Where did January go?!

Normally a quiet month, a little flat after the excesses of Christmas. Not so here, it seems to have been busy and bright….and I’m not complaining.

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We have been pretty good about eating lighter, and eating less meat, but I have turned to an old standby favourite this month. Tray baked chicken  (although I used an oven dish!).

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It’s a quick dish to throw together using whatever is nestled in the fridge and although I mostly use skinned, bone-in chicken joints, it’s great with fish fillets or just veggies.

Peel and chop potatoes into large pieces, add vegetables like peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, carrots and a full head of garlic. I haven’t given quantities as this dish is great for one, two or a dozen people. Just judge how much your crowd will eat, add a little extra as they will always want to go back for more, and find an oven dish or tray to fit the quantity.  Put all the ingredients into the dish, preheat the oven to about 180 degrees.  Pour over some olive oil, season with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper then customise any other seasoning to whatever takes your fancy. This time I used some dried oregano from our garden in Spain, a little smoked pimentón and half a finely chopped lemon.

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Mix together well, hands work best for this to ensure everything is well coated, and add a good slug of white wine,  stock or water.  Cover tightly with foil bake for about an hour then remove the foil and bake for about 20 minutes more until everything is starting to brown nicely. If you want to add some tender vegetables (I used some chopped kale) stir into the dish about 10 minutes before you’re finished. Then it’s  straight to the table, perfect one pot cooking!

We’ve been enjoying the winter sunshine and taking walks along Bexhill beach.  Then a quick trip across the channel to stock up on wine (stocks were dangerously low) and a lovely night in Le Touqet were enjoyed last weekend.

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And little Alfi,  one of our pups, has started on a course of hydrotherapy to build up his leg muscles after an operation on his hind leg in November to repair a damaged cruciate ligament.

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He’s not a water loving dog so is highly unimpressed with being put into a warm pool then shampooed and blow dried afterwards. I’d be delighted at the opportunity of such pampering but there’s just no pleasing some pups….!

I’ve been cooking and have some recipes to share with you soon, but in the meantime, enjoy the last few days of the month.

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Last night was 5th November, Bonfire Night. It´s a night much celebrated in the UK with bonfires, fireworks and all sorts of lovely outdoor parties and food.

Of course, here in Andalucía it´s a day like any other.  But for us, it was marked in a small way by lighting our fire for the first time this autumn.  We´ve been lucky, the evenings are turning chilly but are still mild enough for a warm sweater and an extra glass of wine to be enough to keep you warm through the evening.

Yesterday, though, Big Man decided it was time to have a fire, so he got it going with dry wood we had left from last year.  We still have to bring up a big stock of wood from the olives to get us through the winter.  Because the wood was so dry the fire was soon blazing away and I popped out to see a neighbour for an hour or two.

I got back a while later to find another neighbour happily settled in with Big Man, the fire crackling away and very jolly atmosphere filled the room along with the scent of olive wood.

They were in the process of carrying out some serious scientific research – which wine goes best with roasted chestnuts?  In order to ensure they were being completely thorough there was a bottle each of dry, semi sweet and dessert wine.  Because they are tidy boys, they had even put a cover on the table to protect it…as you can see, it was a very glamorous newspaper.  Honestly, we really are such classy folk up our mountain!

Anyway, we ate chestnuts, drank the wine, and to be honest I can´t actually remember which wine one was nicest…I´ll leave it to you to carry out your own research.