Leaving the fast lane for a slow life in Spain

From IT to olive farmers. We make Lujos skincare products from our own Yunquera Gold olive oil.

Leave a comment

Garden’s leftovers

Here we are, almost the middle of October, and we are still getting lovely veggies from the garden!

OK, so they don’t look that good. We picked a bag full of peppers, aubergines and tomatoes, and I would imagine that if you saw them in a supermarket, you’d never buy them! They are scabby, a bit soft, and some are split.

heritage tomatoes

Coming to the last of the summer veg!

But oh, the taste! The ones that are in good shape we save for sandwiches, or on our toast in the morning, or in salads.

The others? They’re really not good enough for preserving in the normal way. However, I came across a fabulous way of roasting vegetables in the oven! You chop them up, put them in a big roasting pan, roast in a hot even, then put in ziplocs for freezing.

How to use them? Better to ask how not to use them! We have used them in soups, stews, on pasta, on pizza, spiced up for a curry, you name it, it’s great.

And all winter long, we will be able to revel in the tastes of summer – luxury!

Roasted vegetables 

Green peppers
Ripe tomatoes
6-7 rosemary sprigs
olive oil

Rough chop all the vegetables, and put in a large roasting pan. The proportion of each is up to you!

Drizzle olive oil over the veggies, then add the rosemary and lightly turn over.

Bake in a hot oven (gas mark 7, 425F) until the vegetables are roasted nicely and most of the liquid has cooked away.

Freeze in ziplocs when cool.

Ready to roast!

Ready to roast!

Ready to use

Ready to use

Leave a comment


One of the things that used to drive me nuts as a child was the continual waiting. You wait for everything, it seems. And the worst part? You have to to hurry, but when you are waiting in line, does the person on the other end hurry to serve you? Do they ‘eck!!

And that is only the time you waste waiting in line! Don’t even talk to me about the waiting you do on the end of the phone. Outsourcing has at least tripled the time you spend waiting for someone to pick up the bloody phone!

If  you are calling about a credit card going missing, press 1. If you are calling about thousands of wrong charges on your account, press 2. If you are sick of reading about waiting, press hash to go to the end of this article

What else do you wait for? Consider going out to dinner. You wait to get shown to your table.  You wait for menus. You wait for your food to arrive at a restaurant. You wait (ages) to get your water re-filled. (You don’t have to wait for your bill)

Consider going to the supermarket. You take a number for your deli order, you wait to get your cheese, you wait in line to pay. At Christmas, you even wait for a parking space!!

And don’t even mention software. You wait for phones/iPads/computers to start up. You wait for applications to start up, run, and save. You wait for printing jobs…sometimes forever! waiting

When I was a child, I used to wonder why adults didn’t run around screaming and pulling out their hair at the amount of waiting they do every single day. According to some, over the course of your life you spend 3 years just … waiting. 3 years!

Why, I wondered, didn’t someone do anything about it? When I grew up, I vowed, I’d never waste my time standing in a line…waiting.

But now I do. I guess it’s the sheer amount of practice you get over the years that does it – maybe like hitting yourself over the head with a hammer, eventually it doesn’t hurt? Who knows.



Autumnal feelings

Since we returned from a visit to the UK, it has felt decidedly autumnal here at Casa Tyr. Before we left, the days were very warm, and we’d sit out on the terrace of an evening until it was too dark to read. Lovely.

Now, the days are quite cool, and there is a different feel to the air. Today, we ventured down to the garden to collect fruit and veg, and to water.

The tomatoes are starting to look soooooo sad. The leaves and stems are starting to die off, and there is no new growth. We have only a few cantaloupe left in our melon patch.

Tomato, onion and basil salad

Using the last tomatoes of the season!

I’m already mourning not having fresh tomatoes every day. All summer long, we eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and still I crave more. As Kenton says, though, no matter how long we could continue picking them, I’d still feel the same way.


We picked 2 big bags full, so tomorrow, I’ll be roasting peppers and tomatoes ready for “Roasted tomato and rosemary soup” come winter. Man, will that taste good, and eating it will bring back in an instant the fresh tomato smell of summer.


Joining in

I’ve noticed something odd about the British – if you move to live in another country, you are referred to as an “expat”, which is short for “expatriate”, defined as

a person temporarily or permanently residing in another country and culture other than their own

However, if a non-British person immigrates to the UK, they are not expats, they are immigrants, which is Not A Good Thing To Be, in many cases – try to keep up.

I guess I’ve always been an expat, as I moved to England as a young woman, and have lived either there, or in Spain, for many years. Americans living abroad tend not to refer to themselves as such, however, or at least not in my experience.

British expats can be a very odd bunch. From what I’ve seen, they fall into two groups – those who “stick to their own”, and socialise (and often live) with other British, and those who join in. The latter group are often said to have “gone native” – for some reason, this also is Not A Good Thing.

Manuel and Kenton

“Joining in” at its best!

Now me, I could never figure out why you would want to move to a country, but not join in. How else can you learn the language, the customs and the culture? How else can you make new friends?

I’ve always considered myself an American, no matter where I live – but one lucky enough to intimately get to know cultures other than my own. I wish everyone could do this. It totally takes the fear out of life, when you see that others (whatever their politics, colour, religion and so on) are pretty much just like you. They want the same things from life – food, water, and freedom for their family, and if they are lucky enough, perhaps some control over their life, too. I find that it becomes much more difficult to be xenophobic or nationalistic – the lines blur when you experience the hospitality of other countries, and you stop seeing bad guys under the bed.

So if you can, travel. Meet people, talk to them. If more could do this, I’m sure the world would be a much safer place, and governments would have a harder time scaring us with the bogeyman.



Puppies are great, aren’t they? So cute and cuddly, so full of life.

Freddy loves his dad and big brother!

Freddy loves his dad and big brother!

We have a puppy, as you know – Freddy is now 6 months old, and oh my goodness, he is a lively soul!

I feel for him sometimes. He so adores his big brother Milo, and wants to play with him and be with him all the time. This can get a bit much for our 8-year-old senior citizen. Milo likes to start his day slowly, and work up to a play as the day goes on, but not Freddy – who is “on” as soon as he’s awake!

So Freddy gets told off a lot! He seems to take it in his stride, and Milo plays enough to wear Freddy out most days. He is really good at finding games of his own, too – and really good at cajoling either Milo or Kenton into playing some fun, new game!

So after several months, I can report that Freddy has been very good for us all. He has reduced the grief we felt post-Fitz, and certainly given Milo a new lease on life.

And Freddy has the best life of any puppy anywhere, I think – a family who loves him, a big brother to teach him the rules of life, and 22 acres of Casa Tyr as a playground!


bella Italia mia!

As much as we love Spain, I think Italy is our spiritual home. When we were ‘in the life’, we’d holiday there all the time, in an apartment by an old water mill in the mountains about an hour from Pisa (mountains, rural, farming, sound familiar??). We would try to sneak away for a week a couple of times a year – we would seldom do much, as we are not committed sightseers, but we would sometimes take a trip into Florence for the day.

Ah, that week. So relaxing, so quiet. The nearest village was a couple of kilometres away, and had only a couple of restaurants and shops, perfect for us. Our favourite restaurant was run by a local family. We liked to go there for Sunday lunch, when it would be packed with noisy families enjoying the terrific, always-fresh food. There wasn’t a menu; the waitress would read from a list of items that were ‘on’ for the day, and you’d pick – the surprise was when you received each course, to see if you had actually ordered what you thought (we didn’t speak Italian)!

So what is it about Italy? The food comes to mind first. It’s hard to get a bad meal, unless you eat at one of the touristy squares in, say, Florence. We are passionate about our food, and so are the Italians! The food in Spain is also wonderful, but I really swoon over the pastas, polentas and sauces of Italy.

I like the irreverence, too – a trait shared by Spaniards, or at least in our own Andalucia. Rules are there, laws are there, and they are good and necessary – but it is, of course, necessary to bend them! Very little is sacred, from the paying of tax to the speed limit.

So in honour of our love for Italy, here is our own take on Italian food, perfect for a light summer dinner. Enjoy!


Polenta with eggs

Polenta with eggs

For the polenta: Use 1 cup polenta to 3 cups fresh chicken broth. Slowly add the polenta to the boiling broth, then add 2 T chopped fresh sage, and cook until thick. Pour into a greased loaf pan and cool.

Note: polenta meal is hard to find in our area, so I use regular cornmeal.

  1. Slice the polenta, and fry in olive oil until the outside is slightly crisp. Arrange overlapping slices on a plate.
  2. Fry a free range egg or two until desired ‘doneness’, arrange on the polenta slices.
  3. If desired, sprinkle with some fried, chopped bacon, but this is optional.
  4. Slice some fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes, and arrange on the plate; top with fresh basil and a bit of olive oil.
  5. Grate fresh Parmesan over the top and serve.



Sumptuous eats from the garden

I know – we’re lucky. We have absolute control over what we eat, because we grow almost everything. We know what we do (and do not) put on our food. No sprays, no chemicals – all natural.

Sure, this means they don’t look perfect – but then, who cares? The taste of our vegetables is out of this world, and we gorge on them all summer long.

To celebrate summer, here is a light and delicious vegetarian casserole for you. Our version used all our own ingredients (except the cheese), including our own Yunquera Gold olive oil! You can make this ahead, and bake it later, or bake it early and eat it room temperature (which, given our high summer temperatures, is my preferred way of eating it).

Exact amounts are not given, as the amount depends on the size casserole you are making! I used 3 large-ish potatoes, about a dozen tomatoes and 3 onions, but my home-grown veggies are variable in size, so use your own judgement! I also use more cheese than some might, because we love it!

Potato, basil and tomato bake

Potato, basil and tomato bake

Potato, basil and tomato bake

potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
large tomatoes, sliced
onions, sliced thinly
olive oil
salt, pepper
fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
good grating cheese mix, such as cheddar + parmesan + gruyere

Grease a casserole dish – I use a round casserole, but any type is fine, as long as it is deep enough for several layers

First, put a layer of onion on the bottom. Next, add a layer of overlapped slices of tomato and potato. Pour a light drizzle of olive oil over the layer. Salt and pepper, add some of the torn basil leaves, then add some of the grated cheese.

Continue layering as above (I had 3 layers), ending with the grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees (gas mark 4) for 1 hour, or until the potatoes are cooked. If the dish seems dry part way through, add a few teaspoons of water.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 538 other followers