Friday, 31 January 2014

Olive Oil is so versatile ........................

20th January
As we were leaving the village, to go to Fundao this morning, Mr Louis stopped us and asked if we wanted some eggs - he gave us a bucket full (33 eggs). We told him we were off to buy some laying hens and some meat birds, he said don't buy the white ones (meat birds) and grabbed hold of his throat and waggled it - what on earth did that mean?
So we bought six laying hens and ten brown meat birds - no reason other than he's coming up to advise us soon (on the garden) and we didn't want him to think we didn't take notice of him!!!
We came home via the people who are giving us the muscovies and they gave us a dozen duck eggs (I'd forgotten the bucket of chicken eggs when I said yes 'please'!); so tomorrow I will be making cake, Spanish tortilla, orange curd, mayonnaise, meringues - basically any recipe that uses eggs, olive oil, potatoes and oranges!
The new laying hens are slightly bigger than last week's hens, but that didn't stop the ones from last week bullying the new ones (they obviously feel at home), they'll soon settle down.
The eating chicks are only three weeks old, so they are living on the kitchen table in a cardboard box.
The sheep dog puppy follows us home now when we take Looby for a walk, it even tried to come into the house - it would be so easy to steal .................. it's so cute.

21st January
The chicks were in with us last night as we didn't want Looby investigating them - they chirped all night, tonight they'll stay in the kitchen!
Whilst I was feeding the chickens the puppy came to call, it wanted to play with Looby and it kept trying to come into the house - it takes all of our (my?) will power to shoo it away, Brett says if we don't it will be punished by the shepherd.
Can I come in please?

 

Today was wet and miserable so I cooked; I used my free oranges and eggs and my 1/2 price butter (from Lidl's) to make Orange curd - it makes a perfect breakfast stirred into Greek yoghurt and mixed with whipped cream it makes a lovely quick syllabub - I could add some of my orange liqueur too (yummy!).
I made mayonnaise with the free eggs and olive oil - I'm working on free lemons too, I'm going to try bartering them for olive oil with Claire. And I made a chocolate cake, which I couldn't use the eggs in as it's for our vegan visitors on Thursday, but I did use our olive oil! So all in all a pretty thrifty day.
We were very disappointed when we got water out of the Cleric's fonte, it's brown (Brackish?), so we won't be drinking that! Unfortunately we can only get the surface water, it's not like the village fontes with an ever flowing pipe, it's probably fine a few feet down.

22nd January
I spent the whole day doing housework, I did a proper 'spring clean', it was boring and exhausting and I really hate the vacuum cleaner! Worst thing is I know it won't last long, and then I have to do it all over again.
Brett finished the (duck) house for the chicks, so they are now outside; it's much quieter inside!
The puppy is becoming a regular visitor! We don't allow him in the house or feed him, in fact apart from a bit of stroking we try to ignore him so he goes back to the sheep. He followed us back to the house this afternoon when the shepherd's wife was outside sitting under the tree, so she knows he comes to see us.

23rd January
Karen, Jamie and Gypsy came to dinner today; I cooked a vegan meal -  spaghetti with a sauce made from olive oil,  the Greek style olives, onions, garlic and lemon juice served with a salad, the vegan chocolate cake for pudding, all washed down with our red wine or freshly squeezed orange juice.

24th January
Pam and I had another 'sewing day', at hers this time; I made a top and she made a skirt.
On our (Brett came to pick me up) way home we saw Claire and asked about swopping oil for lemons, she was more than happy and is bring a bag to Pam's tomorrow (2nd day of sewing).
Brett rotorvated the vegetable garden and got rid of all the grass that was growing through; it looks good. While he was doing it Louis (shepherd) arrived and called him over, he'd brought a lamb (dead) for us, he kills the male lambs quite young as, as he put it, they don't make milk so he doesn't have a use for them.

25th January
Pam and I had a very productive day today; I made a nightie, I bought from a charity shop, into a skirt and a jacket (with the addition of lots of lace) then I 'tea' dyed them along with the top I made yesterday. Pam had a pair of trousers, that looked like a skirt, which we transformed into a skirt with ribbon ties up the side - it looks so pretty; so we were both very pleased.
Claire brought me a lovely big bag of lemons which I will make into lemon curd (with our free eggs), lemonade, Moroccan preserved lemons and Claire suggested lemon flavoured olive oil - I can zest some and add them to a bottle of oil.
Louis (shepherd) said now was the time to prune the vines and showed Brett how to do it, which was very useful as it is one of the jobs he's been wanting to learn how to do.

26th January
Sunday, bloody Sunday ......... we were woken at 7.00 a.m. by the hunters raining lead shot down on our roof, it was impossible to get back to sleep (thank goodness there's only a few weeks left to the season). Brett asked one of the hunters, who was on our quinta by the chickens, what he was shooting at, he showed him - thrushes, sparrows etc. ........ why? is what I want to know.
The garden is drying out nicely so I decided it was high time I hoed the vegetable bed; grass is growing through the plants like crazy.
Brett tidied up some of the vines down the bottom of the vegetable garden and he got talking to one of our Portuguese neighbours (he doesn't live on the quinta it's his vegetable garden and he has a few chickens) who we haven't spoken to before as there is usually dense foliage between us and him, but it's winter so we could converse quite easily albeit across the boundary stream. He's really nice and of course he is an expert in vegetable gardening in Portugal. He told us we should plant tomatoes and peppers now, under plastic, so we're going to make a cold frame. He gave us cabbages, leeks and some seeds - the Portuguese are so generous. He also said it was too early to prune the vines, he said we should wait until February/March time.
P&M came around for a 'proper' Sunday lunch; lamb roast with rosemary and garlic, roast potatoes, broccoli (P&M's garden), cabbage (neighbour) etc, our wine followed by meringues (free eggs!) which we had to eat out of bowls because the whipping cream (UHT it's practically impossible to get fresh, or fresh milk) doesn't whip up to stiff peaks however long it's whipped for, it stays soft so there's no way it can be used in cakes - very annoying!

27th January
We went into Fundao; we had two coffee engagements - Nicky & Rich and a couple we hadn't met before. While the weather was bad, and there was nothing much to do, I did quite a bit of 'googling' ....... self sufficiency and Portugal was one of the searches I put in and I came across this interesting blog of like minded people (Karina & Alex) who it turned out live only a few miles from us, so I contacted them. They are lovely, completely on our wavelength, hopefully they'll come and visit us soon.
Bloody soddin' hunters not only do they leave their rubbish on our land, they poo on it (right out in the open) and leave it for us (Brett) to clear up. Brett was furious, I was too busy gagging to speak! He says he's going to confront them next week.
I'm all enthused about the vegetable garden so this afternoon I started off some seeds - 76 tomato (12 varieties) 18 aubergine (2), 36 chillis (6) and 54 sweet pepper (2), then I ran out of seed trays!! If I have too many plants I can always give them away or swop them.

28th January
What a disappointing start to the day, it was supposed to be sunny and I was going to finish hoeing the garden and plant a load of plugs - beetroot (bought from market yesterday) and the lettuce, escarole, onions, leeks and chard I have been meaning to plant out for a while ............... but we woke up to rain!!!! I forced myself to plant the beetroot plugs (60 odd), but the ground wasn't breaking up nicely (too wet) so I don't know how well they'll do.
Our track is really rutty, because of all the wet weather we've been having, we nearly get stuck in four wheel drive and ordinary cars have to park just inside our property. Brett filled in the worst ruts, but more rain is forecast so he'll probably have to do it again.
The sheep are no longer grazing our quinta, but they come back to be corralled at night, however the puppy is left on the quinta all day (his guard duty is a night time job), so he just follows us about all day and whines at our door when we go inside!
An absolutely horrid afternoon = video and sweets!!!! We watched V for Vendetta, it was OK, and ate chocolate sitting on the sofa in front of the stove, it was cosy.

29th January
It was cold today, not frosty, but cold enough to warrant wearing hat and gloves. We noticed that the tops of the mountains are, again, white - what fell on us as rain must have fallen on them as snow.
Well I've had quite a productive day; I spent the morning cataloguing all my seeds, cross referencing with a Spanish gardening book and a Portuguese gardening blog to work out a Portuguese vegetable gardening calendar - I will update it as the year progresses and it's been trialed and errored; (I ended up writing it on the computer, so it will be easy to edit). I put the potatoes, the shepherd gave us, to chit in the wheelbarrow, we'll cover them up at night. Then this afternoon I, at last, planted out the escarole etc - the soil is still very claggy and not easy to work with, fortunately (for the plants) it's raining tonight so they should get well bedded in.  And I still have garlic to put in which is sprouting and all their roots are tangled together!! I want to put in more radish,  peas, broad beans, mange toute, lettuce, spring onions and leeks in the main bed as soon as possible (i.e. when it dries up a bit). Then in the cold frame (which hopefully will be constructed by the end of the week, we're buying the bits tomorrow) it's time to start coriander, parsley, tomatillo and, with a view to the future, rhubarb, and asparagus.
Then next month (February) it all kicks off and most vegetables and herbs can be started off in the cold frame.

30th January
Ha, it didn't rain, we woke up to a cold and frosty morning; fortunately my plants look ok.
The best laid plans ............ Cesar (the woodman) emailed last night to say he would be delivering the wood for the next phase of poultry houses Brett wants to build (duck, goose and anything we buy on the spur of the moment!), he didn't say when (we did email back and text to ask but we didn't get a reply) so that meant we had to hang around all day, so no trip to CB! And then when Brett finally got hold of him he says he's coming tomorrow.
I did weed the herb bed, the soil is lovely; and while I was there I found baby new potatoes - I put some potatoes in the middle of the pea wigwams in Oct in the hope for new potatoes at Christmas (I used to do it in the Polytunnel back in Wales), but the frost killed off the tops and I forgot about them! We ate them with dinner, small but perfectly formed!

31st January
We went into CB and bought all the stuff off our list and then we went to the dog rescue centre; we came away with .............. nothing. They were either missing limbs of had their legs in plaster; Looby is far too boisterous for a physically impaired dog, which is a shame as a couple of them were really cute.
This evening I made pastry with olive oil (I'm finding so many uses for it); my goodness it's so easy - 7ozs plain flour, salt, 6 tablespoons (90mls) olive oil, 1/4 cup cold water, bung it all in the food processor and whiz up, takes about 10 seconds, wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour in fridge (I haven't used it yet but it looks good).
It's the end of the month so I'm going to use up my internet allowance posting my blog (I don't want to waste it!).


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