Posts Tagged 'Pie'

Thanksgiving in a foreign land…again

Well, here I am writing about my Thanksgiving while listening to Christmas music – and I have a stern rule about the order of my celebrations.  Yes, I finally made good on my warning that I’d be updating this blog rather sporadically this year.  My Master’s degree in translation and interpreting finally required me to show up for class and instantly all my free time converted into glossary building and research on free translation tools.  This weekend I get my last break, so I’m trying to take advantage of the gap and get everything done.  Including finally writing about Thanksgiving.  Just so you know?  The pictures have been moldering in draft status for three weeks.  So I’m only half lazy.

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Spanish Food Parties


Volver = To return as well as a rather good movie.

Well, the academic year has kicked off, which means I’m back in Spain.  This year may be a little on the light side, blogwise, as I’m going to be doing a Master’s program as well as my teaching assistant job.  So to make up for it, I’m going to kick out a huge mega entry while I’m still on ‘vacation’ – I had to come back early in order to fix up my immigration status.  I do want to learn several things yet, like migas, lentils, and chocos, so I’ll do my best to carve out some time to cook and share.

Spanish food is trendy in magazines and in foodie circles but most people in the US have never had Spanish food or have a mental image limited to tortilla española and paella.  If they had indeed tasted some of the things Spain has to offer, then it was most assuredly not home cooked.  I decided to throw a Spanish food party as my own goodbye to everyone, that promptly grew into two separate food parties.  As you may have seen more than once before here on the blog, these may very well be the only types of parties I know how to put together.  I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not.

Some of these recipes I’ve got here are dredged from the internet, but all of them have been altered or influenced by me and my friends here in Spain.  The rest have been jotted down in Spanglish (1 kilo tomato, 1 diente de ajo, trocito de bell pepper) directly from real live Spanish people.  So if it isn’t authentic enough for you…move to a tiny pueblo?

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The Ubiquitous Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I have mentioned this pie before.  It has been a welcome to the friend group pie, a good bye and good luck pie, and now, inaugural new kitchen pie.  The strawberry rhubarb pie.

Yes, inaugurating the new kitchen!  Unfortunately…does something seem to be missing here?

Continue reading ‘The Ubiquitous Strawberry Rhubarb Pie’

A Very Expat Thanksgiving

Technically, I am not an expatriate.  But I thought it was a catchy title.  I wasn’t really planning to write about this adventure as the food is rather traditional and there are a bajillion and one recipes out there.  Also, I was too damn busy cooking to bother to take pictures.  But my friend Victoria requested a play-by-play of some of the hiccups that I ran into,  so this is for her.

This Thanksgiving was important to me.  It was my very first Thanksgiving pretending to be an adult – as I live many thousands of miles away from all of my family, I could not simply show up to my mother’s house and throw together a pie, then repeat the same process at my father’s place.  Also, I don’t have my beautiful, beautiful Emile Henri matchy matchy ceramic pie pans here.  Though I was so grief-stricken at the thought of leaving them that I almost shoved one into my carry-on.  Then I picked up the carry-on and opted for tin. I still have recurring pangs of loss. At least I can visit with my family through webcam.  A pie plate has very little to say.

Anyways.  I love Thanksgiving, and I wasn’t going to let my emotional pie pan baggage or complete lack of turkey experience stop me from making something happen.  My group of friends here has met many different Americans through a conversation exchange program (including me), but they have never celebrated a Thanksgiving, most likely because students living with a host-family don’t have free reign of the kitchen, and American movies and TV are always telling us that we will fail.  Hilariously, but we will fail.  I did save a Domino’s coupon for this very reason.  I at least have the upper hand in that I have prepared every dish at least once, minus having full command of the turkey.  I was feeling great, until I recalculated the guest list.  We would be twelve.  And nine of those would be a group of men with black holes for stomachs.  And the challenge was set.

In the end, I set Día de Acción de Gracias for the Saturday before, because one of our roommates is moving to Argentina and had no time during the actual Thanksgiving weekend.  I picked a Saturday because you don’t get a federal American holiday off when you are living in Spain, so I gave myself the lead time to prep the feast properly, especially since I don’t have classes on Friday.

Our planned Thanksgiving menu:

4 chickens

Green beans with onion, bacon, and chopped almonds,

Oven-roasted carrots


Cranberry sauce

Mashed potatoes with parmesan


2 apple pies

Pumpkin pie

Whipped cream

Continue reading ‘A Very Expat Thanksgiving’

Easy as pie was never more difficult

It can be hard sometimes as an American in Spain to describe what exactly is ‘American food’.  Everyone volunteers hamburgers and expensive lattes, fried chicken and peanut butter.  Yes, I guess.  I am caving to this image in a way, because next week my conversation partner is coming over for ‘an American dinner’ and he has asked me if I can make chicken like KFC.   So sure enough, fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy is the order of the night – complete with caveat that not it won’t be KFC as I don’t really have the right machinery or chemicals.  I’m slightly ashamed, but it is what he wants to eat, so… I have a week to figure out how to keep the damn batter on the chicken – mine always falls off.  At least I bake my chicken so I won’t have to listen to an hour about how unhealthy our food is – only a half hour, probably.

The problem is that my favorite thing about American food is the open-armed thievery from other cultures.  My friends have started showing me around the city to watch me ‘flipar’ – flip out, absorbed into Spanish.  When my friend, Sergio, took me to a Chinese grocery squirreled away in a side street in downtown Sevilla, me flipé, sí.  (See the comments section for the location).  My reaction, faced with the wall of hoisin sauce, Sriracha, and tofu in cans was to beam from ear to ear and say, “I feel as if I’m back in my own country.”  His response was “… I didn’t know you were from China.”  But the thing is that Seattle, like many other cities in the United States, is chock full of small and gigantic ethnic grocery stores and restaurants.  We are addicted to diversity of flavor.  So when I kept wandering around and found not only my favorite curries and frozen hum bao but my favorite brands, I wasn’t seduced by the foreign nature of the labels and products but soothed by a feeling of homecoming.  When I ran across a halal butcher by accident in a residential neighborhood (Los Remedios) on the way to shoot pool, I don’t know who was happier when I asked if they had goat meat – me or the butcher urging me to write down the name of the street and come back in a day or two.

Another good friend, Jose, teased me for the rest of the night, especially since we went out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant (at midnight, of course), but he can be forgiven, as he is going to find me nigiri sushi somewhere in this city.  After a month, month and a half of living with me, my Spanish friends now have cottoned on to my very American love of the food of other cultures.  We have a date set up soon to make honey walnut prawns and beef with broccoli. But there were still murmurs of what exactly America itself was bringing to the table.  So I decided to answer the quiet question with the most patriotic thing I could think of – apple pie.

My friends were excited – apple pie!  Like from that movie!  With the guy!  And he – well, you know.  I sighed and said yes.  But there will be no shenanigans with this pie, so stop that line of thought right now.  And so, I began the quest to make an apple pie in Spain.

Continue reading ‘Easy as pie was never more difficult’

Goodbye Pie

For the last few years, every single special event in my life or the lives of my friends has been celebrated with a pie.  No question.  It’s become so ingrained in our lives that I don’t find it strange to receive texts in April insisting that I make a pecan pie for Victoria’s birthday.  Which is in June.  She asked me last week for a banoffee pie (which I’ve never made) but this year didn’t even bother to connect it to her birthday.  I’ll be making it in a few weeks.

Of course with my desire to make pie vying with the dearth of birthdays most months, I had to find other ‘special events’.  One of those made up occasions that’s turning into a tradition of its own is travel.  Whenever someone leaves for more than a week (including me), and then when they get back, they get a pie of their choice.  This way I have a guaranteed chance to get that one last glimpse before they jet off and first dishing on what exactly went down in Nantes.

Gabrielle has been the most recent recipient of Goodbye Pie.  She has gone off to travel Europe for two months, leaving me alone to lurk in my unemployed-recent-college-graduate soup of inactivity.  So before I was left completely to my own devices, she chose her goodbye pie.  In between loads of laundry, emergency glasses repair, and frantic itinerary checking, she stopped by my place for one last slab of dessert.  Her choice was made without hesitation: lemon meringue.

For years, I thought I hated lemon meringue, and Gabrielle agreed with me, actually.  I still hate commercial lemon meringue.  The topping is always rubbery and sad, the filling sickly sweet and artificially colored.  But one night I was actually making it for my stepfather’s birthday (special occasion = pie) because it’s his hands down favorite and he can’t imagine a birthday without it.  There was an extra slice for Gabrielle – as there almost always is – and suddenly she looked at me.  “I just now remembered why this was once my favorite.”  I took a bite and it was indeed a true revelation.  This version is tart-sweet and brightly flavored, with a fluffy meringue whose tiny air bubbles pop and melt on your tongue in a happy celebration of pie.  Even I had a second piece that night.

So I sent Gabrielle off with lemon meringue lingering on the palate.  Truthfully I think I do this so that she’ll come back.  After all.  There’s Welcome Back Pie, too.

Are you SURE you want to leave?

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Let’s talk pie crust…at epic length

I had prepped this post back before Thanksgiving, during my marathon of pie making: I ended up with 5 and a cake in the end. The cake was pretty fancy, and it’ll be up here eventually, but let’s start with what’s most important.  And that’s pie.

Most of my pies are rather straightforward.  I don’t muck about with fancy things – though that may change now that I got some pie cutters for Christmas – and I’m more preoccupied with how they taste than how they look.  I understand that you consume the dish first with your eyes, etc, etc, but you consume it last and most memorably with your tongue, teeth, and stomach.  So there.   But every once and awhile, even utilitarian I cave to the desire to make things look pretty.  The easiest way I know how to do that is a lattice crust pie.  That way, it looks like I labored intensely over the baked good of my love when really I flopped it together and went to watch some BBC murder mysteries with a gin and tonic.

A lattice crust is a must when you have vividly colored fruit.

So.  Here is a pictorial guide to pie crust!

Continue reading ‘Let’s talk pie crust…at epic length’

Hey, I'm Desa. I've been bouncing between the Pacific Northwest and Sevilla, Spain in the last few years and from tiny apartment to tiny apartment. I cook mainly for one, which means some potentially boring meals, but here I'll be sharing the food that excites me. Feel free to offer suggestions, commiseration, or desires. And thanks for coming by!


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