Churros

I come from a family who loves to sleep and loves to eat. We all loved a good lie-in on weekends, except my dad. You see, his love of food was bigger than his love of sleep. So one of his genius ideas was to lure us into getting up early and helping him cook breakfast. And we’d cook churros, for the 6 of us, and any friends staying over. There was always someone staying over. But how do you manage to wake up teenagers early and make them cook breakfast? Bribery. Of the worst kind. What he’d do is he’d make the dough for the churros and fry one. Just one. Cover it in sugar and come to our rooms and make us try it, while still half-asleep. This is what the dough looks like:

churro dough

It was a masterful stroke, because he’d say something like “Ohhh I’ve made churros for breakfast. Come and join me”. So we’d get up, follow him as if we were under some sort of spell and then, then surprise SURPRISE. The churros had not been fried yet in olive oil! So we’d obviously help, by that point we were starving and our body wanted more churros. Image of churro being cooked below:

churros being fried

By the time they were ready, we’d all managed to get up and sat around the table, eagerly awaiting this feast. We only had breakfast together when there was churros.  This is what the finished product looks like:

Cooked churros

This past weekend I made churros for the first time since my dad passed away. A group of us got together at a friend’s house in Sydney. I provided the recipe, but he had a churrera, the machine where you put the dough in so it comes out in that great churro shape. And how did he source a churrera in Sydney? Well, he’d had it for over 15 years. It was a present from my dad as our friend would join in the churros fun like another member of the Robledo clan when he stayed with us all those years ago..

In case you were wondering, the churros were delicious, and we ate them the only way one possibly can… with thick hot chocolate!

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo

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Plaza Mayor de Madrid

When I finished my BA, I moved to Madrid. It had it all for me: an elegant international city whilst still being very Spanish. I thought I’d live there forever… little did I know that less than two years later I’d be moving to London. To live there forever… and, well, I am in Canada, living in Toronto and about to move to yet another city.

But I digress… Madrid was SO MUCH FUN. Particularly the first year, where I wasn’t senior enough at my company to worry about work after hours. Where if I arrived home before 7am after a night of partying, I thought the night had been a waste of time. Where it was incredibly easy to make friends. Where my beautiful sister Reyes lives and whom I met up with regularly. She basically fed me via tupperwares full of love and food throughout my second year in Madrid, when I was busy doing my MA and broke because I had to pay for it. There were very few things I could actually afford, BUT I could still treat myself to a “bocadillo de calamares” from time to time. Above is a watercolour of the Plaza Mayor de Madrid, where the best “bocadillo” can be found. Mmmmmm I would certainly kill for one of these right now.

NOTE: The photo above was taken from here.

Salt

Food… probably one of my all-time favourite subjects: I love to buy it, cook it, eat it and talk about it. It’s only natural that when I cook, I like to have all my ingredients at hand.

Lots of recipes talk about a “pinch” of salt, or 1/3 tsp salt, etc. If you have a sea salt grinder, it’s always difficult to know exactly HOW MUCH salt you add. So in my kitchen, there’s always a bowl full of the stuff nearby for easy addition.

And that’s exactly what the purpose of my FIRST EVER pinch bowl (made at my awesome clay class at Clay Design Studio Gallery in Toronto) is.

I collected it today and am really happy with the results. So happy in fact I had to take artistic pictures of my new creation with a Zara Home tea towel in the background. Look how well it blends in with its new family:

PS –  I just noticed that the design of my tea towel looks like the…. the body of a naked lady with big breasts!! I didn’t do it on purpose… I swear!! Hahahahahahahaaaaa!

Gazpacho

It doesn’t matter that I’m a 31 year old woman, that I’m super independent or that I keep on moving further and further away from my family every couple of years: each time I get sick, I miss my mother and wish she’d be fussing around me! I’m currently stuck at home sick feeling sorry for myself and would KILL for a bowl of my mother’s gazpacho. Not even kidding!

Pumpkin love

Since the beginning of the year, Sundays have been simply awesome. I normally HATE Sundays, particularly the dreaded Monday-is-around-the-corner feeling that takes over in the evening. Now, however, Sundays rock. And that’s because I am finally learning how to create things with clay every Sunday afternoon. I did dabble in decorating bowls here and there, but I cannot even begin to say how rewarding it is to not only MAKE your own pieces, but also DECORATE them.

I have been going to the Clay Design Studio Gallery in Toronto and learning from the fantastic potters Dennise Buckley and Mari Lise Stonehouse the tricks of the trade… or at least attempting to! By way of a flavour of the wild variety of things I’m learning to make is this adorable pumpkin. Yes, I do like pumpkins.

New Year’s resolution

A few months back, I was asked the classic question “if you had super powers, what would they be?” I didn’t have to think for a split second to know the answer: to have the ability to eat whatever I like and never get fat. There, simple and blatantly honest. Nonsense like flying, invisibility, time-travel, etc. didn’t even come close to the sheer joy of eating vast quantities of delicious food a la Pantagruel and never having to face the consequences. Today, if someone asked the same question, my answer would be very similar, but with one addition: that the food I ate were magically anticancer. You see, over the holidays I read this book, and now my life has completely changed.

The book explains how the food that we eat can make our body a playground for cancer cells or the most desolate place for them. Therefore it is a guide as to what food we should eat to combat the development of cancer and what food we must eliminate from our diet altogether. Fascinating and a real eye-opener. If reading this book weren’t enough, on New Year’s Eve, I was sick with a horrible cold and on the sofa just like Marguerite in The Lady of the Camellias – I do get rather melodramatic when I’m ill… Anyway, I watched a documentary which also opened my eyes regarding food: Food Inc.

It was there and then that I decided my new year’s resolution would be to COMPLETELY change my diet to make it more anticancer and healthier. Step one, make my own food as often as possible. So last week I made my first casserole of butter beans, carrots, celery, onion and a touch of pimenton (Spanish paprika, so delicious).

Step two: tell EVERYONE I know about this new book and nutritional lifestyle. Step three: endure with Stoic resilience the constant temptations I got from my food-obsessed family back in Spain. Not only were pretty much ALL the conversations I had with them about food and how delicious everything was, but I was also bombarded with photographs of delicious yet forbidden dishes, such as the one below, “morros de cerdo” or pork scratchings:

It’s important to note that the Anticancer book says that the Mediterranean diet is very healthy indeed, and it’s the one I have been following pretty much all of my life. However, yours truly has been a bit of a pig these last few months and needs to get rid of her “winter fat suit”. So I am staying as far away from fatty food as possible for a while… sigh…

(*) The calendar above is the 2012 version of last year’s calendar. Not as pretty, but I wanted to use some leftover recycled paper I had around the house.

Pumpkin Soup

I really REALLY like autumn: the colours, crispy cool weather and the feeling of home goodness in the food of the season. Right now, I think I live in the best place where to spend autumn and I went to Boston last weekend to see it at its urban best. I mean, look at this GORGEOUS doorway in Beacon Hill:

Which brings me to another subject, pumpkins. I’m a bit obsessed with pumpkins, even dressed up as an inflatable pumpkin a couple of years ago for Halloween. I love the colour, shape and infinite dishes one can make out of a pumpkin. My favourite, without a doubt is pumpkin soup, and here’s what you need:

Just boil all the ingredients chopped up until they’re thoroughly cooked and mashy, add a splash of milk and voila: