Celebrating.

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to have three of our friends from orientation out to our little home here in Alcalá. It was a last-minute arrangement, which ordinarily would put me in panic mode, but this time just made me excited. We found out it was Leah's birthday, so I decided to brave using the oven and gather ingredients for baking a cake (a little daunting here, as people don't bake as much--or ever--at home and therefore the same ingredients aren't as readily available). We picked up some very simple tapas and drinks for our little gathering, and I set out to bake what turned out to be a very yummy chocolate cake, if I do say so myself.

I didn't end up using this chocolate for the icing, which I'd originally intended to do (I skipped the icing part), but I know some of you like seeing products here so I included it. This is milk chocolate for baking, "Easy to Melt." Also, I'm SO glad I remembered to bring this multi-measurement measuring spoon, because measurements are different here. Not to mention, it was compact in my luggage!

I didn't end up using this chocolate for the icing, which I'd originally intended to do (I skipped the icing part), but I know some of you like seeing products here so I included it. This is milk chocolate for baking, "Easy to Melt." Also, I'm SO glad I remembered to bring this multi-measurement measuring spoon, because measurements are different here. Not to mention, it was compact in my luggage!

Here's the recipe I used for the cake. If you are living here in Spain, I found the cocoa in an herbolario down the street, and asked for "cacao en polvo." A bag cost 4.50 Euros, but it was great and easy to find (and saved me a trip to Taste of America, thank goodness). I've heard you can find it at the mercado in El Corte Ingles, but we don't have one close to us. Mercadona apparently has it, too, but I couldn't find it the other night, and ours is too far away to warrant a trip back just to ask an employee if that particular store carries it. Oh, and I left out the vanilla, because again, it was nowhere to be found in my neck of the woods, and I wasn't shelling out for it at The American Store!

A table set for five. We can't have any more than six people here because we don't have enough plates, cups, utensils, etc. ;)

A table set for five. We can't have any more than six people here because we don't have enough plates, cups, utensils, etc. ;)

I'm excited about hospitality this year. Last year, having people over was something I desperately wished that I wanted to do, but the very thought of company made me want to sit in my closet and cry. And we did have people over for a night or a weekend, including our families, which always ended up being a blessing. But life was so crazy and anxiety-ridden and boundary-less that bringing people into our humble abode wasn't as welcome of a desire in my heart as I wanted it to be. I feel like I'm at a place now where I am embracing the idea of hospitality in our home so much more, and that makes me excited about the stories that will be shared over jamón and chocolate cake and an icy glass of tinto de verano.