A photo-guided walk through the Sierrezuela (it’s beginning to bloom!) — and a recipe for wild asparagus in tomato

Hi folks! I’m back again — but this time with less waffle and more photos. After all, a picture’s worth a hundred words, isn’t it?

The topic’s the same as last time — the beautiful Sierrezuela of Posadas which forms part of the vast Natural Park of Hornachuelos. View on (and please consult the following links for more… https://www.posadas.es/turismo/patrimonio_natural/parque_periurbano_la_sierrezuela and http://turismoposadas.es/wp-content/uploads/guia-educacion-ambiental-sierrezuela.pdf — both great for your Spanish!! Also, not forgetting my illustrated book An English Lady in Cordova, available from me and also from here https://www.etsy.com/es/shop/GillysWork?ref=search_shop_redirect. View for more descriptions of this neck of the woods and to learn of my humorous adventures!)

Recipe for wild asparagus in a rich tomatoey sauce (my way)

Ingredients

A bunch of wild asparagus

Olive oil

Some tomato concentrate (‘tomate frito’ if you are in Spain – about 220 g) and a couple of chopped tomatoes if you have them

A fat onion, chopped

A couple of cloves of garlic, squashed

2 cloves

Cumin powder and smoked sweet paprika – a tsp of each

Small glass of red wine or ‘fino’ or ordinary white, if that’s what you happen to have

Salt, pepper and brown sugar to taste

Croutons fried in olive oil (don’t let the oil smoke!)

Method

Cut the tender top parts of the asparagus into 1 cm pieces (or to your liking). In a pan, fry the chopped onion in a generous amount of olive oil, on medium fire. Add the garlic after about a couple of minutes, when the onion is translucent. Cook for a further minute. Now add the cumin and paprika powders and the cloves. Stir-fry a bit longer, then chuck in your asparagus bits. Increase the fire and throw in the booze. Let it bubble away so that most of it evaporates, then add your tomatoes and puree. (If you don’t have chopped tomatoes, don’t worry, add more puree. You’re aiming for a rich tomato gravy.) When it starts bubbling a lot, add your salt, pepper and about a teaspoon of sugar (wild asparagus can be quite bitter). Let it simmer with lid half on until the asparagus is tender and a rich, tomatoey gravy has formed. Check for seasoning. You can always add more cumin and smoked sweet paprika if you like. In a separate frying pan, cook your croutons in olive oil, then add to the cooked asparagus dish.

And Bob’s your uncle — ready to eat!

PS. If you don’t want to waste the woody, prickly stalk of the asparagus, you can simmer these together with other vegetables, to make a stock. Might have to add a pinch of sugar or extra carrots to balance out the bitterness though.

And as for my vegetable patch — no photos this time because it is looking pretty much the same — except it now has the addition of a worrying amount of furry caterpillars that are steadily and stealthily invading the whole of the countryside! Let’s see if my Swiss chard and spinach seedlings escape their voracious jaws…

That’s all for now — thanks for reading — back soon!

The Sierrezuela revisited (Posadas, Cordova)

Hi folks — I’m back again! This time on the same line as my previous post about the Sierrezuela Hills that lie just on the outskirts of Posadas village (40 miles from Córdoba, forming part of Hornachuelos National Park).

Pine trees in the Sierrezuela. You can just make out the high-level rope walkway stretching across the trees in the background.

In this blog, I would just like to mention — for those of you who are animal and plant enthusiasts — some of the different types of the fauna and flora that can be found here. (Please refer to http://turismoposadas.es/wp-content/uploads/guia-educacion-ambiental-sierrezuela.pdf for a fuller version accompanied by photos — also great if you want to practise your Spanish!)

Little palmito dwarf palms. Thier dates are used for medicinal purposes
Cistus or rock rose – ‘jara’

You can find a variety of fragrant shrubs growing at ground-level, ranging from bitter asparagus, dwarf palm, thyme and rosemary that grow in close juxtaposition with resinous-scented mastic and rockrose bushes.

Overhead, a variety of trees tower and sway. These include: the Aleppo and stone pines, holm and gall oaks, wild olive trees, hawthorns, elms and poplars — just to name a few.

Lofty pines providing shade for the stone benches and barbecues in the numerous picnic spots.
Looking northwards towards the hills of the Sierra Morena.
Treecreeper -‘agateadores’
Kingfisher – ‘Martín pescador’

These trees are inhabited by a diverse range of birds, such as: the booted eagle, peregrine falcon, thrush, woodcock, white wagtail, quail, white stork, hoopoe, partridge, Sardinian warbler, cattle egret, black stork, buzzard, short-toed eagle, kestrel, sparrow hawk, Bonelli’s eagle, golden eagle, black vulture, griffon vulture, black kite, red partridge, lapwing, stone curlew, cuckoo, barn owl, horned owl, nightjar, kingfisher, bee-eater, wryneck, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, woodlark, great grey shrike, wren, stonechat, wheateater, blue rock thrush, redstart, Robin redbreast, blackbird, blue-tit, coal-tit, linnet, nuthatch, treecreeper, hawfinch, chaffinch, golden oriole and jay.

Oriolus oriolus Ayodar 2.jpg
Golden oriole – ‘oropéndola’ (female)

 (Phew! What a long list! I didn’t know so many birds existed in this neck of the woods!)

Wild boar – ‘jabalí’
Resultado de imagen para marten lower classifications
Family of martens – ‘marta /garduña’

And as for the animals that hide in the shrubbery and trees (dare I list them?!). Well, here are some of them: foxes, rabbits, hares, polecats, genets, wild cats, hedgehogs, wild boar, badgers, martens, weasels, shrew, moles and various species of bats.

Mustelaputoriusaureola.png
Pole cat – ‘turón’
Genetta genetta felina (Wroclaw zoo).JPG
Genet – ‘gineta’
Rabbits and hares – ‘conejos y liebres’
Deer – ‘ciervo’

Guided wild mushroom walks — (that sounds funny, doesn’t it?) — take place in the autumn and can be found out from the council’s (ayuntamiento’) main webpage. This was last December’s walk: https://www.posadas.es/contenido/jornadas-micologicas-sierra-de-posadas-diciembre

Saffron milkcaps – ‘níscalo’
Boletus (I think!), though not too convinced now because of it spongy underside which bruises when prodded.

The saffron milkcap mushrooms are very expensive, and I remember that when we first moved here to our country abode close to Posadas and the Sierrezuela, our friends presented us with a crateful of these fungi. (We were very lucky, and it was easy to make friends here, as the locals, or Malenans as they are known, are open, friendly and generous. Not only were we presented with a crateful of mushrooms, but over the years also the following: sacks of oranges and potatoes; bags of Italian peppers; heaps of fresh horse manure and earth; piles of pebbles and stones; palettes of antique bricks; old wooden shutters from demolished houses; lucky horse hooves; handfuls of marigold seeds; a homemade, knitted patchwork blanket; a macramé plant holder; second-hand clothes and shoes for the children; and various pets including puppies, kittens, owls, bunny rabbits, three sheep and a caiman from Juan. This crocodile look-alike we refused, so he kept it all day in a large ‘bath’ of water whilst working with us, until he was about to leave — and that’s when he realised that it had escaped! We couldn’t find it in our stream at the bottom of the hill, and by evening, two Civil Guards appeared at our door to interrogate us about the illegal and missing creature. Luckily a cup of Tetley’s and a slice of homemade Battenburg pacified them and they became as mild as lambs, waving energetically as we said our goodbyes. We never did find out what happened to the beast, but rumour has it that there’s a crocodile that prowls the waters of the Breña lake, posing a serious hazard to any potential and illegal bathers.)

(To read more about this story and other such adventures of mine, please take a look at my book An English Lady in Cordova, on the following link: https://www.etsy.com/es/shop/GillysWork?ref=search_shop_redirect

The Arquito shrine with statues of Our Lady – for devotees

Anyway, leaving plants and animals behind one sec., if you are a basket-weaving enthusiast, then do visit the ethnological museum/building which houses some fine examples. Young, tender olive shoots, called ‘varetas’ are used for the basket work. You can buy a variety of baskety things from this building, when it is open, and also in the tourist office in the old part of Posadas village. This office lies next to the old Arquito (little archway/shrine) on a site where the former castle once stood. (More about all the miracles, legends and history of Posadas in later blogs.)

Close-up of the above – the wall on the right hand side marks the boundary wall and eastern door of a former castle.

You can also visit the Malenanbasket-weaving association at this link: https://es-es.facebook.com/pages/category/Community-Organization/Asociacion-de-cesteros-tradicionales-de-cordoba-439756533086358/

And while on the subject of craftwork, the following link will introduce you to the crochet, fruit sculpting, ceramic groups and work that is carried out here in Posadas. (The village is very active with some very talented people and a lot of interesting goings-on!) http://turismoposadas.es/vida/artesania-y-gastronomia/

More about the village in future blogs.

For now, to wind things to a close… a quick comment on the progress of my vegetable patch. We’ve had a spell of unusually warm weather here, with temperatures reaching 22 degrees, so things have started to get a move on, horticulturally-speaking. My spinach and Swiss chard seeds have finally begun to make a show (despite the soggy, smelly manure that they’re nestling in). As they gain strength I will weed around them, bit by bit. My courgette seeds are also pushing up from their improvised seed trays. As you can see, I had to cover these trays with some clippings of my thorny rambling rose branches to ward off the cats (they like to roll and revel in every available bit of earth!), or use it as their toilet!

Well, that’s it for me now — back soon!