Tag Archives: Sandra Danby

Is this a type of Buckthorn?

This tree grows along the Thyme Track, in April it is laden with creamy-orange flowers. I’m not sure what it is: a type of Buckthorn, the Rhamnaceae family? Perhaps the Paliurus spina-christi, Miller Christ’s Thorn.

If you can identify it, I’d love to hear from you.

‘Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe’ [UK: Hamlyn]

5 to remember
espino cerval – the buckthorn
cargado de – laden with
no estoy seguro – I’m not sure
quizás – perhaps
si puedes – if you can

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Is this a type of buckthorn? #trees #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-1K4 via @Spanish_Valley

Spring orzo pasta

Really this is a Pasta Primavera recipe by another name, but it is fresh, quick and very tasty. Orzo is a type of small pasta made in the shape of a grain of rice, but your everyday choice of pasta will work just as well. It works with either fresh or frozen peas and broad beans, but do not stint on the Parmesan or pine nuts. Serves 4
200g dried orzo
200g frozen baby broad beans, defrosted and outer skin removed
200g frozen petits pois, defrosted
a knob of butter
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced very thinly
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g full-fat crème fraîche
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
juice and finely grated zest of a lemon
50g Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
25g pine nuts, toasted

Cook the orzo in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, until just cooked. Do not over cook, as it can become stodgy. Drain, and set aside.

Boil the broad beans and petits pois in a separate pan for 2-3 minutes, drain and rinse.

Meanwhile heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan, fry the onion over a high heat for 2-3 minutes. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and cook gently for about 15 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, turn up the heat and fry for 1 minute.

Stir in the crème fraîche. Next, add the cooked orzo, beans and peas, and gently heat. Add the thyme, lemon juice and zest, and half the Parmesan, stir together and season to taste.
If you like this, try these:-
Punchy leeks on toast
Stuffed butternut squash
Pasta with gorgonzola & pecans

 

This recipe is from Mary Berry’s Everyday cookbook [UK: BBC]

5 to remember
realmente – really
por otro nombre – by another name
en la forma de – in the shape of
un grano de arroz – a grain of rice
indigesto/a – stodgy/indigestible

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
More Parmesan! Spring orzo pasta #Recipe by #MaryBerry #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1YC

Buds, on the verge of bursting

It feels like waiting on the edge, of a sunrise or sunset, of an eclipse. The buds on the trees here are on the verge of bursting, but it hasn’t quite happened yet. They are fattening, getting rounder, with that teasing glimpse of green where the casing starts to burst. Some trees are nearer than others. As always, the walnut will be last. First will be pomegranate, cherry and acacia.

‘Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe’ [UK: Hamlyn]

5 to remember
se siente como – it feels like
en el borde – on the edge
en el borde de – on the verge of
burlando – teasing
como siempre – as always

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Buds, on the verge of bursting #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2dN via @Spanish_Valley

A walk on the Thyme Track

Walking along the Thyme Track into the wildest part of the valley, where the slopes are a dense mat of shrubs and thorns, away from the cultivation of olives, we encountered a reminder of the durability of nature. The stumps of olive trees: one old and gnarled; another twisted and dried; a third burned, presumably by the farmer. The fourth gave us the answer: new growth sprouting from an old tree stump, hacked, felled, burned, but still alive.

Elsewhere along the Thyme Track, signs of spring are everywhere. Green grass covers Horse Corner. The view to the other side of the river is not so clear, partly-hidden by new leaves. And the viburnum [aptly called durillo, ‘tough one’ in Spanish] is flowering.

5 to remember
denso – dense
nudoso – gnarled
quemado – burned
en otra parte – elsewhere
parcialmente oculto por – partly-hidden by

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Gnarled, burned and felled olive #trees: a walk on the Thyme Track #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2dY via @Spanish_Valley

Not only for Easter

Torrijas. This eggy bread is another Spanish recipe which makes great use of leftovers. Although it is traditionally eaten at Easter, we eat it often for lunch or brunch. milk & cinnamon sticks in the pan 18-4-14plateful 18-4-14Serves 6

2 litres milk
300g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 load of day-old white bread
Vegetable oil for frying [something flavourless like sunflower oil or peanut oil]
2 eggs, beaten
For the cinnamon coating:-
100g sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Place the milk, sugar and cinnamon stick in a pan and bring almost to boiling point, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and leave for about 15 minutes so the milk is infused with the cinnamon aroma. milk - boiled & standing 18-4-14Cut the bread into slices about 2-3cm thick. Place the bread slices in a large shallow dish and pour the milk over. bread - slice 18-4-14bread - soaking 18-4-14Chill for at least 2 hours, turning the slices over halfway through.

bread - two slices in frying pan 18-4-14Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, you need to be able to fry at least two slices of bread at a time. You could use butter instead of vegetable oil but beware, it burns more quickly. bread - dipped in egg 18-4-14When the oil is hot, quickly dip each slice of bread in the beaten egg [above] so that it is fully-coated and the place in the hot oil. Be careful not to burn your fingers!

After a couple of minutes, flip them over and fry for another minute or two until golden. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. cinnamon sugar - spoonful 18-4-14Mix together the sugar and ground cinnamon and sprinkle on both sides of the torrijas. Do this while they are still hot, as the sugary coating will stick more easily.

5 to remember
la Pascua – Easter
las sobras – the leftovers
a menudo – more often
desabrido/a – flavourless
el cacahuete – peanut

Looking for other breakfast options? Try these:-
A seedy berry thing for breakfast
A peach and brioche breakfast
Aubergines for breakfast
Tapas Revolution - book cover 2-9-13

 

Recipe from Tapas Revolution by Omar Allibhoy [UK: Ebury Press]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Torrijas: not only for Easter #recipe by @tapasrevolution via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Ls

Spring shadows

The shadows cast by trees now are not as short or as black as the shadows in summertime. The spring sun is lower in the sky making long shadows, and near sunrise and sunset shadows are at their longest. During the daytime, a shadow cast by an opaque object illuminated by sunlight has a bluish tinge. This is because of ‘Rayleigh scattering’ which also makes the sky to appear blue. The opaque object is able to block the light of the sun, but not the ambient light of the sky which is blue, as the atmosphere molecules scatter blue light more effectively. And so, the shadow appears bluish. Apparently. Although the springtime shadows below definitely look greyish-black.

5 to remember
no tan corto – not as short
un objeto opaco – an opaque object
la luz del sol – the sunlight
un tinte azulado – a bluish tinge
la atmósfera – the atmosphere

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Shadows in springtime #Nature #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29E

Bird song: Nightingale

Everyone has heard of the Nightingale. There are constant references to it in literature, films, music and on television. Everyone knows the Nightingale sings at night. But can you identify its song?

First it is an ordinary brownish bird which looks nothing special and is only slightly bigger than a Robin. Because of its song, I was expecting something bigger. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen one. But I have lain in bed at night lulled into a pleasant doze by the singing of a nightingale in the woods behind the house. When you hear it, you know it can only be one bird. Incidentally, it sings at dusk and dawn and sometimes during the day.

Its song is unstructured and varied, some phrases are very fast with a sudden change from high to low pitch, some low notes are long and slow then build to a throaty trill. Difficult to describe, beautiful to hear. Worthy of all the poetry.

Listen to the Nightingale sing at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
el ruiseñor – the nightingale
un agradable sueño – a pleasant doze
un tono bajo – a low pitch
digno – worthy
la poesía – the poetry

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Chaffinch
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Red-Legged Partridge

 

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 Nightingale sing? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29X