Sunday, February 28, 2010


Always works, that word! Well, as I mentioned in my profile, I particularly like to cook Middle Eastern style food, and could spend as many hours pouring over a good cookbook, beautifully illustrated, as I could the latest Pulitzer prizewinning novel.
Favourites on the well stocked shelf in the kitchen here are Sam and Sam Clark of Moro fame, who also happen to own a home here, Claudia Roden, her Arabesque tome is as lovely to look at as read, and Aline Benayoun has produced a nice little pocket sized edition of a handy book of French North African Cooking called Casablanca Cuisine.
We used to run a giftshop in these parts, and I have to say books were my favourite part of the stock, and tangines of course! If you would like to know more or are interested in any of these titles, I am happy to source new editions for you, including postage to your door, mail me or drop a comment and I can insert the Paypal widget and details for you.
Of course no Moroccan meal is complete without the use of preserved lemons, we're not short of Lemons here in these parts, or Lemmings (!) so here's a quick how to:


Wash the fruit, transfer to a bowl, cover with fresh cold water, and soak for about 3 days, regularly changing the water.
Now remove the lemons and quarter them but not quite to the centre, adding a half a teaspoon of sea salt into the middle of each one. Pop them into sterilized jars, add another tablespoon of sea salt, juice of one lemon to each jar, cover to the top with boiling water, and seal. Leave in a dry place for 3 weeks, and when you want to cook with them, rinse with cold water and just use the peel, cut into strips. You don't have to throw away the pulp and juice, add it to other dishes to infuse a tangier flavour.
Enjoy! .... And happy Dia de Andalucia.....

Monday, February 22, 2010

What's in a name?

So you've guessed the name of this blog alludes to the book by Gerald Brenan, SOUTH FROM GRANADA. Set not a million miles from here in the village of Yegen, it depicts the authors stay there from 1920 to 1934. There's a movie too of the same name, but it's more autobiographical, akin to THE INTERIOR CASTLE, another publication. The other half had a bit of fun collecting various editions of the book before we moved here, including a lovely folio edition, but copies can be had of an edition here, see the ad below. Actually it's quite an entertaining read, and goes a good way to delve into the landscape of this area, and discover some of the customs and superstitions without getting too heavy. It's extremely well written and one of those books you tend to pick up all the time, just to re read a chapter here and there. There's even a reference to our village and a mad scot who philandered and drank and generally disgraced himslf, and we're trying to locate the Cortijo, or farmstead where he was supposed to live. So, why not? Give it a read and let us know what you think...payment includes postage to Spain (other areas send us an email) and you too can have a little of the Alpujarras in your home.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Changing water for wine...

At least ignoring the ongoing rain and sipping away here at a glass of red, and thinking about our first encounter with the local grape....

We were here about 6 weeks and had visitors from home, from my original home in fact in Ireland. On the first night we dragged them up to the bar as I didn't feel like cooking and here we get free Tapa with every drink, not so much as dragged them really as they are Irish after all..So as the night wore on and my cousin who shall remain nameless, Susan, continued to talk to everyone with her phrasebook, we all had a pleasant evening and at the end were invited to my neighbours Bodega at the top of the village the next day to sample his new wine.
At 10am. Ahem.
We packed the kids to school next day and headed up, to find a garage door, knocked nervously, and entered into a huge space of barrels and ham and the most wonderful smell of wine. Really, we had no linguistic skills at all, just Susans trusty phrasebook. After a fairly shy start we were loaded up with glasses of wine, rose coloured and fairly pleasant, with a kick like a mule. Jamon was sliced, bread torn, and a black sausage (Morcilla) which should have been cooked but wasn't served up to us. Our tongues grew looser, our livers more swollen, and our eyes more crossed. What we failed to realise was, if you empty your glass, or finish your food, another one always appears in the Andalucian Feed The Visitor Until He is Full rule.
So we drank the poor mans stock of wine, and ate his entire winter stock of pork, and spent the next day convincing our friends it was alas the wine intake, not vertigo. However, said neighbour is now firm friend after 4 years, so I guess we used all the right phrases! Salud, Cristobal!

To be truthful, we have in that time found all our neighbours here to have that same, warm attitude to visitors, we try to show them the same and many impromptu parties, political meetings, and chinwags have taken place around our own table, if it could walk it would stagger, if it could talk, well, best not...!!
More Political Stuff at a later date.....

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Special Place To Stay what we are presently creating in our attached cottage, we were lucky enough to be able to buy a place with lots of attached stables and rooms, and our aim is to put forward a Moorish space of peace and tranquility for others to also enjoy. The end result, in about 2 months time, will be a spacious 2 bedroomed independent area, with lots of living space and a secret courtyard, ideal for those seeking a refuge far from the madding costas. Anyone who books via this blog will of course be eligible for a special discount! Anyone who seeks nightlife, crowds, or a pint of bitter should look elsewhere!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Rain in Spain....

.....Falls mainly on the Alpujarra. And most of it is making it's way through our flat roof and into the dining room. The Berber style of house that looks so romantic in the startling white light of Summer suddenly dawns as impractical, and resembles a kitchen sieve.....still, something rythmic about falling to sleep to the drip, drip, drip. Personally I prefer the sound of the cicadas in late summer.

However, allow me to introduce myself, on this first blog about life in a whitewashed pueblo, unnamed of course as it' s one of the very last unspoilt villages in which to settle here in Andalucia. Perhaps not the first blog I have started, and which should probably be better named Further Procrastination. (There might be a few clues along the way as to location, let's see how observant you are!)

Well, we started life again here almost four years ago, having harboured a longing to move, and a long standing love affair with all things Andalusian - before giving in to the theory of "If you don't go then you'll never know".

So biting the bullet we packed up the contents of our lovely Homes and Gardens style Edwardian house, dragged two indignant kids, an angry cat, and a fat Labrador, and sank all our profit into a leaking shed in the middle of nowhere, oh, yes, 1114m up a mountain.

So, should you have nothing better to do then meet me back here tomorrow and I'll tell you a few stories about how we got on....