friday favorites, Spain

Friday Favoritos

Time for another round of Friday Favoritos! I’m working again after a summer month (unpaid) off in which I discovered new villages in southwestern Spain, headed south, and had some extra time to explore the city and relax at home. Here are some delightful discoveries from the tail end of the summer.

Around Zaragoza

Shopping

I officially have a peanut butter dealer. For an American, this is an important lifeline. I didn’t eat any peanut butter during the whole lockdown, as going out to look for it or buy it seemed like too much of a hassle. But at the end of the summer, cravings hit hard. Lo and behold, I discovered a protein shop! It’s called Scoop NutriFition and among other things, it sells several different brands of peanut butter that I’ve never heard of. I scored a kilo sized jar for just under 10 euros! It’s 100% natural. I’ve been adding it to my morning smoothies that I drink on the days when I do more intense exercise – 1 tablespoon of this good stuff, 1 banana, 1 cup of almond milk and a sprinkle of oats. Thank you Scoop, for keeping this American’s motor running.

 

Bridges and Infrastructure

I know, why is this a category? But this city has some impressive bridges. 13 of them, to be exact. The oldest one has been around for over 600 years. They cross the Ebro River. You can read up on their history and brush up on your Spanish if you want. I have to cross one of these bridges anytime I want to go to the main part of the city because I live on the north side of the river in a residential area. I take a lot of pictures of the bridges, especially these warm late September evenings around sunset. They make stunning photos!

The Puente de Piedra (Stone Bridge) was built between 1401 and 1440.
The Pasarela del Voluntariado is a pedestrian bridge built in 2008.

Another fantastic thing about this city is its miles and miles of bike lanes that can get you pretty much anywhere you want to go. I spend a lot of evenings zipping around to different areas. The breeze in my face just feels like total freedom.

 

Cooking

This week I’ve gone North American (I guess Mexican), as I eat tons of Spanish food all the time and can cook plenty of it myself. I had a bunch of dried black beans in my pantry along with rice, so I looked up some recipes to see if I could find something more interesting than just beans and rice. I stumbled across this oh-so-delicious black bean and rice skillet that has been lasting me all week. You just need beans, rice, corn, red pepper, garlic, onion, and some spices. If you’re doing Whole 30 I imagine you could make this with cauliflower rice with good results. Top it with avocado for a heavenly combination.

Thank you, Lord Byron’s Kitchen

Another amazing summer treat is a salad of yellow peach, tomato, and queso fresco. I can buy really good fresh, soft cheese here in the grocery store and best of all, it’s from a local producer. And this province, Aragon, is known for its peaches and its tomate rosa. Sometimes I skip the tomato and just add olive oil and Himalayan salt.

Source: Cookpad

One more bonus recipe for when you don’t feel like cooking: Tuna Salad Without Celery, Spanish style. I invented this one myself. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I finished a package of celery. I need ONE stalk for a recipe and then I’m stuck trying to eat it with peanut butter for days, weeks, until eventually I forget about it and it ends up a shriveled mess the size of my fingers in the vegetable drawer.

Anyway – you can make tuna salad without celery. Maybe it doesn’t have that good old American crunch that you’re used to, but you can substitute the celery for apple. Ready to try? You need:

  • 1 can of  tuna, drain most of the oil out
  • A very small amount of onion (like… 1/8th or even less) chopped into small pieces. Really don’t go overboard on the onion, start with a tiny amount.
  • 1 golden apple (you could use Granny Smith too) also chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
    • Side note: you can make your own mayonnaise if you’re doubly lazy to buy celery AND mayo. Use your stick blender. Just crack an egg into the mixing cup, add a generous squirt of lemon juice or vinegar, a generous dash of salt, and then start blending. Drizzle in vegetable oil (NOT olive oil! too strong!) gradually until it’s the consistency you want. Along the way you can test to adjust the lemon/vinegar or salt levels. Voila… look, it’s a recipe inside a recipe, Inception style!

Back to the tuna salad – you just mix all the above ingredients in a bowl! It’s great to eat on its own, or you can put it on toast or in a sandwich or even in a lettuce wrap. For me it’s the perfect dinner for one person because it combines ingredients I normally already have. I didn’t take any pictures because honestly it doesn’t look very appetizing, but it tastes WAY better than it looks!

Reading

A while back I sold my tiny Huawei tablet that served as my e-reader and I picked up a secondhand Kindle – one of the first generation ones. As it doesn’t do anything but store books, I’m loving the battery life! It’s really propelling my reading craze further. On top of that, I recently started a free 1-month trial of Kindle Unlimited, so I’m trying to devour books as fast as I can before the month ends. Not that hard, especially as I’ve already reduced social media time almost completely.

Right now I’m reading Edward Snowden’s autobiography, Permanent Record. I’ve only finished 9 chapters so far but I’m hooked! His story is fascinating and not so unlike my own. We’re the same exact age, he’s originally from North Carolina and apparently his sister went to my college. He weaves some thought-provoking quotes in with his stories of growing up. He gives a lot of insights on the Internet’s transition from being created by and for the people to being controlled by big business and government. I’m looking forward to devouring this one!

I also bought all of Virginia Woolf’s works for like $.99 not long ago, so that will keep me busy for a while. Her first book, The Voyage Out, was an interesting look at British society at the turn of the 20th century, what people were thinking and how they were behaving. Reading books like that remind me that things really haven’t changed all that much.

Here’s to continued warm evenings riding the bike to grassy locations to read!

 

Beauty

I don’t write about this very often, but here in Spain I’ve started using skincare products from French brands like Avene and Nuxe. I realized that during the lockdown I was doing minimal skincare. So last week I picked up Nuxe’s Rose Water toner spray, which has been making my skin look and feel fresher. I’d already been using Nuxe 48-hour moisturizing cream, so I’m feeling extra taken care of. This is likely all I’ll be purchasing, as I’m not big on buying a lot of cosmetic or skincare products – I try to stick to the bare minimum. But it’s nice to feel fabulous!

¿Cuáles son tus cosas favoritas estos días?