Sunday, 25 May 2014

A Pause for Spring

I recently read in another blog about corn on the cob. Last September when I was in Ohio, this is how my sister cooked corn on the cob - in the microwave with the husks still on. Have you ever made your corn on the cob this way? The only corn I have in Spain is what I get from a tin. I know some people buy frozen corn on the cob or the vacuum-packed kind. Me, I grew up on good corn and find what is offered here to be dry and tasteless.

The week that is finishing has been rainy, extremely windy and at times chilly. I haven't checked today, but it has actually been a lot warmer in places like Helsinki. On Wednesday evening when I stepped out the door to go to the Chinese restaurant, I saw a few drops of rain on the pavement. By the time I'd taken 5 steps, I had to turn around and go back for an umbrella. I was getting soaked. In the end I arrived at the restaurant wet anyway. The way the wind was blowing the umbrella offered little if no protection. Besides, I had to fight not to fly away like Mary Poppins. But do you know the strangest thing? My windows haven't been splattered, so aren't too dirty. I guess I have the wind to thank for blowing the rain away from them.

On Tuesday evening at about 8.30 p.m. there were lots of cars and noise in my street. I normally don't expect to hear continuous noise during bullfighting season until an hour later as the bullfights finish at 9. The event had to be cancelled because all 3 bullfighters got hurt, one of them seriously. If you've never seen a bullfight, then you may not know that there are 3 toreros (bullfighters) and 6 bulls - 2 bulls for each torero. Anyway, the last time such a thing happened was in 1979.

Last night it was again noisy until very late. This time it was mostly people celebrating a soccer win. I broke my 'no weekend TV' rule since my team, Atlético de Madrid, was playing Real Madrid in Lisbon for the Championship Cup. Atléti was winning 1-0 until the overtime when Real Madrid scored and then in the tie-break Real Madrid scored 3 goals in succession for the final score Real Madrid: 4; Atléti: 1. This is the place where players and fans will be celebrating this evening after the elections polls have closed (elections for European representatives).
I think the temperatures will climb back up this week, hopefully not as hot as it was a couple of weeks ago though. Have a good week all. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Yoghurt Biscuits and Chulapas

On Friday evening I came across a recipe, which wasn't really a recipe, for yoghurt biscuits on the internet. There was no measuring of the ingredients, but instead of butter or shortening, you add yoghurt. As I didn't want sweet bread, I used plain yoghurt (that was probably mentioned in the non-recipe). I calculated for 6 big biscuits and added about 2 tablespoons of yoghurt, some milk and a bit of cheddar cheese to the flour mixture. I probably would have added more cheddar cheese if I'd had more. That's okay because I needed to use up the cheese, and I didn't want to use too many ingredients in case I didn't like these biscuits. So would I make them again? Yes, but I'd certainly make them smaller and put some bacon in them. They're easy and quick to make and there are more things you could add like herbs, onions, whatever you fancy.
This past Thursday was San Isidro, one of Madrid's patron saints. The ladies in the photo are called 'chulapas' and there's one lone 'chulapo'. On this day many people gather to have picnics and eat such delicacies as 'entresijos', which I've tried and won't repeat and which I doubt that you want to know what they really are. I know my father used to love 'sweetbreads' if you know what those are. I just don't enjoy eating these kinds of foods.

I think San Isidro is going to bring us some cooler weather this week and maybe some rain. As I've posted before, we're at the beginning of the bullfighting season. I neither go to them nor have I ever been to the 'Running of the Bulls'. Yesterday, however, in my neighbourhood the noise was from those celebrating Atlético de Madrid's winning of the Champions Cup. Atléti is a soccer team in case you've only heard of Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Well, I've taken my winter quilt off the bed and put on one of the summer ones. I don't think it'll get cold enough that I'll need to put it back on the bed this week, but I wait until it's really hot before I wash it, so it dries quicker. I'm lucky I can throw my quilt in the washing machine. Several laundromats have opened up in Madrid and there's one just crossing the bridge near where my friend Cathy lives. They're a lot cheaper than having your quilts dry-cleaned if they don't fit in the washer.

That's about it for me this week. Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend and the coming week too. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Albóndigas for Lunch and Outdoor Cafes

France isn't the only place famous for its outdoor cafes. These cafes spring up like mushrooms and are full when the weather starts getting nice. I like sitting outside at these places too, but I'm a bit more selective. I don't like being in places where there's a lot of traffic or road works like in this photo from 1950. This street, by the way, is part of what is known as the 'golden mile' or the part of Madrid where there are many expensive shops and where the American Embassy can be found. Spanish people don't seem to mind sitting near constantly passing vehicles or streets that are being ripped up.
Yesterday was our monthly get together with the girls. Sometimes there are as many as 8 or 9 of us, but yesterday there were only 5. For months we've been talking about meatballs and how we hope they have meat balls on the menu. Yesterday they did, so you can guess what we all ordered for the main course. The problem for me with these lunches is two of our friends work until 3 pm in the centre, and the earliest we begin eating is 3.30, not impossibly late in Spain, but I usually eat between 1- 1.30 pm. The result of eating so late is I'm not hungry the rest of the day. I don't know if that's good or bad. I just know by that time I'm starving and the meatballs (albóndigas) were delicious.

Last night was the once very popular 'Eurovision Song Fest'. I didn't watch it as I seldom turn on the TV at the weekend, and I haven't watched Eurovision for years. I do know that Austria's 'bearded lady' won it, so I suppose I'll probably hear the song some time or other.

 In Madrid it's bullfighting season and my usually quiet and not overcrowded neighbourhood isn't. Oh well, keeps the bars and restaurants in business. Years ago there were more offices and a big laboratory in the area that kept them going. Now most of the businesses are gone. The laboratory went a long time ago and was replaced by blocks of flats. Even my old institute is a block of flats, not many of which have sold I think.

Thursday is another holiday for us - one of the patron saints of Madrid. It's a day when traditionally we get some rain, although we haven't for the past few years. Anyway, I hope everyone has a good week whatever you do.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

39 Steps

This is one of the photos I took for the photo challenge on facebook and haven't shared there, so it won't be a repeat if you've seen my photos there. Actually there are only 34 steps if I counted them correctly.

 I took this particular photo because of a film I've recently seen on TV. I'm not too sure of the title but it has Sigourney Weaver, who plays a baddie. and Bruce Willis in it, although he snuffs it early on. The film is supposedly set in Madrid, but I saw lots of bloopers, one of them being two cars speeding down these very steps to the bullring in which it looked like there were hundreds of steps and not a mere 34. 

I won't say I know as much history of Madrid as I should. However, I find interesting tidbits on a page called 'Secretos de Madrid'. Today I found this old photo of a street that no longer exists, because it's now part of the Gran Vía (Main Street or High Street) and the Gran Vía is over a hundred years old. It shows a home for unwed mothers. Apparently these mothers stayed here all during pregnancy and delivery and were obliged to wear veils so as to keep their identity secret. Can you imagine unwed mothers nowadays having to feel like outcasts and completely evil?
Although I got some necessary things done around the place, I lazed around quite a bit. My rain-splattered windows are now clean. That was one of the first things I checked this morning. I imagine I dreamed it, as a matter of fact I'm almost certain of it, that it rained during the night. Just look at that blue sky in the first photo! Too bad our long weekend is ending. It was fun while it lasted.

I doubt too many are looking forward to a new week, but hope it's a good one for everybody.