This is my submission to My Legume Love Affair, hosted by me this month and brought to us by Susan from the Well Seasoned Cook.  You have until June 30th to enter :D

This is another traditional Spanish dish that can have many variations.  Each family claiming to have the best recipe.  This particular recipe is reminiscent of what my family makes, however, my mother did let me know that I forgot the pan frito!!  Sorry mami.. I’ll add it in the recipe ;)

Being that spinach is now going out of season, I was excited to try water spinach, the asian green Kang Kong.

When I visited Yang at the farmers market, he showed me these beautiful greens.  He explained to me how they were used in his culture and right away I knew I had to try them out in this Spanish dish.  They worked beautifully as they were deliciously mild and sweet.  I’m excited to get another bunch of these next week to try in a different dish.  This dish is quite simple to create at home.  Although for the best in flavors, you’ll need to soak dry garbanzo’s overnight and cook them the next day to make a broth of it’s own that is used in the final dish.  You can take shortcuts and use canned garbanzo beans, however, flavor and depth will be effected.

Garbanzos con Espinaca


  • 1 cup dry garbanzo beans soaked overnight ( or 2 cans garbanzo beans)

For cooking the garbanzo’s

  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 celery stick
  • 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

The Garbanzo’s con Espinaca

  • 1 bunch water spinach (Kang Kong), or spinach
  • 4 pieces bacon, chopped
  • 6-8 garlic cloves sliced
  • 3 tbls red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Spanish Paprika, Pimenton
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns (1/4 tsp ground pepper)
  • 1 tsp salt



  1. The night before soak 1 cup dry garbanzo beans overnight
  2. The following day, in a large dutch oven add the garbanzo beans, carrot, 1/2 white onion, and celery.
  3. Cover the beans and vegetables with water at least 2″ above ingredients.
  4. Bring to a boil and add the evoo, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer over medium heat for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the beans are tender.
  5. Set Aside
  6. Once the garbanzos are done, In a large cast iron pot or dutch oven, add a drizzle of evoo and the bacon pieces.  Cook until browned.
  7. Add the garlic and toss for 3-5 minutes.
  8. Add the garbanzo beans (about 3 cups) and mix thoroughly.
  9. Add the red wine vinegar, Spanish paprika, and about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of the reserved cooking broth that you cooked the garbanzos in.
  10. With a mortar and pestle, grind 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp black peppercorn and 1 tsp salt.
  11. Add the ground spices to the garbanzo’s, reduce the heat and simmer on low.
  12. While the garbanzos are simmering, In another large pot, bring water sprinkled with salt to a boil.  Add the spinach and cook for 5 -7 minutes or until wilted, (not soggy).
  13. When the spinach is done cooking, add to the garbanzo’s and mix thoroughly.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
  14. To serve with this meal, fry a couple pieces of bread in evoo until browned on both sides.  Place on top ;)
  15. Serve.

Buen Provecho!!

This post is also a part of Gnowfglins Tuesday Twister and Girlichef’s Two for Tuesday.

Upon our return from Granada, we spent another couple of days in Sevilla visiting family and relaxing.

Below are a couple of shots of my tita’s in Sevilla.

Abuela Rora
Tita Maria, Tita Carlota, Abuela Rora
I’m disappointed that I can’t find the photos of my Tita Manolita.  She is another sister of my tita’s above with a wonderful heart.  She helped my mother and aunt during the last day’s of my grandfather over a year ago. We are excited that her daughters, my mother’s cousins, are visiting us with their families in the States this year.  I can hardly wait!

Spring is a great time to be in Spain.  The weather is perfect and you can catch many fairs going on throughout the country including many religious holidays.

During the month of May, Las Cruces de Mayo is celebrated.  Religiously, the festival is rooted in the search by the Byzantine Empress Saint Helena for the cross on which Jesus died, but the popular traditions connected to the festival certainly originate from pagan traditions brought to Spain by the Roman Empire.  In light of Las Cruces de Mayo, throughout the city you will frequently see many children carrying miniature crosses on float type displays.  The children, usually with an adult tagging along, will carry it around the block.

As cute as this is to see, it almost seems to me as a way to prepare their children for what awaits them when they get older, La Semana Santa.  Knowing that many of these traditions are rooted in pagan traditions, I’m not to keen on them.  Just my feelings!  I’d rather catch a flamenco show and eat some traditional Spanish food!
Dianas- Spain 2010 583


ensaladilla rusa

empanadilla de atun

After visiting cousins, we hit the beach!  Chipiona!!


Chipiona has history in our family.  My Tita Carlota purchased the chalet a block away from the beach when my mother was a tiny thing.



My mami used to spend her summers on the beach eating freshly picked mulberries and tagging along with my tita’s as they fetched fresh raw milk and bought live chickens that my Abuela Rora would cull in the kitchen for La Merienda (Dinner).  My mami called Chipiona her refuge, her place of peace as she would run up sand dunes and swim for hours.  Wow… Times have changed.  However, when I was little I also have the memories of tagging along with Abuela Rora and buying live chickens for dinner.  Ha!  I may just bring that memory back!!

So we all have our treasured memories of Chipiona and now my children will as well!



My nephew Xavier mowing down on Mejillones (mussels).  He called them, “His Favorite!”

I’m so glad that my Tita Carlota was able to spend a couple of days with us!


Seafood/Shellfish in Chipiona and San Lucar are the best!!!


How cute is my nephew Ezra!!


Zekie’s model pose!

Ice Cream!!


I even ate some snails!

Although Chipiona is packed with people during the summer time, it’s a small town and quiet during the rest of the year.  It’s a town where everyone pretty much knows everyone.  As soon as we got there, we had half the town stop by to say hi to Carloti and her family.  It’s a special feeling as it makes you feel as though you belong there.

One of our most favorite breakfast treats to eat in Chipiona, is manteca colorá.  Believe it or not, it’s seasoned rendered pork fat that is smothered on toast and sprinkled with honey or sugar.  Unbelievably good!!


My family swears by it and will not eat it from anywhere else.  The person who makes it is the town carnicero (butcher) and a family friend!  His wife Meji and their children have been friends with ours since I can remember.  So it was so much fun visiting his booth at the plaza where he GAVE ME HIS RECIPE!!!

Showing me how to slice the back fat.

I’m still waiting for my back fat from a local family farmer.  As soon as I get it, I’ll share with you the recipe!  So…. that was how we spent our time in Chipiona.  Relaxing!!
I’m so glad I was able to share with you my time in Spain!  You can definitely look forward to a recipe for manteca colorá in the future.  Also, look forward to a very special giveaway!

Until then, have a great weekend!


Good Morning Garden Soldiers!  It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted on my gardening series since I’ve been so busy in my own garden.  I’m happy to say, everything is sowed in the ground and in different stages of sprouts to harvest.

Thinning Seedlings

One of the most difficult things for new gardeners to comprehend is that it is essential to thin your seedlings.  Every year at my community garden, I see many newbies plant their seeds, watch them grow and then get disappointed by their yields.  The culprit… they did not thin their seedlings.

So what does thinning your seedlings mean?!

Thinning your seedlings simply means that you are cutting away all but one seedling per space that the vegetable needs to grow.  You see why this is difficult to comprehend for newbies?  When we see so many sprouts growing we assume that we should keep them all to increase our harvest.  However, this is far from the truth.  Every vegetable needs it’s space to grow.  It’s essential to thin your seedlings for healthy plant growth and development and believe it or not to maximize your crop production.

This becomes even more important when planting your root vegetables such as radishes, carrots, beets, turnips etc.  If too many seedlings are growing together the root is competing for space and nutrients.

Below is an example from my garden.

Before thinning my seedlings (radishes)

After thinning my seedlings

Tips for thinning your seedings

  • Identify the proper spacing for plants.  This can be found on all seed packages.
  • Pick the largest and healthiest seedlings to keep.
  • Wait to thin your seedlings until the first true sets of leaves appear.
  • For small seedlings, use scissors to cut away the seedlings you don’t want at the soil line.  This is important so you don’t disturb the roots of the seedling you want to keep.
  • Add more soil if roots are exposed

 So take a good look at your garden.  If you have any crowded seedlings, make sure to thin them out!

My next post in this series is going to be on disease, fungus and insects that can damage your crops including preventatives and treatments.  We are coming to that time of year where we may encounter some of this and the effects can destroy all of our hard work.

It’s been so much fun hearing how so many more foodies are growing our own food!  If you have any pictures of your thriving garden, please send me pics to diana (at) phileodesign (dot) com.  In the meantime check out newbie Miranda’s garden from My Food and Life Encounters!  Yeah… after looking at her pictures you wouldn’t think this was her first year!!  AMAZING!!!

Until then Garden Soldiers! Let’s Grow Our Own Food!

Fresh Garden Salad with Bacon Fat Dressing
Fresh lettuce from the garden is something we have had in abundance.  Much more than my family can eat that I was able to share a couple bags of my harvest with my next door neighbor.  My next door neighbors have become friends of ours and the boys enjoy spending time with them.  Don and Judy are retired but quite the busy bees.  You can usually find Don working on his house and yard or his elderly neighbors house to the South.  Judy maintains their home, cooks and makes sure to take her daily walks a few times a day.  They are great neighbors and always vigilant of the neighborhood.

With extra bags of lettuce, I walked next door to give Don and Judy some of the harvest when she shared with me her mothers recipe for wilted lettuce.  It was actually quite funny because she told me that she had a wonderful recipe for me, however, it contained bacon fat so it might not be good for me.  I laughed and said, “Judy, if it contains pork fat, I want the recipe.”  She laughed!  She gave me the easiest and most delicious recipe for a bacon fat dressing poured over fresh harvested lettuce.  The lettuce wilts a bit with the heat of the dressing.  Hence the name, wilted lettuce.  After a quick search online for wilted lettuce, I found other similar recipes.  However, since Judy gave me the recipe with her mothers handwriting, I’d like to give credit to Edith North.

Fresh Garden Salad with Bacon Fat Dressing (Wilted Lettuce)
(Adapted) By Edith North


  • Leaf Lettuce
  • Green Onions
  • 4 strips farm fresh bacon
  • 2-3 tbls raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp mustard (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp raw honey
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 farm fresh hard boiled eggs


  1. Wash, drain and heap lettuce into a large bowl
  2. Add chopped green onions
  3. In a cast iron skillet or pan, fry the bacon until crisp and can crumble.  Set aside
  4. To the bacon fat in the skillet or pan, add vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil and stir
  6. Add crumbled bacon and pour hot over lettuce
  7. Toss, slice eggs over top and serve

Buen Provecho!


This post is a part of the new Real Food Carnival… Two for Tuesdays!

I’d like to ask you to please lift up my city in prayer.  We’ve had a lot of rain these past couple of weeks with more in the forecast.  The river banks are swollen and parts of our town is starting to flood.  My home church has lost power this morning and it’s basement, where the children’s classes are held, is flooded.  I just pray that the rain would subside and that people will not be left in ruin as in years past.

As for my gardening, I am really pleased with how this season is going so far.  What’s been great is that I’ve been saving quite a bit of money in groceries.  I’ve only had to buy a few items at the farmers market as I’ve been harvesting a steady supply of lettuce, green onions, radishes, and as of yesterday peas and chinese kale.  Having raised beds for my Spring planting has made a huge difference in production and the home made compost has encouraged growth.  One thing I have noticed is that the trees in my parent’s home are overgrown and casting a bit too much shade.  I feel if they had more hours of direct sun my veggies would mature quicker.  My father is seeing the need to prune his tree, so… I’m crossing my fingers he does it this year or next.  (If you’re reading this papi… wink… wink… ;)

Plots at the folks home


I feel my peas on either end of one of this bed would have grown much taller with more sunlight.
I noticed yesterday that some nasties (slugs) are starting to bite at my romaine!  Unfortunately, we’ve had so much rain here lately, that I can’t keep the area around them dusted with DE and beer in a small dish is getting drowned out by water, urghh!! I’ll get you nasties!
Beets!  Aren’t those leaves just gorgeous!  I think in the fall, I will plant beets specifically meant for harvesting of their tops.  They are so yummy!

Carrots!  I’ll be planting my third succession this week.
Mesclun Mix that keeps coming… and coming… and coming!
Chinese Kale
My heirloom tomatoes are taking off!
My potato in a sack experiment is going well.  I am sad as my french fingerlings drowned and rotted :(  My other 3 sacks are growing though and one of my potatoes in a sack has reached the top!  I’m excited to see what happens :)
Franklin Community Garden Plots
This year my husband raised me 3 beds in one of my garden plots at the community garden.  Since these plots are under direct sunlight every day, I planted my sun loving summer veggies in the new beds.
Nehemiah’s strawberry patch produced about 30lbs or more of berries this year.  We were really blessed with fresh berries for a good 3 weeks and it’s still producing about a pound every other day.  It’s so much fun to bike to the garden with the boys, pick fresh berries to snack on and visit the other plots.  After the rain disappears from our forecast I am going to have to mow this plot down and tend to the patch.  I plan on digging up all the old plants and leave the runners to encourage brand new growth and hopefully another great year of berries in 2011.
My new raised beds!  Aren’t they pretty :D 
In the first bed, I have 3 different varieties of squash growing and onions.
7 varieties of peppers!  Italian Marconi, Sweet Pimento, Cubanelle, Buran Red, Ancho, Jalapeno, and Chocolate Bell.
Eggplants and 6 tomatillo plants!  I cannot wait for my tomatillo’s!!!
The tomatillo’s are taking off under all the sunlight!
My Home
This year I’ve expanded my garden!  I enjoy gardening so much that I’ve ran out of room and decided to use the South side of my home and front yard for more gardening space.  Edible landscaping!   If things go well this year I may build up designed raised beds that would look spectacular on the corner edge of my front yard.  Next year… we’ll see, lol!
Below is a picture of my new corn plot.  In a few weeks, I’ll sow pole beans in this same plot and have them trellis up the stalks!  Perfect for small spaces!!  I’m also excited as this is the year we finally put up shutters on my home and buy a brand new door, screen and outdoor lights.  I also brought home ceramic address numbers from Spain that I CANNOT wait to put up on my home. I’ve been trying to recreate A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.



My Grow Boxes.  I can’t wait to see how these do.  In one I’ve planted 6 cucumber plants and in the other 6 melon plants.  I know… according to the directions I can grow that many plants in one box!

My raspberry bushes quadrupled in size this year!  There are already berries ready for picking!  The kids love running out there everyday and eating them right off the bushes :)

I was given raspberry starts last year and to my surprise they were a yellow variety.
They are very sweet!


New plot I dug up.  I planted 9 more heirloom tomatoes and 1 more tomatillo plant.

My front patio filled with containers of annuals.  Mostly different varieties of geraniums and begonias.  My favorite display of flowers in Spain ;D



I could really use help in this area!  I’ve planted sun perennials in a space that is clearly shade.  Any recommendations of what I should plant here?  Any help is WAY appreciated.  One thing I do like are the snapdragons that had just dropped all of it’s flowers before I  took the pic :(  They came back from last year and are gorgeous!


This is what I have growing in my gardens so far.  With all of the rain I have not had time to hit the backyard yet.  I’m planting a huge plot to fill with sunflowers.  I think the display will look so pretty and I’ll be able to harvest all of the seeds for my chickens!  Also on the list this year is to paint my coop.  I can’t wait to have a super cute city coop in my backyard!
Have a great weekend!

Cuban-Style Picadillo
Picadillo refers to the Spanish word, “picar,” which means “to mince” or “to chop”.   A picadillo can be any combination of meat and vegetables chopped up and finished with a variety of spices and seasonings.  I really enjoy the way Cubans make their picadillo as they add hash browns fried in pork lard or rendered bacon fat to soften and add flavor.  A while back I was given a wonderful dish reminiscent of picadillo at my friend Abby’s house.  She topped it with a fried egg and served it to me with flat bread.  It was swoon worthy!  So to accompany this dish, I made my family flat bread.  A recipe I will share in a future post ;)  This dish can also be served topped with a fried egg which would make it that much more RICO!!

Cuban-Style Picadillo


  • 3 medium sized potatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbls pork lard, or 4 pieces bacon cooked down to render the fat (add the bacon into the picadillo if using this method)
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 sweet pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, skins removed and pureed (or small can tomato sauce)
  • 1 cup beef broth, preferably homemade
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tbls tomato paste (or ketchup)
  • 2 tbls red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup green olives, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 tbls pork lard.
  2. Add the potatoes and brown.  Remove and set aside.  Save the fat for another day.
  3. In the same skillet, brown the ground beef.
  4. When the beef is about half way cooked, add the onion, pepper, and garlic.  Cook until the remaining of the beef is cooked and the onions are translucent.
  5. Add the tomato sauce, beef broth, green olives and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the chili powder, tomato paste, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the picadillo has thickened to your liking.
  7. Once it has thickened to your liking add the hash browns back in and warm for a few minutes.
  8. Serve over steamed white/brown rice.

This dish is excellent with flat bread and a green salad from the garden.

Buen Provecho!