About Me

We moved out to Portugal to live a frugal but better , simpler and peaceful life, our house is a very basic, semi ruin, up in the hills outside Figueiro Dos Vinhos, where we work our land, enjoy life with each other and our dogs, and hope to make the smallest carbon footprint we can,

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Wild Weather .

Wow was it wild up at Bouça last night, we had howling gales, torrential rain, giant hailstones, then thunder and lightning... and the roof didnt leak once, excellent, each winter we eliminate more holes, draughts and leaks... one day soon we maybe weather proof completely, never mind a warm fire goes a long way... off to market.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Post Script on Logs...

I should havesaid on the earlier post, that as Rik is a Pagan, he'll never cut down a tree unless its vital to us to survive, e.g on our veg patch. The wood we burn is always wood we've salvaged from the forest, scrap wood thats been left by the loggers, or thats just fallen down, we feel its not being wasted this way, and there is so much wasted wood in this country. I just wanted to make it clear we dont go chopping down trees willy nilly...
Oh and its raining, pouring cats and dogs, theforcast says its set for a week, so dont know when I'll manage to update again, as I wont be straying far from the fire in this weather ...
keep warm, stay dry....

Wood, wood, tons of it...

As the weather has now definitely changed to winter, with good hard frosts four nights running now and temps below 60 during the day, (yeah yeah I know.... but to me its very cold! ) We have been working on the log situation, luckily for the first year since we've been here, we are doing well, we have plenty and are able to share them around a bit to our friends who are not so fortunate or fit enough to drag them out of the forest. Rik went out into the forest yesterday and managed another trailer load which he chopped and I stacked, we've been using the range now about two months and actually have more wood than we started with... what a result. Logs are the most vital thing to us during winter.
We set aside a day here and there all summer to get the barn filled and continue as long as the weather allows, we use an amazing amount of logs, it fuels the range which heats the kitchen and cooks all our food, plus we have Big Bertha upstairs which heats the whole top of the house we only light her when its really cold though. We have managed to start putting next years aside too, green stuff that needs the year to season and dry out and it makes me smile just looking at it all... I bloody hate being cold.
Anyone thinking of buying here, think about your heating and how you plan on doing it... we are fit and healthy and it takes up an enormous part of our time to amass enough wood to last. But on the other hand, we heat our house and cook for free 7 or 8 months of the year....

Monday, 24 November 2008


Yep I spoke too soon, we were awoken in the night by the sound of the wind howling outside. Being quite high up on the hillside, we get some lovely wild weather. We chose this part of Portugal especially because we wanted seasons, not too cold obviously but we did want some winter. We get spectacular storms, with howling gales and sheets of rain, we can see it coming right down the valley. We love to sit upstairs and look out the big double doors to watch the bad weather. It was lovely this morning snuggling up warm in bed and knowing we didnt have to get up.... except I did, today was Portuguese lesson day... but at least I didnt have to be there until 10am. I could sit by the fire and enjoy my morning coffee at leisure. The forcast doesnt look inspiring for a while, I dont really mind, we get so much splendid weather hear and the land so needs the rain.
On a different note, Ive discovered a small patch of self set potatoes, they must have been some I missed from last years new spuds, well they are already six inches high and growing well, so if the frost doesnt get them we are hoping for at least one meal from them as early, earlies...
Rik hopes to make a start on the floors in the spare bedroom in the next week or so, we have the blocks and beams so its just the hard work that needs doing now.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Quiet days..

Hmmmm lovely, I am really enjoying this time of year, its still lovely and bright and sunny, cold and often frost nights but now we have the kitchen range its really not a problem. I can stay in bed till Rik has lit the range and come downstairs to a lovely warm kitchen and a coffee all made for me... yes I know he spoils me...
Im still making bread first thing every day, the soda bread with caremelised onions and topped with cheese is a real stunner...
Im just having quiet days , as we try to not throw anything away that has even an ounce of life left in it, Im catching up on a ton of mending, darning and patching of work clothes at the moment, Its nice just sat by the fire sewing. Im enjoying having time to spend on trying out new recipes and trying more veggie food, especially things to do with dried beans, as I grow and dry my own, plus they cost pennies to by and are full of protein.
We had a slight problem the other day...
Our entrance cubby, or hallway or whatever you call it, decided to spring a leak... yep, suddenly from nowhere came a huge puddle of water, or fluid of some kind... I obviously blamed 'his' dog, well there was sooooo much of it... we'd had no rain, and it dried up over night... two days later it was back... Rik was all for moving the store cupboard (containing my jams and preserves and stored pumpkins and squashes) and digging out the wall and floor... when we realised the fluid was actually dripping out the bottom of the cupboard, hmmmmmm bugger. Yep, the biggest pumpkin, a huge great thing of outstanding beauty...had been slowly rotting away from the bottom, cleverly disguising the fact by doing it from the side that faced the back, so all that was left was a huge hollow crust... not good...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Barter Market!!!

Well we are getting some interest on the Barter Market idea,
we plan on holding the first one in early January, starting off with produce, seeds, plants etc I´m also hoping to include second hand clothes at some point. The book and DVD side of it will stay as a 'loan library' and items remaining the property of their owners.
If the whole thing takes off, maybe we can add a skills side to this as well and see how that goes...
If anyone reading this is interested please contact me for more info.

A Meat Recipe...

Marinaded Pork Chops.
As pork is cheap and such excellent quality over here we do tend to eat pork more than any other meat. Generally good chops work out about 50cents each...

My marinade..
1 Large onion chopped quite fine.
3 big cloves of garlic chopped fine, or squidged.
A really big slurp of olive oil.
2 tablespoons of massa de pimento (red pepper paste)
A really good slurp of Balsamic Vinegar.
Mix together, completely coat all the chops and leave as long as possible. I tend to prepare in the morning and leave it in the fridge all day.

Fry in heavy bottomed pan, over gentle heat till all liquid has gone... all the onions will caramelise .... oooooh beautiful.

Tues 19th. Free, free, free at last...

Thank god... the olive picking is finished. We finally managed to pick just over 900kilos.. almost a ton!!!! We have 54 litres of our own fantastic oil now which means I can slurp it about in everything in gay abandonment... Im soooooooooo pleased.
But for all those who have never picked olives and fancy coming over and buying a grove and making money... dont do it... its not the easy option, its not actually strenuous, but it does get exhausting, it took us just about three weeks, from early morning to dusk, its repetitive and you get aches and pains you never imagined.
To us its really worth the effort, and I loved it, but also couldnt wait for it to be done... its certainly not an easy thing..

Well Rik has almost finished putting a log burner in Mara's cottage room, and maybe then we'll be able to do something more to my kitchen, money is so difficult at the moment, so it will have to be things that cost nowt. We have some paint, so I hope to get going on that at least.

The weather is still beautiful, cold clear nights and bright sunny days, wonderful!!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Food at Bouça..

Just to clarify a few points, some people have mistakenly thought we were veggies, well not really. While we lived in the UK, both Rik and I suffered with IBS, and really had trouble.
Since we've lived here, we have made a real effort to organise our eating and to improve our health. Our well water has made an incredable difference, we have found if we do not drink tap water (its highly treated just like UK water) and stick to our well water, then our IBS is very rare, added to that we have cut down or out every kind of chemical or additive in food that we possibly can, plus eat a small amount of meat now and again and we are really healthy. And it saves money.
We do like and eat meat but just in small amounts and maybe once or twice a week at most, we love veggie food, and to be honest eat it often as when we grow it in the garden for free.... why buy meat? Our wine is our own brew, and now we have our own oil.... what more could we ask...

Hey hey .... We have oil!!

Well by the time I got home from school on Monday clever old Rik had managed to find a new Lagar, chat to the very nice couple who run it and organise to take our olives to be pressed that very afternoon.
And for me the very best bit.... its a old fashioned traditional press, complete with coir mats and steam driven crusher... we had our own pressing, we waited and watched the whole process from start to finish... wonderful, we got 32 litres!!! We still have more to pick and hope to finally finish over the weekend and take the last bags next monday... I'll probably have enough oil to keep us going for two years or so... plus a few bottles to barter with...

We went to pick again today, it was lovely, tee shirt weather .. well from about 10.30am to 4.30pm it is.... then the temp drops like a stone, we've had quite sharp frosts up at the Bouça the last few nights, but its burnt off by 10ish... I love these crisp mornings though, I go for my morning walk in the forest and its truly stunning, the view always seems so much clearer forst thing in the morning with the sun just coming through the trees... by the time I get back home its warm too..

Monday, 10 November 2008

Recipe. Beetroot Suprise.

The suprise is, its really very nice... Rik'd fave dinner...

The quantites are a little vague as I tend to just sling things in..

Enough cooked beetroot to cover the bottom of suitable dish.
Good handfull mushrooms, sliced.
1 small green pepper. sliced.

About a pint of good strong cheese sauce.

Put chopped beetroot in ovenproof dish, sprinkle with chopped pepper and cover with mushrooms. Pour on cheese sauce and bake in hot to med over till all nice and brown and bubbling.
We usually have it with Rice 'n ' Beans.

Rice 'n' Beans

One cup (coffee mug size) Rice.
One cup dried black eyes beans.
one stock cube
dash mixed herbs

Remember to soak the dried beans the night before. ####
Boil beans for ten mins then simmer till soft.
Boil rice in water with stock cube and herbs added, when rice is cooked add cooked beans to warm through, drain and serve.

Carrots add a nice colour to the plate....

Mon 11th November

School today, I attend classes in Portuguese at our local library in Figueiro Dos Vinhos, its hard but I seem to progress, though sometimes I feel I'll never get it...

Yes Peter and Teresa my head is fine now, so far we have picked over half a ton of olives... still eight trees to go though, so yesterday we went to the lager to try to get the first batch pressed as we just have no more storage space, the appointment they gave us to take our olives in is almost three weeks away.... hmmmm not sure what we'll do now but I'd rather not wait as although they say the olives will keep in the sacks, Im not sure I fancy that...´
The sun is shining, the weather has really picked up, yesterday we had a great day picking , and sat outside in the garden eating homemade bread and eggs and salad, all topped off with home brewed wine... I love this country!!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Friday 7th November

Oooh a day off from picking olives... its been fine dry and cold a couple of days so we have been hard picking, but now itswet again, so I get a day off to catch up on being a domestic goddess rather than a farm labourer. Ive time to bake a cake, make some biscuits and maybe even sit by the fire and read a book for a while... Bliss. Thanks to the help of Peter and Teresea again, we have managed to fill 8 barrels of olives so far which is already more than we picked ever before, and still about 12 large trees to go!
Rik is busy using some insulation board we had spare to insulate part of the roof, and then move the log burner we had in the kitchen down into the cottage, we've had a electric oil filled rad in there but it really hasnt been up to the job, the cost of electricity here is high and with money tight, this way will be far better for everyone, and cost us nothing !!!
Ive had a little interest from people about the barter/swap system of skills, seeds, produce etc that I wanted to start, but will need more to make it work.
And for all those people who have been asking about Cola after he had his fall, he's much better, running about chasing Bonnie just like his old self again now.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

My Soda bread recipe.

9oz plain flour
3-4 oz SR flour
half oz cooking marg
half teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon salt
one teaspoon sugar.
dash of milk to mix.
seseame seeds
ut all ingredients in a bowl, rub in marg, then mix with knife with dash of milk till soft dough, gently form ball, flatten, brush with milk, sprinkle with sea salt and seseame seeds, slash crosss on top with knofe and stick in a moderately hot oven for about 15 mins or untill its cooked...

you can add a pinch of mixed herbs or a sprinkle of grated cheese, but its not so good next morning as toast...

Tues 4th Nov.

Well its still wet.. to be honest it has stopped once or twice, but on the whole its been wet for a few days now. Its also pretty chilly, the range is going great guns though and Im cooking on it all the time now and havent burnt anything for abouta week. With money being non existant at the moment, Im making soda bread every morning , it takes me about half an hour from flour bag to on the bread board... not bad eh. Rik is actually eating it and loving it, which is quite a result as he's picky about bread. One small loaf does lunch and his morning toast the next day all for about 10cents. For anyone reading this who doesnt know us, we are at the mo living on no income, the cottage rentals have ground to a halt so no dosh. But we have tons of food stashed away, water from the well is free, cooking and heating is supplied by the range, so we dont do badly, the trick will be to see how long we can actually survive like this.....
We have friends in the same situation, most living in either ruins or semi-ruins on next to nothing, but most enjoying really fruitful happy lives.
Im hoping on this blog to share tips, recipes, and any other kind of ideas on frugal living, even to set up a kind of barter system for people living as we do ... thats if we get much interest...
I have to try to understand how to get the best from this blog so please bear with me, also as I said before, we dont have internet and it may be days ata time till I can get to town to do this.

We are picking olives, still... Peter and Teresa , some friends came over today to help out, a bowl of sop, some bread a glass of home made vinho and a cold wet day was made a lot better.