New Adventures

Quinta das Abelhas is sold, although the new owners won’t move permanently just yet.

Horses and Permaculture

 

Whilst Andy is staying on as Caretaker of Quinta das Abelhas, I’ve moved to Vale das Lobas for 6 months to study how horses might be integrated into a permaculture design.  You can follow my new adventures on my new blog Horses and Permaculture.

I’ve been here for a couple of weeks getting settled into my caravan in a little ancient olive grove and my horses are due to arrive this week! There are already two horses at Vale das Lobas – Albert (pictured) a gypsy cob who used to board at Quinta das Abelhas, and Mysti a Welsh pony.

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Fruitful Garden :)

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One day’s harvest of raspberries, strawberries and cherries! We already have a lot of raspberries and cherries bottled, dried, and made into coulis and cordial. More coming every day :)

Beth and Kev are busy building a solar dryer which should speed up the drying process and mean we can get more fruit preserved with a quicker turnaround.

We’re also harvesting courgettes, beetroot, salad, potatoes, and green beans. Yesterday’s lunch and dinner were made almost entirely from our own produce :)

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Springing into Action!

Love this time of year, the gardens are looking amazing, got loads of strawberries almost ripe, and lots of little blueberries and redcurrants on the bushes. Also looks like we’re going to have a bumper crop of Szechuan pepper this year.

Still got many many leeks, cabbages and salad greens for eating now, and the tomatoes, peppers, squashes, etc are all in and not all have been eaten by slugs!

Today we’ve been collecting up all the trees we still have in pots and putting them in the dappled shade under the big olive tree by the house, so we can give them some extra care over the hot summer ready to take with us when we move.

Andy’s completed installing the drip irrigation in his garden, and helpers Beth and Kev have been doing an awesome job clearing and manuring beds ready for more planting.  They’ve also renovated the overgrown outdoor bathroom ready for some moonlight soaks.

The horses are very happy with all the green grass and look beautiful grazing amongst all the chamomile and corn marigolds. The hillsides are beautiful with lavender and broom, flowers are starting to blossom everywhere,  kiwis are growing almost before our eyes and already giving shade to the outdoor dining table, the jasmine outside the cottage is smelling gorgeous and the wisteria at the front still has lots of blooms despite a hard prune this year.

Will try to get some photos up on the blog soon :)

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Happy Easter!

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Still enjoying my home-alone time, I gave myself an Easter gift – fresh flowers from the garden and home-made Raw Chocolate Pies.

I made the Raw chocolate pies by following the recipe for Raw Brownies, and then rolling the mixture out to about 1/3cm  and then chilled before cutting into rounds and pressing into patty tins.

Then I filled the ‘pie cases’ with the recipe for Raw Chocolate Icing, and chilled them again before eating.

They are amazing!!!

I think I over-calculated the amount of water to put in the icing (maths was never my strong subject and I don’t have a decent measuring jug) as it came out very runny and I had to add more dates and cocoa to thicken it up, so I ended up with a lot!  The leftovers filled a jam jar which I’ve put in the fridge to be used as chocolate spread :)

The raw chocolate icing is a revelation to me, it’s lovely and velvety, has an amazing rich chocolate taste, and – as I discovered – can be used as a pie filling and a spread as well as icing.  Super easy to make too :)

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Food Diary Day 4: Salad for Lunch

Still got some blog posts to write up, in an attempt to keep a diary of what we’re eating.

During the morning I had cabbage from the garden juiced with apples and pears; hot chocolate made with rice milk and raw cocoa powder; and a couple of the Raw Chocolate Pies which I still need to write up the recipe for.

For lunch today I made a salad with shredded lettuce and chard, and grated beetroot (all picked fresh from the garden) mixed with a grated apple, diced cheese, tuna chunks, black olives, diced boiled egg, diced tomato, diced cucumber, chick peas, toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and a few capers. Drizzled in our own olive oil.

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Get Me Cooking! Meatballs

I’ve just installed the GetMeCooking Recipe Template plugin and here’s my first blog post with an easily printable recipe (click on the link to print). I’ll probably play around with it a bit more, and I really need a decent camera that will take photos of food so they actually look edible. This recipe was a lush deep red, not horrible brown as shown in the photo!

So … Meatballs in Rich Tomato Sauce with Peppers and Olives. Invented this Easter weekend while I’ve been enjoying 3 whole days of lovely peace and quiet to myself while everyone else had gone to Freekuency festival in the rain!  I raided the adega (pantry) and put this together with the ingredients available and it was great.  I ate it for dinner, lunch, then dinner again ;)

It’s a quick and easy dish to make, you can serve it as soon as the meatballs are cooked (after about 15 mins slow simmer) or leave much longer for a thicker and more concentrated sauce. Great comfort food on chilly / wet days :) This recipe will give you 3 big servings if you eat it on its own, more if you serve it with pasta, mashed potato, etc – if you serve it with something else that works well, let me know!  I tried it with sweet potato and cauliflower mash and it was not a good combination :(

I’ve put in the recipe to add the capers near the end of the cooking time. I added them with all the other ingredients but they lost that vinegar explosion that I love about eating them.  I’ve also put the cooking time at 30 mins which will be long enough to get the meatballs cooked thoroughly and the sauce reduced a bit, but I left mine simmering gently on the stove for a couple of hours.

 

Meatballs in Rich Tomato Sauce with Peppers and Olives

Serves 3-4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Meatballs in a rich tomato sauce with peppers, olives and capers.

Ingredients

  • 15 meatballs ((375g pack))
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram / oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 780g chopped tomatoes ((1 large tin))
  • 1 tablespoon black olives (halved lengthwise)
  • 1 tablespoon green olives (halved lengthwise)
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1 red pepper (sliced)
  • 1 green pepper (sliced)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Step 1
Brown meatballs in olive oil, remove and set aside
Step 2
Soften peppers in olive oil used for meatballs
Step 3
Add remaining ingredients (except meatballs and capers) and bring to boil
Step 4
Add meatballs and simmer slowly until meatballs are cooked through, or longer if you want a thicker sauce with more concentrated flavour
Step 5
Add capers 5 mins before you finish cooking
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Water Water Everywhere!

It’s sunny today (yippee!) so I’ve been wandering around the quinta having a look at how it’s been affected by all the rain.

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The bigger water mine is now even more cave-like, you can hear water dripping from the roof (never happened before) and the spring gushing at the back of it (I’ve never been brave enough to venture into the mine to see the source, and I’ve never heard it before).

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The tiny water mine is also gushing!

Both water mines are overflowing onto the terrace and have created an amazing waterfall off the edge – luckily this is one of the terraces with a granite stone wall or the terrace may have been washed away. It’s really beautiful and I love the sound of the water :)

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Peace and Quiet and Food

Andy’s gone to Freekuency Festival this weekend so I’m home alone looking after things and enjoying some peace, quiet, and “me time” :)

I’ve been wondering about trying to post more regularly about what we eat, to share some recipes, to keep as a record and to see our progress (or lack of) into being more self-sufficient.  I’ve recently been diagnosed with a bladder inflammation so I’m trying to follow a more alkaline diet,  and I’m also trying to avoid wheat and dairy (wheat more successfully than dairy!) – this has actually meant that we’ve been buying in a lot more food than usual but it’s definitely having an affect on the pain levels.   Now we need to plan more carefully what we grow so it fits in with the new diet.

Most mornings we start the day with juiced cabbage, apple and carrot – at the moment only the cabbage is from the garden, sometimes we have chard instead of cabbage which we also have a glut of this time of year.   I’ve never been able to eat breakfast in the mornings, and I’ve noticed a positive difference in my energy levels since having fresh juice first thing, though I do worry about the pesticides on the store-bought apples and carrots as we can’t get organic ones.  My liquid breakfast also includes a cup of hot chocolate made with oat milk and raw cocoa.  I’ve tried making my own oat milk which is great cold but goes thick and gloopy when heated.  Home-made almond milk was also a success cold, but tasted horrible made into hot chocolate.

Today Emma was here working (she uploads new property adverts for Pure Portugal) and for lunch we had corn (maize) pasta with a really simple sauce made with a tin of tomatoes (all the tomatoes we bottled from last year are gone now – boo), some olives, herbs, and olive oil.  The corn pasta is less ‘heavy’ that wheat pasta, it’s yummy, and they stock it at IG Supermercado in Oliveira – but I need to have a go at making our own. If you’re going to buy it make sure it’s GMO free!

Nero di Toscana Kale

For dinner I had some wild-caught salmon with leeks and kale from the garden, and some store-bought cauliflower.  The kale is Nero Di Toscana – my favourite kind, but this was the last of it as it’s going to seed. I’m trying to eat a lot of green leafy veg, cauliflower is also good for an alkaline diet, and not mix proteins with carbohydrates – hence just fish with vegetables (no potatoes, rice, etc).

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Rainy Day Roast

It’s another rainy day here so what else to do than make a roast?

I’ve made one of my favourite recipes -  Cranks Nut Roast. It’s really simple and really tasty. Today I’ve made it with leeks instead of onions (as we have loads in the garden at the moment), and I’ve used 200g peanuts and 25g walnuts. Bread was some leftover home-made rye/spelt from a couple of days ago.

We’ll have it with roasted potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot, and carrot, some green beans that I want to use up so I can defrost the freezer, and leek gravy made with good old Bisto ;)

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Granola

It’s a dismal day today with lots of rain (hence the poor quality of the photos due to the light – or lack of) but the smell of this granola coming out of the oven is enough to cheer you up!

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I’ve been thinking of making granola for a while, but didn’t actually start looking at recipes until last night when Andy – eating sugar-laden store-bought stuff – suggested we should try making our own cereal. So I looked up a few recipes and then adapted one to suit our tastes and the ingredients to hand:

Granola

For the syrup:
100ml maple syrup
100ml honey
3 tblsp coconut oil
1 tblsp olive oil

For the oat mix:
500g porridge oats
2 handfuls whole almonds
handful pistachio nuts
handful linseeds (flax seeds)
handful hemp seeds
handful sunflower seeds
handful pumpkin seeds
dessertspoon ground cinnamon

Additions:
handful each of dried peaches, dried pears, dried plums
I also added the last few remaining dried cherries and dried cranberries we had (about 1tblsp of each) and some dessicated coconut (about 2 tblsps).

Method:
1. Gently heat the syrup ingredients in a pan
2. Mix the oat mix ingredients in a big bowl
3. Add the syrup ingredients to the oat mix and stir well.
4. Put in a big baking tray (I used an enamel one, you may need to line your tray with greaseproof paper if not non-stick) and bake for about 40 mins, stirring gently every 10 mins or so. I wanted some finer mix, some larger lumps so stirred it carefully so as not to break it up too much. Our woodstove was on “hot” which I guess is around 200 degs C.
5. Remove from oven when golden brown (it crisps up more as it cools).
6. Leave to cool then stir in additional ingredients of your choice.
7. Store in airtight container.

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