Cakes

I LOOOVEEE cakes.

And I bet you do too.

Black Forest Cake

But one thing I’ve noticed is it’s not as easy to get cheap cakes here in Spain as it is in Canada. I mean, cheap cakes at the supermarket. If you want a really good cake here you have to go to the bakery and bakery cakes are expensive.

In Canada you could just go to the supermarket and pick up a ready made cake for maybe $2. And there would be a whole huge variety of cakes available. But here even if a large supermarket has cheap cakes they will maybe only have a couple of varieties. The rest are bakery cakes (also available at supermarkets but in a separate section) and they’re more expensive.

Then you just can’t compare the variety that they have in Canada with here. Of course in bakeries here you can get every sort of cake that your heart could desire. But like I said before, bakery cakes are expensive. In Canada you can get every kind of cheap, ready made cake you could possibly want at the supermarket: chocolate, strawberry, Black Forest, caramel……

Now — and I’m just speculating here — I was wondering why is it so hard to get good, cheap cakes round here? And my theory is that maybe it’s just simply because Spanish people don’t seem to have a tradition of eating cakes.

Yep. Might sound weird. But think that in poorer countries cakes aren’t all that easy to come by. (Which is why only Marie Antoinette could have cake but not her poverty-stricken, lowly subjects.)

So traditionally, here in Spain, cakes and pastries were reserved only for special occasions. Reason why all the festivities of the year have their own special pastries, like Roscón de Reyes for The Three Kings holiday or pestiños for All Saints Day.

Then as people got richer ordinary people could have cakes more often. But even so they still tend to reserve cake eating for things like birthdays or family get-togethers. I still have delicious memories of how, when I was still married, my ex (then hubby) would buy pastries every Sunday and we’d have pastries and tea with his family on Sundays.

But maybe in other cultures, like England or Canada, it was more common to eat cake every day. For example, as part of the daily tea.

Well not exactly a transcendental subject and I’m sure these aren’t exactly earth-shattering theories haha. Just one of the many small details where I notice the difference between Spanish and English cultures.

And now that I’ve got your attention, check out my previous post, Walking in the Rain. It’s got more about everyday life here in Spain, and lots of pics (wink, wink).

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Pizza Makin’

My son LOOOVEEES pizza! So he decided to learn to make his own.

They are really quite easy to make once you learn how. The only thing that takes a long time is how long you have to wait for them to bake in the oven!

Pizzas Raw

I’m a foodie. Ie. I LOVE to eat. Especially good food haha. But I’m not at all into blogging about food. Ie. I love to read food blogs, but I don’t love to blog about food myself or put up recipes on the blog. Too much work haha!

But okay, since I really wanted to showcase what a giant little chef my son is becoming, I might as well put up the recipe too.

This is from a recipe by Jamie Oliver, with a little bit of variation that I made up myself from experience with making other breads. Sorry can’t put up the link to his recipe, don’t remember where I got Jamie’s recipe from. The recipe I put here isn’t the same as his. But here is Jamie Oliver’s website.

I use about ¾ kg. of normal flour or strong flour. Strong flour is better for making leavened breads because it has more gluten and holds the dough together better. Of course if you are allergic to gluten you can’t use this flour.

You can always replace this flour with other flours if you’re allergic to gluten, or you prefer not to eat gluten. Or you can make a mix of flours using some wheat flour and some other types of flour, like semolina flour, rye flour, spelt, corn, etc.

This amount of flour produces about 10-11 individual pizza bases. So use more flour if you want more pizzas or larger pizzas, and less for less pizzas.

I add a pinch of salt into the flour and mix it around a bit in a bowl.

Then in a cup I put one envelope of yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 2-4 tablespoons olive oil. Add in milk or water at room temperature to fill about half the cup.

I use dried yeast in envelopes because it’s what I could find. It’s hard to find yeast in Spain! Dunno why, I s’pose there’s just such a grand variety of bakeries here, like five on every block, that there’s just no need for people to make their own bread.

Anyways I was able to dig up some yeast at Eroski. Mercadona didn’t have any.

Don’t forget the sugar, or your dough won’t rise! The yeast needs to feed off the sugar.

I used 2 spoonfuls of olive oil cuz we’re on a bit of a budget. If you’re lucky enough not to be on such a budget you can use more.

You can use milk or water for the dough. Milk produces a softer dough and water a crispier one.

Pour the liquid mix into the dough and knead it around until it’s smooth and silky and doesn’t stick. If it falls into pieces add more water. And if it sticks, throw in a handful of flour. Form a large ball. Cover it with some oil (like a light sunflower oil) and put it in the bowl with a damp towel over it, or aluminium foil.

Then leave it someplace warm for an hour or so. If you’ve got a kitchen with sunshine (we don’t! cuz we live on a ground floor facing north with a tall high-rise building just in front!) you can just put it in the sunshine. Since we never have sunshine, I put it in the oven at 50 degrees.

It should rise up nice and fluffy. When it’s big, punch it down and knead it some more.

Then form small round balls about the size you want your pizzas. We make small individual sized pizzas because those allow you to personalize each one. And because we only have a small oven pan to put it in!

Small pizzas are also good if you only have a small toaster oven.

Roll the pizzas out with a rolling pin into round bases and put them on your pan. Make a few holes in them for the steam to come out using a fork.

You can then cover them with whatever topping you like. Bake at 180 degrees for…… Well it depends on your oven. I leave them in for about half an hour. If it turns dark before then remove it earlier. And if it’s still kinda raw after half an hour, leave it in longer.

This is my son the pizzero. (He’s missing the hat I think.)

Son Making Pizzas

Sorry bad lighting. I did say we don’t get no sunshine in here.

You can use just tomato sauce from a can. But this time I happened to have some tomato sauce left over from yesterday’s meatballs, so I used that. This is how I made that sauce:

In a bit of olive oil I fried onions and my favourite spices. Then I added a dash of white wine and boiled off the alcohol. Pour in plain tomato sauce. Add in salt and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Finally, add in a good load of herbs, like oregano, parsley and basil. I give them all a good simmering and it’s done.

I don’t usually make something this elaborate just for pizzas. But I happened to have this sauce left over, so I used it.

Pizzas don’t take a long time to make, but they do take a long time to bake! So settle down and find something comfy to do while they’re bakin’. Like writing blog posts!

Pizza Cooked

One of my main gripes with bought pizza is that they never put in enough onions and peppers for my taste, not even at great chains like Telepizza or Domino’s. So here was my chance to remedy this!

Ah if you were looking hard you might have noticed that there is only one pizza in this photo, whereas in the original photo there were two. Well, the little pizza lovers in my home pounced on the other pizza and snatched it up before it occurred to me to take photos!

Have you ever made your own home-made pizzas? How did they turn out? Tell me! I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

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Paleo Paleo Boom Boom Boom

I just found a diet by chance that lots of people are raving about. In theory it sounds like a nice, interesting diet, that has a lot of health benefits. But in practice it’s full of foods that I hate and you can’t eat the foods that I love.

It’s called the Paleo diet and its premise is that people should eat like cavemen did because we evolved to eat what cavemen ate.

Paleo diet drumsticks

So cavemen ate mostly meat, roots and fruits and berries. And that is what is in the diet. You can eat any veggies and fruits, nuts and seeds. You can eat olive oil and butter and coconut oil. So far so good, I like all these!

But you’re supposed to fill yourself up with meat all day long. And you can’t eat cakes or pies or burritos or bread or oatmeal. I HATE meat (except maybe chicken wings).

They say that cereals and grains have lots of toxins and people were never meant to eat them. Cavemen didn’t eat them. People didn’t have flour until they started growing crops.

People who follow the paleo diet report lots of health improvements like greater flexibility and mobility, their pains are gone, if they had illnesses especially chronic ones these illnesses are much better or gone, they have no digestive ails……

The thing that surprises me the most, though, are the photos of paleo children. They all look so radiant and healthy. Vegetarian children, on the other hand, tend to look rickety.

Well I’d read that children need to eat lots of protein because they are building themselves and they build themselves with amino acids. But adults? Unless you’re a weight lifter or something……

And what about all the nitrates from eating too much meat? And what about all that uric acid that forms kidney stones? Don’t paleo eaters have those problems?

Well I dunno. I read the interviews with some of the longest lived people in the world. A 114 year old Scottish grandma said she owes her great health to never having remarried (after she was divorced or widowed, can’t remember which) at an early age, and to eating oatmeal every day of her life. And a 114 year old man in the US said he ate a banana a day all his life. On the other hand, a 114 year old Italian lady attributes her great health to never having married and eating 2 eggs every day. She also eats pasta every day because all Italians eat pasta every day. (Well all Italians that I know, anyways, so no one accuses me of stereotyping!)

A 114 year old granny here in Spain attributed her longevity to eating only foods that she loved and never listening to what scientists said you should or shouldn’t eat. Her favourite food was crispy fried bacon and she admitted to eating a plateful every day. The employees at her nursing home confirmed it. They said every day they prepared a plate of crispy fried bacon for her, which she enjoyed with relish.

(Okay, I know it sounds like they were all 114 years old. The truth is I don’t quite remember their exact ages. But they were all around 114 (maybe 113, 115……).)

Anyways, if you think about it, cavemen were all short and muscular. But after agriculture and learning to make bread, people became tall and willowy and skinny.

Also, humans making the evolutionary leap to growing crops and making flour is what has permitted all the evolutionary development that we have enjoyed since then. It’s quite clear that as long as cavemen were spending their whole lives chasing buffalo around all over the place, they could never develop anything like civilisation, the arts or written language.

Cereals and grains are the basis, as far as I’m aware, of just about every society on earth. Even if a culture doesn’t eat much wheat, they do eat SOMETHING that is a cereal or grain: millet, rice, corn or maize.

So I don’t think something that is eaten every day by people all over the world, and has been eaten by people all over the world since prehistoric times, could be that bad for you, could it? If cereals and grains were that toxic, you would think that humanity would have been extinguished long ago.

I think it’s quite clear that the paleo diet is something that could only have been invented in the United States and it will probably never become a big hit in Spain. Because BERRIES feature prominently in that diet. And guess what? Berries don’t grow in Spain!

You probably didn’t know that. And I lament it a lot. Because berries are my favourite food!

But it’s too hot for berries to grow in Spain. Only up in the north, where the weather is similar to North America or France or other northern European countries, they have berries. But in the rest of the country it’s citrus fruits and citrus fruits and more citrus fruits. And olives, of course. You can’t believe how much Spaniards LOOOVEEE their oranges and lemons!!

And strangely enough I don’t love oranges or lemons very much. My theory is that you acquire your taste for food at an early age, you’re not born with it. And you acquire a taste for the food that you eat the most at that age. So in Spain everyone eats oranges all the time, because it’s what there is. Here berries are imported (at exorbitant prices) from northern countries – and no one likes them!

Anyways, an interesting theory, that of the Paleo diet. But I really don’t think I’m very much up to it. I just can’t STAND the sensation of a fillet or thick chunk of beef. Ugh! Gives me the shivers and the creeps when I imagine chewing away on one of those.

Besides which there is nothing tastier in the whole wide world than a good chunk of freshly baked bread, soft and spongy on the inside and crispy and aromatic on the outside. Mmmhh!

Pan con aceite

What about you? Do you follow or believe in any special diet? Please don’t hesitate to leave me comments. I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

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Well, it was about time I finally got around to the recipes! I love cooking, and with two big, hulking boys around, one of whom claims to possess four stomachs – and acts accordingly – I have to do a lot of it, too. The only thing I can say is: Hurray for restaurants!

If you happen to be celiac, if you’re allergic to gluten or wheat, or you just simply want to hop onto the New Age bandwagon and avoid wheat in general, now there are some very easy-to-find, cheap alternatives.

More and more, people are trying to avoid eating wheat and products containing wheat, because even if you are healthy and have no problems with wheat, supposedly it causes some sort of inflammation in human beings, as well as making you feel full and heavy.

I like to use a combination of arepa corn flour, masa arepa, and garbanzo, or chickpea, flour.

You can get arepa flour at Latin food stores or sometimes in major supermarkets. I prefer the yellow variety, but the kind carried by the Eroski supermarket across the street from me is white.

There’s no difference between the two, other than the colour. But yellow just looks more like corn!

Garbanzo Chickpea FlourGarbanzo flour might be a bit harder to find. Now it is sold in Mercadona here in Spain, so you can get some no matter where in Spain you live. Before, I had to buy it in the Pakistani neighbourhood, the Raval, of Barcelona. When I first came to Malaga I couldn’t find it anywhere, so you can imagine my great joy and delight when I discovered it sitting unobtrusively on the shelf in Mercadona!

Here is an example of a dish I like to make using this combination of flours. These sticks look like French fries, but in reality they are sticks of fried aubergine. Now, fried aubergine is one of my favourite foods in the whole wide world!

Fried Aubergines Lite

It’s easy to make. All you need to do is peel and cut up an aubergine in long sticks. I like to cut up two, because I’m crazy about them!

I dump the flour combination in a bowl with salt and pepper. You can add spices if you like. Garlic powder, chilli powder and parsley are nice additions.

Place the aubergine sticks into a bowl of water and then draw them out one by one and stick them into the bowl of flour. The flour should stick to the sticks nicely with the humidity on them. Then you can just transfer them to a (hot) frying pan with lots of oil, preferably olive oil and not sunflower oil. (I once fried with sunflower oil and by the second batch it had turned BLACK! Never again!)

If you are lucky enough to get virgin unrefined coconut oil at a modicum price, supposedly that is even better than olive oil for frying. I am not lucky enough to get coconut oil at a modicum price here in Spain, so I use olive oil. (If you are in Spain, Fitovitalia now sells coconut oil at high range jewellery prices. They have a shop here in Malaga but will ship to anywhere in Spain for a very very reasonable shipping rate. Vamos, let’s just say, it costs less for them to ship the package to my door than it does for me to pack up my two kids onto a city bus to and from the store.)

These aubergines coated in this gluten-free combination come out light, crispy, delicate. They don’t leave you feeling fat and full and like you need a nap urgently, the way wheat flour does.

My youngest son loves anything that you can put into your mouth, so we usually share this plate together. My oldest won’t look at anything that comes from a plant or grows from the ground, so he usually passes.

Eggplants

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