Tag Archives: spanish finca

A field of sunflowers, growing

Who doesn’t smile at seeing a field of bobbing sunflower smiles turned towards the sun? Looking around the valleys here, it’s difficult to appreciate that the sunflower is not native. It originates in North America and was first cultivated domestically by native Americans in Arizona and New Mexico around 3000BC. They beat the kernels into meal for cakes and bread, and rubbed the oil into their hair. The sunflower plant didn’t come to Europe until 1550 and was originally used as an ornamental flower. Things changed in 1716 when the English patented a method of squeezing oil from the sunflower seeds. But it was Russia’s cultivation which transformed the plant into an agricultural crop, with early sunflower oil production starting in 1769.

The different Native Americans also used sunflowers for a variety of medical treatments. The Cherokees made an infusion of sunflower leaves as a treatment for kidney infections. The Dakota tribe used native sunflower infusions for chest pain and long problems, while the Navajo ate the seeds to stimulate appetite. The Paiutes used it for relief of rheumatism, while the Hopi believed it cured spider bites.

5 to remember
una infusión – an infusion
el dolor en el pecho – the chest pain
una infección renal – a kidney infection
estimular – to stimulate
el apetito – the appetite

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A field of sunflowers, growing #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-22q

Don’t miss a minute of sunshine

There are 12 hours of sunshine here, every day in the summer in Southern Spain.
Follow us at Instagram @HiddenAndalucia

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Catch every minute of sunshine beside the pool #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1XK

Spring patchwork

At no time during the year does the landscape change more than during the spring. A day of sun or rain alters things dramatically. Overnight, buds of tightly-woven almond blossom burst open, winter-sown wheat takes on a deeper more luscious tone of green, and the fields of peas seem to grown centimetres within hours. And so the agricultural patchwork of parcelas changes from pale greens and browns, divided by the haphazard lines of silver-grey stones and paler dried earth, to deeper tones, helped often by a night-time sprinkle of drizzle.

5 to remember
en ningún momento – at no time
el paisaje – the landscape
dramáticamente – dramatically
durante la noche – overnight
los campos de guisantes – the fields of peas

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Spring draws its patchwork of colours & textures in #Spain #countryside via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Pw

Drastic action

There is no room for emotions on a farm. At this time of year, once the olive harvest is in and the farmers settle down to wait for their local cooperativa’s pronouncement about this year’s price [based on the yield of oil from the olives, not on the weight of olives harvested] there is a small pause before the spring cut. In the typical pragmatic way of the Spanish language, the phrase used for pruning the olive trees is ‘to cut’. And boy, do they cut. Lopping off branches, spindly new growth, sometimes most of the tree. It looks brutal. But olive trees live and yield olives for hundreds of years.

5 to remember
una granja – a farm
en esta época del año – at this time of year
el pronunciamiento – the pronouncement
una pequeña pausa – a small pause
pragmatico/a – pragmatic

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Drastic action: the spring cut. Olive #trees in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Q4

Smothering ivy

Winter, stripping back foliage as it does, reveals the nature beneath the canopy. Ivy creeps up tree trunks adding a welcome splash of evergreen against the winter grey of bark. In a garden, ivy growing like this may be trimmed back in fear that it will strangle the tree. But here in the valley, it seems to cause little damage. Where the ivy climbs high into the crown of the tree, it is seems to be in trees which are dead, dying or not healthy. Ivy is not a parasite and does not penetrate the bark, its short roots cling to the surface for support only, not nutrients. As well as winter colour, ivy growing through trees offers shelter for wildlife, birds’ nests, hibernation, roosting and hiding. Once its reaches the canopy of the tree, the ivy often produces shrubby growth with yellow/green flowers and black berries; all welcomed by birds and insects.

5 to remember
la hedera – the ivy
sofocando/a – smothering
desnudándose – stripping back
revelar – to reveal/expose
el dosel – the canopy

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Winter reveals the ivy around the #trees in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Tq

Along the Thyme Track in January

It’s winter in January, but there are some days when it feels like summer. I’m not saying it doesn’t rain here, or there aren’t cold days when all we want to do is hunker down in front of the log burner. But more often than not the sky is so blue that the only reminder, as we walk along the Thyme Track, that it is winter is the lack of leaves on trees.

5 to remember
hay – there are
se siente como – it feels like
más a menudo que no – more often that not
un recordatorio – a reminder
la falta de – the lack of

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The days when winter feels like summer in #Spain #nature via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Rn

Don’t know what to make with peanut butter?

If you have a jar of peanut butter in the fridge that you don’t know what to do with, then try these biscuits. They are the old-fashioned sort, crunchy rather than the chewy style of cookies. Two bites, and they’re gone. I guess it will work with cashew butter too… we have a jar of that in the fridge too. mouthfulMakes 24 small biscuits
150g peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
100g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 whole medium egg
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp whole milk
Pinch of salt
250g plain flour, sifted [plus extra for dusting]
75g cocoa powder, sifted

Pre-heat the oven to 170C/Gas 3 and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. vanilla bean pastein the mixerCream together the peanut butter and sugar in a food mixer or using an electric whisk. Cream till the mixture is pale and light. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix through. Add the whole egg, egg yolk, milk and a pinch of salt. cocoa powder, addedMix until it is well combined, then add the sifted flour and cocoa powder and mix through by hand until the dough comes together. Flatten the dough out and wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hour. dough in cling filmDust your worksurface with flour and roll out the pastry to 3mm thick. Cut out 24 biscuits using a 4cm straight-edged cutter. Place on the prepared tins, spacing 2cm apart. Prick the tops of the biscuits with a fork and bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are lightly golden around the edges. just out of the ovenTake out of the oven and leave on the tray for 10 minutes. Then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Find more of Nadya Hussain’s recipes here.

5 to remember
la manteca de cacahuete – peanut butter
la nevera – the fridge
un bizcocho – a biscuit
los bordes – the edges
un tenedor – a fork

Want to bake? Try these recipes:-
An Italian cake of Spanish apples
Sticky clementine cake
Canela apple cake

nadiya's kitchen by nadiya hussain


Recipe from ‘Nadiya’s Kitchen’ by Nadiya Hussain [UK: Michael Joseph]


And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Peanut butter biscuits… very crispy #recipe by  @BegumNadiya via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1NL