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Let’s talk about my home (or at least, part of it). It was empty when I decided to rent it, and the fact that I was able to furnish any way I wanted, helped me to decide. It is a very small duplex, very close to the Glorieta de Embajadores. Downstairs there’s the kitchen and the sitting/eating room with a toilet. Upstairs, my bedroom. Tiny.

It looks bigger in pictures. This weekend my parents were visiting Madrid, and my Mum, upon entering my home she couldn’t help but say she remembered it bigger from the last time she was there. My kitchen is so small it is imposible for two people to cook together. That makes for awkward moments when I ask Victor (not very nicely, most of the time) to please go sit at the table and let me cook by myself. It is quite hard to try to cook two things at the same time, you need to use very small pans to do so.

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But I just love my tiny kitchen. And I love it even more now that my Dad has put up three lovely wooden shelfs, one of them (the bottom one) with little hooks so I can hang some of my mugs. And, it was them too who got me my electric oven, without it my life couldn’t go on, and do not get me started on Superman.

This week I’ve added some more stuff, specially to the kitchen: five gorgeous aromatic plants on my windowsill: rosemary and thyme, parsley, basil and chocolate mint.

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I am not sure if I am good or bad with plants. I know my mum is good with them. So with the help of Mr. Google and my Mum’s knowledge, I hope I can keep them alive. Not like my first cactus, which I killed two weeks after I got it. In my defense, V. says that it was probably sick when I bought it, so he is sure that I am not at fault here. (He surely has more faith in me that I have).

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I am not a very patient man, and when there is something new in my house I tend to want to use it as soon as I can, so I decided I would use some of my herbs as soon as I could on a recipe. So, I found some fennel I had bought two days before, and that I had never ever in my life used. I wasn’t even sure I was going to like it but, hey, had to try it. So this is how the recipe was born: fennel, blood orange (another one of my current obsessions) and basil from my “herb garden”.

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Blood orange and fennel salad with basil.

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • salt & pepper
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 handful of toasted cashews
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 8 or 10 fresh basil leaves

Julienne the fennel, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the lime juice on a bowl. Set aside. Peel and cut the oranges in crecents. Julienne the scallion. Add the oranges and scallion to the bowl with the fennel, then mix in the cashews. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Toss to mix well, and finally arrange the basil leaves on top of the salad. Enjoy.

 

scrambled

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I should have written earlier. I know. I have been somewhat occupied (mainly with life, I guess). In the last months, many things have been hapenning, and if you follow me on social media, you would already know. If not, you probably do not know that I have moved to Madrid. I’ve been living here, in a tiny apartment in Lavapies, for 5 months.

My transition to Madrid has taken a bit longer than I expected. Actually, to tell you the truth, I am not at all sure that I have become accustomed to my new city, or to everything that comes with living on your own. (& yes, I know that you are all probably rolling your eyes and thinking “about time, Mr.”). I have promised myself that I am going to be taking better care of myself and try some new recipes. Mainly, I have decided to cook more recipes by Marion Cunningham (whom I have already spoken to you about before).

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A few days ago, I decided to try cooking scrambled eggs as Marion says you should on The Breakfast Book. They require a bit more work than what I am used too, and you also need to use two pans, but it is worth it.

While you heat a tablespoon of butter in a pan over a low heat, on a sauce pan warm another tablespoon of butter with a quarter a cup of water. When the butter in the first pan is melted add two well beaten eggs, stirring softly. Ten seconds later, give or take, salt and pepper them. Two minutes later add between one and three tablespoons of the water and butter mix, and stir well, until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

Two very important notes: one, you always have to take the pan off the heat a few seconds before the eggs have the consistency that you wish, since they keep cooking until you put them onto a plate; and, two, you can always add ham, or crisp bacon, or grated cheese. This has to be added after the water and butter mix.

And a side note on crispy bacon: fry it on a low heat, without oil and turning them constantly. That’s the way my friend Liz does it. Best bacon ever. And do NOT be fooled, turkey bacon taste like s**t. Even if one of my all time favourite people in the world recomends it (and I’m talking Gwyneth here), it is utter crap. Do NOT eat it. Best to have just one slice of bacon.

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P.S. There are no photos of the scrambled eggs, mainly because they look a bit disgusting when photographed.

P.P.S. At Pair of Hoarders there is an amazingly easy and delicious recipe for plain scones you SHOULD try like yesterday.

31 facts about me (on my birthday)

On Friday, July 4th, I turned 31 years old, and to celebrate, here are 31 facts about me that you may not know about (or maybe you do).

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1.  What I like the most is reading. I love getting lost in words.

2. I buy too many books, so my “to read” list gets longer and longer each month, without me ever getting to finish it. I even buy different editions of the same book, (specially books by Jane Austen).

3. I cry a lot, and about almost anything. Specially about stories with a happy ending.

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4. I love how every morning Lord, my dog, asks for cuddles. It’s the best thing about waking up.

5. Nothings helps me get better like a kiss from my nephew.

6. I love people, and I am mostly agreeable (90% of the time).

7. But, there are times when I am extremely rude and disagreeable, and feel like not talking at all. I have even hidden from people, just to avoid saying hello.

8.  I understand that not everybody is going to like me, but it’s sometimes hard to stop trying to make everybody like me. I’m always like “here I am, look at me, be my friend, I’m cool”.

9. My mom is my best friend, but sometimes I’d kill her.

10. I adore my family, they mostly come first. But, I cannot wait to be able to miss them (cannot wait to get away from them for a while).

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11. My favourite literary genre is chic-lit. Specially if it is set on small British towns, authors like Katie Fforde or Maeve Binchy.

12. There are too many things on my To Do List. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get through it.

13. I miss you, even though I was the one who decided to stay away from you the second time around. It is hard, but I stand by my desicion.

14. I can spend all day with Buzzfeed test, like this one, or this other one, or this one. I have even repeated the same test up to 4 times to get the result I wanted.

15. I’m addicted to  Instagram.

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16. When I grow up I want to be just like Judi Dench.

17. I can spend days without checking my messages, but, there are other times, when I am connected all day long and cannot keep away from my phone or computer.

18. I love watching Korean dramas & tv shows. I love how “white” their humour is on telly.

19. If you ask me which is my favourite  music genre, I’ll have to chose between folkcountryAmerican rock & K-Pop. Depends on the day/mood/week.

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20. I love Twitter, but sometimes I do question the use we make of it.

21. I am afraid people are going to find out that I am not as clever as I pretend to be.

22. In my eyes, Gwyneth Paltrow can do NO WRONG.

23. I cry a lot more over pain inflicted on an animal, than on a person.

24. My goal in life is to have a little house in Cornwall.

25. I want to be a father. I’d like a boy and be name him Eneko.

26. I hate excercising. I just do because I have to.

27. It’s been week since I last baked. I just eat it all, so I cannot bake for a while.

28. My favourite movies are from the 90s. I love movies like “Empire Records“, “How to Make an American Quilt“, pasando por “Reality Bites” o “Circle of Friends“.

29. I hate books (and movies) that do not have a happy ending.

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30. I would have loved to have started crafting earling. I’m so hooked on crochet and patchwork.

31. I’m in love.

 

make your own kimchi

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I don’t think there is anything (food-wise) that says KOREA as much as kimchi does. Actually there is no Korean meal without its small plate of kimchi. It is the mos clasic of bachan dishes that adorn every Korean meal. Basically, kimchi is fermented vegetables. It was a way to preserve vegetables and have flavourful food all year round (it can be used up to six months after the fermenting process has started).

There are many different types of kimchi, but nappa cabbage kimchi is the most common and the perfect one to start learning how to make your own kimchi.

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When I was living in South Korea, I tried kimchi many times, but its strong flavour was a bit too much for me. It isn’t an easy flavour for Westerners to start with, specially not for a 14-year-old Spaniard boy. It’s strong, salty, and quite spicy. Very characteristic. It was in another trip I made to Geoje some years later, when I was in my twenties, to teach Eglish to Korean children, that I started loving kimchi.

The greatest thing about making kimchi, is that is a big enterprise, so it is awesome to make it with friends. It is great to turn it into a communal event, something that is very common in Korean, in the small towns, and big families, and it is still done today.

Kimchi can be eaten by itself, or in a lot of recipes.

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Easy Kimchi (Mak Kimchi)

adapted from “The Kimchi Cookbook“, by Lauryn Chun, “The Kimchi Chronicles“, by Marja Vongerichten, & “Quick & Easy Korean Cooking” by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, with help form Maangchi‘s blog.

This is a very easy recipe to double, or even double the doubled recipe (if you catch my drift). In Korea they wouldn’t normally make kimchi out of only one cabbage. So, maybe it would be a great thing to do. I have always thought that throwing a Kimchi Party would be sooo much fun and a great way to learn how to make it. Anybody up for it?

 

  • 1 nappa cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 190 ml. water
  • 2 Tbsp. rice flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ onion
  • ½ Tbsp. fresh ginger, skin off & chopped.
  • 2 Tbsp. fish suace.
  • 80 g. gochugaru
  • 1 or 2 spring onion(s), julienne
  • 1 carrot, julienne

Cut the cabbage into bite sized pieces (as in pictures). On a big bowl (or the kitchen sink) clean the cabbages, up to three times. The dissolve the salt into water and bathe the cabbage on the salty water for, at least, two hours. Then rinse and dry it well.

To make the porridge, on a slow heat, dissolve the rice flour in the 190 ml of water. Mix well and keep mixing until it starts to thicken, then add sugar and let it cook for a minute more. Transfer the porridge to a bowl and let it cool (you can use an ice bath for this too).

Combine the garlic, onion and ginger, with a mortar and pestle. Add the fish sauce and mix well.

On a very big bowl, mix the porridge, the garlic mix and the gochugaru. (I recommend using your hands for this). Lastly add the spring onion and carrot.

Once thoroughly mixed, add the dry cabbage and mix very well.

Pack the mixture very tight in tupperware or glass containers. Let it ferment at room temperature for 3 or 4 days and then transfer to the refrigerator. By the 4th day it is ready to eat.

잘 먹겠습니다!

Federica & Co.

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One of my favourite places to visit everytime I go to Madrid is Federica & Co., a “magic garden” with some of the most beautiful shops in Madrid. This garden is located in the interior garden of Hermosilla, 26, in the Salamanca district. Here are located two of my favourite shops: 98&YU and Federica & Co.

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It was a bit sad to visit this time, because it wasn’t completely open since they were still going undergoing some remodeling after the fire that occurred a few months ago, but in spite of this, my Mom, Aunts and I had a lot of fun, looking around, doing some shopping and looking at and petting the dogs. I always like the ambience of everything so open, so friendly.

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It was a great blessing to visit F&Co. with my family. Specially since it was my Mom who told me all about this amazing & strange haven of shopping in the middle of Madrid.

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