Cookery blogs spend an awful lot of time telling you about their brilliant works of art.
While I managed some good achievements in exile, I also achieved a few crap ones. Cooking for one is not as easy as cooking for two. You don’t just throw things in a pan hapharzardly and know it will work out. To start with you end up with too much food and end up eating the same boring meal for three days. So I needed to find something different to eat and scoured my cookery books.
I ended up having to relearn how to read menus and measure ingredients. Nightmare. But some good results amidst the disasters.
Let’s start with a few disasters.
In no particular order – first up, wretched pumpkin.
I was duty bound to use the damned vegetable because it was, as ever, a freebie from next door. Adelina does a rather mean pumpkin dish which tastes slightly spicy and melts in the mouth. I asked her for the recipe:
• pumpkin (obviously) – diced
• black pepper
• cumin seeds
• and olive oil of course
Pestle and mortar everything except the pumpkin and oil. Put oil in pan, add ingredients and sauté gently. Terrible. Didn’t taste a bit like hers.
Next I tried pumpkin soup. That was slightly better but only made worth eating by the addition of numerous spices.
I have however, found an extremely good cookery blog written by a Bengali woman, and if I get more free pumpkin, I shall be trying her spicy mashed pumpkin recipe.
What happened to the rest of the pumpkin? The cockerel is probably still eating it and as bored with it as I was.
Needless to state, I was inundated with cucumbers from next door too.
Usually I use them in salad as you do, and sometimes stuff them as a savoury dish.
But I had lots of the things, so I thought I would try cucumber soup.
I used a rather flash French recipe so figured it should be reasonable.
It was not. Do not try cucumber soup is all I can say.
On the other hand, courgette and parsley soup was delicious. How can that be? They are so closely related.
Other good soups were:
Bean and pepper, and bean and lemon (I had lots of beans too)
It goes without saying I like green soups.
I was on a roll with courgettes, yes, I did get some from nextdoors, so I embarked on a fancy timbale with champagne vinaigrette dressing. Except I used wine winegar as I was short of champagne vinegar and surprisingly, Supersol in the village didn’t seem to have any in stock.
In summary, courgettes, chopped spinach, onion and goat’s cheese, wrapped up in spinach leaves, and chilled until it sets. Very good, also very filling.
Another goat’s cheese recipe – served with kiwi fruit and some green salad leaves and a thyme dressing.
Setas (oyster mushrooms) with spinach. This one is delicious. I used to cook it from time to time in the UK. Setas are cooked slowly with onions, sherry, soy sauce and creme fraiche. Just yum, a great excuse to cook it as I had loads of spinach in the garden.
Beans, guacamole and tortilla. An easy fix brunch. Or lunch. Or supper.
Marinated veg – aubergine in the centre, left for 24 hours in dressing, courgette (yet again) with red onions and gherkins on the right, and a basic tomato, cucumber and onion salad with herbs on the left.
Some traditional Spanish recipes:
Papas a la pobre
Diced potatoes with chillies, salt, and garlic. You can cook this a variety of ways, include peppers, deep fry the veg, or whatever. I tend to shallow fry the potatoes and if we want peppers (pimientos) they get done separately.
They are sliced down one side and stuffed with salt. Sounds vile to a non-salt lover (I never add it to my food) but they are quite delicious.
Another potato dish – but not Spanish, individual potato rostis. They worked well. Grate potatoes, season, stick in small ring in pan or on griddle if you have one. Add cheese if you want, I didn’t.
How about another disaster?
I bought some albondigas – basically meatballs, except they were vegetarian. Cost 4.68 euros, ie 52 cents each. They were made from seitan, which I like, and chía, which I had never heard of. Nor do I want to hear of it again. It is disgusting. I felt sick for three days after eating them.
But I did buy some veg in tempura batter from one of the village shops – cost €2.18. Peppers, courgettes, aubergines and carrots. I got around three or four light meals out of them, so that was a good result.
Recipes are being added to the recipe pages, and a new cookery page will go up with recipes and ingredients for one-person cooking.
Having been back in Gib for more than a week now, have I got my head around the change yet? Well, mostly. I think. And how is the new pup adapting? Or rather, how am I adapting to having a pup in a flat without a balcony, garden, terrace or anything?
It’s a mad dash to get out of the door between six and six-thirty. Usually I take him but if I’m half asleep, Partner takes him. We carry him down the stairs so there are no accidents in the block. If there were, we would clean/mop but it’s easier not to have them.
And then after that, I take him out every two or three hours. He’s impressed with the furniture and happily bounds across the large armchair and onto the sofa and then onto a toolbox (our flat is full of tools and equipment). Just as well we don’t have a ‘no furniture’ rule.
He is most impressed with the fact that we sleep on camping mats on the floor. On his first night he calmly walked into our bedroom and onto the ‘bed’ and plonked himself down between us. Where he has been every night since.
Oh, and for dog people, Pippa and Snows have a new post over on Pippadoblog.
And to end on a seasonal note in the spirit of Advent and Christmas. Last Easter, I told readers about the cactus I had bought at Christmas for my neighbour, except I never gave it to her as the flower buds dropped off and it looked pretty pathetic. But with some TLC from my not very green-fingered Parter, it perked up and flowered at Easter.
Thereby leading me to conclude that it wasn’t a Christmas cactus after all, it was an Easter one.
But now what do we have?
So my conclusion is that it must be a Spanish cactus as they have a word – Pascua – that can refer to either Easter or Christmas. Normally Easter, but sometimes Christmas. So clearly the cactus can flower at either, whenever it chooses. And so far that is the only concession in our flat to the approach of Christmas. However, to those of you who celebrate any type of holiday at this time of year, whether Hannukah, Advent/Christmas, Winter Solstice or whatever, I send you good wishes from Gib and Spain.