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.