The tower of Babel?

Some time ago I was happily introduced to Alejandro Blasi, a locally based musician here in Mallorca who collaborates regularly with well known artist, Donovan. He and his fellow musician Diego Blanco, form the duo Babel, and Blue Dance is their new album. It is a lyrical mix of sonorous and arty music using both modern and ancient instruments such as electric guitar, bamboo marimba, hopi flute and mouth harp.

As it happens, Donovan has a home here on Mallorca and contributed a poem which he reads in the song, The Wind. All the mellow and relaxing songs are available on CD or online The duo also hold concerts on the island and are always keen to welcome new residents and visitors to their music.

Posted by Anna on 29 January 2019 | 4:32 am

Those boots are made for walking

During this cool and bracing winter weather in Mallorca, I like nothing better than to pull on some warm layers and a good windproof jacket and head up into the hills for a hike. In my book there are two different sorts: the relaxing and the challenging!

If I’m looking for a challenge, I go mountain climbing with my terrifyingly fit friend, Alison, who pops back and forth between the Soller valley and London each month. We are currently attempting to climb all 54 peaks over 1000m on the island and are almost halfway there. It’s great fun, physically rewarding, and a wonderful way to shut off from the world around us. Often we are seven hours or more in the mountains and once we hit a 1000m peak, we celebrate with a pack lunch. Both of us are mega greedy and pack a lot of food – our reward for such hard work ;-)

The relaxing variety of hiking is equally enjoyable and far less taxing. One can amble along beautiful mountain paths and drink in the incredible views under searing blue skies, usually with hardly a sound save for the mumbling breeze and bird chatter.

If you do go hiking, even on a relatively easy route here in the Tramuntanas, do remember to bring about 1.5-2 litres of water, a small torch, whistle, map and compass as well as change of socks (in case of rain), waterproof jacket, and maybe waterproof trousers if the forecast looks dodgy. Energy bars and a yummy pack lunch are de rigueur. Although it’s winter time it’s worth bringing suncream and sunglasses as it can get very sunny en route when the sun’s up, and of course a mobile phone and battery charger are essential, even if it’s just to record your amazing day on the wild side!

Posted by Anna on 29 January 2019 | 3:54 am

Almond Fever

We are fast approaching February when the glorious almond blossom here in Mallorca is in flower so to gear up for the big event, here are some of my own culinary treats that are quick and easy to make and which celebrate the marvellous almond. For those who enjoy almond milk, why not make your own rather than rely on the shop version? it’s mega simple to make and tastes delicious with granola or porridge, in smoothies or on its own. As I am lactose intolerant this is a fantastic alternative for me.

Almond Milk

What you need:
*150 grams shelled almonds (no skin)
*One litre filtered water X 2
*One dessert spoon of date syrup or sweetener of choice such as agave syrup
*One teaspoon of vanilla extract (or scrape out two vanilla pods)
*A muslin lined sieve or cloth coffee strainer (what I use)
*A big bowl
*A blender or NutriBullet (best)
*A litre glass bottle with stopper

What you do:
Place the almonds in a big bowl with one litre of filtered water for minimum eight hours to soften them. I do this at night so they are ready by morning. After eight hours, I drain and wash them under the tap and put them into my NutriBullet (you can use any blender) with half a litre of filtered water. At this stage I add the vanilla and date syrup. Whiz it around for about 10 seconds or as long as it takes for the mixture to be creamy and the almonds ground up to resemble big crumbs. Pour the contents through your cloth coffee strainer into a big jug or bowl, squeezing the cloth strainer to release the milk from the ground up almonds. When done, add another half litre of filtered water through the strainer and repeat process. Set aside the ground up almond residue in the strainer as you don’t want to waste it (see recipe below). Finally taste the almond milk to check you don’t want it sweeter, in which case add some more date syrup and whisk. Then pour it all into a clean glass litre-size bottle (you may need to use a funnel). Place in fridge and use for up to about three days.

Almond Oatcakes

What you need:
*Almond nut reside (from making almond milk)
*150 grams oat flour
*One egg
*Approx 100 ml virgin olive oil
*One generous pinch or two of seas salt (or herby flavoured)
*Two teaspoons chopped up thyme and rosemary leaves
*One teaspoon ground up flaxseed (optional)
*One teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
*One pinch turmeric and cumin (optional)
*A blender/mixer
*Baking paper
*A baking tray
*A rolling pin

What you do:
Pre-heat electric oven at 180 degrees. Meanwhile place almond residue, flour, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, salt, egg and cumin & turmeric into a mixer. Whiz up and then gradually add the virgin olive oil. Add one teaspoon of rosemary and thyme (set aside the other spoonful). Your mixture should resemble a healthy dough. if too dry, add a little more olive oil but go easy. it shouldn’t be too moist. Now cut a big rectangular strip of baking paper that will not only fit your baking tray but overflow at the edges to right and left. This means that when cooked, you can simply lift out the biscuits by the paper on both sides with no mess or breakage.

Now put a little oat flour on the baking paper on a clean work surface and put your dough on top and gently knead and flatten into a long rectangular shape. At this stage flour a rolling pin and gently roll over to ease the dough out, ensuring that it will fit easily into your baking tray. if it breaks up, use your fingers to knead back into shape. The dough should be about one third of a cm in thickness but you might like a thicker biscuit so half a cm is okay too.

Pick up baking paper carefully at either end and place gently into baking tray and place in top part of oven. After
10 minutes take out and with a sharp knife, carefully cut horizontal line across the dough and then make vertical lines to make into square or rectangular shaped biscuits. You should be able to get about 12- 16 from the mixture depending on chosen size. Sprinkle on the remaining teaspoon of herbs and bake for about another 15 minutes. Fan ovens might be a little faster while other ovens might require 30 mins in total. The biscuits should be slightly golden and firm to the touch. Check at 20 minutes to see whether the dough is cooked. If quite moist still, continue cooking until cooked through. Remove from heat and cool before placing in a glass sealed container or tin.

Posted by Anna on 27 January 2019 | 9:39 am

Almond Fever!

We are fast approaching February when the glorious almond blossom here in Mallorca is in flower so to gear up for the big event, here are some of my own culinary treats that are quick and easy to make and which celebrate the marvellous almond. For those who enjoy almond milk, why not make your own rather than rely on the shop version? it’s mega simple to make and tastes delicious with granola or porridge, in smoothies or on its own. As I am lactose intolerant this is a fantastic alternative for me.

Almond Milk

What you need:
*150 grams shelled almonds (no skin)
*One litre filtered water X 2
*One dessert spoon of date syrup or sweetener of choice such as agave syrup
*One teaspoon of vanilla extract (or scrape out two vanilla pods)
*A muslin lined sieve or cloth coffee strainer (what I use)
*A big bowl
*A blender or NutriBullet (best)
*A litre glass bottle with stopper

What you do:
Place the almonds in a big bowl with one litre of filtered water for minimum eight hours to soften them. I do this at night so they are ready by morning. After eight hours, I drain and wash them under the tap and put them into my NutriBullet (you can use any blender) with half a litre of filtered water. At this stage I add the vanilla and date syrup. Whiz it around for about 10 seconds or as long as it takes for the mixture to be creamy and the almonds ground up to resemble big crumbs. Pour the contents through your cloth coffee strainer into a big jug or bowl, squeezing the cloth strainer to release the milk from the ground up almonds. When done, add another half litre of filtered water through the strainer and repeat process. Set aside the ground up almond residue in the strainer as you don’t want to waste it (see recipe below). Finally taste the almond milk to check you don’t want it sweeter, in which case add some more date syrup and whisk. Then pour it all into a clean glass litre-size bottle (you may need to use a funnel). Place in fridge and use for up to about three days.

Almond Oatcakes

What you need:
*Almond nut reside (from making almond milk)
*150 grams oat flour
*One egg
*Approx 100 ml virgin olive oil
*One generous pinch or two of seas salt (or herby flavoured)
*Two teaspoons chopped up thyme and rosemary leaves
*One teaspoon ground up flaxseed (optional)
*One teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
*One pinch turmeric and cumin (optional)
*A blender/mixer
*Baking paper
*A baking tray
*A rolling pin

What you do:
Pre-heat electric oven at 180 degrees. Meanwhile place almond residue, flour, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, salt, egg and cumin & turmeric into a mixer. Whiz up and then gradually add the virgin olive oil. Add one teaspoon of rosemary and thyme (set aside the other spoonful). Your mixture should resemble a healthy dough. if too dry, add a little more olive oil but go easy. it shouldn’t be too moist. Now cut a big rectangular strip of baking paper that will not only fit your baking tray but overflow at the edges to right and left. This means that when cooked, you can simply lift out the biscuits by the paper on both sides with no mess or breakage.

Now put a little oat flour on the baking paper on a clean work surface and put your dough on top and gently knead and flatten into a long rectangular shape. At this stage flour a rolling pin and gently roll over to ease the dough out, ensuring that it will fit easily into your baking tray. if it breaks up, use your fingers to knead back into shape. The dough should be about one third of a cm in thickness but you might like a thicker biscuit so half a cm is okay too.

Pick up baking paper carefully at either end and place gently into baking tray and place in top part of oven. After
10 minutes take out and with a sharp knife, carefully cut horizontal line across the dough and then make vertical lines to make into square or rectangular shaped biscuits. You should be able to get about 12- 16 from the mixture depending on chosen size. Sprinkle on the remaining teaspoon of herbs and bake for about another 15 minutes. Fan ovens might be a little faster while other ovens might require 30 mins in total. The biscuits should be slightly golden and firm to the touch. Check at 20 minutes to see whether the dough is cooked. If quite moist still, continue cooking until cooked through. Remove from heat and cool before placing in a glass sealed container or tin.

Posted by Anna on 27 January 2019 | 9:29 am

Winter wonders in Mallorca

We’re clinging onto the last few days of January 2019 but already poised for February fun. it seems that the month has flown by and in some ways that’s no great hardship given that we’ll be that much closer to the arrival of Spring! I’ve sluggishly got back to marathon training after succumbing to two consecutive colds (that’ll teach me to climb mountains in winter!) and am beavering away with new books and cheeky new plans.

As it happens, February is a fun time to be in Mallorca with the profusion of almond blossom, the sense of peace and the gorgeous crisp mornings with deep blue skies, ideal for mad runners like me. Some restaurants in our valley are opening a sleepy eye next month which means that I have an excuse to escape the kitchen much as I love it.

This is actually a great time for me to try out new recipes, bottle orange and lemon slices from the fruit in our orchards and experiment with some new culinary dishes. I’ve recently been making almond milk, and creating my own healthy oatcakes and almond, linseed and sesame biscuits which are really yummy. (recipes coming soon!).

Evenings are wonderfully tranquil in the quiet season and big crackling fires and hearty fare are the order of the day. My guilty pleasure is to curl up in bed on a Sunday night with Netflix and a mug of chamomile tea after a day of gardening and work on book research.

So, I hope all of you have a good February and are raring to go with new plans and schemes for this year. Meanwhile, I shall soon be launching my new website Burro Books, so apologies for letting this one slip a little while I’ve been burrowing away at the new one during 2018 and editing my new novel. I will have two books published this year and have several others in the pipeline so a lot going on…and did I mention an extended overland crazy trip to South Africa and Swaziland this summer too? More anon. in the interim, have an inspirational, mischievous and happy month ahead! Toodlepip!

Anna:-)

Posted by Anna on 27 January 2019 | 8:13 am