But one of the best parts of growing up in Holland is being able to read, or being read, Jip and Janneke stories. These creations, from industrious and talented Annie M.G. Schmidt, are short and witty tellings about two neighbors: Jip (a boy) and Janneke (a girl) with fantastic illustrations by Fiep Westendorp. And this month, they celebrate their 60th anniversary!
The stories started as weekly publications in the Het Parool newspaper in 1952, but quickly gained a following. The stories are short, simple and sweet. Jip and Janneke celebrate their birthdays, bake an Easter bread, visit grandma or stay up until midnight on New Years Eve. Nothing grand, nothing overly adventurous, but just two small kids living life.
Most everyone that grew up with Jip and Janneke has a favorite story. Mine is the one where Janneke's family is having company over and Jip and Janneke admire the cake that will be served after coffee. Jip smells the cake and says it is wonderful, upon which Janneke wants to smell it too. But she is a little too hasty and her little nose disappears in the frosting, leaving a small hole. After their initial dismay, they decide to make a row of small holes by sticking their noses in the cake, all along the outside. So cute!!!
Another story, and one that I used to base the recipe on today is the "rice with raisins" dog: the common nickname for a Dalmatian. Jip and Janneke visit a farm and see this huge dog, upon which Janneke exclaims; "It's a rice-and-raisins dog!" because of its white coat and black dots. The dish itself is an old-fashioned, easy to prepare and enjoyed by all, cold weather dessert.
If currants are not easy to come by, you can easily replace them with dark raisins.
Rijst met krenten
1 cup short grain rice
4 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean
3 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons sugar
Wash the rice until it rinses clear. Pour the milk on the rice and bring slowly to a boil, add the vanilla bean, a pinch of salt, the raisins and the sugar. Slowly simmer until the rice is cooked, about twenty minutes. Remove the bean, taste and adjust with sugar, or a little bit of cinnamon, and serve warm.
Optional: pour the rice in ramekins, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and place under the broiler so that the sugar melts and hardens for a crunchy topping.