Saturday, 28 May 2011

Bean busy...

Every morning this week after indoor housey stuff was finished - washing, tidying, dusting,  that sort of thing - I went and cleared beds of beans.  Pods put for drying, leafy stalks in a pile ready to go through the shredder and into the composts.  Plus one afternoon of the same - that's a lot of hours just clearing space.  Yesterday we had a strimming and raking day and also today, ......countless wheelbarrows of green stuff which has been piled up and covered with black plastic to rot down.  Plus today John shredded all the bean stalks I'd piled up this week.  All three compost heaps are full to the brim and we've started an extra pile next to them.  Hopefully it will all  be ready for the autumn when the summer vegetables come out and we rotovate ready for the winter.

The land looks about twice as big now all the green has gone - it's amazing how tall everything gets!  The acequias are all cleared out too as tomorrow is our watering day and even a  few clumps of cut grass left behind  can cause the water to overflow easily when you're busy checking something else. 

The beans spend their day outside in the sunshine drying - 2 ex banana boxes, 2 black buckets, 2 compost sacks flattened out, 1 large cardboard box and several smaller seed trays all full of beans.  As they dry out and go crunchy, so we sit and de-pod them - helped by  Monty and Pip who are ready to catch anything we drop.

Friday, 20 May 2011

And still the beans keep coming...

One bed of habas has been taken out and replaced with cauliflowers,  another has been replaced by swedes and  we have a large bucket of picked beans here waiting for me to do something with them.   Our friends who were here on Tuesday took enough home for dinner that evening but still lots more! 

I remember reading somewhere that they make a good alternative for hummus so have just made some as a trial for tapas with tonight's glass of wine.   One of the recipe sites I looked at also said it's a good alternative for guacamole if no avocado's are available.

So you need 250 grams of podded habas.  (That was about 30+ beans)   I  then took each bean out of it's skin - slit down the side with your nail or a sharp knife and out pops a bright green bean rather than the (sometimes) pale tough looking thing that you get when the beans are large.  Cook them till soft - probably only need a few minutes but it'll depend on the size of the beans. Drain and then put in a blender or food processor with 1 chopped  clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1/2  teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1/2  teaspoon of  ground chilli,  the juice of 1 lemon and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Whizz to a puree - I added two  good long squirts of olive oil as it whizzed for a moister mix as it seemed a bit dry.  Obviously the chilli content can be changed - we wanted something less bean flavoured and with a bit more  kick to it.  Add salt and pepper and that's it.

It made enough to fill 5 ramekins so with some mini tostadas to dollop it onto, it would easily be a tapas for 6 people.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


We spent most of Sunday afternoon at a friends house in Yator having a long lazy lunch in their garden - they have friends from England staying for the week and we'd met them last time they were over here.  Yesterday they all came up for the afternoon for drinks and tapas and Barbara had said she'd like to have a swim in the pool....

but I don't think she meant quite like this!   She and Tom had been sitting on the edge paddling in the sunshine,  Tom went for his drink and I joined her on the edge.  Not sure what happened next,  but as she stood up and  turned round  there was an almighty splash and she somehow managed to fall  fully dressed into the pool,  soaking me in the process.

Of course, friends being what they are, they laughed and took pictures before going for towels so she could dry off.  And our hat is ok today - that's dried out too.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Fiesta at Montenegro

Friday was our fiesta day, celebrating Santa Fatima.  A group of women from Yegen and Yator cleaned and polished the chapel in the days leading up to fiesta, they also bought some paint to re-do the door.  Three of them arrived with one scraper and one paint brush - had we got any they could borrow please?   Thursday afternoon they arrived with flowers to decorate the chapel and then came down to our house to cut fresh roses, ivy and periwinkle - but without any secateurs - could they use mine please?

The ayuntamiento sent a JCB down from Yegen to clean and tidy the pista, and they also put up 4 large wooden poles on the era to support some shadey mesh fabric for everyone who was eating their picnic there during the afternoon.

Anyway the sun shone for us all,  we did a head count during the service and I got up to about 60 people when they had to stand and then I couldn't see where I'd got to.  A friend also did a headcount and he reckons there were about 100 of us altogether.  Not bad for a cortijada with 5 adult residents!

So first  the service, then the procession then a picnic. People tend to form family groups and then share out their food, we sat with friends and neighbours and shared food and wine.  I'd made a very English picnic - egg mayonaise and cucumber sandwiches, cheese and pickle ones, strawberries and cream and home-made Pimms to drink.

Later we went down to Paco's cortijo for wine and habas for tapas, then on to another Paco's cortijo, finishing off at about 11pm.  Sampled a few glasses of wine along the way and - needless to say - had a slow and lazy day on Saturday.

Lorenzo bought his guitar and sang during the afternoon.

Monday, 9 May 2011

A taxing day.

It's only once a year, but this is the week when we have tax returns to submit.... those who know us know that we don't have any income, anything we do have is far short of anything we have to pay tax on, but still a return has to be filled in even though it's a nil payment.

I think Spanish officialdom  thrives on paperwork, usually in triplicate and always with an official stamp.  It can be time-consuming and usually involves waiting for a specific person, filling in forms which you have previously queued for and paid 10 or 20 cents for........but today was different, one sheet of paper, in and out under 10 minutes.  

The plus side is a day out, lunch out, a bit of retail therapy - usually more food than clothing though.   You know what they say, a change is as good as a rest.

The sun shone - 24° - the sky was the blue it's supposed to be, the sea was calm and an amazing deep blue.  We stopped on the way home and John took a few photos near Castell de Ferro .....

Saturday, 7 May 2011

A mixed week

Another week gone by with mixed-up weather.  On nice days I've been outside and - amongst other things -  have picked strawberries, peas and habas,  frozen the small beans and put the large pods to dry for next years seeds.  We had a day out at the coast to stock-up on Wednesday, it was a gorgeous day but when we got home realised that there had been rain here as the washing that I'd left out was wet.  Yesterday was lovely too, I cut down one bed of habas, stripped off the leaves for the compost, put the stalks to dry for the fire, picked off the pods for drying and dug the roots back in to the ground.  Then mounded up the soil to make large water channels down each side and  transplanted 20 cauliflower plants. I have made a 'cage' for them with pea netting and sticks to prevent the cabbage white butterfly getting at them.

First thing this morning the sun was shining and my plan  - plan A - was to go and hoe over the tomato beds ready to transplant them.  I went up to empty the compost bucket, picked another 600 grams of strawberries but as I was picking the sun went in, the wind picked up, the sky went black and thunder started to rumble.  End of this mornings plans then!  The heavens have just opened - large splodges of rain coming down and as I write this, Pip has run indoors and is curled up under my chair.  She was hiding in the kennel with Monty but really doesn't like thunder at all and normally hides under our bed.  With ears as big as she has, it probably sounds very loud!

So it's plan B for today which normally involves cooking, both for tonight and for the freezer.  And trying to be creative with strawberries - we don't want strawberries and cream every night and although we did a stock-up in the week  we forgot to buy any more cream!  So far we've eaten them as a trifley thing, with cream, sliced and sugared, with cereal for breakfast - does anybody have any more ideas?

Sunday, 1 May 2011

End of April

It's been a strange end to the month,  we had some really lovely hot and sunny weather earlier when we started to clean and paint the pool, plant lots of seeds, prepare land for planting up and then the April showers started.   The temperature went from mid 20's to mid teens,  sunshine and showers for  what seems like days on end - and more drizzle forecast for the next 48 hours.

During the sunny spells I have planted out a second round of seeds,  beetroot, kohlrabi, 2 varieties of carrots, more chillis and peppers as the first ones haven't appeared for some reason, all the pepper seeds are in as the end date on the packet is this June and there seems little point in hanging on to the few that are left.  Then when the showers come I don't need to go out and water, so that saves some time.

I've transplanted the lettuces - you know how the packet says 'sow thinly' well, that's what I did - or so I thought - but I have transplanted almost 150!!  We weren't planning on pulling them for eating, only planned on cutting the leaves so the lettuce would keep on growing and we'd have a ready supply but with that amount we can have one a day and that will see us through the summer.  I bought 2 packets, one a salad mix of red and green lollo rosso and the other says they are iceberg but so far they don't look like the iceberg in the supermarket.  And there are more seeds if we should need any more!

We had old friends here on Tuesday and new friends on Wednesday - I don't mean old as in age but friends we've known for a few years.  And the new friends are people who own a house locally but we'd not met before.  Cold drinks and tapas on the terrace - thank heavens for jars of olives and capers!  Plus a bowl of chilli and garlic bread - it's good to keep a stock of extras in the freezer for quick meals.

And then it was Friday.  I'd planned my day so first off was a quick trip to Cadiar to the post office and then home.   I thought I'd come and go, weed a bit, pick some beans, watch the wedding, but it drizzled and drizzled so I just stayed in and watched the lot.