Food for ants

Nature is a place of survival. There is no place for squeamishness, sentiment or emotion. The annual cycle is driven by food and reproduction, and both are involved in this little story. Our terraces are home to numerous ants which do a sterling job of clearing up and keeping things tidy. They are constantly working, perpetually seeking and following and carrying and dragging. But this meal turned out to be too big to fit into the hole to their nest. So, a little dissection was needed. I don’t know how the baby lizard died, but I admire the tenacity of the ants.

5 to remember
el sobreviviente – the survival
el escrúpulo – the squeamishness
el sentimiento – the sentiment
la emocion – the emotion
la reproducción – the reproduction

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
It’s lunchtime: food for ants #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24h

There’s nowhere more beautiful

Is this the most beautiful time of year here? I think so.

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And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
There’s nowhere more beautiful #villaforsale #HiddenAndalucia Find us at Instagram via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24c

Whose nest is this?

Look what I found when I was deadheading the roses. A tiny nest, delicately balanced in the middle of a large rose bush. Beautifully woven. No owner in residence. No known eggs or chicks. Too small to belong to a blackbird, could it belong to one of the finch family?

5 to remember
mira lo que he encontrado – look what I found
muerto las rosas – deadheading the roses
delicadamente equilibrado – delicately balanced
bellamente tejido – beautifully woven
el propietario – the owner

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Who does this beautifully woven nest belong to? #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-243

July in the peaceful valley

July is a month of fiestas in Spain. The best known is the bull running of San Fermin in Pamplona, to which many Spaniards travel from across the country. In the houses of the villagers, the televisions will be turned on to show the events. Here in the secret valley, recently designated a zone of special protection due to its outstanding beauty, we have no bulls and life continues peacefully. The most exciting thing to happen recently is the sale of a nearby olive grove, from one villager to another – actually from one cousin to another – and the subsequent digging of new drainage channels in preparation for winter.

5 to remember
las fiestas – the fiestas
los más conocidos – the best known
designada – designated
una zona de protección especial – a zone of special protection
excepcional – outstanding

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Always peaceful: this is what July looks like in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-23K

A salad, involving melons

This is one of those salads that sounds so simple that you wonder ‘what’s the point?’


The point is to use the very freshest ingredients, in season: melon, tomato, cucumber. The cucumber is important. If you can, use Spanish pepinos, the short fat warty-skinned variety which put English cucumbers into the shade. This is a Rick Stein recipe which he made in France. Spanish ingredients do the job just as well.
The only change I made was to add handfuls of fresh baby mint leaves, and use sherry vinegar for the dressing.

Serves lunch for 2 hungry people, with crusty bread and butter
½ ripe piel de sapo melon
pepino or ½ English cucumber
225g tomatoes, skinned
100g firm, crumbly goat’s cheese
Handful of fresh mint, rinsed
For the dressing:-
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Jerez sherry vinegar
Pinch of caster sugar
Sea salt flakes, and coarsely ground black pepper

Make the dressing first by combining the ingredients with a whisk. Set aside.

Cut the melon into four wedges, scooped out the seeds with a spoon. Slice the flesh away from the skin and cut each wedge into long thin slices. pepino, slicedPeel the cucumber and slice on the diagonal into 3mm-thick slices. Slice the tomatoes. Arrange the melon on the base of a large serving plate, cover with the cucumber and tomato slices.


Crumble the cheese in small pieces on top, then scatter with the mint. Spoon over the dressing and serve straight away with bread and butter. crusty bread & butterFor more about Rick Stein, visit his website.

Three more salads to try:-
Hot hot chickpea salad
A gooey creamy salad
Spanish tuna and tomato salad

5 to remember
incluso – involving/including
la más frescos – the very freshest
en estación – in season
la diagonal – the diagonal
esparcir – to scatter

French Odyssey by Rick Stein

 

‘French Odyssey’ by Rick Stein [UK: BBC Books]

 

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A French salad made with Spanish melons #recipe by @Rick_Stein via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Nb

Asparagus field… gone to seed

Ever wondered what an asparagus field looks like when the crop is finished? This is it. Fronds of fern-like, feathery leaves, which look more at home in a florist’s vase than in a farmer’s field past its best.

Done right, a farmer should only have to plant an asparagus field once. Once planted, that is the only crop for that field. Which means yield is very important. At least one year must pass before the crop is harvested. The first thing you notice is the spears, poking out of the brown earth like green fingers. Once the crop is finished, the plants will continue growing, up to 3-4ft by summer.

5 to remember
la cosecha – the crop
las frondas – the fronds
plumoso/a – feathery
una floristería – a florist
un jarrón – a vase

Dazzling summer sun

When we first moved to Spain, my sensitive Northern eyes needed sunglasses during the hot summer months. Now, my eyes have adjusted and some days I forget to carry my sunglasses with me. Pablo, who has lived here for almost seventy years, has never worn sunglasses and seems bemused by mine. It is rare to see the villagers wearing sunglasses, perhaps it is the sign of a fashion-conscious incomer.

5 to remember
deslumbrante – dazzling
las gafas de sol – the sunglasses
casi setenta años – almost seventy years
un recién llegado – an incomer
consciente de la moda – fashion-conscious

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Dazzling summer sun in the #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-23y