Saturday, November 20, 2010

los hombros toman el sol y la luna

This month has been full of peace, deep self-exploration...

And sharing.

A couple of weeks ago, Zach received a call from an Arkansas girl who's been hitch hiking across Europe for two years. She needed a place to rest, so we opened our home to her...give and you shall receive. This is the most valuable piece of advice I think anyone can learn.
This is Rose: a compassionate human being who embraces the principle of community and loves people without judgment of any kind. While she's stayed here, she has never failed to thank us profusely, all while keeping our cabinets stocked and welcoming us home with her super tasty, innovative meals. Not to mention, she's a get-your-hands-dirty-don't-bite-your-tongue, opinionated feminist that has loads of stories to tell...and I have to admit, she has that rough, southern woman attitude mixed with an abundance of hospitality that makes me miss home.

So for the time being...until Rose gets the itch to move again and leaves us for uncharted territory, our little Spanish home is now an even four people. I will listen constantly, write down all of her wisdom in my journal, and get to working on all of those DIY (do it yourself) skills that are necessary for decreasing our footprint on the Earth and helping sustain the balance this world needs.

With that said, here are some current DIY projects we are working on:

making sauerkraut with leftover cabbage

making homemade books! this is Rose's little work station...she made a load of books in one week and has been teaching us the tricks of the trade.
playing the guitar! Hill is already a very talented musician, so she's been giving me lessons. I pay her in coffee and tea dates.
...and knitting!
I encourage everyone to DO IT YOURSELF. It's rewarding and your brain will thank you for it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

mountain folk

The coast here in the south of Spain is impresionante. 5 minutes from my front door. Beckoning.

But what I crave here on the coast, what makes my soul hungry, is the thought of getting lost up winding mountain breathe the air that rises from the valley, fresh and nurturing.
This past weekend we rented a car and drove north up the mountain highways, through tiny pueblos blancos (white towns) and nature reserves. Just an hour south of Sevilla, we stayed the night in a tiny town called La Roda de Andalucia with our friend Bianca. We sipped on rum y cola and enjoyed the small town life that I now feel so nostalgic for. And what does one do in a small town? Cook good food, drink good wine, and once all the shops have closed (being the nerds we all are) work on a giant puzzle. Small town life is the same in any language.
In the heartland of Andalucia, we drove south through the olive groves to the town of Antequera for the typical mountain bread of the region, mollete, served traditional Spanish style with the best damn olive oil in the world.  Paired with a coffee, buenisimo!
From Antequera we continued south along an old mountain highway about 45 minutes until we reached the little town of Ronda, nestled in between the mountains. Before I came to Spain, I read about this place, dreamed about standing there at the Puente Nuevo completely lost in the utter shock of it all.

I was not disappointed.

As we drove into town, I soaked up the charming feel of small town mountain life. While Ronda's legacy is widespread, the town itself has a small population (if you don't count the numerous tourists who flock here as if they were on some religious pilgrimage).
My creativity is bubbling over here...with so much time to ponder and so much of the world unearthed and raw to me.  I feel particularly drawn to this place as a (novice) writer. Hemingway, after all, wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in this very city.

To sum up my experience, here's an excerpt from my journal (and a little poem to capture the day):

November 6, 2010

Sitting in La Blas Infant in Ronda overlooking El Tajo (the gorge). A man plays the Spanish guitar and seems to mesmerize all who listen.
Some people chat near the overlook, others listen in a meditative state, as if the music were lifting them into a spiritual levitation, as if they were weightless and perpetually dreaming.

the strings swell
with a thousand notes
each one played for the ghosts
of Ronda
echoes in the gorge until they become
whispers, on the mountain

it is a deep
      Roman cry
      an Islamic prayer
knotted into a musical mosaic
one that demands a quiet reverance
and buries all these modern souls 
into photographs


brush off our bones to hear
the skeletal orchestra
the mountain music
that plays on 
    in the Hemingway hue of dying day

the bell tolls
the bell tolls
      the mountain bows

Oh, Spain, you're stealing my heart.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

fall fever

I never realized how much I love the change of seasons before. Sandwiched here between the Mediterranean and the Bay, I go to the beach to watch the tide roll in and out, I absorb the afternoon sunlight and I enjoy the soft wind that the ocean brings to the inner city at night. I am lucky. I know this.

But I catch myself peaking up toward the trees, as if I could catch a leaf turning colors, as if the climate here would suddenly surrender to my desire and set the landscape on fire with dying foliage. There is something strange and quiet about that slip into winter slumber...the spring is only so beautiful because winter welcomes it, after all.

And so today, as I craved the fall of my childhood, I walked by the local mercado and saw what looked like the love child of a pumpkin and a butternut squash. Perfect timing. Autumn has been calling my name out west for some time now, and a pumpkin (or some strange cousin of the pumpkin) definitely sounded like the right prescription to ail my southern fall blues.
Being kind of broke in Spain, ahem, "modestly paid" that is to say, has given me a new sense of awareness. Before coming here, I was already ridiculously thrifty. Now, I have a piggy bank in my room that I throw all of my change into at the end of the day. That frugality finds its way into my kitchen cabinets and challenges me to create with what I have.

So pumpkin and random ingredients in Meg's cupboard = Pumpkin and Lentil soup with goat cheese.

Here goes!

1/2 of a pumpkin
2/3 cup lentils
goat cheese
ground adobo pepper
olive oil
cayenne pepper
Spanish paprika

Let's just start this recipe out with this: carving a pumpkin can be a bitch. Ok, it is a bitch. BUT, you reap what you sew, and the outcome is so sweet you'll forget about all the patience you had to muster in the beginning.

Preheat the oven to 375. Or, if you're like me and you live in a crazy place that seems to have no faith in ovens, push all the buttons on your ancient toaster oven until it starts to get hot and looks promising. Start by scooping out the seeds and pulp. Wash and set the seeds aside for a tasty, toasty, after-dinner treat. Cube the pumpkin...or use butternut squash if you prefer (I bet that's pretty damn delicious too).
Coat the pumpkin cubes with olive oil and add a few pinches of salt. Toss in cracked black pepper, adobo pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper and Spanish paprika and pop in the oven for 45 minutes (or until tender).
After the pumpkin has been cooking for 25 minutes, start cooking the lentils. Red lentils tend to cook faster and have a softer texture (this is what I used for this recipe) but black or green lentils could also be used! Make sure the lentils are covered just enough with water and keep an eye on them...they'll soak up the water in no time. I added salt, pepper and a few pinches of cumin to the lentils, which don't need many spices because they have a natural smokey flavor that pairs well with the paprika and pepper on the pumpkin.
Once the pumpkin is done, fold it in with the lentils, and make sure to get all of that extra olive oil that has fallen off of the pumpkin! Give yourself a hearty scoop and be subtle (or greedy) with the goat cheese. Whatever your heart desires.
Delicious. Simple. And most importantly, no food is going to waste tonight.  Not even the seeds.
Honey roasted and warming my belly. Provecho!