Tag Archives: Sandra Danby

Wildflowers/White

The white wildflowers are my favourites. There is something pleasing about the juxtaposition of white and green and, at the time the white wildflowers are everywhere, the spring hills are at their greenest. That said, there are so many different shades of white I struggle to describe them without sounding like colour names on a paint chart. So, here are some whiteish wildflowers, photographed on my morning walks along the tracks.

5 to remember
la yuxtaposición – the juxtaposition
por todas partes – everywhere
más verde – greenest
me esfuerzo por – I struggle to
un gráfico de la pintura – a paint chart

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Wildflowers come in many colours in #Spain Here are some white ones #nature via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1PP

Sweet Carrot Salad

This is a lovely sweet salad. A large bowlful is a main course, but it also works as a side salad and travels well in a plastic box for picnics. Carrots are naturally sweet and are a traditional combination with oranges, but what makes this a little different is the addition of ground cumin and plump raisins.


Serves 4
4 carrots
200g raisins
5 oranges
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp date syrup or maple syrup
200 raw cashews
180g pitted olives, green, black or a mixture
salt and pepper

Top and tail the carrots, then peel off the outer skin and discard. Peel the rest of the carrots into thin slivers and place in a large bowl big enough for mixing. Turn the carrot as you peel, to ensure your strips are thin and less uniform. carrots, peeled, in dishNext, put the raisins in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside while you prepare everything else.


Peel four of the oranges and chop into segments, removing as much of the pith as possible. Place into a small saucepan with the ground cumin and the date syrup.


Sauté on a medium heat for about five minutes or until they are soft. Pour the fruit and all the juice over the carrots.

Now add the cashews to the same pan. Cook over a medium heat for about three minutes, so they soak up the orange flavour and brown a little. Add to the carrots.

Squeeze the juice of the final orange onto the salad, then add the olives. green olivesDrain the raisins, add to the salad with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss well, and serve. plateful5 to remember
una caja de plastico – a plastic box
un picnic – a picnic
un dátil – a date [fruit]
el jarabe – the syrup
deshuesado/a – pitted

Looking for other salads?
A pimped-up version of a Delia salad… griddled courgette & feta salad
Aubergine & herb salad
Mustardy salmon salad

Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward 1-5-15

 

This recipe is from Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward [UK: Hodder & Stoughton]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Sweet carrot salad: what’s not to like? #recipe by @DeliciouslyElla via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Nm

Bird song: Stonechat

About the size of a robin, the stonechat is a pretty red-breasted bird which is resident here all year round. They like heath and moorland which explains why they are happy in the rough vegetation of our valley. There are various races, the one here is Saxicola Rubicola. Its call is easy to recognize, a sort of ‘chak’ which can sound a bit like two pebbles being clattered together. Hence its name, I guess. There is also a more territorial-sounding ‘krrrr’.

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

Listen to the Stonechat’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
de pecho rojo – red-breasted
son felices – they are happy
por lo tanto – hence/therefore
fácil de reconocer – easy to recognize
dos guijarros – two pebbles

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The Robin-like Stonechat in #Spain #birds via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Wb

A stew with fresh thyme

When we cleared the rockery bed of old thyme, straggly and past its best, I set aside a bunch for cooking. I had this stew in mind, full of rainbow vegetables, the sort that tastes better the next day after a night in the fridge for the flavours to develop. thyme, just pickedcourgette, sliceServes 4, if eaten with chunky bread
2 large onions, thinly sliced
Olive oil
1 large red pepper, de-seeded and cut into chunks
2 large courgettes, sliced into slices as wide as a Euro coin
400g jar chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Large bunch of fresh thyme
Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp capers
2 cloves garlic, chopped in the pan, onions & red pepperGently warm a couple of tbsp. of olive oil in large deep frying pan, and add the onions and red pepper. Allow to soften over the moderate heat. in the pan, add courgettesAdd the courgette slices, two sploshes of balsamic vinegar, freshly ground black pepper, garlic, capers and thyme. in the pan, add thyme, capers & balsamicTuck the thyme down into the vegetables. If you think it is necessary, add more olive oil. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, check the seasoning. At this stage, Nigel Slater [for this is one of his recipes] adds 8 basil leaves – I didn’t because I didn’t have any]. Cook through until warm. Check the seasoning, and add more pepper or vinegar as you prefer.

Serve in a deep bowl with crusty bread, we eat it with Mercadona’s gluten-free baguettes. plateful, close-up5 to remember
ralo/a – straggly
las alcaparras – the capers
un recipiente profundo –  a deep bowl
el pan crujiente – the crusty bread
un baguette – a baguette

Got enough room for pudding? Make this:-
Canela apple cake
Crispy pear crumble
Plum and pecan crumble

a year of good eating by nigel slater

 

Recipe adapted from A Year of Good Eating by Nigel Slater [UK: Fourth Estate]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A stew with fresh thyme #recipe by @NigelSlater via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1KJ

Merendera

This is a new wildflower for me, I’ve never noticed it before: are the conditions this year most suitable for it? merendera1 23-3-16It is Merendera Montana, growing as a scattered carpet of white flowers. The leaves come later. Each flower is star-shaped with six petals. According to my flower book, the petals are pale lilac but ours here are white. Common throughout Iberia in rocky areas, sparse grass and mountain pastures: sounds just like our valley, then. I found these in a rocky spot beside our track where it winds through the olive grove.

5 to remember
las condiciones – the conditions
dispersado/a – scattered
una alfombra – a carpet
en forma de estrella – star-shaped
los pétalos – the petals

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Pretty white star-shaped #wildflower: Merendera in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Jd

White chocolate and cranberry flapjack

I have a weak spot. Flapjack.

The goody-two-shoes in me likes the oats and the fruit, so I tend to ignore the [enormous amounts of sugar]. A treat is good, isn’t it, once in a while. So when I saw this recipe for Fruity Flapjacks by TV chef Nadiya Hussain, I made them the same day. Easy, as is all flapjack, just don’t leave the sugar and butter mix on the heat for too long or it turns into caramel and you will have Flapjack Brittle. platefulMakes 12
225g unsalted butter
75g light brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
350g porridge oats
1 tsp mixed spice
100g dried cranberries [Nadiya chops hers, I left mine whole]
50g hazelnuts
200g white chocolate chips [I used a 150g bar and chopped it roughly]

Grease and line the base and sides of a 9in square baking tin.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

Place a medium-sized pan on a medium heat. Add the butter, sugar and golden syrup. Warm the mixture gently until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Stir to blend thoroughly. Do not overheat.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the oats, mixed spice, cranberries and hazelnuts. Mix so all the oats are coated and sticky. Pile the mixture into the baking tin, evenly so the surface is level. Pat the mixture all over with the back of a wooden spoon to make it compact [and less crumbly once baked].

Bake in the oven on a middle shelf for 25-30 minutes [I took mine out after 30]. It is baked when it is golden around the edges.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the white chocolate chips. Leave in the tin for 15 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, cut into portions. Leave the flapjack to cool in the tin until completely cold. Once cold, remove from the tin, take off the paper strips, and cut again through your knife marks. on-cooling-rackRecipe by Nadiya Hussain.

Fancy a sweet treat? Try these:-
Plum clafoutis
Lemon & thyme cake
Apple cake

5 to remember
las avellanas – the hazelnuts
las virutas de chocolate blanco – the white chocolate chips
completamente –completely
las tiras de papel – the paper strips
las marcas de cuchillo – the knife marks

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
White chocolate & cranberry flapjack #recipe by @BegumNadiya via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1VN

The courtship of birds

We’re into spring now and are surrounded here by birds, getting it on, getting together, sizing each other up. How they do this depends on the bird.

[photo: Raymond Belhumeur]

[photo: Raymond Belhumeur]

Sparrows [above] chatter, fight, joust, with males dancing around the females, wings outspread, chirping loudly to demand attention. The male will follow a likely female, hopping, his wings quivering, occasionally leaping on top of her or pecking her, waiting for her acceptance. Meanwhile nest preparation is underway. The Sparrows which nest in the solar panels on the kitchen roof have already discarded old material from the nest, and are gathering new. The inside is coarse material such as leaves, twigs and straw, while the inside is lined with grass and feathers. Watch the courtship dance of the House Sparrow here.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

Swallows [above] are monogamous and stay nearby throughout the year. They are already nest-making, returning to their old site, located in overhead locations somewhere sheltered from weather and predators. A new mud nest [below] starts with a splatter of mud on the wall, followed by the addition of straw, sometimes twigs or grass. swallow nest1Yesterday we were treated to a pair of eagles – it’s most likely they were Short-Toed Eagles, though I’m not 100% sure as they were over the neighbouring valley – hunting together, circling in wide loops away from each other then swooping very close as if sizing each other up, calling kee kee.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

Watch the courtship of Short-Toed Eagles [above] in flight here.

5 to remember
el cortejo  – the courtship
monógamo – monogamous
un bucle de ancho – a wide loop
dando vueltas – circling
abalanzando/a – swooping

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The courtship of #birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1KS