Good day internet. How are you today? It certainly has been a while, hasn’t it?
I must sincerely apologize for my relative absence from the virtual world, but I was prevented from joining you by my duties. And like royalty, when duty calls I answer.
You see, here in good ol’ Belgium we are very traditional and come the first of January we start a yearly cycle of events which highlight our year and give us something to talk about during the long rainy days. New Year’s Day is off course the start of this glorious cycle. It begins with us being rolled out of bed by the kids, who went to bed at their regular time, because for them the party is over when all the appetizers have been eaten and they have had a good night’s rest, so come on mom and dad, out of bed you go at 7 a.m.! Next we watch the New Years concert of the Wiener Philharmonic while clutching a glass of water in desperation and eying food with complete distrust because food is what made us bloated and uncomfortable. Afterwards we visit family and guzzle some more champagne and eat some more food, because, well one must keep ones strength up and of course we would like another glass of champagne, it is New Year! It only comes once a year! Open another bottle, *hips*!
The next event is known as the ‘Feast of Epiphany’ on January 6th, twelfth day, the day which sees a massive destruction of all things Christmas related and a return to the normal state of things. In my family this day is also known as the ‘Feast of the Bean’. The name of course comes with a fascinating, yet mundane history : when I was still a little girl my parents, auntie and uncles used to gather sometime around January 6th and my mother used to make a special pie in which she had hidden three beans. Why three? Well because there were three kings, silly. And also because there were three children who would kill to get their grubby hands on a paper crown and be ‘king of the bean’. See, normally you have just one bean and whoever finds it in their piece of cake is ‘king of the bean’. But kids being kids and adults not liking a night of bickering over a bean, my mother put three beans in the cake and those beans miraculously made it to the plates of my nieces and me each and every year. Hence ‘Feast of the Bean’.
Cue to this year. The nieces have grown and are starting families of their own and while we still get together we do not necessarily make it on January 6th and beans no longer figure, unless we are eating Mexican food or unless you count the coffee beans. But me being me, I felt the need to restore tradition in all its former glory and made a Bean pie. Also now as Galette des Rois. Traditionally it is very, very rich, being made out of puff pastry with a frangipane filling, both which are rich enough in butter to cause a cardiovascular meltdown. Since death-by-butter is not on my to do list for this year I made a lighter version and delicious it was.
Everything went as planned. It was glorious! From the sulking I-want-a-crown-why-must-I-wait-for-the-bean-thingy-this-is-stupid-two year old (nearly three! heaven help me!) who watched me while I made paper crowns to the look of complete surprise and joy when goshgolly there was a bean in the pie! And then we had fun with the crowns. Especially fun was dodging mama’s attempt to take a decent picture of the two little Princesses of the Bean. This is my best shot, honestly:
All through the day I was planning a beautiful blog post, brimming with happy kids and proud mama feelings, when all this was brought to an end by the arrival of yet another annual event: me getting stomach flu.
See, it has been decreed that your humble servant must get a bad case of the stomach flu each year. Usually this happens in January, killing some party-attendance plans or birthday-celebrations plans we might have had (both my mother and mother in law celebrate their birthday in January, a mere 9 days apart, go figure what this does to our calendar). This year I was lucky in so far that it happened: a) at a moment when we weren’t invited to anything, b) while my husband was at home, so that I was spared the demands of the children, c) right after the holidays so that I was rid of those sneaky holiday pounds in one, eh, retch. Or perhaps two or four. Oh never mind!
Anyhow, when you are getting reacquainted with your most prized plumbing possession and while your stomach is doing summersaults that would win an Olympic medal you can’t really write blog posts. Or surf the net. Since we don’t have WIFI I must betake myself to the living room to get some quality internet time, the living room next to the kitchen, the kitchen with food in it, which smells and smells is not something I can tolerate when I have stomach trouble. So my days where reduced to lying on the bed and sleeping in a dark room. Honestly if it weren’t for the no-eating-thingy I might have called it a vacation!
So you see, it really was through no fault of my own that I had to stay away from the internet. Traditions prevented me. I’m sorry, really I am, but when the horn of duty calls those bound to serve must answer. To make it up to you I leave you with the recipe for Bean Pie.
I hope you enjoy it and don’t forget to make a paper crown! It isn’t Feast of the Bean without one!
2 readymade pie bottoms of puff pastry
250ml or 4.05 fl. oz.of cream
120 gr or 4.23 ounce of ground almonds
120 gr. or 4.23 ounce of sugar
Put one of the pie bottoms in a mold and press to the sides
Beat the eggs, cream, almonds and sugar together until you have smooth mixture, it will be quite liquid, but trust me, it will be great!
Peel the apple and cut into small wedges
Line the pie bottom with the apple wedges
Now pour the almond liquid over the apples
Close your eyes and drop a bean into the pie
Put the second pie bottom on top of the first and fold in the edges, like this:
The pie will look like this when you are done:
Put this beauty into a 200C° oven for almost 30min.
Of course if you are hell bent on fooling your kids do what I did: do not add a bean to the pie when you bake it, cut them a slice with your back turned to them and add the bean into the ready cut piece.