Tag Archives: Andalucia

Adios y Gracias

It is time to say adios for the final time. This week we handed over the keys to the new owners and left our beloved house and olive grove in their care. The Spanish Valley is a special place and we know the new owners fell in love with at first sight, as we did all those years ago. So this is a farewell message from me, the last post you will receive from ‘Notes on a Spanish Valley’. Thank you for following me, many of you since my first post ‘A Gift of Lemons’ published on February 27, 2013. I’ve enjoyed sharing the ups and downs, the twists and turns, of our Spanish adventure. We have left our Spanish Valley with heavy hearts and many tears. On the final morning as we drove away from the house, the sun was rising and the sky in the east was the most perfect pink. In our last week, as we packed boxes and said farewell to friends, the spring visitors started to arrive: cuckoos calling down by the river, a lone peregrine falcon circled overhead and a russet-red kestrel sat on a branch. It has been a wrench to leave, but life moves on and so begins a new chapter both for us and in the life of the Spanish Valley.

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You never know, a memoir of ‘Notes on a Spanish Valley’ may follow! It is also inevitable that we will visit Spain again and that future novels will be set in Andalucía. I already have an outline for the ‘Casa Melodía’ series of stories about the adventures of Melody who inherits a rundown house in the Spanish countryside in the 1960s.

Special Offer
Now I will settle down to write ‘Sweet Joy’, third in the ‘Identity Detective’ series. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something new to read at Easter, the ebook of Ignoring Gravity is reduced to 99¢/99p at Amazon from April 11 – April 18 … which is quite a #KindleCountdown bargain when you think the paperback costs £9.99. If you like the novels of Maggie O’Farrell, Lucinda Riley, Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve, try it. A mystery with a touch of romantic suspense and a contemporary storyline.
DOES YOUR FAMILY HAVE SECRETS? REALLY? ARE YOU SURE?
IGNORING GRAVITY, the debut novel by Yorkshire author Sandra Danby, is a compelling story about an ordinary family with a secret. Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it. The day she finds her mother’s hidden diary is the day she starts to search for who she really is.

A story about identity, adoption, family mystery and ultimately of love, IGNORING GRAVITY connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. As Rose untangles the truth from the lies, she begins to understand why she has always felt so different from her sister Lily.

★★★★★ Here’s what readers are saying about IGNORING GRAVITY:
“It took me a little bit to get into the book, but once I did, I could not put it down. I loved that this book brought some often-difficult issues: infertility, adoption, family relationship, and identity to light. An overall delightful read”

“I really enjoyed all of the twists and turns that accompanied the characters in this book. Just when I thought I had everything figured out, and knew who Rose’s parents were, the plot would take a sharp detour. I really felt as though I was with Rose on this journey of self-discovery, and when she finally unravels the secrets that have been decades in the making, I was as shocked as she was”

“I devoured the book in one go, unable to put it down despite the tirade of emotions it brought to the surface”
Amazon UK
Amazon USA
Sandra Danby

Already read Ignoring Gravity? Then try Connectedness, second in the ‘Identity Detective’ series?
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
IGNORING GRAVITY ebook only 99¢ & 99p #bargain #KindleCountdown https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2AA via @Spanish_Valley

Bird song: Peregrine

One of the larger falcons, the Peregrine is similar to others of its kind in that the females are considerably larger than the males. Their call when sitting on the nest is a raucous ‘haak-haak-haak’ or a whining ‘kee-keee-eeee’. The best place to find a Peregrine nest is on the broad ledge or earthy scrape on a cliff, sometimes a quarry, rarely on flat ground. Watching a Peregrine pursue its prey – birds ranging in size from a Thrush to a Pigeon or Grouse, sometimes larger – is exhilarating as it attempts to catch its prey from above, below and level flight. Don’t take your eye off it.

Its markings make it easier to identify than some other birds, including a yellow eye-ring, yellow bill-base, white cheek patch, white breast and barred white underside. Seen flying, however, they look dark against the sky. If you get a close view, look for the black, white and yellow markings.

Listen to the song of the Peregrine at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
un halcon peregrino – a peregrine falcon
estridente – raucous
gimoteo – whining
una cantera – a quarry
estimulante – exhilarating

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Nightjar 
Willow Warbler
Swallow

 

Our most used bird book? ‘Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe’
Amazon UK

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How does the Peregrine sing? #Birds in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2xO via @Spanish_Valley

Rib-sticking lentil and sausage casserole

Practically made in total with store cupboard/fridge/freezer ingredients, this casserole is brilliant for chilly days when you are cold and starving hungry. Eat it from a deep bowl with a spoon. It is very satisfying and, made in one saucepan, is quick and easy.

Serves 4
3 tbsp olive oil
8 vegetarian sausages [we used Quorn]
2 onions, chopped
25g fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp paprika [we used half and half pimentón dulce and pimentón dulce]
2 tsp tomato puree [we used more]
tin of chopped tomatoes
100g cooked chestnuts [we used vacuum-packed], roughly chopped
250g Puy or brown lentils
650ml vegetable stock
salt
pepper
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the sausages and cook until browned all over. Remove from the pan, and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the same pan, add the onion and cook until lightly coloured and tender. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook until the aroma rises. Add the spices [above] and tomato puree and cook for another two minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.

Return the sausages to the pan and add the chestnuts, lentils and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 20-30 minutes until the lentils are tender and the sausages are cooked through. If the mixture gets too dry, add a splash more water. Season to taste and serve. 
Next time I will:-
Throw in a handful of frozen peas.
Add chopped fresh parsley at the end.
Add a little more fresh ginger.

If you like this,try:-
Salmon and New Potato Traybake
Asparagus and horseradish pasta
Sweet potatoes + coconut + ginger

5 to remember
muriendo de hambre – starving
envasado al vacío – vacuum-packed
las castañas – the chestnuts
si la mezcla se seca demasiado – if the mixture gets too dry
añadir un poco más de agua – add a splash more water

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
One for a cold winter night: rib-sticking lentils and sausage casserole #recipe #veggiefood https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2zU via @Spanish_Valley

Salsa roasted beets

These are the best lentils I have ever eaten, teamed with sweet beetroot and a tangy herb salsa. A fine supper for a winter evening. There are three elements to combine, all simple. Serves 4
For the beetroots:-
8 medium firm beetroots, peeled and quartered
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
For the lentils:-
400g Puy or brown lentils, rinsed
4 whole cloves of garlic
1 small tomato, whole
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 litre vegetable stock
For the salsa verde:-
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp cornichons or gherkins
bunch of fresh mint
bunch of fresh parsley
bunch of fresh basil
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of ½ lemon

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 6. 
Put the quartered beetroots onto a baking tray. If your beetroots are large, cut them into smaller wedges as they can take a long time to roast. Add the vinegar, a good glug of olive oil and a splash of water. Season with salt and pepper, toss everything to coat. Cover the tray with foil and roast in the oven for 1 hour, until the beetroots are cooked through and the juices are neon pink.

Meanwhile, cook the lentils. Put the lentils into a saucepan with the unpeeled garlic, whole tomato and herbs. Just cover with the vegetable stock. Put on a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes until they are cooked and the water evaporated [if they are cooked and spare water remains, simply drain it away]. If they are a little dry and not quite cooked, add a splash of boiling water.
To make the salsa, finely chop the capers and cornichons. Add the herbs and chop again. Put into a bowl and add the olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste, add more oil or lemon until you are happy. Set aside. Once the lentils are cooked and all the water has evaporated, scoop out the tomato, bay leaf and garlic. Set the flavourings aside in a bowl to cool. When you can handle them, remove the garlic skin and tomato skin, mash the flesh and add back into the lentils. Mix, season to taste, and add a final glug of olive oil and red wine vinegar [be sparing with the latter, add a little and taste until you are happy].
When the beetroots are cooked, you are ready to serve. Pile the lentils onto plates, top with the roasted beets and drizzle over the roasting juices. Drizzle over the salsa to finish.
If you have some salsa left over, it will keep in the fridge in a sealed jar for 2-3 days.

What would I do differently next time:-
To make the leftovers go further, we added a pile of roasted broccoli, roasted carrots and onions.
Drizzle thick natural yogurt over the top
Substitute balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar

5 to remember
los tres elementos – the three elements
evaporado – evaporated
si estan un poco secos – if they are a little dry
se mantendrá – it will keep
un frasco sellado – a sealed jar

This recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones
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If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Green Shakshuka
Light and Fresh Tabbouleh
Golden Drops of Salt Cod

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Salsa roasted beets #vegetarianfood #Recipe by Anna Jones @we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2zJ via @Spanish_Valley