Friday, 28 December 2012

Full moon rising..


John has been out with his camera this evening to get a full moon photo,   Valor is the village just to the left.

Early almond blossom.

Normally the olives are ready for harvesting early in the new year,  but this year they were about a month early.

Normally the almond trees don't come into bloom around here until late January or early February but this year....

Just this week the almond tree opposite our gate has started to burst open.  First the pink  tinged buds then today the first  flowers.

Thanks to John for the photos.

After Christmas.

Over the last 10 days our normal household of 2 has been up to 8, then to 4,  now back to 2 again.    We bought lots, cooked lots and probably drank lots.  But the freezers are still remarkably full,  I counted 18 ready meals in them this morning -  it's all too easy just to put the leftovers in the fridge and think that you'll deal with them mañana but in reality I find they get forgotten about.  So this Christmas we boxed up all the leftover meats and gravy,  chillis, curries, rice etc and froze it for another day.

After the big pig came a big turkey.  Not quite as big - it was 9 kg not 11 like the pig,  and after serving 4 of us there was still plenty for Boxing Day and the freezer.  Is it just me,  but I do like cold  turkey and stuffing sandwiches.  I made the usual sage and onion stuffing and also  a much richer one with chestnuts, sausage meat, bacon, chicken liver, orange and lemon zest, eggs and onion.   It cooks slowly with the turkey, but double wrapped in foil on a lower shelf and is perhaps more like a paté.  Or at least mine is.  Lovely also sliced on hot buttery toast.

Big turkey, still steaming from the oven and waiting for the carver.

After the wonderful pre-Christmas sunshine, the day itself was cold by comparison - from 20° to 10° - cloudy, some drizzle and sudden high winds.   Looking at the forecast afterwards we saw they'd got gusts of almost 70 kph predicted.   But it was only a blip for that one day and sunshine appeared for Boxing Day and gradually the temperature is creeping back up.   Back into a summer t-shirt today and we've all the doors and windows open to let the sun and heat into the house.

Next up is New Years Eve, or Nochevieja as it is here.   It actually means 'old night' which makes sense when you think about it as it is the last night of the old year.  We'll more than likely watch the count down on Spanish tv  - it's filmed in Madrid - although we don't have our 12 grapes ready.  You have to eat a grape with every bong of the clock as it counts out the midnight hour.  Last time I tried it,  I missed one and still had a grape left when the 12 bongs had finished.  Better luck this year maybe.

If this is the last post of 2012,  then Happy New Year to one and all and may next year be good  for us all.

And if it's not the last post - well, see you soon!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

I know it's been a week....

But we've been busy busy people with family coming,  and some have now gone to UK for the second part of their Christmas holiday,  we've had a day and night in Granada and  been for long walks, done lots of cooking and lots of eating.  We had an early present opening afternoon as well,    and Christmas hasn't even begun!  

Me and my sister at the Alhambra, snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada behind.

Christmas tree in Bib Rambla, Granada

The big pig just out of the oven and ready to eat.  Amazing crackling too.

Mat and Airi and bump coming home from a picnic yesterday.
Enjoy your Christmas celebrations,  more pictures as and when I get time.  Oh, by the way, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and it's currently 19° at 11am.  I've got out  a summer dress to wear today!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Todays cloud...

Hovering over the hills this morning at sunrise..

It had a hole in the middle which doesn't really show up,  and the little wispy clouds were coming out of that and twirling up and away.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Lunch in the sun.

For the 4th day running we've eaten our lunch outside,   the sky has been a beautiful deep blue and the temperature in the sun means we've been out in  t-shirts.  Yesterday was the cloudiest day we've had but still warm enough to eat out in the garden.

The vegetables are also appreciating this weather, the peas that went in on November  22nd are now appearing and all the habas (broad beans) are looking extremely good.  The potatoes that got frosted don't seem too bad - I think they are continuing to grow and it looks like there are new leaves coming up.

Still getting ready for Christmas - the trouble is that over the year we do things and somehow never quite finish them,  maybe a bit of paint here or there would be enough,  or a bit of finishing around the edges,  a touch of whatever to make it perfect. 

This has been that sort of a week and if you're visiting soon,  bring some dark glasses as  the paint work is gleaming!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Yet another sunrise...

We still find it amazing when we open the curtains to this......

07.49am today.  Sunrise over Sierra Gador.

and colours like this are quite a regular thing.  I suppose the day it ceases to be magical and make us say 'oh, wow, look at that'  will be a sad day.

Up a bit earlier this morning as we had shopping plans.  The list has been growing and growing  since the last stock-up 5 weeks ago,  and this list was longer because we needed Christmas goodies too.  Even though I had the list and knew what we needed, I was surprised at the checkout by some of the things that had made their way into the trolley - chocolate covered nuts,  honey roasted almonds,  more varieties of crisps than I've seen for a long time,  that's what happens when you both go shopping.  I'm a bit more of the 'don't need that'  type, while he says 'but we haven't all had Christmas together for such a long time so lets make the most of it'.   And he's  right when he says  'it won't go off and it won't get any cheaper, and we don't have to eat it all in the next few weeks'

So the shelves are once again full, so is the freezer and the wine rack.  This week I have  plans to cook mince pies and figgy puddings amongst other things.  Such an easy recipe using everything that we already have here, and so tasty.  This just about serves 8 at a pinch but it depends on how big a serving you like!!  Too much for 4 people,  but will do 8 with cream and / or custard and / or brandy butter or even vanilla icecream. 

Mmm, hungry now!

Friday, 7 December 2012

The day in between.

Yesterday was Día Constitución  with the majority of places closed and tomorrow will be Inmaculada Concepción with - again - most places closed.  So today was possibly a  bridging day but when in doubt, don't go out!

I know the builders merchants was opening today as I asked,  and apparently at least one of the shops in Cadiar was open yesterday.  But as nothing is guaranteed it's best to make sure you don't need anything until Monday when life will be back to normal.

The weather has been a bit nothingy too,  yesterday it wasn't quite sunny, nor was it really cloudy,  cool if you weren't busy but ok if you were.  Today was forecast to rain, anything from drizzle to showers but I think we've had a few spots and that was all.  Not enough for John to stop what he was doing  and he didn't look wet when he came in for lunch.

I've had a kitchen day - not cooking, just cleaning and tidying things.  We have lots of glasses hanging up and they'd lost their sparkle but look a lot better now they've been washed.  Then there was the fireplace in the dining room,  lots of grot down from the chimney which needed cleaning up and then the surrounding area.....and so it goes on.  Doesn't get done often enough,  I need something to prompt me - either a wet day or as in this case,  Christmas and family coming soon.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Sunrise cloud.

With the sunrise behind me,  looking towards Mecina Bombaron at 08.08 this morning, some weird and wonderful clouds.  Yesterday there was a cloud like this that stretched from a long way  left of us and out of sight to the right.  It seemed like most of the high Alpujarras had the curvy cloud above it and it wasn't till late afternoon that it started to drift apart.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The big pig.

Christmas is coming and our normal household of cooking for 2 will increase for a few days  to cooking for 8.  As Chief Cook and Bottle washer I obviously don't want to spend too many hours in the kitchen and there are meals that I find easy to pre-prepare and freeze and other meals that don't need too many hours of preparation before eating.   One of those is a huge roast dinner and with that thought in mind when I was in Cadiar this morning I went to the pork butcher to buy a leg of pork.

He isn't only a pork butcher, there are 2 butchers in town and they both sell pork, chicken and rabbit.  One always has beef as well but the 'pork' butcher has a picture of a pig outside and you can usually see one of the guys preparing the meat for sale.  Butchers here don't do fancy displays, the joints are usually ready for preparing so no fancy artfully arranged meat or plastic parsley, and if you don't see what you want just ask.

There weren't any legs of pork that I could see so I asked....I need a leg, with skin but without the foot...

How big do you want?

About 8 or 9 kilos?  It's for 8 people...

This paletilla  is 7 kilos or this jamón is 14.  Is it for the oven?  It'll take a long time to cook but the jamón will be better as it's fatter.

Fatter is better as there is more flavour, but 14 is a bit  too big,  and how much per kilo?

2.95 for the paletilla and 3.10 for the jamón....I've another pig out the back, let me go and get it...

So off he went and came back with a pig on a trolley which he  then de-back-legged (there is probably a more butchery term for what he did)  and that weighed in at 11 kilos.  Off came the foot, and  we settled for that.  A bit bigger than I was anticipating but there won't be any wastage.

It's in the freezer now waiting for a couple of weeks,  I know  I was early buying it but better to get it when you're near the shop than suddenly  realise time is running out and find the butcher is shut or has sold  the joints you want.  Still to sort out the Xmas day turkey but there's time yet.

Monday, 3 December 2012

And yet more planting!

Another glorious day - that is if you ignore the thermometer!   First thing in the morning it's only registering about 4° which means frost in places.  But once the sun is up then it's wonderful.  Lovely blue sky,  hardly any cloud,  and so long as you are doing something in the sun then it's t-shirt weather.   Actually by midday you didn't have to be doing anything to feel warm as we sat in the garden eating our lunch.

I've been out planting  this years garlic, only  3 bulbs but that  was 41 cloves and if all goes / grows well that must be getting on for a years worth.   More broad beans in too, this is the 5th planting so far,  I don't do huge areas at a time, about 25 to 35 at a time but each hole has  3 beans in so altogether quite a lot.  I find that planting in 3's means that  they support each other and are less likely to collapse in the wind or rain.

And we had to water some of the peas and strawberry babes.  There hasn't been any rain for a while - my gardening diary will say when but when the ground is dry and has a hard crust then it's time to give the seeds a drink. 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Hot horseradish.

A few years ago we were given 3 baby horseradish plants and after reading about them and finding out that they were very invasive,  we gave them a nice big space all to themselves with lots of room to spread out.  They grew into lovely big plants but I seem to remember reading that they needed at least one winter to develop big enough roots for harvesting.

So they got their first winter and second summer,  then one night last year when it got colder than expected and they weren't protected in any way,  the leaves all died off.  I didn't want to risk digging them up for the roots in case that finally killed them off so we kept our fingers crossed till this Spring, when up came new leaves.  Only though on 2 of the plants, the other seemed to have disappeared completely.

They are now  as big as they were before the cold got to them and  today I went with the garden fork  to lift the biggest one for some fresh horseradish.  The most enormous root ball eventually came up with loads of roots, one snapped off at ground level so I cut it off from the main plant as well,  and cut off another just in case.  I expect the snapped one will now turn into another plant.

Wash, peel and grate says my book, preferably in a food processor as the juices are very pungent.  That's what I did and wow!  was that right!   I thought wasabi had a kick to it which made my eyes water but this did just the same.  I added some white wine vinegar and a little bit of sugar and put it in a jar in the fridge.  Tomorrow we'll add some single cream and have it with our roast beef and yorkshire puds.  We don't often buy a  big piece of beef as we usually have enough jabalí to roast but we cooked the last of it recently.   Hopefully Antonio will be out hunting before too long and restock us!