Quick Pipirrana: My Seafood Tapa Hack

17 Aug


Colourful, tasty and low in calories, pipirrana is my favourite seafood salad tapa.

This is a cheat recipe, because boiling squid and cleaning mussels is not something I fancy after a long day at work. So I used ready-prepared frozen seafood, which is readily available in supermarkets here in Spain. If you cannot find this where you live, use the tinned variety. Just pick products that come in water or brine.

Serves 2-4 depending on portion size


1 green frying pepper or 1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 onion
About 15 black olives, stones removed
120 g cooked mussels
80 g cooked squid/calamari chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Ground sea salt to taste


1. Defrost seafood in fridge overnight or drain water from cans if using conserves. Place in bowl.

2. Chop the peppers, onion and olives into small pieces and add to seafood bowl.

3. Add the olive oil, vinegar and salt. Mix thoroughly.

4. Pop the pipirrana in the fridge for a minimum of 30 min to cool and let the flavours soak in.

Serve with fresh bread and a cold beer. ¡Salud!

And That’s Why Our Dog is on Prozac

31 Jul

D85_1096 (1)Our dog, Nena, started drinking and peeing uncontrollably in April 2012. 

It would take us (and the vet) some time to find out what was wrong.

A dog with a drinking problem

It all started with Nena having accidents all over the house. Big accidents. Ones we’d step in in the dark on our way to the bathroom.

Then we noticed that she’d drink and drink and drink, emptying up to four or five large bowls of water a day.

We took her to the vets.

NenaBiscuit.jpgThe first diagnosis

“Liver or kidneys,” said the vet. “We need a blood test.”

For a week we waited for the results. Then we went back.

“Results look OK,” our vet said. “It might be diabetes.”

The second diagnosis

More tests were carried out. Nena had a long (and uncomfortable) stay at the animal clinic, getting prodded and poked.

But the results came back fine.

“She’s healthy,” the vet shook her head. “There’s only one thing I can think of.”

“What is it?” We asked.

“It’s psychological.”


“Any major changes at home recently?”

My husband and I looked at each other, then at the bundle in my arms.

“Well… yes. We’ve just had a baby.””

Interesting changes

The vet said the tablets would work in 4 weeks.

She was spot on. After about a month, Nena stopped drinking frantically. She also stopped peeing inside the house.

There were other interesting changes too. Nena had always been anxious, but we’d taken that as part and parcel of living with a rescue dog.

“She’s got baggage like the rest of us,” my brother-in-law said once.

Nena’s past traumas

When I got her in 2003, Nena was really highly strung. She would whimper outside the toilet door when I went to the loo, eat her food in seconds and bark incessantly at anyone new coming in the house.

She gradually relaxed and got much better over the years, but she hated any change. I remember when I moved in with my now husband. Going to live in a new place was really stressful for Nena. It took her a month to settle in and sleep properly at night, and not cry when we left the flat.

Nena has also always been extremely frightened of children. Whenever she hears kids shouting she freaks out and sometimes bears her teeth if children get too close.

Over the years I always put a muzzle on her and kept a close eye when friends came around with kids. This had been a concern when we had our baby.

Two years on

Our son Felix is two years old now. Nena and Felix are best pals.

“Good girl,” Felix pats her on the head. I know I shouldn’t project my human emotions onto a dog, but I swear Nena’s smiling.

Everything has changed. Miracle Prozac. For the first time ever Nena seems relaxed and happy.

What will happen now?


Nena is getting close to 13. She’s getting older and stiffer and blinder by the minute. Her hearing’s gone a bit.

Every once in a while a noise in the house will rouse her up from her nap though, and she’ll wake up and bark randomly in every direction for a while. Then she’ll sigh and continue her nap. It’s like the anxiety is still there a bit, but it’s nothing like it used to be.

“Let’s just see how she gets on,” the vet told us some time ago, when we asked her how long Nena should be on the meds.


Love, training and Prozac

I do honestly wonder if it wouldn’t be kinder to leave Nena on Prozac permanently now.

I feel guilty saying this, because I’ve always been an advocate of training and love first.

Nena has received a lot of both (training and love, that is). Knowing what she was like when I got her in 2003, I’d say they’ve made a HUGE difference. But drugs did something for her that we just couldn’t.

Time (and our vet) will tell. I’m just really glad that in the meantime, she isn’t afraid or anxious anymore. And that my son is getting to love Nena in her golden years, when she’s at her happiest — as drug-induced as it may be!

Yup. Some people laugh and say she is a bit of a loopy dog. But… she is our loopy dog.







Pulla – Finnish Cardamom Yeast Bread

25 Jun


If you’ve ever been to Finland, you’ll have eaten pulla at some stage.

Pulla is a soft, sweet bread made with flour and milk and spiced with warm cinnamon and cardamom. It comes in many shapes, from small rolls and cinnamon swirls, to elaborate decorated plaits.

One of the most popular variations is the cinnamon swirl, or korvapuusti – which literally means ‘a smack in the ear’. The korvapuusti gets its name from its ear-like shape (see picture above) and it’s a Finnish coffee-time staple.

Below is a recipe for the basic dough, which can be used for many different types of pulla, and two options for presentation – cinnamon swirls and plaits.

This recipe makes either around 35 cinnamon swirls, or 2 plaits. Or you can divide the dough in two parts and make half and half, like I’ve done here.

Prep time alert! This recipe takes around 3-4 hours.


Basic dough:
12 dl plain flour
½ tsp salt Continue reading

My Scandinavian Style Fish Soup

10 Jun


This recipe is my own version of a classic Scandinavian fish soup that my mother used to make.

Hearty yet light, and packed full of nutrients, it’s perfect for a winter lunch.

I’ve used cod, sweet potato and broccoli this time. Any other white fish or salmon work well too, and you can also throw in a few prawns or replace the broccoli with other seasonal vegetables.

Serves: 6-8


1 litre water
generous pinch of ground sea salt
4 white peppers Continue reading

Cranberry & Mandarin Wholemeal “Muppins”

28 May


My son calls these “muppins”. So muppins they are.

And they’re gooooood. Especially if you bake them with fruit from your own tree.


If you can’t lay your hands on mandarins, oranges also work fine.

This recipe makes 8-10 muffins.


4.7 dl (2.5 cups) wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 dl (2/3 cups) fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons maple syrup Continue reading

When Motherhood Hurts: Feldenkrais, Anyone?

11 Apr

© PitiKukkua.com

Hands up. How many of you’ve had physical problems after pregnancy?

Not everybody bounces back after having a baby, and that was definitely the case for me. 

Pregnancy consequences

After a tricky nine months, I was over the moon to give birth to a healthy baby boy. But the unwelcome maternity “side effects” were really taxing – severe anemia, painful hips and an umbilical hernia.

For over a year after giving birth, I felt about 90 years old. Continue reading

Wholemeal Banana Bread

27 Mar


I’m celebrating my new oven!

And what better than easy (and reasonably healthy) banana bread?


2 eggs
130 g butter, melted
2.4 dl brown sugar
4.7 dl self-raising wholemeal flour
3 bananas, ripe
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions: Continue reading

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