Ant power

Apparently ants communicate using pheronomes, sound and touch, using their antennae. Where ants live and forage in groups, a forager which finds food marks a trail back to the colony. This trail is then followed by other ants, each of which reinforces that trail on its way back home. Once the food source is exhausted – as with the flower below – there are no returning ants and therefore no new trail and the scent slowly dissipates. This also helps the ant when a human sweeping the terrace, brushes away the rest of the flowers.

5 to remember
aparentemente – apparently
los pheronomes – the pheronomes
las antenas – the antennae
la colonia – the colony
un rastro – a trail [left by animal]

You will bake potatoes especially for this

This is so simple! Do you love baked potatoes, crunchy skins, salted and oiled? If you do, you will love this salad. It’s another by Nigella Lawson and it is perfect. Sumac is a dark berry, ground to a powder. Don’t be tempted to leave it out, it adds a light lemony flavour which works well with the fresh lemon juice.

I vary from the original recipe in two ways. First, Nigella includes additional sea salt, I leave it out because before baking potatoes I rub the skins liberally with olive oil and sea salt. Second, she discards most of the baked potato skin whereas I leave it all in. I bake extra potatoes every time now, in anticipation of this salad. potato - just out of oven 25-8-14sumac, teaspoon 25-8-14lemon juice, loads 25-8-14

Serves 2

2 baked potatoes
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of ½ a lemon
½ tsp sumac
½ tsp ground cumin
1 spring onion, sliced potato - ready to go into oven 25-8-14potatoes, mashed 25-8-14Chop the baked potatoes into chunks, and press with the back of your knife to mash the flesh slightly. cumin, teaspoon 25-8-14salad onions, chopped 25-8-14Put this into a bowl and spoon over the oil and lemon, add the cumin, sumac and spring onion. Mix. That’s it. Told you it was simple. ready to serve 25-8-145 to remember
especialmente para – especially for
perfecto – perfect
una baya – a berry
extra – extra
fácil – simple/easy

Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson 20-4-15


Recipe adapted from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson

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