Thank You!

I was very happy and surprised to find the other day that Olga over at Self Expression had awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. Now, before I go any further I have to apologise as I have an enormous problem inserting links.  I have learnt how to do it now, but for some strange reason my laptop won´t let me do it in a “pretty”way. Sorry folks, I´m clearly not as versatile as I should be.

Anyway, back to business.  Olga comes from Ekaterinburg in Russia and teaches English.  I enjoy her blog mainly because it´s so different from many of the others that I read. She is interested in psychology and many of her posts reflect this.  Olga also includes guests blogs and it´s good to read about things which make me sit back and reflect for a while.  I thoroughly recommend that you pop over there and pay her a visit. Thank you Olga for the award, am feeling happy and humble!

So, it seems that I am asked to tell my readers seven things about myself that they may not be aware of.  Presumably something which they will also find interesting…hmmm, that´s a tricky one.

  1. I am left handed.  Perhaps not so fascinating for most people, but any lefties out there will understand the daily struggle  with ordinary things like knives and scissors that we face.
  2. I want to learn to play the guitar.  I have a guitar, I have the books, I even have a little plastic picky thing called a plectrum.  I just can´t seem to settle down and get to it.
  3. I am interested in tracing the history of my family. I got as far back as a 7 times great grandfather who was a humble farm labourer in Gloucestershire in 1787 but have hit a wall.  It´s interesting to look at conditions in the times of our ancestors and to imagine the lives they led and the hardships they, undoubtedbly, endured.  And then to feel grateful for all that we have now.
  4. I have “done” the Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk. When my best friend and I turned 40, we went round the world for three months.  What a trip!  A few days after my birthday we treated each other as a gift, to the bridge walk.  We were at the top as the sun went down over the city and the group we were with sang Happy Birthday to us.  One of those amazing, once in a lifetime moments.  I was very lucky. Apart from the awful grey boiler suit I had to wear and the lamp strapped to head.  I looked like a large illuminated sewer pipe.  

    If you look really, really closely you´ll see a group at the top doing the walk!
  5. I am easily distracted, although I like to think of it as being very good at multitasking.  Since starting to write this post I have done a machine load of washing, emptied the dishwasher, made jam, sorted out my car insurance, fed the dogs, and dug out some material I want to turn into a tablecloth.  My life is like this -I love to have several projects on the go at once and am already planning the next before I have finished the one I am working on.
  6. I confess that I don´t really like Flamenco singing.  “What a heathen” my new Spanish family and friends think.  I have tried and tried, and whilst I enjoy the clapping and stamping and dancing, I just can´t learn to love the wailing and sobbing that goes with a “good” fandago.  Sorry, I guess that´s the Brit in me coming out.

    Our beautiful niece Fátima (r) and her friend, also Fátima, ready to dance!
  7. My favourite book of all time, and which I have read over and over again is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  I studied it at the age of 16, fell in love with it, and the passion has endured.  Sigh!

With this award, also comes the pleasure of passing it on to others. Now, I haven´t been blogging for that long, so haven´t yet had the chance of building up a good collection of “Virtual Blogging Pals”.  Also, my dodgy laptop won´t let me be too creative in naming them, but I´ll do my best.  Some of the blogs I love to read have already, understandably been given this award (in some case several times) previously – so an honorouble mention for Greg at Rufus´Food and Spirits Giude He writes with passion and humour, and damn fine photos, about food and drink.  I think I have already put on a few kilos trying out some of his delicious recipes.  

So, awards are passed on to

Florence over at Florence and Freddie   Florence has a wonderful craft blog and can seem to turn even the most everyday object into a work of beauty.  She takes much of her influence from the Andalucían countryside where she, like me, lives.  I can understand her inspiration, I wish I had her creative talents.

Mandy over at The Complete Cook Book  Mandy has done exactly what her blog says and compiled an amazing collection of recipes from her home country (South Africa) and blended with with recipes, hints and tips from other countries and cultures.  Thanks for making it all look so easy and do-able Mandy.

Trevor over at Wartime Gardening  Trevor´s blog is a wonderful mixture of gardening tips from a book issued during the second world war to inspire the people of Britain to “Dig for Victory”. He also shows us how he does it himself in his beautiful garden in France and throws in some delicious recipes, using his own or local produce.  This is such a fun blog with loads of inspiration for cooks and gardeners alike.

JamieAnne at A Dash of Domestic She posts great recipes, money saving tips and she´s the kind of person whose blogs always make you smile.  Thanks too JamieAnne for all your lovely comments!

Apparently recipients can do as they wish with the award i.e. accept, ignore, tell us more about they wish! I do need to tell them though that they have been awarded it, otherwise this wouldn´t make very much sense.

So, that´s it for now.  Thanks again Olga and now back to the kitchen for me.  Or should I go and do some  gardening, or read a book, or make that tablecloth????!


Salmorejo Cordobés – Another kind of gazpacho


Creamy Salmorejo

As promised, another version of the famed Andalucían gazpachos.  This one originates from the beautiful city of Córdoba, and is my favourite version of all.  It is different in that it uses very few ingredients but can be served three ways – very thick as a dip with small breadsticks (known as Picos), medium thick garnished with chopped hard boiled egg and jamon or tuna as a chilled soup starter, or diluted with water as a refreshing drink.  So…three dishes in one!

Ingredients for this are few and it will serve from 6 (as tapas) to 2 (as a soup) approximately:

  • 2-3 slices of stale bread without the crust (should be a fairly dense bread rather than sliced white from the supermarket)
  • About 500g of tomato, cored and peeled (I had one HUGE tomato as you can see in the photo) but usually the volume of the tomato once in the jug is a little more than the volume of the breadcrumbs
  • A chunk of red pepper (optional)
  • Half a clove of garlic (don´t recommend you use more or it will overpower the taste the taste of the salmorejo)
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Once again, the holy trinity of water, salt and vinegar appear but we´ll use very little water this time.

Dribble a very little amount of water onto the bread which you will have put into a mixing jug, and leave for a minute or two to absorb it.

Start with bread and water

Add the tomato and pepper if you are using it.  The truly authentic recipe doesn´t use red pepper, but after wondering why my salmorejo never looked as red or tasted as sweet as anyone else´s, I was let into the secret of the locals round here – red pepper!

Tomato and Red Pepper

Add your garlic, a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of vinegar and at least two tablespoons of olive oil and start to blend with the hand blender.

Add Vinegar and Salt

You need to get this really smooth, almost like a purée.  The more oil you add, the smoother the mixture will be, although I tend to go easy on it just for the sake of my waistline!  Taste every so often and adjust the salt and vinegar to your liking.  Again, it should be “alegre” or lively in flavour.

Start to blend

When you´re done, leave to chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Get it smooth and thick

Traditionally it´s served in a deep earthenware bowl (to maintain the freshness) with chopped hard-boiled egg and jamon on top.  Some people substitute the jamon for tinned tuna but I guess chopped bacon would also be nice.

It´s also great as a dip or sauce served with little breadsticks (like very short grissini) or croutons.