Thursday, February 9, 2012

Traveling Thursday: Cuenca, Spain!

Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello and welcome to Traveling Thursday!

I think I've just channeled Stephen Fry intro to QI... If only I could channel also some of his brain power! My brain has been completely scattered this week! So busy at work, and thinking of leaving this Sunday and also not sleeping too well is leaving my brain in a state of wonkiness... I think I'll go get a nice latte or something from my Dolce Gusto and continue to work on the entry in a wee bit, to help with the mental fog!

Aaaand back, sipping on a vanilla latte. Hopefully I'll kick the laziness enough to work a bit on rearranging the packing, take some shots for future blog entries, maybe even schedule a pair of them for next week, and bake some cupcakes to take to my bro's for my nephews!

Getting back on track, today I'm gonna share with you all Cuenca, the capital city of a Spanish province of the same name, nearby Madrid. It's a small city, mediaeval and smack right in the middle (or confluence) of two rivers, the Jucar and the Huecar. It's built on a hill and you can see the canyons carved by both rivers. Absolutely stunning views! I've been there a few times, cause is the hometown of Alberto and Emilio, two friends of mine, and in Emilio's case, he's also the bf of one of my best friends!

Cuenca's cathedral, it's almost like a twin of Notre Dame de Paris!

One of the most famous sights fo Cuenca "las casas colgadas" translated roughly as "the hanging houses" built right at the border of the cliff.

View of the hanging houses from the middle of the bridge 

A view of all the city!

Another view of the top of the hill

Another view of the hills opposite the city

My friend Irene, Alberto, David and myself

Here you can see the "hanging houses" and the bridge

And another view of the cliff and the "hanging houses"

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mark This Book for Monday Munchies: Making Cupcakes With Lola!

Hey there! I've been dragging a bit this Monday since I didn't get to sleep much last night, which tends to happen when I work morning shift after a few days off. But now, finally after dinner I've edited some photos for this entry, which is a combination of Mark This Book Monday and Monday Munchies!

Today I'm recommending a recipe book for cupcakes only, that came highly recommended from the very awesome Alma from Alma's Cupcakes when I asked her what book she'd recommend since I already had Cake Days, Primrose Bakery and Eat Me!, and without a doubt she recommended "Making Cupcakes With Lola", and was she right!

As much as I love the Primrose Bakery book and the Eat Me! books, and the Eat Me! book is full of awesome recipes, I adore this one cause it's JUST cupcakes, and it's the kinda book you open and start thinking "I wanna make this" *turn page* "and this!" *turn page* "ooooh, and this!!" and you can go on like that till you run out of pages! I usually put business cards to mark pages for recipes I like and want to make, and I can barely close the book with the amount of cards marking recipes! I think I need to get coloured post-it to avoid damaging the book!

Two of the first recipes I wanted to make and that jumped to the first line as soon as I saw them where the Masala Chai tea cupcakes and the Matcha Chocolate cupcakes! I love tea, and I love chocolate, and I love having chai when I'm in India so those two were a MUST!

So, last Friday I was meeting my friends from college, Pilu and I were having lunch at the new Indian restaurant (and only one, I might add) in town (they have Kingfisher!! = Indian beer) and then we were meeting Esther and Sara for coffee, so I decided to make both recipes on Thursday to have them ready for Friday. I wanted to make half the recipe for both, but since the matcha chocolate cupcakes recipe calls for an egg, and seriously, half an egg? Well, I made 12 of those, and 6 of the masala chai cupcakes!

According to Alma's scale of goodness based on how long the mmmmmmm is, I have to say the masala chai cupcakes were the supreme champion! The three of them kept going "mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" at every bite! And I have to say they were damned tasty! The buttercream was delicious, I added a bit of the milk with the tea even if wasn't supposed to be part of the recipe for it, but a bit of milk is a good idea to make the buttercream manageable and not too thick! Which was the problem with the matcha buttercream, a bit too thick, even if I added a bit of milk too. But experimenting is half the fun! I'm thinking of trying the buttercream in this chai recipe with the vegan chai cupcakes from the "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World". And I think I really need to try the recipe for green tea buttercream from the Primrose Bakery book.

And aside from that, I also wanted to share a recipe from the book that I modified to make it a bit more "parents-with-high-cholesterol" friendly, and also added a bit more spice to it, I made it with my friend Irene on Sunday morning!:

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Makes 12-15


- 175 gr whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 a pinch f salk
- 2 eggs
- 200 gr brown sugar
- 100 ml vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large carrots, peeled and finely grated
- 40 gr canned crushed pineapple, drained (or just finely chop canned pineapple and drain well)
- 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts.


- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Line the cupcake pan with paper liners
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and salt in a bowl.
- Put the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until thick and well combined. Add the oil and the vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients and beat on low speed/by hand until combined. Stir in the carrots, pineapple and walnuts and mix well.
- Divide the mixture between the muffin cases. Bake in the preheated over for 22-25 minutes or until well risen and a toothpick/cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then on a wire rack till they're cool enough to decorate.

I used the Cream Cheese Frosting according to the book directions, but I think next time, I'll just make them without frosting, cause they're so very yummy, very fluffly and very moisty! And if I make the frosting, I'll use the one Alma gave us in her latest workshop!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday Song: The Blood of Cuchulainn from the Boondock Saints Soundtrack!

Hello everyone!

I have been fooling around all day, doing nothing much other than doing most of the packing for my trip and thinking I need a bigger suitcase. I was thinking that I wanted to share some music with you lot but wasn't sure what, till listening to the Dropkick Murphys made me think of the right song!

For today's Saturday Song I want to share a song from the Boondock Saints soundtrack, called "The Blood of Cuchulainn" that made me shiver and want to move to Ireland! Sometimes the Irish music has that effect on me, I have no idea why, but I feel really pulled towards Ireland!

Here it is, enjoy!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Feature: Alma's Cupcakes: Romantic Cupcakes Workshop!

Brrrrr! How's everyone doing? How are my fellow Europeans under the Siberian cold wave? So far here, as in Alcalá and Madrid there's no snow, only cold, and today it's less windy, so it seems less cold than yesterday. Still, a good day to not go out much, but if you have the busiest day, socially speaking, of the last month, it's time to wear warm coat, mittens, scarf and hat!

Today for Friday Feature I wanna share the photos of the other Cupcakes workshop I did last Friday, again with Alma's Cupcakes, the same awesome lady from the beginner's workshop I did on November. This time the workshop was to decorate romantic cupcakes very fitting for the approaching date of V-day. Alma gave us a dossier with recipes and tricks, sharing her new recipe for Red Velvet cupcakes, and then while the cupcake were baking, it was time to start making the decorations!

As in the beginners workshop we started using paste colours and sugar paste/fondant to achieve the colours we want to use for our decorations, using 1/3 of the fondant we were given, and reserving the rest for later.

We learnt to make fondant roses by hand, that are absolutely lovely, quite a bit of work, even more the tiny ones, but also very relaxing! For some reason you completely focus on rolling the fondant and cutting and all that, and your mind completely relaxes and stops going in circles! We made a bow by hand too, used silicone moulds again, and I very happily discovered a brand of fondant that doesn't stick to them as much!

Alma also taught us how to cover a cupcake with fondant and then apply decorations to it, and also, how to use food grade stencils with lustre dust on fondant to create loads of lovely shapes! Using them totally inspired me to work on some awesome St Patrick's Day cupcakes next month! I already ordered the stencils from a pair of webpages in the US, and I'm currently waiting for them to arrive!

The fondant bow, a heart covered with flowers, a silicon mold rose and stenciled cupcake! 

The six cupcakes we decorated and took home!

Tiny fondant roses bouquet (I saved this one, couldn't eat it!)

Bigger roses, with 3 and 5 petals, another one I couldn't eat!

The leaves were made with texturized fondant cutters (that I need!)

Fondant covered cupcakes, with flowers and hearts made with fondant cutters

Next, swirly rose made with buttercream, and fondant rose made with a silicon mold and covered with a wee bit too much edible sparkly dust!

Swirly fondant rose, and on top fondant with a design done using stencils, I love that technique! 

And the fondant bow, used textures and the cut it and shaped it by hand!

I had such a blast with Alma, and her helper, her mom! They both are amazing, so nice, so kind and so funny! Doing workshops with them is always a joy! And that's why the spots for their workshops are gone within less than an hour of being available! Next, I want to attend the workshop for Children oriented decorations! Let's see if I'm fast enough when they come out!

Thank you Alma and Ratatouille for an amazing time, and thanks to my fellow workshop attendees, we found zen on making fondant roses!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Traveling Thursday: Scotland part 3: Stirling and the William Wallace Monument!

Hello everyone!

Brrrr, it's getting cold here! We're supposed to be hit today with a Siberian cold wave, and even though here in my little corner of Spain it's a wee bit colder than previous days, we have no snow unlike other parts of Spain where they're covered white and at -14ºC!

Today's Traveling Thursday is the third and final part of my visit to Scotland! We took the train for a day visit to Stirling and the William Wallace Monument! I love the Braveheart movie and it made me take more of an interested for Scotland and its history, and once I was visiting Patri... I had to at least drop by to visit Stirling and the William Wallace Monument!

The photos are a bit out of order, cause Blogger uploaded them that way... but it was a fun day, with crazy weather! We visited Stirling first, the city and up the hill to the castle, we even had to be on short sleeves! Then we took a bus to the nearest bus station to the William Wallace monument, and the weather was getting colder, with more clouds and threatening some rain! The climb up to where the monument is quite a walk uphill again, and my knee ended up resenting it, but I wouldn't have miss it for the world! When we arrived it was closing up, so we barely got to see the gigantic sword that was frankly almost as big as me! As a result, I need to go back!

Gigantic tower it was the William Wallace Monument, my friend Patri is in the shot for scale!

View from Stirling Palace, it's called "The King's Knot"

Inside Stirling Castle walls, where the knights trained

Taking a photo with King Robert Bruce and a very nice old Dutch gentleman that wanted a pic with the Spanish tourist!

View of the garden of Stirling Castle

Walking around the Castle

View of the city from the Castle, Stirling

Resting area on the climb to the William Wallace Monument

Another side of the view from Stirling Castle, the site of the battle

View of the William Wallace Monument from Stirling Castle

Entry to the monument, closed, everything is on a big scale there!

Entrance road to the monument

Quite a huge tower!

Walking up to the monument

A statue of William Wallace as depiced in Braveheart, the movie

This was a map of the view from Stirling Castle with all the relevant historic sites, like the battle of Stirling and the battle of Bannockburn

Entrance to the castle!

So, who wants to come to Scotland with me next!?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Handmade Wednesday: Traveling Plushie Swap at AOTC!

Hey there!

Today I'm introducing you to Mr Rufus! He's a super cute little puppy plushie I bought from Vivikas Etsy shop for a purpose, and not only cause he's super cute and super adorable! I got this little guy to participate in the Traveling Plushie Swap at Attack of the Craft! Since I can't sew to save my life, I decided to buy handmade to at least keep up with the handmade-ness of the idea!

I took this photos before sending him to my partner, and I'm hoping my plushie will arrive in time for me to pack it with me to India, so it can do a lot of sigh-seeing with me!

Rufus and his bone, he's a lovely puppy, but a bit particular about his bone, no sharing!