Tag Archives: Sandra Danby

Bird song: Nightjar

I know someone who once saw a Nightjar in Spain at dusk in the summer.

[photo: Mull Birds & Jim Bevan]

I have never seen one, but I have heard them sing. Such a strange, haunting song ‘churr-churr’ which can vary from a soft purr to a harder wooden rattle. It flies at dusk and dawn, on the hunt for moths and insects, with its mouth wide open.

Actually, I may have seen a Nightjar but thought it was a Cuckoo or Kestrel. It is similar-sized and shaped, with pointed wings and a long tail. All sorts of ancient myths exist about Nightjars, principally that they steal milk from goats. The latter belief led to the Nightjar’s nickname ‘goatsucker’.

Listen to the Nightjar’s song at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
tal vez lo he visto – I may have seen
de tamaño semejante – similar-sized
de forma semejante – similar-shaped
último – latter
la creencia – the belief

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Red-Legged Partridge
Wren
Woodpigeon

 

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:
Do you recognize the song of the Nightjar? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2aI

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Sweet potato pie

This pie is a real winter treat when you are starving hungry and it is cold outside. Easy, quick and with wonderful overtones of lemon and thyme. Serves 6
For the lentil mixture:-
Olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds, bashed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked [reserve some for the topping]
400g tin of tomatoes
400g Puy lentils
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the mash:-
5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
4 spring onions, finely sliced [I used ¼ red onion, finely chopped]
grated zest of half an unwaxed lemon

Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7.

Start with the mash. Cook the sweet potatoes for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat a large heavy-bottomed casserole [which can go from hob to oven] and add a glug of olive oil. Add the carrots, onions and garlic and let them sizzle on a medium heat for 10 minutes until everything has softened a little.

Next add the spices and thyme, stir and cook for two minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, adding 2 empty tomato tins full of cold water, next add the lentils. Simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are cooked and the sauce has thickened. You may need to top it up with water from time to time. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain the sweet potatoes, mash with olive oil, spring onions, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Spoon the mash on top of the lentil mixture, and sprinkle with the reserved thyme leaves. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

We like to eat this with a side of wilted spinach.

 

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

 

 

5 to remember
maravilloso – wonderful
los armónicos – the overtones
no encerado – unwaxed
ha engrosado – has thickened
es posible que necesite – you may need to

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Smoky spring onions and asparagus with lime
Cauliflower salad with spinach yogurt
A cassoulet of aubergines

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Sweet potato & lentil pie #Spain #Recipe by Anna Jones @we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2fN via @Spanish_Valley

Bird song: Barn Owl

If you see an owl, it is most likely a Barn Owl. It is sometimes about by day in winter, and in summer can often be seen hunting before dark – lots of hungry mouths to feed means the parents cannot be exclusively nocturnal. It is a medium-sized with a wingspan just under 1m and has a large head, but the easiest way to identify it is by its white underside and underwings.

There is no fluting song from this owl. It does not hoot [that’s the Tawny]. You may hear hissing and snoring from its nest, or a shrill or high squeak of alarm or when courting. Adults and juveniles will hiss like a snake to scare intruders. It nests in big holes, for example in a tree, a stack of bales or a building.

Listen to the Barn Owl’s shriek at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
si tú ves  – if you see
una lechuza comun – a Barn Owl
nocturno – nocturnal
una envergadura – a wingspan
identificar – to identify

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Stonechat
Hoopoe
Serin

 

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 Barn Owl shriek? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2af

Banana & berry ice-cream

This is the smoothest, creamiest ice-cream I have tasted and it doesn’t have a drop of cream in it. Bananas and berries. It really is that simple. The possible variations are endless. Ella Mills, whose recipe it is, suggest three versions: this one, plain banana, and caramel featuring banana and dates. Don’t just save it for a hot Spanish summer day. It’s a great way of using up over-ripe bananas and the ice-cream keeps well in the freezer if you can’t eat it all at once.

Serves 4
8 very ripe, large bananas [1.3kg]
100g frozen blueberries or mixed berries

Peel the bananas, chop into thin slices. Place the slices into a bowl and freeze for at least six hours. When you are ready to make your ice-cream, remove the banana slices from the freezer and allow them to warm-up for about five minutes. Then put them into a food processor and blend for a minute or two until the mixture is smooth. Add the berries and blend again.

That’s it. For the caramel version, make the ice-cream in exactly the same way but instead of berries, substitute 12 pitted and chopped Medjool dates and 5 tbsp almond butter then blend.

If you like this, try:-
Chocolate Flapjack
Peanut Butter Biscuits
Baked Rice Pudding

5 to remember
más suave – smoothest
cremoso – creamiest
las posibles variaciones – the possible variations
interminable – endless
por un minuto o dos – for a minute or two

 

This recipe is Ella Mills, find more of her recipes here.
‘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:
Banana ice-cream, with berries #Recipe by @DeliciouslyElla via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2at

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A fantastic disguise

I think this master of disguise is a Lilac Beauty moth. I saw it resting on a parsley plant and thought it was a dead leaf. Consider the size of the parsley leaf in the background, and you will see how small this moth is.The apeira syringaria feeds on honeysuckle and privet. We don’t have any privet here but we are surrounded by honeysuckle hedges which we planted for its scent. So, plenty of food here. Most fascinating though is its wing shape, its resemblance to a dead leaf

[photo: Wikipedia]

5 to remember
el disfraz – the disguise
descansando – resting
una hoja muerta – a dead leaf
el fondo – the background
el ligustro – the privet

 

‘Butterflies and Moths: a Pocket Guide’ [UK: Dorling Kindersley]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A fantastic disguise #Moths in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-26S 

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Broccoli and avocado salad

Yes, this is a healthy salad, but it also tastes great. If you have never eaten broccoli in a salad before, I urge you to try it. It is excellent, but only if you pre-cook your broccoli so it is slightly crunchy – over-cooked limp broccoli does not work in a salad! I added toasted walnuts for protein, you can simply omit these or substitute with your favourite nuts.

Serves 4
For the salad:-
1 ½ heads of broccoli
3 ripe avocadoes
a handful of fresh coriander [I used parsley]
a handful of walnuts
For the dressing:-
Juice of 3 limes [about 30ml of juice]
2 tbsp tahini
2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp honey or maple syrup [I used maple syrup]
a sprinkling of salt

First prepare the veggies. Cut the broccoli into small florets, bite-sized pieces. Steam them in a steamer for about 7 minutes until cooked but a little crunchy. Alternatively you can boil them, but watch over them so they do not over-cook. Drain, cool in cold water, drain again and set aside.

Slice the avocados in half, remove the stone and peel. Cut the flesh into small cubes

Chop the coriander into tiny pieces.

Mix all three ingredients together in a large salad bowl.

If using nuts, heat a small frying pan over a high heat then add your nuts and dry-toast them [doing this without oil helps to release the nuts’ natural oils and enhances the flavour]. Add the nuts to the salad bowl.

To prepare the dressing:-
Squeeze the limes into a bowl, then add the other dressing ingredients. Stir well, then drizzle over the salad.

If you are hungry, serve with a side dish of roasted sweet potatoes. Simple peel and cut the sweet potatoes into wedges, put onto a baking tray, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil, toss the veggies to mix, then roast in a hot oven [about 180°C] for around half an hour until the sweet potatoes are going brown around the edges. I check them halfway through and stir. Be sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the baking tray.

If you like this, try:-
A Mustardy Leeks Vinaigrette
A Sweet Creamy Frittata
Asparagus and Lemon Risotto

5 to remember
saludable – healthy
sobrecocido/a – over-cooked
si tienes hambre – if you are hungry
las patatas dulces – the sweet potatoes
a medio camino – halfway through

 

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:
A healthy broccoli & avocado salad #Spain #Recipe by @DeliciouslyElla via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-25x

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Old ruins

The hardships of living in this countryside in centuries gone by are everywhere here. Old ruins. Roofs and ceilings collapsed, walls fallen, tiles foraged by passers-by. The skeletons of what were once farmhouses and outbuildings, once home to people and animals, stand as a monument to their previous inhabitants. Thick stone walls insulated against the heat of summer and the frost of winter, small windows minimised glare from the sun; all now surrounded by weeds with a coating of green moss and silvery lichen. These ruins stand isolated, a clue to the desertion of their occupants; no electricity, no running water. How hard the lives must have been of these farmers without our modern-day conveniences of broadband and satellite television, off-road vehicles and solar panels. But I know in my heart that we today have a deep connection with these disappeared people; we have all stood on our doorsteps, turned our faces to the sun and marvelled at the beauty of the countryside here.

5 to remember
en siglos pasados ​​por – in centuries gone by
una pista – a clue
la deserción de – the desertion of
las comodidades modernas – the modern-day conveniences
la puerta – the doorstep

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Old #ruins: who once lived here? #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2gW via @Spanish_Valley