Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pictures at an exhibition

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The Mosaic exhibition was officially opened last night with about 30 people attending which apparently is very good. A few of our friends came along and it was nice for Luis to have their support. Jesus, Gloria, Luis and I had all worked hard to ensure that everything looked its best and that a small reception was laid out for those attending - chorizo, tortilla, bread, olives, empanada, crisps, wine and beer.

Unexpectedly (because Luis wasn't previously informed), Jesus and Gloria called the guests to attention and introduced Luis and his work to the gathered crowd. They talked of how pleased they were to see his work and especially a new art and craft for the centre.

Luis rose to the occasion and responded in his usual eloquent manner. It was a great night and we were all very pleased for him and proud.

A mosaic in progress

Luis before the inauguration

Luis being presented by Jesus and Gloria - Ceramicists and sculptor

Part of a photographic presentation

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Preparing for the mosaic exhibition

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The exhibition is taking shape and we have today delivered the last few mosaics to the gallery. The posters and leaflets have been distributed, emails sent and the opening event promoted where practical.

Luis' exhibition has had interest from the radio and press resulting in a trip to Gijon yesterday to participate in a radio interview for Radio Principado Asturias. A funny thing happened on the way to the studio, we were lost as Gijon is a sprawling city with many broad avenues and diagonal cross roads. We headed in the right direction but decided to ask in a local coffee bar. Luis asked the proprietor where RPA was. Nodding at a young blonde woman sat having coffee, Luis turned to be confronted by "Are you Luis? I am Cristina and I am interviewing you this afternoon".

Luis with Cristina Natal
The interview went well and he came across as very enthusiastic and knowledgeable, not too nervous nor too laid back. It was an opportunity to thank the staff at the exhibition centre for their help and promote the event, his blog and his desire for further mosaic experience and training in Italy.

On air, in full swing - fast approaching the 5 '0' clock news
Full interview here (in Spanish):

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mosaic exhibition

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It is some time since I first discovered mosaics and since Ian got me my first book on pebble mosaics. Little did I know that it would set my on a path of creative self discovery. Since we moved to La Pasera I have been able to develop my passion for mosaics and after a long wait, I am pleased to invite you to come and see my first solo mosaic exhibition at the Regional Crafts and Applied Arts Center not too far from home.

I am also finalizing the design for my next mosaic project that involves an interpretation of a landscape and landmark in black, gray and white tones. a very exciting project.

I hope you can drop by and enjoy the exhibition that will be inaugurated on Friday 28th October 2011 and will run until 11th December 2011 at the Centro Regional de Artesania y Artes plasticas en Poo de Llanes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The best Piccalilli recipe ever

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Piccalilli is one of our favourite preserves. Each year, towards the end of the season, there are green vegetables and green unripe tomatoes aplenty so piccalilli is an excellent way of making use of these. This particular recipe has been handed down in our family for the past four generations. Originally from my maternal Great Grandmother Mabel Lund, I have strong memories of this pickle being brought out around Christmas time for Boxing day tea, served with cold meats and cheese.

Autumn Crocus now in full bloom
As with most pickles, it is best made and left to mature for a couple of months before using. This recipe will make about 12 jam jars which is not really a lot if you are a piccalilli addict like me. Double up if necessary... Note: this recipe is in imperial measurement as it always has been... You metric bods will have to do the sums.


2 cauliflowers
1 cucumber
2 lb of shallots or onion
2 lb of green tomatoes
1 head of celery

About 6 lb of vegetable in total. Chop all the vegetables into small pieces. The cauliflower should be broken into small sized florets and if small enough, the shallots left whole. Soak overnight in a brine solution made with 8 pints of water and 1/2 lb of salt.

The following day, drain and rinse well, leave to drain whilst you make the sauce.

4 oz of mustard powder
1/2 oz of Turmeric
1 lb sugar (can be reduced if necessary)
2 1/2 pints of vinegar
1 cup of plain flour

Make a sauce with all the ingredients, thicken with the flour and gently bring to the boil to cook out the flour. Be careful not to burn the sauce, stir constantly. Add the dry vegetables and bring to the boil and immediately remove from the heat. Cover and leave to cool. Bottle and seal in sterilised jars the following day and label. Hide from everyone except your best friends....

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The worst chutney recipe ever

Following on from the post about the glut... I thought I'd report back on what we have done with some of the produce since. The chilli peppers were cleaned, half and quartered then frozen in layers then bagged. These will be used in variety of ways over the next 12 months. The red peppers have been cleaned and bottled. The weak vinegar solution then heated in a bain marie should keep them in good condition for some time to come however it is the first time we have tried this so we will wait and see.

We have made some glorious soups that have been enjoyed by us and our guests over the past few days. Plenty more has been frozen. The most popular was carrot and coriander with orange soup followed closely by cream of marrow. If any one wants the recipes let us know and we'll put them on the blog.

We have not had to buy fruit or vegetables for a few months now. Locally, the fig trees are full of fruit and Luis has been collecting and processing them for the freezer in readiness to make jam when we get the time. Apples are being harvested and although our own supply has been poor this year, the gift of apples from Luis' sister has been welcome.

We have eaten lots of red, ripe and juicy tomatoes however we need to use many more in addition to a container full of ripened pears. I came across a chutney recipe in a leaflet produced some years ago by a famous vinegar brand and it ticked all the boxes in relation to the goodies we had in store.

I usually cook from instinct and practice rather than follow a recipe, usually I would adapt it if it didn't seem right but last night's chutney effort slipped by. As I added the final amount of vinegar I just knew it was too much liquid. As the recipe was to be simmered for 90 mins, I decided to wait and see. No amount of vapour release could be enough to reduce and thicken. A last minute effort to skim off at least three cups of syrupy liquid helped no end.

Now the chutney is cooled and jarred, it will mature for at least three months and although still a little more loose than I would have liked, we now have 10 jars of very tasty Pear Chutney  in store. The worst chutney recipe ever?, probably. I must remember to act on instinct and amend the amounts for next time.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Processing the glut - 50 years a vegetarian

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Every so often we have a glut of produce, not just an unused bag of something from last week's shop at the supermarket like in the old days, but a serious glut of fresh fruit and vegetables. This week we were visited by Rita and Alfredo (Luis' sister and brother in law). As usual they came laden with produce from their own plot - a plot, I might add that makes La Pasera's look like a postage stamp.

Rita, knowing that I am a vegetarian, brought with her about 40 jars of Pisto she had made for me. This is a concentrated base of tomato, with chunks of marrow, pepper, squash, onion, paprika and herbs. Sealed and heated in a bain marie, this useful sauce can be used as a base for soups, with pasta, rice or other vegetables and it is a really useful, quick and easy food to have in store. I usually ration it to ensure we have stock all year round but somehow we still have a few jars left from last season so we will be treating ourselves to a few portions over the next few days.

In addition to the Pisto, they brought with them about 80 kg of ripe tomatoes, 20 kg of green tomatoes, bags full of apples, pears, peppers, chillies, cabbage and carrots. Our larder area in the garage would rival even the best stocked supermarket fresh produce counter.

Some of the produce from Rita and Alfredo
Needless to say, together with the glut of produce we currently have there is a lot of work to be done over the next few days if we are not to waste most of what we have in store. Thankfully, whilst Rita was here she and Luis spent two days of her 'holiday' making tomato frito or passata as you might know it. Here's how:

The tomatoes are washed and cored, blemishes removed then squashed into a rough pulp. The pulp is put into a fine mesh bag and left to drain overnight. The juice that is collected is bottled and frozen as it is one of the best tomato juices you could ever taste.

The pulp is then put through a machine that separates the flesh from the skin and pips (these are composted). Similarly, sautéed onion and peppers are put through the machine and the resulting pulp added to the tomato. This is then boiled and simmered with salt added to taste, herbs if required (I prefer to vary my herbs when used in cooking). When reduced it is put in jars and sealed, then the jars are boiled in a bain marie for 20 minutes until a vacuum has been formed.

In total, she made about 26 jars of tomato frito which together with the Pisto, will ensure we lots of supplies for the coming to tackle the pear and pepper mountain.