Monday, August 30, 2010

Community Project

Most of the year, Pera is a quiet village with 100 or so locals going about their business and drinking in the club. Local men don't really put a lot of work into 'best kept villages' over fact Peter and I walked past a dead chicken in a bag outside some old guys house that's rural Portugal for you!

Come August though the village gets busy, with Lisbon(ites) coming for their summer holiday, staying with family or in the 'done up' houses in the village. We have a few from America too, originally from here but living in New Jersey. The village is more vibrant and things get done.

In Pera we have a wall, it's a big wall, it's grey, not very nice and runs the length of the main village road. One of the ladies from Lisbon has been on at the local CAMRA (Parish Council) to do something about this wall. The CAMRA are not interested! After she went to shout at the men in the club drinking, telling them that they are lazy sods for not doing any work on the village, and being told to f-off by the men, she gathered a group of out of towners and the foreigners to paint the wall!

So with donated paint and brushes, about 15 of us got together over a few mornings (before it gets too damn hot) to paint the wall. Not quite sure if it is just bringing attention to something very ugly. But it does look better. Next year we tackle the large wall on top of the swimming pool in the village!

Felt good to do something for the community, even if the locals think we are crazy!

My next community project is a local dog called Lord. But more about him another time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pasteis de bacalhau

Pasteis de Bacalhau are my new favorite things, they are a staple here in Portugal and every household knows how to make them. Except me, when I tried to make them they just weren't as nice as the ones we've had in the pastelarias. When I explained this in bad Portuguese to our neighbours, Ana and Joaquim, they invited us and the neighbours over for a lesson.

Bit of a shame that no one told me that despite the invite saying 6pm, they'd be making them at 3pm ready for the evening. At 3pm I was walking back up a mountain in blistering heat and my water bottle running low!

But we have such lovely neighbours, Ana and Joaquim photographed the lesson and here it is, how to make Pasteis de Bacalhau Pera style!
250 grams of bacalhau (you get it frozen in the UK, but here they soak it for DAYS)
200 grams of potatoes
half an onion and a clove of garlic
pinch or two of spice
one cap full of port
3 or 4 eggs
oil for frying

This is Joaquim, our neighbour - he starts by peeling the potatoes (having soaked his salt cod for three days or having got the frozen salt cod defrosted). Put the potatoes onto boil until they are soft.

Cook the salt cod by boiling it so it softens through.
Now shred the fish and mash it up a bit!
Now mash up your soft potatoes and add them into the bowl with the fish. Put your chopped up onion and garlic into a pan and heat through with some olive oil.

Add your warmed through onions to your fish and potatoes, then thrown in your salt, pepper, parsley, port and spice, mix it all in so it is well combined. Add it three beaten eggs and mix, your mixture should be sticky and still stick to the spoon and not be too soft. If you need another egg add it at this stage and mix well. Use your hands to do the mixing - it's traditional.

Now let the mixture rest for a moment, put it in the fridge for a while. Have a swig of the port.
Make some quenelles using the two spoons. Just move the mixture from spoon to spoon, forming a rugby ball shape. Traditionally a mans job!
Once you have made a few, test the oil by dropping a small amount of mixture in. If it bubbles around the mixture you are ready to FRY.

Carefully drop in your cod cakes, they shouldn't take long to cook, just a few mins. Turn them once so both sides are brown. Now you need to multi task (sorry), keep an eye on the ones cooking, keep making the cod cakes, take the cooked ones out and put them on kitchen paper to drain.

You should have enough mixture to make a mountain of cod cakes. So give some away to friends, or get a load of people round to enjoy them. Best served cold at room temp, with rice and beans and a salad. Totally lovely.

Oh and here we all are enjoying them!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Visitors and self sufficiency

Our very first visitors were the JWD family, they were with us for 8 days and it was great fun.

Sam went down very well with the locals, all that blonde hair seems to work a treat. And Zack was learning four new Portuguese words a day - that's more than I can manage. I got them 'singing' Boa Tarde, Bom Dia etc after day one. These boys are quick learners.

The week was spent visiting all the local watering holes, both fearless at diving in (along with Michelle who did all the jumping in despite what you may hear otherwise).

I think everyones favorite place was Fragas Sao Simao, where it is idyllic jumping off the rocks into the clear (but cold) water. However, despite this wonderful vista:

It is possible that the boys (grown up ones too) picked up on a different view of the local area....Sam seems to have his goggles focused on the lady in the those are big!

Now they have gone back to England, I have a cold (caught from Peter) and we are starting to get back into the swing of doing nothing really. Our self sufficiency book has been out and we've started to pull up some of our veg and get the ground ready for the next lot to be put in. Our onions are tied (by me, so no one criticise please).

Our glut of tomatoes are being made into sauce or are drying outside on the rack,

and our stumpy carrots (too much water we are told) have been made into a local snack, where they are prepared in oil and garlic. Yum.

That should last us about 3 weeks then!!!