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,

Monday, 28 December 2009

Christmas our way...

Although we had a pretty busy run up to Xmas here, the event itself was very low key for us, as Ricky is a Pagan and doesnt do Christmas, we have a bit of a mix that we have developed over the years that suits us both. We generally have a party for Winter Solstice that starts of our festive season, we didnt this year as we were invited ut to friends plus the weather had been so wet and we generally hold it outdoors round a bonfire in the garden. I decorate the house with greenery and pine cones from the forest for him to make it festive but 'natural' too. No trees are hurt (by us) as I go and collect branches from where the latest logging has been happening, that way at least some of the beautiful trees are not wasted...
After Solstice I add a few home made decorations and some ribbons etc and it becomes my xmas decorations... this year I made xmas tree garlands by cutting tree shapes from old christmas cards and stringing them together... very pretty. Also my xmas tree (plastic) is decorated by loads of coloured celophane flowers made by me from sweet wrappers and strung on cotton... Rik thinks Im bonkers... but again, the wrapers do not bio degrade, so to save just throwing them away , ive recycled them in my own way, they really do look pretty and as they are silver in places really sparkle ... hehehehe well it works for me....
Christmas day is a very quiet day for us, we generally have a lie in untill the dogs cant wait any longer, about 8am at the best... then we light the range, make coffee and walk the dogs, this year Ricky went strimming down in the 'orchard to be' untill mid afternoon when lunch was ready, I prepared lunch and spent my time stacking and re organising the log shed.
For our lunch we had a nice shoulder of Lamb, roast potatoes, our roast turnips, our roast butternut squash, our peas, and our cauli. Gravy and a glass of wine. A fruit parcel with ice cream each and that was us done.... then we curled up in front of the roarin log burner and watched DVD'S till bed...
A nice peaceful day, no stress, no cost, wonderfull...

Belated Greetings..

Yep Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, Boas Festas!!!
Well thats all that over with then. We've been so busy this year we just didnt have time to get into town to update this blog. We've had a great couple of weeks, considering we are pretty antisocial people really, we've been inundated with invites to eat and celebrate with friends that we've been overwhelmed a little. All in one week we had Solstice dinner celebrations with some lovely dutch friends, a dinner out with English friends a few miles away, and Christmas Portuguese style on Christmas Eve with some friends Ricky plays Softball with from Abrantes. Ive never eaten so much in my life... it was all really wondeful though.
We now have some friends from england arriving for a two week visit today, so lots of cooking and organising for me.

No news on Ricky's job yet, we hope to hear more on that first week of Jan or so, its going to take time to set up a scheme this big so we'll not be splashing the dosh around too soon.... heheheheh

The weather is still wet... very wet, its turned very mild again but we have the stream back running through the kitchen, ahhhh well, maybe we will get to dig out the back wall of the house this summer.... hehehehe Ive lived with it three winters now, another wont kill me...
We've been logging and trying to get wood stacked to dry out, we've still plenty of dry stuff but at this rate it wont last long so its a continual thing for us, as the cooker eats it up.

The garden is still ticking over, just the cabbage and turnips for eating now, the broad beans are going ok , I never get too confident of broad beans, they are sneaky, and tend to let me down when i'm not looking....

The main project on the land for us now is that we are planting an orchard, we try to reclaim more of our land each year, this time we are working on a big patch at the bottom of the hill, fruit trees are very cheap at the moment so we splashed out and spent 18euros.... on some more trees, and combined with the ones we planted last year (in a really stupid place that now have to be moved) we'll be able to plant our new orchard and have, 3 plum trees (different varieties) 3 Pears (different) a granny smiths apple, a Gala Red apple, 2 cherry trees, and 3 Almond trees. We also have 2 tangerine trees down there that are full grown and in a bad way, Rik will prune them hard , and an old apple tree we'll do the same too and hope it picks up eventually.
All this will hopefully give us plenty of fruit in a few years.
We so love planting trees, it feeels like we are giving something back to the world...
We have to contunie all the strimming down there yet , days of work....
But good 'making a differnce ' kind of work.... such a buzz of satisfaction we know we'll get when its all done...

More later

Monday, 14 December 2009

Ooooh excitement....

Well what a weekend we had... well I had a very quiet one, Rik's was extremely busy and productive. This weekend was the one he was supposed to do the course and exam for Softball . He was very stressed as it was to be all in Portuguese. On tuesday we had a call from the organiser of the course to say that as Rik was so experienced in the sport, not only did he not have to take the course, but that they wanted him to TEACH it, and they would pay him to do it....wow!! It was a wonderful suprise, but also just as stressful as we had to create and produce a full proffesional training module for 15 people.... in 2 days...
Luckily Rik really knows his stuff when it comes to his sport, so he spent a whole evening and most of the night writing the course and organising it, and I did the donkey work of typing it up the next day.
All went to plan, the module went down a treat, everyone was very pleased and enjoyed it a lot.
It was also his birthday and the whole course got together to celebrate at lunch with a cake and lots of jokes and fun.
The upshot of this all is that the Sporting School of Excellence for Portugal wants to employ Rik to implement the introduction of Softball into the National Curriculem in all the schools throughout Portugal..... oooooohhhhhh are we excited or what!!!
Im holding my breath a little, Im hoping all goes to plan....

Today we awoke to a very hard frost, the first of the year for us, not bad for this time of year, sadly it got my potatoes, I should have covered them last night but with all the excitement of Rik being home and his news , I forgot... oh well such is life...

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Frugal living Recipe. Chickpea /parsley lunch stuff...

Hehehhe not quite sure what to call this , but we eat it for lunch a couple of times a week. Its nutritious, healthy and very cheap... ooh and tastes great..
As usual all measures are approx and very slapdash... says a lot about the kind of cook I am ...
Feeds 2 people, 2 days..
Soak enough dry chickpeas to half fill a litre jug, when they are soaked, they will more or less fill it...
Cook the chickpeas in fresh water, with a couple of big cloves of garlic and 2 or three bay leaves, I put a sprig of thyme in as well if I have it...
when they are nice and soft, drain but keep the liquid!.
In a big thick bottomed pan put in a BIG glug of olive oil, and fry a nice big onion untill soft, not brown. add to this a couple of medium sized peeled and diced potatoes, a big diced carrot and gently turn over in the onion and oil for about 10 mins. dont let it brown... add the chickpeas and enough of the liquid to cover them comfortably, then chop two big handfulls of fresh parsley (we have tons in the garden) stir in and them simmer for 20 mins or so, the potatoes will cook down and practicly disolve , thickening and enriching the whole thing, towards the end, add more parlsey, another dollop of good olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. It should end up lovely and thick, and richly creamy.... and sort of green...

We eat it with lovely fresh soda bread... yummy...

Continued update.

Sorry about the abrupt way the last update finished, we have to use an internet space for this type of thing and I'd not saved the ending and we timed out.. sorry.
Fruit bushes.
We now have 2 blackcurrant bushes, 2, raspberry canes, and 2 redcurrant bushes, a dozen strawberry plants, 2 kiwi vines and all the local blackberries. So when it all gets going we should have tons of soft fruit, we are trying to add to the soft fruit bushes but the time to buy them always comes at the time when our budget is at its smallest... hopefully, as time goes on I'll be able to take some cuttings and establish our own new bushes.
If all went to plan and all our fruit trees and bushes fruited the same season (its very hit and miss up to now) we'd be snowed under with fruit.. as we have... deep breath!!!
Lemons, 3 tangerines, 2 peach trees, 1 pomegranate, 1 fig, 1 pear, 1 almond, 2 plum, 2 cherry, and 1 old apple tree. plus all the new soft fruit we've started off. The whole place is surrounded by blackberries, that we contantly fight to stop them overcoming the place ... handy for winter stores though.
I manage to freeze kilos of fruit most years to see us through the winter, for crumbles and fruit parcels ect... our fave dessert at the moment is fruit crepes, a really cheap dessert, as you need such a small amount of mix, and just stew up a mix of fruit (we have tons of plums) with a dash of honey and cinnamen and mmmmmnnn lovely on a cold day.

Monday, 30 November 2009

This n That..

This upadate is a mix of all the odds and ends I forget to put in sometimes...

First of all I'd like to congratulate our good friends Samantha & Jon on the birth of their second son, born just the other day... all are fit and healthy, well done both.... well Samantha did the hard bit of course...

The weather has been pretty damp again but still pretty mild, well compared to UK it is, Im feeling the chill though, hot water bottle for bed tonight...
Rik is working hard, as usual, he's dug out one of the back walls, just a drainage channel for now, but will improve and enlarge it as we go along, I think its made a big difference already, it rained all day yesterday and we had no water in the cubby at all. Just the back wall the other side now... he's a tad stressed at the moment, to continue his Softball coaching in Portugal he now has to take his qualifications in Portuguese....which although he speaks pretty good nowadays, to take such huge exams in another language is a vast undertaking, and he's worried... nothing I say will make a difference, this is a demon he has to deal with on his own. I just have to be as understanding as possible when he's a grumpy, difficult old sod.... heheheheh nothing new there then... His first one is a three day course on the weekend of 12th December... fingers crossed everyone please. !!!

The garden is still plodding along, the peppers finally stopped a week or so ago, but they are so tall, they sheild the broad beans a little so I left them in in case of frost, the beans are doing fine, hopefully beans to eat early new year. The cabbage is great, we've already started eating some, and have loads more on the way... the newly planted garlic is sprouting and looking good, as are my Xmas /new year spuds, we just have to try to sheild them if it turns frosty...

We've been planting soft fruit bushes, hoping that we can get some soon,

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Curing some olives.

Well just a brief post today, Im trying for the first time to cure some olives. We used all ours for oil but was given some lovely ones by a friend (Hello Samantha) to have a try with.
The recipe Ive been given is as follows.

Pick over olives and only use perfect ones.
Soak in plain water for 4 days, changing water every day. place a plate or something in the container to make sure the olives are under water.
After 4 days, change water again, add whatever flavourings you want, garlic, lemon, herbs etc, and salt, mix the salt in slowly, stirring lots to make sure it desolves well, you only need just enough to make the olives sink... add the plate or something again to cover, (not airtight!) and leave for 40 days, changing water and flavouring every ten days. Then ready to eat. yum

Monday, 23 November 2009

my kitchen


my storage jars and homegrown herbs etc

my kitchen


I dont have a picture of the cooking range, but here is a couple of pics a friend of mine took while visiting recently.

Frugal -Simple living. Part two...

Ive had such a good response from my last post (tons of emails thank you!) that I have decided to try to expand on this and describe more of our way of life. Forgive me if I ramble...

Food, shopping ect.

Costs.... day to day living costs for us nowadays are pretty small. It has taken us three years to get this far though. As our survival (monetary wise) is based on the rental of our little cottage to guests during summer we obviously have to be as frugal with that money as possible, as its a very irregular thing. And dries up almost completely during winter. As I said in the previous post, I grow the vast majority of our food, we eat meat maybe once a week if that, sometimes during summer we go weeks without any at all, it seems pretty silly to buy meat when we have such a wonderful abundance growing fresh and lovely in the garden, I menu plan during winter but during the most productive garden times I just walk down to the 'Horta' and see what is ready today and plan a meal around what we have most of...
While we have guests( money) in the cottage I tend to squirrel away food, spending an extra 10 euros here and there on bulk pasta and rice, an extra bag of dried beans or oats and flour so that I dont miss the money, but by winter have a large store cupboard full of staples we need to live ..
Also now and again, buy a extra pkt of stock cubes,a jar of coffee, a bag of dried fruit here and there, it all mounts up but when its only the odd euro each week, you dont miss it, just make sure you dont go mad all at once. I did this during our time in the UK too, so that one week in 6 I had a grocery free week and saved that money for Portugal...

So, by this time of year, we are broke... but have enough food to live simply and healthily till spring if we have to. The freezer is choc a block with food, and ALL i'm buying at the moment is milk, the occasional block of butter (as a treat for rik) and maybe a few eggs or a chunk of cheese sometimes. Obviously sooner or later we'll have to buy loo rolls when my stocks run out, the same with dog food, we buy 20 kilos of dried complete mix for 10.15€ which combined with all our veggie leavings and fruit(yep our dogs eat healthy too) lasts a couple of months.

Our cooking costs are nil, as we use a wood fired cooking stove, which is the best thing we ever invested in, as it really is the heart of our home, cooking, heating, drying our washing... fantastic. As long as you have a access to firewood, its the best thing in the world. I do all our own baking, bread making, everything, Rik loves this time of the year as the range is always alight, it means the oven is always hot, I cant stand wasting that heat so tend to pop something nice in to cook ... and he ends up with lots of treats...

I spend a nice quiet part of my day sat by the range, either reading, or sewing (darning his damn socks usually) I just love that cooking range, it makes the kitchen the best place to be during winter...

Well thats all for now...
More later.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

HEHEHEH

Note to myself.... I must learn to spellcheck these posts before I publish ... my spelling and typos are getting much worse lately...

Simple, frugal living, a different way of life...

Well an update on our attempts to live as well as possible for as little cost as possible. Living this way does mean more effort and work though, but who ever decided that work and effort for something you want is a bad thing... The whole of the 'consumer industry' keeps churning out labour saving devices and brainwashing everyone into believing that work is bad... we think a little differently, there is good work and bad work... bad work is the one most people are trapped into, that daily slog in wind rain cold (whichever fits you) to a place you dont want to be, doing jobs you either dislike or feel unworthy of your efforts... that hamster on a wheel type of living, just to pay the bills and continue on to the next daily round of stress...
Good work is different, we work harder physically now than ever before, (we do still live in a semi ruin) but the work is good, enjoyable and for ourselves. We spend days cutting and splitting and stacking logs, hard dirty sweaty work... but the sheer joy of looking at the log barn and knowing how cosy we'll be all winter (and at no cost) makes it really satisfying. Rik is at the moment digging out the whole of the courtyard at the back of the house, our place is built into a hillside, so the lower floor which is my kitchen is half in the ground, and during wet weather water runs in.... so he has started digging out and will do a couple of hours of backbreaking labour every day possible till its done, but its for a reason, there is a good end result... again, worthwhile work...
Work doesnt rule our lives, but its something we have to do every day to live as we do.... but I dont call cooking fresh wholesome tasty food, work, nor is the quiet peaceful time I get to work on our land, watching the food we eat sprout from the ground, green and fertile.... bottling, storing, picking... its all work of a kind... but what joy.... Its all down to the way you see things...

The same goes for most of the jobs I do , in our efforts to live simply, healthily and cheaply, I bake our own bread, grow our own food, (and cook from fresh) we try to buy as few things such as clothes as possible, people have far too many... I mend ours... darn socks, patch and darn riks shirts etc, when we aworking out and about in the forest or at home, why do we need to look smart... our clothes are clean and well mended, but sometimes look a tad strange...
All we do seems to be labour intensive, old fashioned (to some) ways of living and doing things. But who decided modern, progressive living was the best way....

Electricity update.
We are still working at cutting down our consumption, but at the moment cannot afford any alternative production methods, so its using less as a way to go for now.
I've managed during the last 6-9 months to cut our bills from between 85-120 eurs per two months, to now on average, 34-45 euros per two months... and feel pretty good about that! The fridge stayed off for all but july August and half od sept. Its off again now and will stay off untill next summer. I use a 30 dg wash cycle on the machine (yes we still have some luxury) which onlt takes 30 mins, for all things that dont need a hot wash (riks work jeans and sweatshirts) the rest all goes on 30dgs and is very good.
We are still resisting the lure of TV, we do have a dvd player and borrow films, but still try to spend more evenings, reading, playing scrabble word gamnes and crosswords, complete at the moment with hot rasted chestnuts to munch on...

Monday, 16 November 2009

Wet..

Well it seems autumn is wet this year, compared to last year anyway... but hey, the land needs it, the wet keeps the frost away, and the garden growing.... we have plenty of wood to keep warm, although its not actually that cold, just very damp... the winter stream through my kitchen has appeared last night... and will stay while it keeps raining... oh joy...
So we look for things to do inside... on the list is to paint our bedroom, make a step in the house by the front door... and to put a new door on the bedroom, plus try to finish insulating the lounge roof...
busy busy..

Ooh oil is done... a poor yeild this time, we only had a few trees and the olives looked luscious... plump and black... but sadly full of jiuce and not much oil... we had 15 litres, enough to last me the year if Im frugal with it.... but it tastes fantastic!!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Mushroom Overload....

The saying about no having too much of a good thing is very apt at the moment...
We have Parasol Mushroom overload... for the last few weeks we've been finding them everywhere, I've made soup, quiche, fritters, omelettes, mixed them in pasta dishes, and frozen about two dozen, and when you think they come almost the size of a dinner plate.... thats a lot of mushroom... hehehehe I always complained that although we grew almost everything for our veg needs my one regret was that I'd tried mushrooms and never managed to get any... now I'm not trying and they are popping up all over the place for free....
We've also been lucky enough to be given a few bags of field mushrooms from a friends garden...
Ive promised Rik, no more... I'll pick any more that come and share them around....

Well the weather is very autumnal, quite chilly and blowy, we were out picking olives the other day and the wind was howling across the olive grove and we were freezing.... last year it was so warm and sunny, we picniked outside every day for our lunch, this year we are rushing inside to huddle by the range, well, I am.... Rik being made of sterner stuff doesnt feel it...
We have to continue picking again today, everyone is late this year, the olives on some trees are still very green, some of ours are as well , but we are going to pick anyway and get it over and done with, its not a pleasant job if the weather isnt good. We'll manage enough black ones to get good oil enough to last the year with luck so thats what matters... and a euro a litre cost.....

We finshed all the planting for winter that we are planning to do , just a couple of rows of Jerusalem fartychokes, a couple of rows of spuds (with hopes of Christmas new potatoes) and a row of garlic. The broad beans are now all up and showing, Ive never managed a good crop yet, but we'll try again ...

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Frugal Living Recipe

Just a quickie today.
As chestnuts are everywhere here at the moment...

Chestnut & Sprouts Bake.

Equal quantities of chestnuts and sprouts.
Boil the sprouts for 5 mins then cool and slice, put in a ovenproof dish.
Bol chestnuts in their shells for 5 mins then peel, a little fiddly but peel easier if you leave them in the water as you do them and just pick out one at a time. Break into bits.
Mix into the sprouts.
Make a nice herby white sauce and pour over the lot, sprinkle top with oats and seseme seeds . Bake in a med, hot over till top is brown and bubbling.

Serve either as a side dish with meat n veg, or if veggie, add mushrooms, onions, and some grated cheese on toppping and serve with rice or pasta...

yum...

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Garden Update

Well, the broad beans are all in, so most of the peppers had to come out so rik could rototill the patch , we still have one row thats producing so we left them in, I was given some strawberry runners so have put one plant on the end of each row of beans... Im going to plant some garlic after the weekend too.
The aubergines bless em are still plodding on, as are the courgettes... every time I think I'll pull them up they produce a new little flush. Its as if they know....
The winter garden is doing well, cabbage looking strong and healthy, the leeks are finally starting to move and grow, as are athe turnips, and the greleiros is still going in soup and stews, the onion seeds are up and tiny but growing. I planted a few broad beans down there a few weeks ago amd they are now 5 inches tall.... hey hey...

The main focus now though will be on the olives, we start our picking tomorrow, then will go off to a friends over the weekend to help with theirs, then will continue till ours and theirs are done.... busy busy busy....

Mushroom fest.... again..

Yes the weather has turned warm and damp again, and the mushrooms are popping up all over, we've another 5 Parasol mushrooms in the courtyard, Ive picked two this morning, and then lo and behold our friends came over bringing a carrier bag full of field mushrooms from their Olive grove . Hmmm yum! Ive put a few of them to open freeze to experiment, but I'll make some quiches tomorrow I think, then maybe some mushroom soup... free food, just what I like...

Nice People....
This blog seems to attract the very best of people... yesterday out of the blue I had a phone call, from someone Ive never met, didnt know at all... to offer us their grapes and olives... stand up and take a bow Mark...
Mark has just bought a place over here , a few miles up the IC8 apparently, not far from us, and has loads of grapes and olives, having just been reading our blog and seeing that our wine was a dismal failure this year he kindly offered us his... what wonderful kind people this country attracts....

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Log fires, chestnuts, and baking..

Hhehehe, yep its that time of the year again, one of my fave times really, mind you , living here I tend to enjoy the seasons all the more as they are so much more defined. Summer is hot, generally very hot... and by the time the Autumn comes, much as I like the sunshine, Im usually ready for the cooler, wetter autumnal weather.
The huge sweet chestnut tree at the bottom of our lane has produced tons of nuts this year, we picked the first few from off the ground and took them to our friends nearby and we lit a fire and sat round it all evening roasting them and having a few glasses of red wine... and lots of laughs...
Such simple easy pleasures, are just what life is all about for me...
Yesterday evening we lit the fire up in the top room and curled up on the sofa, listening to the wind howling and the rain lashing the house, yep we had a few little drips coming in here and there (always happens somewhere) but we seem to cure more of them every year. I love the wild weather we get during autumn and early spring, I think being at the top of a hill and the place where two valley heads meet seems to funnel the weather up to us... we seem to get the extremes of everything, sun, rain, wind and frost.... its one of the reasons I wanted this place so much, I dont like predictability.....

So, as the weather isnt good for being outside, Im baking, the range is always alight and it seems a shame to waste all that heat... Rik loves it... he comes in from outside to a lovely warm kitchen, the smell of sweet baking greets him at the door, its so cosy and he always knows there's something good to eat... the dogs are enjoying it too, the rug by the range is especially comfortable ....

We did sneak out for a hour this morning to plant more broad beans.... then it rained again....

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Update

Well, the weather has turned, we've a spot of the wet stuff ... for the last two days. But we did need it and at least we dont have to bother with irrigation now.
Rik is off to Spain on Friday till Sunday, he is now officially termed as 'Technical Director for Softball ' for Portugal. This obviously is a unpaid post, but we dont mind, it means he gets to play and teach Softball which is a huge passion for him, and something he has missed since moving here. Also it means he feels that he is giving something back to Portugal, this country has been so good to us over the last three years its great that we can do something for Portugal now. He is training the womens National Team, plus the young cadets too, this means a trip to Abrantes every week and a drain on our finances for fuel, but hopefully they are going to pay his expenses soon.
The trip to Spain is a exchange visit type thing for the young team to see a more experienced tean play and to train with them and will do them so much good.


In the garden things are still ticking over, the winter patch is doing well and we are already eating the turnip greens , yummm they make excellent soup. Im planting winter broad beans today, as we get a better result at this time of the year, spring planted ones seem to suffer badly with blackfly which doesnt happen with the winter ones.
The aubergines are STILL producing... so are the peppers...

The log barn is full , we've more wood than ever before and it gives me such a secure feeling, knowing that whatever happens now we'll be warm , dry and well fed . The kitchen range is pumping out heat to cook our food, warm the house and dry my washing... such a splendid invention! I love that thing... and all for free.... last year it covered the cost of buying it, so from now on its all free...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Ooooh yum, mushrooms!!!

We are having a mushroom fest at the moment, just the other day we discovered a huge Parasol mushroom in the rear courtyard, when fully opened it was the size of a dinner plate... after much discussion by Jon (my brother in law) and me we decided it really was what we though and we cooked it and ate it..... fantastic!! we had the rest for breakfast... There are three more almost ready as well....
Also yesterday a friend told us she had mushrooms in her olive grove, upon investigation , again by Jon and I, we confirmed they were field mushrooms.... and quite a few too... again they didnt fancy eating them so I worked with a will and filled half a carrier bag full and we had them for supper last night... yummy... and there's still plenty more to come by all accounts...

### PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE EATING####

Yesterday was a real day of good things for me.. first the mushrooms and then I had a close encounter with a stork...
I was curled up on the sofa in the upstairs lounge reading a book, the double terrace doors in front of me were wide open, suddenly out of the corner of my eye a large bird loomed ... it got bigger and bigger as it came closer... our Dobermann Cola ran to hide behind the sofa as it headed for the open doors. I was frozen in amazement! It almost landed on our terrace, just managing to swoop up to the roof above at the last moment. There was quite a crash as it landed, I think we've cracked a tile or two up there...
I dashed downstars and yep it was sitting up on the roof... sadly Bonnie barked like mad , going bonkers to get at the huge thing... the absolute biggest bird Ive ever seen... It lifted off so majesticly and headed for the forest behind the house... wonderful...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Here today... Gone tomorrow...

Well we picked the grapes, well the few we had, mixed them with a few from some friends, and crushed them, put them in the vat and....within one day it all turned to Vinegar... yep sadly no new wine this year. We are among many in this area who have all had the same problem, due to infection in the grapes and the unusually warm weather...
We have a few litres left from last year but that will only last a few weeks...

The good news is that although the weather has changed and its been pouring with rain, the olives are looking very good for us this year, we wont have the huge crop of last year but what we have look great... plenty to last the year .... we hope...

The garden still plods on.... aubergines still loads every week... a few peppers still coming, and up untill the rain yesterday loads of cherry toms... I expect they are ruined by the time its finished... but we've done so well with toms this year Im not too sad... Im even still getting a couple of courgettes now and then too...

Rik managed to fence in a small patch of the bottom level for some winter veg, they are all coming on fine and it seems the rabbits are keeping out. So we'll have cabbage and leeks and turnips soon...
Sorry this was just a briefupdate, more next week...
busy busy busy

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Grape picking.

Well its that time of year again, wow how time passes when you're having fun ... yesterday, Rik cleaned out the barrels (the ones that are empty ) and the vat and crushing equipment and organised all the big drums we collect the grapes into ready to make the wine.
Sadly this year wont be the bumper crop of last Sept, but with our grapes and a friends few vines we should manage a couple of hundred litres. We still have maybe a 150 litres left from last year too so we'll not go thirsty...
We've had a suprise visit from an old friend of Riks and some other bikers from the uk , we had a lovely meal and very entertaining evening last night, so good to see old friends and hopefully make some new ones too. It also gave us the chance to talk bikes with people who understand us, which is one of the very few things we miss sometimes.

Theweather has picked up again, 30 degrees today, but nice and cool in the evenings and early mornings so we can get plenty done about the place.
Wood is still a priority, but we have to take time out for wine making too... another few weeks and we'll be picking olives, Ive still a few litres of oil left from last years bumper crop, and hope for enough to see us through another year. Such hard work though... well worth the effort, when you see that green gold come flowing out....
We use a very old tradional Lagar, that uses the old fashioned pressing mats and equipment, it takes a long time, from putting our olives in the crushing vat, to our oil coming out the other end, maybe around 5 hours... but we will go with some friends this year when they take theirs, and the Lagar has an outside kitchen/eating area with huge BBQ and oven, with tables and we'll all take our own food and fish and bread and wine and make a day of it. Everyone who goes there does the same, it turns into quite a day, with everyone sharing food and wine.... wonderful! Its just the kind of thing we came here for... community spirit, friendship.... and joy of life..

The garden is almost done, a few peppers will continue till the frosts, the cherry toms are doing well, and the aubergines still going like mad. The squashes are mainly all in and curing in the sun in the spare room balcony now.
Rik worked hard and rototilled me a small patch and fenced it off completely so we could replant cabbages, (40) leeks (30) and a packet of turnips and some Greleiros , a type of turnip greens used for soup. plus some oinion seeds as a trial... so we'll see how that goes, so far its proved to be rabbit proof.... fingers crossed!!!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

wow weather!!

Just when I feel we've seen it all, this wonderful place throws yet another suprise at us. The day before yesterday during the day the weather was excellent, hot and sunny and sky as clear as a bell. The blue skies we get here are so beautiful compared with the UK. Such deep deep blues.
I was just deciding to wash my hair, I generally sit up on the terrace to dry it in the sunshine. Rik called and said "take a look at that sky" well.... up from nowhere huge black clouds were boiling up and even as we looked a rumble of thunder came across the valley...
It didnttake long, within half an hour the whole sky above ther house was black, thunder rumbled and the odd lightning fizzed.
Then came the suprise... as the storm reached us , almost centred it seemed over the house, we heard ... clunk, clunk, clunk clunk clunk... great big... and I mean golf ball size hail stones... I mean bloody hell... it was and had been so hot during the day (well into the 80s) the ground was steaming as the hailstones hit... it was so heavey they settled for a while too... crazy....
It all lasted maybe an hour or so then was gone.
It has cooled down now, the temps are in the mid 70s and lovely and cool nights...
Great to be able to sleep and work hard too.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Garden.

The garden is still producing, well the top terrace is.. the main patch is all cleared and finished apart from the brussels, we had our first small taster of them the other day, hopefully many more to come during the autumn. Ive given up on the cabbage for the winter, the rabbits are just too good for me, Rik will have to completely clear the area, strim the outside edges, and move in the fence and strengthen it before the spring, but at present, its too hot (well into 90s again) and we are spending what cool time we get on wood cutting and stacking ...the wood store is our main priority for the winter. A friend was over the last few days and helped me on pine cone collection duty, we filled every sack we had in just one morning, excellent! Such a small amount of time and we will now have cones for lighting our fires with all winter...natures firelighters...
The top terrace is still producing food like mad... the big toms are finished, in all we had over 47 kilos.... yep thats right...47!!! Ive frozen tons, made passata, made chutney and een able to give lots away to friends... now the cherry toms are coming in too... exactly what I'll do with them Im not sure... we are trying to eat them every day so as not to waste too many, also the aubergines are still going like mad, again we've had loads, plus peppers by the millions, Im now letting the courgettes go to be marrows as I have loads of peaches and want to make peach and marrow chutney... mmmmnn yummy...
The butternut squash are amazing!!! So far this year we've given away 11, eaten 4, and I still have 35, I picked another 7 the other day and we still have new ones coming, in the heat if I pick them as soon as they turn pale creamy yellow I can ripen them on the balcony and the plants continue to produce new flushes of fruits...
Any recipe ideas for what to do with them all would be appreciated, we just roast them in chunks or make soup so far.... ideas please!!!

Friends.

Living out here has really made us focus on who our friends really are.... or were....
When we were planning and working towards this dream we obviously told all our friends what we were hoping to do, many were supportive, some dismissive (oooh you'll never up sticks and leave.. )but a few were very actively excited for us and the challange it involved. Those very few friends have been fantastic, have kept in touch and visited when all the others have fallen by the wayside. So much so that we can now list our friends back in UK probably on the fingers of one hand, but those that do remain have made up for all the others...
One of those friends has just gone home after popping out for a few days, it really was a joy to have her with us, the casual acceptance of our now somewhat different lifestyle to what we once had, the ease with which she fitted into the household, her eagerness to help with any work that was needed, and just her general enthusiasmn for our life here was just wonderful. And of course it was great for us to have her company for a while too.
We also have another couple who have come out every year since we came here, the first time just a matter of months after we arrived and have really helped and mucked in and supported our decisions with friendship ever since. And our friendship has grown even better as a result.
It really does make you appreciate these people, its not easy for them to come and stay when how we live is so different from what most are used to, our last friend had to sleep in our three man tent, put up in the ruin of what will eventually be our second bedroom, but she didnt even bat an eyelid... she enjoyed the waking up to the views of the forest as the ruin only has three walls at the moment...
These people have and hopefully will continue to enrich our lives with their friendship for many years to come.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Our doggies




Contentment

I was reading a post on a blog the other day, dont ask me which one, I seem to pop in on so many lately, and the theme was life changing moments.
It set me to thinking, something we have time for now we live here. What is the most important thing I have since coming to Portugal... well I cant say one thing above many, but one thats way way up there on the list is contentment. When you consider we have, in material means , many times less than we ever had in our lives, less money, less stuff (I dislike stuff) as in belongings, no tv, radio or home computer, few really of modern day 'things'. We've downsized our complete lives, but in so many other ways our lives are richer and more fullfilled then I ever dreamed they would be.
We effectively ´'got off´ the whole bandwagon, well as much as possible anyway, we've tried to take our pleasure and enjoyment in different ways, we look back to a simpler lifestyle where work wasnt a dirty word that everyone hoped to avoid. So much time in the UK was and is spent trying to avoid work, disliking work, inventing and buying 'labour saving devices' , whats actually wrong with a bit of hard work.... nothing really. providing that work is something you enjoy, something you feel is productive and relevant. We are lucky now, ours is...
We work harder here than ever before, but I have come to enjoy it, I like to look at the wood pile we've created, I know we'll be warm this winter.
I hope this isnt to much of a ramble... Im trying to make my thoughts coherent..
I think what Im trying to say is ... we look at things differently now, before I tried to fit so much into one day, everything was rushed and stressfull, now I try to just do my best at whatever Im doing, I enjoy cooking, so all our food is homemade, homegrown, and fresh. I mend our clothes rather than buy new, we try to simplify everything we can, including our attitudes to life and people . We dont crave what we know we'll never have, we are content with what we have, our house is still a semi ruin, it wll effectively take us the rest of our lives to finish, but thats not a problem.
We can enjoy our time, feel the glow of satisfaction of a job well done, enjoy the simple things like the swallows flying above the house in such intricate patterns, the Eagles calling to each other across the valley, the smell of the forest early in the morning, picking and eating our food fresher than ever... so many things we have.... such richness of life... we are blessed...

Friday, 28 August 2009


The terrace at night with the lamps and candles lit... mmmmnnn lovely and romantic...

Olive oil....
















Here we are, this was last years crop, we were lucky and had a huge crop, but its not so good this year but we are hoping for enough to see us through if im careful...

Hey hey..

It works, how good is that!! Yes I know, Ive been very dim about it but never mind, all done now, wow Im gonna be sticking pics in all over the place now.
Not much to say today really that I didnt say the other day, we are still sorting logs, still picking toms... I planted winter cabbage and the bloody rabbts ate half of them.... nothing new really. The little sods... Im going to let the hunters shoot them on our land this winter if they dont buck up their ideas... buck... hmmmm joke?

I think Im going to search back through our pics and try to find some of our olives being pressed traditionally last year.. I really wanted to show everyone how good it was but didnt know how. Maybe I'll go and try now...

Oooh pics.




Right, as Alice has kindly showed me how dim Ive been in doing the piccy thing all wrong, hopefully this should work and there will be two new pics level with this text, one is of the area outside Mara's Cottage and one a local Schisto village by night.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Pics

Ive added another couple of pics, I want them level with the text but it doesnt seem to want to do that... Im off for another fiddle about with this thing..
Pat

Working picking, working picking...

Thats all the days seem to be about this week, we've been madly working on the log pile for winter, we need an incredable amount of wood to keep me warm... well I didnt come all the way to Portugal to be bloody cold.. I can do that in Wales.
As we have guests arriving at the end of the week we needed to get at least the noisy bit done, the chainsawing and chop sawing bit... then rik splits it and I stack it... so far we've the barn almost half full... its a damn big barn!!! But we will have 2 if not 3 fires to keep stoked all winter. Plus the range to keep full up too... but its free...elbow grease costs nothing...
When Im not sawing and stacking or dragging it home as logs I'm picking veg and freeezing it... mind you the freezer is so jam packed Im not sure where much more will go...
At least all the squashes, pumpkins and spaggetti pumpkins will store well in the barn. We have loads!! Its the tomatoes Im having a problem with, Ive frozen tons, made passata, made pasta sauce (in jars) we've eaten them every day, plus had soup for lunch most days too... and still they come... Ive given tons away too. All in all we must have had around 40 kilos.... and the cherry toms are just starting now.... phew....Im not complaining though, and the aubergines are doing well , plus still loads of peppers coming, Im picking a few blackberries but again, having trouble finding space... we've done well with fruit this year, it seems everyone has a good year with plums as we've been given a lot...peaches are looking good too , just a bit more sunshine...
Its cooled down a little the last few days, its lovely, a good fresh breeze at night so we are getting some decent sleep... the forcast says we're in for 34degrees over the weekend though....

Friday, 21 August 2009

Photos!!!

Hehehehe Ive finally managed to put a couple of pics on here, its not quite where I wanted them, but hey... check out the bottom of the page for alook at the new sundeck Rik built and one of our local town...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Frugal Living Recipe.

Bean Burgers.

I tend to make loads and freeze them , its the closes thing we have to fast food...

The amounts are basic... I also use a 2 litre jug as a measure,

Soak enough dried beans (I use a mix of borlotti and black eyes beans) to one third.... ish fill a 2 litre jug, when fully soaked this will almost fill the jug... I tend to soak over night at least!

Bring to the boil then simmer till soft.
Drain, (save the cooking water) put beans into large mixing bowl, using hand wizzer blend roughly, I leave about a third of the beans whole for texture.. add a beaten egg, a good couple of handfulls of oats, maybe more... depends how wet your mixture ends up... a couple of ounces of good strong grated cheese, a small tin of sweetcorn, a tablespoon or so of seseme seeds a medium onion finely chopped, a real big dollop of soya sauce, and chopped mixed herbs (whatever ones you like) I tend to use parsely, coriander and of course garlic... a good two or three heaped tablespoons of plain flour, at this stage if its dry add a little of cooking water, it will firm up when you leave it to cool anyway...

Leave to cool well, prepare large tray lined with greaseproof paper, put well seasoned flour into a dish, take a dollop, I use a table spoon , and roll in seasoned flour, shape with hands to desired size and put on baking tray , fill tray with as many as poss, and freeze.
These can then be put into bags when solid... fry with a little olive oil and onions when needed, they only take a few mins...
¨**** I put the leftover bean cooking water into a pan, add chopped onion, chopped carrot, a stock cube, any other leftover veggies I have, A hand full of small elbow pasta, simmer till soft, and season to taste...
Veggie soup for lunch...

Friday, 14 August 2009

Frugal Living Recipe.

Chickpea and Veggie .... sort of stew thingy...

Sorry but all the amounts are quite vague as Im not a very precise cook, a handful of this, a dollop of that...

I have a litre jug and use that to soak dried beans etc...for Rik n me I'd soak only a coffee mug of dried chickpeas, when soaked they'll swell to about half a jugfull, which is plenty.

So...
Chickpeas, as above.
3-4 big toms sliced
3-4 small green peppers (I pick mine about the size of an orange) chopped.
1 big onion, 2 if you like...chopped
A couple of small aubergines or 1 large.. diced.
a good big handfull of sliced green beans...
I used a chunk of cauliflower I had left over too,
A good half teaspoon thyme.
chopped parsley.... to taste.
A good dollop of homemade passata..
A good dollop of olive oil.
Hot pepper sauce to your taste... optional...
Veg stock cube.
Soak and cook chickpeas... (boil for a few mins then simmer till soft... add a bay leaf and herbs but not salt or they'll be tought)

Meanwhile, in a heavey bottomed pan , fry off in olive oil, onions, toms, aubergines... add thyme,and parsley... simmer till all soft and melded together... add a dash of water , crumble in stock cube... add rest of veggies and simmer till soft and fragrant... add passata and hot sauce to your taste... (some may want to add a sprinkle of sugar if toms were not very sweet) Add chickpeas and cook for a few mins to let them absorb the flavours...

Serve with boiled rice.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Frugal Living Menus

Ive had a few people get in touch regarding food, a lot of people in the UK are trying the 'living on a fiver' or £1 pppday type of thing, the way we live all the time... Ive had enquiries for some menu plans so here is a weeks worth...

Please try to remember, we grow all our own veg, we cook on a log fired range (so its free) and I dont have to go out to work all day so meals can be labour intensive and it doesnt matter... your lifestyle may well be very different!

Day 1. B-fast -
Porridge made with half milk half water (dont tell Rik that) plus half a chopped apple and maybe cinnamon if I have some.

Lunch. Either homemade soda bread and marmite if we have it, or quite often homemade soup, (dried beans, left over veggies)

Dinner. Soya spaggetti Bol. (soya granules, aubergines, onions, toms, peppers, sliced green beans if I have them.. double portion made as used for tomorrow too)
Slice of white melon (portuguese melon 30 cents a kilo at the mo!)

Day 2. Toasted soda bread , or yogurt and an apple, (Ive found a local shop that sells 16 yoghurts for E1.75 !

lunch. leftover yesterdays soup, and fresh bread.

Dinner. Lasagne (made with soya and sauce from yesterday,) tomato & onion salad, and fruit parcels. (apple, blackberries, sultanas , dusted with cinnamon and a tablespoon of honey in foil sealed and put on the range for a few mins while we eat dinner) mmmmnn yum.

Day 3. B-fast. Boiled agg toast or yoghurt and apple.

Lunch Home made tomato and pepper soup, fresh soda bread. - slice of melon.

Dinner. Homemade beanburgers (I make 30-40 at a time and freeze them costs pennies) potatoes, cabbage, green beans and carrots. (cook extra veg for tommorrow)

Day 4. Toast and honey.

lunch. Bubble and squeak plus an egg ...

Dinner. Chickpea and veggie stew with rice. Melon, or blackberry crumble..

Day 5, Porridge.

lunch. Tomato sandwiches, with homemade soda bread, olives,

Dinner. Roasted veggies n eggs. (potatoes, courgette, aubergines, baby onions, butternut squash, toms, carrots)

Phew.... I think that'll do for now.... I'll try to post some recipes for these soon...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

August update...

Wow has it been that long since I did this... I just dont know where the days go.. Well 2nd week in August and its hot....bloody hot.. when I say hot I mean over 100degrees at our place... thank God we have the pool, its only an above ground one and not a flash built in job but boy is it heaven in this weather... there's nothing like it..
The trouble with this weather is that its just too hot to get anything done... we do try to get up early and accomplish something in the cool of the early morning, but the last couple of days its just not been possible as we've been awake most of the night (too hot to sleep) so we tend to sleep late in the morning , well late for us is 8 o clock...Our problem is a uninsulated roof... half of our placew still is just tiles, you look straight up to the tiles and there is nothing to keep us cool. Even with a ceiling in the bedroom it still gets very hot... mind you I do think even with insulation it would still be too hot... thats just how it is, we know that and its something we cope with for the few weeks of the year its like this... part of 'Living the dream' . By the end of summer I actually long for winter and the cooler weather... but at least we know during winter that sometime the rain will stop and we'll get a fantastic summer... unlike the UK when it seem never to come...
Well the garden has gone to pot... the main area is more or less finished now, all done and in the freezer, there are still a few cabbages, brussels and a late crop of onions to come, meanwhile we work on the top area, with the toms peppers and aubergines and squashes... all are going great guns, Ive harvested 27 butternut squashes already and a 2nd flush of small ones are coming now... the toms have been fantastic, kilos and kilos... soon I'll have enough for the winter in the freezer so will be making passata and sauce etc.
we expect to be eating courgettes, peppers toms and aubergines well into oct when we get early frosts sometimes...
The freezer is jam packed with our produce as we expect winter to be tricky this year moneywise, we've had rentals in the cottage but Rik s had very little work so have next to no reserves now, Ive madly marketing our cottage and hopefully that will keep ticking over this year. We need so little money to keep going, so Im not too worried really... Ive stockpiled loads of stuff just in case though... shame you cant grow loo rolls..

We are trying to concentrate on sorting out our wood barn , we still dont have enough for the winter, its just trying to find time to fit it in...
Im making chutney and pickling tons, also set to start blackberrying, they are so late this year, trouble is not much room left in freezer now...

well thats it for now
Pat

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Hmmmm Aubergine Bake

As we've had a great success with aubergines and Rik isnt too keen... Ive had to get making different ways to cook them... this is the best one so far... he loves it...

3 large aubergines sliced.
2 onions,
tomato sauce, thats sort of a Passata stuff not heinz!
plenty good stong cheese sauce to cover the lot.

Fry the aubergine slices gently till golden brown, fry off onions till soft, layer baking dish with aubergines, onions, tom sauce untill full, then top off with cheese sauce and bake till all is soft and brown and bubbling.... hmmmmm yum.

I serve it with rice n beans and plenty of veg... cauli and carrots make a nice colourful plate...

Summer update.

Well its mid July, the weather is still a little strange at times, one week in the high eighties low nineties next week... overcast and rain, but Im not complaining, it means we've got more work done and I get to sleep at night more often.
The pool has been a gem this year, I dont know how we ever managed without it, although its not a posh in the ground tiled huge thing, (its an above ground 15 metre round one) its perfect for us and we tend to have at least one dip every day... now the sun deck/terrace is finished too, it really looks lovely, its all tiled and you can walk straight to the pool ladder now, the back terrace wall is stepped with irregular shelves that we have decorated with plants and laterns and candles for at night... its beautiful!! Cant you tell I just love it....hopefully we'll get some pics up on the website soon, Rik is actually building the new BBQ/summer kitchen under the seating area today, so that whole area will be done then... he's worked so hard ..maybe have a little BBQ party next week to celebrate...
The garden is still cropping heavily, tons of weeds, they have taken over at the mo, I just cannot keep up, as stuff comes out and we get empty space, the weeds just take over... never mind, we just treat it as green manure and plough it in later...
We ate the first tomato yesterday... still warm from the sun, you just cannot beat the taste...
tons of peppers, aubergines, caulis, french beans, courgettes too... the squash are looking fab, more leeks coming on, millions of cabbage and the brussels have baby ones coming... we even had parsnip thinnings baked with butter and a pinch of sugar the other night.... stunning..

The cottage has done well and we still have more guests to come...

Im still madly stashing away food and all kinds of grocery stuff for the winter, in case we have a tricky winter like last year, this time I'll be ready, the freezer is groaning even now...

We really have to spend some serious time on the wood barn though, times getting short to get it filled up... there just doesnt seem enough hours in a day at the moment...

For all those who were kind enought to ask... Bonnie is fine again now, still digging up my yard...

Monday, 6 July 2009

Update

Well the van initially failed its safety check.... what a bummer... but at least you get a month to remedy stuff and get a 6 euro recheck... it was nothing that Rik couldnt fix, so he took it again this morning and .... HURRAH!!! we are legal and back on the road...
Its been an expensive time again lately and we have to really tighten up an already tight belt, although we have rentals in the cottage, we have to try to acrue a small cushion for when the winter comes.
Our lovely Bonnie cost us 80 euros the other day, she'd been shaking her head a lot for the past three days, I'd looked, bathed and ointmented her ears but to no avail, Rik loaded her into the van complete with waterproofs as she's generally car sick (yes he drove illegally but needs must) and she quivered and drooled and shook all the way to the vets, he examined her and discovered a nasty wound so far in it was almost in her inner ear... he had to knock her out to locate it, then panicked a little as she went under so deep it was dangerous, he hadnt realised just how tired she was ...she hadnt slept much for a few nights, he gave her something to bring her round a little and she was fine. He seems to have sorted the ear out, we put some liquid in every day and she's much better now...
Somethings cost a lot but mean so much its irrelevent in the end...

The Garden
Well we've pulled the green beans... they all had some kind of blight and were no good, the french beans seem okay and are producing plenty.
Caulis are coming on nicely, we've had four so far, but a little smaller than I'd hoped...
The potatoes are fantastic...
Onions , lots and all plaited and hung up ....
peppers producing nicely..
toms are loaded... still green though...
Courgettes still plenty,
the squashes are going mad....
Parsnips coming on..
Beetroot.... bloody beetroot.... tons!

My life is a mad dash between the garden and the kitchen to process it and freeze it all....

At least the weather is good, actually its strange, cooler than normal for this time of year but for me thats not bad, we can work and sleep ...
Pat

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Storm!!

Wow what a storm we had , the day before yeaterday just out of nowhere it clouded over, started thundering and then for almost 12 hours it rained.... and rained, and rained... and then it rained some more... our drive up to the house which is actually a Municipal road is now a mud track... its never been good but is now dreadful... Rik is going to approach the Camera(council) and try to get something done, the logger lorries just ruin the roads... at least we are lucky and have two ways in, the road down from the village through the forest although its not great is still better and passable ...
No van on the road yet... we've done the track rod ends, the master cylinder and now three new tyres... bloody hell, three!!! so expensive, Rik then taxed it and this morning has took it to have the engine steam cleaned and spruced up ready for a test this afternoon.... fingers crossed!!
It taken all the money we've saved during the last few weeks to get it this far...

The Garden.
Well we're now eating courgettes (well I am as HE doesnt like them) every day and freezing them for soup in the winter, plus first early green peppers, the butternut squash are everywhere....Aubergines , tons... the french beans are really picking up now, the black fly just vanished... the problem with the green beans hasnt though and sadly I may pull them all within the next few days...
The first of the caulis are coming on nicely and look as if we'll be eating some soon...
Tomatos.... wow... millions , all green yet but with luck we'll have a bumper crop this year...
Sadly all this rain mid season wont help the grapes at all, already some are splitting....

Thursday, 25 June 2009

And there's more...

Hmmmm no update for weeks and then suddenly I'm here three times in a week...
We've had some luck and Rik's off to price up the tyres for the van, they are really expensive out here... and hopefully within the next few days we'll get it on the road again.
Its been a while and my inflamed coccyx really protests at all the time spent on the bike, i'm just learning to live with it and sit 'differently' bending over weeding also puts pressure on but stopping that just isnt an option at the moment... anti-inflamatories just upset my stomach so it seems Im stuck with it for the time being.... luckily i seem to have a reasonably mild case as its uncomfortable but not agonising as some folk get it...

The Garden...
Beetroot.... bloody beetroot, Ive now pickled 9 kilos of the stuff... but according to Rik he will need about 25-30 jars to see him through the winter.... damn piggish if you ask me... Im also experimenting with freezing it part cooked at the moment...
As we eat a lot of beets hot with cheese sauce... mmmmmnnn lovely, then I need a way of keeping them for the winter, so Im par boiling and cubing and freezing it... I've done one portion and will then cook it from frozen in the oven and see how it is... let you know later...
The cougettes are coming on, loads of them , Im leaving two plants to grow huge ones for chutney... but eat the others just tossed in herby garlic butter.... yummy.
We've also got quite a few butternut squash coming on now, plus some spagetti pumkins too, any ideas what to do with the spag pumpkins would be a great help....

The peas came out and Rik retilled the area and we've replanted loads more parsnips and of course the dreaded beetroot...
I have parsnips already in the ground but never seem to get them in the ground to get a frost so they taste a little different... this batch should stay long enough....

This time of year is so busy for us... the land needs so much work with weeding, planting , harvesting pickling etc.. we are also madly trying to chop and stack enough wood for the winter, we need to fill a whole barn to the roof to have enough for our range cooker, the fire upstairs and the cottage fire too... it takes loads of work.. but its worth it, it gives me such a feeling of security to know our barn is full....

Im also busy stock piling and stashing food everywhere.... We were a little caught out last year, rik had no work during the cold wet winter and with the economic crisis cottage rentals were poor, luckily we had a few savings and tons of food put by, but it got a bit tough at times, I fully expect this year to be equally as tough, but this time I'll be ready!!!!
Every time I go to the shop I buy something extra, if we have a little money I buy a few things, if we're skint its just a packet of stock cubes or a 50cents tin of tuna... but always something, coupled with the garden , we'll be well set up for the winter. (I have 20kilos of rice....)

Well I think thats about it for now....
Pat

Friday, 19 June 2009

More...

I didnt get time yesterday to give a complete overview of the last few weeks.... we've been so busy its impossible to remember it all...
Although money has been tight, our quality of life has been as always (since coming to Portugal) excellent, we were giggling to ourselves only the other evening about it... we had not a penny to our names at that point, but the sun was shining , we'd just had a dip in our pool and were sat up on our balcony looking at the view with a glass of our own red wine eating fresh cherries and icecream.... bliss!!!
The sun deck area is almost finished, another few days and it will be done, Rik has had to work so hard, the stones he's used for the lovely steps are piles outside my backdoor, to get them to the deck area he has to load two at a time in the wheel barrow, push it up hill to the top gate (the bottom one is steps) across the rough ground to the road, down the hill across the car park , across the front of Mara's Cottage and up to the deck area.... phew.... its been weeks of hard grind , bless him...but it will be stunning when finished and I light it with candles and lamps in the hot evenings...
Cola and Bonnie are very well, Cola in fact has a new lease of life.... a friend sent over some Devil's Claw for him... its been a few weeks and the difference is remarkable!! He runs around likea young dog now. Rik has been on the same thing now for a couple of weeks and is starting to feel the benefit... less joint aches and pains.... when he starts licking his balls I'll know he's as well as Cola...
Bonnie is the same as normal.... digging up the garden any chance she gets...-
Well, thats about it. we have friends over from the UK , and are getting ready to Party... Its our local Figueiro Dos Vinhos town Festa for the next four days!! The lights are up, there's a party atmosphere everywhere, tomorrow we'll be in town for the evening for a meal and a few drinks, listen to the bands and just soak up the spirit of the thing. Free Sardines and bread supplied by the Camera (town hall) mmmmnn.

Pat

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Late, late update...

So sorry to all our followers who have contacted us about not updating the blog, yes thanks we are fine, its just been down to a whole series of things, good and not so good...
To start with the dosh situation was terrible, so we were actively trying NOT to come into town and waste fuel on non essential things ... plus, the garden just takes so much of my time and energies during the summer months, its been fantastic, we've been cropping so much stuff, eating and freezing peas, eating new spuds, ... mmmmnnn yummy! For the first year ever Ive had a great success with onions and we've now pulled them and after a few attempts Ive managed to plait them attractively and hung then up in the cubby. All the ones which went thick neck or hadn't grown suitable, I chopped and froze as green onion, which we love. The first crop of leeks is in the freezer too, Ive been madly picking beetroot for what seems forever, Ive sweet pickled 6 kilos already, we've had tons of beetroot surprise, Riks been eating them boiled like apples.. and still they come!!! The leaves are a good substitute for spinach too.. Our first two Aubergines went into some pasta sauce the other night along with courgettes, I picked the first bucket full of green beans today too... its all go.... but we are eating from the garden every day, more lettuce than ever before, a few probs though, black fly on the french beans, we've sprayed with soft soap but no different... some of the green beans have a rusty looking spots on them... Ive pulled the plants and got rid of them, we put it down to the incredibly humid weather... its been in the 90s a lot but quite wet at times too...
Jaqui and Jay(followers of this blog) arrived, and stayed with us for a few days... what lovely people, we hope to remain firm friends for a long time... it gave us a few days nice riding with friends on the bikes...
The van is still off the road due to dosh problems, no insurance and needs new tyres... it maybe a while... But rentals for the cottage seem to be picking up a little now the exchange rate is better, so who knows!!
Must go. food to pick...
Pat

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Update... Mmmmm fresh veg..

Hmmmm I'm sorry its taking so log to update this blog recently, but with the veggie patch flourishing I'm kept busy down there most of the time, the lovely thing is, not only are we eating our own lettuce (have been for weeks) we now are digging beautiful new spuds .... oooh you cannot beat that taste... plus last night we had Beetroot suprise made with our own lovely beets, mmmmmmn, it was an almost completely homegrown free meal, beetroot suprise ( ours with a little bought cheese for the sauce) new spuds, ours, brussels from the freezer , ours from last season, plus I cooked the beetroot tops as spinach with a dot of butter and black pepper... a nice homemade loaf of Soda bread, a glass of our wine.... what more could you want....
The peas are in pod, just waiting for them to fill up.... the french beans and green beans have flowers on... the onions are huge!! Its all go...
The only failure was the broad beans, I put them in too late, andwe got hit by black fly... so we made the hard choice to take them out and burn them, rather than have it spread to the whole patch.... the french beans have a few on but Im sure they'll manage now the main source of infection is gone...

Electric Bill!!! Hoorah!!! we had a bill..... and it wasnt scary.... all our economies have really paid off now, as our last one was still part estimated they had to pay us some back, so all in all our bill was 11euros.... logically taking into account the back payment... and the fact that we had had guests in the cottage ... our normal bills should now range between 30 and 40 euros... which will be wonderful compared to the 90 -150 euro ones we were getting....
Unless you have many many gadgets, and tons of white good... DONT go on the duel meter saving thingy...

Normal day...
Ive had a few people asking about our lifestyle and in reply this is my average, normal day.... yesterday...

I got up around 6am, Rik had a bad night with backache so I got up to see to the dogs, we walk them early before the forest gets busy with loggers etc.
Feed the dogs.
Light the kitchen range...
Make coffee when range is hot...
I made six loaves of soda bread for the freezer, so if we eat salad and dont light the range , we always have bread.
I went to garden and picked loads of lovely baby beetroot to make a beetroot suprise for dinner, then dug a few new spuds to go with them.
Decided to try cooking the beet leaves like spinach for tonight.... mmmmn lovely...
topped and tailed the beets and cooked them...
Had loads of beet leaves left so made Pesto... loads of beet leaves, big handful each of.. fresh parsley, coriander, dill, a few sage leaves, a few mint leaves, 4 cloves of garlic , salt and olive oil.... all wizzed up in the blender... put into sterilised jars , cover top with oil as seal...
Lunch time, as we had loads of eggs given to us, we had scrambled eggs and bread n butter, and fruit...
stoke the range with wood...
Get another barrel ful in..
two loads of washing (30degree setting, only takes half an hour) washed dried and folded away...
I'm experimenting with the dehydrated soya chunks as they are cheap... so soaked some, and cooked it in onions and garlic with a dash of marmite, a stock cube and some soya sauce, it wasnt too bad... a tad on the salty side but , edible... needs more experimentation though....
Planted 14 cherry tom plants a friend managed to germinate cos I couldnt....
stoked the range.
Cooked the dinner , washed the dishes, walked the dogs... and settled down to read a lovely herb book Ive been lent... bed at 10.30...
So there you are, not what some would call exciting, but I love it... there is always work to do, but we dont think work is a dirty word... work is only work if you dont enjoy what you're doing... and we love it!!!

Pat

Jay& Jaqui !!!!

Ive been trying and trying to leave you a comment and invite you to ours... your blog wont let me... please email me ASAP!!! email is on contacts page on the website..

Saturday, 2 May 2009

A Poo Mountain...

Ooooh, the circus came to Figueiro and left us a present... while we really dont like the idea of animals in the circus, I felt the tons of poo they left behind was just too good to miss... lovely Rik went and collected a huge trailor full of it, Lion poo, Camel Poo, Llhamas etc... and its all excellent stuff, really given our compost heap(which is now a sizable mountain) a great boost...

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Update

Well, it seems ages since Ive had time to update this blog, but if you asked me all what Ive been doing to use up my time.... well.... ummmm not sure really, the weather has turned a bit hit n miss, Ive been in the garden as much as possible, as this time of year it needs constant attention or the weeds just take over completely, the universal question is ... how come weeds grow quicker than my plants? Ive cooked a lot as we've had friends over to eat a few times, and as we try to make sure all our food is fresh and not processed (we dont eat chemicals or additives) the cooking and prep can be time consuming, but we wouldnt have it any other way. Some friends once commented that we tend to live how life was 40 odd years ago.... hmmm maybe... Im not sure on that but we do try to live as simply and well as possible but just without the mod cons a lot of UK people are used to having. Food grown and cooked the old way is more healthy and tasty...
Rik is dashing here and there, a few days working helping other people with gardening and odd jobs, we've had some lovely guests in the cottage, and Rik is also trying in his spare time to push on with building the sun deck for the pool.
Ive been madly sprinkling seeds (flowers) about to try to pretty up the guest area for the summer and as we are promised temps in the mid 80s within a few days I expect great things soon!!
Rik's been out on the bike a few times recently but sadly I bruised my coxix ? and havent managed to get on the back yet ... the hot weather will soon remedy that though. I just cannot seem to shift the pain..
Im busy planting herb seeds and picking wild herbs as I want to really improve my knowledge of herbal remedies this year, so far Ive got, Sage, Parsley, Coriander, Basil, Dill, Borage, Hysssop, Thyme(but hasnt come up yet) Lavender, Mullien, Camomile and Nettles. Anyone coming over and bringing anything different would be very welcome!! Im happy to swap seeds ...
And finally too finish, Jaqui and Jay!!!! Ive joined your blog but it woont let me add a comment... please email me your email adress.
Pat

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Bloody Rabbits!!!

Got up this morning and bloody rabbits had been in the veggies and half the cabbage plants are gone and a few brussels too... I know its rabbits cos they dig holes too... little buggers!
We now have to try to fence the areas we think they are getting in before tonight as now they know they can, one more night and the lot will be gone... the idea that they eat lettuce is a myth, they didnt touch them and we have three rows scattered around the patch, fencing seems the only way as I couldnt use poison or traps ect ...
Such a shame as those cabbages were really coming on well too....
The weather has changed again, we are having a few days of wet... I'm not moaning we needed it badly, it had been almost 8 weeks since it rained and the land needed it . It also increases the chance of forest fires when its so dry so early in the year, so this wet stuff is actually very welcome. Just so long as it doesnt last too long...
Some friends who stayed with us recently sent us some Herbal tablets for Cola as he's been getting a bit stiff and achey lately (he's eight now) The Devils Claw pills are having a fantastic effect on him, 4 days and an improvement already... he has so much more go in him now, so he's more mobile and actually chased Bonnie round the garden this morning, we are so pleased!
Im actually going to look at the stuff for us!!!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Poooh

What wonderful jobs fall to me... yesterday I spent the afternoon manuring the veggies... by hand...
Hmmm as we have so little money at the mo, we wanted to use the organic fertiliser as sparsely as possible, it really really REALLY stinks... its guano mixed with other organic matter... excellent stuff but phew... so as we could only afford one bag, and you have to be careful as its so strong if you get it on any plants it burns them, the easiest way was for me to sprinkle it by hand... Rik kept well away... he did find me an old pair of surgical gloves from the firstaid box though... Bless ..
We've had a busy week again, strimming, planting shrubs (ones I've dug up from roadsides so cost us nothing) a few heathers Ive also transplanted from around the hedges,t there are so many plants growing wild over here that you pay for in garden centres in the UK, I only take one from here another from there, so as not to deplete the natural look.. as well as weeding and generally tidying up and making the place look prettier...

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Frugal Living,

Just a insight to our lives... in answer to a few questions from followers..

Im not sure wether how we live comes under simplistic living, downsizing or frugal living... it all covers us really.
We came here to escape the daily grind of a consumer lifestyle, the hamster on a wheel type of life that means the more you seem to earn the more you need...
Ive never been a 'keeper' of material things and now in some ways i'm worse and some ways even more minimal. I drive Rik crazy with my obsession with keeping things that will be useful... like plastic bags, bubble wrap... odds and ends of string etc... Ive even kept two old leaky hotwater bottles... the rubber maybe handy one day... I just feel that kind of stuff is good... what I throw away or wont buy is electrical things... they cost too much to run... ornaments... too much dust... and any kind of clutter really.... Our clothes are a general rag bag of worn out things.. I never throw clothes away untill they turn to dust... everything can always be mended .. Its just getting Rik to agree to wear them... We keep a couple of sets of goodish clothes to wear when we go out to town and thats it... The rest is mended and darned to hell....if its warm and comfy who cares...
We live such a simple life, good homegrown organic food, mainly veg and pulses, we drink our well water and our own organic wine, we have our own olive oil, add a little pasta, rice and now and again a small amount of meat... wonderful. All our cooking and heating is free, we use logs from the forest.
We have no TV, radio or internet at home, I love the peace... we dont need 'The News' its all bad anyway.... There is an internet space in town which i'm using now.... its very accesable and free....We read, do crosswords, play scrabble, go out on the bike if we have fuel, and just actually talk to each other ...As I enjoy cooking we tend to invite people over to eat with us and thats our way of socialising, as even if we have no money we tend to have loads of food..
Our days are spent either building /working on the house in someway, or on our land, there is always something that needs doing, Rik does help out other people with the odd day of casual work to bring in a few euros now and then, plus we have the cottage rentals at times.
But money is always practically none exsistant, but its not a problem, we have most of what we need right here at home, food , warmth, and a comfy bed.

Pat

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Brief Update

Well the weather has changed slightly.... its cooled a little during the day, down to mid 60s but still mild and sunny, the trouble is we have had three nights now with sharp bloody frosts.... The first one caught us really on the hop, and our peppers and toms got a bit of a blasting, we've lost a few peppers but I think we've managed to save the toms... a few french beans are looking a tad on the sad side too but not as bad as first expected.
Rik very quickly rigged up some little tents for the peppers and toms as they are on the upper level and get the worst of it, the beans must take their chances as the area they cover is just too big for us to try to cover them over.
he's now working hard digging footings for the sun deck for the cottage, bless him its hard work as its solid rock down there...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Spring!!!

The weather is still gorgeous, Spring has sprung and I heard my first Cuckoo on tuesday and almost everyday since. The woodpeckers are still at it and we have butterflies everywhere, its wonderfull , just as if summer has come three months early.

My butternut squash are coming up as are the pumpkins, everything else is going great guns, I'll buy another doz lettuce plugs today as the others will be ready to eat within a couple of weeks...

Rik has finished his work helping out other people and now next week will continue with building the BBQ and sun deck area for the cottage.
Its looking really pretty down there now, one of the roses Dad and Rik bought me for Christmas is already flowering, a peach coloured bud... smells heavenly...

Friday, 20 March 2009

Planting, planting planting...

The lovely weather continues, its gorgeous, yes I know its not especially good as it increases the threat of forest fires later in the year when we have such hot weather so early.... but I cant help it! Its beautiful....We are BBQing out on the terrace, eating salads... its just like summer in March....
The trees are now starting to leaf up and the grass is green again, all my spring bulbs have flowered and gone, even our vines are starting to bud up now....

The work in the veg patch continues, I spent two hours hoeing yesterday morning while it was cool, we now have 60 caulis in and flourishing, all the leeks, lettuce, and toms and peppers. The broads beans are 4 inches high and the peas shooting up way beyond that... all the beans are now coming through , another week and they'll be up and away... I love it... everything sprouting and looking so lush and fertile...
Just waiting for my squashes to get going and the okra and then Im done..... well the easy bit is anyway... the hard bit is keeping it all tidy and weed free. I generally spend 3-5 hours a day down there durig the main growing season... I love the peace and time to enjoy working on the land.
Work on the house has come to a halt again at the mo as Rik has had a few days work here and there helping other people, but thats finishing soon so he'll be able to crack on with the BBQ area for the cottage and complete the sun deck by the pool for them too.

I've had to stop taking Bonnie with me when I go for my early morning walk, I came across three lots of bloody caterpillars the other day all within a 50 yard stretch of path, she's good and doesnt seem to go near them (the vet says she remembers the last time) but I cannot take the risk, I couldnt carry her that far home by myself.... never mind only a another few weeks are the main threat will be over.

We are still trying to find time for wood collecting, we are still using the range for cooking, but only lighting it early evening just in time for the meal and then letting it go out, I hope to keep this up right into the summer till it gets too hot to bear doing it... It saves us a fortune in gas.

We are still not using the fridge, its not a problem even now its warmer, our cubby is stone built and still lovely and cool, later in the year I will need to use the cooler bag I think but Im sure we'll manage . The cost of electric we save is great, and if the weather stays like this, I'll be doing most small washing in the concrete tank in the garden so that will help there too. It seems daft to use the automatic when the tank in the yard works so well. But Im not doing that in winter!!! I see poor old ladies in the middle of winter with their hands in freezing water washing clothes....
well thats it for now.
Pat

Monday, 16 March 2009

Caterpillar Continued

In reply to requests for more info ...
The medicine we use is prednislerone, that spelling is not correct but very nearly, its a human pill and we get it from the local chemist , comes in various strengths, the dosage is about 2mg per kilo of weight of your dog, it works like magic, .
The trouble is we cannot leave the dogs in the garden for long at a time at this time of the year as we have pine trees near the garden fence and the caterpillars travel quiet a distance, and if you leave it too long before treatment the dog would die.

Yes we went to our neighbours to eat, it went well except I couldnt join in the talking much, as there were ten people and so much noise, the voices all just blended and made it harder to understand, but we had a great night, loads of lovely food and great company.

The weather is fantastic, the last few days has been glorious, mid to high 70s and set to stay that way ..

Monday, 9 March 2009

Processionary Caterpillars

The lovely warm weather returned after a couple of days rain, but has brought with it bloody nasty caterpillars, they are so dangerous to our dogs, and to us if we touch them, we've set fire to 5 lots in 10 days now, its the only way to safely destroy them. We keep medicine in the house especially labeled with exact dosage for each dog just in case, lucky we do as a couple of years ago, if we hadnt had the pills my lovely Bonny would have died.

We've continued on with the planting, 200 onions, loads of green beans, french beans, coriander, and parsley.
The spuds are showing through the ground already as are the peas and beetroot....

Its all go.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Wild Winds...

Wow are we having some weather ! All day yesterday and all night we had howling gales, it was so loud last night we couldnt sleep much, its calmed a little this morning but seems to be building again now. I do love wild weather and boy do we get it up at Bouça during the spring and autumn. There is nothing to do but batten down and stay by the fire.... unless like me you come into town instead... hehehehe
A quiet day tomorrow, must wash and dry my hair by the fire as we have been invited to a meal by an elderly neighbour, I must also make a Egg Custard Tart to take with us as she really likes them. We are looking forward to it lots, it will be a challenging evening as there will be no-one there who speaks a word of English so our Portuguese will be put to the test.
I spoke too soon in my last update, we had a electric bill yesterday, 25 euros cheaper than the last one, and half of that was estimated as we changed the meter halfway through the cycle...
I'm encoured but not overjoyed, we'll wait for the next one for a true reading...

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Work work work...

If anyone ever tells you retiring from the rat race is easy.... forget it... we work so much harder now than we ever did.
The weather until today has been beautiful. which means planting the veg continues, the ever needed wood is still in short supply which means loads of work to drag it out of the forest, loading the van, cutting stacking.... its an never ending job really. But don't take this as a complaint, it means we heat the house and cook for free.... It just means work. We plan to save up and buy 100 little eucalyptus saplings in the autumn to plant on our bottom patch of land, its good for nothing much as there is no water, then we hope that will be a source of firewood for when we are too old to work so hard collecting as we do now. Eucalyptus renews itself, it sort of coppice's so cutting down doesn't kill the stump and you always get new growth.
We've also resurfaced the front of the cottage area, concrete with pressed gravel, it looks lovely now so neat and clean. Rik will be starting work on building a summer kitchen area for the cottage in a few days so our guests can eat outside more easily, we have the blocks and materials for building the sun deck next to the pool too, so that will all be done by the start of the summer. Its great each year we manage to improve things a little. Rik also plans a small covered motorbike parking area before the hot weather .... its all go. Luckily we have access to huge amounts of wood for building so most things cost very little, just elbow grease....

No electric bills still.... seems ages, I'm actually eager to get one to see what difference the changes we've made have done.... oh God please let it have worked... I'll be p##sed if there is no difference...
We've painted the floors in the house with watered down paint, to stop the dust, its worked and looks so much cleaner and brighter, cement floors are the pits. But at the moment it cant be helped, until we can afford tiles, that's just how it is.

We've also cleared another terrace, the next one up above the veg plot, it will still be a while and much more work until its plantable, but hopefully by the end of the summer we'll be able to plant another eight or so olive trees up there. We still have so much land to clear and make use of, I have plans for almond trees, an orange grove and some more mixed fruit... and of course olives... I love olive trees... they are immortal... look into it... you'll see!!!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Sun, Sun, Sun !!!!

Oooh the weather has been glorious ever since my last update, the sun has shone every day and although its generally only 65-67 degrees its so good to feel the sun on our bones again.
Night time and morning are chilly, and we've had a slight frost a few times so Im not getting complacent.
Rik has worked hard and rototilled the whole veg plot for me, plus a new area on the upper level, as Im going to seperate the overhead watering areas from the ground watering areas to make life easier. Last few days we planted a few early spuds, cabbage, garlic and Jerusalem Artichokes. This week in go the peas, broad beans, parsnips, swedes, beetroot, maybe caulis and brussels too. Im going to put the squashes into seed pots this week to start off , I have to buy tomato plants and pepper plants as its never warm enough early enough for them at Bouça. This year I hope to barter some of my stuff for plants instead...
The cottage is picking up a little, a couple of bookings coming in now, and of course our biker friends who come in the summer have rebooked.
Thespare room has come to a halt due to all the other stuff going on outside, but the floor is in and the room is huge, it gets the morning sun and will be a smashing place.
Well off to market now...
Pat

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Update

The weather is picking up, a few days sun forcast... hoorah!! A couple of bookings too.... hey money...
Rik is working like mad on the spare room, the pillars to support the balcony are now done, and support beams being cast later today... hmmm maybe the whole floor will be in and ready to concrete by the end of the week...
The door did get put on the downstairs adega so its less drafty down there ...
Im now going to rush home and actually get out on the veg plot....
Pat

Cheap soup

Hmmm a couple of recipes that may help Alan over on Tales from the edge of town blog

Quantity of veg depends on how many you are cooking for and how many days you want it to last, I make a biggish pot and eat it till its gone, generally 2-3 days (lunch with bread) and the dogs finish off the dregs ..

Potato and Onion Soup.

3 med Potatoes (either scrubbed and cubed or peeled if you like)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped.
As much garlic as you like chopped fine.
Any odd ends of veg, or 1 carrot chopped. (Ive used an odd outer cabbage leaf, or turnip tops or a leek)
a veg stock cube.
a dollop of olive oil.


Fry off the onion and garlic in the olive oil till soft, add the cubed spud and carrot and odd veg, stir and cook a few mins till all nice and coated with the olive oil. crumble in stock cube, stir again, add enough water to cover veg by about two inches and simmer till spud is very soft...
Blitz with hand blender for few seconds, this will thicken it up (always use spud as thickener for soup) taste and season if needed...
serve with soda bread recipe on here somewhere.


This works just as well with the addition of some left over cabbage, leave out the veg ends, I do the same thing with carrots and green beans, or soak a few dried beans over night , cook and add to make a big soup, pearl barley does just as well and no soaking...

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Update.

Well, the weather seems to be improving a little.... we had two days without rain... and now some days when it stops sometimes... I suppose you could say showers but the showers are still longer than the breaks... but we are seeing the odd sunny periods too... never mind soon be summer... then we'll be asking for rain !!!
The spare bedroom is moving along nicely, the blocks are in, and Rik is now building pillars to take the weight of the lovely balcony that room is having, he's having to repair some of the stone wall under there too as we have a bit of erosion, he assures me it nothing to worry about so I wont.... Hopefully he'll get time today to put the door on the downstairs adega, which leads off my kitchen, that will stop so many drafts...
Rik worked a day for some friends yesterday so we managed a few euros shopping today... I spent 11 euros!!! wow, not bad eh... Im also trying to persuade Rik to splash out on another low energy bulb for the dining area... but an equivelent 100watt one as the others are just too dim...
We are living downstairs at the mo as the range is alight all the time for cooking and it means we save dry wood in not lighting Bertha upstairs ... just means the bedroom is freezing....
Dry wood is a bit of a bugger at the mo, Im drying logs in the oven before we can burn them... luckily that oven is so efficent on a good day I can get ahead and am slowly building a little store of dry stuff now....
More soon.
Pat