Leaves and sun

An April day, spring sunshine and the green of new leaves: it is like no other green. I struggle to name it, except that it is made of fresh growth. Leaves appear green because of the chlorophyll they contain, chlorophyll is the part of the leaf that uses carbon dioxide, sunlight and water to produce sugar.

A leaf with plenty of chlorophyll masks other pigment colors. Chlorophyll, an essential component of photosynthesis, is a green pigment found in the chloroplasts of plants. Leaves often show as a vivid green when they are close to other leaves, because the light people see bounces off the green leaves before it reaches the eyes. Chlorophyll utilizes mostly red and blue light energy, while the green energy passes through or bounces off the leaves and reaches a person’s eyes so leaves appear green.

As autumn ends, plants and trees produce less chlorophyll because light regulates the production of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has a constant decomposition rate so the green colour of leaves begins to fade when chlorophyll starts to decompose.

5 to remember
el dióxido de carbono – the carbon dioxide
la clorofila – the chlorophyll
un pigmento – a pigment
para utilizer – to utilize
la descomposición – the decomposition

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
What makes leaves, green? #trees in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1TS

Don’t miss a minute of sunshine

There are 12 hours of sunshine here, every day in the summer in Southern Spain.
Follow us at Instagram @HiddenAndalucia

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Catch every minute of sunshine beside the pool #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1XK

Springtime: old and new

This is the time of year when new young energy pushes aside the tired, the old and fading. New growth next to dying or dead. Fresh bright green next to browns, blacks and greys. Spring is relentless.

5 to remember
este es – this is
la energía – the energy
desvanecimiento/a – fading
muriendo/a – dying
muerto/a – dead

Spring patchwork

At no time during the year does the landscape change more than during the spring. A day of sun or rain alters things dramatically. Overnight, buds of tightly-woven almond blossom burst open, winter-sown wheat takes on a deeper more luscious tone of green, and the fields of peas seem to grown centimetres within hours. And so the agricultural patchwork of parcelas changes from pale greens and browns, divided by the haphazard lines of silver-grey stones and paler dried earth, to deeper tones, helped often by a night-time sprinkle of drizzle.

5 to remember
en ningún momento – at no time
el paisaje – the landscape
dramáticamente – dramatically
durante la noche – overnight
los campos de guisantes – the fields of peas

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Spring draws its patchwork of colours & textures in #Spain #countryside via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Pw

An easy iced cake

Glace cherries are one of those childhood things which, for me, takes me straight back to the kitchen and ‘helping’ my mother make cakes. They are sickly things really, but I loved them. The redness? The stickiness? The fact that they were a treat and not considered appropriate for an everyday cake?

This cake by Mary Berry satisfies my need for glace cherries on a wet Sunday when I fancy cake. It is pretty foolproof in that all the ingredients go into a large bowl at the same time for mixing.

Makes 1 x 2lb loaf [900g]
75g glace cherries
3 extra large eggs [I used 4 large eggs]
175g self-raising flour [I used gluten free plain flour plus 2 tsps gluten free baking powder]
100g soft margarine
100g light muscovado sugar
100g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
150g sultanas
For the icing:-
100g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp apricot jam
1 tbsp water
2 ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped loaf-tin-linedPre-heat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3. Lightly grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with greased greaseproof paper.
First, prepare the cherries. Quarter, wash and thoroughly dry on kitchen paper.

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and then measure in the remaining cake ingredients including the cherries. Beat well until the mixture is smooth.

Turn into the prepared tin, level the top, and bang the tin on the worktop to eliminate bubbles. ready-to-go-into-ovenBake in the pre-heated oven for about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, firm to the touch, and shrinking away from the sides of the tin. It is cooked if a fine skewer, inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn it out and cool completely on a wire rack.

Once the cake is cold, it is ready to be iced. Measure the sifted icing sugar into a bowl. In a small pan, heat the apricot jam and water until mixed [do not overheat]. Pour the jam onto the icing sugar and mix to a smooth texture. Spoon over the top of the cake. Decorate with a sprinkle of chopped apricots down the centre of the cake.

Fancy another cake? Try making these:-
An apple and cinnamon cake
Peanut butter biscuits
An Italian cake of Spanish apples

5 to remember
tamizado/a – sifted
la mermelada – the jam
no sobrecalentar – do not overheat
una textura suave – a smooth texture
los albaricoques picados – the chopped apricots

mary berry's ultimate cake book 20-1-14

 

This recipe is from ‘Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book’ by Mary Berry [UK: BBC Books]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
An easy iced #cake with apricots & cherries #recipe via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Wf

Wildflowers/White

The white wildflowers are my favourites. There is something pleasing about the juxtaposition of white and green and, at the time the white wildflowers are everywhere, the spring hills are at their greenest. That said, there are so many different shades of white I struggle to describe them without sounding like colour names on a paint chart. So, here are some whiteish wildflowers, photographed on my morning walks along the tracks.

5 to remember
la yuxtaposición – the juxtaposition
por todas partes – everywhere
más verde – greenest
me esfuerzo por – I struggle to
un gráfico de la pintura – a paint chart

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Wildflowers come in many colours in #Spain Here are some white ones #nature via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1PP

Sweet Carrot Salad

This is a lovely sweet salad. A large bowlful is a main course, but it also works as a side salad and travels well in a plastic box for picnics. Carrots are naturally sweet and are a traditional combination with oranges, but what makes this a little different is the addition of ground cumin and plump raisins.


Serves 4
4 carrots
200g raisins
5 oranges
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp date syrup or maple syrup
200 raw cashews
180g pitted olives, green, black or a mixture
salt and pepper

Top and tail the carrots, then peel off the outer skin and discard. Peel the rest of the carrots into thin slivers and place in a large bowl big enough for mixing. Turn the carrot as you peel, to ensure your strips are thin and less uniform. carrots, peeled, in dishNext, put the raisins in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside while you prepare everything else.


Peel four of the oranges and chop into segments, removing as much of the pith as possible. Place into a small saucepan with the ground cumin and the date syrup.


Sauté on a medium heat for about five minutes or until they are soft. Pour the fruit and all the juice over the carrots.

Now add the cashews to the same pan. Cook over a medium heat for about three minutes, so they soak up the orange flavour and brown a little. Add to the carrots.

Squeeze the juice of the final orange onto the salad, then add the olives. green olivesDrain the raisins, add to the salad with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss well, and serve. plateful5 to remember
una caja de plastico – a plastic box
un picnic – a picnic
un dátil – a date [fruit]
el jarabe – the syrup
deshuesado/a – pitted

Looking for other salads?
A pimped-up version of a Delia salad… griddled courgette & feta salad
Aubergine & herb salad
Mustardy salmon salad

Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward 1-5-15

 

This recipe is from Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward [UK: Hodder & Stoughton]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Sweet carrot salad: what’s not to like? #recipe by @DeliciouslyElla via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Nm