Friday, March 20, 2009

Yum Yum Caballa

We just love caballa, that's mackerel in english. We used to eat loads when John was commercial fishing out of Newlyn in Cornwall. Sometimes it was better to eat the fish than to sell them the prices where so low! Despite the amount we eat we still love them. They are plentiful here at this time of year, and well priced at around 2 euros a kilo, cannot help thinking there are some poor Spanish Pescadores getting the same bad deal John and his shipmates used to get though.
I like to cook them in the oven on the barbeque or in the electric pan. Just a bit of olive oil local salt and fresh ground pepper and a good squeeze of fresh lemon.
If we want something a bit special I have a recipe I used all those years ago in Cornwall, and crumbs now I think about it its over 30 years ago. if you want to give it a go here are the instructions.
Citrus stuffed Baked Mackerel
One Mackerel per person ( we are greedy so like quite large fish)
To stuff two fish you need:
three oranges.
2 apples.
1 small onion
2 cups of brown breadcrumbs.
a generous tablespoon of Brown sugar
butter or olive oil

Gut and clean fish, if they do this at the shop ask for the row this time of year you can saute it lightly and eat on toast.
Grate the zest from two of the oranges, peel then and chop the flesh. Squeeze the juice from third oranges.
Peel core and chop the apples.
peel and chop the onion finely
Now saute the onion, when its soft add apple then orange flesh and zest keep cooking on low heat add sugar then bread crumbs then juice, season to taste. You then remove from heat and use to stuff the fish. Wrap in foil and bake in moderate oven for around 20 minutes depending on size of fish, Open foil for last 10 minutes.
lovely hot or cold, the citrus counteracts the oiliness of the Mackerel

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Let your Conscience be your guide........

The British Government estimates that 93 million pounds were defrauded by benefit thieves going abroad in 2007/2008. With this in mind they have set up a new hot line for the reporting of benefit fraud. The Fraud hotline has been opened in Spain on 900 554 440 where calls are free and confidential. As there has now been a ruling that some people had benefits removed illegally I would think the UK government is working extra hard to ensure the money they do pay out goes to those who should get it. I wonder if these cheats ever think about the fact those who really need help are less likely to get as much as they require because of the amount being stolen from the system. When they are sitting in the sun living the good life do they give a thought to some poor soul who is afraid to switch on the heating or dreads another bill arriving, who's every trip to the supermarket is a penny counting nightmare. Fact is they are not robbing the government they are robbing old people, young families, the disabled. Of course there are expats here who get UK benefits that they are entitled to and quite right too but I think we all know someone who nips off to UK on a regular basis to keep the "claim" active. My hope is there conscience will get to them before the now longer arm of the law. That's me, travelling in hope rather than arriving in disappointment I fear.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vega Baja News

Many of us in Los Palacios have fine views over the Vega Baja to the mountains. To be honest that's what sold our place to us, the first time we stood on the example roof terrace the sun was sinking behind the distant mountains, its a sight we never tire of and is never the same twice.
The Vega Baja (Valencian: Baix Segura) it is the southern most district of Alicante spreading as far as Elche - Europe’s largest palm forest to the north and to the historic city of Orihuela in the South. La Vega Baja is divided by the River Segura which flows into the Mediterranean Sea at Guardamar. Despite having lived here for over 4 years we still find little corners we have not explored. I thought it would be a good idea to give you a little news from the wider area, tell you what the neigbours are doing so to speak.
One thing they are not doing is, at least if they are in the Guardia civil*. is printing out important documents cos they've run out of ink! I kid you not. This same body it seems are looking less than there normal smart selves and they have till now been a smartly turned out lot. It seems they are not only waiting for ink cartridges but also for new uniforms. Times are hard for everyone it would appears.
Last week there was a demonstration in Orihuela. Around five thousand people marched to protest against the quality of health care in the area and the use of private hospitals. I wish we got news of these things before they took place, I have often seen reports about protests that I would have like to supported.
Now a word about trains, I have used the rail system a number of times and found it first class. The Alicante-Murcia route, which has suffered more than most from dilapidated cars, is to be upgraded with new, faster diesel trains which are capable of speeds of over 160 km per hour and which can carry up to 165 passengers.
The new stock will include 103 AVE high- speed trains and it is hoped that the improved service will attract 150 million new passengers over the next two years.
Alicante will see the upgrading in the first quarter of 2009, in particular on the route crossing the Vega Baja to Murcia. The government of Valencia has made it clear that improvement of rail services is a top priority Residents of Orihela are none to pleased to find the high speed trains will not be stopping in the city. Its hoped the faster communication will help improve commerce in the area as well as tourism. For my self i thought the service was excellent as it was. but that's what they call progress I suppose.
Meanwhile back in our little corner we are enjoying the wonderful weather and quite a few home owners are taking advantage of the sunshine to get the painting done, glad to say Joaquin is able to help smarten up a number of neighboring properties, nice to see the sun shinning off the balustrades and glinting on the glossy spiral stairs. Sun bathing is once again on the agenda, hope everyone remembers the sunsceen. slip, slap slop as they say in Oz
*The Guardia Civil is the Spanish gendarmerie: it is a police force that has both military and civilian functions. It has foreign peace-keeping missions and maintains military status and is the equivalent of a federal paramilitary police. As a police force, the Guardia Civil is comparable today to the French Gendarmerie, the Italian Carabinieri and the Dutch Royal Marechaussee as it is part of the European Gendarmerie. The Guardia Civil uses as its leading emblem the motto "El honor es mi divisa" (Honour is my emblem) stressing its esprit de corps and pointing out the importance of honour. Their precincts are called "casa cuartel" (army house) and, like other military garrisons in Spain, they appear under the motto "Todo por la patria" (All in the service of the Mother/Fatherland).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Queen Suzi

With all this talk of dogs thought I had better give Suzi the cat a little blog space. Suzi is a bossy cat and soon puts any foster dog in its place, which she sees as second to her. She is not to naughty, just a little tap on the nose when they first meet, after that she will tolerate the incomer and has even been know to be friendly, all on her terms of course. Well she is top dog so to speak and must be treated as such. Suzis always done the odd crazy thing the latest is sitting in the bath, don't ask me why I have no idea,cats are strange and amazing creatures. When we first moved here the place was over run with feral cats, poor things that lived by there wits. Leo was a street cat until he moved to Becs. There are very few feral around now mostly due to the hard work and dedication of some of the animal loving Brits and the local vet Javier. Lots of time was spent catching the cats and getting them neutered. Just about everyone we know has a cat or dog that was rescued. There not all as bossy as Suzi but then she is the Queen of queen cats after all..

Sunday, March 15, 2009

One (or two) swallows and Pay It Forward

Very excited to see the swallows are here, I know that one swallow does'nt make a summer but Hey we saw two,flying around and sitting on the electricty wires. We live a quiet live here so we get excited about simple things you know. No really, I do think its a good thing to keep in touch with nature and all her wonders. If more people took notice we might see more respect for the environment. If I remember rightly it used to be May before we saw the swallows in the Highlands of Scotland. The days are drawing out too here. Its after 7 and still light. Bec and Joaquin just called, they had another great paella lunch on the island at Formentera, lots of families there making their own food and music, dancing too. Bec said it was great how the Policia Local went over just to have a chat. One more thing today. You may recall how I lost my phone and it was quickly returned by a local farmer. Well we had to chance to pay it forward today. John found a phone early today while walking our latest foster dog. It took a bit of technical know how but he found the owners details, checked out the guys web site and rang him at home. A very thankful Spanish gentleman was happy to call by and pick up his phone which contained all his business contacts. Lets hope he gets chance to pay it forward too.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spring is busting out all over

Another very hot day here with everything bursting into life. Had a walk past the Royal Thai Gardens, which is now open a little earlier than they had advertised. We often take this little stroll through the campo, the foster dogs all seem to enjoy it. We do to, the sweet peas that grow every year on the first couple of garden fences are fabulous, today you could smell the perfume warmed by the hot sun, for yards before you got to them, also some stock and antirrhinums in flower, not to mention the odd one or two mesembryanthemum.
Our spring bulbs are struggling to put on a show and Lil around the corner has an aloe vera shooting out two flowers. A big new water reservoir, no not like the Hoover dam, the sort the local farmers have, has been built near the old ruined finca down the road, it would be wonderful if someone restored that place. Oranges are still fall ripe to the ground, I hear there was a protest by local growers, how very french! Seems they are not happy about imports from Morocco The sounds of a somewhat badly organized band drifted across the field to greet us. Some musical practice at the school we think, getting ready for Santa Semana no doubt.
Worst times on the economic front here for 50 years but mother nature is doing her best to cheer us up. "If there's a bustle in the hedgerow don't be alarmed now its just a spring clean for the May queen" (and yeah I know the original was sprinkling for any Led Zep fans)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Back home

Really pleased to be back home in Spain after a couple of weeks away dealing with family stuff. Got caught in a hail storm there so the sun today is a welcome sight! What a lovely surprise I got at home too last night, Joaquin had painted all the balustrades while I was away and more than that he did the spiral stairs too. I have been promising to get around too them for the last three years. Of course this is the time of year the outside painting gets done here. Not to hot, not much chance of rain. You quite often see the women doing the painting too, so aren't I lucky our daughter fell in love with a painter, he does tiling and woodwork to so maybe I should drop a few hints about my summer kitchen. We have one planned on the roof so not only will we be sleeping up there we will cook up there too. It really makes sense as cooking inside in summer does warm up the flat. Most spanish housewife's cook outside in the hot weather. We just rescued a huge olive wood table so can you picture us sitting around that on balmy summer evenings eating paella. Which takes me back to thoughts of UK. these days I really feel shut in when I go back. We are so used to the doors being open and eating outside. Of course the pool is still looking fit for ducks only but its still a great life. Oh one more thing when I landed at Alicante we came out at the far end where the easy jet check ins are very quick but you need to let your lift know or it´s a long walk to the car park.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Princess and Bella the Spanielle

PRINCESS has found a home

This is BELLA
She had picked up a processionary caterpiller and half her tongue is now missing, but after treatment at the vet she came to us, and we have built her up again to full health, she is a very loving dog and is looking for a caring home.

Bridge footpath

As i mentioned in an earlier post that it looked like a path was being built over the bridge that links Formentera to Benijofar, well we were right and it is nearly completed making that scramble on the Formentera side of the bridge a thing of the past. The slabs have not been laid yet but there is a hard concrete surface to walk on both sides of the road.