Category Archives: rambling

Oh brother where art thou?

It´s been almost three years since I last wrote, I know! It just sort of happened. And every time I thought about writing a goodbye post, it felt sort of weird because I thought that no one would really mind and because I wasn´t too sure I wanted to pull the plug officially on this little project of mine.

And I was right, I just didn´t know in what way or form cooking was going to be in my life, but now I do! I´m starting a baking project soon (I need to figure out the last few details before it´s live and I can show you the website and everything).

I´m gonna bake different things to order. Namely brownies, cookies, muffins, and cakes, here in Buenos Aires, of course, I really don´t trust international delivery that much!

And I´m also going to be arrogant enough to teach small cooking and baking classes because, even though I´m not a professional cook or baker, I keep getting requests from friends and acquaintances to teach them how to cook, and I´ve done some informal cooking classes, and I´ve really enjoyed them, so I´m gonna go ahead and teach the things I know as best as I can. The idea is for people to find joy in cooking and get a bit more comfortable around the kitchen.

And, using my translation skills, I´m gonna teach a few Argentine food classes for tourists and non tourists who want to learn the classic dishes, in English and/or Spanish depending on the group.

Ok, now that the big news are out of the way, I want to catch you up a bit on my life during these past few years!

In a nutshell, I fell in love with a wonderful guy with the sexiest Colombian accent and the sweetest curls, lost 30 pounds, and traveled to NYC and Seattle again, to Colombia last summer and probably again in a few months… ok, maybe the big news weren´t over!

cocinando

brooklyn bridge

a little piece of heaven

And one of the things I enjoy the most about the mornings with my love are long leisurely breakfasts with great conversations or just comfortable silences and a few mmmms when the food is particularly amazing.

yogurt pancakes

As it was a few weeks ago when he had brought me some great homemade yogurt from the farmers market and I was trying to find ways to use it up. Along came a great recipe for buttermilk pancakes from Beth Hensperger that I did with yogurt and adapted a bit, and served with dulce de leche and a bit of cream cheese (Argentine cream cheese isn´t salty, it´s more like a cream). I still think about that breakfast and swoon, I don´t know if it is because of the pancakes or Jorge, maybe a combination of both!

yogurt pancakes with dulce de leche

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Filed under food, rambling, sweet, This and that, travel

Here comes the sun, do do do do

Charleston

I´m having the worst case of writer´s block when it comes to writing about this trip, I don´t know why, maybe subconsciously I don´t want it to be over, so I let it be an unfinished business… but it really isn´t a good idea waiting this long to write because, with my memory, that´s not a luxury I can afford. Before long, I´ll be like Helene, who was that? (kidding!).

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So Charleston was so damn beautiful there are going to have to invent a new word for it, it´s just calm, sunny, breezy, just what I needed to relax before going back to New York. And I had the best hostess ever, the lovely Helene of Tartelette, who made me feel as if her home was my own for those four days I was there. And I even got to “borrow” her dog Tippy to help me not miss Phoebe as much, and of course, he was delighted to surrender to my attention. I also had my very own history professor (Helene´s hubby) to show me around town and even do things that were totally beneath him, like fixing one of my necklaces, poor guy, I´m very high-maintenance haha

And to relax after all my hard work, we went to the dock down the street to relax with the neighbors as the sun descended, and eat some chips and salsa. And just to make matters even more idyllic, a little dolphin and its mom came out to play! (you can see their fins in the second picture below if you look closely).

Charleston 3

So by now you are wondering to yourself if I was crazy because I was with Helene and didn´t do any cooking apparently, right? Well, you´d be wrong to judge me like that, we certainly did some cooking here and there, like homemade pizza, some pasta, a homemade crumble with loquats and different fruits, and of course, I had to make her teach me how to make a proper macaron, since I had never tasted one, let alone make it myself! And I´m proud to say they turned out quite well, so I´m going to try them again soon.

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And I ate the best strawberries I´ve ever tasted on my last day there. We picked them up ourselves at the Boone Hall Plantation, and they were just amazing, ripe to the very core, and sweet as can be… I´m still dreaming about them now that we are starting winter here and it´ll be months until I try another strawberry.

I feel as if I´m leaving so much out, but this will have to do for now because if I keep reminiscing, I´d take the next plane and head back out there!

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Clouds, weirdos, and sunshine

I had a funny thing going on with Seattle even before I set foot in the city. Everyone I met either online or in person seem to come from there, it was as if suddenly all the interesting people had decided to move there, notwithstanding the grayness, which I decided was not a big deal… that is, until I actually experienced it myself!

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It turns out it wasn´t any sort of myth, trust me, in Seattle it rains, or drizzles, quite a bit, but that´s not the worst part, the bad part was the winter-like weather in the middle of spring, and all that gray. BUT I loved the city, I truly did, despite all I´ve just said, which means all those people who move there actually know what they are doing.

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Of course, my situation was quite special because I was staying with my dear friend Jenny and her family, so I actually got to see a bit of real life there and not just touristy stuff, which is just how I like it. Plus, I had talked to Traca of Seattle Tall Poppy online before going, and she kindly organized all sorts of fun activities for me, including breakfast with Peabody and a food lovers dinner at Kris Dew´s house with Lara of Cook and Eat, Molly of Orangette, Mohini of Mango Power Girl, food journalist Rebekah Denn, pastry chef Dana Cree, and food lovers Dan and Phil. Needless to say, we did a potluck dinner so we had quite a spread, not to mention the view, but truly, the best thing was the company, including Kris´s adorable cat, Rocky.

But the one thing that sucks with meetings where you meet that many people is the feeling of not being able to talk deeply with anyone at all, especially since, believe it or not, I can get quite shy in such situations. But, anyways, Jenny and I brought a tasty, yet dead simple dish, to the meeting: Martha Stewart´s chana masala, but more on that at the end of the post.

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I have to say that one of the things I loved the most about Seattle is its wonderfully crazy irreverent attitude, as can be evidenced by people you meet walking down the street, or in bizarre monuments like a troll eating a car in Fremont, or a tiny replica of the statue of liberty, among many, and I mean many, other things.

Like smart “political” toys:

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Or fake macarons made of soap:

soap macarons

So, trying to sum up all of my experiences in Seattle after being back in Buenos Aires for over a month now, I think it´d come down to people and nature, because the place is truly gorgeous and has the peculiar advantage of remaining close to nature while being a big city, and I´ve always enjoyed hanging out with weirdos like myself, and Seattle gives me plenty to choose from.

Which means that I have no idea when I´ll be back, but I´ll be back, so save a few days of sun for me, will ya?

chana masala

Chana masala (from Martha Stewart´s site)

Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 small onions, finely diced (1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans of chickpeas (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add cumin seeds, and cook until they begin to pop, about 30 seconds. Add onions, and cook until they begin to brown. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more.

2. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, jalapeno, garam masala, and salt. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, and serve.

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Filed under food, rambling, savory, travel, vegetables

Pip… in a new city (NYC)

It´s so bizarre, but in a good way, to be in a place you recognize and feel at home in without having ever been there before. That´s how New York felt for me from the very start. When I got there the first night, I just walked around the hotel and felt utterly blissful.

love it

That being said, the crazy shopping and walking schedule I imposed on myself did get me a tad tired, but when you have just 4 and a half days in NYC overall, you suck it up and keep walking.

Plus half of the walking was also self-imposed because I was convinced I was going to end up utterly lost if I dared to take the subway, even though I´m used to taking the subway here in Buenos Aires… though then again, it doesn´t have as many lines, and I am literally the sort of person who always takes the wrong turn, it´s the sort of dilemma whenever I have to choose which way to go, and I tell myself to go against my instincts because they are always wrong, but then I just can´t bring myself to go against my gut, which turns out to be wrong, yet again.

Moma

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So anyways, crappy sense of direction and an unknown subway grid are a bad combination, but I really shouldn´t have been afraid for that long because when I did get tired of walking on my last day in NYC and took the subway, to my utter shock, I didn´t get lost!

Among the many pleasures the city had in store for me was meeting the lovely Deb of Smitten Kitchen for lunch at Tabla restaurant. I´m quite new to Indian food so I´m by no means an expert, but that was a remarkable meal, especially the thin cornmeal-crust pizza with spinach and soft goat cheese (trying not to drool over the keyboard here). I have no pictures of that for you, but I do recommend you stop by next time you go to NY.

Also food-related was my kid-in-a-toy-store moment at the Chelsea Market. Thank heavens it was the very last day of my trip, otherwise my poor budget would have had a hard time recovering from that excursion. There I got the mini pans I showed you in the previous post plus some other toys I have yet to show you, a cute Moroccan rug for my apartment, and lunch (meaning a simple but delicious ham-butter-homemade bread sandwich from Amy´s bread), and a very chocolatey cookie I took with me to Central Park to enjoy in a bench soaking it all in.

kodak moment

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say no more

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I don´t have pictures of my other food-related adventures there, and I only got to do about 20% in that area of what I had originally thought I´d do, but there´s really only so much I can eat in a few days, and as I kept telling myself while I was there, this was my first trip to NYC, but it certainly won´t be my last, so I´m just glad I got to immerse myself in that whirlwind of a city for a few days. And I´m also glad I was ballsy enough to do it all by myself, which got a bit hard at times, but mostly it was interesting in terms of meeting new people and discovering new strengths in myself.

soho

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And if you want to check out the full NYC set on Flickr, click here

Next up, Seattle!

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Filed under food, rambling, restaurants, travel

This little bird…

… is taking a vacation!!! No, not from the blog especifically, but a real 3-week vacation to the US. New York, Seattle and Charleston await, and I can hardly wait myself.

It´s been years since the last time I took a trip like this, and it´s a trip I´ve been planning for months, and working my ass off to afford, and in many ways it´s a very unusual vacation because it´s gonna be mostly about things that aren´t typically touristy, which is exactly how I like it.

home

For me, traveling is about remembering everything that´s out there for me to discover, realizing that most of the things that I take for granted or assume are common really aren´t, and then on the other hand, many aspects of my own life and culture are shared with people I would have previously assumed to be completely different.

I know that world peace couldn´t even be achieved with awesome cookies like these, but I always find myself pondering about common traits when I travel in the sense that even though there is lot to split people from different countries apart, there´s just so much that could potentially unite.

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But anyways, I know you don´t come here to read my ramblings about world cultures and peace, and I´m getting behind in my packing frenzy since I need to be at a friend´s apartment in like half an hour for a going-away party in my honor (by the way, I still haven´t decided if they love me, want tons of presents from the trip, or are really just looking for whatever excuse to throw a party… maybe all three of them, either way, not complaining!).

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So I hope everyone has a marvelous time while I´m gone, and I promise to be back with tons and tons of pictures, and a story or two to share with you all.

Spring, here I come!

yearning for spring

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Having your cake, and eating it too

So the birthday parties were a blast, but did leave this birthday girl a bit exhausted (I guess I am getting old!). Luckily, my gym gave me a free massage for my bday, so I´m all better now, and ready for a quick recap of the menus.

On Friday, I made a simple meal that didn´t need knives and forks, because, well, I really don´t have that many forks! So it was time for homemade burgers (with store-bought buns because making the buns would have added another layer of stress, and another layer of dirt to my overworked, tiny kitchen). As a “starter”, I served these arugula-sundried tomato-prosciutto-cheese bread rolls I discovered last year… which, incidentally, if you haven´t made them, you really, really should, trust me on this one.

tomato-arugula rolls 2

And for dessert/birthday cake, I went with something that had no way of going wrong: Dorie´s Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake. It was marvelous, as is to be expected, but I think next time, I´m gonna underbake the cake even more because it came out a bit drier than brownie-style cakes are meant to be even though I baked it for 30 minutes instead of the 40-45 indicated in the recipe. Other than that, the cake is a keeper, especially the caramel sauce (which produces about half a cup of extra sauce and Dorie instructs to reheat later on with some more cream and drizzle on ice cream… I haven´t tried that yet, but I see that working and I also envision that sauce over homemade flan, that would be just sigh-inducing deliciousness.)

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I´ll tell you about Saturday´s menu next time, but in the meantime, I´d like to recommend another recipe I made for my birthday (this time for the pre-bday party on Thursday night): David Levovitz Black bottom cupcakes. The combination is very interesting and easy to whip up. Though next time I´m gonna try making my spoonfuls of unsweetened cocoa a bit skimpier because I´ve discovered there is such thing as too much chocolate sometimes.

black bottom cupcakes

black bottom cupcakes

birthday party number 1

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You say it´s your birthday!

Oh yeah, as of today, I´m closer to 30 than to 20, yikes!

And I have been planning on writing all day, but today has been crazy busy so far, my guests arrive in less than 4 hours and I still have to make my own cake (yes, I do that, I don´t mind one bit) and wrap up the other dishes that are halfway done in the fridge.

So this is going to be a quick one just to let you know that I´m old and to share two hilarious pics of Phoebe:

Phoebe after surgery

Phoebe after surgery

Yes, the poor thing had to be neutered this week (that´s a surgical jacket to make it harder for her to mess with her stitches) because the cataracts she had can be inherited, so I wouldn´t want to do that to some poor puppies. But she´s doing great, and tonight she´s going to have a great time surrounded by tons of hands to pet her (though I have yet to figure out how to keep her jumping to a minimum).

Anyways, off I go, I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! I promise to post pics of the birthday parties and the food sometime next week. Love you!

black bottom cupcakes

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How did you get so big?

And no, I´m not talking about my hips, I´m talking about Phoebe. I´m still trying to figure out how she managed to go from 1 pound to 64 pounds in just a year, and from adorable puppy to adorable adult dog… or semi-adult really, especially if we take her behavior into account.

But anyways, she turned 1 on Xmas day, and we celebrated in style, birthday hat and all. But before you all kill me and call animal services, I swear I didn´t make her wear that just to laugh at her… well, yeah, that did play a part, but it was mainly because my older brother (the one that´s visiting from Spain) says he hates dogs (oh yeah, can´t figure that one out either), so he complains about how spoiled Phoebe is and everything. So my younger brother and I decided it was a good idea to tease him by buying Phoebe a bday hat and sing her Happy Birthday, and oh yeah, it worked like a charm, though he didn´t get so annoyed really, it was more of a mix of “can´t believe my eyes” and “this is hilarious”.

So this is a photographic journal of Phoebe´s first year, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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A full year

I seriously can´t believe it´s already been a year since I started this blog. After 130 some entries, some things have come to feel normal… even stalling people before they can dig in so I can take pictures of food (and pretending they don´t hate me for it), but I still marvel at many things that foodblogging has brought into my life, especially all the wonderful people I´ve met this year, both virtually and in person.

Even though I don´t talk much here about my life unrelated to food, I think our attitude towards food and our memories or experiences can be easily associated to different areas in our lives, and are a good reflection of our personalities. I would still like to talk more about other aspects of life sometimes, but something usually stops me, I don´t know if it´s lack of writing skills, shyness or what, but I´m going to be working on that for this second year of blogging.

For our little blog-anniversary celebration, I´m bringing some brownie-like chocolate cookies Molly posted about last week that I´ve already made twice: both in the very same version and with a touch of cinnamon, and even a lemon version for my grandma because she´s allergic to chocolate.

chocolate and lemon cookies

What´s remarkable about these cookies is that they don´t have obscene amounts of butter, which is always a welcome change.

The full recipe comes at the end of the post, but first I want to thank Deb for the inspiration to start this little blog of mine, and each and every one of you for reading my recipes and rantings, and for taking the time to comment, since I just love our little conversations (and to the many lurkers as well, because I know we don´t always have the time to comment). This has been a full year for me in many, many ways, and this blog has been a great companion while I try to grow both as a person and a cook. Thanks for tagging along!

Now for the second year, I need to get some stuff done, one of which is doing a recipe index (coming soon) and also finding out how to do those “one year ago” links at the end of each post, do any of you know how to do that? If so, please give me a hand, because I´m still sadly incompetent with many technical things.

chocolate and lemon cookies

Chewy Cocoa Cookies with Chocolate Chips Adapted from Alice Medrich, as seen in Orangette
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
7 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup plain yogurt, preferably not low- or nonfat
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup chocolate chips, preferably Ghirardelli brand, either semisweet or bittersweet

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (about 175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. Place the butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave briefly, until just melted. Add the sugars, and sift in the cocoa. Stir to blend well. The mixture will be somewhat thick and pasty, like wet sand. Add the yogurt and vanilla and stir to mix thoroughly. Add the dry flour mixture, and stir to just combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.

4. Drop the dough by generous tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. You should be able to fit about 8 or 9 cookies, nicely spaced, on a standard sheet pan. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies have crackled slightly and look set. Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack, and cool the cookies on the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer them to the rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Yield: About 15 cookies

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Good day sunshine

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Today is the first day of Spring here in Buenos Aires… which means tons of picnics all over the city, usually involving more alcohol than food, as excited teenagers celebrate both spring and what is also officially student´s day here in Argentina. So as you can imagine, there are sandwiches, mate (a typical Argentine drink I need to explain someday), tons of gossiping, checking out students from other schools, making out in the wilderness and the like, I´m sure you are getting the idea.

Of course, I´m much too old for such a high-school celebration of spring, and being an “adult” I had to work today, but since spring is my favorite season and work has kept me away from blogging for a while, I figured I´d celebrate spring with you all through pictures. Enjoy!

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