Saturday, July 25, 2009

Super salsa

Chilli peppers drying out in the sun are a common sight in Andalucian villages.

Why they are is beyond me, as I've not noticed the Andalucians - at least in my area - being particuarly keen on hot food.

My neighbour José grows them regularly and then ends up giving most of them to me.

My one remaining, rather sad-looking chilli plant

So it is just as well I came across this recipe on one of the forums I visit, shared by a friend who lives in Texas, where it seems they know how to use their chillies.

Super Salsa - 1
2 lb Serrano Peppers
3-1/2 lb Roma Tomatoes
1 lb Spanish Onions
24 oz Tomato Sauce
2-1/2 c Distilled Vinegar
1/4 c Salt
1/4 c Black Pepper
1 lg Head Of Garlic
20 1/2 Pint Canning Jars & Lids

Clean and stem the peppers. Clean and quarter the tomatoes and onions. Use a food processor to shred the tomatoes, peppers and onions. Use the largest shredding blade and don't worry about a few large pieces. Place in a large stock pot. Puree or press the garlic and add to the pot. Add remaining ingredients to the pot along with enough water to keep the mixture from burning when heated. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Put salsa into the canning jars and process for 15 minutes at a rolling boil (open canning method). This salsa is tasty but quite hot. It needs about 3 years to mellow and mature. If you really like food that is hot it is edible immediately.

I didn't can it. I have no idea how to can anything, or even knew that you could do domestic canning, although I did wonder if jam/pickle/Kilner jars would be ok.

Anyway so I reduced the amounts and made enough to throw liberally over some burgers, veg, and salad, and the next day the remainder was used as a base for a red bean chilli casserole.

It would be equally good to liven up a pasta sauce, or an Indian-style curry. A good sauce, easy to make, and ingredients that I happen to have in all the time.

So I tried her next recipe. This one is even more simple to make, but I did need to remember to buy lime and coriander/cilantro.

In Andalucia, cilantro is available, but I can't say I've noticed a lot of limes on sale. I'm guessing lemon would do as a substitute but won't have the same zing that the lime juice brings to the sauce. (I made it in Gib so limes are available here)

I used fresh tomatoes incidentally and whatever chillies are sold locally. I am no expert on chillies but found this good site here. I didn't bother with sugar because I never use it.

Super Salsa - 2

1 can tomatoes (28-ounce; or about a pound of fresh Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped)
2 Serrano peppers, diced (or you can substitute 2 jalapeños, which are milder.) Be sure and either wear gloves or wash your hands immediately after chopping the peppers so you don’t burn other parts of yourself.
1 cup of cilantro leaves
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons of chili powder (add more to taste, if you like)
Salt to taste
A dash of sugar
Juice from 1/2 lime

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust spices if needed.

Easy huh, and absolutely delicious. I found myself planning my meals around this salsa, but actually it doesn't matter as it goes with everything. It was even better than the first recipe and took literally minutes to put together.

Thanks to Pheeno for sharing the super salsa recipes.


Some salsa ingredients

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


So, here is the verdict.

Do I like it? Yes.

Why? Er, don't know.

Maybe because I like the Apple OS?

Maybe because I can choose a nice gentle harp sound for the alarm call instead of a horrid shrill BEEP! BEEP!

Maybe because it takes nice pictures (apart from feral cats in the dark).

Maybe because it is intuitively easy to use - well it certainly is if your main computers are also Apple.

The truth is, I didn't need another 'phone. Nor am I into fashionable consumer status symbols.

I don't listen to music - I've never had an ipod, or before that even a CD player. I only bought a walkman type thing so I could listen to Linguaphone cassettes and learn Spanish.

I'm not interested in videos, or scrolling through Youtube looking for funny or interesting vids.

I've certainly no intention of buying a load of applications either.

But simple things please me. I can key in Gibraltar for the weather - on my HP the weather widget doesn't accept Gibraltar, Gibraltar. :(

And I can set all my world clocks up, so I know when friends in America, Canada and Australia are awake/asleep.

Did I pay hundreds of pounds for those small pleasures? No. I paid it for a small computer that I can use on the move, preferably using someone's wifi, but if necessary - at a price - I can use it on roaming. (I don't have wifi at home).

I have yet to plough through the manual and discover what it can do. I have yet to discover what it can do if I jailbreak it. But having paid a fortune for it, I am unlikely to dabble with it.

I should explain that it came factory unlocked. In Spain, Apple is only available with a rip-off Movistar contract. But here in Gib, there are no restrictions, so you can put in whatever sim card you want. Ironically I probably wouldn't have minded a Gibtel contract, as their prices are reasonable. Anything is reasonable compared with Movistar/Telefonica.

And because it is factory unlocked it comes with an Italian manual - Italy being one of the other places in Europe where you can buy them legimately unlocked, rather than cracked.

I could probably work out most of the Italian manual, but I really can't be bothered, so that means I have to peer at the manual on screen or print it off. All 154 pages of it. Perhaps printing off the relevant pages is the way to go.

Oh, it's 3G (8GB) by the way. I'd asked about 16GBs ages ago, but the shop has never got any in. In fact at the time I asked they didn't have any iPhones in stock at all, so I put my name on the 'ring and tell me when you have them' list.

Some three (?) months later, ie last week, I finally got a call. Was I still interested?

Yes, but could I come down and have a look and a play around with it?

Er, no. They were in sealed boxes, they only had a limited number, and they weren't going out on display. Oh, and they would be getting some 3GSs in later if I wanted to wait.

How long?

A couple of weeks.

That seemed highly unlikely to me given that it had taken months to get this latest batch of 3Gs. I should also add that the 3GS is £879 for 16GB, and £999 for 32GB. That seems an excessive amount of money to pay for a 'phone, when I'm not interested in half the features.

Anyway, I was instructed to go and buy it. I'm not sure if it is a belated birthday present or just coincidence that they came into stock a couple of weeks after my birthday. (For what I did get up to on my birthday, read here.) But being a dutiful and obedient sort of partner, I went and bought it. I even bought a case as instructed too. It's quite a nice black one with a clear plastic visor. And there is a sticky thing to go on the screen which I have managed to mess up, hence the somewhat unclear picture of Pippa on the wallpaper through scratched and fuzzy plastic.

More of a review later when I have worked through the manual to see if there is anything else I want to do apart from look at the weather and world clocks.

Friday, July 03, 2009


As readers of Pippa's blog may have discovered, we cleared off to the finca for a week's holiday. Given that I don't do any paid work (and very little of any other work), holiday is perhaps not the right word for my week away.

But it was intended to be a week off for my partner who has been working solid for 15 months. He's a decorator. So what better way to spend your holiday? And birthday?

We cleared the garden of all the overgrown stuff, including heavy pruning of some nispero trees, and painted the terrace walls, inside and out - which was long overdue.

Even I was seen to get out a roller and paint brush - haven't picked up a paint brush in years (why bother when married to a decorator) - and never touched a roller before.

Which reminds me - classic boring decorator's joke 'Brush up on your sex life: roll with a painter.' Yawn.

It wasn't all painting and gardening, I did a tiny bit of cleaning. We managed two or three cycle rides, and one geocache. More on that later.

And we ate well, mostly salads, pulses, and marinated pimientos.

So here are few more pix from our birthdays, mostly his. Mine for another post.


Yellow roses at night (obviously)

Painting the walls

All my very own efforts

Quick stop for a birthday drink

Birthday (his) evening meal on the terrace

Tranquility at night

More painting on my birthday

Birthday (mine) breakfast - oops the tablecloth has been swapped for a dust sheet

Up into the hills for a cache

My original Hal Apple who was becoming rather cantankerous over the week