What’s that?

Is it paper, peeling? Or timber left in the rain, sodden then dried and split in the sun? #7 peeling bark of eucalyptus tree 10-10-145 to remember
¿Qué es eso? – What’s that?
pelando – peeling
la madera – the timber
empapado/a – sodden
un árbol de eucalipto – a eucalyptus tree
Answer:  The peeling bark of a eucalyptus tree. October 10, 2014.

From terrace to plate

This is an unusual salad which will challenge your taste buds, a little sweet, a little sour, a little something else: thanks to the surprise ingredient. It’s a handy recipe to have as most of the ingredients come from cupboard or terrace.

Serves 2
Two large handfuls of rocket
One crisp apple, cored & thinly sliced
Juice of half a lemon
Bunch of fresh chives, snipped
100g dried cranberries
200g walnuts, halves
One small roll of goat’s cheese, roughly cut into chunks
For the dressing
Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp mustard
3 gloves garlic, minced
2 tsp soy sauce [to taste] apple, wholeSlice the apple and sprinkle with juice of half a lemon to prevent browning. Set aside.

Make the dressing, adjusting to taste. The first time I made this I added too much lemon juice and soy, and readjusted the flavour with honey.

Next, put the rocket leaves and sliced apple in a large bowl and mix by hand. Add half the dressing and toss lightly.

Add the chives, snipped with scissors, half the cranberries, half the walnuts and half the cheese. Toss lightly again to prevent the cheese breaking up. Tip into a flat-bottomed serving bowl. Sprinkle the remaining cheese, cranberries and walnuts over the top, followed by the rest of the dressing. plateful5 to remember
las papilas gustativas – the taste buds
práctico – handy
la terraza – the terrace
los arándanos – the cranberries
cortar en rodajas – to slice

rocket, pot on terrace


This recipe is adapted from one given to me Lyn Harrison of the Competa Book Group in Spain. She recommends feta as a good substitute for the goat’s cheese. Thanks Lyn!

Bird song: Blackcap

The Blackcap lives all-year-round in the valley, it is easily distinguished from the other unidentifiable warblers because of its cap. Both male and female wear this cap, the male’s is black, the female’s brown. Otherwise their bodies are plain brown and rather drab. But it’s song is not drab, listen to this musical warbling in sudden bursts, working up to a crescendo, then silence, then starting again.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

Listen to the song of the Blackcap and read more about it at the RSPB website.

Generally seen around our olive grove, Blackcaps like bushy woodland. They take insects off the foliage.

5 to remember
distinguen fácilmente de – easily distinguished from
inidentificable – unidentifiable
la reinita – the warbler
una gorra – a cap
un crescendo – a crescendo

A fallen egg

The first sign that there was a nest in the cipressas, was this fallen egg. On watching, we noticed a pair of goldfinches flying in and out of the bush. Goldfinches are our most cheery of neighbours in the valley, their song is very ‘tweety’. Judging by the amount of flying around, they had to work hard to feed their brood. They lay four to six eggs, which take up to 14 days to incubate. The babies fledge in two weeks. Often there are two broods, May and July.goldfinch egg, fallenListen to the song of the goldfinch herenest in the cipressas5 to remember
la cría – the brood
el primero – the first
caído – fallen
dentro y fuera – in and out
alegre – cheery

The Lacewing

I have never seen this elegant insect before. the lacewingIt was stranded in the pool and at first we thought it was dead. We fished it out and left it to dry, and this is what emerged. A Thread Lacewing. What a beautiful, delicate thing. Nemoptera Sinuata is native to Southern Europe and is quite distinctive. It has two sets of wings. The large forewings have zig-zag markings, his hindwings are very long and thread-like, almost like streamers.

5 to remember
elegante – elegant
que quedó varado – it was stranded
al principio – at first
frágil – delicate/fragile
nativo de – native to

Eat this on the hottest day

Eating a plate of this salad is like drinking a glass of watermelon juice, with added flavour. It really is best suited to the hottest day, the sort of day where your skin hums with warmth and you don’t feel hungry. It is such a clean flavour that you can taste each individual element: the sweet watermelon, the salty feta, the sharp lemon. large bowl on bench 25-8-13Our version is adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe. We changed two things: I used one of our large lemons instead of the limes, and added toasted pine nuts for crunch. Adapt it as you please. recipe page 25-8-13chopped watermelon 21-8-13Serves 8
1 small red onion
Juice of 4 limes or 1 large Spanish lemon
1½kg watermelon
250g feta
1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
1 bunch fresh mint
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100g pitted black olives, roughly chopped
black pepper onions resting in lemon juice 25-8-13Peel and halve the red onion, cut it into very fine half-moons and put in a small bowl to steep with the lemon juice. This brings out the transparent pinkness in the onions and reduces the sharpness of the onion. Do this an hour or so in advance, if you can. This technique works on a normal white onion too, if you can’t get red.

Prepare the watermelon and cut into approximately mouth-sized chunks. Break the feta into similar-sized pieces. Put them both into a large, wide shallow bowl. mint 25-8-13I use the parsley and mint leaves whole, more as a salad leaf than as a garnish. Rinse, pat dry, then add to the bowl. toasted pine nuts 25-8-13Tip the marinated onions and their pink juice over the salad in the bowl, add the oil, pine nuts and olives. Toss the salad gently so the feta and watermelon don’t lose their shape. Add a good grinding of black pepper. plateful topped with pine nuts 25-8-135 to remember
con anticipación – in advance
transparente – transparent
un trozo – a chunk
suavemente – gently
marinado/a – marinated

Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson 20-4-15


‘Forever Summer’ by Nigella Lawson [UK: Chatto & Windus]

July in the valley

The tomatoes are green, the green pomegranates are taking on a pinkish tinge, and the air is full of buzzing bees and the scent of lavender, sage and rosemary. July is a lovely month.

5 to remember
rosado/a – pinkish
un tinte – a tinge
el zumbido de las abejas – the buzzing of bees
el olor – the scent
encantador – lovely/charming