Vegan birthday to you!

The most faithful readers of this blog might have my birth date marked on your calendar. Or you might not. Anyway, this year my birthday party was vegan—almost.

Indeed, I’ve been mainly vegetarian for a couple of years. The modifier means that in festive dates I might eat a typical dish with meat and that I usually eat a can of tuna a week. I don’t consume dairy, but I do eat eggs. My reasons to be a vegetarian are a combination of the ones you can imagine.

It may seem a hard sacrifice, but variety and creativity have increased in my diet. Should you be curious about it, I started as a weekday vegetarian, which is a very good compromise to get the best of both worlds—like Hannah Montana.

Back to my birthday, the guests didn’t know about the vegan food. There are people with lots of prejudice and willing to mock those who don’t hurt anyone. However, nobody pays attention to the ingredients when the table is ready laid. Some won’t even notice that none of the ingredients of the pizzas and the cakes are of animal origin until they are told.

You won't miss the cheese, not its texture nor its flavour

You won’t miss the cheese, not its texture nor its flavour

In order to make a vegan pizza you can buy the dough or make it yourselves. You just need to pick ingredients excluding meat (fish meat is meat), eggs and cheese. Don’t you worry about cheese; there is vegan cheese. But instead of resorting to imitations, you can do what I do and spread hummus on the base before spreading tomato sauce. Toppings may include pepper, onion, fresh tomato, mushrooms… and don’t forget about spices and a trickle of oil.

The vegan cake is a bit more complex, but not too much. Mix 250 g of flour, 150 g of sugar, 1 packet of baking powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir and add a trickle of olive oil and 250 ml of soya drink. Keep stirring until you get an homogeneous dough. Let it settle for 30 min and put it in the oven (inside a mould, please). About 25 min at 170 °C should be enough.

To add flavour, use chocolate or vanilla soya drink. If you choose chocolate, you can melt black chocolate with almonds and add it to the dough. If you prefer vanilla, you can spread margarine and grated chocolate on it after baking. Nuts and cinnamon are always a nice addition, both before and after baking. These are basic tips with great results.

To keep focused on the theme, avoid placing a platter of cold meats between the pizzas. Nuts and crisps will fill the gaps in the table nicely—I forgot my crisps in the cupboard though… By the way, that almost in the lead of the article refers to a potato and spinach omelette (with 3 eggs) I did serve.

Birthdays danceathon

Did anyone say “birthday celebration”? Count me in!

Although a search of the term birthday in this blog would surely show several posts against birthday celebrations [you’re very welcome to check it], mine was a full birthday weekend seven days ago. In any case, those posts are mainly against celebrating my own birthday; but still, I’m entitled to celebrate whatever I please, aren’t I?

This song would suit both nights. (Youtube)

This song would suit both nights. (YouTube)

On Friday, a swinger — meaning a friend from the swing lessons as well — summoned a few chosen ones to the a jam session it the centre of Barcelona as a birthday gathering. She wasn’t actually excited about being thirty-censored, though. Despite having had the meeting planed several days in advanced, the whole group just got together one hour after the appointed time and 900 m (0.5 miles) away from the designed spot. What’s wrong with swingers?

Saturday night was the turn of pop music. Two of the chemists I spent New Year’s Eve with turned twenty-a-lot in January and February — and a third one is joining them today —, so we had some of the best hamburgers in the city and a mojito and, after stopping in a bar for a second mojito, went dancing. That turned out to be a revival night for almost every song was older than the previous one; which we loved, in fact.

So, just tell me if you ever want me to dance with — or for — you in your birthday. You might be the next lucky one.

I own the king of the world

Yesterday, 6th of January, the Three Wise Men delivered presents to the kids — and some adults — in Spain and, despite what I wrote two years ago, I went to Vilafranca to find out whether I was among the fortunate ones.

For the second year in a row, I asked the Wise Men for a book for every member of my family. Being a man I’m too lazy to search for original and breathtaking presents, so I choose a simple thing with an intrinsic value that doesn’t need to be shown in public and can be aesthetically put away when undesired.

My very own copy!

My very own copy!

People’s taste in books is something very subjective, which means that no objection can be raised to giving one. Additionally, the time my mother and sister spend reading, they won’t spend it watching junk TV like Wherever Shore.

A foldable umbrella, a pair of slippers and a special present were waiting for me in Vilafranca. The special present wasn’t from my family; it was from Salvador Macip. Three weeks ago, he offered a copy of his book El rei del món (‘The king of the world’, only available in Catalan for now) to every reader of his blog who wanted one — no small print — in a most selfless gesture.

Children — and teachers — stay home today to play with their new toys. It won’t be a problem to read El rei del món in my slippers. It’s unlikely I get to use my other present without looking stupid if it doesn’t rain though.

2013, one of the best years of my life

I’m not the first to inform it’s 2013 already — I could be the last one, since it’s almost 2nd of January —, but that’s not my job anyway.

Apparently, I’ve gone back to my tradition of celebrating New Year’s Eve in a different way every year after the three years I celebrated it in the Vatican. It’s not that changing years in the Vatican is not a pleasure and an honour; it’s life offering us several paths and the explorer within me.

This time I’ve spent some days on the mountain close to Tremp (an hour by car from Lleida) with some chemists. However, chemistry wasn’t mentioned; except for that issue on the fire essence in front of the fireplace, very much like Ariel.

Whenever we go to that house, we play board games and quiz or ability video games, we eat a lot more than we burn hiking and we have enough food left for everyone to take a bag home.

The thing is that today has just started one of the best years of my life until now. How can I know? I’m going to make it happen.

Right behind the house. (font: Panoramyx)

Right behind the house. (font: Panoramyx)

And so this is Christmas (again)

My news feed on Facebook is full of Christmas pictures and everybody seems to be having some great holidays but me. So, let’s go with the flow.

Chemists decorate their labs too. [Avans University of Applied Sciences]

Chemists decorate their labs too. [Avans University of Applied Sciences]

In theory, a proper Christmas involves decorating the house. There were four lonely baubles from last year at home, but there was no tree. That’s when you appreciate having a Chinese shop next door, where you can find a two-feet-tall tree for three euros and tinsel, which, together with the baubles, make your living room much nicer. Additionally, I decorated my mother’s place two weekends ago, since nobody does it anymore.

Skiing and ice skating are also two very typical Christmas activities. I fail to see why, though. It’s not like there’s plenty of snow or ice around Barcelona. Regardless of the reason, I went ice skating with the weird English guy to an outdoor ice rink in the centre of the city. He wasn’t excited about encouraging the immoderate energy waste needed to keep it cold out there, but he wanted to “keep the city in the black”.

Simply decorating the house and ice skating, however, won’t make a proper Christmas, for family meals are essential. On the 25th, there was a board games session after lunch. On the 26, it was the turn for films. On both days we had a light dinner.

Unimpressive as this deduction may be, if it’s Christmas, New Year’s Eve is close. No wonder I was invited to a cottage for the weekend. The problem with nice and attractive people is that we forget the obvious reasons for things as the obvious reason seem for them to be looking for a date.

Birthdays anthology – 3

Now you’re about to know what happened when I completed 27 cycles around the sun.

After having tea on Tuesday I resolved to be awake at the exact time of my birth once more. However, going out on Tuesday is not like going out on Friday and my friends were working the following morning. Therefore I just went to a couple of bars where I held meaningless conversations. In the last bar there was a transsexual offering some playbacks as short breaks in her vulgar and hilarious monologue. Her jokes witnessed my goodbye to number 6 —for the next ten years at least.

May them burn for many years.

On Wednesday, I got up relatively early to go buy some presents for myself. This is by far the best way to like all the presents, moreover, there are truly love-motivated and not an obligation. In the afternoon I planned something for the next day, but that night I was going to dance swing.

With short notice and very few guests, on Thursday I had a humble birthday supper at home with balloons on the ceiling and even a video jockey. Unbelievable as it may seem, I didn’t cook hot sandwiches. We laughed as much as we talked and I got to blow a candle on an ice cream pot that we shared before moving to a bar for the last drink — although two guests had to leave for valid reasons. It was a wonderful night to end my birthday celebrations with the ones who really love me. Are they sweet!