Food Bloggers Unplugged

Well, who´da thunk it?! The lovely Betsy from Bits & Breadcrumbs passed this fabulous award on to me. In true Blogging style I have to answer a few questions and pass the baton on. Thanks Betsy, I´d be honoured!

1.   What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
It was two things.  First of all my lovely crafty friend Florence over at Florence and Freddie started blogging on WordPress and encouraged me to go for it.  Secondly, I had just finished writing City Slicka to Spanish Chica and wanted to try it out on a wider audience.  Still unpublished, but oh what fun to write.  And now I can say I have written a book, so I´m quite proud of that even though it needs a good edit.  Anyone know any editors….?

2.   Who is your foodie inspiration?
Lots of people, but I guess it started at home.  My beloved grandmother was the queen of cakes and taught me how to bake.  My mum was a 19 year old English girl who married an Italian and had to learn pretty damn quick.  My parents still laugh that the first meal she made him when he visited his future in laws was severely over cooked Spaghetti with tomato ketchup on it.  Fortunately she´s an amazing cook now and even ran her own catering company for many years.  Chef wise I love Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and finally I am now inspired daily by my fellow food bloggers.

My beautiful grandmother aged 26

3.   Your greasiest, batter – splattered food/drink book is?
It´s not a book, it´s a folder filled with recipes torn out of magazines, scribbled notes, print outs of recipes. I love it, but maybe I should get myself a new folder (ideally wipe clean) as it´s falling apart.

4.   Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
Oh, that´s hard, I´ve travelled a lot and eaten some amazing (and some revolting) meals. Freshly grilled fish on the beach in Bali, a papaya for breakfast in the Cook Islands, an amazing Seafood Feast in Watson´s Bay Australia, my auntie´s pasta in Calabria, an incredible Japanese meal at Nobu in Paris, fresh bread out of the village oven in Morocco….sorry, can´t make my mind up on that one.

Beautiful Bali

5.   Another food bloggers table you’d like to eat at is?
Can I go to a few please? How about something amazing and vegetarian with Natalie over at Cook Eat Live Vegetarian, of course, cocktails with Greg & Katherine at Rufus Food & Spirits Guide, a long night of pasta and cards with Chgo John From the Bartolini Kitchens, tea, scones and a walk round the Farmy with Celi from the Kitchens Garden, a visit to pick supper from Claire´s allotment over at Promenade Plantings and shopping at Mad Dog´s butcher followed by dinner.  Oh dear, I seem to have taken myself off round the world again!

6.   What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
Well, Christmas is long gone but ready for December 2012  I´d like to ask for something quite simple….an immersion blender. I have a knack of breaking things and this is probably one of the gadgets I use most in my kitchen. I´ve been in Spain 6 years and I think this is blender number 7 or 8 and is held together with Big Man´s electrical tape.  Mind you, we now don´t have a handle on the fridge door and the oven doesn´t work well and I´ve always fancied a wine fridge….

7.   Who taught you how to cook?
I´d love to say my mum and grandmother, and I suppose they did teach me the basics, but I am very much self taught. As soon as I left home I was off and experimenting (my poor friends) but I had great fun and built up my confidence to a point that I even taught a cookery class for a while.

My mum teaching Big Man how to cook a suckling pig...

8.   I’m coming to you for dinner what’s your signature dish?
Oh, that´s tough too. I guess it would depend on what time of year you came as I´d try to use as much of our own produce from the vegetable garden, our own eggs, perhaps our own chickens. Ok, as we´re in Spain I´ll do a lovely seafood platter to start, a chicken paella cooked outdoors, you can digest, take a walk or a dip then we´ll have whatever fresh fruit is in season with honey and almond ice cream, little cups of coffee and some of my cantuccini biscuits.

9.   What is your guilty food pleasure?
Now that one is easy.  Walkers Cheese & Onion Crisps.  And no, if you buy me some, I won´t share!

10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
I´m a trained and practising Psychometric Profiler as well as a (sort of ex) Human Resources Consultant. I think I used to scare people off (especially potential suitors) as they thought I was analyzing their every word or gesture.  And I probably was a lot of the time!
Finally…tag 5 other food bloggers with these questions…like a hot baked potato…pass it on.
I think many of the people I have already mentioned have already been tagged, but I´d like to mention a few new (to me) discoveries, the lovely blogs over at Ang Sarap, IamSimplyTia, FrugalFeeding, PeasePudding and SimpleSpeedySnacks.  They should all feel free to join in or not….but I do enjoy reading their blogs and hopefully you will too.

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Going Nuts Over My Awards…

Well, what a week it´s been!  Getting back from our holiday and trying to re-establish a routine with gardening, chickens, dogs, cooking, work…but all of it fun.

And now, four nominations at once.  How lucky and honoured am I?  First of all I have been nominated by TikkTok and RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow for the Versatile Blogger Award.  I was lucky enough to have been nominated for this a while back (but I am not a believer that you can have too much of a good thing), so check out my 7 bits of info in this post. Better not reveal any more or I may lose some of my mysterious allure.  What…I don´t have any?  Oh well…

Then, much to my surprise, I was nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by the lovely Cecilia over at The Kitchens Garden and Mandy at The Complete Cookbook.  You don´t have to make any lists or link to any blogs with this one, just nominate 5 blogs you admire who have less than 200 subscribers, and who you feel should have more!

So, I´d like to thank all the lovely bloggers who nominated me (oh you shouldn´t have…) and nominate the following for the Liebster Blog Award (and apologies if you already have more than 200 subscribers – WordPress was showing this info and now I can´t seem to see it!)

London Eats

Mad Dog TV Dinners

Blue Jelly Beans

Olives and Artichokes

I heart Mondegreens

Please feel free to accept, ignore, pass on, enjoy…but for those of you reading this, do check them out, I think you´ll like what you see!

Now…a quick look at our almonds.  We had so much rain here in the spring that one of our two almond trees lost all its blossom and the second one only managed to hang on to a few flowers.  Such a shame.

When we got back it was time to pick our “bumper “ crop.  As you can see, there really wasn´t very much picking to be done. We didn´t need to bring extra workers in!

Quick, bring the wheelbarrow...I can´t take the weight!

The almonds are covered in a green velvety casing.

Mother Nature´s Couture Green Velvet Coats

We peeled this off of most of them as we stood by the chicken shed.

Striptease in the olive grove

We left them in the sun for a few hours which helped us get those stubborn little “coats” off.

Naked sunbathing

And that was it – one evening soon we´ll open a nice bottle of wine, get our stinky cheese out and have an almond cracking session.  Fingers crossed for a better harvest next year.