Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Tapas are good. In our family we like tapas. Of course, I had already tried tapas before I met Pa, but he is still the expert.

This month's challenge on the A Taste of the Mediterranean site is, you guessed it, tapas!

Tapas are different across Spain -- there are regional specialties, such as more fish in some areas, and more fritura in others. The size of the serving varies from place to place as well. For example, in San Sebastian, you can order an individual slice of bread with a bit of shellfish, while in Madrid you typically order a whole plate of your favorite tapa and share. In Barcelona, where I first had tapas, I remember papas bravas and escalivada being all the rage. In the South in Seville, tapas are individual servings on small plates.

One of my favorite tapas is one that Pa introduced me to -- Espinacas al Rinconcillo. Now, I've written about this before, and I make it a lot, because spinach is good for us, and this is delicious!

Saute a chopped onion and a bit of garlic in good olive oil, and add 1 tablespoon of curry. When I made the spinach in these photos here, I used za'atar, and it was perfectly savory and spicy.

Add 1 cup of cooked white beans, cannellini or garbanzos, to the saute for a couple of minutes and then add 2 lbs of spinach. Continue on high heat, stirring, until spinach is wilted and sauce is thick and delicious.

Serve with flatbread or breadsticks.

One of my next favorites is one that I had for the first time in Seville, but I don't think Pa was there -- Queso en aceite.

This works best with an aged cheese. Manchego aged 12 months is a nice choice. Parmesan would also work.

Slice the cheese into single, triangular slices and lest sit 2-3 days covered in good-quality olive oil. I use a jar, as you can see here. Add a few spices, not much, just a few peppercorns and maybe a bay leaf.

To serve, remove cheese from oil and let excess oil drip off. Arrange cheese triangles on a plate and serve with some nice bread for sopping up the extra oil. Yum!

And the third one for this post is Papas Alioli. This is one of my mother-in-law's specialties (she has a great many specialties, but this recipe is actually my father's!).

Make alioli by mincing 5 cloves of garlic very fine and mixing with 1 cup of mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard.

Red potatoes work very nicely for this -- boil 1.5 pounds of potatoes, and when cool enough, slice and quarter. Toss with a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar before dressing with alioli. Add chopped celery, chopped bell pepper, and sliced radishes, and stir in alioli until creamy and delicious! Make sure you don't eat this on the day before an important meeting!

Here's a picture of me enjoying my tapas. (Note the fashionably square glasses and dark eyebrows!)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Face Only a Son Could Love

Rafa drew a picture of me a couple of days ago. I was taken aback when I saw it, and then a bit dismayed. Do I really look that bad these days?

The thing is, this simple drawing is amazingly accurate. My new glasses are square-ish, and at least I thought, fashionably bold. Rafa has chosen to give them special emphasis in his rendering of me.

My mouth is in fact a bit wide, and my eyebrows are quite dark. I always felt a special affinity with Brooke Shields, and Rafa seems to have looked into my mind and understood that about me.

And most days I do push my bangs off my forehead and over to the side, usually by about 10 minutes after I have done my hair in the morning. So, you see, he is easily able to portray personal habits as well.

It's a bit different from looking like Daphne, but I guess the lesson here is about beauty being on the inside. Although he thinks I look like this, he loves me even so.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Dream Team

This is my dream team. I live with them. They are something to behold, their grace, their style, their strength, their smarts.

They work so well as a team, as if they could read each other's minds.

Here they are with their game faces on, trying to look like a tough bunch.

But I have them wrapped around my little finger.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer-time Art Projects

It's summer time. Time for playing and running and drawing and coloring and fun stuff in the kitchen. Getting up a little later and staying up a little later each day. Thinking about vacations coming soon, and swimming pools, and barbecues, and visits with cousins.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dance Party

Even if you have a headache and dinner is burned...

even if people have been complaining to you all day and your socks don't match...

even if you didn't sleep well last night or you can't find your favorite train...

even if there's no milk in the house, and no gas in the car...

there is nothing that a good dance party won't cure!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Event Planning

I've always enjoyed planning parties and events. In fact, I'm planning a major event at work right now, not because I'm an event planner, but because it was assigned to me! On top of all of my other duties! Yippee!

Here is one of my secret resources for a successful event, every time!

Monday, June 1, 2009


I remember the sound of the foghorn at night when I was a child drifting off to sleep. There were real foghorns in those days, posted at the entrance to the Bay, and they would begin to sound as soon as the fog started to roll in.

I can remember the sound of my grandfather's footsteps on the backstairs. The wooden steps with their black plastic covering would creak as he went down to his workbench to shine our shoes and have a smoke.

I can remember the steady whoosh and click of the pressure cooker in my grandmother's kitchen, and the tick and bell of the old white kitchen timer on the counter.

I can remember the sound of the seashell windchimes at the front stair.

I can remember the high pitch of the engine of my father's truck warming up on cold winter mornings.

I can remember the click of the loose ivory on the piano. The ivory pieces that had fallen off and been glued back on would click against the ivory keys next to them. The keys were made of real ivory. My grandmother was very proud of that.

What childhood memories do children have if they can't hear things like this? What will trigger nostalgia later on for them? Smells, perhaps, and patterns of light. When Rafa watches his babies grow and learn, what will he remember most?