humbler than pie [olive oil apple crisp]

humbler than pie (15 of 15)humbler than pie (14 of 15)A good friend of mine and I sometimes joke about worrying that we peaked in high school. We were just big fish in a little pond, but I sometimes feel that I lost some of the confidence I had after I left that teenage-comfort zone. It might be that I’m overthinking things, or it might just be a part of growing up—maybe a bit of both.

While I often found my undergrad challenging, I find myself occasionally missing the structure that came with the “occupation” of being a student and the kind of certainty it offered; I knew what I was doing with my life for a solid chunk of time (that good ole’ BSc), at least most of the time. And even if I didn’t know what lay ahead after graduation, I had another year or two to think about it, another semester or two, another week or two…

Since graduating, I’ve doubted myself a lot in a way that doesn’t feel like “me”. I’ve given in to mini-cry sessions that creep up on me without warning, and indulged in little pity parties for seemingly no reason. Motivation has been a little low, Netflix usage has gone up. I have learned how to cross stitch. Continue reading

A Spanish Snack [Tostada con aceite y tomate]

A bright breakfast back in Huelva.

A bright breakfast back in Huelva.

I’m so not done with Spanish food. I hope you’re all OK with that — I don’t want to be ‘that’ girl who goes abroad for a wee bit and then bores everyone to tears with all the wonderful things about her “second home“. But I didn’t even get halfway through my little bucketlist, so I hope you’ll indulge me (plus it will be tasty, I promise).
Snacktime in Andalucia

Snacktime in Andalucia

It was certainly a bit of an adjustment to go from gallivanting around Europe to be living back at home and working full time. Some things, though — my dog’s wagging tail, a guaranteed hot shower (no broken bombona, hurrah!), family board games, sunny evenings at the tennis courts — made falling back into the routine a happy transition.
Huelva

Huelva

So I might not be able to buy cheap plane tickets to fly across Europe on a whim for the forseeable future, but it’s the little things that life is made up of, right? I file this Spanish breakfast (or snack) into that folder of simple pleasures: tostada con tomate y aceite; toast with tomatoes and olive oil. Usually served with your café con leche, maybe some ham, and preferably a chair in the sun.
Tostada con aceite y tomate

Powder Puffs [Olive Oil Polvorones]

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Feliz día de Andalucía! I’m in Amsterdam today (taking advantage of the long weekend) instead of Andalucía, but to celebrate I will leave you with this recipe for a traditional Spanish treat!

20130227-020200.jpgThese sweet, crumbly cookies, known as polvorones or galletas fritas, are traditionally made with lard, but this recipe uses olive oil (so you can feel kind of healthy while you eat them?)! I didn’t have anise extract, so I used some vanilla, and I didn’t have a rolling pin so I used beer bottle. This is how things go in my Huelva kitchen.

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Although a few of my galletas were just a bit too crumbly, these were a lot easier to make than I originally thought they might be, and it’s another item crossed off my Spanish Cooking Bucket List!

20130227-021206.jpg¡Buen provecho!20130227-020903.jpg

Overwhelmed Under the Arches: La Mezquita, Cordoban Highlights, and a Clementine Cake

Looking up at the iconic arches in the mosque.

During my second year of university I took a little break from a full science course load and took some artsy electives.  One of my favourite classes was ‘Intro to Spanish Culture’ — our teacher, an enthusiastic academic from Andalucia, had me captivated after the first class.  Shortly thereafter I heard about this language assistant program in Spain, I applied the following year, and now here I am! Crazy.
One of the images I remembered the most from that class was that of the great mosque in Cordoba.  TShap and I ended up going back there twice, we were so amazed by the structure and the history of the building (plus, tourist tip! the entry is free from 8:30-10am!).  Although the mosque really is fantastic to see, many tours make it the only stop, and I would recommend staying to see the rest of this beautiful town.  From the Jewish quarter, to the Alcazar, to the gorgeous patios at Palacio de Viana, there is a lot to see. Catch a flamenco show, try some bull’s tail stew, and enjoy!

Craftsman at work at the Zocco Market

Looking into one of the patios at the Palacio de Viana.

This cake showcases two of the most abundant ingredients in Andalucia: citrus and olive oil.  This was my first weekend without traveling;  I enjoyed some downtime (and partying) at ‘home’ in Huelva and baked for the first time since I’ve been in Spain — it felt nice!  I was a little nervous with how using our new oven for the first time would go but this cake worked out so well! I was very pleased.  

Flamenco concert in Cordoba

Trying Rabo del Torro…I was wary but it was delicious.

Great travel buddy and photographer, twin:)

Clementine Olive Oil Cake with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Lemony Olive Oil Banana Cake

Dylan, one of my loveliest friends, celebrated her birthday at the end of August, and despite finding out her favourite desserts (cheesecake or crème brûlée, yum!) from her sister I was still sick AND we had a bunch of very ripe bananas, so this cake happened instead. Not that this was a bad thing, it was super delicious! (But Dylan, I owe you some crème brûlée.)

The recipe is from one of my favourite blogs, Heidi Swanson’s 101 cookbooks, and is actually a banana bread but works fabulously as a cake! Dress it down by preparing it in a loaf pan and skipping the icing, or you can put it in a bundt pan like she did for something a little fancier.  I went somewhere in the middle and just used a round 9-inch cake pan.

The combination of banana baked with a bright lemon twist was something I had never actually tasted before and I was delighted. Studded with dark chocolate, it’s irresistible. I will admit to eating this for dessert and breakfast, and taking it to work as a treat (it travels really well!) so I certainly won’t judge if you do the same. In fact, it is encouraged.

As far as dessert goes, this one is pretty “guilt free” with whole wheat flour, olive oil, and yogurt as some of the main ingredients.  If you don’t feel like chopping up chocolate, I used bittersweet chocolate chips and it worked out perfectly. The glaze that Heidi suggests was nice, but I actually preferred the cake without. If I were to ice it next time, I think I might indulge in a chocolate topping (no such thing as too much chocolate!).

Whether yours ends up as a loaf or a cake, I hope you enjoy it! Happy weekend!