Giving it Away

Breaking bread together is a personal signature of our bakery; chosen because we are in the bonding business. We connect with people. Our love for people and for food is summed up in this statement.

We have been doing this quite literally for this past week by giving half a loaf of Multi grain bread to our customers. Its been fun introducing people to our way of doing business, which is fostering relationships.

But like a wedding cake, we added a tier to our very own way of breaking bread. We mixed up our team so that our bakers were making sandwiches and our front team did the baking to prepare for our annual field-trip. We all did something different than we were used to so we all contributed to preparing this special lunch!

And off we went in two cars to the Sturgeon Hospital in St. Albert. Here Lila was waiting at the door, welcoming us in. (We first went to the wrong door and almost fed the whole shipping and receiving department, who were of course happy to receive this surprise visit. After an inside phone call Lila was able to secure the lunch for her department: the Adult day Support Program.) Over two days we fed close to 50 patients and a bakers dozen of hospital staff. It was a whole new level for us to be out of our regular routine, and was amazing to give of our very own to people in the same community!

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"Slice me some bologna."

"Sieb, I have an oil filter for you that fits your car! You may have it"

Every week Bob comes for a loaf of brown bread and 14 slices of bologna, his weekly work lunches. Bob drives tractors, has a few cars, works for Kenworth and trouble shoots these engines for a living. He'll know in a split second what is wrong with your engine, knows how to maintain it, and fix it. Anything engine, on wheels and diesel - he's the man. He'll remind me when I'm due for a oil change, when my tires are too low, even surprise-washed my car for me!

So here I stand. How do I tell him that I've never changed my own oil?! I mean, this filter must be used to run the oil through, maybe over, who knows?! Maybe its supposed to be in the filter? I try to start: " Nice. Thanks Bob. So .. do I uh... it's just for the oil right?" Bob says slowly, "Yes, its for your car. It fits yours!" I continue trying to make it sound like I know what this is about: "So I just hold it under...? Or do I screw it on..."

Baking bread is to some a science, just like engines are to me. There is a whole lot going on even as soon as the water comes into contact with the flour. Never mind mixing it at the right temperature, with the right equipment and adding other ingredients. Then lets talk about the time, and the 'heart' that goes into it. Because really, our hands are extensions of our hearts which will put the love in each loaf!

So about that time...This is why we start early in the morning to have the bread ready for you during the day time. We bake all night to have the bread fresh for you in the morning. The process of resting, kneading, shaping, rising and baking takes anywhere from 4 -48 hours! So when you order your loaf, your pastry, your dessert, we ask for one day, sometimes even two days notice. This is so that we can bake it for you at night(!) so you can enjoy it fresh THAT day. 

Its okay if you do not know anything about baking, that is why we are here. We LOVE to do it for you, really we do. So come in, take your favorites; we did bake it fresh that morning, that night! Even if you didn't know.

I never did get my oil filter. Bob responded to me, "Just slice me my bologna, that's what you know - stick with it".

Ugly Christmas Sweater Syndrome

You don't wear a graduation cap when visiting a graduation party. No onesie to a baby-shower, nor a tie with houses on it for a house warming party. Neither do we all love those red and green Christmas sweaters that get trotted out to Christmas parties.

When we Dutch folks, and even Europeans in general, bring food to a party, the whole focus is on "breaking bread together". The reason we eat with people is to get to enjoy each others company. Sharing food accomplishes this more than anything else. North Americans seem to get hung up on the theme of the celebration. On birthday cakes we see fake, sometimes even non-edible, items to highlight the theme, instead of focusing our attention on the people we are celebrating with. We get served food that has sacrificed flavor for looks. So we will see a fondant diaper on a baby-shower cake, spiders on Halloween cakes, and most nearly every other non edible, unnaturally coloured decor on their cakes. 

When asked at the bakery if we make birthday cakes, I'm often confused, although I understand the question. Yes, we make cakes! Of course you may eat them at a birthday party; you can eat them anytime! We are easy going like that. We believe food should be pleasing to both the eye and the palate. We really enjoy being able to create a beautiful cake using all the natural beauty that God has placed around us in the wide array of colours and shapes in fruit, nuts, chocolate, etc. So you can ooh and aah over the cake and then turn your focus back to the most important part of the celebration: enjoying time with your family and friends--even those who showed up in Christmas sweaters!

intentional integrity

It's so amazing to deal with people whom you can trust - at all times. People who are consistent in their talk and walk. 

Meeting people, you quickly realize that they become who they are because of their WHY in life. It is delightful to talk with these kinds of people. They are this way completely on purpose. Straight up honest is so refreshing.

At the bakery we have a Core Value that talks about short cuts: a way to get to your destination quicker, but at the cost of taste, relationships, quality, people, money or what ever the case may be. It's so worth it to have no secrets and to be who you are - on purpose - all the time. We aim to take the time to do it right all the time.

One great way to go quickly to your destination, however, is by flying from Edmonton to Amsterdam. Direct. Wow, that's just out of this world!

foto:bert j

foto:bert j

a quarter of a century

Its really a three part story.

As you might know, our Patricia has been at the bakery for a long time. Yes we feel she is ours as we say in Dutch she is just about "part of the furniture". Her first day at the bakery was when Peter and Josephine moved their bakery to its current location. Since then it has changed to the siblings Vrieselaar and in '06 to us.

Patricia has been with three owners for a full 25 years of service. Its really a life long commitment that shows so much character. Yesterday it was fun celebrating this success with her family for a short coffee and her favorite meal - which was not from Dutch descent at all.

We'll miss you care, your stories and your service to the customers. Who will now talk to us, while looking over their glasses - the way you do best!

We wish you the best as you enjoy this new part of your life, where you get to be a full-time Oma. 

"dat verdient een bloemetje" 

"dat verdient een bloemetje" 

a fast hurry

As Dutch folk we are known for many things. Of course the obvious windmills, tulips, and klompen...but did you know that another Dutch trait we are known for is speed? 

We love to hurry. Whether its a quick trip to the store, a fast bike ride down to the market, or a race against traffic to beat all those traffic jams Holland is famous for, we have a need for speed.  Relatives of mine had a grocery store in a small Dutch community. One day a lady came in puffing from exertion and declared that she was, "in a fast hurry!" so they had better be quick about it. 

In fact, the Dutch are so fast that in the year 2013 there were 8,442,360 speeding tickets handed out! That makes sense when you realize that there are also about 880 working traffic cameras in Holland. The government must figure why not capitalize on all those lead footed Dutchies. 

"flits paal" (flash-pole)

"flits paal" (flash-pole)

The culture of friendship

Relationships are so amazing! It's impossible to stuff this feeling into a neat little nutshell.  It will take time and a longer explanation. It's kinda like bread...actually it's a lot like bread.

I just met with a friend tonight and I always am so fulfilled after meeting with friends like him. It gives me a feeling of completeness and it is the why in my life. Some one is at his best when being at the intersection of what he is passionate about, what he is good at, and what he feels his calling is.

Having this amazing store, a place where people like to spend time and even their money, is more than a dream come true. Meeting more people, and meeting people more is so enriching. Too many try to make it on their own in life, and its just not realistic - not even possible. Besides the personal need to connect with people, others we meet also have so much to offer in life experiences, that it is a loss when we forget to take the necessary steps to connect. 

In this same way relationships are like bread. Ingredients need to be combined and ripen in a specific culture to develop the right flavor, taste and structure. When every ingredient does its part, it's like an artisan bread. It's an enriching life giving experience for the better of all, not only the one initiating. Tony Robbins puts it well when he says "(..)Its a place to give (..) and not to take".

Next time you savour an artisan bread and you close your eyes to experience all the flavors coming to life on your palate, think of someone you can break it with; a person in your life you can connect better with, by giving something of yourself. It'll be worth it.

"my door is always open.."

"my door is always open.."

"you're not even fifty yet..."

Most of us are not that old yet of course.

And although some are, I'm sure its like wine and cheese, that they get better with age. Back at home it is a big thing when you turn 50. It is the big five-zero.

Family members will get a doll dressed up in the front yard, sitting on a chair complete with walking cane. Signs are placed by the road to get people to honk three times. Flag-streamers are slung from the house to the gate and back - a big deal. Also with the food they have a special treat for this occasion.

In the Netherlands we call someone who is turning 50 an Abraham or a Sarah. And it's actually biblical: In John 8:57 it says: "..You're not even fifty years of age, how can you say you have seen Abraham?" In other words, are you that old that you were around in the time Abraham lived?

Dutch Bakers have baked to this for years with an almond filled speculaas doll in the shape of Abraham or Sarah to help celebrate this milestone.

Abraham.

Abraham.

Did you know....?

There are some questions that we get asked very often here at the bakery. So often that we decided to write a blog to put these burning questions to rest. Let's call it the FAQ page, if you will. 

FAQ #1  Are you open on Mondays?

A. Yes! We are open Monday - Friday 8 - 5:30 and Saturday 8 - 5. We'd love for you to stop by on Monday morning to start your week off sweet. On holiday Mondays we are closed to enjoy  family  time.

FAQ #2 Is your bread fresh?

A. Our bakers are early risers.(pun intended) The back of the bakery is a noisy rush around 2 am already! We bake all of our breads and buns fresh for each day. So that has to happen at night while the rest of us sleep so that the products will be ready to sell first thing in the morning. The delicious aroma in the bakery at 8 am will tell you all about it. Then, once all the bread has been bought up, that's it. We are out for the day. The bleary eyed bakers will be back around 2 am again to mix up a new batch fresh for that day. When we say its fresh, we mean it!

FAQ #3 Do you sell stroopwafels?

A. Of course! We are Dutch Delicious...you can't have delicious Dutchness without  stroopwafels.  We carry at least 4 different brands from extra butter to minis. If you don't  know what a stroopwafel is...think gooey caramel syrup sandwiched between 2 thin layers of  waffle. They are most often enjoyed with tea or coffee. You'll easily spot the true Dutchman--  he'll put the stroopwafel on top of his cup to warm up all that deliciously gooey syrup.

FAQ #4 What nationality is this bakery?

A. I know. It can be confusing. Holland, the Netherlands, Dutch...which is what? We are a Dutch bakery, meaning that we originate from the country called the Netherlands. People will often call the country Holland but this is not entirely correct. There are 12 provinces in the Netherlands and two of them are called Holland (north and south). The inhabitants of this country speak Dutch and are called the Dutch.  It has also been said that "If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much". I'm not sure on the accuracy of that one, but it is catchy. So welcome to our Dutch Delicious!

FAQ #5 What are your signature items?

A. Definitely our Dutch raisin bread and buns! We really put raisins in them and they are so moist and soft, just the way they should be.

Also the vanilla slice or 'tompouce' in Dutch. This flaky, creamy, vanilla custard delight is such a well known and loved Dutch pastry. 

Mocha cake squares are another totally Dutch indulgence! The Dutch love their coffee, so here it is in a pastry. Dutch mocha is not the same as our North American mocha in which we put chocolate. This mocha is straight up coffee!

Stroopwafels are another great seller. We've already introduced them in  FAQ #3.

And no Dutch coffee break would be complete without a speculaas cookie. You know the ones with the little windmills on them? Speculaas is a combination of spices which the Dutch use quite liberally. It's closest Canadian relative would be a sweet ginger snap cookie with more cinnamon. 

 

Can you make it a combo?

Some things are meant to be enjoyed all on their own . Just as they are because its such a stellar item. They need no embellishment. Like a super star, an A+, or even our famous Dutch Raisin bread.

The very first time my wife came to The Netherlands to visit me, she took her brother along. With our Sunday lunch we had rye crackers with your choice of liver sausage, cheese, tomato, salami and a few more toppings. In the Netherlands, and especially in my family where there are 8 children's mouths to feed, we can have our choice of one topping for this cracker, besides Mom's tomato soup.

Of course in the land of BIG and BIGGER we do everything large and easy. We drive through the bank, don't even get out of our seat to empty the mailbox, and also 'super size' our burgers and diet pops. So, what happened with my girlfriends brother? As you can imagine, the conversation around the table became steadily quieter as this foreign guest's cracker stack grew steadily higher!  Finally, rubbing his hands together in anticipation of devouring his creation, he awakened out of his reverie only to notice about eight pairs of eyes travelling from his sandwich-cracker and back to him. 

So what, then, does Dutch raisin bread have to do with all this? Well, growing up, we had just butter on our Raisin bread. That's because the bread is so heavy, yet semi sweet because of the raisin, currant combination, and moist because the raisins are soaked. It really is an A+;  a stand alone kinda bread. Selling my bread to customers has been thrilling because of their amazement at the amount of filling in it, while being at the same time 'interesting' in some ways.

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How do you eat your slice of raisin bread? 

I've almost heard it all! Here are a few: 

  1. with butter.
  2. with peanut butter,
  3. toasted with brown sugar,
  4. with Gouda.
  5. as day old - turned into French toast.
  6. toasted with honey.
  7. used in bread pudding (all those raisins....yum)
  8. with PB & jelly
  9. I've even heard them used to make savory sandwiches! (fruit and cheese go well together...salty and sweet)

Are you making it a combo?

Vlaflip

Have you ever heard of vlaflip? 

"Huh? Is that a far drive?" 

Actually it is a dessert.

Maybe you've heard of vla. And if you haven't, we think that you should. You'll need it to make vlaflip. Vla is a delectable Dutch pudding. It comes in a variety of flavours, the most popular being vanilla or chocolate and is a smooth, creamy, thick yet fluid custard. It is a very typically Dutch dessert as well as children's snack and can be found in all super markets in Holland.

Sound good? Let's continue. 

Vlaflip has some add-ins to make it even yummier. Here's another Dutch one for you: limonadesiroop.  Literally it means lemonade syrup. But it is oh so much more than lemonade. The Dutch have endless varieties of drink syrups that you add to water to make juice. So choose a flavour to tingle your taste buds and add it to your vla. Next we throw in some yogurt. Plain works best for this recipe, but you could add a flavoured version if you so desired. Serve it in layers so that it looks as pleasing as it tastes.

It's that easy. 3 simple ingredients for a super delicious dessert. If you want to make it a little more sophisticated, you could add fresh fruit and a mint leaf for garnish and serve it in a cocktail glass. So you see that vlaflip would be a welcome addition to a children's party as well as a grand finale to a formal dinner.

Have you tried it already?

 

Let them eat cake

If April showers bring May flowers, then May flowers must bring June weddings. Yes, folks, it is beginning to be that time of the year again. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and love is in the air! That, of course, can only mean one thing: wedding cake! Did you know that Dutch Delicious makes wedding cakes?

Wedding cakes were a part of Siebe's repertoire even before he started the bakery. He made them for friends back when he still lived in Holland, but his very first Canadian cake was special. It was for our own wedding in 2006. Let me tell you a little of how that went.

Siebe was excited to plan and make our wedding cake all by himself. He drew up a beautiful 5 layer (yes, big families) with the middle 2 layers being 1 double high layer. To show our Dutch heritage, he chose to decorate it with fondant designs that had been impressed in a speculaas cookie plank. It looked lovely on paper! Now to execute his plan. Suffice it to say that it took him longer to decorate than anticipated and ended up requiring an extra set of hands to cover in fondant. But beautiful it was.

Then we had to transport the beautiful cake to our venue. This meant an hour long car ride for the cake. Siebe gingerly placed the cake on the back seat of our car and off we went. Half way through the trip he thought that we should maybe check how the cake was doing. So we pulled off the road and opened the box. You should know that our car seat is slanted. "Oh, no!" said Siebe as he saw the cake. It too, had begun to slant! That fancy double middle layer was sliding down the cake. "What do I do? Maybe if I turn the cake around it will slide back the other way to where it belongs?" Siebe thought out loud. So he did and on we drove until the next gas station. Another cake check with another slight rotation and we were once again on our way. In the end, we arrived at the venue with a perfectly centered cake that was much admired by all. 

Siebe has gotten better at making cakes over the years and has even delivered them incident free. He also has a few other bakers with him who know how to bake a cake as well, one of whom is a natural at cake decorating. So if you are planning a wedding this summer we would love you to stop by to see and taste what we have to offer. Or bring in your photos and ideas so that together we can make your wedding cake dreams come true just as ours did 11 years ago.

 

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Why do we put droppies in pointy bags?

 We've all seen or had droppies in those clear conical shaped bags. Did you ever wonder why? Why don't we just use a regular bag? 

I actually wasn't sure myself, beyond being of the opinion that they look much more inviting than a plain bag. When filled up strategically, they can look like a piece of art or a party in a bag!  So I did a little digging around to find some more concrete reasoning behind the pointy bag.

In historic Holland every town had (and still has) an outdoor market where you can buy anything from spices, to shoes, to veggies, to thread... you name it and you're likely to find it.  Wares were laid out in bulk and the customer asked for the desired amount. Vendors needed an easy, cheap way to package their wares for the customer. Newspaper fit the bill as it was readily available and could be folded to contain goods of various shapes and sizes. Spices, candy, and other goods that could be poured were put in puntzakken (point bags) made of a square of newspaper rolled into a cone. This made for a stronger bag as well as being easy for the customer to pour out. 

Although the newspaper version is not used anymore for hygienic reasons, the puntzak is still used in Holland and Belgium today. Fries and oliebollen are often served in paper puntzakken. The wide opening makes it easy to reach in and the small bottom keeps the food on the bottom warm. The plastic version of the puntzak, as we have in our store, is used for bulk candy as well as for hardware like screws and nails. Not at the same time, though! ;) 

Some say that the puntzak fits more in it than a regular bag giving it instant appeal to the deal seeking Dutch. Some are impressed with its strong design and ease of use...good, practical Dutchmen. Yet, for the most of us who use them today, I think it is pure nostalgia that makes us grin with glee at a puntzak beautifully filled with candy.  

Spekjes

"Look honey! Shall we, for the kids?"

These huge party bags of Dutch Marshmallows are so fun. And they are purposely on the floor. Every child (even the ones at heart) can't resist and have to pick one up.

As this customer was trying to convince her husband to buy this bag, I couldn't resist getting involved. Not only to share my expertise and my memories to these childhood treats, this is my honest chance to eat some as well.

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As Salesman you get to eat products under the title of trying to sell. Here too, hoping for a bite, I gave my advise: "these pointy bags are good, but they are almost too sweet. To enjoy a traditional "spekje" have one of these, here I'll open it. These white bags are of the same quality, very fresh, soft and no sugar coating, thats how you want them."

The husband then burst out in laughter: "look at us; 'buying it for the kids', making quotation marks in the air with his hands. "We are in our fifties, eating toddlers treats, you gotta love it." - yes, don't we all.

And here I find my self writing.... I think I sold my self.

And here I find my self writing.... I think I sold my self.

Foreign Aid

I went to do a load of laundry the other day and came across some foreign object laying on top of my washing machine.  A long, thin white plastic stick with a foot on one end. I gave it a quick glance, shrugged, and decided that it must have been something my husband brought home. Maybe to fix the toilet which had recently been acting up.

The next day I discovered our children having the greatest fun with this same white stick. They though it was a great pool cue for playing marble pool. Although this did look like fun, I asked them to please put the stick away as Papa might need it to fix something. 

So the stick lay on our washer for a few more days. Then one evening around the supper table, conversation turned to writing this blog. "Yeah, did you see the potten likker I brought home?" my husband asked. "I thought you could write a blog on that" he added."No, I mean...I don't think so. What is a...that thing you just said?" was my reply. 

It was then that we discovered that the foreign object on top of our washer was most certainly not a part for the toilet, nor a toy, but rather, it was a Dutch invention to clean out near empty pots!  Having trouble getting that last bit of mayonnaise out of the jar--pot licker to the rescue. Same with jam, apple sauce, and nutella; you name it, potten likker will claim it!

Since we were eating supper anyway, one of our sons ran downstairs to retrieve the stick and my husband demonstrated just how useful it could be by cleaning out our apple sauce jar to perfection. And due to the length of the stick his fingers didn't get a drop on them.  

With this much thrift and cleanliness, it can only be a Dutch invention!

And so I present to you the afore mentioned potten likker blog post.

BAKE to the music...

As I walked into the front I still sang along to the song on the radio. "Here is my card" said the lady. A quick glance at it told me that she was a singing instructor! All my personality said, "I knew it, I have potential!!!" All my personnel said, "We know it, you need help".

I still sing, cause I like to and these are some of my favorites, and I might have changed the words a bit. Especially at night while we bake the bread, the dough 'kneads' to hear the music as much as we do.

The heat is on, Glenn Frey.

Leave me BREAKFAST, The Corrs

Bakerstreet, Gerry Rafferty

Take my BREAD away, Berlin

I'm your BAKER tonight, Whitney Houston

Every BREAD you BAKE, Police

 


 

 

Cup 'n saucer

You need the cup, the saucer is not necessary. That's not just "the bakers point of view", rather me personally as a man. Because I know Oma would have never done without the saucer. It's more 'gezellig' if it comes with a saucer, but for me the cup will be gone in two bites...

And that's it. Its a petit four style pastry that is great for tea with Oma. A crispy cookie cup filled with our European "Summer creme" (buttercream). Flavored in four classic tastes, and yes the Kirsch and the Advocat have the real deal inside.

Kirsch, Mocha, Hazelnut and Advocat. On a saucer that is.

Kirsch, Mocha, Hazelnut and Advocat. On a saucer that is.

Too cool

Just did the coolest thing this morning. Our friend from September 10th who won the KLM ticket giveaway just booked his visit to The Netherlands. 

We're so stoked for you and feel honored that we can play a small part in the celebration of your milestone with your wife. KLM has great service and you might even get a stroopwafel on board!

While you stopped by this morning you shared your plans, "breaking bread" with family in the province of Utrecht and maybe even Friesland! I love how you phrased your feelings, just being in Holland: "its soothing". Although you grew up here in Canada, Dutch is what you heard at home, with family, in the community. Just being in the Netherlands in a little over two months will give you that home feeling again. We are SO happy with you! "Goede reis!"

Please send us a postcard... "Wish you were here".

Please send us a postcard... "Wish you were here".

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Happily Dutch

If you've ever tried it, you will know that it is good. I mean, what's not to love? It comes in many varieties, is multipurpose, and brings out the inner child in us all. 

I'm referring to sprinkles, of course. Not American sprinkles as we know them, but Dutch hagelslag. 

Did you know that in one year, the Dutch eat 19 million kilos of hagelslag?! 

It's not just the kids that are eating them, either. Dutch sprinkles are enjoyed by children and adults alike. Toast with chocolate sprinkles is a well rounded breakfast, or try a slice of bread with lots of butter and chocolate sprinkles for lunch. (Didn't I just read a study somewhere that discovered that the Dutch were happier than most other nationalities?) There you have it...

You are not restricted to only chocolate, however. After the selection of pure, milk, white, and flaked chocolate, there are at least half a dozen other varieties. Fruit sprinkles which are orange and yellow or purple and pink, anise sprinkles which are white, crushed anise which makes it a powder, and the all time favourite baby welcoming treat: the 'muisje'. These are little balls made with anise and the outside is coloured to match baby's gender. So blue and white muisjes for a boy and pink and white for a girl. These are traditionally to be eaten on a rusk. 

Besides being enjoyed on toast(mmmm...melted chocolate) bread, pancakes, and rusks, hagelslag can also be used to decorate baking. Think black forest cake with chocolate sprinkles wrapped all around. Or how about in cookies? Or on cookies? Sprinkled over ice cream? Get creative. 

As I sat here writing this post, I got the box of 'vlokfeest hagelslag' (which is milk and white chocolate flakes) from my cupboard to look up the different varieties. Each box has a handy photo display of the different kinds. As I typed, I couldn't resist eating a handful straight out of the box...

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Essential services

"A day closed?" Said Jim.

"Yes a day with the family is so great" I replied.

These box stores forget that the people that work there have families too, so yes a day spent with the family is valuable.

"But just like the ambulance services, you are an essential to us. We need fresh bread from you, just like you like to quote", Jim continued, "it says: 'give us this day our DAILY bread'. So you should be open for us!"

Thanks Jim, we appreciate the love you show for our bread, wanting to break it with your family. We'll see you again... after the holiday Monday!