Wednesday, September 21, 2011


My dad was an immigrant, born in Holland, who moved to America with his family when he was a young boy.  Not speaking a lick of English, he was thrown into "the system" where he was left to fend for himself and learn English on his own.  Not like schools now a-days, where they give you an interpreter, translate all of your papers going home, and even have special schools set up just for those who don't speak English.  Crazy how times have changed (for better or worse)...but that's another topic.

I feel privileged to have been raised by an immigrant.  It has given me a close connection with my Dutch heritage.  If you were to meet my dad, you probably wouldn't have a clue he was Dutch, other than his super know the Dutch are the tallest people in the world?  My family is living proof of it.  I'm the "shrimp" of the family at about 5'9".  I'm tiny! My brother is 6'7" & 3 of my 4 sisters are over 6' tall.  We're big people.  Anyway, we're quite Dutch. You meet my grandparents and you'd DEFINITELY know it!  Still after over 50 years, my Oma and Opa have thick, thick accents.  They keep their birth country near and dear to their hearts.  We celebrate Sinterklaas Day (kinda like a Dutch Christmas at the beginning of December) with our own wooden shoes and chocolate letters and everything.  Zwarte Piet even comes and throws candy and pepernoten in our door!  I've learned to make and eat some traditional Dutch meals.  I'm sure my versions of them are probably very Americanized (or at least Julie-ized), but none the less, they connect me to my dad and my grandparents and therefore my roots in Holland.  

One of my favorites in Dutch cuisine is a traditional dish called Stamppot.  From what I understand the name comes from exactly how it sounds, "Stamp Pot." You cook up some root veggies (I usually just use potatoes, carrots, & onions), then you "stamp" or mash them in the pot.  We always serve it with Holland it is usually served with rookworst (sounds a lot worse then it really is...smoked sausage), but they also have it with stewed meat.  As a kid my Oma (grandma) would sometimes serve it with a roast.  She also occasionally made it with red cabbage, which used to be my favorite, which is really weird because I hated red cabbage otherwise.  I don't think there's really a "right way" to make stamppot...its kind of like stew here in long as you have the main ingredients, meat & potatoes, its still stew.  Same with stamppot - got the potatoes and sausage & you're good.  You can sauce it up with gravy (the Dutch LOVE their Jus - pronounced "shoo" aka gravy!), but my family makes it with lots and LOTS of butter!  Mmm.

Note:  This recipe can be made SO many different ways, so this is just how I make it!
  • Potatoes, peeled, cut into quarters
  • Carrots (I used about 1 1/2 cups baby carrots so I don't have to cut them)
  • Onion, diced (I use 1 large, but add according to your liking)
  • 1 Kielbasa sausage, sliced into medallions (for my kids sake, I cut the medallions in half so they're bite-sized)
  • Butter
  • Salt, to taste
Place cut potatoes and carrots in large pot.  Cover with water and boil until both carrots and potatoes can be punctured easily with a fork and are ready to be mashed (just as you would mashed potatoes).

While potatoes and carrots are cooking, place about 1/3 to 1/2 cube butter in heated pan.  When butter has melted, add onions and saute until onions are nice and soft and start to caramelize. 

In another pan (or you can remove the onions and use that pan), add a tad bit of olive oil or butter, melt, and sliced Kielbasa.  Fry on both sides until golden brown.  Put sausage aside, or if you want, dump them in with the onions (make sure you dump all the butter and oily juices in there too!).

When potatoes and carrots are done cooking, drain out water.  Throw in a load of butter (I start with 1/2 a cube, but usually end up putting in the rest of it).  Mash until they're to the consistency you want (I suggest not mashing them quite as smooth as mashed potatoes.  The chunks kinda makes it feel more authentic.).

Throw in the onions (and sausage if you want...I do put them in only because my kids will only eat the sausage if I put it separate).  Mix it all up.  Taste it and if it needs salt and pepper, add some to taste.  If it needs more grease...I mean butter, add more.  Its all to your liking!

You can serve with gravy, but really the sausage grease and butter make it plenty moist and tasty.

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