Tuesday, March 29

The Parental Invasion

 In honor of my Parents arrival and for my dad's "birthday," I decided to attempt a baking adventure and make a Boston Cream Pie. From my knowledge, it is my Dad's favorite cake (or he has just been telling us this and eating lots and lots of BCPs). I scanned and searched the internet for a good recipe and then baked, baked and baked.

When explaing what I was going to bake to my school, I realized that it is a very confusing name since it isnt a pie but a cake. History says that it is called a pie because in the 17th century pie tins were more common than cake tins... and many people in New England make it... thus it is Boston!

The cake was very tasty and even came with a fun little burn on my wrist. I made all my guests eat it: Ana (my mom's favorite daughter), Albert (her hubby) and my parents. Then I ate the rest for breakfast.

So after spending 2 hours in a car driving from Malaga to Almunecar (I still say it takes an hour to drive it!), my family arrived in Spain and we started our tapas tour.

Sadly, whenever we wanted to eat, the kitchens were closed because it was the wrong time or the owners decided to go on vacation. But we still ate well: churros, meat, queso, bread, mushroom stew, chocolate, and a great dinner at Mar del Plata in Almunecar.

Everyone took a day trip up to Granada to eat more and view the Cathedral and la Alhambra. My mom bought some funny genie pants for her girlfriends to drink coffee in, we navigated the crazy streets by car, wandered around the Generalife in la Alhambra and tried to stay dry.

Back in Almunecar, we celebrated the night (aka waited for the kitchen to open to eat dinner) by going to los Grifos. This is a type of bar that I think Minnesota would love. Each table has its own tap and keg, and a computer keeps track of how much you drink throughout the night. AND since it is Spain, you get free tapas. Tables can also race to see which is drinking the most by watching the TV screen near the door. My mom declared that this place had the best tapas and she got to practice her bartending skills.

The next day, we all returned to Malaga for one last hurrah at El Pimpi with Ana and Albert before they returned to Barcelona. Then the next day, my parents and I risked the bus system for a rainy day trip to Ronda. I definately need to return there this summer to go on some long walks and explore the gorge!

Sadly, this time had to end. I had to return to work and my pueblo, and my parents had to go back to cold, snowy Minnesota (perhaps with a souvenir from the hotel?). It was a great visit and it made me miss home a little bit more.

But I didnt have time to miss much, because when I returned to Almunecar, I had three couchsurfers, St Paddy's day and a trip to Las Fallas to distract me. I cant believe I only have two months left!

Monday, March 28

Happy Day

This weekend was one of the first nice weekends in a long time. Amazing weather, great visitors and now I am enjoying some homemade dumplings with a Bells Two Hearted Ale for dinner. Beer with flavor and 7% apv... my taste buds are going insane (but a good insane).

I am currently working on some posts and here is a summary of whats to come:

-  Highlights from the Parental Invasion
- The Burning Sensation of Las Falls
- My visit from Miss Annie Bananie
and anything else I can think of that you might want to hear about.

I also went to the Almunecar Aquarium with Annie and made a new friend:

Sunday, March 13

Vamos a Portugal!

Puente, Puente, Puente!! Yet another Puente happened at the end of February and the beginning of March, to celebrate the Dia de Andalucia (celebrates the passing of the referendum that made Andalucia an autonomous community in Spain) and the Dia de la Comunidad Educativa (Teachers just wanted a day off). Other auxiliares got an ENTIRE week off (Semana Blanca) but us in Granada werent so lucky, but I still took advantage of it.

Two friends (from American but living in Granada and Linares), J and I took a last minute road trip to Lagos, Portugal, which I had visited about 5 years ago and got some awesomely-bad sunburns and ate tasty beef stroganoff. After 6 hours in a car, navigating through Malaga, Sevilla, past a prison, numerous olive trees and a new alternative energy source that looked like something out of LOTR, we arrived at our destination.

This was the beginning of our adventure to find our hostel. Since we reserved with the same company I used 5 years ago, I knew where the office was. But no one was there! Some old man started talking to us about hostel deals, the problems with this office, etc etc etc... And we were trying to call the phone numbers listed on the door. None of the numbers, except for the last one tried worked. So I got to speak Portuguese-Spanish (Portugnish?) to a guy and he said someone would be there in 5 minutes.

Enter Fatima and her grandson. We got to meet all the rest of the family too and neighbors as we were introduced to our new apartment with a faulty hot water heater. But thankfully, Fatima's son got it going so we didnt have to go upstairs for showers.

Our apartment was old school with some questionable interior decoration. It would make a good set for a horror movie. The figureheads on the walls and toys on the mantles were different (MN word that describes something that we don't understand, or don't want to try to understand) But the beds were comfy, there was TV and hot water!

This was a weekend of eating and watching. There was an amazing breakfast place that we went to both days and I realized how much I missed breakfast. Wonderful pizza bolognaise and then local dining: which partly consisted of Vinho Verde and a suprise Portuguese "tapa" of sausage, soaked in sherry on fire. Delicious! Especially the crispy bits, but the bits where the liquor didn't burn off were a bit hard to handle.

The watching portion of the weekend took part at the beach and near Sangres. While the smarter people stayed on the beach, Kelsea and I decided to just take a chance and go for a quick dip. Cold, but no hyperthermia. In Sangres, we attempted to (re)visit Henry the Navigator's school of navigation but it closed 10 minutes before. So we enjoyed exploring the near by lighthouse, the most western point on continental Europe and an amazing Sunset. One day I will return there when it is actually warm.

One of A Million Sunset Pictures

Saturday, March 5

Exploring Baking: The Croissant

Yesterday, I had an urge to bake something sweet but also something I could use to eat all my Hurry Burger (my family's version of the Sloppy Joe via many Lutheran Churches since it uses a can of condensed soup) leftovers. Since my uber nice roommate gave me a cookbook filled with recipes in Spanish for baking for Christmas, I decided to use it as inspiration.

The pictures are beautiful and clean. They help you figure out what the next step is (good for me because my baking Spanish vocab is "interesting"). and lots of recipes for breads, pastries and sweets, and alot of them of Spanish origin. There are many things I will make in this book but I decided to honor my new blog name by attempting the croissant.

Result: Buttery bread rolls masquerading as croissants.

They taste good and are great hamburger buns, but I still need to figure out how to achieve that flaky, light interior with crisp skin. After a bit of research online, I discovered that the recipe in this book is a bit basic. It got the job done, but I think next time I have to roll the dough thinner, have colder butter and fold it more times. If only I had some French in my blood... maybe next I will make a Danish Donut.

Now I am off to Malaga to celebrate my friend's birthday! Next post will be about my last puente and road trip.

Friday, March 4

I love spain

Today, I went to the market and spent 3 euros. This is what I bought:
- 2 cucumbers
- Head of lettuce
- 2 tomatoes
- red onion
- normal onions
- celery
- red pepper
- crackers
- 1 beer (most expensive thing, ringing in at .99 centimos)

What a great day! I can live so cheaply here!

Except for my cold/ear infection. While the doctors visit was free, the numerous drugs he prescribed cost 39.45 euros. That is about how much I spent on food and tapas in a month.

Wednesday, March 2

Different Me

Things I now do since moving to Spain:

1. Eat Olives. Eww, I know. Before here, I would have run away and perhaps hid behind a couch. Olives are everywhere, in all shapes, colors and tastes. Olives have earned my love by slowly wearing down my resistance to them, showing up at all restaurants, bars, homes and even once at school. Thus I now (usually) enjoy them, but still refuse to put them on my pizza.

2. Try Everything, mainly food. This new habit is a result of all the free tapas I have consumed. Since tapas are given freely with a beverage purchase, why should I let this source of nutrition go to waste? So now I will eat everything at least one: fish, seafood, vegetables (how I came to love fried eggplant with honey). However... if it has eyes, I hesitate.

3. Teach: but that is an easy one since it is my job here. Or I should perhaps say that I hang out with my students all day and speak in English at them.  I still have much to learn though.

4. Different Idea of Cold: I grew up in Minnesota, land of the artic winds, book hockey, ice fishing and where we don't get snow days but cold days. But here in Almunecar, it is cold in the winter. Even though it rarely gets below 60 degrees F, it is a different type of cold. A wet humid cold. Brrr...
These birds can stand the Chicago bitter cold
5. Speak Spanish (or Spanglish). Suprise, suprise, I can communicate in Spanish now! You still have to speak slowly to me and there are days where my brain decides not to understand either language, but I can get around just fine. Just need to practice grammar!