Finca renovation – the bedroom

Continuing on with the finca renovation saga from my Itchy Feet blog – the next room to be tackled was the bedroom.

I had started hacking out some of the plaster in the bedroom back in February when we began the revamp, but the rest of the work had to wait while we systematically – and slowly – worked through the house.

Thing is though, that what appears to be plaster, isn’t.  It’s actually earth mixed with sand from the arroyo (stream bed), and a tiny bit of cement.  Because – with the exception of the cement – it was all freely available back in the year dot.  Gather the earth and the sand, and pay for the cement.  So that’s why it isn’t durable and breaks down.  It is for some years, but not for ever and a day.

So, first up, all pictures off the walls, and furniture, except the bed and wardrobe, moved out and plonked in any available space.

Same treatment as all the other rooms, remove all the soft and crumbling surface and scrape off loose and flaking paint.  Apply PVA to the gaping holes, fill with sand and cement, apply PVA to everything else in sight, fill any other rough gaps – and, then we ran out of materials.

Soft mixture running right along the wall, hacked out, to be replaced with sand and cement
Yet another hole - and typical Spanish electrics - cable just hanging around

Partner also had a fit of refixing the electrical sockets which annoyed him because they weren’t flush to the wall.

Neat and tidy socket set back in the wall

So next time will involve multi-finishing the walls to give a smoother appearance (although not too smooth, it is rustic after all), and yet more white paint everywhere.

What else did we get up to?

Well, we cracked the almonds given to us by next doors after they had finally dried out. The nuts not the neighbours.  Did you know that almonds have three, or is it four? different layers?  First the soft greeny outer skin that needs to dry before you can deshell them.  Then a crispy shell, then the brown one that surrounds the white kernel – and then the final white juicy nut.

Just like a real campo worker, straw hat and all
Cracking technique?

Moving onto some more food shots……

Hard work in the bedroom calls for some breakfast.  Fresh mango from our next door neighbours and an espresso.  The coffee is a bog-standard espresso blend from Mercadona.  The Picasso cup and saucer were a freebie with one of the Spanish newspapers – very cool I think.

Delicious ripe mango

Seitan is one of the staple vegetarian/vegan protein foods.  Made from spun wheat it obviously isn’t suitable for anyone who can’t eat wheat products, but for those who can, it makes an excellent casserole, or fries up well in fillet style.

I found an amazing link which says how much protein there is in seitan – I’ve been eating it for years but didn’t know that.

Here it is raw…

Seitan slices

And in casserole with cauliflower and a puree of sweet potatoes and real potatoes…

Seitan casserole

Another good protein product is the fermented soya-based tempeh.

For breakfast, with fried sweet potatoes, mango chutney, pickled onion, and tomato tapas

Tempeh brunch

Finally – paella.  I sort of use a Sarah Brown recipe, or method anyway.

Fry onion and garlic.  Add veg, she uses artichokes, beans and peas, I use flat beans (habachuelas), and whatever else is in season, either peas (chicharros), broad beans (habas), asparagus, occasionally fresh artichokes.  I chucked a few setas (oyster mushrooms?) and courgette (calabacin) in this one.

Veg paella

Now, just about every recipe I have read for saffron (azafran) tells you to add a few strands to boiling water to let it dissolve.  Do not be misled by such advice dear paella cooks.  It is a rubbish method and has never yet turned my rice yellow.  Far better to add the strands to your onion and garlic at the beginning and cook gently.

Once you have stirred your veg around a bit in the paella pan (a good pan is another essential), add some arborio rice or whatever it is called.  Short grain paella rice basically.  Stir that around for a while too.

I think adding boiling water is a BAD idea.  Add cold (bottled) water, poco a poco, and your rice absorbs the water slowly, without leaving you with a sludgy mess, or goo or whatever.  I invariably turn it off for a while to let it sit and absorb the water and generally fluff itself out, hence why I start to make paella pretty soon after breakfast.

Also add tomatoes, herbs, (thyme, mixed herbs, fresh parsley), and olives.  Serve with fresh lemon wedges and tamari if you like shoyu. At some mysterious point you will also notice your rice has turned yellow.

Yes!! That elusive yellow tinge to the rice

Keep the pan for paella only, and you will never have any problems washing it out either.  Mine is totally unSpanish and happens to be an Aga Rayburn pan, but it certainly works well.

¡Buen provecho!

Oh, and it rained too.  The first rain of the autumn.  The sort of days when you can’t do anything because it rains all day for two or three days in a row.  Still, have cards, dominoes, books, bottle of wine and tins of beer and an excuse to do little else but eat, drink and be merry.

Next in the finca project series will, hopefully, be the completion of the bedroom. It’s only taken us a year to do four rooms……


2 comments on “Finca renovation – the bedroom

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