Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kitchen Inspiration From The Spanish Epicure

This morning's view was a bit different. Hardly a cloud in the sky, except for one perfectly placed as the sun rose. When I first glanced outside, I couldn't even figure out what it was. (So, I put on my glasses.)





After such an inspiring sunrise, something came over me. Not only did I cook oatmeal (in the microwave) — and blend in Greek yogurt, muesli, and almonds — but I did not open a can of peaches. I took a pear (a fresh, whole pear right out of the fruit basket). I took a small sharp knife from the block of kitchen knives. I cut the pear into bite-size pieces. I added those pieces — of freshly cut fresh pear — to my breakfast bowl. I did so without drawing blood (I tend to be a bit careless with sharp objects). Unfortunately, you'll have to take my word for this breakfast. I was so exhausted after all that cooking that I didn't have the energy to get my camera. I'm thinking of hiring a sous-chef to do my prep work.

San Geraldo usually has cottage cheese and berries for breakfast. I, on the other hand, have become quite the gourmet. Julia Child (The French Chef) used to say, "Bon Appetit." I (The Spanish Epicure) say "Buen Provecho."

Welcome to my kitchen; I even wash the dishes.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Too Much Excitement

It rained on and off Tuesday night. The wind at times blew. Wednesday morning, I cooked myself a gourmet breakfast of oatmeal (instant in the microwave, of course), Greek yogurt, peaches, and raisins. The peaches were halves from a can. I actually cut them — with a knife — into smaller pieces (like eighths). Sometimes I simply amaze myself. I'm thinking of hosting a cooking show.

MY GOURMET BREAKFAST.
I COOKED THIS ENTIRELY MYSELF... WITHOUT A RECIPE.

After our breakfasts, we headed over to Cafe Manila for coffee. Then San Geraldo went to Spanish class. I did laundry, trimmed the yuccas and cleaned up the plants on the terrace, and puttered on the computer. San Geraldo made salads for lunch. Later, I watched the sunset. Right now, San Geraldo is preparing another one of his delicious dinners after which I'll wash the dishes. Uff! What a day. I don't know how I manage. I should sleep well tonight. (Click any image to increase the excitement... if you think you can handle it.)


10:00 THIS MORNING, AS WE WALKED TO CAFE MANILA FOR COFFEE.
11:30 A.M.  THE SUNSHINE IS BACK.
LUNCH:  SAN GERALDO'S DAILY SALAD MOUNTAIN.
7:00 P.M.:  RAINING IN THE EAST.
CALM OFF THE COAST. A VERY CHILLY (EVERYTHING'S RELATIVE) 11C/52F.
NO WIND... AT THE MOMENT.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Too Sexy For My Cat

In November, "People" magazine published their "Sexiest Man Alive" issue. I don't read "People." (Can "People" magazine actually even be read?) I don't look at the pictures either. But I saw in some online news blurb that "People" included a piece on sexy men with their cats. I've noticed our cats have been taking some rather sexy poses themselves lately. So, here are the "Sexiest Cats Alive," followed by me. (Click any of the centerfolds; no staples.)

FRIDAY: AMOROUS MOOSE.
SATURDAY: DELICIOUS DUDO.
BOSTON, 1981, B.S.G. (BEFORE SAN GERALDO): I'M TOO SEXY FOR MY CATS.
WINDOW SEAT OF MY BROWNSTONE FLAT ON WORCESTER SQUARE.
I WORE THAT T-SHIRT — $1.99, MACY'S — THE DAY WE MET.  HE TOOK ME HOME ANYWAY.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Adios, Wanker

I once had a friend who had an aunt named Priscilla. They called her Prissy. I saw her all the time and, in greeting, I would say, "Hi. How are you?" There was no way I was going to say, "Hi, Prissy."

That same friend's father was called Hy. I always felt ridiculous saying, "Hi, Hy." I tried "Hey, Hi," but that obviously didn't work either. "Hello, Hi," felt very stiff and stilted. I thought of addressing him by his proper name, but I was a teenager still learning reproductive anatomy; I broke into snorts of laughter at the idea of saying, "Hi Hyman." Finally, I decided to always greet him with, "How ya' doin', Hy?"

TODAY'S SUNRISE. (CLICK TO BE AWED.)

The bartender at the restaurant Sandpiper (where our friend Darren is the chef) is named Juan Carlos (like the King of Spain). Juan Carlos is a very formal name and his friends and family don't use it. The typical nickname for Juan Carlos is "Juanca," and that's how this Juan Carlos has always been known.

Juanca's 10-year-old cousin was in the neighborhood one afternoon with his parents. They stopped in to say hello. As they exited the crowded restaurant, the little boy called back, "Adios, Juanca!" The British patrons were appalled. One "prissy" woman was heard to mutter, "That ill-mannered little boy just called out, "Good-bye, Wanker!"

And that's why everyone now calls him "Juan Carlos."

MUCH MORE ARTFUL THAN THIS POST.

Passing by Sandpiper this morning, I snapped the below photo specifically for this story. Ana, one of the owners, came running outside and struck a pose for me. I snapped that photo, too, but I'll save it for another time. I think she'd prefer that when she finds out this one's about the "Juanca" that works behind the bar.

NO WANKERS HERE...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Walking Happy

My mood has been improving these past few weeks. I've climbed out of the hole that was my most recent battle with depression. I've been doing fairly well, while waiting for my energy and motivation to return. These last couple of days, I feel like I'm back with the living. One sure sign was the fact that I gave San Geraldo a pep talk the other night. At the end I thought, "Hmmm, I must be feeling better."

There are no cyclonic winds today; it's summer-like. So, after coffee, I threw in a load of laundry and then went out on the terrace to trim the wind-battered bougainvilleas. I snipped off the dead ends on the yuccas and placed the last two bags of stones to keep the dirt from blowing out of the pots. Then, I cleaned and polished the railings and furniture. The day is so beautiful that I actually took off my shirt while I worked in the sun. I'm looking forward to washing windows this afternoon. Yes, my energy and motivation have returned.

Yesterday — another beautiful day — I went for a 2-hour, 12-km (7.5-mile) walk. I headed south-southwest along this stretch of coast leaving Fuengirola behind and hitting a bit of the open road. Rugged cliffs. Empty beaches.

I had hoped to see some wildlife along the way. There are so many migrants from other places. But all I had was one sighting. I was at a little distance with the sun in the wrong direction, so I couldn't see all its markings. It was about 6-feet tall with what looked like a bushy, dark crest. I don't know where it came from, but it appeared to be doing some kind of mating dance. Check out the next-to-the-last photo to see what I saw. (And, of course, click them all for a closer look.)

JUST ABOUT TO LEAVE TOWN.
A SECLUDED SPOT FOR FISHING.
IT'S A LONG WAY BACK.
THE WILDLIFE AT THE FAR END OF MY TREK.
A MAN'S HOME IS HIS CASTLE; THIS ISN'T MINE.  HALF-WAY HOME.

And now, some Steve and Edie...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mandarin Tang

Attempting to make sense out of non-sense.

This morning when San Geraldo asked for his second cup of coffee, Tynan said, "Real men drink Tang." Don't ask me why. Sometimes (often), Tynan says things that make sense only to Tynan. Other times (even more often), the things Tynan says don't make sense even to Tynan.

San Geraldo doesn't always understand Tynan's English Midlands accent. So, on those rare occasions when Tynan actually does make sense, I usually have to translate for San Geraldo anyway. Today, when he looked to me for a translation, I repeated, "Real men drink Tang." San Geraldo raised his eyebrows and I said, "I have no idea."

When Tynan came by again, San Geraldo gave him the American perspective, saying, "We don't call it Mandarin Tang. We just call it Tang."

Tynan smiled, nodded his head in my direction as if to say, 'This one's yours,' and he continued on his way.

I looked deep into San Geraldo's eyes. I spoke slowly. I enunciated precisely. I explained, "He didn't say, 'Mandarin Tang.' He said, 'Real men drink Tang.'"


Interestingly — to me at least — I had no idea Tang came in "Mandarin Orange" flavor until I looked it up just now. Additionally interesting — to me at least — is the fact that San Geraldo didn't know that either.

Another thing I learned while "researching" this post: There's a restaurant in Pennsylvania named Mandarin Tang III, which indicates to me that there were, or are, Mandarin Tangs I and II. But I've been told they just call them all Tang.

My brain hurts...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Three's A Crowd

I like my privacy. Until I met San Geraldo (more than 32 years ago), I wasn't very good at sharing my space. Now, I can't imagine not sharing it... with him. But I do have limits.

MOOSE (LEFT) AND DUDO. ALWAYS NEARBY.

Having grown up with parents who referred to the bathroom (specifically, the toilet) as the "office" (which was really confusing when my father left for or returned from work each day), I've always liked to keep my time in the bathroom (the "office") private. After all these years with San Geraldo, it's no longer a big deal, but I'm still happier when I'm allowed to close the door and "read" in peace and solitude.

I'm one of those people who used to run water in the sink so no one would possibly hear what I was doing. I learned some years ago from my brother-in-law that my sister did the same thing. She and I, of course, never discussed it.

Dudo and Moose don't have my hang-ups. They'll run into their litter box while we're standing right there next to it. Thanks... Loads... Really. (Our California cat, Dobie, was much more like me. Everyone would have to leave the room before he would take care of business.)

Dudo and Moose (like most cats) seem to think bathroom time is the perfect opportunity for a visit. If I close the door securely, they both scratch and slam up against it. Then the mewling starts. They've taught me (trained me) to lighten up and be more accommodating — although I stop short of allowing Dudo to climb on my lap.

Now, Dudo has taken to following me into the bathroom with one of his toys. And Moose is never far behind. Sometimes I can get them to play with each other and leave me alone. But only sometimes. See below what has happened to my privacy... and my hang-ups. (Click any photo to get up close and personal.) 

By the way, I can't believe I've shared this with you! It's the end of the world as we know it.

DUDO:  "WHATCHA DOIN'? I BROUGHT A MOUSE.  SEE IT BY THE DOOR?"
MOOSE: "HAVE I MISSED ANYTHING?"
DUDO: "NOT MUCH.  HE'S MAKING ME PLAY BY MYSELF."
MOOSE: "WELL, THAT'S NOT SO BAD."
SAME VISIT... ANOTHER MOUSE AND A TUG OF WAR.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Surviving Winter On The Costa Del Sol

San Geraldo's "cyclonic winds" were back again over the weekend. It even rained enough to give us a good soaking. I loved it; San Geraldo complained. The sun and calm returned to start the week, so I went for a long walk. (Click the photos to experience January in Fuengirola.)

SUNRISE, AS SEEN FROM MY BEDROOM, AT THE START OF A CLOUDY DAY LAST WEEK.

OUR SECOND MANGO... FROM PIT.
(THE FIRST — GROWING BEFORE THE FRUIT WAS CUT OPEN — LOOKS BONSAI-LIKE)

OUR MANGOS AT SUNRISE TODAY.

HIBISCUS ON THIS WINTER DAY.

AROUND THE CORNER, PYROSTEGIA VENUSTA (ORANGE TRUMPET)

THE BOYS, WAITING FOR ME TO LET THEM OUT ON THE TERRACE
(AND TO LET IN THE WINTER AIR).

It's always a good day when it ends with dinner at Sandpiper. Even better, they treat to chupitos (shots) of Bailey's Irish Cream. Since San Geraldo began his diet some months ago, he cut out those chupitos. So, Jessica told Juan Carlos (the bartender) to start pouring both into one glass for me. It made me very happy. San Geraldo decided the other night to allow himself his chupito, which did not make me happy. But Jessica and Juan Carlos took pity and I still got a double.

CHUPITOS ON THE TERRACE AT SANDPIPER.
SO NICE ON A COLD WINTER NIGHT.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

With a Capital "T"

Dudo and Moose have been acting a bit peculiar since I spent those few days in Madrid. When I first returned home, they demanded a treat... immediately. Once I obeyed, they gave me the cold shoulder. That lasted a few hours. I promised them we weren't moving again and I thought things were back to normal. But then I noticed them sneaking up behind me and staring at me strangely. It was a bit spooky. I couldn't figure out what had come over them. (It was as if they'd been taken over by their "jungle animal extincts.")

DUDO...
(CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO GET THE BIG PICTURE.)
MOOSE...
DOWNRIGHT RUDE...

I walked in on them in the living room yesterday just before lunch and I now know what the trouble is. In my absence they'd discovered the game of "pool." Snooker actually, but we all know where that leads.

DUDO HAS THE MOVES.
MOOSE LURKS AROUND THE CORNER.
TROUBLE TROUBLE TROUBLE TROUBLE




Final Note
Truth is, the boys did give me attitude for a few hours. But they're back to being loving, sweet, playful, and excruciatingly attentive. And they still immediately come in from the terrace when I call (and they still do not when San Geraldo calls). Although Dudo just swaggered by with a cigarette behind his ear.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Operator, Give Me Long Distance

While sipping coffee this rainy/sunny morning, I noticed a new sandwich sign outside the church next door to Cafe Manila. The church hosts meetings and services for the different (and transient) evangelical populations here — Finnish, Dutch, British... The sign read, "Call in for Coffee." As in, 'Pray for it?' I wondered.

Is there a patron saint of coffee? (Note: Yes there is! I looked it up. His name is Saint Drogo. And, in addition to coffee, he's patron saint of many other things, including "those whom others find repulsive" ... and hernias... and ruptures... and sheep and cattle. I'm serious.) 

Now where were we?

MY PRAYERS WERE ANSWERED AT CAFÉ MANILA.  TWO CUPS!

Oh, yeah, we were talking about praying for a cup of coffee... Why would anyone go to all that trouble when there's a perfectly decent café right next door? Besides, wouldn't the coffee be cold by the time it got here? Or maybe I've got this all wrong. (It's possible.)

PRAYER IS THE ANSWER.  FAITH IS THE EXCHANGE.  HEAVEN IS THE STREET...
(CLICK TO GLORIFY THE HEAVENS ABOVE LOS BOLICHES.)
NOT NOW DARLING!
THE RESPONSE TYNAN GOT WHEN HE "CALLED IN," WHICH MIGHT BE WHY
HE'S NOT SMILING. (SINCE I KNOW HOW MUCH HE LOVES TO HAVE HIS PICTURE TAKEN).

This of course has me singing...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Un-A-Peeling

Guadalupe had an unwanted, I'm sure, lesson from me on cooking Saturday afternoon. While she prepared some dishes for dinner, I very politely asked if there was anything I could do to help (don't ask me why). Her friends were all bringing something. An elegant Madrid version of a pot-luck supper. I have no idea what I was thinking when I made my offer. Unless she wanted me to wash a dish, I wasn't going to be able (OK... willing) to do anything else in the kitchen. I had told her what I thought of cooking in general. But no one seems to fully comprehend what I mean when I say, "I don't cook." Guadalupe now understands. I think it was just a problem with the translation from Spanish to 'Mitchell.' In Spanish, "Yo cocino" means "I cook"; in Mitchell, it means "I'm in hell." (Click the images to enlarge the deliciousness.)

SOME THINGS WE DIDN'T BUY SATURDAY:
SEPIA (CUTTLEFISH)...
...NEXT TO THE CUTTLEFISH, "UGH!  WORMS?!?  EELS?!?"
NOPE.  POTATO NOODLES.

After a delicious lunch at home, Guadalupe started to get ready for that night's dinner party. On the counter was a bowl of something (apples? potatoes? grapes?... it didn't register with me). In response to my offer of help, she asked in Spanish, "Do you want to peel those?"

LUNCH AT HOME SATURDAY:
DORADA A LA SAL (SALTED SEA BREAM).
MOMENTOUS: I PEELED THE SALTED SKIN (AND HEAD!!!) OFF MY OWN FISH.
AND I SAY I DON'T COOK.
SLICE OF SPINACH TORTILLA (SPANISH-STYLE TORTILLA).

Guadalupe is an extremely intelligent and intuitive person. She saw that I was about to have a panic attack at the thought of "peeling" whatever it was she had asked me to peel and was very understanding when I quietly headed upstairs to lie down. (But I did help set the table and I did help with clean-up at 2 in the morning.) And just so you know, even without my help (or more likely because I didn't help), dinner was a brilliant success. Check out just a few of the dishes.

BREAD TOPPED WITH SALMOREJO (LIKE GAZPACHO) AND ANCHOVIES.
I USED TO THINK I HATED ANCHOVIES. IN SPAIN, I'VE BEEN PROVEN WRONG TWICE.
I THINK IT WAS PARMESAN... AND IT HAD SOMETHING DRIZZLED ON IT...
AND IT WAS SO GOOD.
(I HAVE LEARNED THE CHEESE WAS MANCHEGO AND IT WAS DRIZZLED IN HONEY.)
SOME KIND OF PEPPER... BAKED IN SOMETHING... BRILLIANT.
IN A BLENDER: VANILLA SUGAR, COCONUT MILK, AND PINEAPPLE...
OH... AND BACARDI RUM.  THEN CHILLED.
FRIENDS (LEFT TO RIGHT): ROSALVER, ROCÍO, CARMEN, KEREN, AND GUADALUPE.
WARM, KIND, GRACIOUS, FASCINATING, FUNNY... AND GREAT CHEFS.