Beautiful seedheads

Late summer, the grasses are dried out, the weeds are unable to break through the stonehard parched soil. Now is the time for seedheads take centre stage.

Bleached, silver and gold, burnt copper, their shapes give little hint of the original leaves and flowers. Beautiful.

5 to remember
secado/a – dried out
piedra dura – stonehard
seco/a – parched/dried
cobrizo/a – copper [colour]
una pista – a hint

Peachy granola crumble

This is a crumble recipe like no other… it features fruit and oats, but from that point on it is rather different. The topping is made of crunchy granola and, given the chance, I would eat it by the spoonful. We made this with some sad specimens of peaches, gone over the top, but the result was still delicious. granola topping - spoonful 20-10-14peaches in the dish - ready for the topping 20-10-14Serves 4
4 large or 6 small, just ripe or slightly under-ripe peaches or nectarines
Juice of a small/medium lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp runny honey or soft brown sugar
For the topping:-
50-75g coconut oil [raw or odourless]
100g fine oatmeal
100g porridge oats
Pinch of salt
25g ground almonds
50g soft brown sugar
A handful of flaked almonds

First, make the topping. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 4 and line a baking tray with parchment paper. melt the coconut oil 20-10-14Melt the coconut oil gently in a saucepan, then take off the heat. In a large bowl, mix all the other topping ingredients. the dry granola mix 20-10-14Add the melted oil and mix until well combined. Spread this mixture over the prepared baking tray. granola topping - ready to go into the oven 20-10-14Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through. It should be pale golden in colour, not brown, as it will continue cooking later in the oven. Leave to cool completely. This amount should make two crumbles, so set half aside [it keeps well in an airtight box in the fridge, or in the freezer]. To make the pudding, preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.

Halve the peaches, remove the stones and cut each half into seven or eight wedges. Put them into an oven dish and squeeze over the lemon juice. Stir the vanilla into the honey and drizzle it over the fruit. Spoon your half of the crumble mixture over the fruit, evenly, in a thin layer. Sprinkle with flaked almonds. flaked almonds for the topping 20-10-14in the oven 20-10-14Bake for 25-30 minutes, checking to make sure the flaked almonds don’t burn. The fruit should bubble up nicely and the topping should be brown. just out of the oven 20-10-14Leave to settle for 10-15 minutes before eating, if you can. plateful 20-10-14This is a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe. For more peachy recipes from River Cottage – including Peach Watercress and Redcurrant salad – click here. peach - close-up 20-10-145 to remember
las avenas – the oats
incluye – it features
cereal para desayuno a base de avena – granola
líquido/a – runny [sauce]
un coco – a coconut

The huerta in August

This is the most productive time of year in the huerta, but also the messiest. We have surrendered to the weeds, in acknowledgement that the veggies are growing healthily and who cares if the weeds are healthy too. We have an abundance of long thin Spanish green peppers, and a good crop too of aubergines which hang like purple earrings.

5 to remember
una calabaza – a butternut squash
la más desordenada – the messiest
en reconocimiento – in acknowledgement
una abundancia – an abundance
los pendientes – the earrings

Celebrating the first apples

There’s nothing like eating the first apples of the season picked off your own tree. And guess what we made? Apple pie, of course, deep-dish double-crust apple pie. cut into2 6-8-14Apples
1 tbsp sugar
For the pastry:-
250g plain flour
A pinch of salt
125g butter, cold
2 beaten eggs plateful2 6-8-14Pre-heat the oven to Gas 7/425F/220C, with a baking sheet.

Lightly grease a deep pie dish.

First, make the pastry as it needs to be set aside in the fridge to chill. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, then rub in the butter until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add half the beaten egg and, using your hands, bring the dough together. Add a little more egg if it is too dry to come together. Reserve the rest of the egg for brushing over the finished pastry. making pastry 28-7-14Wrap the dough in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. pastry in cling film 28-7-14Meanwhile, prepare the apples. Peel, core and slice then put into a saucepan with a little water. Add a spoonful of sugar. Cook gently with the lid on for 20-30 minutes until softened but retaining distinctive lumps of apple. Set aside to cool.

Take the pastry from the fridge. We use the Rachel Allen method of rolling out pastry: lay the lump of pastry on one layer of cling film and put another on top. rolling pastry 28-7-14Divide your dough into two. Roll out the first half so it is slightly larger than your pie dish, and carefully line the dish. Press the edge down and trim off any surplus. Add the apples to the pie dish.

Next, roll out the second half of your dough to make the pastry lid. This should be slightly larger than the dish. Lay it over the filling. Press gently and firmly around the edges, fluting the edges if you wish with your fingers or a fork. Cut a steam-hole in the centre, either one hole or 2-3 slashes with a knife.

Brush the top with a little of the reserved egg, or milk, plus a gentle sprinkling of sugar.

Place the pie on the pre-heated baking sheet in the oven on a high shelf, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to Gas 5/375F/190C and bake for a further 30 minutes. just out of the oven1 5-8-14Using a skewer, take out a piece of apple from the centre to test if it’s cooked, if it still feels firm give the pie another 5 minutes in the oven. cut into1 6-8-145 to remember
el primero – the first
claro – of course
hondo – deep [dish]
la estación – the season [division of year]
firme – firm

A Little Friend

This little friend appeared silently last night on the wall of the sitting room. He was completely unphased by us, occasionally moving slightly, flicking his tail. Two nights previously we saw a baby gecko, about 4cm long. Similar colouring, pale blush pink. Interestingly, the gecko positioned himself above a floor-standing lamp: lying in wait for moths?

gecko1 28-7-15gecko2 28-7-155 to remember
un/a amigo/a – a friend [male/female]
silenciosamente – silently
de vez en cuando – occasionally
ligeramente – slightly
previamente – previously