Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Algo acerca de mí (Something about me)

Este mes para el reto fotográfico de "La vuelta al mundo"*, Jackie nos propuso compartir algo acerca de nosotros: "Quién eres? Qué sueñas? En qué trabajas? Qué cosas te son inolvidables? Qué te hace llorar? A quién amas?"  La única condición era incluir un pequeño texto... así es que aqui vamos. Ah, y aqui está el link a Casi en Serio para conocernos mejor con la cadena de posts.
This month for " La vuelta al mundo*", Jackie invited us to share something about us: "Who we are, what we dream, our work, unforgettable things, what makes you cry, whom we love". The only condition was to include a little explanatory text. So here we go...

*Remember, this group is open to anyone who wants to participate, you do not have to be a professional, just do your best and try to learn. There are people all over the world playing this game every month ! Come join! Here is a detailed explanation on how to start ! Also, do not forget to visit Casi en Serio for the chain of posts. Happy personal travelling around the world.
I am a vet, and I love cows, they are such curious animals !
 El librero azul turquesa dice mucho de mi. / You can tell a lot from me by taking a look at the turquoise bookshelf.

a. Una imagen de nuestra boda. / A snippet of our wedding.
b. Viajar me vuelve loca / I am crazy about travelling.
c. Colecciono recortes, fotos, envolturas recuerdos... / In this box I keep scraps, photos, souvenirs, memories....
d.. Julio Cortazar, una entrada gratis a un mundo mágico aqui mismo. / Julio Cortazar a free ticket to a magic world, right here.
e. Aprender idiomas siempre me resultó fáci,y  útil !! / It was always easy (and useful) for me to learn new languages.
f. Desde que aprendí a leer siempre estoy buscando nuevas aventuras, historias, cuentos... / Ever since I learnt how to read I am always looking for new adventures, stories, fairy tales...
Me encanta encontrar nuevas recetas, hacer experimentos, descubrir nuevas combinaciones. Y el proceso de prepararlo todo, de ir viendo como los ingredientes se transforman en otra cosa me relaja. Lo mejor es cuando los otros lo prueban y les gusta !

Cooking is therapy for me. I love to find new recipes, experiment, discover combinations. The process of making everything ready, to see how the ingredients mix and transform into something else calms me down. The best part is when people love the things I cook.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Little sister's wedding: of cartoons and colors.

The excitement is growing... we are all packed, all the boxes in my to-do list of last minute errands have been ticked, and now is when I get to tell you how all the inspiration went from Mexican-outdoor-party to Lilac and Turquoise. It turns out that my sister and her fiancé (well mostly my sister) are big fans of Disney movies. Early in their relationship, she started calling him Sully (from Monsters Inc).

So it was only natural for them to use the colors of the film for their decorations and cake toppers.  (I will show you those when the time comes, but it was an adventure to find them. We went to all kinds of toy stores and Disney shops but in the end the rainforest saved the day).

But if Sully was supposed to represent the groom it was a bit weird to use little Boo as the cake topper so we had to find a princess, or some other character to pair it with. We wanted someone wild and fun loving, not your regular syrupy girl. First we thought of Kevin, the crazy bird from Up, but it was impossible to find a little figurine. And then, we thought... well Rapunzel ! She is adventurous a rebel, and up for anything, and her dress happens to be lilac, so it was perfect. Also, she has a camaleon !

Anyway, I already showed you the dress I will be wearing. Well, my sister in law will be wearing a similar one in the same fabric. Have you read this article on how to coordinate mismatched bridesmaids? Since everyone is far away we decided to let everyone do their thing, sticking to a general palette.

 As for the accesories, I will be wearing lilac shoes, that I already had, and the boys will use these turquoise ties.  I am so happy. I literally can't hardly wait. And yes, I know details are not important and clothes and fashion and earrings and necklaces are irrelevant, but it is fun right ? And we have to wear something!

First images, in order, from here, here and here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

An Ukrainian kind of breakfast

 The other day, when I asked you for recipes involving ricotta, a few of you gave me your input. (Thanks so much, I love to try new things). Anna started talking about some kind of Ukrainian pancakes and I was sold. So, I followed the instructions carefully, and wow. Syriniki are truly delicious. They reminded me of a scone, except they are creamy, cheesy, inside, without being too liquid. We ate them with powder sugar, honey, and lemon curd. But I can see how the clotted cream and raspberry jam or fresh fruit can add to the flavor. Also, they were super easy to make. I am usually *afraid* of messing up food that has to be fried (deep or not) since I am always burning stuff. But these were a piece of cake. They are a traditional breakfast or dessert in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland where sometimes quark is used instead of ricotta. In Russia they are called tvorozhniki (творо́жники). And you know how I love to know the origin of words, so here you go:  

"The name syrniki is derived from the word сыр in Russian or  сир in Ukrainian  (pronnouced: syr), meaning "cheese" in both languages. Although the modern meaning of the word сыр (syr) in Russian is hard yellow cheese, the original word in Slavic languages stood for soft white cheese (similar to today's quark cheese, which is still called сир in Ukrainian but metamorphosed into творог, tvorog in Russian). Thus, the word syrniki, derived from the old meaning of syr, came to designate pancakes made from soft white cheese."*
 So now comes Anna's recipe. I just adjusted the quantities to what I had (250 gr. Ricotta, 1 egg, 2 spoons flour, pinch of salt, 1 spoon sugar, raisins).

2 lb (~1 kg) ricotta cottage cheese
3 eggs
sugar, salt (to taste)
4-5 spoons flour (in my experience, you need more like 7 spoons, but start with 4 and see how it goes)
raisins (soak in hot water to soften, then drain).

What you should do

Mix together ricotta, eggs, sugar, and salt. Add flour one spoon at a time, while stirring. Add raisins.
On a large frying pan, heat up some oil (canola oil works well, but any kind will do). You will need a lot of oil for this recipe, as the pancakes are almost deep-fried. Using a table spoon, dole out mixture onto frying pan into pancake-size portions. Make sure they don't stick to each other. If the pancakes seem too liquid (they spread out too much, or fall apart when you try to turn them over), then you need to add more flour. But don't add too much because then they will be too heavy. Fry pancakes on one side till brown (but not burnt, which sometimes is hard to distinguish), and flip them over. Add oil as necessary between batches.

Best served with sour cream. I like to eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a snack. In other words, this recipe comes highly recommended!

* Source

Friday, January 27, 2012

Of flying books

This post by the smitten immigrant had us discussing about how I am really into sharing books. How I believe that books are not made to rest in shelves gathering dust, but should be made alive, read, again and again. Because of  that, added to the the fact that we don't have a lot of storage, I find myself giving books away to friends and relatives. Sending them to my best friend, who studied literature and now lives in Chile, or just randomly leaving them in places where they can be found and picked up by others (I hope). So when I found this short animation, I knew I had to share it with you.

Tea love

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What to do with ricotta?

 You know how I made spinach ricotta lasagne around Christmas ? Well, my mom sent me the recipe in her own words, calling for equal quantities of spinach and ricotta. And asking for 2 kg. of spinach. So there we go for 2 kg of ricotta, which is a lot. I omitted to take into account the fact that the spinach would be cooked and that plants are 80 % water if not more. So now, we still have some ricotta left and I do not know what to do with it anymore. We used some over pasta and vegetables to make a creamy kind of concoction, and I made this zucchini cheesecake (which was delicious for me, but to lemony for the boy, so if you  are not a fan of citrus, use a bit less zest). But I am out of ideas now. And I am sure you all have tricks under your sleeves. Do you have any recipes with ricotta ? We have to use it soon...

* Photo via 101 cookbooks . I had made my own photos but our external hardrive just fell to the floor and it is broken. I have tears in my eyes stupid technological gadgets, and I am fighting against myself not to yell at someone sitting by me because he is obsessed with keeping things clean and thus erased the pictures from the camera and the other computer in which we had them.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy dragon year

to all of you. It is said that it will be an auspicious year, because dragons are the only mythical creature of the chinese horoscope. I hope it brings us all joy and surprises. There are some oranges in our table, and we will light candles. There are also fresh tulips by the window.
By the way the picture above is an axolotl, do you know them? They are very special animals. Special in that they only live in Xochimilco and Chalco, the lake system around Mexico city and in that they are neotenic salamanders. Which means they are Peter Pan. Literally, they never grow old. Or in scientific terms they never undergo the full metamorphosis that would normally transform them in a salamander. Impressive huh?

The redish ball on the left are Tubifex, real live worms, yuck.

Friday, January 20, 2012

So, wedding planning...

 It can get so crazy. We are almost there, with my sister's wedding, less than 1 month left actually. And I think we are currently in Stage 5 (see Shiny Pretty bits for the full process, via Pieces of Anna)

"5. Rebellion – “EFF it”
Faced with the need to simplify and regain a sense of control, the individual may find themselves ruthlessly slashing things from the wedding. Marked by feelings of apathy and exhaustion. Persons may find themselves telling over zealous friends and family where to stick their “helpful suggestions”. Rebellion can give the individual a false sense of Zen, resulting in a regression to stage 4. It is not uncommon to mock The Knot during this phase."

If you take a look at the pinterest board I made for lil´sis at the beginning of it all you will realize how many things have changed. Once upon a time, it was supposed to be a day-mexican-kermesse-like party, in an outdoor location, with lots of typical things.

Then, because of logistical reasons, it turned to the classic dinner and dancing affair, and the mexican decorations we originally had imagined did not really stick. So now that will be more of a lilac and turquoise effortless chic affair.

 We still kind of want lots of glass jars, but I do not know how that fits in an indoor location at night.
At this moment, not all people have RSVP-ed and even I, the sister, have to harass some of them. The deadline was the 10th of January, and we still haven´t heard about some 40 people. I think I´ll turn to Alyssa and her advice... 

  You know when it all started I had so many projects in mind. I am still going to organize and set a dessert table, and there is a surprise coming too (that I will tell you about later) but one of the main things I wanted to organize was a flashmob, and now I have no idea how you coordinate 150 people to all dance at the same time. Sure I found some videos and we have candidate songs that I could send to them (or should I say to some of them, because I do not even have everyone´s email, and I do not want to ask my sister or her fiancé, because it is supposed to be a secret thing), but other than that I am stuck in the mental process. Oh oh oh... any ideas ?

Images via here, here, here, here and here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Another side of Amsterdam

The other day we went for a walk, when we were looking for candy, and I am glad we did. We ended up discovering new little streets. It is funny though, Amsterdam is quite a small city and it has still so many hidden treasures for us to discover. I love that we can still get lost amongst the canals and find new places, parks, shops. Here is a glimpse of what we saw. Do you still get lost in your city? Or do you know it like the palm of your hands?
Made me think of Berlin, this is right before Westerpark
Graffiti love
Pretty bikes and trees and doll houses
Philosophy of life
If you need an authentic mexican pinata and other folkloric paraphernalia
The place to go is Kitsch kitchen
I have something with green buildings
Oh Art deco building, how pretty you are.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Candy made art at Papabubble

It is no secret to you guys that both the boy and I have sweet tooth right? Well, today I'm bringing you to a magic place that I discovered in Barcelona some 7 years ago while randomly walking in the Barri Gotic, the medieval city center. And yes, I am talking about Papabubble. This place was founded in 2004 by two Australian friends that came to the city and decided to open a business. They grew so much that aside from the original shop in Carrer Ample, they are now in Amsterdam, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Lisbon,  and Moscow.
They make hard candy right in front of your eyes out of sugar, water, glucose and natural colors and flavors.  First they boil the sugar with water and glucose, next they knead the candy paste, roll it, sculpt it, cut it and there you go: magic out of the simplest ingredients. Every little candy is unique, in color and flavour. Delicious fruitiness melting in your mouth, really. It is something out of a child's dream.
And so, even if we knew this place from Barcelona, as it was one of  those usual places where we would go for a treat, we went to the one in Amsterdam last Saturday. And we came back with quite a few bags of happiness. (To be honest, we were actually looking for lilac and turquoise caramels for my sister's wedding dessert table. And we found them yeah. Do you know how hard it is to find lilac candy? Sounds easy, but we found none at your regular candy shops).
 If you are curious, you can see how the candy is made in this video. Or if you happen to be in one of those cities you should definitely go and have a look.
 In Barcelona their address is Carrer Ample 28, in Amsterdam they are in Harlemmerdijk 70, a short walk from the main train station.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reading in the train

Lately I find myself actually enjoying my commute because I am reading all the time. I actually look forward to the quiet time in the train where I can just focus on whatever it is I am reading. (That is of course after almost fighting to make sure I get a seat, preferably by the window).
I am currently busy with The marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, and I am truly liking it. The back cover convinced me from the minute I read that it is about a girl a bit obsessed with Jane Austen and everything romantic and Victorian in contra position with a boy who is a biologist, a darwinist, and a trip to South Africa Cape Cod . Also, the line "Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead?" made me want to continue reading. The fact that Jeffrey Eugenides is the author of The Virgin Suicides just did it. I loved the book, and I loved the movie. Sophia Coppola's dreamy aesthetics and the way she can make the screen full of feelings just with images is really something. And well, I could probably relate to The Virgin Suicides, having been to a rather extremist catholic all girl school for 5 years, rebelling to all of that while still questioning if they might be right with their stories of hell (at the time I was 11) and been raised in a household where my father was something of a skeptical atheist, and my mom a religious but not church goer person.
And well... because of paragraphs like this  and quotations of Barthes (that made me even more curious) I can not stop reading.

"Madeleine had never been close to anyone with a verifiable mental illness. She instinctively avoided unstable people. As uncharitable as this attitude was, it was part and parcel of being a Hanna, of being a positive, privileged, sheltered, exemplary person. If there was one thing Madeleine Hanna was not, it was mentally unstable. That had been the script, anyway. But sometime after finding Billy Bainbridge in bed with two women, Madeleine had become aware of the capacity in herself for a helpless sadness not unlike clinical depression; and certainly in these last weeks, sobbing in her room over her breakup with Leonard, getting wasted and having sex with Thurston Meems, pinning her last hope of being accepted to a graduate school she wasn't even sure she wanted to attend, broken by love, byempty promiscuity, by self-doubt, Madeleine recognized that she and a mentally ill person were not necessarily mutually exclusive categories. "

Image from here

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Darioles (moelleux) au chocolat

 What's promised is debt, and I left you hanging last time. So on to the point, the chocolate and butter turned into tiny chocolate souffles with a liquid heart, oh yes. Perfection. And you will not believe how easy it is to make them. I used this recipe, but since it is in french, here goes in english:

You will need 
100 gr. dark chocolate (the higher the % of cacao, the better).
120 gr. butter
120 gr. sugar
50 gr. flour
4 eggs.

And here's what to do
The  first step is to soften the butter by pressing it with a wooden spatula, until it resembles an ointment. Next, you should melt your chocolate, previously grated or cut in pieces, au bain marie. you should then add the butter to the melted chocolate, and on a separate bowl, beat the eggs, with the sugar until then whiten a bit, and then add the flour.

 When the egg-sugar-flour mix is ready, you should add the chocolate and put the paste in the fridge for minimum 3 hours. I was confused about this step, I did not really want to wait, but I obeyed and understood. When I came back to get the paste from the fridge the consistency had changed, when letting it fall it made "ribbons" (I think that's the term).

 Anyway, now comes the good part. Preheat the oven to 200 °C, butter small oven moulds (I am assuming you can use a muffin pan as well), and fill them to half the volume. Then put them in the oven for 5 minutes, and there you go. Glorious chocolatey heaven.

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