, and how adventurous you are with trying new recipes! I love the photos of your kids helping in the kitchen – so cute!
I’m really excited about this new dinnertime series. Can’t wait to see inside other people’s kitchens and know what dinner is like in homes across the world.
xxx

4. Laura Marsden | March 8, 2012 | Reply

What a great post Esther! I love hearing about other people’s dinner rituals. I think it’s fantastic that your children love helping out and it’s such an important part of your family life. My mum is French and we grew up eating French style meals, rather than English. I think it instilled in me the joy of eating together, and family time around the table. My husband loves to cook too, and our 2 year old Scarlett loves to help/taste whenever she can!
I look forward to reading more dinnertime installments!
Laura X

5. Esther in Amsterdam | March 8, 2012

Would love to hear more about the difference in french style and English style meals. Maybe you could tell us one day?? xxx

6. Laura Marsden | March 14, 2012

Yes I’d love to! Eating at my house was always a bit different for my friends, especially being ’80s suburbia. My mum’s home made frites and salad with our family recipe vinaigrette made me popular!
xx

7. Esther in Amsterdam | March 15, 2012

Sounds great! Looking forward to your post!! xxx

8. Helene | March 8, 2012 | Reply

Loved this article, so interesting, good dinner ideas and really nice photos!! Looking forward to the next ones of the series!

9. Lily | March 8, 2012 | Reply

I’m finding this new series so interesting so far. I can’t wait to see some other dinnertime rituals. Dinnertime has some much variation from house to house, from the time they eat, who they eat with, where they eat and what they eat. Dinnertime also controls bedtimes when you have small children. For us during the week, i will give the children their dinner at 6:00, and my husband and i will eat later when he returns from work. In the morning my husband does cooking, he makes wonderful breakfasts such as pancakes, porridge, crumpets etc. It’s also interesting to see the differences in who does the cooking in different families.

10. Esther in Amsterdam | March 15, 2012

Maybe we should start a ‘breakfast with…’ series as well! ;-)

11. Emilie in Paris | March 8, 2012 | Reply

I am so looking forward to this series, it is such an interesting way seeing how other people live. Love all the great recipes you come up with during the week, very adventurous.

12. Danielle Downey | March 9, 2012 | Reply

Thank you for the recipe too! When I read about coleslaw and schnitzel I was thinking that I don’t have a good coleslaw recipe:)
Very intimate idea for a series. Cozy!

13. Esther in Amsterdam | March 15, 2012

Let me know what you think about the coleslaw — I really like it! x

14. ine | March 9, 2012 | Reply

wow and your kids are adventurous eaters!!
i am very curious to see the moroccan chicken recipe…. please?
:)

15. Esther in Amsterdam | March 14, 2012

Thank you! I will try to get that recipe together — it’s sort of in my head so I need some time to write it all down! xxx

16. ursula (room to bloom) | March 9, 2012 | Reply

What a great idea girls! Looking forward to mealtime with families all over the world!

17. Justyn | March 9, 2012 | Reply

great read! I always find it so interesting to see other people’s routines and menus. It was so nice to see the explosion of posts today as well ;)

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