Tag Archives: Spain

Bird song: Robin

The male and female European Robins, or Robin Redbreasts as they are known in England where they are a regular feature on Christmas cards, both feature a red breast. Or more specifically, an orange breast. It is resident here, but there are robins far across the globe; east to Siberia, south to Algeria and Madeira, and north to Scandinavia.

Whereas robins in England are seen as a gardener’s friend, drawn to digging of the soil, waiting for the appearance of an earthworm, they are said to be more timid on continental Europe where songbirds are hunted. This is not our experience, however. The robins here seem happy on the terrace and display the same territorial behaviour we are used to in the UK. Male robins defend their territory fiercely against other males and other small birds. Because of this their average life expectancy is only 1.1 years, although once that age is passed they can go onto live a long life. One robin has been recorded as reaching 19 years of age.

Apart from the chattering threatening behaviour, a short sharp tik and tik-ik-ik-ik-ik, the robin sings a cheerful fluting song in breeding season. Some of its song resembles a warbler’s, with a long series of musical notes. Listen to the Robin’s song at the RSPB website.

 

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

5 to remember
el petirrojo – the robin
o más específicamente – or more specifically
amenazante – threatening
mientras – whereas
una larga vida – a long life

 

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Wren
Griffon Vulture
Mistle Thrush

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
He’s a familiar, daily sight, but do you know the song of the Robin? #Birds in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2fr via @Spanish_Valley

Fifty Shades of Green #19

Juxtaposition: new spring growth and old tree trunk. April 14, 2010

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
New spring growth & old tree trunk #Juxtaposition in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2aS

Little squash cakes with a kick

These little squash cakes are a great recipe to have on stand-by as they are easy to make and can be adapted into infinitesimal variations. The butternut squash can be swapped for sweet potato. Thinly sliced red onions can be used instead of spring onions. Swap the plain flour for gram flour and they become gluten-free. Serve with tomato salad, as we did, for a light summer lunch. Eat any leftovers for breakfast, topped with a fried egg. Izy Hossack, whose recipe it is, suggests serving it with a tahini dressing [the recipe for which is below] but we had a jar of home-made harissa paste in the fridge so combined a spoonful of that with a spoonful of natural yogurt to add another layer of spice.

Makes 6-8 cakes
For the tahini dressing:-
2 tbsp tahini
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
For the cakes:-
200g butternut squash [about a 1/3 of a small one], peeled
2 medium-sized white potatoes, peeled
3 tbsp plain flour
2 spring onions
½ red chilli, very finely chopped [or ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes]
Olive oil or rapeseed oil for cooking.

To make the dressing, put all ingredients into a screw-top jar with a pinch of salt. Put on the lid and shake. Set aside. This will keep in the fridge, in the sealed jar, for up to a week.

To make the squash cakes, first grate the peeled butternut squash and potato. Place in the centre of a muslin square or a clean tea towel. Gather up the corners to make a bundle, then squeeze over the sink to expel as much liquid as possible.

Place the squeezed squash and potato into a bowl. Add the flour, spring onion, chilli and a pinch of salt. Using your hands, combine it together. Form six little cake by flattening each mound with the back of a spoon.

Coat the base of a non-stick frying pan with a thin layer of oil, and set over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cakes. Cook until they are a dark golden colour and crispy underneath. Using a spatula, flip them over and cook on the other side until golden.

Transfer onto a plate, lined with kitchen paper, while you cook the remaining cakes.

Serve with the tahini dressing and your own choice of salad.

Eat the leftovers with a fried egg. If you like this, try these:-
A Stew with Fresh Thyme
Poor Man’s Potatoes
Cheesy Nutty Herby Mushrooms

5 to remember
infinitesimal – infinitesimal
los restos – the leftovers
hasta – untilpor otro lado – on the other sideuna espátula – a spatula

 

This recipe is from The Savvy Cook by Izy Hossack, click here for more of her recipes.
‘The Savvy Cook’ by Izy Hossack [UK: Mitchell Beazley]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Little squash cakes with a chilli kick #Recipe by @izyhossack #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2ca

Bird song: Grey Wagtail

This is a misleading name for a pretty bird which flies past with a flash of yellow. The Grey Wagtail is the slimmest of the wagtail family and is resident here all year round. The male is generally more yellow than the female, though is less obviously yellow throughout the winter months. I wonder if that is partly a natural reaction to camouflage: in the summer, yellow is an effective disguise amongst the bright green leaves but in winter a yellow bird would be easy to spot amongst the bare branches. It is a shy bird with a large voice: its call is a sharp and explosive ‘tchik’, ‘zi’ or ‘zi zi’. Its breeding season is April to July and it nests alongside fast-running streams or rivers, or on an embankment between stones and roots.

Listen to the call of the Grey Wagtail at the RSPB website.

 

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

5 to remember
una cigüeña gris – a grey wagtail
engañoso – misleading
el más delgado  – the slimmest
explosivo – explosive
el camuflaje – the camouflage

 

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Roller
Blackcap
Booted Eagle

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Do you recognize the song of the Grey Wagtail? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29a

A walnut sauce for pasta

We love walnuts, just as well as we have about 20 trees. There are many versions of walnut sauce and we have tried a lot of them, this recipe is from the River Café Cook Book Two. We always eat sauce for four and pasta for two, but if this is too much sauce for you it keeps well for a few days in a sealed pot in the fridge. I also threw in huge quantities of parsley and basil, because I had them, which proves this recipe is elastic in terms of quantities!

2kg walnuts, shelled and bitter skins removed
Breadcrumbs, from any type of stale loaf
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
150ml olive oil
100g parmesan, freshly grated
4 tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped Soak the breadcrumbs in 150ml milk.

Set aside a few walnuts for serving. The recipe says to pound the rest of the walnuts with the garlic in a mortar, I used a food processor. Add a little salt, then the parsley, and pound some more.

Squeeze most of the milk from the breadcrumbs, keep the milk. Add half of the breadcrumbs to the mortar and mix. Add the olive oil gradually, plus a little milk to loosen the paste. Stir continuously so the sauce is well mixed. Finally add half the parmesan and basil, Season. The finished sauce should be thick and green.

Cook your preferred pasta, drain and return to the saucepan. To serve, add the rest of the basil, parmesan and a few pieces of uncrushed walnut. I also stirred wilted spinach into the finished pasta.

5 to remember
el pan rallado – the breadcrumbs
la leche – the milk
la albahaca – the basil
una pasta – a paste
la mitad – the half

 

Recipe from ‘River Café Cook Book Two’ by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray [UK: Ebury Press]

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Courgette & Chick Pea Stew
Cheesy Scone Bake
Ricotta Cheese & Pine Nut Chilli 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Lashings of herbs & nuts: walnut pesto #Spain #Recipe by @RiverCafeLondon http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2ec via @Spanish_Valley

Yogurt & roasted butternut salad

This dish is guaranteed to fill your kitchen with the scent of spices, as the butternut squash roasts in the oven. This is creamy comfort food which can be eaten from a bowl with a spoon. Serves 4
1 tsp ground fennel [I used seeds instead]
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried mint
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 butternut squash, peeled, halved & cut into wedges
Spray olive oil
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Juice of 1 lemon
6 tbsp 0% fat natural Greek yogurt
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans [I used a tin of flageolet beans]
2 tbsp pinenuts, dry-toasted
1 tbsp fresh chives, snipped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.

Mix together the fennel seeds, ground coriander, dried mint and chilli flakes.

Put the prepared butternut squash into a roasting tin, spray lightly with olive oil then dust with the herb mixture. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon. Take a sheet of baking parchment, spray with oil on one side and place the sheet oil-side down on top of the butternut. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, remove the baking parchment and roast for a further 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the dressing: combine the lemon juice, yogurt and mustard.

Fold the dressing into the beans and pinenuts. Gently mix the butternut into the bean mixture, taking care not to break-up the squash. Season to taste and garnish with chives. If you like this, try:-
Harissa Salmon Salad
Cauliflower Salad with Spinach Yogurt
Punchy Leeks on Toast

5 to remember
garantizado – guaranteed
el olor de – the scent of
adornar – to garnish
tijereteado – snipped
el libro de cocina – the cookbook

 

This recipe is by TV chef Anthony Worrall-Thompson.
‘The Essential Diabetes Cookbook’ by Antony Worrall Thompson [UK: Kyle Books]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Yogurt & roasted butternut salad #Recipe by @AntonyWT via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-27X

Old walls

Parcelas, parcels of land or fields, are generally marked here in this rough stony country by a line of stones. The stones will have been cleared over the centuries, thrown along the boundary as impromptu dividing lines.

Parcelas can be square but are most often around here irregularly-shaped given that they follow the countours of the land and skirt around huge boulders. In some places there are old walls, dry stone walls, where perhaps a richer farmer wanted to make a statement of wealth. Many of these old walls remain, standing firm, or tumbled around larger fincas.

5 to remember
la antigua muralla – the old wall
una parcela – a parcel
en general – generally/in general
impromptu – impromtu
una línea divisoria – a dividing line

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
This is rough stony land & the farmers put the stones to good use #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Pg