Saturday, March 31, 2012


Este mes para el juego fotográfico de "La vuelta al mundo"*,  Jackie nos propuso llenar el muro de amarillo, como excusa para salir a explorar nuestras ciudades a la caza de fotos urbanas o rurales.  Aqui está el nuevo link a Casi en Serio que recién se mudo. Me encanta seguir la cadena internacional de fotos tomadas por aqui, por alla y por todas partes. Todo el mundo puede participar, las instrucciones están aqui. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This month for the photographic game  " La vuelta al mundo*"Jackie challenged us to look for yellow things everywhere, as a way to go out and explore our cities. Bonus points for urban or rural photos. Here is the new link to Casi en Serio  (it has a new home). I love to follow the international chain of photos and posts taken everywhere in the world. If you are new to this, anyone can participate, the instructions are here.
A building in Amsterdam's Spuistraat 199

Flower field in Noordwijk, Zuid Holland

A street in Guanajuato, Mexico

Los Arcos del 3r Milenio, in Guadalajara, México

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blueberry and coconut milk pound cake

Here I am bringing you another of my experiments in the kitchen and playing with the new toy. This time I wanted to do something with fresh fruit, and I also want to really learn baking methods techniques. So you can imagine how happy I was when I found baking 911's explanations on the process of creaming butter and sugar. They have all kinds of almost scientific descriptions, telling you how during the creaming process what you want is to incorporate air in the butter and how the sugar crystals cut into the fat creating bubbles and trapping air.
  I adapted the recipe from this one, but I decided to play a bit. First of all, vegetable shortening is not very easily found here. My first instinct was to replace it with oil, but I read that it does not work as well. To be honest I could have checked in the American-supermarket but I know for a fact that hydrogenated vegetable oils are packed with trans-fats and rather unhealthy, so I just replaced the shortening with good-old extra butter for lack of a better option. I also switched the milk for coconut milk. It was moist and dense and fluffy and the blueberries were a nice surprise. The boy says it gets a 9, but judging by the large quantities he ate I think it was quite good.
Blueberry and coconut milk Pound Cake -adapted from Sing for your supper who adapted it from Paula Deen

What you need 
200 gr butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries (tossed with a little bit of flour, to prevent them from sinking during baking).

What to do
Preheat oven to 175ºC .  Cream butter and slowly add sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Sift dry ingredients together and add to mixer alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Add vanilla. Fold in the blueberries, carefully. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake for about an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Giraffes in town

 Sunday was a sunny day, and we decided to go search for yellow. We followed the "bollenstreek route" or route of the bulbs, which takes you through fields of tulips that are now starting to bloom. Somewhere along the way we ended up in Noordwijk, and I almost fainted when I saw Giraffes, yes Giraffes, in the middle of a garden. Turns out we were in Lindenhof, a mansion from the 17th Century which was the first Latin School of Noordwijk, then a notary house and then an external clinic for the Hospital. It was also the birthplace of Henriette Roland Holst* a writer and socialist who:
"...suffered from depression, bouts of anorexia, anemia and heart disease but when she was fine she struggled with an unrelenting zeal to improve the position of workers, youth and women."**
and isn't that inspiring? 
But most of all, I was running, jumping, excited like the 5 year old that I am to find such an amazing garden !
**And yes I learnt all of that in an informative plate, but it was a good dutch exercise don't you think?
And if you want to visit the address is  Lindenplein 1, in Noordwijk,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring is here

and the light is back. Along with the sun, and the long days. Finally. It is funny to realize how much related to nature we still are, even if we like to pretend otherwise. How we feel suddenly full of energy and happiness (except because of the change of weather I got a cold and am feeling a bit sick). It has all to do with how the sunlight makes us release melatonin and everything seems hopeful again. So here is wishing you happy times.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Brioche: first try

 As you can imagine, the main question at the beginning of the weekend was what to do? what to do? What am I going to bake. What is our huge new toy going to make for us this weekend?
I had been wanting to try and make bread for a while, you know, a recipe that involved actual, living yeast. I remember the cute little microorganisms from my big molecular biology book and how sometimes they have their own get togethers (or conjugate to use a proper scientific term).
 Anyway, as soon as I found this Brioche recipe, by La tartine Gourmande, that claimed to be the simplest I knew it was a good place to start. Ever since I tried brioche I fell in love with it and it is the same story with the boy. Sweet, fluffy and perfectly golden bread is what dreams are made of.
 I also did my research and found out that when working with yeast it is "easier" to keep the yeast alive by mixing it first with the dry ingredients, and then, slowly, adding the warm liquids, in this case lukewarm milk. And this being my first ever try at bread, I thought, better to start with baby steps.
 It was so exciting to see the dough rise, though I had to be patient: after integrating the dough there was a waiting time of 2 hours, and then, after placing it in the pan, another "rise" of 1 hour and finally the egg and sugar glazing and into the oven.
 The smell of Brioche in the oven must be what heaven smells like. All this waiting was definitely worth it, the Brioche was delicious and we ate almost half of it in one go oops. It is true that it turned out more like a cake than a bread, or something in between. When I made the dough, it was elastic, but I was not able to make balls or otherwise manage it by hand, and I did not want to add more flour for fear of it being to dense in the end. I was very precise in following the instructions, and after talking with the experts (that is my mom), we think it might be the type of flour. Apparently "bread" flower has a highest gluten content and this allows for longer chains of starch to form, which gives the texture and consistency of bread to the dough... we'll see. Oh so much to learn.
*Second image via here

Friday, March 16, 2012

One of these

 I had been dreaming of a KitchenAid for so long. Oh, all the things that I could make: brioche, bread, macarons, meringue, fluffy fluffy mufffins, buttercream, spongecakes, ice-cream!
The truth is we had some wedding-gift leftovers, and even if there is still a room without curtains, we kind of were saving for when the baby comes. You know because apparently the cute little things require a million things, like a bottle sterilizer and all that other stuff that I can even come up with right now.
But, our baby is taking its time, and after thinking long hours we decided to go for it. Because life is now... it really is. For new experiments, for how much I enjoy it in the kitchen, for trying new things. (And, says the boy, for testing them).
I am so excited. I read the manual the whole day, slowly, went through recipes that I could make. I am kind of afraid of the thing. It is huge, and heavy. And oh so lovely. (Yes I wanted a turquoise one, or apple green, or light orange, but red it was, and red has been one of my all time favorite colors at least when it comes to dresses). I hope I won't mess up, and even then I will learn something. I want to jump up and down and I can't wait for tomorrow morning when I'll try it for the first time. I promise I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A starry cake and a turtle

 While in Mexico last month, one of the things my little sis' asked me to do was to teach her to decorate cakes with fondant. Not that I am an expert (on the contrary, I have tons to learn) but I did take a basic course, and so we got the ingredients and set ourselves to work play. It was lots of fun, actually it felt like we were in back in kindergarden making figures with play-doh, rolling the fondant, adding colors to get the perfect shade. My best friend even sculpted a turtle, her favorite animal, and we just had to keep it. Like Marcela said, baking can be like meditation, and I just want to learn and try so many things.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Around Chapultepec and MNAH

 I think it is no secret that the boy and I love discovering cities together. And our favorite way of doing it is just walking around. It would not be an exaggeration to say that we want to walk the world together, more than anything else, it's what we do on vacation.
Our last trip was the boy's fourth time in Mexico. I think I had already asked him a few times if he had been to the National Anthropology Museum, and he always said yes, I have, I went with my dad. Turns out, while we were at his Dad's we found out that in fact he had never been there. If you are in Mexico city for a very short time and have to choose only one place, I would say you have to go to MNAH (Museo Nacional de Antropologia e Historia). It is the biggest collection of important objects from the many different civilizations that flourished in the different states of Mexico since ancient times. You have the Aztecs and the Mayans of course, but also the Olmecs, Tenochca's, Mixtecs, Zapotecs and many more civilizations that made Mexico the rich and diverse country that it is. If you go there, you should also take a stroll in the big Chapultepec park, that even has a castle (the only Royal Castle of Latin America) and maybe also go to the Chapultepec Zoo (the first zoo outside of China to ever succeed in breeding Panda's).
When you finish you can take a walk around Reforma (on of the main avenues in Mexico city), see the emblematic Angel de la Independencia and go from there... (but that would be another post).
Mark discovers an "alegria", a mexican candy bar made of amaranth seeds.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Just keep going

 These days have been tough. I have been extremely tired, and maybe I am having a bit of a mid-life crisis (yeah, because I don't love to be over dramatic, oh no, I don't). It just feels that at 31 I should be doing something with my life and it does not feel like I am on a path to get anywhere. I have spent these last years trying as hard as I can to get somewhere that feels unreachable. I have to fight myself not to let myself become frustrated, lose motivation, lose faith. Somehow (the end of) this post gave me hope. That I should fear not, as hard as it is, all this  is about never stop believing, that it can not all be worth nothing.

 Both images found on pinterest here and here (I was unable to find the original source sorry about that).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Homesick expat

 I am finally back home after spending a month in my beloved Mexico. It is perhaps funny, but coming back -or to be precise- saying goodbye, gets harder and harder every time. You would expect that after living abroad for 11 years or so I would be used to it already. But that is not the case. The first time I left, right after high school, to learn french I knew it was temporary and I swore I would come back. But then it just so happened that enrolling at public universities in Mexico was very hard, and I was able get a scholarship in Switzerland. So I stayed. Every time I left Mexico I felt going back  was just a matter of time. And of course, little by little, you start being part of your new environment, you learn, you adapt, transform and absorb the new culture. In the end you become a mix, a true citizen of the World, like that famous song says : "No soy de aqui, ni soy de alla". It is not so much that I don't belong here or that in many ways I feel like a tourist or a visit when I'm over there, but that the person I am has grown and taken in bits of every place I've lived in.
Probably what I am feeling now is just the lack of sun (and of my family, friends, avocados, enfrijoladas, tortillas, tlacoyos...). Perhaps it is also the fact that I know that my life is now here, that this move is somehow permanent (though we do want to live abroad at some point in the future), that there is no "coming back" after a temporary period, and that as sad as I am to write this words, the situation in Mexico is not the best, and the future of my dear country does not look like it will get better anytime soon.
  I remember when we left, at the end of January,  noticing that spring is coming, that the days are longer, that there IS more light. But now... all I see is gray skies around me. I guess it will take me a few days to get used to Holland again. In the meantime, expect stories and a giveaway. I hope I won't be too jet lagged and tired to write, and I look forward to hearing from you.
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