Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thai veg green curry

Searching on the tinties for a Thai veggie recipe, I came across one that seemed to have exactly the combination of ingredients I wanted on

Here it is, with my variations in brackets.

Serves four (hmm, doubt that)

Tofu or chick peas
I green pepper, chopped
Asparagas, chopped, or green beans (I think beans go better)
Handful cherry toms
3/4 can coconut milk (soya)
Veg stock
Thai or sweet basil
Optional: 2/3 kaffir lime leaves (what??!!)

Green curry paste (this is the best bit)
1/4 can coconut milk (soya milk)
1-3 green chillies
lots of coriander, leaves and stems
1 shallot, chopped (or any onion really)
4-5 cloves garlic
Piece of ginger, sliced
1 tbsp soy sauce (I use tamari)
2 tbsp lime juice (or lemon)
ground cumin
ground coriander
ground pepper
sugar (I ignore that)

1) Zap paste ingredients
2) Add a little oil to pan and then pour paste into it and stir fry for a minute or so to release the fragrance
3) Add tofu or chick peas and stir fry until saturated with sauce
4) Add stock plus lime leaves. Stir, reduce heat and simmer for five mins
5) Add milk, veg and simmer 5-7 mins or until softened (or to personal taste I guess)
6) Serve (with rice. Or noodly things). Sprinkle with the basil, and/or red chilli if you want more spice.


I use soya milk instead of coconut because we aren't fans of coconut milk, it's too sweet for our taste. Yeah, I know Thai food is coconutty, but what I wanted was the fresh greeny taste, and the hotness, so the rest of it was perfect for us. If you like stuff slightly sweeter than we do, soya milk sweetened with apple juice is probably a good choice.

The recipe does say you can experiment with other veg. I used Pak Soy yesterday for a change.

Limes don't seem to be very juicy and they are pricey, last time I bought them I needed two and they were 45p each. Yesterday I used lemons instead. They go further.

And I use tofu not chick peas. I daresay if you aren't vegetarian you can add whatever you prefer. It's the green paste that makes this curry so delicious.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In with the new

There is always something changing in Gib.

You can't walk down Main Street without seeing yet another shop changing hands, and the inside being gutted for a refurb. Or, even in spite of the downturn in the construction business, there are still plenty of flats being built.

Endless changes to the roads, with the Trafalgar interchange finally completed at the end of last year, and the Dudley Ward Tunnel open again, it's now the turn of Devil's Tower Road as work has started on making it into a dual carriageway as part of the new airport development.

Sometimes the smaller developments make just as much difference in daily life though.

The market hall has recently had a revamp. It's a nice old building and could have done with tidying up some time ago. It certainly looks very different now in its - er - new colour scheme, for want of a better description.

But the one thing I liked about it were the entrance pillars that said in the three languages - mercado, market, marché. Gone, demolished. Yes there is some nice open space there, but I loved the trilingual designation of the market.

The new look

Going .. going ....

Regular readers of my blogs will, by now, have decided without a doubt that I have a fixation with bus stops. And buses in general. This may well be the case, but when you use them they become important.

Mostly we walk round Gib but there is the odd occasion when we hop on the bus, (Gus). There is a very good, regular and cheap bus service here. In fact it's a shame more people don't use it instead of clogging up the roads with their cars.

The bus shelter near to us was in bad need of repair though. Of the six or eight panels that provided shelter from the wind and the rain, I think about two remained. It was neither use nor ornament.

Well, suddenly, new bus shelters suddenly started appearing everywhere. Not just at our stop which was in dire need of repair or replacement - but all over Gib. And I have to say that for once, I actually approve of the design. They look very smart. Do hope the panels stay in for a few months, at least.

Old one

Workies taking away the old one, new one lurking just behind

And one of the new ones - our local shelter

Saturday, February 19, 2011

One more ....

A woman can never have too many blogs in my opinion.

So here is my new one.

Every picture tells one

NO!! It is not a photo blog as such, although there will be a photo on every post, apart from the initial intro one.

And to go with the randomly chosen pic, will be an anecdote to add some context.

That's it. Enjoy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Finca renovation

There are some people who can not resist walking past peeling paper or paint, and ripping off the offending piece. I am one of them.

I think the attraction to ripping off and ripping out is that you can appear to achieve an awful lot of work in a short amount of time at the cost of a little energy. And you get to make a lot of mess too, so I had a fine time at the finca last week.

The problem is, that trying to maintain two properties a few hundred miles apart and balancing work commitments of 60 or 70 hour weeks, with no weekends off, inevitably means that one (or both) get somewhat abandoned.

We'd painted the outside of the finca last summer, but the inside has been sadly neglected.

In both Gib and Spain, the wet and humid winter weather inevitably leads to damp walls, and, with all the dust around - the damp spores and the mould start to grow.

So winter means regular washing of the dark spots. We've used Johnstone's anti-mould paint in Gib and it has been pretty good at keeping it at bay, but once the winter deluges start, so does the creeping mould.

Inspired by our efforts in Gibflat though, I decided to start on the interior finca walls. The outside faces west, and if there is a torrential deluge with a westerly wind - it starts to chupa through.

Well, much to my utter surprise, the walls started cleaning up very nicely. Now why hadn't I done this before, I wondered. [And no, it wasn't because I was time-wasting on Facebook, because I have no internet in Spain]. It could have been because I was cycling, or walking, or swimming (summer), or gardening, or anything but doing boring stuff inside the house when it is so nice outside.

Partner was impressed with my efforts - for once - and rushed to help with the ceiling. Once started there was no stopping us. The walls and ceiling were scrubbed clean in the sitting room and then I started on the destructive work. All loose and flaking paint and half the walls was merrily hacked off by me, and he began the slower and somewhat more skilled process of putting back.

So progress in a week or so:

Draughts - I won - and the board never came out again after the first day

Sitting room walls washed down, remaining loose plaster hacked off, holes rendered with sand and cement, and smaller ones with some Easi-Fill that we had kicking around. Then a coat of Benjamin Moore acrylic primer sealer was applied.

Clean wall

Sealing the stains

Outside walls were rendered, and a big hole in our path was repaired with concrete [Bren might have fallen down there], the walls were sealed, and coated over with a couple of coats of masonry paint.

Polishing the rendering

Completed path, painted walls

Dining room and bedroom walls were also destroyed where appropriate, waiting to be filled on the next renovation trip. The mess on the floor in the bedroom pix is a mixture of paint, cal (limewash), plaster, and some render.

Admiring my mess work

Ah yes, very good

My mess work on the other side of the bed

Waiting for next time

We probably did something else too but all I can remember is working, sleeping, and eating. Put it this way, I took the usual supply of books and came back with them unread.

And ...... I cropped the first lot of rocket and lettuce leaves. Very good. I bought some of the local fresh asparagus that can be found growing wild in secret places - if you know where they are - that the Spanish always get to first, and learned that you need to chop off considerable amounts of hard chewy stems and concentrate on using the tips. Also helps to blanch/parboil it first if you want to use it in paella. Which I did.

Salad leaves

Wild asparagus

Food for hungry workers


The winter jasmine - still not quite in bloom

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spanish Civil War

I picked up a free local paper in Spain as you do, and noticed that this month there were marches of homage in La Axarquía to victims of the Spanish Civil War who died on the road from Málaga to Almeria. They take place on three Sundays of this month, in various parts of the locality, with the second today from El Borge to Torre del Mar at some 16kms. It ends with an act of homage in the Memorial Park in Torre.

Here is a good link to this particular episode in the Civil War, and I have reproduced the last few pars which explain the tortuous exodus of the Republicans from Málaga.

'The Nationalist forces approached Malaga on the 5th of February, 1937. They were comprised of some 10,000 North Africans, 5,000 Requetes (right-winged Militias), 5,000 Italians and plentiful supplies of trucks and artillery. They had only a few tanks and planes, but they used them with maximum effectiveness in the virtual absence of organised opposition. The Republicans were out-manned, under-supplied, and overly-divided.

'On February 6th over 100,000 people were forced to make a mass exodus along the coastal road to Almeria. The road was blocked by slow vehicles and wounded people. Fascist air attacks and navy bombardment took their toll on the civilians. Many dropped along the way. Terrified villagers along the way did their best to defend the little food and water that they had but the numbers of the refugees and their need were too great.

'It took two long weeks for the "Caravan of the Dead" (as the event became known) to reach Almeria. Here they found temporary help but Almeria was doomed to fall as well. Thousands had died along the way. The fall of Malaga and the ensuing evacuation of Republican civilians marked one of the lowest marks of the Spanish Civil War in Andalucia. One source reports that truck drivers were still finding the bones of some of those who had fled Malaga well into the 1960s.

'Republicans who remained in the provincial capital fared even a worse fate. Thousands of them were taken to areas like San Raphael Cemetery, shot, and left to rot in unmarked graves. Some 3600 people found their end in this manner and their families never heard from them again. The cemetery at San Raphael (now unused and close to the airport) is now the site of an exhumation of these bodies in attempt to bring some type of closure to still grieving families under the Zapatero government's Law of Historical Memory. The wounds of the past still remain close to the surface.'

In the same paper, there was a separate article about the communal graves in Andalucía. There were more than 600 of these in the whole of Andalucía, and an estimated 50,000 people people were shot by the Nationalists (franquistas). The grave in Málaga of San Raphael, is the largest in Spain, with the remains of up to 3,000 people. (The above link quotes a higher figure, but as the newspaper is pretty recent, I will go with around 3,000. Ai! the problems of being a historian and encountering different information from different sources).

Which brings me neatly onto the subject of novels/autobiographies about the Spanish Civil War.

Since moving to Spain I have tried - without success - to track down a copy of George Orwell's 'Homage to Catalonia'. I'm not one for reading online, but I've found this.

However, at my local library, I found another two Civil War books. Ernest Hemingway's classic, moving, and sad novel 'For Whom The Bell Tolls'. And Laurie Lee's three-volumed autobiography, Red Sky at Sunrise.

We read the ghastly Cider with Rosie at school and it bored me rigid. Reading about someone's childhood memoirs in some village down south at the beginning of the 20th century was total yawnsville. However some 30+ years on I really enjoyed it. Clearly not a novel for young teenies but one for middle agedies. The next volume was 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' which recounts his trip from his childhood village to London where he worked as a labourer on a building site, and then he upped and offed to Spain - which he walked through from north to south, and included a detour to Gib. Rather him than me walking through Spain in the heat of the sun, but it made a great read having been to most of the places. The third and final volume 'A Moment of War' describes his time when he volunteered in the Spanish Civil War (for the Republicans). Another fascinating read.

I recommend both the Hemingway and the whole Lee trilogy. I'm still searching for Homage to Catalonia, and another Lee book, 'A Rose For Winter' about his travels in Andalucia fifteen years after the war.