Thursday, February 2, 2012

We Hebben Niet Veel Tijd -- We Don't Have Much Time

Our days here in Belgium are numbered and soon we will begin the process of repatriation back to the United States.  That is, my husband, Mr. Lane, will begin his process of repatriation, since I have been more like a 'visitor' the past two years (and especially since I stayed behind part of the time to allow our youngest to finish high school).  As long as I travelled to the states every month or so, I did not need to have a residency card.  Mr. Lane had all the official documentation, even a Belgium driver's license, I got off easy...and believe me, I'm glad I did.  Waiting in line at the Belgium government offices with Mr. Lane (and hundreds of immigrants and expats) to file his paperwork every several months, was enough reason for me to choose flying to New York every so often.  Plus, this way guaranteed I got to go home on a regular basis.  A perfect world for me.  I will miss Belgium.  But, of course, Mr. Lane will still have business here, so I'll be eat, drink and visit the lovely people we've come to call friends.  I went for a long drive today, along the country roads outside Antwerp, that have become familiar to me over time.  The bumpy cobblestone streets, the village cathedrals, favorite brasseries, bakeries, chocolate shops and book stores...all of which I will miss.  I've come to know my neighborhood shop owners, or at least I feel like I know them, they tell me about their lives here in Belgium, always friendly, always kind.  I've started to see familiar faces when I'm around town...yesterday, a woman said to me, "Good to see you again!"  And I felt almost like hugging her, she has sold me stationary and supplies all this time and I wasn't sure, until that moment, that she saw me as a regular customer, resident of Antwerp, neighbor.  My landlord and another resident of my building were here this morning, to help me figure out why my kitchen sink was flooding the offices below our flat.  They both spoke in Dutch, but we all seemed to understand each other as they fixed the pipe that had come undone.  "You're leaving us soon?" My neighbor said in broken English.  "Yes, back to the states," I said.  His eyes were so kind and I truly felt we'd be missed.  We've moved so many times over the years, eleven to be exact, and this move will be our trickiest yet.  I'll go home to Connecticut, where we still have our home at the end of the lane, and Mr. Lane will stay in Antwerp to meet the movers who will pack and send our furnishings back to America on a transport ship.  I'll oversee the packing in Connecticut and meet all the shipments at our new home in Ohio.  The town we chose just outside of Cleveland reminds us both of New England and Belgium.  There's an historic downtown district with small shops and restaurants, and summer concerts in the town park.  Our house is on a quiet lane overlooking an old quarry that is now a lake.  Homes in town date back hundreds of years and resemble those of our small town in Connecticut and in the countryside of Belgium.  There's even a candy store with homemade chocolates.  But, I'm sure there are very few Belgians, so we will take our memories with us, of all the people we've met along the way.  Of their hospitality, their families, their love of food and wine and champagne and beer...we'll hold them close in our hearts.  In honor of Belgium, I leave you with a recipe for Belgian Waffles.  Be generous in your serving sizes and share every bite with loved ones, and by all means, just like the Belgians, take as long as you like to finish your meal. Tot ziens!
Belgian Waffles   

Heat 1 cup (soy) milk
Add 7g (1 package) dried yeast
Separate 4 eggs (yolks and whites)
Beat the whites until you get a sort of foam
In a deep bowl, combine:
3 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup (cane) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Melt 250g (soy) butter and add to flour mixture
Also, add the milk-yeast mixture
Finally, add the four egg yolks
MIX until smooth
Fold in the beaten egg whites
Gently combine with your hands
Let rest for at least 8 hours (I assume in the fridge)
Heat waffle maker until very HOT
Spoon in waffle mixture (should be thick)

Add toppings in Generous amounts:
Whipped Cream
Ice Cream
Chocolate sauce
Fresh sliced fruit
anything that sounds good!

Authentic Belgian Waffle in Brussels
Our son enjoying his favorite local food -- waffles!  We were fortunate that our three grown children and their sweethearts were able to visit us here in Belgium and travel to other countries during their stays. 

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