Dec 31, 2011

Bohemian Rhapsody

Next to the oliebollen, here's another Dutch tradition for the last days of the year - this may be something we want to introduce in the US as well, as it has grown out to a true phenomenon. So for the non-Dutch followers of Gabroen, the Dutch public radio station Radio 2 broadcasts the "Top 2000" of best songs ever, starting each year at December 26, and ending with the number 1 song at midnight on December 31. The top 2000 was created in 1999 as part of activities surrounding the passing into the new millennium. The idea was to finish the year 1999, and enter the year 2000, with the 2000 best songs ever made. From the start of 1999, the listeners of Radio 2 were asked to select a song along with any special memories attached to the song, and send it to Radio 2 via mail or email. This way, 2000 so called "Millennium-songs" were collected throughout the year 1999. 

It became so popular, that Radio 2 decided to continue this as an annual tradition, dubbing it the radio event of the year. Currently, about half the Dutch population listens to it, and for 2011's edition the number of votes was around 20% of the population. It creates a feeling of nostalgia that perfectly fits the last days of the year. And it seems to fill a need for people to feel some good old "gezelligheid" or coziness in this individual era.

So what are the most popular songs according to the Dutch?

Well, the songs that make up the top 5 are almost always the same, switching places each year. But out of the 13 editions so far, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen made it to number 1 a total of 11 times (!). 

So this year's top 10 was:
  1. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
  2. The Eagles - Hotel California
  3. Deep Purple - Child in Time
  4. Boudewijn de Groot - Avond (Dutch.........)
  5. Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
Next to these classics (there is a large imbalance with mostly songs from the 1970s in this list), the highest new entry this year is actually from 2011: coming in at number 6, Adele's "Someone like you" is the highest new entry ever.

Anyone feeling melancholic? All you need is ......... the top 2000!

Happy New Year - that yours may be your stairway to heaven, your Hotel California, or whatever you wish it to be!

Dec 30, 2011


From the American iconic "bourbon balls" for Christmas to the good old Dutch tradition for New Year's Eve: Jeroen made "oliebollen" (literally translates to "balls of oil") today. According to Wikipedia and other websites oliebollen are somewhere between doughnuts and New Orleans beignets, but Gabroen says oliebollen are oliebollen. Period. So today's version was made with trappist beer for extra flavor and they turned out pretty nicely. A new tradition is born in the Gabroen household. For anyone who's interested (we know Marcia is for sure), here's the recipe for 40-50 balls: - Dissolve 50 gr fresh yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm milk - add 5 eggs, 15 gr salt, 125 gr sugar, 70 gr butter, 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract, pepper and cinnamon to the yeast and mix well - in a large bowl, add 1 kg all purpose flour and make a well in the middle; pour the yeast mixture into the well and mix - while stirring, add 2 cups of milk and 3/4 cup of trappist beer (or an Imperial Stout beer) - mix till smooth batter and leave to rise for 1 hour covered with a damp cloth - gently fold 500 gr raisins, 500 gr currants, 1 tsp lemon juice and 3 apples cut in small pieces into the batter

- leave to rise for another 15 mins - meanwhile, heat about a gallon vegetable oil in a dutch oven (i have no clue why this is called a dutch oven, but that's a topic for some other post some other time) to 330-350oF - deep fry about 6 bollen at one time for about 6 minutes, turning them halfway for even browning, and let them cool on tissue paper; they should have the size of a small apple

- cover with plenty of powdered sugar, take a bite and the new year will be here before you know it

Pretty darn good for a first time, or as Jeroen's dad put it: "not bad for an little amateur".

Jeroen's mom and dad arrived today from Holland on their way to snow-birding in Florida.

Dec 29, 2011

After Christmas shopping

Back from Atlanta, we went to our local mall to check out the "after Christmas sale". If this was supposed to be an indicator of increased consumer spending and a recovering economy, we still have some way to go - it was quiet as always in this mall, except for the Mac store. But who says mall parking lots are ugly? In general that's very true, but check out what beauty we walked by to get back to Johnnie Outback.........

Dec 24, 2011

A great American holiday tradition

We just finished preparing the iconic American holiday treat: Bourbon balls. The recipe is easy-peasy, just follow along: take a gallon of Ol' Granddad Bourbon whiskey and drink two glasses before you start. Mix a quart of bourbon with 1 cup of sugar, 4 cups of crushed vanilla wafer cookies, 4 cups of molten chocolate and 4 cups of chopped walnuts. Drink as much brandy as needed to overcome your reluctance to putting your hands in a mushy dark brown paste, roll little balls, which are likely to turn out more like turds given your lack of coordinated movement, and roll through powdered sugar.

Enjoy the ...... uuuh..... whatever you call these things. I don't remember.

Dec 22, 2011

Christmas in the ATL

It's warm, wet, thunderstormy and a madhouse with Christmas shoppers at Lenox mall in Atlanta. We're racing out of the mall area, but could still get an interesting shot of the huge christmas tree on top of Macy's.

Happy holidays!

Dec 21, 2011

Collaborative ring

Couple of weeks ago I met Alicia Piller at the 'one of a kind' show in Chicago. She had a booth over there selling funky art pieces.
Her work caught my eye. It's colorful, with fearless use of many different materials.

I fell in love with this piece. It's mine now! This wreath is made out of leather, beads, a tile, metal bolts and elastic bands from Africa. How marvelous!!

At the show we chatted and she was interested in the beaded necklace I was wearing. I ended up making a bezeled Swarovski for her that she incorporated in a ring.

Maybe the first of many collaborative pieces....

Check out her website

Dec 19, 2011

Holiday wishes from Gabroen's mom(-in-law)

Today we received the beautiful product of the explorations of digital media by Marianne, Gabri's mom; an e-holiday card made from a picture she took. We already knew artistry is in the van Diepen genes, but she now has some serious digital creative juices flowing.

The picture was actually taken in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, the hometown of electronics giant Philips. So forget about Paris being the city of lights, that's for overly romantic souls. Eindhoven is the new city of lights (not particularly new, as this is what they have been teaching kids in Dutch elementary schools for more than 40 years now). Or, as the annual "GLOW - International forum of Light in Art and Architecture" shows, it's the hip city of lights. Check out these cool pictures from various projects this year, with the theme "Illusion and reality":

Dec 17, 2011

Return to the digital era

You pleaded, begged, scolded, and ultimately convinced us: after months of absence and distancing from social media, untweeting and inactivating Facebook accounts, Gabroen has returned to the digital era with the very first post on a brand new blog. So you will be able to follow both his/her exciting and less exciting story-telling, creations and daily life observations.
The very first post starts with this year's first winter wonderland where Gabroen came out of hibernation this morning. The first inch of snow dusted the Northern Illinois lakefront.

Stay tuned. You asked for it...........