LOGO FINAL
If you’ve read about my recent travel to Spain you’ve probably heard me gush about my new Beco Baby Carrier.  I was so happy to receive my carrier made of organic material just in time to use on my trip.

If you’re not familiar with the Beco Baby Carrier, it’s a backpack style carrier which allows you to carry a newborn up to a 45lb toddler on your front or back.

Designed by a babywearing parent, active sailor and rock climber, Gabby Caperon. Beco combines perfect ergonomics, excellent weight distribution and stylish design from top quality fabrics. Each carrier is handmade by a skilled seamstress in facilities which apply high social and economical standards. Sustainability and minimal impact of our production on the environment is important to us. We strive to provide the best quality, safe products and friendly customer service.

Reading the Beco story, designer and owner Gabby Caperon, produced the first Beco from her home as an at home mom.  She needed a more comfortable carrier to carry her growing baby and researched traditional baby carrying from other cultures.  She sewed her first Mei Tei and when she needed something a bit more sturdier she looked towards the innovation of a backpack.  I love it!  Brilliant mom’s creating with passion and love!

I’m so glad Gabby is sharing this product with the world because it was so useful on my trip.  I used it in the airport, buses, trains, touring, to market, and especially as a safe haven for my child as he slept on me.

One of my absolute favorite things about baby carrying is the closeness that it brings to your child.  Feeling their every breath, touch and movement is a constant reminder that my joy and my place in life, at this moment, is to be their mami.

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I used my carrier to carry my toddler mostly on my back, however, I would rotate him to the front to sleep or sit in my lap on public transportation.

The Beco was really amazing on long train rides, as I knew my toddler was sleepy but… he’s rambunctious!  The Beco kept him strapped onto me where we chatted, talked, sang and slept!  It was great :D

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Before I go on, I do want to make it clear that the Beco Baby Carrier was given to me.  This review is unedited and based solely on my opinion.  

The Beco Baby Carrier was also comfortable and easy to use.  The straps are padded and easy to adjust.  You can pull them down and tighten the strap.  The bottom support pad and strap kept his weight distributed evenly and I could carry him for quite a long time.  Below is one of many instructional videos.

This is my first backpack carrier and I am enjoying it!  Before I had this carrier, I carried Zekie in a moby wrap as a newborn and moved to a Baby Bjorn that was given to me as a baby shower gift.  He was already used to be carried by mami, but what I found so enjoyable is that he enjoyed riding on my back.  “Up high!”  “Up high!” Zekie would yell… so cute!!

Here’s a fun video of us at the very top of an ancient castle in Granada, Spain.  Carrying Zekie on my back allowed me to take him places that I would have been way to scared of before.  I had no fear of him climbing or playing around near dangerous places and we enjoyed a special time together.

I also enjoyed that I was able to carry my older son in it.  He enjoyed it as well!

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After this trip, I told my husband as long as each of the boys could be in a carrier, I was no longer fearful to visit the Grand Canyon!  Maybe a future vaca is in order ;)

The people of Beco were gracious enough to give my sister a Beco as well.  Anyone that reads my blog knows that my family and I are very close.  So it was so much fun being able to carry our babies together.  Ezra was five months at the time and enjoyed the closeness of sleeping on his mama.

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The only thing that was difficult for my sister is that Ezra does enjoy being carried facing out.  Unfortunately, the Beco does not allow the baby to face out.  Maybe a feature they could add in the future?

Since coming home, I’ve had opportunities of using it at the farmers market, while gardening, at the pool, on walks, at a wedding and other everyday routines and events we’ve attended.  really it’s been my secret weapon to keeping a toddler from hitting the high road! As my hubby and I are praying about bambino number 3, it makes me even more excited to think about carrying him/her in the Beco!

As you can tell, I really enjoyed this product and do recommend it to anyone.  It’s easy, comfortable, organic, and the patterns are ADORABLE!!  So now is the really exciting part!!!

Beco has agreed to giveaway one Beco Baby Carrier with the super cute panther pattern to one of my readers!!  I enjoy this pattern as it works well with men.  Yes, they do enjoy carrying their children as well :D

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The Beco Baby Carrier Giveaway!!

How cute is that print!  So here’s what you have to do to win!!

This Giveaway is Closed

To enter

leave a comment from one of the options below…

  1. If you are not currently a baby wearing mama… Why would you enjoy carrying your baby?
  2. If you are currently a baby wearing mama… What’s the best thing about carrying your baby?
  3. If this would be a gift for someone else… Why would this be a perfect gift for a mom or dad?

Extra Entries
Leave a separate comment for each entry, a total of 7 extra entries.

  1. Subscribe to receive my posts via email. (1 entry)
  2. Follow me publicly on my blog (1 entry)
  3. Become a fan of Beco Baby Carrier on Facebook and share on your wall (1 entry)
  4. Become a fan of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa on Facebook and share on your wall (1 entry)
  5. Blog about this giveaway and link back to this post (2 entries)  Please leave 2 seperate comments that you have done this.
  6. Follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway. (1 entry) (copy and paste)

    @dianabauman @becobaby Carrier Giveaway! The ultimate backpack style baby carrier!  #babywearing #giveaway http://tinyurl.com/2d5y6nq

Please Remember, leave a separate comment for each entry, or your extra entries will not count!

Every comment must include an email address – it’s ok if you comment with your blog account as long as I can get to your email through your blog!  The giveaway ends July 13, 2010 and is open to the Continental US only.  The winner will be chosen by random.org.

Good Luck!!

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Greens, I just can’t get enough of them.  I get captivated at the farmers market by the beautiful colors and depths of green at each stand.  Some of my favorite greens are beet tops.

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The crimson veins bursting through green are nothing short of life, blood… creation.  Conceptually, it’s one of the most beautiful vegetables I’ve seen and nutritionally, it’s one of the most nutrient dense vegetables.

Beet tops are very high in vitamin a.  As most greens, they also contain vitamins c, e, and k.  They also contain calcium, fiber, folate and other minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Beet tops are also a good source of protein.  As you can see, a power house full of nutrients!  The bonus of shopping at your farmers market is that you will be able to purchase the beets with their tops.

For this recipe, I wanted to use the tops in a way that I could appreciate their taste and texture.  I decided to use them in a wrap and inspired by Indian cuisine, I filled them with onions caramelized in garam masala and homemade ghee.  I also added homemade yogurt to the wrap for a sweet and tangy addition.  To finish the wraps, I baked them with additional rendered ghee that infused the leaves with a nuttiness.  Topped with browned milk solids, these wraps were to please.  Mild greens with a sweet and creamy center.

Beet Top Wraps with Caramelized Onions and Yogurt
Makes about 8 wraps

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch beet tops (reserve beets for a different use)
  • 1 onion sliced
  • homemade yogurt (or regular plain yogurt)
  • homemade ghee (or store bought)
  • 1 tsp garam masala (Garam Masala is a combination of spices including coriander, black pepper, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon.)
  • Browned milk solids from making homemade ghee to garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. In a cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed pan, heat 3 tablespoons of ghee.  Add the onions and garam masala.  Saute until caramelized and browned on all sides of the onion.

    Caramelized onions about half way done.
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  2. Once the onions are caramelized, separate beet tops from the beets.  Wash, dry and lay them out side by side or how you see fit until you have the size of about a 6″ x 6″ square.

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  3. To the center of each wrap, add 2 tablespoons each of caramelized onions and yogurt.  fold over the left and right sides and roll.

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  4. Place in a baking dish.  Pour 1/2 cup of melted ghee over the wraps and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. Garnish with browned milk solids.

Buen Provecho!

ghee
Ghee has a rich history in the Indian culture.  It has been used nutritionally and religiously for over 2,000 years.  A rich, aromatic, clarified butter with a depth of nuttiness.

Like any clarified butter, ghee is composed almost entirely of fat.  However, as I have discussed before, fats are essential to life and help the body assimilate nutrients.  Ghee contains the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Another nutritional benefit of ghee is that it helps aid in digestion. It has been used in Indian medicinal practice to help with ulcers, constipation, and the promotion of healthy eyes and skin.

It’s also known that in the Indian culture, many mothers give their children a tablespoon of ghee a day to keep them healthy.  A tradition I may start in my own home.

Because ghee has such a high ‘smoke point’ of around 375F it is also a very useful oil to cook with. The smoke point determines when an oil actually starts to burn and generate oxidisation. As it has a very low oxidisation rate ghee stays fresh and shelf stable for a long time. Another benefit of using ghee is that the heating procedure removes the lactose content making it a suitable replacement of butter for those that are lactose intolerant.

The process of making ghee is quite easy!  I learned how to make ghee from Jennifer McLagan’s book, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes.

Ghee is made by slowly cooking butter on the stove top until the it separates into 3 parts.  The water which is boiled off, the butter, and the milk solids which are left on the bottom of the pan to brown.  It’s these browned milk solids that infuse the ghee with their characteristic nutty flavor.  According to Jennifer McLagan, the browning of the milk solids creates antioxidants that help delay rancidity.

I have seen many Indian blogs where they add spices or herbs to the cooking butter to impart flavor.  I’ve seen mint and curry leaves.  Something I’ll definitely try in the future.

As easy as this was to make, I encourage you to give it a try.  I used farm fresh butter from a local farmer and the taste was unbelievable.  I’ve been using it on rice, toast, vegetables, fried eggs, and have even found myself eating it plain.  It’s really that good!

Homemade Ghee
Recipe by Jennifer McLagan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup / 1/2 pound unsalted butter

Method:

  1. Cut the butter into small pieces and place them in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat.  Once the butter has melted, increase the heat just until the butter simmers.  As the butter simmers, a layer of white foam wil form on the top and the butter will bubble and spit as the water boils off.

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    After about 10 minutes the spitting and bubbling will stop.

  2. Now the milk solids on the bottom of the pan will begin to color.  Watch the butter carefully at this point, using a spoon to push aside the foam to check the color of the milk solids.  When they turn brown and you smell a sweet, nutty aroma, remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes, allowing the flavor of the browned milk solids to infuse the ghee.
  3. Carefully strain the ghee through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth into a clean glass jar, leaving the browned milk solids behind. 
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    When cool, cover the jar and keep the ghee refrigerated for up to 6 months.  It can also be frozen.

I have seen other recipes where it’s okay to keep the ghee at room temperature for up to 2 months.  It’s up to you.  Also the milk solids left over from making ghee taste great!  Save them to add to rice or vegetable dishes.

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Buen Provecho!

This is a post that I have been wanting to share for quite some time.  I was recently given a copy of The Book of Tapas by Simone and Ines Ortega to review.

I was ecstatic to get my hands on a copy of this book!  Here’s why.  Simone Ortega is the original author of 1,080 Recetas De Cocina.  The definitive book on traditional and authentic Spanish home cooking.  It was first published in 1972 and has been a bestseller for nearly 40 years.  This is a book that every woman in Spain receives as a wedding gift.  My mother was no exception.  I grew up flipping through the pages of my mothers soft cover, beat up, thick cookbook.  My mami would pull out the fiction novel sized book and teach me the words that were written in it.  She would explain to me what the ingredients were and I would often hear, “this tastes wonderful but… you can’t find these ingredients here.”  I hated those words.  However, she would make substitutions as she saw fit and we always had a wonderful time together!

You can only imagine my excitement when in 2007, 1,080 Recetas De Cocina was translated into ENGLISH!!  This time, Simone collaborated with her daughter Ines.

I bought a book for both my mami and I.  I remember the day we received our books.  I bolted to my mami’s house and we both sat on the couch comparing the recipes from the English translation to her original copy in Spanish.  They stayed true to most of their recipes.  Some things they did cut out on as our times have changed but really, they’ve done a great job keeping the recipes traditional utilizing real ingredients.  This is definitely the book on Spanish cooking that should have a place on your bookshelf.  What I enjoy so much about it is that they call for ingredients like they were originally prepared.  Spaniards use backfat, lard, butter, salt, organ meats, all parts of the animals and you can find it all in this book!  This book also has an amazing list of vegetables with recipes as the Mediterranean diet is also about eating tons of veggies.  Usually cooked with some sort of fat, be it olive oil, lard or jamon!  Of course recipes for legumes can be found in this book as well.

So you now understand why I was so ecstatic to get my hands on the new book by Simone and Ines Ortega called The Book of Tapas!  Like 1,080 Recipes, this book stays true to Spanish traditional cooking!  It is filled with recipes and very much in line with their original book.  It makes a great companion book!  It’s filled with straight forward recipes and sections of images.  No extra words to introduce a recipe, no historical facts… just Spanish recipes.  These are my favorite books on Spanish cooking!

For this post I was able to create a recipe from the book called Fried Green Asparagus with Garlic, Vinegar and Paprika.  It turned out fabulous, however, I failed to use the amount of asparagus needed and ended up with more of a soup, lol!!  I should of halved the recipe.  Oh well… It still tasted great!

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Fried Green Asparagus with Garlic, Vinegar and Paprika
Recipe from The Book of Tapas by Simone and Ines Ortega
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2lb (2kg) green asparagus, trimmed
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 slices bread, crusts removed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
  • 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • salt

Method

  1. Cut the asparagus into 1 1/2 inch (4-cm) lengths. Heat the oil in a skillet or frying pan.  Add the bread and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, for a few minutes, until golden brown on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.  Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes, until golden brown.  Transfer the garlic to a mortar, add the fried bread and pound with a pestle.
  2. Pour the oil from the skillet into a pan and heat it.  Add the asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the paprika, then pour in 2 cups (450ml 3/4 pint) hot water. Return the pan to a medium heat, cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the asparagus spears are just tender.
  3. To finish, add the vinegar and a little of the asparagus cooking liquid to the mixture in the mortar and stir well, then stir into the pan containing the asparagus. Season with a little salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

Have a great week and here’s to traditional Spanish cooking!  Buen Provecho!  

garbanzos_espinaca

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.

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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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

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  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
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Tita Maria, Tita Carlota, Abuela Rora
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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.

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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!
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ensaladilla rusa
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empanadilla de atun
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After visiting cousins, we hit the beach!  Chipiona!!

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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.

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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!

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My nephew Xavier mowing down on Mejillones (mussels).  He called them, “His Favorite!”
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I’m so glad that my Tita Carlota was able to spend a couple of days with us!
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Seafood/Shellfish in Chipiona and San Lucar are the best!!!
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How cute is my nephew Ezra!!
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Zekie’s model pose!
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Ice Cream!!
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Churros!
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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!!

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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!!!

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Showing me how to slice the back fat.
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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!!
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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!