I’ve stopped asking why…
Pretty much the only fluids I drink are water and wine. Okay, I have a cup of coffee and small glass of juice each morning, but really that’s about it. During the winter I drink room temperature water, and a lot of it, at least two litres a day. And sad to say, I drink mineral water, which makes me feel guilty about ALL THAT PLASTIC (even though I do recycle). It’s just that at room temperature the tap water can taste a bit weird. But in summer I do this! And I love it. Jugs of chilled tap water filled with lemons and limes. It’s not only delicious but I can drink it guilt free. Though I still take a bottle of mineral bottle to bed with me at night…
#TBT… When Luna first came to live with us she was all eyes and ears – remember that poster? She was so tiny that I thought she was only a few weeks old, but it turned out she was more like 3-4 months old. The closest the vet could determine was that she was born sometime in June so (just like with Loki) I chose the 7th for her birthday. That way all us cats have the 7th for our birthdays (Morcilla in April, me in January).
Luna is the least demanding of the cats, so I have to make a special point of remembering to pick her up and cuddle her. She’s also the one that is most like, well, a cat. Loki is a dog, and Morcilla is in a class of her own. But Luna is all cat.
Happy Birthday my pretty girl!
When I moved into the new Casa Azahar last summer one thing was immediately clear – that I have a great landlord. He’s a very practical no-nonsense “get things done” kinda guy and doesn’t try to shirk responsibility. Case in point, shortly after moving in the entire central heating/cooling system died. And no problem – it was replaced and up and running within a few days. He also sent someone to install all the new ceiling lights I had bought, though this wasn’t really his responsibility. And whenever there has been any other issue he is always quick to send someone over to fix things. For my part, I take care of things I know are my responsibility and never bother him about “tonterías”.
BUT… one thing I’ve wanted to remedy was to replace the hob and oven that came with the place. They were both just very old and didn’t actually work well. In fact, the old oven didn’t really work at all, and ended up almost spoiling NYE dinner. So after a chat with my landlord we agreed that I would install my old oven from the old place, and he would buy a new hob. I cheekily asked if it could be an induction cooker, and he said okay! Yay!
To cut a longish story short… there was a problem with the first hob, but hey no problem, because I have a fabulous landlord. We met up last week and he asked me to choose the induction hob I wanted, and then today everything was installed. And I couldn’t be happier. Because even though there were issues with the first hob, it became very clear that if you can’t cook with gas, the very best next thing is induction. And now I have my new hob and old oven all properly installed. Very happy.
They’re heeeeere…. lovely locally grown asparagus. Probably my favourite vegetable (if I had to choose). I’ve been reading about asparagus steamers lately, long tall pots especially made to perfectly cook your long tall asparagus. Seriously? Imagine having enough cupboard space for this sort of thing. I have always lightly steamed my asparagus lying down in a frying pan, with just a bit of water and a perforated lid. And of course char-grilled asparagus is also fab.
Then recently I saw a couple of recipes mentioned about braising asparagus, which seemed to me like the best of both worlds. You get the freshness of steaming with the extra added flavour of the braising liquids. So I decided to give it a try. Here you see asparagus tossed with a 50-50 blend of butter and olive oil and cooked with garlic, salt and a bit of crushed chilis. Heaven. I ended up with a bit too much butter/oil but will know better next time.
The only drawback with this delicious dish is that it’s too rich for the cats, who also happen to ADORE fresh asparagus (the same as Azar did). When they smell it cooking they start going into a very vocal frenzy, so while I was braising my asparagus in garlic and whatnot, I had to steam a few stalks in water just for the cats.
What’s your favourite vegetable?
By now we have all seen how Morcilla is obsessed with her own image in mirrors, and she often frantically paws at the glass, as if trying to get to the super cute cat on the other side. But now she has learned a new trick… that she can also see ME when she looks in the mirror. I didn’t notice this at first, and thought she was just admiring her own reflection as always. But then I saw that her eyes were looking right at me! Is this normal?
Out of all the cats I’ve had in Spain, only Morcilla has seemed to recognize that the image in the mirror is another cat (still not sure if she knows it’s actually her). But to also recognize The Human sitting across the room? Does she know it’s me? Sometimes I’ll wave at her, at which point she abruptly stops looking in the mirror and turns to look at me, as if to see if I’m also waving. Interesting…
This has been a strange week for me. Exactly ten years ago I went to the Feria de Jerez and spent a fun day there with friends. And on the way back to get the train I saw this graffiti (Tengo Cancer – I Have Cancer) on the wall beside a bar next to the station, and something about it moved me to take a photo. There was something poignant yet hopeful yet… I dunno… about it. Whatever. I took the photo.
The very next day I doubled over in extreme pain and thus began two of the most profound years of my life. Not going to go over the whole ordeal again here – if you’re interested you can check out this link. Suffice it to say I somehow survived stage 4 colon cancer with metastasis to the liver and peritoneum, including 3 major abdominal surgeries and being on chemo twice (first 2 months, then 5 months). The chemo was diabolical, but apparently got rid of all the nasty cancer. At what cost to the rest of my body cells? Frankly, I don’t give a damn. I just don’t ever want to go back on chemo again. It was then that I (badly) photoshopped the graffiti photo thusly…
Fast forward to January 2018 and another routine PET scan. Except instead of being given the usual – everything looks fine, see you next year! – I was told there was concern about an area of inflammation that had grown significantly since the previous PET scan. This led to me having several tests done, including a colonoscopy, endoscopy and a CT scan. With a second CT coming up in June, so they can check the progress (or decline) of the “area of concern”. Worried? Well, hell yeah! Because that’s basically all I ever do. Not just about health issues. I worry about EVERYTHING. All. The. Time. It’s exhausting, but I can’t seem to help it.
Anyhoodle… getting back to my initial story. This week marks the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the whole cancer thing, which in my mind is always connected with the Feria de Jerez. And so today I had to go. Nothing morbid or weird, it was more like touching base. Because back then was when all that started, and ten years later I am still here and able to go back and enjoy my favourite feria in Spain. So I did. And it was lovely (nice feria pics coming soon – promise!).
Except this year I am not sure if I “have or have not”… tengo o no tengo. Still waiting to find out. And these days this is what is left of that poignant graffiti. Looks a bit ghostly. Like they tried to paint over it but couldn’t quite get rid of it. I’ve often wondered who this person was, and whether they got better. I sincerely hope so. Just like I hope I will continue to be okay too. So… bit of an emotional day.
This past weekend I decided to finally break in my lovely mortar & pestle (that I bought two and a half years ago!!!) by making some pesto using basil from my new kitchen window herb garden As you can see… it didn’t quite turn out to be pesto. First of all I didn’t have any pine nuts, so I substituted cashews. And that would have been fine except my little basil plant didn’t have quite enough on it for the amount of nuts, garlic and parmesan I’d prepared. So it ended up being a sort of basil alioli, which was actually very tasty, but not quite pesto. Am now impatiently waiting for basil plant to grow…