Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jack Frost nipping at your toes....

.....Not quite! Sun is still shining down here almost at the end of October, but I was reminded of the Christmas song 'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...' just now. In addition to the many gifts of Wine, Olive oil and numerous vegetables we receive on a daily basis, I was just now given some chestnuts to roast.

When we bought this house we inherited a long handled pan, fit for this purpose it has a pierced base to allow the flames of the open fire, or BBQ (or even gas hob) to evenly roast the chestnuts - the extra long handle because they tend to pop and explode with the heat.

So if you haven't got kind neighbours like me, off you go and forage! Here's the method.........

VERY FRESH CHESTNUTS
SEA SALT
OPEN FIRE, BBQ, GAS HOB ON HIGH OR OVEN AT 210 DEGREES

HEAT YOUR OVEN OR FIRE UP THE GAS, MAKE A CROSS IN THE ROUND SIDE OF EACH CHESTNUT, SPLASH WITH WATER AND SPRINKLE WITH SALT. PUT THEM IN THE PAN OR ON A COOKIE TRAY AND ROAST UNTIL THE SKIN PULLS BACK AND THE FLESH OF THE NUT GOES LIGHT BROWN. ABOUT 20 MINS EACH SIDE IF THEY'RE IN THE OVEN, TOO LONG AND THEY'LL GO TOO HARD.

 POUR A GLASS OF THE MOST ROBUST RED WINE YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON, AND BE PREPARED FOR 3rd DEGREE BURNS WHILE YOU PEEL AND EAT.....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tres 'r' s

As most of you who follow this blog will know we have lived here for over four and a half years now.  I regularly write about village life and what it's like for Stan and I fitting in with village life, but rarely comment on our kids lives, because really it was just as hard, if not more difficult for them to adjust to a completely new and different lifestyle.

We were used to moving about a lot, but they had no memory of life other than a comfortable Victorian house in Wet Wales, 5 mins walk from the High Street, regular trips to after school activites such as tennis, rugby, football, swimming, painting and ballet.......sounds idyllic but the only sounds of nature were police sirens, ambulance sirens, cars screeching and the common spotted addict en route to the needle exchange.  In school, first language was not Welsh or English but Urdu, and they were ethnic minority in the annual photo line up.

So, although our picture was fairly perfect, the frame was all wrong, and we decided to have a new one fitted with a move to Sunny Andalucia.


 Within three weeks of the Big Move, we introduced ourselves to the (delicious) Eduardo, headteacher of the local Colé Rural, and, well, ......left them there.
Cruel? Yes. Sink or swim?  They did indeed swim, at first a doggy paddle, learning the language with flashcards, and the beautiful language of football and play. They made friends, coped admirably and have shown us up no end.  But it wasn't all easy, Isobel was 7 and could be still remolded like plasticine, Josh was 10 and in all honesty he found it hell to begin with, he went from being a clever kid to feeling stupid, hormones arrived at the wrong time and he copes with being insulin dependent to boot......not easy, but neither was it impossible as he has proved.  The school made allowances and provided a psychologist to help him settle, turned a blind eye to his 'I am not going in 'days, and were always there for a chat.  Bear in mind it's perfectly normal here for the Maestro or Maestra to hug and kiss your kids, sometimes it's all they need. Add the tiny class numbers and you have a winning formula.

October 2010 and soon to be 12 Isobel is a leggy and lovely year 6-er, fluent, confident and finds it hard to remember a life where we locked the front door and she couldn't play out at midnight in the summer....

Josh aged 15 is confident, almost trilingual, at yr 4 of ESO, he'll  board in the wonderful city that is Granada next year to continue his studies, lucky him.  And despite his 4 daily doses of insulin is still sports mad,  a great footballer and avid season ticket holder for UD ALMERIA. 

They both make us proud to see how they have grown and how they accepted their crazy parents idea of 'What about a move to Spain?'.

We're teaching English a couple of times a week at the village school, just started so the jury is still out, but it's fun so far.....we all have a different life here, more sunshine, less money, more freedom, less restrictions. 

And when they talk in their sleep in español, you know you've cracked it!

clickety click

If you enjoy reading or just a bit of lurking here from time to time.....I would love you to click on some of the ads occasionally, these lean times are made easier if you spend 5 minutes browsing the contextual ads, it'll cost you nothing, earn me a few much needed cents, and you may even find something you like!

  Have a great weekend everyone, not sure what we're up to yet....we survived our teaching initiation at the Colé, the local kids not quite the monsters we expected! Actually it was quite enjoyable once the hairy bloke let me get a word in......Whatever we do the weather is good, still, even though we're well into October it's still blue skies all the way, we may gather some wood for the chillier nights ahead.

More ramblings recipes and recommendations next week!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A guide to Tapas

Granada is famous for serving free tapas with drinks, so you have the delightful choice between getting full as you imbibe to stop you getting drunk, or because you like the food so much here, you eat and drink too much..........it's a useless place for abstaining or dieting, a wonderful place for enjoying life........
So, what about a guide to show you the best places to go, with the insider knowledge of a local, this is what you will need to brush up and make your stay, long or short, even more enjoyable.  And at a bargain price, it's even more attractive, so forget about trawling the bookshops, buy it now!
The illustration on the left is just that, if you would like to buy a copy then please use this link www.guiribooks.blogspot.com

Monday, October 11, 2010

harvesting grapes and avoiding crawlies...

(other) hairy 8 legged freak


Last weekend  we volunteered for 'ayuda con las viñas', helping our good friends and neighbours to harvest their grapes, the first step along the delicious road of Vino Collapso.......as he has furnished our Bodega (okay so it's  just the cupboard under the stairs, delusions of grandeur and all that) with 150 litres of the stuff we could hardly not, now, could we?

Off we set under what happened to be an unseasonably warm start to October morning, and were set to work.....it's not easy, for any of you harbouring a dream of a lazy late summer job of languidly picking grapes, Cleopatra style.  When you've filled and walked up a bumpy terrace lugging a 35 litre bucket full of the picked fruit, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon,  and stacked crates until you're dizzy, the romance dissipates pretty quickly! 
The other big downside for me anyway were the noticeable residents, those 8 legged guys an inch from my face, let's just say some areas were left unharvested!

However, we were supplied with beer and food, and at siesta (when we thought we were finished....I was in fact quite literally finished...)Rosario invited us for a plate of Arroz, a lovely combination of prawns, clams and squid cooked in a rice and fish broth, delicious. She, being superhuman, had cooked it in advance that morning, I don't think we were ever hungrier...


The last mouthful was spoilt somewhat by the order to go home and sleep for an hour, they would be collecting us for the rest of the days' work at 5pm....aargh.
Well we did, and again the next day for half a day (Football called at Almeria for the season ticket holders, Stan and Josh) and apart form aching limbs we actually enjoyed the whole experience.


Still, can't quite see myself as a full time vine farmer!


Stan drinking water - unusually

Cabernet Sauvignon

eating...


And miles to go before I sleep....
Here's a couple of the photos, I know I appear to be eating the produce, just sampling really!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

UPDATE ON CASA DUENDE

Fortunately for me, but unfortunately for you the wonderful CASA DUENDE is all booked out until June next year on a long let, so if you want to experience a stay in this beautiful part of Andalucia then send us your enquiry for holidays FROM July 2011 - now booking..........Don't miss out!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Move over Madhur!

Madhur Jaffrey doesn't stand a chance with me and this recipe.....

Craving an Indian takeaway is normal here at 1114m up a mountain (don' t think the coastal restaurants would deliver) and so instead of grabbing the phone and the menu off the fridge it' s a case of either abstaining or getting on with it and making one.  I love curried anything, and enjoy the ritual of roasting and pounding the spices, stirring and tasting....

Normally, a home cooked curry lacks that certain something (MSG?!) but I have found a recipe to beat any Tikka Masala you have ever eaten, even if it was in front of the Taj Mahal....(no, not on the high street)

Try this, you' ll be hooked, I' ve fiddled and twiddled it a bit, some of the spice amounts sound strange, bear with me and go for it......

2 TBSP OIL
1 TSP CLOVES
15 GREEN CARDOMON PODS lightly crushed with the back of a knife
1 ONION SLICED THINLY
HALF A HEAD OF GARLIC CHOPPED
2TSP GROUND GINGER
3TBSP TANDOORI MASALA POWDER
5 TBSP TOMATO PUREE
3 TBSP SUGAR
2 TBSP GRATED FRESH GINGER
3 GREEN CHILIS CHOPPED
CHICKEN PRECOOKED, BITE SIZE BITS
BLOCK OF COCONUT, MELTED WITH A LITTLE MILK
SALT TO TASTE
CORIANDER TO GARNISH

Wow, that' s the hardest bit.  Now, put the cloves cardomons and oil into a big pan and cook until the spices throw out some aroma, not too much or you' ll have to start again. add the onion and fry for 5 mins or until soft and light brown.
Add the garlic, after 1 minute add the ground ginger and masala, stir and if it sticks add a dash of water.  add the puree fresh ginger chillis and sugar, pour in the coconut add the chicken, heat til hot through, season, garnish and EAT.

We make little flat breads (flour, water, folded over like samosas a few times, rolled and griddled, no oil) and use them to scoop up the sauce.

You' ll have red fingers, tingling tongues and full bellies!!

Let me know if you try it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Escape from the X Factor!!

All this hoo ha from the contrived Cowell Cole camp - unfair voting, Facebook petitions, guess who gets to cash in?  Not you and not me, that's for sure!

So consider a release from all that Jazz - come and soak up the last of the rays under a mild Autumnal Andalucian sky, in this recently renovated Moroccan styled house, set within a truly traditional Alpujarran village, with views to the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains and the Mediterranean sea.
Come and breathe some ozone in some of the cleanest air in Europe, and enjoy all of this at a bargain price just for October and November, just for you!

The accommodation is light and spacious, sleeping 4 in two bedrooms, one double and one with twin beds.





Generously proportioned living and dining areas ensure everyone can relax in total comfort, a large kitchen and newly fitted bathroom with shower and extra long bath complete the picture. Wait! A secret courtyard to soak some sun awaits you and your book, and a log fire for chilly evenings.

The bargain price?  An unbelieveable 250€ for the WHOLE property, yes, really!!

Lots to see and do in this part of Andalucia, drive to the coast for beaches galore, take a trip to the magical Alhambra Palace, or just walk, read, relax.......enjoy a drink in the local bar with free local tapas - meet the friendly locals and sample the lovely organic Tempranillo wine.

Have a look here for all the details, including contact information, and book now! So as the kids show used to say ' Turn off the T.V. and go and do something more interesting instead!'

photos, details, contact info