Tag Archives: travel

Sunset stripes

Sunrise and sunset: can you tell the difference? I’m not sure I can. I used to think the colours of sunset more brilliant than those early in the morning, until I realized my perception was based on the simple fact that I see more sunsets than sunrises. However I suspect that if I took a sleeping pill and awoke not knowing what day or time it was, I would not be able to correctly identify sunrise or sunset. So, do we know which is which based on our perception of the hours before? Below are three sunset photos taken within two minutes of each other.

5 to remember
la diferencia – the difference
mi percepcion – my perception
el simple hecho de que – the simple fact that
sospecho que – I suspect that
una píldora para dormer – a sleeping pill

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Stripes in the sky: winter sunset in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1TA

Winter on the Thyme Track

The character of the Thyme Track is different from the house-side of the valley which we see every day. The Thyme Track runs around the edge of the valley where it takes a sharp turn, like an elbow.

There are pine trees on the opposite hillside, wild herbs [including the eponymous thyme] line the track used by the occasional farmer reaching his remotest olives, and nesting holes stand empty until spring. In this tranquil wilderness, birds flourish. Resident blackbirds greet my approach and there are flocks of small brown birds which fly in flurries and move so fast they challenge my identification skills.

5 to remember
el carácter de – the character of
un giro brusco – a sharp turn
un codo – an elbow
epónimo/a – eponymous
la más remota – the remotest

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Winter: wild herbs, berries, shadows & a flurry of small brown birds via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1BK

Winter sunrise

I never cease to be amazed at the colours here. Even in winter – which I associate with grey, bleached, pale, grimy colours – there is a vibrancy which never ceases to make me stop and look again. That’s what happened with this sunrise, bleary-eyed I was waiting for the kettle to boil for the first cup of tea of the day, when I looked out of the window and saw this. Bonita! 

5 to remember
estar asombrado – to be amazed
mugriento/a – grimy
una vitalidad – a vibrancy
el amanecer – the sunrise
con la vista nublada – bleary-eyed

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Vibrant pink: a winter sunrise in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1AT

December in the valley

Really things never stop growing here. In winter it is rare for it to be cold enough to stop the hardiest plants from growing and the bursts of searing heat from the winter sun help too. So in corners in the wintering valley are bursts of colour, new flowers, olives ready for the harvest, alongside dried autumnal fruits fit for nothing but lunch for the birds.

5 to remember
los más fuertes – the hardiest
lo suficientemente frío – cold enough
calor abrasador – searing heat
una ráfaga – a burst
junto a – alongside

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Fruit & leaves hang on: December in the #hidden valley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1B3

Bird song: Short-Toed Eagle

This is a rare Eagle and we feel privileged to see them in our valley during the summer. The Short-Toed Eagle is large and will spend hours flying, searching for prey. It eats snakes and its common name is actually the ‘Short-Toed Snake Eagle’. Pretty much always seen in flight, we only see its feathers from below. It has very pale underwings with dark bars and dots, with a dark head. If you see it hovering, wait for it to dive, at a great height and with great speed… pity the poor snake or lizard beneath.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

It is generally silent, but does have a whistling call in flight. Listen to the song of the Short-Toed Eagle and read more about it at the Xeno-Canto website.

5 to remember
raro/a – rare
la presa – the prey
una serpiente – a snake
un lagarto – a lizard
casi siempre – pretty much always

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Privileged to see a short-toed eagle in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1IA

The leaves hang on

When you are accustomed to bare trees in a Northern European winter, glimpsing the bare trunks and branches of deciduous trees bereft of their summer green is a bit disorientating. Here in the valley, the leaves hang on and hang on… golden, bronze, plain brown, delicate filigree and wrinkled like old shoe leather. Figs, grape, kaki, plum, pomegranate, almond, walnut and quince, hanging on to autumn even though December has arrived.

5 to remember
estar acostumbrado a [algo] – to be accustomed to [something]
Norte de Europa – Northern European
caduco/a – deciduous
ser despojada – to be bereft
delicado/a – delicate

A winter treat

This is comfort eating at its healthiest, but I challenge you not to want second helpings. It’s a vegetarian take on lasagne, layers of veggies and tomato sauce, but without pasta. Though if you are feeding a hungry horde it would work with a couple of layers of pasta sheets. Unlike lasagne, you don’t have to make a cheese sauce; instead there is a creamy sauce whizzed up in the blender. dishing upThe recipe is by Anna Jones, a chef who first worked at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant. This background explains why her recipes all have an Italian-feel.

Serves 6
For the bake:-
4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1cm rounds
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
rosemary leaves, picked from a couple of sprigs
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 red onions, peeled and roughly sliced
a small bunch of fresh thyme
400g spinach, washed
200g ricotta
100g Parmesan
For the creamy sauce:-
1 x 400g tin butter beans
grated zest and juice of a lemon
3 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 240° C/ fan 220° C/ gas 9. parmesan, gratingLightly grease two baking trays. Arrange the sweet potato discs in one layer on the trays, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, until just cooked and browning around the edges. sweet potatoes - ready to go into the ovenWhile the potatoes are cooking, make the tomato sauce. Fry the sliced garlic in a little olive oil, over a medium heat, until it begins to brown around the edges. Add the rosemary, stir. Add the tinned tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and leave for 10 minutes, simmering lightly, until the sauce becomes thicker and sweeter. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside. tomato sauce in the panIn a separate frying pan, soften the onions in a little olive oil with the thyme, over a medium heat, until soft and sweet. This will take about 10 minutes. spinach, added to the onionsspinach, wiltedThen add the spinach, a little at a time, and let it wilt. sweet potatoes - just out of the ovenWhen the sweet potatoes are ready, take them out of the oven. Turn the oven down to 220° C/ fan 200° C/ gas 7.

Now make the butter bean sauce. Put the tinned butter beans and the liquid from the tin into a blender, add the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. butter bean sauce, in processorBlitz it so the sauce is smooth and loose enough to spread . If it is too thick, add a couple of tablespoons of water and blitz again.

Once the separate elements are ready, you can begin layering in a large ovenproof dish. Put a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom, then a layer of spinach, then dot over half the ricotta and a thick layer of grated parmesan. If you are using pasta, add a layer of lasagne sheets here. Next, add a layer of sweet potatoes, then some of the butter bean sauce. Keep layering, finishing with a layer of butter bean sauce. Grate Parmesan over the top, plus a drizzle of olive oil and a few more thyme leaves. ready to go into ovenBake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown on top. platefulDon’t worry if you cook too many sweet potatoes. We did, so the leftovers were thrown into a potato mash mixture with cooked sprouts and fried onions, and made into potato cakes. We eat these for breakfast with a fried egg on top.

5 to remember
una horda hambrienta – a hungry horde
las alubias grande – the butter beans
los elementos separados – the separate elements
una capa – a layer
no se preocupe – don’t worry

Still hungry? Try these puddings:-
Not just your everyday pudding… pain au chocolat bread-and-butter pudding
Rice pudding with almonds
The best-ever plum clafoutis?

a modern way to eat by anna jones 8-6-15

This recipe is from Anna Jones’ book, A Modern Way to Eat. Find more of her recipes at her website.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A winter treat… sweet potato lasagne #recipe by Anna Jones @we_are_food via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Hb