Go green

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It can be hard here in Spain to get greens the way I’m used to from home. I like crunchy, fresh vegetables – just the sort of thing that makes my coworkers cringe when I take my lunch out at work (they are endlessly fascinated/disgusted/shocked by what I eat). To think that a salad might not feature mayo as a prime ingredient is, believe it or not unthinkable and raw vegetables are just whack. Most people bring two courses for themselves, things like fried fish or garbanzo and beef stew and finish with a coffee – we’ve got an hour for lunch and everyone insists on socializing and eating. No computers, no phones, no multitasking (that I can agree with but its a tough habit to kick!). When I´m feeling lazy in the winter this salad-in-a-jar is a great option, it saves on tupperware and lets the imagination go wild with possible combinations. Just remember heavier things go first with the dressing to keep the lettuce fresh and then lighter things on top.

Mix and Match

1. [Dijon mustard, lemon, honey dressing} [Balsamic vinegar with oil and oregano] [Roasted red pepper with plain vinegar, garlic, sugar and oil, blended] [Pesto and lemon juice]

2. Lentils, garbanzo beans, tuna, sliced salami, a sliced hard boiled egg, crumbled bacon, roasted chicken

3 + 4. Roasted beets, tomato, olives, avocado, peppers, cucumber, roasted broccoli, roasted carrots, onion, sliced apple/pear, strawberries, romaine, arugula, spinach, butter lettuce

5. Shaved parmesan, blue cheese, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, nuts, raisins, dates, cooked rice/quinoa/bulgar/couscous…

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Biking with 6th Graders

My favorite days at the bilingual school where I teach are when I show up and a surprise field trip is on the agenda – everything gets cleared from the schedule and I get to venture out into the city with the kids and learn new things myself! I like the break from routine but honestly field trips are a little hit-or-miss. Last year I went to the zoo with the first graders and almost had a hernia when the gorilla started attacking the glass and not an hour later Hugo, our special needs student, almost made it over the barrier into the giraffe area. A 15:1 student/teacher ratio is not a safe for 6 year-olds at a zoo. I was offered recently what seemed like a more relaxing excursion with the 6th graders to bike through Casa de Campo and learn about bike maintenance and the native species that live in the huge urban park. This green space was originally preserved for the royal families to hunt and is located just behind the palace. It now offers madrileños an amazing escape from the city and some fresh air (it was just published recently that Madrid had the worst air quality in Europe in 2014…eww). Our cycling guide told us that you can occasionally see deer, although we didn’t see anything other than cyclists and runners he also pointed out some really old trees and native flora. Its a great place to bike, certainly safer than hitting the streets in the city where drivers don’t even look out for each other, let alone two-wheelers. The weather was beautiful and the kids had a blast – I’ll be happy to join the 6th grade anytime they need another chaperone or even come here on my own for a little escape!

snack time

 

sweet

Winter has arrived! The cats don’t move from the heater more than just to have lunch or crawl around on the rooftops and I rediscover my love for dry shampoo every morning at 7am.imageMediterranean winters never cease to amaze me; it is bitterly cold yet sunny and things are still in bloom. Pomegranates, chirimoya, citrus, and stone fruits are all in season at the same time. My roommate Celia bought this lemon tree with her ex-boyfriend when they started dating 3 years ago and it’s been my project on the terrace since I movimageed in. This is the first winter, she claims (now happily without him) that the tree has decided to bear fruit. If that’s not a sign then I don’t know what is! We’ve been waiting patiently as the lemons have gone from flowers to green buds, now canary yellow and ripe for the pickin’. We think lemondrops are the best way to celebrate this harvest.
Also in season are watching movies in your bed and eating leftover roscón de reyes, the sugar coated spanish Christmas cake that will leave you feeling like a 5-year old with a Halloween hangover. Miguel has patiently been trying to convince me that this is a necessary food item in my life and so yesterday brought me an entire one filled with whipped cream. Roscón is sold by the kilo, I feel that’s worth mentioning here. Honestly it wasn’t so bad as I remembered and had a pleasant rose water flavor and the whipped cream gave the cake a good texture. You know what I’ll just say it: I liked roscón con nata. Probably for the first time and that’s a good thing because I have 3/4 of it left in my fridge!

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As an aside, New Years resolutions:
1. Finish my C1 spanish level exam book and start C2
2. Run more
3. Join El Horno
4. Cook more seafood

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Catching up with friends from back home is so grounding and just what I need to kick off 2015. I’ve been home long enough now to have made granola from scratch and remember that feminism is actually a lifestyle not just a belief system.IMG_7982 It’s been about a year and a half living and working on the Iberian Penninsula and until now I have been happily immersing myself in the culture bodymindandsoul. IMG_7987I’m back for air and realizing how much I’ve changed after so much time living with, working with, speaking almost exclusively with and dating people from España. Staying in touch with the crew from back home has slowly been made more a priority this year and part of staying in touch with home is slipping into a somewhat bicultural lifestyle. Knowing the news/trends/goings on in not just one place but two and maintaining traditions that I can’t let go of. IMG_7983My little expat circle in Madrid is hot on homemade breakfasts (with mimosas of course, which is a thing very hard to describe to Spaniards that we would want alcohol at 10am. Alas I am a cultural ambassador 🍻).  IMG_7980So lets be real I’m in Portland and I’m not going to miss the opportunity to brunch my heart out with my good friend Katie. Recently she’s moved into a house in the neighborhood and we discovered that we pay the same in rent…good to know if I ever come back I will still be impoverished! She took me to Sweedeedee on Albina in a very hip east-side neighborhood and I ordered a baked egg sandwich with bacon and avocado on molasses bread. They had some mouthwatering pastries (espesh pies) and ultra-cute stoneware dishes. We hit up some vintage and resale clothing stores afterward and I found these sweet shades. Soon I will be back in Spain and able to actually use them!

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