Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Obidos Castle and the Medieval Fair


Exploring Obidos Castle (virtually) today...towering over the Portugal countryside, and an entire city within its fortified stone walls.  Having recently finshed Chauncer's Treatise on Astrolabe, a technical manual for his grandson. Well written for the time. Completely in the Old English Fashion proving, once again, that spelling is a subjective item.  Treatise on Astrolabe is the pre-cursor to all technical manuals written today.

Obidos Castle and the City Within.







Every July,  The entire town of Obidos holds a two week Medieval Fair with Battle Re-enactments, maidens, knights, vendors, and role play within the castle walls.










Tomorrow, I will decant and try the Ginjinha that has been ripening for the past month...and Finish the week and Portugal in Sintra and reading Lord Byron's musings about the town. 

Until then!





Have Trowel...Will Travel! An Afternoon of Coffee & Chat, Grandmas & Brunch, Grandkids and Gardening!



Farmer Aiden!

We will make a farm-boy of him yet. He had the best time planting onion sets!

Nicole and I spent part of the morning getting the cool weather crops tucked in. And weeding the flower bed. The snow-peas and onions have to be ecstatic. We have a small bed of garlic (maybe too much garlic) that ensures no vampires will be any where NEAR this place.


"Sparkly"

She and Emma built an A-Frame type of pole-bean trellis, and we are going to put additional poles on the opposite side, to start the cucumbers up them.

(...for Summer Cucumbers and Onions...and Pickles..._)

Nicki's Mom, Nancy, stopped by and we all had coffee and chat and delicious Grilled Chicken Salad ala Nicole for Brunch and this



For Afters. 

Lemon Ice Box Pie

Layer cake pan or pie tin with waxed paper.

Start with a thin layer of whipped cream or Cool whip...topped with a layer of (pre-made) lemon pudding...top that with a layer of graham crackers. Alternate these layers 3 times. Top with butter cream icing. Cover and let sit in refrigerator overnight. Chill 15 minutes in freezer before serving to make slicing easier. 

Just wonderful!  Spring Dessert.

We even had time to get a short walk in before the kids got off the bus. 
What a perfect day!

Next week, we are working on layering her Compost Box...and re-purposing an old wooden screen door to hold herb pots in jute and climbing flowering vines. 
I am fixing Brunch, bringing good coffee and making the dessert! And waiting to see if fresh wood ash really does help the morels thrive!


Hannah's Birthday was yesterday, as well. Hard to believe she is NINE already!  She has a Grace American Girl Doll, now...and said she was having a Paris-Themed Party. 



When Summer Break comes (soon) they are ALL coming over for 1:1 Grandma Rose Days!

Life is good!








Monday, March 28, 2016

Estremoz...Portuguese Bread and Acorda a Alentejana (Bread Soup aka Beggers Soup)






Know for it's marble quarries...and the home of Rosa Quarries,touting fine rose coloured marble...and Estremoz White Marble.  Nearly 85% of all marble shipped from Portugal originates here. There is so much marble that most buildings have elaborate marble façades and entrance-ways...and fine white marble dust is mixed and used to whitewash them.

Also known for it's durable (although gaudy, in my opinion) woven wool rugs.


Assumability, the by product of all that fleece in neighboring Alentejo.

The Portuguese Farmer's Bread is chewy, slightly sweet with a crisp crust. Although most of us do not have the steam ovens they have in Portugal....a satisfactory crispness can be obtained by using a spray  bottle with water to mist the inner walls of the oven during the last 15 minutes of baking.

Pao

One tablespoon yeast  (or for more authenticity...used soured dough to start)

3/4 cup whole grain wheat flour.

2 tablespoons honey or sugar

1 cup very warm water

Combine these three and let yeast work for 15 minutes.

Add 1 teaspoon salt.

then add  3 cups all purpose flour.

Mix well...turn out on floured surface and knead dough until silky. 

Shape into a round 8" loaf...brush top with butter and salt top well. This loaf will rise as it bakes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until crust is browned and bread sounds hollow when thumped. 

Remember to lightly mist oven walls for crisp crust during the last 15 minutes of baking.

Cool slightly before cutting. 



Like Rissoles...Acorda a Alentejana (Bread or Begger's Soup) is literally a use up all the leftovers dish. Anything goes!

The base is largely any broth, garlic, olive oil, and cilantro...into this is tossed bit and pieces of leftover meats, cheese, and vegetables, heated to a boil and seasoned to taste. Then bowls are dished up and chunks of the (stale) end of the week bread are placed in the soup until the broth is completely absorbed and the bread is soggy. 

Garnished with bits of meat, veggies and cilantro.



Here an egg had been added to poach in the hot broth then served.

Bread soup isn't limited to bread, either. Stale rolls and crackers can also be used. 

The result is surprisingly good!

 

Off to play in the flowers and kitchen garden with Nicole tomorrow. We are trying a new Lemon Cream Pie recipe and there will be much chat and coffee...and quite a bit of spoil Aiden time!

More Anon...



 

 





Sunday, March 27, 2016

Denial: Not Just a River...The Cork Fields and Marble Quarries of Portugal...and Easter Bun-nies!

Feeling a bit like the Anchorman off "Network"  telling everyone to kill their TV.

Since Bernie's Trifecta Win this morning the MSM SPIN machine has been working in overdrive trying to convince everyone that

 "It ain't no thang"

"Hillary knew she would LOSE these three states...so they don't matter."

"She still has this huge lead...if you count the unpledged delegates."

Except the Unpledged delegates are exactly that. Free-range. Just today, 7 of them already jumped off the "Berning" Hillary Titanic and into a Bernie Lifeboat. As I have said repeatedly through-out this Primary...putting unpledged delegates in your basket as EGGS and counting them as CHICKENS just doesn't work. It may look good on paper...but it doesn't mean a thing for any of them until July. And Super Delegates have never ever....not even once...decided who the Nominee will be against the will of the voters.  
NEVER.

So, enjoy your delusions MSM...and meanwhile the rest of us will just stick to facts. 

(...why would they do this...you ask? Good question. Maybe the fact that Time Warner is Hillary's 8th Largest Donor to her campaign...just going out on a limb here...)

 After Easter brunch embarked on exploring a bit more of Virtual Portugal with the Cork Oak Fields of Alentejo.



 Located in tidy rows often in the midst of wheat fields, they are beautiful. The tinny tinkle of sheep bells everywhere.





 The lower bark of the cork trees harvested, not harming the tree itself.










Portugal's main crops are cork, olives, and wheat. They even have postcards and a stamp made of cork.






Not very scenic, but just as important to Portugal,  the Marble Quarries













Where huge blocks and slabs of marble are cut and shipped worldwide.

Some to be carved into beautiful statues like the one below.


Others used for outstanding interior decorating!

Marble shower and bathroom




And before I close for the evening, I have to share something also outstanding.

The Youngest and his girlfriend sending me home...not just a chocolate rabbit...but a pile of "Bun-nies"  ~laughing~






Also a wedge of their fresh home-made Baklava from their cooking experience together!





The whole pan must have weighed 5 pounds. Seriously! This is some seriously righteous Baklava!

Exploring Extremoz tomorrow...and learning to make some of the Breads and Dry (Bread) Soups of Portugal!

And yes, I will be sharing recipes.

More anon...







Easter...Bernie wins Alaska, Hawaii and Washington in a Landslide, and more 2016 Car Porn



 Easter Sunday Morning...and I am still worshipping at the base of my Keurig at the moment.

I blame Hawaii...whose caucuses did not end until after Midnight and then the returns were not available until OHMIGOD:Hundred hours this morning!

But when the dust settled the news was exactly like THIS:






So with three Bernie landslide wins in my basket...tis' a HAPPY Easter, indeed!


Well...that and some chocolate, of course. 






The grands had their glowing Easter Egg Hunt last night...which was very cool.

I love the idea of the night-time glow hunt and know they will remember it long after they have grown up. This is the stuff that makes memories!

Chris and Hali e-mailed me with a preview of good stuff to come...they saved me some of the home-made Bakava they made with a huge Greek dinner last night!

And it looks AMAZING! 

They said Batman ~vs~ Superman was incredible...and I threatened them with serious bodily injury if they spoiled the ending before I see it. 

Soon to put the ham on...the potatoes (and eggs for devilled eggs) boiling...asparagus steaming and get to work on cherry puff pastries to bake.

Going to (virtually) poke about the Marble yards and Cork fields of Portugal this afternoon.

Also work on my manuscript a bit, and some homework assigned by my Writing Group I joined recently at our local library. Twelve of us. Local Writers. We meet monthly and exchange ideas...read a bit of our work-in-progress...and do some assigned writing to improve our craft!

It is great fun!

On the cusp of April now, and already the Car Porn begins!







 






It is going to be a SEXY automotive year.
Can't wait until the Shows!

My buddy, Tommy, (with RED) getting add on skirts before the season. The Ram Scoop means a new classification (from Stock to Modified) anyway...so in for a penny in for a pound. 

In Poland Indiana they have found tiny greys starting to pop up...so it won't be long until the Mushrooms are BACK! 

 Come on, APRIL!

Have a Happy Easter
...currently I am desperately seeking MORE coffee...
















Friday, March 25, 2016

Alaska...Hawaii and Washington on the 26th...Easter Eggs...and a Water Buffalo and Handful of Rice



So much for gardening yesterday...

The only way it would have worked is if we would have had a water buffalo and a sack of rice.

Rained for most of the day.

Undaunted, Nicole and I poured over the Cox Flyer  (gardener porn) and marked our April purchases-to-be...diagrammed our existing space and placement and things we will still need to get together...tomato cages...bean poles...more soil.
The rain did show us what and where needed to be built up...filled in. So the timing was pretty good. And the garden is going to be amazing. 

Herbs of all types, horseradish, garlic, onions, potatoes, carrots, sugar (Snow) peas, beans, cucumbers (both to eat and pickle), green red and yellow bell peppers, banana peppers, ghost peppers and chili peppers to braid (way away from our garden spot) corn, tomatoes (Beefsteak and Roma) Kohlrabi, Assorted flowers and such, and in the kids plot by their tree-house...Popcorn and Sunflowers.

The Grands were home for Spring Break...so we were able to enjoy the day with them, as well.






No...I didn't VOTE in Iraq.

We dyed Easter Eggs




 



 




And found out Aiden was hooked on Reese's Piece's...wandering up with those big blue eyes saying "Bites?" when he saw us with them.  He is doing well with the potty training now. It's not going to be long! He will be officially house-broken...lol!

We had coffee and brunch, played cards (War and Slap Jack) with the kids, planned our garden day next week when the kids are back to school with a coffee and new Lemon pie recipe that Nicki found.  (oooohhh...gardening...coffee and new recipes to try together!) 

Later last evening when James made it home from work we listened to him play guitar...and Nicole fixed a big country dinner (delicious) and we all watched  Mark Walhberg and Will Farrell in Daddy's Home together. Very funny stuff.

A great family evening, and our Easter (time) together. 

Chris and his new love interest together this weekend to see

 BATMAN ~vs~ SUPERMAN.

Yeah...yeah...so my money's on the Bat-Dude.

And they have discovered they BOTH love to cook so they are planning a huge home-made GREEK meal for the weekend! Including home-made Baklava!

They have also been binge watching the Hannibal Series. 

(...note to self: If they serve meat that I've never seen before...I'm going to pass...)

"If I TOLD you what it was...you probably wouldn't even try it."

I'm sitting this one out this year, however, by choice. 

 I picked up a great Collection of Peter Straub Short Stories, have Ham and Yams and Asparagus and Devilled Eggs. Good coffee and Baking Pastries, painting and writing and maybe continuing more of my Virtual Portugal travels (the month is almost up)...and peace and quiet and candlelit baths. Just wanted some rest & solitude. Which, to me, is sometimes like AIR is to other people.

Life is good!

 A bit of a warm up expected next week. Hoping that Sunday is warm or the grands will be "Bobbing for Easter Eggs" 

Excited. Tomorrow will be the Hawaii, Alaska and Washington Caucuses.
Very much expecting Bernie to "Bern Them Up!" 

We will see!

Nationally, he has pulled ahead of Hillary by a slim percentage point. Two of her previous delegates have already plunged from the burning (berning??) ship into Bernie's lifeboat. See what I was telling you about unpledged delegates? They are like wishy-washy kids that switch sides mid-fight.

Gabbard has already endorsed him. Warren has all but endorsed him. I am feeling pretty good about both of those, as well.

Have a Wonderful Easter Weekend!




              And Go Bernie!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Utah, Arizona and Idaho...






Although Clinton won the traditionally Conservative State of Arizona by nearly 60 percent...both Idaho and Utah were landslide victories for Bernie.  Huge voter turnout in all three states. 

The won delegate count now stands at

Clinton      1229

Sanders        912

(these totals do not include the Super Delegate votes because they have NOT been cast yet...and will remain uncast and uncertain until July)


A difference of 317 delegates between them. Still anybody's ballgame.

My money is on Bernie. 









Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Final Five (last night)...Brussel Attack...Today's Primaries and Caucuses...Spring Fishing...Chocolate and a Portugeuse Bullfight...




Yeah...and there you thought Stephen King was SCARY.

Still staying up late so you don't have to...lol!

The interviews were conducted town hall style, which was nice. Show-cased the candidates well.

First up was John Kasich. As the GOP contenders go...he was the most sane (normal) person representing them. It is the party's bad luck that this guy didn't have a stronger following. He could have won them the election. Although I don't agree with all his politics (especially the cuts to Social Security and Medicare)...if I were in a position to have to pick a Republican, it would have to be this guy.

Next was Ted Cruz.  What can you say about Ted? Ted would like this country to be a theocracy, assuming it is HIS religion that runs it. See the problem here? Ted's talking point last night was how he was going to MOVE the US Embassy to Jerusalem.  Said it would "Send a Strong Message". Damn what anyone else thought. Acceptable Risks and all that.  It is amazing how risks are ACCEPTABLE when it isn't your ass..or your kid's ass on the line.

Next.

Donald Trump. What can I possibly say about this Narcissist that he hasn't already said about himself, eh?  The most revealing moment of his time was when he was asked point blank if he would tell his supporters to NOT resort to violence...and he danced around the question and said he didn't have that kind of influence with them...with a grin that suggested he knew completely otherwise. Oh, and continually whining about how UNFAIR things are. Apparently, he didn't get that memo about Life. Remember, this is the guy that promises rioting in the streets if he doesn't get the nomination. 

Moving on...

Then there was Hillary.  Not quite as strident as she has been in former debates. The main takeaway from her speech was that she was Pro-Israel. To hear her talk you would think she was The Jew on the stage instead of Bernie. Seriously. And smiling all the while she talked about war...war...war...to borrow a phrase she used at the last Debate... "BASTA"  War may make you and your rich friends a lot of money...all it makes the rest of us is lifetime enemies, grow-your-own terrorists, and dead sons and daughters.

Last was Bernie.  And I am glad he got the last word...really I am. The biggest takeaway for me was when This Elderly Democratic Socialist Jew has the audacity to not just suggest, but say out loud, that both Israel and Palestine have a right to their separate States, and that he favors a Two-State Solution. Seriously, you could have heard a pin drop. 
I applaud him.

In World News: ISIS Claims another terrorist attack. This time, three bombings in Brussels. This is the 70th attack they have claimed now world-wide. I know it is belaboring a point but it was a very very very bad idea to overthrow/remove several of the Middle East Dictators who kept all this crap in check. Just saying.

This week is another flurry of Primaries and Caucuses...with several strong Bernie wins predicted. The Rally Turnouts have been YUGE.

Rallies from Arizona, Washington, Utah and Idaho













 So, a lot of people "Feeling the Bern"

I am hopeful.

Nicole sending me a shot of her Registration and letting me know that both she and James (...my usually apolitical eldest off-spring...) will be voting for Bernie in our May Primary. There IS hope! Even James has voiced that he realizes how we can't possibly allow Trump to become POTUS. 

He and Nicole already reaping the first delicious harvests of Spring. No...no mushrooms yet. But an entire day spent  sans children:

  Gone Fishin'






Nicole's first ever catfish!

And James with their day's catch




Catfish!  It's WHAT'S for Dinner!

Skinned and fileted, some fried right then, some frozen- and even some portions frozen for ME!
You guys ROCK!!!


I see fried Catfish, hushpuppies, coleslaw, sweet tea and maybe a peach cobbler in my near future.

Easter Catfish?








Nicole finished turning up the garden today...soon we commence to plant to cool weather crops.  So excited!

A Trip to Cox's Nursery is in order soon!

Should have a list by Thursday.

Perfect Timing, Easter and all... because my Chocolate from Portugal finally arrived.



Slowly experiencing chocolate from all over the world. 

You would be amazed at the differences!

Sampled a Square from each (except the white...Idgy is the White Chocolate Connoisseur...so I am tucking that tablet Chocolate Brancho (bar) in her Spring package for her take on it).

Chocolate Cereais:  Kind of like a Nestle's Crunch Bar only thicker and way way way more crunchies (crisped rice)  and very sweet milk chocolate surrounding them. Let Chris try this and he LOVED it!

Chocolate Amendoas:  Basically milk chocolate (once again- very sweet) Sweeter than ours. Almost too sweet. And the almonds are chopped into tiny pieces and distributed throughout the entire bar. I preferred this approach. Very good!

Chocolate Leite:  Just your basic milk chocolate...but much much sweeter than the American version. Too sweet by itself. Dipping it in Peanut Butter seemed to help.

Chocolate Negro:  Dark Dark Chocolate. Although the label says no less that 50%...this was probably closer to 80%-90%  Very little sugar. Tastes a lot like Baker's Squares. Needs more sugar. Will be great to bake brownies with, though!

And,although I said I would never ever sit through one again...I watched a Portuguese Bullfight.  Completely different than the ones in Spain. Both the Bull and the Matador (matadors) survive. Every time. Instead of barbed barrillos they have a velcro mat on the bull's shoulders and the barillos have flat velcro heads. It annoys the bull...the barillos flopping about...but no blood shed.


Referred to as a Bloodless Bullfight...it is actually almost a comedy. With one really annoyed bull with wrapped horns to prevent any goring. Velcro barillos, and a team of bullfighters known as a Suicide Squad. Usually 8 or nine of them working as a team to fight the bull to a standstill. More difficult than one would imagine...after all we are talking 2000 pounds of pissed off Pot Roast. The bull gets a sporting chance, and is not killed. The matadors get tossed, mashed, and roughed up a lot, but not gored. A win is when/if they fight the bull together to a standstill and one of the matadors grabs the bull's tail and the rest of them release the bull. The matador is pulled water-ski fashion behind the angry bull for several feet. Then the crowd cheers. The event is over. The matadors probably soak their beaten and battered body in Epsom Salts that night and the bull returns to his stall...probably eats a good meal...settles down and probably wonders about the fool humans who he has tossed about for the day. Maybe he tells his bull buddies how he kicked their asses. 

Portugal has outlawed the killing of Bulls in bullfights since 1928 and I think that is wonderful. 

 

Working on my landscape painting tonight...and (obviously) anxiously awaiting the Primary returns.
 Go Bernie!

More Anon...