Sunday, 30 December 2012

Corn Bread Christmas

I've finally decided on the menu for New Year's Eve, and have decided to go light and easy. I'm going to make a chicken stir-fry with lots of veggies and rice. I'm never that hungry. and I need to use my wok more. If I make a one-dish dinner, then I won't have to rush around getting the dessert made, and, just maybe, I won't knock out the electricity because I'm using too many things at the same time.

Besides not preparing too much, I'll also save on the clean up. It seems I've spent way too much time in the kitchen these days. I want more time to be able to read on my Kindle. At the moment, I'm reading a murder mystery that takes place in a dog park in Cincinnati and the detective in it is from Kentucky. The author doesn't mention the name of the dog park, but does mention places I know.

My photo is from a cornbread mix that I made and gave a a jar of the mix to one of my friends as a Christmas gift. I think I mentioned, at least on facebook, that I was making a lot of the gifts that I was giving, which accounted for the long hours in the kitchen. I'm going to start posting some recipes on my recipe page. At the moment I've only posted a recipe for crock pot apple butter - delicious though. As for Christmas gifts, one of my favourites was from IKEA - one which I didn't have to put together. I got a perfect-sized plastic cutting board, which I'll probably use more than my fancy wooden one. The advantage of the wooden cutting board is I can put hot things on it.

Hoping everyone had a good Christmas and hoping 2013 is better than has been predicted. Happy New Year!   

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Beans and Buckeyes

I'm going to try and be brief today. I know anyone with even a pinch of respect for human life is mourning those lives lost in Newtown, Connecticut. We remembered this and one of our former colleagues who died last Sunday at the age of 52 at our Christmas lunch yesterday. Our friend's sudden death was a shock to us all. I pray for his family and for the families of those in Conn. 

I wanted to share something I've learned about burnt beans from one of my fellow Kentuckians and this photo of my buckeyes (chocolate-covered peanut butter balls). Even us transplanted southerners love our beans and even those of us who make the best-tasting soup beans, as we call them in my family, sometimes get busy doing something else and burn the beans. How I hate the smell! To save the beans that didn't burn transfer to another pan, wash them and add more water and a tablespoon of peanut butter. According to Gilda, the peanut butter works and your beans come out delicious and there is absolutely no burnt taste. Makes me want to burn them just to try out this trick. Only joking! 

I imagine some of you are making lots of goodies for Christmas, like me. I've made another batch of buckeyes today and some Russian teacakes. I don't imagine I'll post anything next Sunday, but will try to wish you a Merry Christmas on facebook, ipernity, blogger or google +. Enjoy the holidays.   

Sunday, 9 December 2012


Last Sunday I wrote that the Mayor of Madrid had decided to postpone lighting up the streets with Christmas lights until this Friday. Although I haven't seen any lights in the trees in the main street near my house, I assume that somewhere, and especially in the centre, the lights will be up. The Christmas lights in my area are nothing spectactular - just a few white lights they hang in the trees. The businesses of each neighbourhood are responsible for paying for the lights. I suppose here they must be Scrooges or maybe it's because there are so many banks. We only get white lights in trees.

Still, lights in trees are better than no lights at all. Thursday was the Day of the Constitution, so most people who could afford it probably took a 4-day weekend. I always use this time to start thinking about decorating for Christmas. I know this may seem late for many people in the US, but our Christmas officially finishes on 6th January. Everything in my flat is electric, and in Spain we contract the electricity we think we need, and there is a limit you can contract . I think I have a limit of 4,200 kilowatts or so. Anyway, on Thursday I was using the heating because it's December, the oven, the cooker, the water heater, fridge, the TV and anything else I may have forgotten when I decided to heat up a cup of coffee in the microwave. This was the straw that broke the camel's back! Off goes everything! 

Actually I think my overloading the circuits was the TV's fault. Well, not the TV itself but a TV station. A friend and I (and now I've discovered another person) are always joking that we only have one channel. I don't watch a lot of TV, but I like knowing what's happening and I like this particular channel for its coverage of the news. The station in question has been on strike for the last week, so I'm obliged to watch the news an hour later on another channel if I want and can. They're in the process of laying off a good number of people. This will lead to more blackouts this week over all at news time when, in theory, the idea is to broadcast only news programmes in future.

One of my friends on facebook has been posting the evil doings of their elf Tim. My photo, believe it or not, was a tomato. I can't remember exactly when I bought him or his brothers - some time in October I'm sure. Note that the photo was taken 2nd December. These were the hardest most tasteless tomatoes I've ever bought. Even though I gave them a chance to ripen and soften up, they never did. I never, never put tomatoes in the fridge because that ruins them. I have no idea where these tomatoes were stored before I acquired them. I could not eat this last one! As an 'experiment' I left it sitting on the counter until it 'developed' into what you see. I call it the 'Zombie Tomato'. What did I find inside when I opened it? Seeds? No! What looked like dead maggots! All very disgusting, but the tomato stayed hard until the end! Please don't think all foods are like this in Spain. I assure you this was an aberration of some sort.

This was some of my week. Hope everyone has a good week ahead.    

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas Delayed

This past Friday was the day the city of Madrid had decided to turn on the Christmas lights. However, the light turning on ceremony has been postponed until next Friday, because the Mayor has decreed a week of mourning. On Halloween night 4 young girls lost their lives at a Halloween party when they were crushed to death and one young lady was sent to hospital where she was kept on machines until she died on Friday - 29 days after the tragedy. It turns out there were more than the 15,000 people announced by DJ Steve Aoki even though the venue was for a maximum of 9,600. Just about every day the media bring out new scenes of horror from incidents which took place that night, and some of us wonder why the organizer is still free. I seriously doubt that this will be the last time we hear of a tragedy where innocent lives are cut short. After all, history does tend to repeat itself. I can only hope and pray that we don't have to hear that the cause was simply greed as is the case here.

Yesterday I went to the Madrid Handcrafters Fair and bought a few things like these little decorations for my tree when I finally put it up. I try and decorate my tree with things I've made in the past or things others have made such as the round wooden disks here. The sachets are filled with lavander. The carrot cake is for my dining area and the hen for the kitchen. I sort of have a collection of chickens. I say sort of because I have way too many things in my flat, so if I buy something for me then I try to make sure it doesn't take up a lot of space. I used to be a member of the group and made baked goods, so everybody asked me about my brownies. I must admit my brownies are the best, but then I haven't got a grandmother as they say in Spain. I took a coffee cake instead of brownies.  The next time I make this particular cake I'll drizzle a bit of icing on it.

Thursday is a holiday for us - the day of the Constitution and then Saturday is a religious holiday. Hope I get round to making some things for Christmas then. Hope everybody has a good week too.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Black Friday Spanish Style

I constantly marvel how easily Spain embraces things so typically American such  as Halloween. For years, on this particular night we've witnessed party-goers dressed up as ghosts, goblins, vampires, etc. and children asking for sweets. Maybe it's because Spain is famous for its 'fiestas', and so it looks like Halloween is here to stay. Now this past Friday some of the shops, particularly the larger ones, had up signs for 'Black Friday'. The sales are usually held in January (starting on the 7th) and July. However, in recent years and because of the crisis, sales are happening earlier and lasting longer - not a bad idea considering what you can save on Christmas gifts. I know loads of people in other parts of the world who've already done their Christmas shopping. Spanish people are different, like the old slogan 'Spain is different'. The shops will be crowded on 5th of January I guarantee. with people buying whatever at whatever price because they've left shopping until the last possible moment.  6th January is the day when presents are exchanged and the 7th when they're returned to the shops, hence this is the traditional day the sales start.There are still people who refuse to have their bills sent through the bank and who leave paying said bills in the bank until the last possible moment and then complain because they have to wait since banks have set days and times when you can pay bills.

Anyway, I hope everyone in the US had a good Thanksgiving. I had a great birthday celebration in a Greek restaurant and was showered with lots of goodies from my friends. There are restaurants here that do prepare 'Thanksgiving' meals, but I can honestly say of the times we've gone out to celebrate the food has been good at only one of them. Once we went to Friday's (TGIF) and instead of cranberry sauce, we were given blueberry jam because the Spanish word for both is the same and the stuffing had no spices in it whatsoever. The only complaint at the Greek was the moussaka had shrunk in size. I suppose so as to maintain the prices. Even so, Chris took home some of her chicken. We tend to order too much or fill up on the delicious appetizers, which is more like it.

My photo is of my sister's dog, Ruby, using my niece's doll, which now belongs to her daughters, as a pillow. When I see Kris's dogs, I'm reminded of Sophie, a black sweetie, and Ruby. 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Strike One, Strike Two And...

now we're into our third strike in the last 3 months. I wasn't too aware of the first one at the end of September since I'd just come back from holiday. The second one was this past week. I can't say for the main street, but there were absolutely no problems with pickets in my area. The hardware shop across the street was open as were most, if not all the ones, I passed. Because I don't agree with most strikes and this one in particular, I had class. The rubbish collectors in Madrid are on strike now though for only 3 days. Thank goodness! They're protesting because the Town Council has decided to take away one rubbish pick-up day - from 7 to 6 days. In my street the day they don't come around now is Sunday. Our rubbish bin is in the street probably getting filled up. I just heard someone drop some rubbish in, and I bet I know who. I'll hold off putting mine out as long as possible. In my block, we've never put rubbish out on a Sunday anyway.

Since I can remember I've been 'green' even before I knew the meaning of being 'green'. I remember being in the car with my family and everyone except me throwing their drink cans out the window. To this day I hate seeing litter carelessly thrown along the roads or onto wastegrounds. On Thursday I took a bag full of empty printer cartridges into a shop and the young shop assistant handed me a flash drive and said, "Here. You can probably use this." I can't remember the last time I've been given something in a shop, can you?

My photo today is one of my birthday presents. I'm still waiting for a new camera, one that I hope takes better photos (or is it the photographer?). In case you're not sure what it is, it's a Nepali mountainside hooded wool scarf. I got it from the Animal Rescue site. It looks good on, and, mostly importantly, will keep my head warm. I'll be celebrating my birthday in a Greek restaurant while some of you will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Hope everyone has a wonderful celebration and week. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Read My Owl

Yesterday was the day of our monthly lunch with those friends we don’t see as often as we used to or those who choose not to go in for our weekly Chinese dinner.  I live just right around the corner from the small Spanish bar and restaurant we’ve been going to since I’ve lived in Spain. The place has changed hands a couple of times, but the family who own it now are friends of ours. At least we’re on a first name basis. The restaurant was closed probably because Friday was a holiday. I hadn’t even thought of stopping by to ask them if they were going to open. The next time I will, because this isn’t the first time they’ve taken a long weekend, not that I’m complaining. Anyway, we ended up in a restaurant near the main street. I wasn’t impressed with what I asked for, which was way too greasy; the salad had lots of shrimp and both my friend Cathy and I are allergic to seafood. To make a long story short, I came home still hungry and we paid double what we would normally pay. To make matters worse, this morning I woke up with a big zit on my forehead just like a teenager!

I thought this owl picture that one of my friends posted on facebook was very appropriate for what I’m thankful for today and this week. I’m glad the elections in the States are over with. There was too much bickering, blocking and gloating going on for my taste on sites like facebook. As I commented on Terri’s blog, I stay clear of topics such as religion and politics for the simple reason that people can be so irrational when it comes to these things. I didn’t actually mention religion, but I don’t discuss it either. The block button is certainly useful, but not for blocking someone who doesn’t share your point of view. I’ll  continue respecting everyone’s right to an opinion even when I don’t agree. It doesn’t mean they’re stupid or whatever label they could be given.

Thanksgiving for those who celebrate it is just around the corner. Hope everyone enjoys a good pre-Thanksgiving week.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Halloween Fun and Tragedy

My friend Chris’s birthday falls on Halloween. As some of you know, we celebrate our birthdays in a restaurant of our choice. Chris always chooses an Indian. The one we usually go to is the original Indian restaurant in Madrid, by that I mean the first one. I didn’t know that before last Wednesday though.

I’ve got a couple of trivia questions for you about Indian restaurants: What kind of music do you expect to hear in an Indian restaurant? Indian. Correct, but wrong answer. When you’re on You Tube and type the letter ‘g’ in the search box, what’s the first song that begins with this letter that comes up? ‘Gangham Style’? Yes, that’s correct! That’s what was playing  when we went in, followed by Black Eyed Peas’ ‘I Got a Feeling’. After that, we pretty much enjoyed the food, which was Indian-style without the horse-riding, and the company, logically. However, I think we must have been the oldest witches out on Halloween. The underground (subway) was packed with young party goers. I’ve never seen so many people on the trains on Halloween before!

One sad note, which I’m sure will be remembered on successive Halloweens and which some of you may have heard about: 4 young girls were crushed to death at a macro-party at one of the installations the city of Madrid had built in hopes of getting the Olympic Games. The venue was supposedly for maximum 10,600 people but apparently there were 15.000, according to the D J, Steve Aoki. The party, by the way, was not held by Madrid. The city rented the space. Since then, the Mayor of Madrid has stated that no building of the city will be rented to such events in the future. My heart goes out to the families who lost their daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins,  granddaughters and friends and to those who have teenaged children who want to attend these huge gatherings. I’ve never enjoyed being in crowds.

Some are participating in a 21-day daily thanks here and some of my cousins on facebook are doing the same. I like what the picture I’m posting says. It reminded me of a couple of friends in the US that I need to write to more often.

I’m more a weekly blogger than someone who publishes daily, so I hope everyone has a good week whatever you do. 

Sunday, 28 October 2012

25 Hours

This is the weekend that we change the clocks back, at least in western Europe. The light woke me up at 7.30 a.m. but don't think I got up. I only get up that early on Sunday when I have to. I suppose it's nice having an extra hour though I really wish they would just leave the clocks alone.

I have yet to turn on the TV or radio this weekend (that's normal for me), and so haven't heard if the 'frankenstorm' has hit the eastern US. Last night the wind was blowing hard and the temperature in my house went down. I think it must be time to put the continental quilt on the bed. If I lived in Siberia, I'd probably want some other type of heating at night. Since I don't, I prefer to sleep under a nice warm quilt. I've done quite a bit of cooking this weekend, and that's helped heat up my small flat. One of my friends gave me lots of apples and some pumpkin from her village. I've cooked the pumpkin for soup and maybe a pumpkin pie; the apples I've used to make crock pot apple butter. I've used the recipe I had posted on Multiply, and thought I'd post it here on my recipe page when I get the time. I know Kris likes crock pot recipes and uses her crock pot quite a bit. I know I love mine.

It's my friend Chris's birthday on Halloween. We'll be celebrating that in an Indian restaurant. That reminds me that I need to phone a couple of friends to ask if they're going. One of them, however, is long-winded and usually has me on the phone for an hour. There goes my extra hour! The next birthday is mine, and, although I'd like to celebrate it in my favourite Mexican, the restaurant is always booked for a Thanksgiving dinner by some women's club. I've changed venues with another friend, so mine will be in a Greek.

Hope everyone has a good week. Thursday is a holiday (All Saints' Day, hence Halloween). At least one of my students is taking off 4 days.

Almost forgot! I'm sharing the bread I made in a photo, of course. I found this 1933 recipe in one of my cookbooks. I'm thinking I want a new camera for my birthday as my old one no longer works so well. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Last Post (Multiply)

My reason for posting again on a site that is virtually a ghost town is quite simple. You see, today marks my 5th anniversary on multiply, a sad one obviously. The title is from that of a novella used years ago at the intermediate level in the language school where I worked until it closed. It tells the depressing story of a postman who wins a lot of money on the lottery only to be knocked off his bike and killed on his last day of work. I hated that story, and I hate the fact that a place where I’ve been happy to come to, a place that’s come to feel like home, will soon be gone.

I suppose I’ll always have bittersweet memories of my multiply experience, as long as I have a memory anyway. I remember how we were made to feel welcome and a tool to import our posts from Y360 was provided by the multiply staff and not Yahoo. I even participated in a ‘Multiply Appreciation Week’. Although I chose not to export these particular posts to Blogger, I’ve decided Blogger will be my main blog site and have managed to save the bulk of my posts and recipes to there. So I’ll say it has been nice sharing lives and experiences, and I say this especially to those I may never meet again in my travels around the internet. Then again I may! I hope everyone finds a place they like. As we say in Spain, ‘Hasta siempre’ or until we meet again.

P.S. This was the post that I’d prepared for yesterday, the 22nd. Since things sometimes disappear before I’m able to post them, I usually type them on the computer first. Yesterday, MP was down for me all day and until about 4.30 pm (my time) today. Anyway, although this will be my last post, I’ll continue stopping by for as long as the powers thar be permit.