Cook of the Week: Barrington woman recaptures childhood bicycling, with cuisine

By Abby Scalf
Updated 5/20/2014 6:18 AM
  • When she wants a taste of Holland, Marianne Anderson of Barrington bakes a batch of buttery boterkoek.

      When she wants a taste of Holland, Marianne Anderson of Barrington bakes a batch of buttery boterkoek. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Marianne Anderson loves to go on long bicycle rides.

And she means long … like taking a 40-mile ride during a recent trip to New York City.

Cycling comes naturally to this 70-year-old. Growing up in Holland, after all, there were more bicycles than cars on the streets.

"There are more bicycles in Holland than people. I can not remember my parents taking us anywhere in a car," she said, adding she's planning a week-long bike trip to Holland this year.

While Marianne has made Barrington home for more than 40 years, she still lives by much of what she remembers back in Holland, including daily grocery trips and preparing meals filled with vegetables.

"People (in Holland) usually go to the store every day or every other day. Everything is smaller. They have tiny refrigerators. You pretty much buy for one or two days," she said. "I've never gotten away from that. I've tried. I would buy for a week or 10 days, but I hated it."

At dinner, Marianne incorporate lots of vegetables. In the spring, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and green beans fill her kitchen.

"There really is not a vegetable that I do not like," she adds.

A favorite dish is hutspot, which she shares with us today. Translated to "shaken pot," Marianne said this dish of boiled potatoes and thick winter carrots would be served during the long Dutch winter.

Another childhood favorite is boterkoek, a Dutch butter cookie she says is similar to, but more delicate than, shortbread.

When she lived in Amsterdam and her parents were away she'd experiment in the kitchen, often making spaghetti because it was cheap. She didn't grow to love cooking until after she married.

Marianne admits she had some initial mishaps. She recalls making her husband, Robert, Thanksgiving dinner while they were still living in Holland and leaving the bags of innards and extras in the bird.

Another time, she recalls, "I bought pork liver and cooked it and cooked it. It stank up the whole apartment and it was horrible because we couldn't even chew it. That's how little I knew about cooking. I learned by trial and error."

Through it all her husband has remained by her side. Now, she says, "he thinks I'm the best cook ever."

Cooking meals that are quick has always been important to Marianne who once balanced work as a nurse and later as a Montessori preschool teacher with making meals for Robert and four kids. Even now that the kids are grown, she still balances work and dinner.

Ten years ago, her career took a change when she became a beautician. She decided to use her certification to work with the American Cancer Society's Look Good, Feel Better program. Working with cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy and radiation, she talks about skin care, makeup and offers wig fittings.

"It's really a nice program," she said, adding. "and it's all free."

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