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Terracotta Chicken and Potatoes

If you’ve never cooked with terracotta go buy yourself a terracotta dish, but make sure it has a cover or buy a big deep round one and then go buy a pizza pan to cover it with. I first started using terracotta when we lived in Spain. In Spain I used the pizza pan method. I developed this chicken and potatoes dish while I was in Spain but I change it up just a little every time and it always turns out great so if you don’t have the items I put in it this time, don’t worry, just try something different.

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This is what I did this time.

First off, I got the chicken marinating. I usually use chicken thighs, but the sale on chicken legs was too good to pass up. I took the skin off and then placed them in a zip lock bag and added about 1/4 cup of good extra virgin olive oil, about 2 table spoons of apple cider vinegar, plenty of salt (I always use sea salt, Real Salt is the brand I use), pepper, one pod of cardamom (which is about 15 nibs) chopped up, 3 cloves of smashed and diced garlic cloves, and I also added about 1/4 teaspoon of french herbs. I mixed it all up in the bag and turn it over several times as I was getting the rest of it ready.

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Now the fun begins. Here is a picture of the vegetables I put in it this time.

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A red, and yellow bell peppers, an Anaheim pepper, I used half of the jalapeno pepper, a prickly pear cactus fruit, an apple, a large onion (always an onion), and three large potatoes. In the past I have also used various types of squash, carrots, sesame seeds, cheese and other items; be creative.

I dice them fairly small as you can see in this photo. I added some more salt, I had some Himalayan Pink Sea Salt so I used that, pepper, about 1/4 cup of olive oil, about a 1/2 teaspoon of chile de arbol, a couple pinches of french seasonings, and then with the cactus fruit, it is a very seedy fruit, so I cut it in a half and use a small strainer to squeeze out the juice. Then I toss it a lot to mix up the seasonings really well.

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I started in the morning so my chicken was able to marinate for about 4 hours, over night would have been better. I placed the meat at the bottom of the terracotta dish so it can soak in the juices as it all cooks.

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I placed all of the vegetables on top. You’ll notice the lid to our terracotta pot in the back ground.

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I cooked it in the oven at 300 degrees for 3 hours and this is what it looked like when it came out.

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The reason I like using terracotta so much is it seems to hold the moisture so much better than a glass or metal pan and the meat just turns out so juicy and tasty. Here is a picture of the left overs. Notice all the juice that were left even after I took some out to dip my bread in and several other spoon fulls just to drink. Yum Yum.

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For those who asked, I didn’t make the salad, Becky did. She usually uses a mixture of lettuces; romaine and ice burg and spinach topped with grated cheese, finely sliced tomatoes, croutons, and grated carrots. I topped my salad with a raspberry vinegar and olive oil dressing.

I hope you have a chance to try a variation of this sometime for your dinner. I sure will again but it will probably be slightly different next time. Maybe carrots instead of the apple, rolled up sliced pork loins stuffed with spinach, or who knows what, whatever happens to be in my frig. Have fun and be a little feisty.

Let me know if you tried it and what changes you made to it.

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5 Friends Open an Antique Store

Walking around Barcelona is a great past time. One of the rewards of just wandering around aimlessly is finding little treasures that would never be found otherwise. During one of my wanderings with my wife, we happened upon a relatively new antique store.

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When I say new, it only opened up 8 months ago in this location, but the owners have each been dealing in antiques separately for over 20 years. And by looking at the place you’d think it had been there for hundreds of years. This antique store has no name and is owned by five friends; Jordi, Jordi, Iñaki, Luis, and Jaume. From the outside there is only a blank spot on the wall where the sign of the previous store used to be. The item that caught my wife’s attention was the big trunk in the entry.

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The trunk brought us in, but everything else kept us there for over an hour and when we asked if we could come back and take pictures, and they said yes.

Start the video, but open it in full mode for the best effect.

My favorite were all of the crates in the store. I would love to place them across an entire wall to give my wife a great set of shelves.

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Next, I was fascinated with the collection of glass bottles.

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Old divided-light window frames changed into mirrors scattered throughout the store.

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Then there is just something for everyone.

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If you’re ever in Barcelona in the Glorias area, stop by this unmarked treasure, now that I’ve given you this treasure map on the video.  Or click here, and stop by and say hi to these guys.

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If you really like something you see, send me a message and maybe I’ll see if it’s still there for you and we’ll see what we can do to get it for you. Also, one of the friends does have a website where you can see some of the other items they sell at at Arquera Books.

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People Watching at Els Encants

Since I’ve been in Barcelona I have probably walked down to the Els Encants street market about two dozen times to find one thing or another. I’ve taken my camera several times and taken pictures or things or the market in general, but today I put on my zoom lens so that I could stand further back and go people watching without attracting too much attention. Els Encants has much to offer. Since it’s one of the longest running markets in Europe in the same location, it’s in a very old part of town and it shows.

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But that does not stop many people from coming. Men dressed really dapper

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and sophisticated.

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Vendors you may not trust in another setting.

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Vendors in Red Hats and Black Hats.

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Vendors being very nice to their customers.

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Men dressed in yellow and black making sure everyone is safe.

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But it’s the women that make Els Encants a beautiful place to be.

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Even if they all may not be so real.

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So, if you are ever in Barcelona on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday, make sure you make time to see the many wonderful people and things that there are to find at Els Encants. And I leave you today with some of the sights and things that there are to be seen at Els Encants.

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And finally, the last one with a portrait of me.

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Faces of Friendship

When fiends have been apart for a while and they finally get together, the many faces of friendship come out to play. My daughter Tessa has a visitor here in Spain for two weeks. I took them to downtown Barcelona three days ago and ended our day in Plaza Catalunya. In my last two posts, I posted layered pictures I took of them. On that day, I also took a lot of photos so I could create a stop action video of them and that took a little more time to put together. Of course I had to do the layered pictures first so I could include them in this video. This is such a fun little video that when you watch it, you can only think of all the different faces that you make when you’re with your best friend and how you really don’t care what people around you think of what you are doing. Let me know what feelings this little video invoke in you by commenting below. Enjoy and make a lot of faces with your friends.

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The Many Faces of a Friendship

Ok, so yesterday I posted a picture of my daughter and her friend spelling out the word SPAIN in Plaza Cataluyna, well, that’s not all we did. I also took several photos of them having fun in different poses around the plaza and I placed six of their poses in one picture. I had such fun taking the photographs and they looked like they were having a lot of fun being the greatly silly young ladies that they are when they are together. I wish I could have combined more of the photos I took into this picture, but they would have just been on top of each other. Getting the photos to work together was quite the task with all of the pigeons everywhere. I had to decide which pigeons stayed from each of the six photos and with many of them overlapping each other, believe me, it was harder masking and unmasking the pigeons than it was anything else about this picture. In the end, this father felt really great about creating something special out of some great time spent with his daughter and her friend that is visiting us while we are here in Spain.

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Here are the original six photos I used in the order in which I brought them in to be masked to create this picture.

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I liked the guy in the picture below taking a picture. I couldn’t see what he was taking a picture of though. I think he was taking a picture of us taking a picture. It was too bad he happen to be right where the girls where in my third picture, otherwise I would have left him in…but no, he got brushed out.

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A Daughter and a Friend Spelling Spain

My daughter’s friend is here in Spain for two weeks and we went out and took some fun pictures. Here is the compilation of four pictures in one.

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I spent way too much time putting this picture together. We left to go out at mid-afternoon, but by the time we got to Plaza Catalunya the sun was well on its way down. The whole plaza was a shadow so there weren’t a lot of hi-lights left. Below are the original pictures I used straight out of the camera. I did not have my camera set for raw, which would have made it a lot easier, so you can see how blue and flat the jpg pictures started out. I did though get lucky enough to get a picture without anyone else in the background just as I finished taking pictures of the girls. Masking is a lot of fun if you have the time to get it right. Google masking in Photoshop and give it a try.

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SP of Spain

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Time Lapse on Passeig de Gràcia

Passing some time by taking some time lapse photography to create a stop action video is what I consider a great time. The video below is composed of 299 photos each of which is a time lapse photo of a half second each with an ISO of 320 and an aperture of F/7. I also threw in 2 other photos I took that night to kind of break up the action. It was fun to put together and I hope you enjoy it.

Here are some of my favorite frames in the video. However, the photos in the video are straight out of the camera, these photos below have been slightly enhanced to bring out the action in the still photo.

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Quick night at Carnaval in Barcelona

Carnaval, the Spanish spelling, is not like Carnaval in Brazil, but it’s still a reason to get out of the house and see the sights that are available in Spain. We looked online and found a parade in the Born district and headed off to see what it had to offer.

Carnaval in Spain is more for kids than adults. We found a small parade with some kids dressed up and a few small floats with adults in costumes.

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The mercado was decked out with some mask lights to set the mood.

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At the end of the parade, we arrived at a plaza with a stage set up for some more entertainment.

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They even had some free food with hot chocolate.

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Carnaval in Spain, like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, also had its topless women and beads…a little more tame though.

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The parade did not take so long so we took off to see some more sights to be seen in the Born district of Barcelona. Here are a few that I found that had something to do with the theme of Carnaval…kind of.

This guy was at least dressed up.

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We found Obama exposing something.

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We found a display of photos from previous Carnavals but I couldn’t get the kids to want to see them so I at least got one photo of the photos.

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Some nice looking flowers lit up by the street lights.

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Kids in the street enjoying the night.

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Protesters in the street. What where they protesting? Something about how Westerners are to blame for their ruin. What did they do when a “Westerner” wanted to take their picture? Smile and pose with great gusto…what else?

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Just because I love glass bottles with olive oil in them. I’m not sure if it’s the glass bottles or the olive oil in them…yes I do…it’s the olive oil. The glass bottles just make it look better.

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Going home we found one more person in costume.

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In the metro going home.

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Walking the rest of the way home. I love the sidewalks in Barcelona. Here are a couple shots.

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Can’t wait for our next outing.

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Pork Loins, Rice, and Eggplant Casserole

I wanted to make something a little different, something along the lines of a paella but not really. Paella has a certain formula to making it and as you probably have guessed by now, I do not like following formulas or recipes; hardly ever follow a recipe. Take note, what I present is only what I did and does not have to be followed exactly if you want to try it. Anyway, I started out with a paella type casserole in mind so I knew it had to include a meat, rice, and some vegetables. I kind of tend to stick with some of my trusted vegetables, so this time diced up some onions, green and red bell peppers, garlic, and a poblano pepper. I also sliced up an eggplant. Added about 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and stirred it all up to cover the vegetables.

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I placed the vegetables in a pan on the cook top and covered them and let them cook for only about 6 to 7 minutes. I wanted them only slightly cooked, so they would cook the rest of the way with the casserole.

In a skillet on high, I browned several pork loins and thick pieces of bacon.

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After the meat was browned, I placed the pork loins in a terra cotta casserole dish.

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Topped with 1-1/2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water,

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1-1/2 cups of pureed tomatoes,

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add the diced vegetables,

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followed by a layer of the sliced eggplant,

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and topped off with the thick slices of bacon.

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I put it in the oven for about 10 minutes at about 375 -400. The temperature of our oven here in Spain is not very reliable so I just have to watch it more. After 10 minutes, I placed a pizza pan on top of it to cover it and baked it for another 30 minutes. I used round rice, which cooks a little different than long rice so I left it in for an additional 10 minutes. This is what it looked like when I pulled it out.

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It took a little longer to bake than I had planned on so by the time I pulled it out, I was late for a meeting so quickly placed some on a plate, snapped a picture, ate it really quick, and left.

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When I got back home, there was not much left in the dish and everyone said they loved it, except for Silas. At least he ate the rice and bacon.

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I visited my first graveyard in Spain 30 years ago and I was hooked. The graveyards here are so different from those in the United States. For one, many people are buired in the same grave site. I’m not sure how they are stacked in there, but from the names listed on the site, they’re in there somehow. Some of them only list the family name without any specific person, so who knows how many are in there. I recently went to a graveyard close to where we are staying in Barcelona and took two of my kids with me. Here are some of the pictures I took.

I probably shouldn’t start out with my favorite photo, but I will anyway. This is a close up of the Kiss of Death or “El Beso de la Muerte.”

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And here is a full picture of the statue. It’s kind of morbid, but very interesting and very well done.

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On this mausoleam I counted 42 names of people entombed here.

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Of course there were a lot of angles depicted on the memorials.

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We also counted at least a dozen cats and no rats. In this picture you can also see how some families are entombed in smaller spaces in a large wall.

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There was plenty of wrought iron fencing around the different sites, which gave me an opportunity to snap some photos of the textures that I really like to do.

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And a few other creatures.

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This was a great surpise. My oldest son’s name is Clave and I’ve only ever seen a similar name once in the credits of a movie, and it was spelled like it is here on this grave site: Clavé. I looked up this particular Clavé, but everything was written in Catalán so all I could gleen from what I found is that he was a Choral organizer and conductor in the mid to late 1800’s and that there is still a choral organization that carries his name. If you look at the plaque, you’ll see the name La Federació de Cors de Clavé. This was of particular interest to me because my son Clave has a deep love for music and singing, especially choral music.

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And here is my youngest son mimicking the plaque of Clavé.

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Then of course, my ever fasionable daughter, who I love to take pictures of and who loves to have her picture taken so she can blog about it at www.ALavenderSea.com. Besides, what better back drop for pictures than a graveyard in Spain?

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Even in a graveyard, there is much beauty to be found.

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