Wind, there’s no escaping it in southern Spain. Travel along the major roads and coastlines and you will find molinos on the hillsides. They are elegant things, architectural almost. Spain is a leader in wind and solar energy, our house is energy self-sufficient using wind and solar energy. We live without power lines. turbines in distance1 10-10-14turbines in distance2 10-10-14turbines in distance3 10-10-14Click here to read our adventures with solar and wind power… turbines in distance4 10-10-14here to read about our solar-heated water supply… turbines in distance5 10-10-14… and here to read how we live without mains water, taking our water 100% from a spring. turbines in distance6 10-10-14turbines in distance7 10-10-145 to remember
un molino – a wind turbine
el viento – the wind
eólico/a – wind-powered
autosuficiente – self-sufficient
cien por ciento – 100%

Fruit bowl cake

We were about to go away for a couple of weeks and had a dilemma: more eggs than we could eat, some hard nectarines in the fruit bowl which just would not soften, and the first of our own apricots picked too soon and also hard. The answer: you guess it… make a cake! Given its provenance, this is now known in our house as the Fruit Bowl Cake. mixing the cake - fork in the bowl 2-6-14
cake - close-up 2-6-14
150g butter
150g sugar
Nectarines and apricots
3 large eggs [or 4 of Pablo’s]
75g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
50g shelled walnuts or almonds, chopped roughly walnut - close-up 2-6-14Set the oven at 180°C. Grease and line a square 20cm cake tin, about 6cm deep, with parchment paper.cake tin - lined 2-6-14First prepare the fruit. With a small sharp knife, remove the skin from the nectarines and apricots. Then carefully slice the flesh from the stone. Cut into even-sized chunks. nectarines and apricots - prepared 2-6-14Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, I always mix my cakes by hand as it seems easier. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat gently, then add bit by bit to the butter mixture. Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl, stirring to mix, fold them gently into the butter mixture. Fold in the ground almonds, then the nuts.

Scrape the mixture into the cake tin, give the tin a firm tap on the counter to help the mixture settle and get rid of air bubbles. spooning the cake mix into the tin 2-6-14Place the pieces of nectarine and apricot evenly into the cake mixture, alternating the type of fruit to alternate the flavour. They will sink during cooking so don’t worry about making a pretty pattern. cake tin - ready to go into oven 2-6-14Bake for 40-45 minutes, test with a skewer, if the skewer comes out clean the cake is done. cake tin - just out of the oven 2-6-14cake - on the cooling rack 2-6-14Remove the cake from the oven and set the tin on a cooling rack. Once the cake is cold, remove from the tin and peel off the paper. As it contains fruit, this cake is best kept in the fridge in a plastic box. It also freezes well. As a whole cake is too much for us, I either cut it in half and freeze, or cut into slices and freeze two at a time.

To wrap for freezing, I first wrap it in a large sheet of greaseproof paper. Then a layer of foil. freezing - in paper 2-6-14freezing - in foil 2-6-14Finally I put it into a freezer bag, suck out the air with a straw, and tie with a freezer tie. freezing - in bags 2-6-14Wrapped securely like this, and without air in the bag, the cake keeps exceptionally well in the freezer and when defrosted tastes like fresh. Imagine… nectarine and apricot cake, in the middle of winter!

5 to remember
envolver – to wrap
en capas – in layers
una bolsa de congelar – a freezer bag
una pajita – a straw [drinking]
congelar – to freeze

fig cake - cover The Kitchen Diaries 12-7-13


‘The Kitchen Diaries’ by Nigel Slater

The threshing patch through the year

The ancient threshing patch located in the middle of our olive grove is a benchmark of the seasons. 3 threshing patch 17-3-13In March [above], the grass sodden by winter is flattened… 4 threshing patch 28-4-11April [above] and there is lush new grass with a splash of red poppies… 7 threshing patch 9-7-14July [above] and the summer heat is rising and the green is now tined with golden grass… 8 the threshing patch 24-8-14August [above] and the threshing patch is golden and parched, like the earth surrounding it. No rain since February… 10 threshing patch 9-10-13In October [above] the grass is now shoulder-high, sprinkled with yellow autumn wildflowers… 11 threshing patch - burnt 17-11-13November [above] and the leaves are golden on the trees. Pablo has burnt the grass from the threshing patch to allow it to renew for the new season. Next spring we expect an abundance of wildflowers here.
5 to remember
reseco/a – parched
de alrededor – surrounding
a la altura del hombro – shoulder-high
ha quemado – has burnt
una abundancia – an abundance

golden oriole, male - photo photo 13-8-14

Bird song: Golden Oriole

Without a doubt, these birds are the highlight for us in the valley. Their timidity makes each sighting a rare gift. We hear them every day in the summer, and know they prefer to nest in poplar trees which we have in abundance beside the river. The nearest they come to the house is to eat the figs from the fig tree beside the terrace.



The male [above] cannot be confused with anything else, his bold yellow and black colouring is so bright it seems somehow unnatural. His mate, however, can be confused with a Green Woodpecker. She is green not yellow [below] and has a long elegant neck. We mourn their departure in early August, missing their beauty, and also because it is the earliest sign that autumn is on its way.



Their song is unmistakeable, with a yodelling quality which we describe as ‘wee wee woo’.

Click this RSPB link to listen to the Golden Oriole.
Click here to watch a video of an adult male singing, plus a female and two juveniles. Filmed in India, where they are common birds.

5 to remember
una oropéndula – a golden oriole
sin duda alguna – without a doubt
lo más destacado – the highlight
la timidez – the timidity
el álamo – white poplar tree

The old blue bridge

Everywhere around the countryside here, things are done the old way. It is a reminder that Spain lost decades of development during the Franco era while the rest of Europe recovered post-war. Many of these ways are because of lack of money or lack of an alternative way, others are retained because they still work and therefore do not need replacing. There is a make-do-and-mend mentality here which chimes with the modern idea of sustainability and ‘Reduce Re-use Recycle’. the old blue bridge1 26-3-13This footbridge is a remnant of the olden days. It crosses the river at the foot of our valley and is the only alternative if the road bridge is flooded. It is precarious and our neighbours use it only when they have absolutely no other choice. the old blue bridge2 26-3-135 to remember
la mentalidad – the mentality
la sostenibilidad – sustainability
los vecinos – the neighbours
precario/a – precarious
la elección – the choice

What’s that?

#4 the seeds are shed 1-7-145 to remember
¿Qué es eso? – What’s that?
las semillas – the seeds
esta planta -this plant
no sé – I don’t know
¿lo sabes? – do you [know it?]
Answer: The seeds are shed. July 1, 2014
PS. I don’t know the name of this plant… do you?