Feeling restless after having been stuck in all day because of work on the computer, I decided to give vent to my feelings and go for a walk around my wild finca in the drizzle and mist. I was surprised to see the following flowers already out…
The photo of the narcissus flowers brings to mind the Latin tale of Narcissus and Echo from Ovid’s Metamorphosis.
Echo, a nymph who cannot speak except to repeat the last few words she has heard falls desperately in love with the beautiful and conceited Narcissus, who is in love with himself. He rejects her and she withers away, eventually turning into stone, and leaving only her voice behind which echoes around the world.
Fred Chappell (author and poet, born 1936, N. Carolina) wrote a poem of the same name.
(The italics in the following poem represent the voice of Echo.)
Narcissus and Echo
Shall the water not remember Ember
my hand’s slow gesture, tracing above of
its mirror my half-imaginary airy
portrait? My only belonging longing,
is my beauty, which I take ache
away and then return as love of
of teasing playfully the one being unbeing.
whose gratitude I treasure Is your
moves me. I live apart heart
from myself, yet cannot not
live apart. In the water’s tone, stone?
that shining silence, a flower Hour,
whispers my name with such slight light:
moment, it seems filament of air, fare
the world become clouds well. well.
Thank you for visiting — I hope this finds you well! xxx
I’m back with another recipe: this time it’s a bit of an experiment (surprise, surprise!) because it’s my first attempt. Quince jelly. This is different from the Spanish equivalent ‘dulce de membrillo’, which is quite thick and granular, easy to cut and often served as an accompaniment to fresh cheese.
Photo of the Spanish ‘dulce de membrillo’ (quince jelly). As you can see, it’s quite thick, compact and granular in texture.
I prefer the finer ‘jelly’, so as quinces are in the plenty now (and at 1 euro per kilo) I thought I’d give it a bash.
So here’s what I did:
These furry fruits are locally produced and though they might look a bit manky, in reality they’re not. They are sweetly perfumed. You don’t need to weight the fruit because it is the juice that is extracted from them that needs to be measured.
I washed the fruit, removed any bugs and put them out to graze, then I chopped the quinces into 2 cm-sized pieces (more or less — I didn’t use a ruler!). No need to core or peel the fruit, as it is the juice that we’re interested in.
I placed the ‘cubes’ into a thick, tall pan, just covered them with well water (which has quite a lot of calcium in — good for the teeth but not for the gallstones), and brought it to the boil.
The pan’s quite deep. I boiled the fruit gently for about an hour until it was soft. I then mashed it all up — should’ve used a potato masher, but as I don’t have one (sacrilege! — guess what’s on my Santa’s list, or rather the Three Kings since I am in Spain), so I used a metal ladle instead.
When mashed, I turned out the contents into a cloth turned over a bowl, allowing the juice to strain through. It was a bit thick so I added some water, which apparently you are allowed to do. I should’ve used a jelly bag strainer, but since I don’t have one of these either, nor a good-enough piece of muslin, I used a clean, cotton pillowcase instead. (Guess what my second pressie from Santa will be…) Now although this mash might look a bit pukey and cacky, it was by now smelling really fragrant and exotic.
The next stage involved suspending the pillowcase and mash via a string over a big bowl for a few hours so that all the juice can drip through. After about four hours I did have to help things along and give the pillowcase a good couple of squeezes (which left my hands and apron damp, sticky and perfumed). Unfortunately, because I was also making a banana cake at the same time, I forgot to take a photo of the hanging pillowcase mash.
The next step was to return the liquid to the pan measuring out how many cups worth there was, then adding half that amount in sugar. (Next time I will add a little less sugar.) I also added a good squeeze of lemon juice for pectin. If you happen to have any leaves of lemon geranium, then you can add these to enhance the flavour and perfume. (Next time I make this jelly, I will ‘borrow’ some of these leaves from a lemon geranium I have seen growing in the flowerbeds in the communal gardens in Posadas village. I might also ‘borrow’ one of the lemons from the lemon trees that also grow there.)
When the setting point was reached, I poured the jelly into sterilised jars and sealed them with a waxed disc. (If you don’t have any waxed discs like I didn’t — surprise, surprise — then you can use the bag that holds your cereal. I haven’t actually tried this, but I did read it somewhere…)
Voilá! The final product! Delicious! As you can see, I didn’t wait long to try it out!
Aside: I did mention my apricot jam earlier, which reminds me that I should soon prune my apricot tree, the leaves of which are fast turning a luminescent yellow, which also reminds me of an interesting fact: that the duduk instrument, originating from Armenia, is made from apricot wood. I love the mournful, melancholic, spiritual sound of this instrument — it is well-worth listening to if you haven’t heard already. You could listen to Dzhiván Gasparián (Armenian), a master of this instrument. For me this music is bewitching…
Well, that’s all for now. Thank you for visiting — take care! xxx
A few blogs ago I wrote about my recipe for pickled olives. I mentioned in it that I would also be trying out a recipe for dried, salted olives. Well, I have performed that experiment and although it’s not completed, I wanted to share my progress with you so far. (The olives probably have about another few days or a week to sit in the salt…)
Anyway, here are some photos:
The olives should remain under salt for about three weeks until they are nice and wrinkly. You should stir the olives, or shake the pot every day. The salt becomes damp as it absorbs their bitter juice. I needed to add more salt at regular intervals. I think I have used about 5 bags of half a kilo so far, which although it sounds a lot is well worth it because it costs me only 34 céntimos per bag — and the olives were free.
When they are ready, I can either shake or wash all the salt off, then tightly pack the dried olives into sterilised jars, filling and covering with a layer of oil to form an airproof seal.
I will include photos and comments on the finished result in a further blog.
Well, that’s all for now. Thank you for visiting — take care! xxx
Hello, I hope this finds you all in good health and spirits.
A few blogs ago I put up photos of the olives I had picked and was scoring them before putting them in water to remove the bitterness so later I could pickle them.
Well, a couple of weeks have passed since scoring the first set of olives, and after having changed the water daily they are less bitter (or ‘sweeter’ as they would say in Spanish), so today was the pickling day. And here is what I did:
And to finish, I’d like to include a beautiful poem by Pablo Nerudo (1904-1973, Chile, poet and politician:
Ode to Olive Oil
Near the murmuring In the grain fields, of the waves Of wind in the oat-stalks,
The olive tree
With its silver-covered mass Severe in its lines In its twisted Heart in the earth: The graceful Olives Polished By the hands Which made The dove And the oceanic Snail: Green, Innumerable, Immaculate Nipples Of nature And there In The dry Olive groves Where So alone The sky, blue with cicadas And the hard earth Exist, There The prodigy The perfect Capsules Of the olives Filling With their constellations, the foliage: Then later, The bowls, The miracle, The olive oil.
I love The homelands of olive oil, The olive groves Of Chacabuco, in Chile, In the morning Feathers of platinum Forests of them Against the wrinkled Mountain ranges. In Anacapri, up above, Over the light of the Italian sea Is the despair of olive trees, And on the map of Europe, Spain A black basketful of olives Dusted off by orange blossoms As if by a sea breeze.
Olive oil, The internal supreme Condition for the cooking pot, Pedestal for game birds, Heavenly key to mayonnaise, Smooth and tasty Over lettuce And supernatural in the hell Of king mackerels like archbishops. Olive oil, in our voice, in Our chorus With Intimate Powerful smoothness You sing: You are the Spanish language; There are syllables of olive oil There are words Useful and rich-smelling Like your fragrant material. It’s not only wine that sings Olive oil sings too, It lives in us with its ripe light And among the good things of the earth I set apart Olive oil, Your ever-flowing peace, your green essence, Your heaped-up treasure Which descends In streams from the olive tree.
Thank you for reading, I hope you have enjoyed this blog. As usual, comments and questions always welcome.
After having realised that I was out of bread and that today is a national holiday in Spain (and not wanting to drive the 9 km down to Posadas village), I decided to make my own. But not wanting the hassle of making it with yeast and all the time that this involves, I thought I’d make my own soda version.
And this is how it turned out:
It’s both delicious and nutritious because I have used spelt flour, oats and a handful of nuts, seeds and raisins. Here is the recipe for this variety — (I say ‘this variety’ because every time I make it, I vary it slightly according to what I feel like and what ingredients I have in the pantry. Sometimes I use wholemeal flour as well as spelt, and on other occasions, cumin seeds and lovage, as well as a pinch of matcha powder. Or I add dried thyme and oregano… it’s fun experimenting.)
This time I used:
225g wholemeal and spelt flour, mixed
225g plain flour
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp molasses or honey
Handful of oats
Handful of sunflower seeds, chia, linseed and raisins (vary according to your taste)
Pinch of dried oregano, thyme and a little lovage
200 ml milk or buttermilk or soya milk…
200g natural yoghurt
Drizzle of olive oil.
First I stirred all the dry ingredients together then added in the molasses, followed by the yoghurt, milk and a drizzle of olive oil. I carefully drew it all together, kneading very lightly to make a soft, moist ball. I transferred this onto a floured baking tray, keeping a round shape. I then made a light cross on the top with a knife, gently made indentations in the dough with my knuckles (which made the bread less rounded) and sprinkled the top with the coarse salt and drizzled oil on top. I cooked the bread for 35 minutes in the oven (I didn’t use the fan) at 200 °C, until the skewer came out dry when I tested it — (cooking time might vary according to your flour mix and how moist or dry your dough was to begin with and also how deep the bread is.)
When it was cooked, I stood it on a rack to cool. Then after about five minutes, I couldn’t resist delving in!
It is delicious with butter (which I have) and jam (which I don’t have, but I will be making some purple plum jam now that they in season here. I use the same amount of sugar to fruit, or slightly less if I am feeling sugar-conscious — and there’s no need for lemon juice or pectin since the plums have enough of their own pectic acid.)
And now I shall go and have some more bread, butter and jam in front of Agatha Christie’s Five Little Pigs, which stars one of my favourite actors playing the part of Poirot — David Suchard. (When I lived in Sheen, in Greater London, I often came across him in Waitrose, pushing the shopping trolley alongside his wife. He is the same polite, prim character that he portrays in the series.)
Now I don’t usually lounge around watching TV in the afternoons, but I will today for the following three reasons: 1) to recover from the efforts of cooking and having strained my sciatic nerve after lunging forward in my bed at 4:30 in the morning, trying to find my bedcover because temperatures have cooled off at night; 2) because although I usually Skype my mother at this time (great at closing the gaps, especially now in times of this awful virus), I won’t be skyping today, because she is trying to scare away the mice that she discovered have been steadily working their way through her back-up supplies of olive oil, juice, milk, soap, sponges, toilet rolls etc. that she keeps in the shed; and lastly 3) because it is a national holiday here in Spain, being the Assumption of Our Lady.
So for now, I think I’ll take a leaf out of my cat’s book (this time it’s Ginger) before tucking in! Cheers!
Hope this finds you all in good health and spirits. Take care!
PS. And as usual, any comments or questions always welcome!