Peter's Blog

Iberianspices spicesiberia

Monday, 30 September 2013

My helicopter and Vegetarian's

It's always nice when someone reads my Blog and leaves a comment. I found that another comment had been left and found that the person who left the comment had a website about food and also vegetarian food now it's one thing i have a problem with is vegetarian food. Being a meat eater i find the concept of not eating meat alien so i will have to respect those who choose not to eat meat.

I did find so much on the site very interesting and helpful. I have put a link to Rak's Kitchen on the left of this page and i hope that those who read my Blog find it useful as i did.

I speak to a friend in the UK a couple of times a week and he calls my ceiling fan a Helicopter. Well today after our usual chat i decided to take my ceiling fan down and move it to the kitchen ready for when the electrician calls to connect up my wiring.

The problem i had was the angle of the ceiling and i had to make a spacer as the blades where touching the ceiling.

There is some work on the ridge beam to do but i can do that when i touch up the spots i when i marked the ceiling when i was painting the walls.

I left this picture for my Granddaughter. I told her this was nasty clouds filling up to drop rain again.

But it is a great picture through my prison window.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Juice recipes and marinading

I have mentioned before that i am starting to sell Herbs and Spices and i will also have a Website to sell my products. Naturally i will have as the picture below shows plenty of selection for my own use. As i have only been on my own for a few short years i have to learn about just what goes with what.

I had a large piece of shoulder pork and i decided to cut it into steaks. Normally i would just put the steaks into plastic bags and freeze. Today i decided to marinade the steaks and that's were i had a problem. The problem was what Spice goes with what Spice so it's all trial and error. Black pepper and Lemongrass, Tandorri and Green Cardamon, Cumin and Coriander to name just a few. Instead of just getting out my pork steak for dinner and thinking of something to do with it i this time it's all done before.

When my kitchen is complete i will have all the Spices i don't have room for due to shelf space as you can see from the picture.

Today i had a call from one of my children to say they had had Juice made from a Juicer. That may seem a strange comment to make but this one is like lots of kids saying to most things " I don't like that ". We always had a problem getting this child to eat so when i was told the contents of the Juice i was shocked.

It has something to do with a recently found Liver problem that is still being investigated. The recipe for the juice was found on a website called and on this site each recipe gives the health benefits and the picture shows some of the information i was shown.

It's good to see just what health benefits various fruits give and when i get a Juicer i will certainly start to enjoy fruits taken this way.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Aubergine and i grew it.

Since i arrived here over two years ago i have been growing things that i have never grown before. Everything from Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions, peppers, runner beans, chilli, potatoes and Strawberries. For someone who had never grown anything i felt very proud of myself.

I was given some plants by a friend of mine and one was an Aubergine plant, this i have never had before although i have seen them in supermarkets. I picked the Aubergine yesterday and took a photo that is below this post. It seems something interesting so i have been on the BBC site for some help in what to do with it.

The BBC site is great or i think so, during the week i looked for a recipe for Batter that was egg free. The reason being i couldn't be bothered to go out to buy eggs as i had none left and my chicks are to young yet to give me as many as i feel i want.

The recipe below is for a Tuna dish but i am changing it for a white fish instead.

Gently apply the oil to the vegetables with a brush.
Heat the griddle pan and put the vegetables onto the griddle's surface.
Once the lines have appeared on the surface, turn the vegetables 90 degrees to create the criss cross griddle appearance.
Turn the veg over once the griddle effect has appeared. Remember to brush lightly with oil. When the vegetables are cooked, remove and place on a serving plate.
Brush tuna steaks lightly with oil.
Place the fish onto the pre heated griddle pan and allow to cook.
Leave long enough for the griddle pan to carbonise the steak to create the lined effect.
When they are ready, turn 90 degrees to create the criss cross effect.
Brush other side of the fish with oil and turn over to sear.
Move the finished seared steaks to the serving dish.

Monday, 23 September 2013

It's voting time here in the sun

It's election time here in Portugal but this election is a local election. As it's a local election i can vote as i am a resident but not in the national elections.

I had always votes while i lived in the UK  and never missed a vote. I remember meeting Harold Wilson when he called into the Labour club i was in with my uncle Alf. At that time the ordinary man in the street had as much chance as the educated classes. Micheal Foot, Dennis Skinner were the last of there kind. Now it's the University educated types and long gone is the time of the man in the street. I remember well when Margaret Thatcher came to power when inflation was almost 30% and in a job i had we got a 29.4% pay rise. Margaret Thatcher said that it was going to be difficult to get inflation down and she did. For over 45 years i have followed politics and always voted for those who i considered would do a good job at the time.

Coming up to the present i see no reason that i shouldn't vote here in Portugal. Today i went down to the local Junta to register to vote only to be told that i had to register a while ago the Junta is a council department, i asked just when and i was told that the deadline was six months ago.

This election i can't vote or have my say so i will wait till after the election and go and get registered ready for the next time.

Soon after i arrived home 4 cars arrived just down the lane from my house. They had music playing and someone on a microphone and about 12 people walking about. As they walked up the lane i greeted them in my limited Portuguese and one who could tell i was English came over to talk to me. After saying hello he asked how i liked life here in Portugal and if there was anything that i wanted done to make life better. I said the the only thing i would like to see done was for when home owners like me who register there home should get an information booklet. I would like to see a  booklet with up to date information as to where to get things done I.E. To register for the doctors, how to vote, where to pay house tax etc. After i registered my house i had no idea of other things i needed to do and this would be of great help.

Politicians as usual the world over agree and he did by saying yes it's a good idea as they value all nationals moving to Portugal. He left by giving me a number of leaflets and in them where pictures of all the party people, these same people were the ones who came to my village today. The person i spoke to was no more that the party leader but yet he took the time to speak to me and was in no way eager to get away from me. 

Would i vote for this party well that's known only to me as i believe that who i vote for is private. I do believe that it is my right and i should use my vote so the next election i will be there putting my X in the box

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Spices and Christmas cake mix

I have previously mentioned that i now sell spices and the reason for this was because i found it difficult to be able to buy the selection that i wanted.

Partly the reason was not so simple. Now being retired i don't have a typical 9 - 5 job. Yes i have work to do in the house but that doesn't fill in the time i have on my hands. I used to say to customers in my business in Liverpool it's OK to retire but everybody needs something to do to fill in the time from getting up to going to bed.

I had been to the Miranda do Corvo market a few times and decided that selling at the market would give me something to do. It's not just a case of buying stock and going to the market and selling the stock if only it was so easy.

First there is picking the stock most likely to sell and getting it delivered to Portugal. A set of scales, plastic food grade bags and a heated bag sealer and computer printer labels for both front and rear of the bags. That done almost 80 kilo of Herbs and Spices takes some repackaging just to get ready for sale.

The most difficult part was not creating the front label but the rear label. Under Portuguese law the rear label has to have the ingredients in Portuguese and also you have to include what the Spice or Herb is used for also best before date has also to be done.

Unlike someone who advertises on an a classified adds websie who has a selection of 12 Spices i have with my latest delivery 90 Herbs and Spices. The most common things people say at the market is they have never seen such a selection and i am glad to say they come back again. The second thing they say is how reasonable the prices are. It would be so easy to put the prices up for a quick profit but i want then to come back again and again.

New for this market is Curry powder without chilli for those who don't like heat but want flavour. Seekh Kebab andain without any chilli powder for those who don't like the heat but want the tatse of Seekh Kebabs. Also one i have been asked for a couple of times Lemon grass powder. 

For the next market i have a special for that market only. Christmas cake mix. But not any old Christmas cake mix but my special mix

3 kilo of Sultanas
2 kilo of Currants.
1 kilo of Raisins
1 kilo of dried Apricots
500g Candied Orange peel 
500g Glazes Cherries
70cl bottle of Vodka
1 litre Brandy

This will be a one off Christmas offer and as yet i have to price up the cake mix the usual sugar, flour, eggs etc will be needed. What i have done is make up all the fruit like i do for myself with loads of fruit  but adult fruit soaked in over 2 litre of vodka and brandy.

One recipe i have read asks for Cinnamon and Sweet spice mix  at the moment i haven't added any of this yet.

If that's not enough a local bar that most of use use on the way to Coimbra that's run by an English guy and his staff are also not just English but one is from my home city of Liverpool. As he has a glass display unit with chocolates in i asked if i could put in a selection of spices and he said yes.

What i am trying to say is that retiring to Portugal is great but unless you have nothing to do you will soon get bored. It's easy to g out everyday spending money but having something to do is important or at least for me it is.

I now have a website but at the moment it's not live for selling online but as soon as it is i will soon advertise on here as well as anywhere else i can. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

The reason for the sockets on the right.

I have just had an e-mail from a friend in the UK asking why i didn't have the sockets on the right of the window the same as on the left. The reason being is that the battens on the wall where in the way and stopped me having the sockets on the right the same as the sockets the left.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

My first worktop has arrived

After going out with friends looking for timber for our own various projects we ended with none of us getting what we wanted. On the way back we called at a local Granite company who was on the way home. I had a drawing of what i wanted for my worktop and a window sill so i found the boss and gave him my drawings. A little while later he came back with a price for the worktop and window sill and both for 95€. I had to ask twice to make sure the price was correct and he wrote it down on my drawing so that was it a Bargain.

After i got over my shock at the price of 95€ i asked when they would be ready and he said the next day at about 4pm. 4pm i was there to get my worktop for my soon to be finished kitchen. I asked if they could measure for my other worktop for my main run of units that is almost 3 metre in lenght. The son of the boss said that if i wanted to go home now he would follow me and get everything measured up. He also suggested that they make a kind of tile about three inches to go around the walls above the worktop and when done and sealed it will complete the effect i wanted.

As you can see i am slowly getting there. Tomorrow i will get the outside lights on the veranda connected and another milestone is done.

My friend called today to take my last base unit for the kitchen. The unit is to the left of the cooker and it was 100cm and i needed it cut down to 92.5cm  to fit. I called back to his house after 3 hours and my base unit was ready for me to bring home and fit. It fit with 2mm to spare and afer15 minutes it was all done and in place.

The electrician calls Friday to look at what's needed to get the wiring connected. I have wired all the sockets and lights but everything is coming from downstairs the idea for this is as i don't want and wires or pipes in the walls. I won't be having wall cupboards but should in the future someone want them then there will be no problem with the walls having hidden wires or pipes so it would be safe to fit units on the walls.

Herbs and Spices and lots to keep me busy

A long time ago Gordon Ramsey was cooking some pork and he put a lot of Cloves into the top of the pork. I searched as best i could but i couldn't find  any Cloves and with not being able to get Juniper berries i was fed up not being able to do as i wanted.

After lots of research i found i could get Spices delivered here to me in Portugal. By having what i wanted posted to me from the UK was very expensive so what as the answer. I had been cooking for myself for a couple of years now but i wanted to do more.

Being a retailer for most of my working life i decided to start to sell Herbs and Spices and that was the start of a new journey in my new life.

First i had to find a supplier in the UK and that took me quite a while. You would expect that in these difficult times companies would be quick to reply to get an increase in trade. Only one company was quick to reply and this company was ot an Asian company like the other six i had contacted. all six where either slow to reply or would not let me use a courier of my choice. Being an ex retailer i know what i wanted in service and only one company meet all i wanted.

My first order was for about 80 kilo of Herbs and Spices and by using my courier i paid less than £30 for 30 kilo and they use  UPS for there deliveries.For details of the courier see below.

After the first delivery i had the task of then packing into various pack sizes, Labels, the rear label had to be in Portuguese etc. So i needed to get bags sent from Liverpool as i have family who could get them and send them to me. Then i needed scales and a heat bag sealer.

After weeks of work reweighing, packing and translating labels all was done and it was soon time for my first market at Miranda Do Corvo market. I arrived at the market at almost 7am only to find almost no place for me. A place had been kept for someone who hadn't turned up so i was lucky to get that spot and it was a good one to have and for the next four months i have had that spot.

The Portuguese who sell at the market arrive at about midnight and mark out there place and put out there stuff and then sleep in there vans. I was told that to get the spot you want you need to be there at 4/5am, so that's what i have been doing. To arrive at 5am and then wait till 9.30/10am before people arrive seems a big waste to me but i just put up my tresles and then try and rest in my car.

I have big plastic trays with all my products in so laying things out is so easy and only takes about 5 minutes and i am ready to start selling. Sales have been very good and so many people are amazed at the selection i have and the other stall with about a dozen types of spice and in little boxes now turn there stall so i can't see them it may be because there sales are down or are now nil.

More about the website and a retail outlet later.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Getting ready for next years growing season

Last year i planted a few strawberry plants and they have done very well But and a big But is most of my land faces the burning sun all day. In the UK with the UK weather that would not be a problem but here even just before dark it's still hot.

Where i have my Strawberries i don't have room for many more plants but i want more strawberries for breakfast and i have found the answer. Hydroponics. Hydroponics is not new and most of the soft fruits on sale in the supermarkets in the UK are grown this way.

So what is Hydroponics, it's all about growing food without using soil. The plant just has it's roots in moving water, the moving water circulates the nutriments that they need to grow. The picture below shows how you can use the system to grow more in less space. I will have maybe 4 or 5 tubes and about 6ft long and from this i should get all the strawberries i want also my peppers, chilli and tomatos.

A simple small solar panel and battery will power a water pump to move the water and a timer to give the movement of water when it's needed simple.

Did you know that each week one farm in the UK picks for the supermarkets up to 700,000 peppers and 700,000 cucumbers are picked each week using this system and tomatos grow year round.

So this is how i am going to proceed with growing better numbers of strawberries, chilli and peppers and also tomatos but in a unit of there own.  

My units will be something like this one but not as high or long. The reason being i don't have the room.

Water goes in the top and comes out the bottom and is sent round and round again.

This is all it's about, i love being able to have strawberries for breakfast and i look forward to having many more next year.

Just copy and paste the links below, one is to a magazine that started in 1991.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Now where should the fire go corner or centre?

I have a dilemma. A little while ago i was able get myself a log burner and that's were i have a dilemma. Should i have it in the corner of the room as i had always planned or in the centre of the room.

If i have the fire in the corner i can only take the flue pipe out of the wall and to the outside and that's a lot of waste heat.

Or if i have the fire in the centre of the wall i could have the flue go up through the loft space and then outside. What that would do is help to heat the room above my lounge. At some point i want to make the room upstairs into a master suite.

The fire will stand on marble and behind will also be marble so it should look OK but it all depends on where the fire gets positioned.

The dilemma is should i have my fire here and have the extra heat given of from the flue go into the room above. The flue would go through the ceiling and out from the roof. Not only does heat come from the fire but also from the flue as heat rises and is given of from the sides of the flue.

Or should i have the fire here as i had planned and have the flue go out of the wall above the fire.

New insulated plasterboard on the left and i am getting ready to carry on round the room.

Monday, 9 September 2013

A job done and not by me.

Up till now everything i have done in my house has been done by myself, I must admit that i am very proud of what i have achieved up till now.

Today i must admit to having to get someone else to do a job that looked easy but only easy because the guy who helped knew just what he was doing. A friend has been a joiner most of his life and also a window installer. To get my window installed properly i was lost. there was a 2cm gap all around and to fit a window centred was something i didn't know how to get the window in the middle of the hole.

The trick is to fit wedges all round on each side sounds easy t say that but when you have never done or seen a window fitted you wonder were do  i start. My friend had the window installed in under an hour when i have been looking at it for weeks. So much as i had wanted to do all the work in my kitchen i had to admit i needed help. I still feel proud of what i have done.

There may be many reading this Blog who like me want to do all that they can. I would say have a go you have nothing to loose and everything to gain.

All that's needed now is for the expanding foam to be trimmed from around the frame and go and get my sill made. I had a granite sill made for my other window and the cost was 12€ so i don't expect to pay more than 12€ now that's a bargain. Sometimes it's so bright outside that photos seem dark but that's life.

What's to be done now, the base units under the window and the cooker to be fitted. All the electrics to be connected and my ceiling fan. Worktops to have made for the units on either wall, one worktop will have the sink installed and the other will have the hob installed. Then the windows and door frames have to be trimmed after getting my own timber cut to size. So really still a lot to do but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Prison bars but i still have a view.

Portugal is a country that has many laws that may seem strange to outsiders like myself.  If you don't own the land at the side of your house and you want a window and the window faces onto someone else's land then you have to have bars on the window.

My kitchen borders someone eles's land and after asking him if i could have a window that doesn't open onto his land he refused. He said that should he sell the ruin next door then the window would stop someone else rebuilding the ruin. As they are in the area i live many ruins in a better condition and a better place his chance of selling is nil unless he sells to me but that's another story.

In a previous life i had a job that at times required me to be able to weld. I was not the best welder but i was OK. I decided to make a frame with two bars to go in the gap i had for the window. I had enough flat bar steel and proceeded to cut the steel to size and weld it to make a grill for the window. Maybe as the steel was a bit thicker than i would have liked or the welding rods being 3/4 years old now as i had not needed to use any for a long time i don't know.

My attempt at welding was to say the least poor but in the end only i know that and when hidden behind my new window it won't be seen. A friend who was a window fitter for over 12 years has offered to come around and fit my window for me it was an offer that i couldn't refuse. It would probably take me all day but it may take him only an hour or so but when you have done it as a job it's so easy.
The gap above the window is because the builder who cut the hole made it 2cm to big so as to make it easy to fit the frame. The window frame is just sitting there for now but tomorrow it should be all done.

This is a window in one of my bedrooms and this is not how i would like  my kitchen window to look. As the kitchen window doesn't open i have taken a chance with the bars i have made. Will i get away with it only time will tell.

This afternoon as i painted the bars i didn't expect what i found later. At just 7pm i had just seen an advert on TV for window blinds. I have just had my dinner and i went to put one more coat of paint on the bars. The sun goes down behind the hills opposite the new window, i have my base unit that takes my oven and hob ready and they will be right in front of the window. That was OK till tonight when the sun was so bright i couldn't look out of the window. I had wanted to have my hob in front of the window but now i may have to have the hob to the right or the left of the window and i am not now sure just how to move the hob for the best.  

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Units now in place and just the painting bits to finsh

After getting all my bits i had been waiting to get i made a good start today. First was the painting, i had mixed just the shade i had wanted and i was starting getting as much done as early as i could. I wanted to do two coats as it was so hot the paint would soon dry. Unfortunately it took longer than i had first thought it would. I got all the walls done but as it took longer i got help to carry the units though with me. So as not to waste paint i marked the walls where the units would go so that i only painted the parts that were on show.

The walls during preparation had two coats of white paint and a further two coats of a pale yellow. So four coats of paint on parts that would never again see the light of day is enough for me. I had taken the door out so i could carry on with the painting as with the door out of the way i could get on better.

Once the units were in place the gap at the end looked a little small so i tried to fit the door. I was glad to find that the door fit with a tiny fraction of an inch to spare.

Tomorrow i will get started early and paint the whole room again and then that should be it as regards painting. One mistake i made while using the roller was that i hit the ceiling a couple of times. Instead of trying to was it of i left it to dry and in the morning i will finish of and then it's down to fitting out the room. 

I put these units here while i had someone here to help lift them. This is where the units will stay when fitted and the sink will be right in front of the window.

Hows that for a good fit, the door goes back against the wall.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Oh what a good day and ended with a curry

Little has happened for the last week until today. I managed to get to Coimbra and to Leyroy Merlin a B&Q type shop for those in the UK reading this Blog.

I went to Leyroy Merlin to get a sink for my kitchen, as he sink was on offer i was also able to get all the plumbing bits i needed. As you can see from the picture the sink is not one that you would but in the UK. I have not seen anything like this before so i was glad to have been able to get something that looked so good.

Whilst there i was able to get the yellow colour pigment to add to my paint so i could mix the shade that i wanted. The first thing i did when i got home was to mix the paint and as hoped it came out just as i wanted. I will spend tomorrow inside painting my kitchen but with two good coats so i get the best look i can get.

To finish of what was a good day i wanted to make a curry as i had god some Turkey breast from the supermarket. Curry was all prepared when i found that i had no onions and didn't really want to go out for them. While i was watering my fruit trees and chilli and peppers etc i found some onions that i had planted soem time ago and had forgotten about.  My chickens had escaped one day and found there way to where the onions were growing. In a short time they had eaten almost all of the onions i had planted but i was glad to find that a few had remained. 

Now this is what i call a sink and when the kitchen is finished it will look amazing.

This picture really doesn't show the colour but it is how i wanted it. I did a test on a part of the wall that will have the kitchen units fitted and it does look good. 

Not bad for what was uneaten by the chickens. They really did come in handy when needed. Next year i will make sure i plant plenty because these few where good.