Tag Archives: Andalucia

Lizard versus Cricket

I don’t often have the opportunity to take live action photographs, so I was chuffed with this series of wild nature in action on our terrace. The cricket put up quite a fight with a couple of big jumps but the lizard anticipated where he would land and was there waiting.

I’m no wildlife expert but I think the lizard is a Large Psammodromus because of his long tail and the two long white stripes along his flanks. The male has a blue spot on its shoulder and this one doesn’t, so I’m guessing it’s a she. Very strong with a thicker head than our usual Iberian Wall Lizards and without the vertebral stripes on the tail. The cricket is more difficult to identify as there are 40 types of cricket. Most are dark brown, this one is creamy grey. I’m guessing it is a King Cricket. How do I know it’s a cricket and not a grasshopper? Because crickets have long antennae, while grasshoppers have short.

5 to remember
la oportunidad– the opportunity
un lagarto– a lizard
un grillo– a cricket
un saltamontes– a grasshopper
las antenas– the antennae

 

Collins Photoguide: Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’ [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Lizard versus Cricket #Nature in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2vW via @Spanish_Valley 

Tomato and coconut cassoulet

This is an easy-to-make cassoulet which can be prepared the night before and then thrown in the oven for a quick lunch. The creamy combination of coconut milk and tomato works, with a gentle background flavour of ginger and mild chilli. If you like your chillies hotter, then choose a smaller red variety. Mine was rather large! The one thing I wasn’t sure about was the addition of bread, I added one slice and wished I hadn’t as it soaked up sauce and was soggy. Next time, I will omit the bread.

Serves 4-6
Olive oil
1 leek, washed, trimmed and roughly sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
a 1cm thick piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
one 400g tin chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp coconut milk
one 400g tin haricot beans [I used butter beans]
500g vine or cherry tomatoes
a bunch of fresh basil
4 slices of sourdough bread

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.

Heat an ovenproof casserole on a medium heat on the hob, add a slosh of olive oil. Add the leeks, garlic, chilli and ginger, and a pinch of pepper. Turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes on low until the leeks are soft and sweet.

 

Next add the tinned tomatoes, coconut milk and beans. Simmer for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat. Check the seasoning.

Scatter over the fresh tomatoes and basil, then tear the bread into chunks and tuck it into the mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the tomatoes have shrunk and sweetened.

 

This recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones [UK: Fourth Estate]

 

 

5 to remember
un suave sabor de fondo – a gentle background flavour
una cazuela por horno – an ovenproof casserole
rasgar – to tear
los pedazos – the chunks
reducido/a – shrunken

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Very cheesy pie
Cheesy coleslaw: what’s not to like?
A creamy coconut stew

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Tomato and coconut cassoulet #Spain #Recipe by Anna Jones @we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2g3 via @Spanish_Valley

Fifty Shades of Gold #40

A field of sunflowers ready for harvest. August 22, 2013

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A field of sunflowers ready for harvest #countryside in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2bP

Crunchy tahini green salad

If you have a selection of green vegetables and a jar of tahini in the fridge, then make this salad. It is greater than the sum of its parts. It works in winter, slightly warm, or in summer, chilled. And it’s a great way of packing in your servings of healthy green vegetables. This time I included a few sorrel leaves from the garden. It can be a served as a side to a main dish. Or, if like us, you want to eat vegetarian, simply add a pack of lentil seeds. We like to include three types of vegetables, crinkly ones such as cavolo nero and broccoli work well as they hold the dressing well.

Serves 4
For the greens:-
4 tbsp seeds, such as pumpkin or sunflower
4 tbsp nuts, such as pistachios
1 tbsp maple syrup [optional]
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g mixed seasonal green vegetables [see below for suggested combinations]
For the dressing:-
2 tbsp tahini
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsps maple syrup
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Suggested vegetable combinations:-
Winter – purple sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo nero
Spring – purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus, sugar snaps
Summer – green beans, broccoli, peas
Autumn – shredded Brussels sprouts, winter greens

First, prepare the seeds. We prefer to toast them lightly in a dry frying pan, this gives the taste but saves on sugar. If you prefer the maple syrup seeds, first preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Put the seeds and nuts on a baking tray, pour over the maple syrup and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss so everything is coated in syrup, then roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Take out of the oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, make the dressing by combining the ingredients with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Next, prepare the greens for blanching in hot water. As a general rule, purple sprouting broccoli [40 seconds], kale [30 seconds], asparagus [60 seconds], green beans [40 seconds], broccoli [40 seconds], shredded sprouts [30 seconds], winter greens [30 seconds]. The aim is for the vegetables to be al dente. Blanch each vegetable in turn by plunging into boiling water. 

Once the greens are blanched, drain and place in a serving dish. Pour over the dressing lentil seeds and toss so everything is coated. Top with the roasted seeds and nuts, and, if using, the lentil seeds. 5 to remember
una selección de – a selection of
un tarro de tahini – a jar of tahini
una pizca de – a pinch of
al dente – al dente
blanqueado – blanched

This recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones [UK: Fourth Estate]

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Asparagus and lemon risotto
Sweet carrot salad
Roasted cauliflower salad

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Crunchy tahini green salad #Spain#Recipe by Anna Jones@we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2kF via @Spanish_Valley

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Oleanders, joyous and life-affirming

Vincent van Gogh famously painted sunflowers during his time at Arles in France. But he also painted oleanders. He reportedly found them ‘joyous’ and ‘life-affirming’ because of their inexhaustible blooms and vigour. I know what he means

Oleanders by Vincent Van Gogh [photo: Wikipedia]

Our oleanders continue to flower from spring through autumn, in a mixture of red, pink and white. Now taller than me, oleanders can grow up to 6m tall. On our terraces, they mix with climbing roses, ivy and tall grasses. No sooner have the petals started to shrivel on one plant, than buds form on another. Even the dead flower bracts have appeal.

Oleander is a famously toxic garden plant, though huge quantities have to be consumed. Birds are thought to be immune; a fact that our sparrows and blackbirds can confirm as they regularly seek the shade of the oleanders on summer days.

5 to remember
jubiloso – joyous
marchitarse – to shrivel
una bráctea de flores– a flower bract
tóxico – toxic
un hecho que– a fact that

 

If you’d like to read more about Vincent van Gogh in Arles, the sunflowers and the oleanders, read ‘The Yellow House’ by Martin Gayford [UK: Penguin]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Oleanders, always flowering, always a new season in #Spain #gardening https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2pu via @Spanish_Valley 

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Bird song: Crested Lark

There are six types of Lark in Spain, according to my bird book. Five are residents: the Skylark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Woodlark and Calandra Lark. The Short-Toed Lark is a summer visitor. I am confident in identifying only one, the Crested Lark, because of the crest on its head which looks like a teenage boy with a quiff sticking up. Admittedly, the Thekla Lark has a crest too, but not quite as prominent. As a rule of thumb, if it is perching on a bush it is a Thekla Lark.

Its call is rich and fluting, often ending on an up note. ‘Vee-vee-teu’ and ‘tree-loo-ee’.
Listen to the song of the Crested Lark at You Tube.

5 to remember
la alondra con cresta – the Crested Lark
los residentes – the residents
estoy confiado/a – I am confident
un adolescente – a teenage boy
un quiff – a quiff

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Blackbird
Jay
Black Redstart

 

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

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

Light and fresh tabbouleh

This is a simple recipe for a very hot day when you’re not sure if you’re hungry but know you should eat something. Made with quinoa [which is gluten-free] this easy salad is a version of tabbouleh, traditionally made with bulgur wheat. If you like rice salads or couscous salads, try this. It is light and fresh and, depending on what you add, can be a cooling bland side dish to eat with a vibrant-flavoured barbecue, or a meal-in-a-bowl to eat with a spoon. I found the quinoa incredibly easy to cook, though I am still uncertain about the pronunciation. Is it ‘quin-oh-a’, or ‘keen-wa’? It is meant to be served cold but if you add the oil and tahini when the quinoa is still warm, it soaks up the flavours intensely.

Serves 4
390g quinoa
200g fresh coriander [I used parsley as I hate coriander, and I used a huge handful which made the flavour incredibly fresh]
8 large vine tomatoes
100g pine nuts [or substitute whatever nuts you have, if they are large then chop after toasting]
2 tbsp tahini
4 tbsp olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
salt and pepper

First, the quinoa. Put it in a sieve and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. Place into a saucepan with 900ml boiling water. Bring to the boil for two minutes, then cover and turn down to a simmer for a further 10-15 minutes. Check after ten minutes. It is cooked when the water has evaporated and the quinoa is fluffy, not mushy. Set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, finely chop the herbs. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces, about the size used in a salsa. Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan.

Put the quinoa into a serving bowl and add the herbs, tomato, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and pine nuts. Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste.

This keeps well in a sealed box in the fridge, and is excellent in picnics and packed lunches.

Options to try:-
Double the amount of lemon juice
Double the amount of tahini
Replace the coriander with other fresh herbs, either a single herb or a mixture
Add a tin of drained, rinsed chickpeas
Add chopped cucumber
Add chopped melon, preferably piel de sapo
Add a jar of drained tuna

If you like this,try:-
Sweet Carrot Salad
Trempó: a salad from Mallorca
A salad involving melons

5 to remember
la quinua – the quinoa
dependiendo de– depending on
enfriamiento – cooling
templado – bland
la pronunciación– the pronunciation

 

This recipe is from ‘Deliciously Ella’ by Ella Mills [UK: Yellow Kite]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Light and fresh tabbouleh #Recipe by @DeliciouslyElla #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2o7 via  @Spanish_Valley

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