Peter's Blog

Iberianspices spicesiberia

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Mum's home and back on Skype

Now for some good news. Last night my Mum was discharged from hospital after her Hip operations saga. Now shes back home she is on Skype with an Ipad and it's so good to be able to see her instead of asking the nursing staff to pass messages on from me. One day the nurses really did show how nice they are, the nurses pushed Mums bed from her room to where they had a phone where we could speak. That was nurses showing how much they care.

Now mum has an Ipad she can read my Blog and keep up to date with how i am getting on here. I have just been speaking to mum and i can say that she looks good. Love you Mum.

Just an update on the Bacon.

Well as you may know i have been making my own Bacon and today is day three and from the site where i got help from day three is the day to try your Bacon. If it's to mild then all you do is leave it for another day.

I cut a few small rashers from the side of the belly and fried them with an egg. Two slices of home made bread and some of my own homemade tomato sauce and i was ready to try my bacon. Well all i can say is give it a try i will never drool about bacon that i can't have as i am not in the UK anymore. For me three days where just right and it was just right for my taste and i will never want for bacon again. This was made from a good cut of belly pork and next time i will use the loin cut to try that but belly is more than good enough for me.

Below is the first of my home made bacon. None of the white stuff when you cook it just bacon as it should be next time i will use the nice round part from the loin and here in Portugal they trim all the fat of it.

What i am left with is 2 lb of bacon and that's about 10 X 200g packets at about £2 plus each that's about £20. Mine cost about £5 for the same amount and no white stuff coming out now and to me that's a result.

My Next thing to do is make my own Ox tail soup. It's nice from a can with bread dipped in but i want to make my own in my slow cooker. I was at a birthday party a short while ago and while talking about me doing all my own cooking the host gave me a book that she had two of. It was called Favourite Scottish Recipes well i am going to use the Scotch broth but instead of Lamb/ Mutton i will use Ox tail.

Ox tail
2 pints water
1 small Turnip chopped
1 Leek chopped
1 Large carrot chopped
1 small carrot grated
1 onion chopped
1 oz cabbage shredded
1 oz pearl barley

Monday, 28 November 2011

Another very interesting day

Well today was another great day. It started of with draining the liquid from the bacon that i am making this is day 2 and maybe tomorrow i may be able to try my own made bacon. On the River Cottage website that i got the recipe from it says that it should be ready after 3 to 4 days so i will try some tomorrow and if need be i will either finish the cure or leave it for another day.

My next thing i want to do is make my own Oxtail soup. Winter is here and bowls of nice warming soup is just what is needed so Ox tail it will be next. The butcher in Gois speaks great English and he is getting an Ox tail in for me so watch this space.

I went over to Sao Martinho just the other side of Arganil this afternoon to meet Cathy and her brother Gary. Gary has just signed for a house there. While i was there Cathy picked another bag of oranges for me is if i didn't get enough the first time i visited them. Anyway Cathy picked an orange and peeled it and within a short time the orange was gone. That orange was so sweet and so fresh i will certainly get to make some juice and some orange jelly as i have lots of Gelatin that i got from Makro before i left. This will help some nice fresh Jellys. I do want to try to make some Marmalade but it's the peel that i don't like so i will look on the River cottage site for some tips about marmalade. I have included some photos of my trip out to see Cathy and Gary.

While i was speaking to my son some customers came in who i know very well one was Jayne who i have known for well a long time as well as Paul and the children. It was so good to be able to see and speak to Jayne after what seems so long since we last spoke. The wonder of Skype also there was another girl who used to come in the shop called Dawn well her husband Mick was in at the same time as Jayne. It was nice to see them both and maybe one day when i make a visit i will get to see them again. The one thing i will say is that it's nothing special me being here it's just that i am now living in a different place i am still me for all my faults. But Jayne you know i have said it before dreams do come true just look at me.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Making bacon and how it's made

Lots of people who move from England move to another country and just want there life to carry on as before but in a foreign land.

Everything you want you can get fresh so wanting things from home is not a option for me. I am more than happy with what is available fresh for me to choose from. Although i do like certain things from the UK i can do without them. I do like tomato sauce so i made my own and very good it is. I like bacon and this is what this topic is about.

Bacon just what you need with eggs for breakfast, well as an ex butcher i have now made my own Bacon. I spent a few days reading about curing bacon from various websites and one in particular the River Cottage site by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from the TV series River Cottage. I went to the local butcher here in Gois and got my self a nice peace of Belly Pork as i like Belly Pork and it makes good bacon. I took the bones out and kept them to roast them later. I carefully skinned the Belly and then put it to one side so as to get the Cure made.

I mixed up the Cure and rubbed it into the Pork as well as i could and then placed it into a plastic bag and got as much air out of the bag as i could. The cure is made up from Salt, Dark brown sugar, Ground black pepper and last some fresh Bay leaves. There is a Bay tree not far from me so i used Fresh leaves and chopped them up finely.

The effect of the cure makes the belly dry out and a liquid comes out and into the bag. It's this liquid that has to be changed after the first day. At day two and three the amount of liquid that has to be thrown away gets less and by day four there should be no liquid left to through out.

Now take the bacon as that's now what the belly has become out of the bag and wash under cold water until all the cure has been washed away. Now dry the bacon and it will benefit from hanging for a day or two in a cool dry place. Thing is could i wait that long to see how it's got on this being my first attempt at making bacon. Probably i will slice a few pieces to try and then hang the rest. The bacon needs to be hung using a mesh cover to allow it to breath and for the outside to dry out and cure.

Below is a couple of links to a some articles about bacon and did you know that bacon made in a factory is as much as 50% water. Well mine will have no water. When you cook bacon and you get white stuff coming out as you cook that's added water

You may need to Copy and Paste the links into your browser but it is worth a look.

200g Salt
50g Dark brown sugar
5g Ground black pepper.
Chop up some fresh Bay leaves.

Couple of things that have happened this week

Well a couple of things this week have happened and the first being that i am now banned for life from a Forum i was on. I had been passing comments on the Forum. Often a few of use will have a bit of fun with replies etc but the politically correct brigade started to get a bit over the top and started to warn use about our comments. Nothing was said that would offend anybody but in there politically correct mind the moderator is a bit over the top. Nothing better to do than correct people who are just commenting on things that matter between themselves and have nothing to do with the moderator.

This particular forum was at one time Ok and we did have some fun. One time there was a post about Nurses now that was good for those who remember it. I was always careful in what i posted so that i didn't put anything that would case offense to any other member. I won't mention the Forum but i will say that the background colour is green and that's all i will say. I have just got a message from a friend that all my previous posts have been deleted Oh well the moderator has been busy now who will they pick on now i am not there. Not my friend i hope as he is more than able to stand up for himself.

The week before last i had a local builder call to have a look at my leaking roof, while here he promised to be back in the middle of this week. Well i have waited and waited and waited and guess what he didn't appear. Until the roof is sorted i can't carry on with finishing my kitchen. These delays of the last few weeks started when a friend repaired the roof that he left leaking when he first did the job. Until this is done i can't complete the insulation of the roof and then fit the insulated wall boards.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

My roof still isn't finished and i am getting a little fed up about it.

I had a leak in my roof where the chimney was taken down. This has caused me no end of problems that are delaying me so much. I have now found a local builder who will be here sometime this week to relay the tiles that where put up after i had the chimney taken down. Until this is done i can't carry on with the wall insulation as the rain is coming down the walls.

It's a pain not being able to carry on and get the kitchen finished but this is now getting a bit tiring as i want to get the job done. I do have so many other things done and i am making progress. Yesterday i put up my ceiling fan. The ceiling in the lounge has now been painted. That also brings me onto the story of paint. What we call paint in the UK and what is sold in Portugal as paint is worlds apart. I have put four coats onto the ceiling to cover a horrid green paint and it's still not good but it's better. I am when i go to Leyroy Merlin again getting a Yellow dye to make some of the paint a pale Yellow for my walls in the lounge. The lounge will have a wall taken down and the other walls insulated next summer but for now i just want to freshen up the room.

Right now i have my Christmas lights up in the cellar. As they have been in a box since we got them in 2003 in Orlando they need to be twisted in them taken out so they hang straight. What i am doing with them is putting weights on them and soon when i put them up they will look good.

It does look like this year that i won't have my kitchen completed in time but i have all the time in the world to get it done so if it takes into the new year then so be it. I know i was taking my time but the delay over the chimney and now the roof leaking has just put completion back so it's not the end of the world and there are so many people so worse of than me.

A hearty meal in my slow cooker. Soup

I have been busy the last week and haven't had the time to sit down and keep my Blog up to date. Yesterday i went out to do a bit of shopping fruit and veg mainly. While in the supermarket i saw what looked like a side of Lamb but with the leg missing and with it what looked like a breast of lamb. I asked for the breast only to find that the chops where still attached but they where under the breast. Well at 2.99€ a Kilo i said yes that's OK.

As i was preparing the breast to cut and make some soup i started to cut the breast up i found that the softer parts of the breast where the bones all join to form in us humans it is the Sternum the part in the middle of your chest. Well this part was just like the rest bone. So it had to be that this was in fact not lamb but it could be Mutton. But i was happy with that it was still going to make a good soup. Well those who know me may remember that in my youth for quite a few years i was a Butcher. Well last night i put on my soup in my slow cooker at 7pm and as i type now and it's just 12pm the next day that's 17 hours and the meat is falling of the bones.

I went out to a Birthday party last night and June the host who is a great cook told me that Chanfana is the Portuguese word for GOAT. So it seems that i will be eating Goat, i have tried some and it's the best soup i have ever made. Even you Veggies could try this just leave out the meat and cook slowly over night.

1 Large onion chopped up
1 Large carrot chopped up
1 Green Pepper chopped up
Good chunk of Root Ginger chopped up small
2 Potato's chopped up into cubes about 1in square
1 Vegetable cube mixed in hot water
A good hand full of Pearl Barley
2 Cloves of garlic chopped up small
1 breast of Goat cut into small portions. Get the butcher to cut it for you
Enough water for your slow cooker

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Rendering and electrics

Well this week has been a busy week if you have read the story before this one about my cooking. Well i have been busy in the kitchen. After the electrician came to see what i wanted doing. i explained that it was just the kitchen at the point. It's no point doing the whole house as i am not sure what and where things will be going. I got started after the electrician left by putting wires into the pipes in the wall so i could pull the cables through ready for when the wall panels are up. If i waited for the panels to be put up and then found a problem getting the cable through the pipes i would be in trouble. So the cable for the sockets is now in place. All my wiring is being run from the cellar as this will make things easy should any changes be needed at a future date. From the cellar it is easy to get to the main supply. Sadly i do not have the skills to complete the wiring as for safety it must be done by a qualified electrician.

The bottom photo shows the cable through the wall ready for the electrician. I have marked on the photo the cable through the wall. You will also note that i have just mopped the floor. It may seem silly in what is a building site but i need to mop the floor often to keep the dust down. Yes a man can wash and clean i am no different than anybody else if it's not done by me it doesn't get done.

After taking the ceiling down the wall above the door that will go to the veranda and the opposite wall needed to be rendered ready for the insulated wall panels to be fitted. As the photos show i have rendered the walls ready for the panels so this week i hope to be going for the panels i am lucky that i kept my trailer as the plaster board sheets will fit in perfectly. One internal wall will just be plaster boarded the others will have insulation on the back. The biggest problem i have is that of dust. I keep the doors shut but all the time i find that there is dust everywhere. Anybody would think that i don't keep the place clean but i do.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

I now make my own Tomato sauce

Tonight i have been cooking, well i cook everyday to eat but i have had a Post on a Forum i am on. The question i put was how do i make tomato sauce. I like tomato sauce but i have been only using fresh ingredients in my cooking. I have no desire to change that so i had to make my own i could easily have gone to the shops for tomato sauce but fresh i want so i had to make my own. The Forum was of great help and Linda said to add Sun dried tomatoes to make the consistency a bit thicker. Well tonight i cooked two recipes one was the sauce i have mentioned and the other was a Tomato bake.

For the tomato bake follow below

Four Tomatoes
One onion
couple of cloves garlic
Green pepper
Olive oil
Bread crumbs " From a pack i had from the UK "
Pilgrims Choice mature cheddar or other tasty cheese.
Salt and Pepper.

Cut the tops of the tomatoes and keep the tops for the tomato sauce. Scope out the middle of the tomato and use that in the sauce.
Put into the tomato chopped up onion, garlic, green pepper and some olive oil. Put bread crumbs on the top and on the top of the bread crumbs put some really nice tasty cheese. Bake into a medium hot oven till it looks done and enjoy.

My Tomato sauce.

Couple of cloves of garlic
Half a green pepper
Sun dried tomatoes

Blitz down all ingredients and cook on a low light till all are cooked and include the sun dried tomatoes. Cook for a while and when done blitz the lot and strain out the remaining liquid and then put the sauce into a bottle and enjoy.

My next question on the Forum is Chilli con carne i want to avoid using Tesco/Asda packet mixes so i want to know what to use to make my Chilli.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

My Mum

It's Sunday morning of the 6th November. A few weeks ago i emailed BBC Radio Merseyside to the presenter of a show on a Sunday morning. This presenter often mentions about the troops over in Afghanistan and i asked for a record for Mum to cheer her up after her op. I got a reply to say that the request would have to wait a week as she was of till the 6th of November. As it was it worked out for the best as my Mum had to go back into hospital for another op on her hip.Well now she is home and recovering well and hopefully walking without the pain she has had for so long.

Mum called me soon after the record was played and she was pleased, it's nice to do something that brings a little pleasure to someone else. Also it was one that my Dad liked so that made it for me a bit special.

I spoke to Mum later this afternoon Sue and John and Jackie and Ray where there. Sue had Mums Ipad so i called back via mums Ipad and she could see me andi could see here. I has been a worry with Mum back in hospital and me here in Portugal but seeing her made me feel a bit better.

I did a tour of teh house with my laptop even going up into the Loft next time i will be going outside so long as my Wifi holds up.

As a family we all owe Jackie a debt of thanks. It's OK we are all living all over the place and when we should be there to help Mum we are to far away to help. I do know that everybody calls in but Jackie is there all the time. So Jackie i am sure i speak for use all Thanks.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Busy week bricklaying and cable laying

Another week is soon passing but progress has been made in the Kitchen. The Kitchen only had one socket before i moved in and i want five doubles and one behind the fridge freezer and one for the computer/TV screen. All cable has to be run through plastic piping set into the wall. This week i have cut into the wall and put the plastic pipe into the wall. All is now done and the pipe has been rendered over so it's nice and secure.

This week i have also been doing a bit of bricklaying. Well it had to be done because the whole wall will be rendered ready for painting. The bricks are not like in the UK they are bigger and hollow. Being hollow is a problem for me because when you put the cement on the ends it just goes into the holes but with a bit of practice it can be done.I just have a tiny bit to do to finish of but my ladder won't reach to the very top of the ceiling. I may leave that bit for now and maybe i will try my hand at rendering over the bricks something else that should be left to those who know what they are doing. I am sure that i can do the first coat of render and leave the finishing to someone else.

I had a half cubic metre of sand delivered on Thursday and did the rain stop well for a short while. Being on a lane that is a bit steep and with the rain we have had i had to move the sand and put it in the cellar if not the ran would have washed the sand away. OK simple but on a rainy day and with only a bucket to move the sand with well it took a long time to move it all. When the rain started to get to much i had to leave the sand and move the rest later. The only sheet of plastic that i had was only just big enough to cover the sand that was left. I now just hope that the rain keeps of so i can move the rest into the cellar.

Well i am pleased with how i have got on this week. don't have a lot of time left to get my Kitchen finished for Christmas. But i will give it my best effort.