When You Take the Spaniard Out of Spain…

…What happens? Good question! It’s been over a year now that we’ve been back in the U.S. It feels like a long time ago—and yet not so long after—that we packed our bags, said farewell to Madrid, and hopped on that Iberia flight. In fact, we were back last October to celebrate my brother-in-law’s wedding, held at a lovely vineyard outside of Toro. (If you know Spanish wine, you’ll know Toro.)12072657_1079134052119176_3561953440773035576_n.jpg12079607_1079133222119259_5287088477159378538_n.jpg

It was a whirlwind visit, leaving on a Tuesday and coming home on Monday (or something like that, my memory’s a bit of a blur), but it was wonderful to have our families reunited again. And, of course, there was a bit of wine, a bit of cheese, and lots of wine to wash it all down.


As for life in the U.S.? Mario’s certainly loving his new job as a paralegal; it’s all the lawer-y stuff without the stress of, you know, being an actual lawyer. He gets fun perks like open-bar office Christmas parties, tickets to the Indianapolis Colts preseason games (a suite!), and dinners with clients from time to time in one of Indy’s hip downtown neighborhoods.

Me? I’m back at school, earning my teaching license so I can continue to work with the little ones. Teaching was not always where I thought I would end up, but turns out that 1) I love it, and 2) I’m pretty good at it.

I’m going to try to update you on more things about our lives, because I just miss sharing from time to time, and who knows, maybe someone out there is still reading.

For more frequent updates, check out my Instagram or Twitter, and please email me if you have any visa questions, because I’VE BEEN THERE. I can help. In the meantime, here are some more photos from the past, I dunno, year.

12311217_1104834589549122_2608573002887634341_n.jpgMy birthday in Colorado

11219211_10204866573890883_3551021181150555088_n.jpgTrying to hang with college kids at IU

13239899_751658045441_5869220025959680603_n.jpgMy beloved alma mater

13226834_10205995948684547_3516197461533359556_n.jpgFriends drinking beer13001331_746465805731_3787332545559420883_n.jpg13043658_746465750841_5760597765504128516_n.jpgMario ran his first-half marathon in the U.S. in 1:29

See you soon (I hope)!

A Family Tradition—Making Chorizos

I cannot remember when I first tried Mario’s parents’ homemade embutidos (the Spanish word for all types of sausages and salt-cured meats). I do remember, though, the times I’ve eaten chorizo  or salchichón in a bar, though. These version are too salty or too chewy, too tough or too lean. I suppose, in a way, I’m a total chorizo snob. (Funny when you consider that chorizo is also a slang word for thief.)

A few autumns ago, I accompanied Mario and his parents to their friends’ finca, or estate/property. Really it’s just a  house with a large backyard and a pool. Oh, and now there are a few chickens running around, laying farm-fresh eggs with thick yellow yolks—best consumed fried in olive oil with chichas (known in other parts as picadillo or zorza).

Finca Zamora Spain

Mario and his godmother/cousin enjoying the finca

My in-laws are zamoranos, Zamorans. They are both from small villages in the Zamora province, located in the northwestern part of Spain, in the autonomous community of Castilla y León. As such, they are accustomed to eating good food. When they were children, their mothers cooked what was local, what was in season, and what tasted good. My father-in-law, Jesús, recalls not being able to afford olive oil, an expensive treat. So they cooked with lard. And you know what? My mother-in-law, Pepita, makes some tasty desserts with lard. Pig products were (and still are) king, and thus cured meats are king: jamón, lomo, fuet, chorizo, and salchichón.

When I got to the house, my in-laws and their friends had already put their manos a la obra!

Chorizo making ZamoraChorizo making Zamora

They don’t actually do their own matanza, though I do know a few families that used to (and some that still do!). They do buy only the best meat, though carne ibérica 100%.

The ingredients for a good chorizo are:

  • Pork. 100% Iberian meat. Do not skimp on quality; you will notice later.
  • Paprika.
  • Coarse salt.
  • Garlic.
  • Oregano (optional, but it gives the young chorizo and chichas a great flavor).

Chorizo making Zamora
Look at how pumped I am!


  1. Wash the guts. Yes, I said wash the guts … If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen (or the finca). You may need to remove some fat.
  2. Chop the meat into elongated pieces, but not too thick. This helps when you’re trying to put the meat through the machine (as seen above).
  3. Knead the meat. Once the meat is chopped and the condiments prepared, they are mixed together, until the paprika and salt are well distributed. It should look red.Chorizo meat
  4. Let stand for several hours or overnight.
  5. One person should fill the machine and turn the crank while the other stuffs the sausage.Chorizo making Zamora
  6. Once the sausage is finished, it’s time to tie the free ends.Fresh chorizo salchichón
  7. You take the uncured chorizo and salchichón to a cool, dry place to cure. Mario’s parents use an old village house and hang them from the rafters. (Really!) The ideal temperature is cold, but not much lower than 0C/32F.Chorizo salchichón curando curingChorizo salchichón curando curingChorizo salchichón curando curingChorizo salchichón curando curing
  8. Don’t forget to enjoy some chichas with red wine, the perfect way to coger fuerzas on a cold autumnal day!

Chichas picadilloCooking chichas cocinando chichasEating chichas Comiendo chichasEating chichas Comiendo chichas

You may not believe it, but after this mid-morning “snack,” we ate arroz a la zamorana for lunch. This rice dish is full of, again, all the pig parts: ear, hoof, ham, sometimes even snout. You know, a light lunch.

Arroz a la zamoranaArroz a la zamorana

What’s your favorite: chorizo, salchichón, or some other embutido?

Let’s Link—Week 7

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve done one of these posts. But since I’m feeling a bit short on blogging inspiration, I thought, Why not link to some interesting blog posts and news stories about Spain? Here we are, then, with another edition of some of the things I’ve been reading.


Planning a Spanish-American Wedding. Cat is getting married in the U.S. (unlike me), but still—planning a wedding across an ocean isn’t easy for anyone! She details some of the headaches that go along with adding an extra difficulty to the already time-consuming process of wedding planning!
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Un Tinto, Un Toro—Toro’s Wine Festival

Wine from Toro's Wine Festival

Did I ever mention to you that one time I (along with three others) won 30 bottles of wine at the Toro Wine Festival?

Wine from Toro's Wine FestivalUh yeah, that’s all ours

I’m a big fan of Toro wine, as you may have guessed. Toro is a small town located in the Zamora province, and its wine is divine! (Sorry for that random rhyming. Really, so sorry.) It’s not as well known as Ribera del Duero (another favorite) or Rioja, but the wines from Toro are some of my favorites, perhaps because I’ve had the chance to try so many of them. In fact, I know way more about Toro wine than any wine in the U.S.!

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