Peter's Blog

Iberianspices spicesiberia

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Almost November

Today is the 29th of October and today we had blue skies everywhere and a nice warm day. Who would think that on a day like today i would be transferring plants out of pots into one of my raised beds.

When i started my latest raised bed it had soil in the bottom, then compost, then coffee waste, then straw and then more soil. As the soil was in so poor a condition it needed compost, straw and waste coffee to try and create something better to grow in.

Today i planted out some peppers and chilli that i had growing in pots. Also i was given an Indian Basil plant in a pot and along with the chilli and peppers i planted them in the raised bed. It may seem odd that at this time of year i am still planting things out in my raised beds. Mad i may be but if they get through the winter then i should have lots to enjoy as we approach spring next year.

Over the winter i have plans for the new bit of land i now have and to get parts of it level so i can have some more raised beds. I want to grow everything from seed as i see that as a challenge as i have been drying seeds from lots of things. I was given a green stripped tomato and some small yellow tomatos with luck they will dry well and in the coming months they will grow into nice healthy plants.

This all may seem strange but today i picked strawberries, chillis and a pepper and two small tomatos and this is the end of October so lets be glad that the year for me has been kind and rewarded me with things i have grown myself.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

An extra day

As i got up this morning i realised how early it was 8.37 am i went back to bed it just felt too early. I couldn't sleep but lay their thinking what i had to do today and being Thursday i had already missed the market at Arganil. Well at 10.12 am i finally got up to an almighty bang. Thunder wow that was load, over the years i have heard a lot of thunder but this was something else. and for the next half an hour it happened a few more times but during this time there was little rain.

I had to leave this and come back to it to continue as i went out shopping with a mate. What a fool i felt i was convinced that it was Thursday only to find out it was Wednesday. What a fool i felt but i now have another day so that's a bonus. Now what will i do with this extra day?

I went out collecting free food. Well stuff i have grown 7 nice big Strawberries. 2 Red chilli's and a hand full of Tomatos. Nearly the end of October and the Strawberries are still growing well. I left another load of Strawberries until they look ready to pick. Chilli's and Peppers are all still doing well and hopefully will carry on for a while and as they are ready they go straight into the freezer.

This maybe a handful of Strawberries but in the UK you got Strawberries from the shops. These are all my own now i need to think how i look after the plants over the winter.

The winter here last year was to me great and as it was my first i can't compare it with previous winters but if this coming winter is like the last i will be happy.

I do know that i have to bring in my Lime tree as they don'y like the cold. The mornings can be cold till the sun comes out so in the inside for the Lime and maybe some of the things i have in pots.

So my extra day hasn't been to bad.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

MOT update

Well Monday was to be the day i went for an MOT. I planned to get out before the GNR "Police " would be out dong their road side document checks. I left home at 6.45 am in the morning and arrived early but on my way i called to fill up with LPG gas and to get the car washed. Before getting an MOT the car has to be clean so i power washed all around the wheel arches and gave the body a good clean. Even doing this i arrived at 7.40 am. I settled in for a wait but there is no sign outside as to the opening times so i just had to wait.

The inspection centre didn't open till 9 am  so i had a good wait but i was the first one in the queue. The cost is app 28.18€ much less than the UK. The bonus is that the inspection stations only inspect the car and they have nothing to do with repairs so you get a fair inspection unlike in the UK. A number of times after putting my car in for test in the UK minor things have been found and the garage has mentioned things and offered to repair and retest.

Well the car was tested and passed so by 9.30 am i was at last on my way home and free to drive were and when i want.

The error was on my part from getting the date wrong before i checked the documents.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A Sunday morning

Sunday and i took my Granddaughter to see my chickens after that we went for a walk to see what i had growing in my various growing areas. First we went to see the Strawberries that are still growing and their are about a dozen almost ready to be enjoyed. We then went down to my raised beds were we saw the Chillis, Peppers and Broccoli. Next we went to see the Lemons all five of them but five is better than none so lets be glad of what we have. 

Outside of my front door in front of my aircon unit is were i have a number of plants in pots, well not pots but cut down water containers. We saw more Chilli, Peppers and Tomatos. It was nice to have enjoyed this time with Chelsee but it would have been better had she been with me. Chelsee was on my Laptop on SKYPE, Chelsee and I have to make do with seeing each other on the computer but who knows how soon i can go back to see my Mum and family and Chelsee.

This week i also got to speak to Sean my Grandson  also on Skype. Sean is a little younger than Chelsee but they also keep in touch with each other again using Skype it certainly is a different age we live in. Anyway back to Sean, as he lives so far away from me when i was in the UK i didn't get to see him as much as i would have liked but to him i was just a stranger who he would see not very often and he was so SHY. I have now seen him a couple of times and he is now more outgoing than he was and when i last spoke to him i said that later in the week i would take him to see my chickens and i hope that i can speak to him today but who knows.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

How to make Scouse

I have just found a great website and on it is a joke section, the joke below is from it and i hope that you all enjoy it. The site was found as i wanted a recipe for making the perfect Scouse. I found what i wanted but i also found a bit more than i wanted

Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Heaven, God went missing for six days. Eventually, the Archangel Gabriel found him, resting on the seventh day. He inquired of God, "Where have you been?" God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look Gabriel, look what I've made." Archangel Gabriel looked puzzled and said, "What is it?" "It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put Life on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a great place of balance." "Balance?" inquired Gabriel, still confused. God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth, "For example, North America will be a place of great opportunity and wealth while South America is going to be poor. Over there I've placed a continent of white people and over there is a continent of black people.," God continued, pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely hot and arid while this one will be very cold and covered in ice." The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a small populated area in the land of Great Britain and said "What's that?" "Ah," said God. "That's Merseyside, the most glorious place on Earth. There's a beautiful river, glorious parks, and buildings, great music and world dominating football teams. The people from Liverpool are going to be modest, intelligent and humorous and they're going to be found traveling the world as expatriats. They'll be extremely sociable, hard-working and high-achieving, and they will be known throughout the world as diplomats and carriers of peace." Gabriel gasped in wonder and admiration but then proclaimed, "What about balance, God? You said there will be balance!" God replied wisely, "Wait until you see the lazy, arrogant, bastards I'm putting next to them in Manchester."

No MOT because i didn't have a registration documnet

This has not been a good week it all started on last week on the Friday when i found that the MOT on my car had run out. Here in Portugal the MOT runs from the birthday of the cars first registration ok i understand that but. When i started the Matriculation process i had to have a Portuguese MOT and the car passed and that was that.I didn't know that soon after i would have to have it all done again but if that's the rules ok. Since i had my car made legal here i have been waiting for the new registration document to arrive and at the MOT they said they can't do an MOT without the registration document.

Monday i went to Coimbra to the IMTT to get my registration document and after waiting my turn to be seen by the person who deals with car matters it was my turn. I have seen the same lady before and knew i would have problems i speak no Portuguese and she speaks no English. But the young lady security officer on the door speaks great English and she came over to translate for me. It also seems that i had to register the car at the Conservatoria department but it seems that all i had to do was go back and get a ticket and queue up to see someone else but this time the person i saw spoke English. After a few minutes he finished reading my car documents from when i made the car legal and replied that the new registration document would be ready to collect the next day not the result i wanted another trip over to Coimbra 45 km away but what could i do but go home.

I was lucky i have a friend here i my village who drove me over so as not to risk a pull by the GNR " police "  and a hefty 250€ fine for having no MOT. As we passed the half way point on our return home we were stopped by the GNR " police " at a road side check. What they do they have a number of officers at a roundabout and stop traffic from all directions to check their documents and ask you to do a breath test. All was ok because we had only had a coffee and we where on our way. Before we left i asked an officer as to the date on my documents i had with me when i needed to get my MOT done. The reason i asked was while i was getting my car registration documents sorted i asked the official when i needed a test to be done. The reply i got and it had the date on screen was for April, but why does the MOT show September i asked but he didn't know. I told the police officer and she said it was the date the car was registered not the date the car was made legal. OK.

On Friday the postman called with the letter i was expecting from the IMTT and it had my registration in so i now have the last of the documents that i need to carry with me as it's law here in Portugal that you have to carry your MOT, Insurance, Registration, Passport and driving licence with you when you are driving in your car at all times.

So Monday morning bright and early and raining i hope, raining because their is less chance of a GNR  " police " road side check. With luck i will get my MOT done and nothing to worry about for another year.  Lastly i have a tow bracket on the back of my car as i do a bit of towing. As it wasn't fitted as new by the manufacturer i have to remove it for the MOT.

Friday, 12 October 2012

First Egg got my first

I got my Chicks on Monday from my mate Greg, he did mention that one would only lay a small egg. How right Greg was, i got my first egg today and it was small very small but it was the first of many i hope.

 The picture below is of the first egg that i got this week. As you can see the small egg in the picture is the first got from my two chickens. I am a little disappointed in not getting any more than one egg in a week. Maybe when they settle down they will start laying more eggs.

The bottom picture is of the two girls eating. There diet is one to envy apart from there layers mash they also get potato peelings, carrot peeling, cabbage, celery, mushroom, apple, pear and banana peeling and rice. Daily they get most of that and lightly boiled. 

What will the coming weeks bring who knows but it better bring eggs or they may end as dinner.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

From Bacon to Baked Ham

I have written before how i make my own Bacon and how successful it is.

After watching a video about curing a Ham  the chef then went on to bake the Ham in the oven instead of boiling it. Not having made my own baked ham i thought i would give it a try. Instead of using a joint of leg pork that is traditional for a Ham/ Gammon for a try instead i used belly pork.

I first skinned the belly and took out the bones. The bones went into my store of bones that will one day make a good stock for some soup. Below is a list of all ingredients that where used in the cure for the pork.

With the belly now boneless and skinless the meat was rubbed well with the salt cure and placed into a plastic bag. Each day the salt draws out some liquid and this has to be discarded and the meat rubbed with the salt cure again. At the 3 and a half day stage the pork will be washed in cold water and dried the curing is now done.

This time instead of using it for bacon i will roll the bacon to form a joint that can be baked in the oven all being well it should be as good as a Ham/ Gammon. I will glaze the joint as it's cooking. All being well at Christmas i will be making my own baked Ham.

250 gm Salt
50 gm Soft brown sugar
5 gm Ground black pepper
A tea spoon each of Coriander, Black mustard seeds, Juniper berries, Fennel seeds.

I have at last finished this project, after the belly was complete i rolled the belly up and placed it for three hours into a slow cooker. " If Heston Blumenthal can cook at slow temperatures then so can i ". After three hours i took the meat out of the slow cooker and kept the water for later to be made into a soup. I used my own home made marmalade as a glaze and then put the meat in the oven for two hours on a low light.

I waited until the next day before i tried my attempt at making baked ham. My time was not wasted the flavour was all i could ask for and the glaze worked very well. As a young butcher i was responsible for cooking the cooked meats for the shops i have worked in. I used to cook full silver sides of beef, whole legs of pork and boiled and baked hams.

One thing i would say if you want to try to make your own baked ham for your Christmas dinner then first give it a try. Use a cheaper cut of meat first and i am sure that you will not be disappointed in the end result.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Chickens Chickens and Chickens

I received a call from the bloke who i got my chickens from. He had just heard that i had lost all my chickens and made a nice offer. He said that he had a couple of chickens he would give me. The chickens were 18/ 20 months old and would carry on laying for a long time to come and i could have them for free. Now that's a nice gesture.

The breeder has thirty chicks a few days old and they are all sold and in about 4 weeks there will be another thirty hatched. From the next batch of chicks i may have another 5 like my last lot so i can raise a few Euro.

After i released the two chickens today they stayed inside maybe because of the stress being moved in boxes and being released into a new home. I went over to see them after an hour and they were out but as i approached they went inside. I took over some peeling from an apple i had just eaten and after a short time they had been out again and eaten all the peelings.

For security i will be locking them in at night nice and secure i don't want get back to loosing any again. For now they don't have names but i am sure that my two grand children will have ideas but i will update with a photo and names when i can

Monday, 8 October 2012

Crushing grapes and not by foot this time

Last weekend was grape picking time. A few weeks ago i got myself a grape press for crushing grapes into juice for making wine. The press had been stored in a Donkey stall at a friends house. Surprisingly the press was in very good order considering it was covered is straw but clean and dry.

I picked two wheel barrow loads of red and white grapes. I also have a stainless steel container about 2 ft X 2 ft X 2 ft. a nice strong box for fermenting wine in.I guess that i crushed all the grapes and found i had about 30 liters of juice. For now the juice is in the stain less steel container and i am waiting for the fermentation process to start.

Although the grapes are red the juice is white, to get red wine you just leave the crushed grapes in the juice to give a rich red colour.

Here is my stainless steel container that now holds about 30 liters of grapes juice that will soon become nice red wine.

The top is wrapped in cling film to keep any creepy crawlies from getting in. After fermentation the wine will be transfered to other containers to finish of the fermentation process.  

This is the top for the press and just sits on top of the press.

More photos will follow of the press as soon as i can.

Friday, 5 October 2012

What a free week this has been

What a week this has been. I went out on Monday and picked some Blackberries for a Blackberry and Apple crumble. Not enough blackberries to make just a blackberry crumble but who cares blackberry and apple it is. Across from the blackberries there is a tree full of Figs although i may not be a big lover of Figs but one or two at a time is not bad. I counted on my Strawberry plot 7 strawberries that are close to being ready to be picked. I hope that i can pick them all at the right time and they are all ready together 7 is the most that have been ready at the same time.

Today wednesday with Keith who now lives in Vale Boa we picked a full wheel barrow of red and white grapes. There are lots more to pick but Fernando parks his car by them and i don't want him to catch me picking them. He doesn't know that i have permission to pick them but how would i explain to him that i have been told i can take them when they are ready. The language barrier is the problem here.

Next to the Fig tree there is a Quince tree. Quince look just like a pear but they can only be used to make a type of marmalade called Quince jelly. I have found a few recipes for Quince wine. Due to the amount of grapes i have i don't know if i will be able to make Quince wine but for further information look on this link this is a Forum run by wine makers in the UK i have found them a great help up to know.

Today thursday i went to the weekly market in Arganil. At the market there is a section where all the food stalls are in the same place. At one stall i saw some nice Red Peppers and decided to buy two and picked the ones i wanted, when it was my turn i handed the two peppers over to the lady and she gave them back to me without charge. Free.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Autumn is here and the nights are staring to get darker

Ir's now that time of year again. Summer has been and Autumn is here and the nights are staring to get darker but it has been a great summer.

Apart from the fires the weather has been great with none of the extreme heat we had last year. We have had a few days of much needed rain but not enough to speak about. If the coming winter is like last year I for one will be very happy. Last year was my first winter here and it was really very pleasant cold in the morning but as the sun came out it got much warmer a really was nice.

The entrance to the River Bar in Gois.

When i was last there two young girls where using a raft to take people over to the tables in the river. Hope they got paid for there work

From across the river

Tables in the river now how cool is that.