Saturday, February 25, 2012

Still Wanna Cook with Cindy?

This post might be enough to make you rethink the idea of cooking with me.  But let's start with the good part first  -

- on slow Saturday mornings our tradition has become to go for chocolate and churros as a family (although Hannah chose to sleep in this morning). The chocolate is a thick dark chocolate served in a coffee cup.  You dip your churros or porros (deep fried dough) in the chocolate and eat.  When the churros are gone you eat the chocolate by itself.

On the left are churros and on the right is a porro - they will cut
it into sticks about a foot long
After chocolate and churros I headed to the fish store and then the meat store and shopping got a little "fun."  A husband and wife own a fish and fruit store (yes, they are often in the same store).  I always buy fruit/vegetables but never fish.  He began to tease me a few weeks ago that I didn't like his fish.  So today I decided we would have fish tomorrow.  I have a recipe (shared by Marsha) for a lemon Dijon baked fish.  It calls for a white fish.  So I told the fish man (all in Spanish remember) I wanted some fillets of a white fish that was good for the oven.  He gave me 3 choices (all which were whole fish at the time - I of course was wondering what was wrong with the fillets that were in front of me) and I told him I didn't know the difference so what was his favorite.  He chose one (thank goodness the cheapest) and scaled, gutted, cleaned, and sliced it for me and then wrapped it up in two packages.

STOP - a culture lesson - when you buy meat/fish they weigh it first and that is what you pay for.  So my fish was weighed whole and unclean.

Since I was paying for the whole fish, I got the whole fish - one package was my two nice long fillets

The second package, however - was the inside of the head and I think the backbone (does a fish have a backbone?).  Can someone tell me what I am supposed to do with these parts?

Since the meat stores are closed from siesta today until Monday I had to buy for the whole weekend (and I usually buy for Monday too) I then went to the meat store.  I got ground beef (which is actually have beef and half pork - beef is way too expensive).  Then I told him (again, in all Spanish) that I wanted the meat required to fix white beans like in Avila (a beautiful town nearby known for their big whites beans - they are fabulous!).

He spread out a piece of paper and got started - first a pork bone - he says full of flavor.  Next some ribs (just a couple) - they have a different flavor.  Now he added a piece of chorizo (Spanish sausage).  Then he asked if I wanted the black sausage too (usually black sausage is blood sausage so I said NO - but who knows if it was blood sausage or not).  Then he picks up this long piece of meat and says this is what will give you the most flavor.  I could tell it was pork (it was on the pork shelf) but I didn't recognize it so I asked what part.  He turns around makes a tail motion.  It was a pig's tail!

From left to right - ribs, chorizo (redish piece), pork bone, and
finally the pig's tail cut into 3 pieces.
Then I asked what am I to do with all this.  He says put it all in the pot with the beans and let cook for many, many hours.  We'll see - it's in the crock pot - tail included.  Watch back tomorrow for a report.

Still want me to share my recipes with you?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Decisions, Decisions..... Prayers, and Prayers

Hannah found out at the end of last week she got accepted into the Genetics Program at Clemson University in SC.  As we celebrate the accomplishment we also begin to pray through the decision as to which college to attend and how to pay for them.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Necessary Characteristics of Life in Spain.... Part 3

In case you forgot the first two...

#1 - Ability to Laugh at Yourself
#2 - Strong Legs

This weekend #3 jumped out at me - Ability to Celebrate the Little Accomplishments!

I am not very gifted in regards to foreign languages.  Don't believe me?  Just ask some of those who have traveled with me on short term trips.  My attempts at language were often the humor needed to get through the rough days.  And now, God has moved me to a country that doesn't speak my native tongue, and although they speak Spanish (a language I heard a lot of in NC and even studied a little in high school), they speak a different form of Spanish than is commonly heard around "my neck of the woods."  Add to that that I am not as young as I used to be and that somewhere along the road of life many brain cells have burned up and language is slow going.

It is easy to get discouraged and frustrated.  It is easy to think I'll never learn enough to minister (forget ever being considered fluent).  And often the only things that jump out in your mind are your mistakes.

For example - now get ready to laugh, it's ok!  Last Sunday we had the pastor and his family to lunch.  I served a Citrus Salad for the first plate.  The wife asked (all in Spanish of course as they speak very little English) what all was in the salad.  With confidence I began to answer.... lechuga (lettuce), cebolla (onions - they were little green onions but didn't know how to differentiate), naranjas (oranges), fresas (strawberries), and alemans.  She smiled and said "alemans?"  I said yes.  She asked one more time... "alemans?"  I figured she didn't recognize what they were because I had candied them so this time I answer "si, alemans con azucar." (with sugar).  And she asks one more time, but before I could repeat my answer again her son speaks up and says (thank goodness he speaks much better English) "do you really mean you put Germans in this salad?  with sugar?"  The entire table cracks up laughing!

For you see - "alemans" are germans and "alemendras" are almonds.  Refer back to lesson #1.

But back to #3.... here are a few of language celebrations -

  • Last week I sent a Spanish friend a text message saying I could not meet her to go to the library because I had 6 young people in my house - the text was all in Spanish and I didn't have to use google translate - and better yet, She understood it!
  • We went to Valencia (a town on the east coast of Spain this weekend for some family time - where, by the way, they speak even another version of Spanish).  When I was checking into our hotel the gentleman asked whether I wanted him to speak English or Spanish.  I said English (shoot when available and it deals with money/rules I'd just as soon be sure what he is saying).  However, he started into his spiel in Spanish and I never stopped him and actually understood what he was telling me - including directions as to how to get there!
  • Our new car has a GPS in it.  I have set it to Spanish trying to get used to the commands I might hear when I take the practical part of the exam in Spanish.  Here's the cool thing - so far I haven't gotten lost due to lack of understanding the Spanish (note - I didn't say I hadn't gotten lost, however).
  • We went to an aquarium in Valencia today and saw a presentation on penguins.  It was all in Spanish and I understood a good deal of it - including the fact that one of the youngest penguins has decided it much prefers to spend time with humans instead of other penguins and therefore has kind of become an outcast in it's penguin community (now I am sure penguin vocabulary is going to benefit me greatly as some point in my life here in Spain).
  • We stopped at a gas station (where, by the way, they still come out and pump the gas for you) this evening and had to stand in line to use the bathroom.  I carried on an entire conversation with this older lady in line about the noise young children make in the car on long trips and how she was grateful for the long line at the bathroom because it gave her a break from the recorder playing (yes, they have those here too) her granddaughter had been doing for the last hour.  I told her the 3 teenagers I had in the car (no - we didn't pick up an extra child, we have one of Hannah's friends for the weekend) all either had electronic games or computers and my car was totally silent.  She asked if we had room for her.
  • I have memorized John 3:16 and Romans 3:23 in Spanish.  Now on to Romans 6:23.
 So, none of these are life changing conversations - but hey - they are using language and I'll celebrate whatever I can find to celebrate!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What Am I Reading?

At most times I have several books going at once.  There is always something that I call "brain wasting," in other words just a book to read for the fun of it.  In this category I am presently reading Sands of Time by Susan May Warren, the 2nd book in a series of three.  The series is set in Russia and the characters are missionaries and part of the Russia's equivalency to the FBI.  They are light reading and great for when I want to turn the brain off.

Then there is the other pile I am reading.....

....  Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger.  I know, this book was popular months ago, but I am just now getting around to reading it.  Knowing that when we finish language school we will begin the process of planting a new church in an area without an established church.  I am beginning to question and evaluate everything I have always done in church to determine what is the real purpose of the church and what is the best way to meet that purpose.  At one point the authors are discussing the Bible story where Jesus cleansed the temple.   They then say "Jesus is adamantly opposed to anything that gets in the way of people encountering Him."  The book is not calling me to follow some prescribed church model, but to instead sit back and through prayer, Bible study, and even discussion with other team members to evaluate what parts of a church draw people to encounter Christ and what parts stand in the way.  What better time to evaluate these things than when starting a brand new church?

.... Pursuit of a Thirsty Fool by T J MacLeslie.  This book is a biography.  MacLeslie tells his story from childhood to adulthood - through the trials of a not so perfect childhood, making a profession in Christ, then pursuing his own desires and plans.  The book is a testimony of God's pursuit for one of his children and what it took for MacLeslie to turn back to Christ.  The book is a wonderful encouragement to those of us who may have someone in their life who know Christ but have veered off track.  It is a beautiful story of God's love and protection and how God can take the messes we make of our own lives and turn them into His beautiful creations.  (In December you could get a free kindle copy of this book at

.... Spiritual Warfare For Women by Leighann McCoy.  Let's face it - we don't do a lot of talking about spiritual warfare in the church.  But whether we want to talk about it or not, it exists!  I've read a few books about spiritual warfare in the past, but this one has caused me to stop and really mediate on it.  Now I am not sure whether it is because of our new ministry, all the changes in our lives, God's desire to get me focused, or the quality of this book - but it has made me think and pray and study.  She got my attention when she wrote:  "But somehow we miss the truth of battlefield living, don't we?  During my years in the ministry I've had the privilege of participating in think tanks with women's ministry resource developers.  I've often been frustrated by the focus of our discussions. Most often we venture toward what women need.  And that discussion leads us to begin to assess the damage the Enemy does in the lives of women, but we never talk about the Enemy.  Women need to know how to have good marriages. Women need help parenting their children.  Women need to overcome depression , fear, anxiety, poor self esteem... the list goes on and on.  After many years of developing, writing, teaching, and selling these great products, we still find that women need something more!  Could it be that we are focusing our attention in the wrong direction?  Perhaps rather than helping her create a spa or coffee house on the corner of the battlefield we are careful not to mention, we ought to train women for war.  Spiritual warfare is real!"

Spinach Salad

I have always loved salads with fruit, especially spinach.  Yesterday I tried this recipe and repeated it today.  It was a huge hit!


  • Dressing:
    • 1/4 c orange juice (fresh or store bought)
    • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar (although I used apple cider vinegar cause it is what was in the frig)
    • 1/2 tsp Dijon style mustard
    • 2 tsp honey
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • salt
    • pepper
  • Salad
    • 3 - 4 oz baby spinach leaves (however, baby spinach was not available today so I used romaine lettuce and it was good too)
    • 2 large navel oranges, cut into segments
    • 8 oz strawberries, sliced
    • 1/2 c toasted almonds (or pecans)

  • To Segment Oranges - Use a sharp knife to cut off the top and bottom of both oranges; stand each orange on an end.  Working vertically around the oranges, one at a time, use a sharp parking or serrated knife to cut away and discard the peel and white pith.  Working over a bowl, slice between the membranes to remove all the orange segments.
  • To toast the almonds - be sure your skillet is completely dry.  On low heat, add slivered almonds and sprinkle with sugar.  Keep stirring - they will burn if you let them sit still.  Stir until they are well covered with melted sugar and are a toasty brown.  Let completely cool before topping salad.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Another different thing here for this "city girl" is that we get fresh eggs.  Usually this just means they haven't been refrigerated, however tonight, it meant a little more....


Living in North Carolina I had never seen tumbleweeds before we came to Spain.  It has been a crazy thing to comprehend that yes, we live in a city, but we live in a desert like area.  My picture of the desert definitely did not involve any big cities.   Today we were walking (and it was windy and frigid cold!) and had to keep stepping over and around tumbleweeds.  This was one of the biggest ones we have seen since arriving.  We never cease to be surprised by what we find around every corner!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Hannah learned last night she had been accepted at Furman University in Greenville, SC.  She has applied to several different colleges, with 2 of them being what we call her "dream colleges."  These are colleges that she would love an opportunity to attend, but are so far outside of either our financial resources or our imagination that the likelihood of actually attending there are slim, unless God moves miraculously.  Furman is one of those schools.  So, who knows if she will actually attend there or not (anyone know where a money tree is growing?), but the joy in her face and in her voice last night was worth the application fee in itself.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cooking with Cindy

Back to something fun....

.... the last couple of days have been filled with lots of new recipes.  Two have turned out great and thought you might like to try them too.  (For those of you in Europe, I've included both the original recipe and how I altered them here).

Old Salem's Tavern Moravian Chicken Pie

  • 1 whole large chicken
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Splash of white wine (optional)
  • 1 pint half and half  (I used Nata para Cocinar)
  • Egg Wash
  • 2 Pie Crusts (be sure to use dough that does not have yeast)
  1. Boil chicken in 6+ cups of water until chicken is ready to fall off the bones.
  2. Return chicken to broth.  Add salt, pepper, and bay leaf.  Let simmer for a few hours.  (I cooked the chicken in the pressure cooker - done in 15 minutes after coming to full pressure.  Then I put the broth, chicken, and seasonings in the crock pot for the morning.)
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan then add flour.  Whisk until smooth.  
  4. Whisk in 4 cups of drained chicken stock and if desired, a splash of wine.
  5. Continue to stir until thickened.
  6. Whisk in half and half.
  7. Combine half of cream sauce and chicken.
  8. Line bottom of deep dish pie plate with one crust. 
  9. Top with chicken mix.
  10. Top with 2nd crust and crimp edges shut.  Put 4 slits in top crust.
  11. Make an egg wash - one egg white and 2 Tbsp water - brush top of crust.
  12. Bake at 350 Degrees (175 Degrees Celcius) until golden brown - about 45 minutes.
  13. Reheat extra cream sauce and use as a "gravy."

Panera Style Macaroni and Cheese
  • 1 (16-ounce) package of small pasta shells
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz white cheddar cheese, shredded 
  • 4 oz soft white cheese (American, or other soft cheese)
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. cream (I used Nata)

  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk and cream; cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
  4. Add cheeses, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
  5. Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated). 

.... And

I try to update the blog at least twice a week so I knew it was time to write again.  There are so many things swirling in my head I want to write about and after the last post being so serious I have felt like I should write something fun and lively, whoever reads this wants to laugh with you, not hear the other stuff.  Yet, although we do a lot of laughing (in fact last night, Alex's friend was over and at dinner we laughed so hard it was nearly impossible to eat), there are days which are incredibly hard.  And even more so, there are weeks where those days run together.

Just this week (is it really only Wednesday?) 

  • .... Hannah heard from her first college and was deferred due to not having grades from the school she is presently attending -  learning about faith and trust again - she has to submit her fall semester grades and will be re-evaluated based on those grades (which are REALLY good) in March and how many spots are still available - this is a piece of reality from moving at the beginning of her senior year and afraid this may be the answer that we get from all of them
  • .... After comforting Hannah I checked email and there was an email from the attorney that did the closing on our house - apparently a mistake was made and no one paid property taxes (he was supposed to withhold our portion of taxes from our check and didn't) - so now they are billing us for the taxes plus late fees
  • .... Hannah crushed her finger in a phone booth door in Gibraltar over our Christmas trip. She still cannot stand for the finger to be touched, there are blood clots under the nail which we are waiting to fall off, it is still quite swollen, and she cannot bend it. I took her to the doctor today. She absolutely hates doctors and it took all I had to keep her from melting down before we even got there. He said they can't really do anything now because all the blood under the nail is clotted and wouldn't drain if they drilled a hole in it (I guess that is a praise), but we go back next week to have the finger xrayed just to be sure the bone wasn't chipped and to see if the nail has begun to fall off. If not, we'll think about dealing with that.  [the first doctor we saw at this practice previously spoke less English than I speak Spanish so we praised God when Hannah's doctor spoke English.  Although we laughed when I asked "so it will heal?" and he answered "perhaps."  He thought I had asked "so it is ill?"]
  • .... And as if I wasn't already laughing, or crying, or just shaking my head, I went to take down laundry yesterday  morning and the persiana (metal blinds on the outside of each window to help keep the heat out in the summer and in during the winter - they are solid) on Alex's window broke - so no taking in or hanging out laundry until Scott fixed because the laundry line is outside his window.  Laundry happens every day during the winter because (thank goodness he was able to quickly fix it after school yesterday) 
  • .... In the phone hunt this weekend the sales lady removed the battery from Scott's phone to get some information and somehow that messed up all the alarms on it.  Figured that out this morning, when for the 2nd morning he woke up ten minutes before Alex's bus - crazy way to start a 2nd morning in a row
But we know who holds today and tomorrow.  We are learning that this journey continues to be filled with unexpected curves and valleys and mountains.  We are grateful for the blog and our personal journals to be reminded that God is faithful.  We are learning more than we ever have needed to before, that God IS who He claims to be and capable of all He proclaims.  We our learning that our knees need more callouses from time spent on them with Him and our Bibles need to be a little more worn from time in them and we are being reminded why we are here - because regardless how hard the days are, we know the Giver of Hope and Peace that is beyond circumstances and yet 99% of those around us do not.