Someone needs to lock me up because I’ve become captivated by stained glass. Is there a Stained Glass Anonymous that anyone knows of? A twelve step programme I could apply? Who needs drugs when you can get high on the sheer enjoyment of pattern, light, form, composition, colour and detail in stained glass windows like these?I’m still inside the Basilica of Saint Servatius in Maastricht, situated in the southern Dutch province of Limburg and decided to follow yesterday’s stained glass post with another one. Yet again the detail amazes me…
August 18, 2015
October 21, 2011
This recipe is a favourite that I discovered ex Recipezaar (now Food.com) website from member “EdsGirlAngie”. If you try it and like it too then I’m sure she would appreciate a review (link at the bottom of the page).
I was inspired to post this by Raymund’s recipe for Gamba’s http://angsarap.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/gambas/ that he posted a few days ago because this is a similar-ish Portuguese version of his Spanish style Gambas recipe.
Camarao Mozambique (Portuguese-Style Shrimp)
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/2 cup water
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon saffron thread, soaked in 1 tbsp. warm water for 15 minutes
1/2 cup red wine (white wine or beer is also an option)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb shrimp, peeled and cleaned
Saute onion in the butter until almost browned; reduce heat slightly and add garlic, parsley, and turmeric.
Saute another 5 minutes then add water and saffron water.
Cover and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Stir in wine and lemon juice; bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes to cook off some of the alcohol.
Add shrimp, salt, black pepper to taste and crushed red peppers.
Cook about 5 minutes or until shrimp have just turned pink and are still juicy and tender.
This is normally served in small bowls with crusty bread for dipping, or it could be served over rice.
This isn’t a dish that will be winning prizes for looks, as the combination of red wine, saffron, turmeric, pepper, parsley and and onion made a sauce that turned out a greenish brown colour… but hiding in there is an amazing taste. Personally we liked that the peppers made it politely firey and the heat could easily be increased or decreased to suit indivual palettes. The rest is a wonderful combination of tastes where none totally predominate and all work smoothly together.
Some other people who have made this recipe commented that the Portuguese also make it with either white wine or, more often beer so now I’m on a mission to try it with beer and to compare the taste. Don’t be tempted to be too heavy on the saffron, a little goes a long way since it’s pungent stuff.
I’ve made this more than once and two finely chopped fresh red chilli peppers added instead of the red pepper flakes suits our tastes just fine.
December 29, 2010
We are almost at the end of our Portuguese adventures… I have some photos that I really like but which didn’t get included into other posts for various reasons. This is therefore a round-up of the “miscellaneous” …
Some of them I like for their scenic qualities…
Some of them for their graphic qualities…
This one because I have a very strange compulsion to take photos of letterboxes…
Or because dried salt cod is just so normal and everyday in a Portuguese supermarket…
I didn’t know the name of these but they make an interesting shape to photograph…
Becuase there were quite a few of these little signs, all different, dotted around northern Portugal…
And because sometimes the subject just caught my fancy…
Adieu Portugal… until next time…
December 28, 2010
Evening is falling in the northern Portuguese town of Arcos de Valdevez. We have been looking around the area and stopped here for a swim in the river and a look around.
Now tummies are rumbling so we cast our thoughts away from the cooling water to searching for a place where we can eat.
Himself remembers seeing a Cafe/Restaurant called the “dna cafetaria” at the end of the promenade type area where the jousting statues were located.
The rumbles in the kids tummies are starting to come out of their mouths in the form of sibling bickering and any wise parent knows that in order to stop this swelling riptide of whining, the best course of action is to stem the hunger pangs fast…so without any ado we make a bee-line for this place.
It’s still very warm, even as the daylight is fading so photos are getting hard to take, even though we are seated outside under the sun umbrellas. Little Mr. decides that this is an opportune moment in which to request a ” portrait photo-shoot”.
Little Mr. and good camera moments are based solely on the whim and mood of a positive co-operation level, and the right moment with a camera-to-hand and that these two events converge about as often as full moons. Therefore I seize the moment and grab a ” series” of photos of him in cute pose, actually enjoying the process for the family album.
The camera battery was flashing “Beware-I’m-getting-empty” messages as the food arrived so today I make do in this blog post with the few shots I took before the battery died on me.
Murphy’s Law was that I thought I was smart because I’d remembered to pack the extra camera battery but I’d totally forgotten to recharge it first, so as Confucius Says: “Duh, fat lot of use that is“.
Little Mr. went for the Portuguese version of a Hot Dog, Kiwi Daughter pleaded that since it was one of her last days in Portugal, wanted a special treat, put her best pleading face on and scored a pancake covered in chocolate sauce, followed by a toasted sandwich with massively thick bread slices.
The sight of this instantly transported me back to my childhood when the bread we bought came only one way: the white unsliced loaf. It was a special treat for us to make what we called “door-step” sandwiches with really fresh super soft and springy bread, super fresh out of it’s paper bag wrapping …the slices cut at least double usual thickness, still warm and very bread-y smelling.
Later we moved to the city and discovered brown bread, wholemeal, ready-sliced, wrapped in plastic, seemingly “progress” but actually not necessarily completely if you look at it hard with a keen eye.
I fancy a hamburger just a few times a year and once I spied Hamburger on the menu I decided that today was a Hamburger day…
Himself asked in Portuguese if there were any local specialties on the menu and the reply came back that “francesinha especial com batata” was such an item, so he ordered one of those. And No… he wasn’t exactly sure what it consisted of when he ordered it, but he was due to find out.
We ate well, even if “francesinha especial com batata” turned out to be very impressive if rather heavy meal, (I’m being polite) …
Reality was that it was mega-dripping with cheese , very heavy and the gravy made all the French fries soggy.
It was a somewhat similar construction to Kiwi Daughter’s toasted sandwich, but with more meat in the centre, as well as copious amounts of cheese, a fried egg on top along with yet more cheese, then the whole ensemble was drenched in gravy and served with fries.
Phew, I feel my arteries hardening a little just typing out the description LOL.
I suppose you could call it the local heart attack experience and we quickly concluded that a) I got a better deal and that b) Himself was happy to persevere this one time, but that it would remain a one-time experience.
He wasn’t just full at the end of it, it was more of a lead weight feeling, and that night’s sleep probably wasn’t the best he had all holiday.
The kids polished off ice-creams for afters and slept in the car on the journey back to camp.
All things considered it was a good meal… and I can’t remember exactly what we paid but I do remember that it was so cheap that I thought they must have forgotten a few things off the bill… they hadn’t. Definitely can’t say that we didn’t get value for money here, and the service was ok too.
We would come back here in a heartbeat, but Himself, valuing his heart, will likely be ordering something a tad lighter if we return. Oh well, that’s what you get for signing up for the local specialty… a surprise, a very unforgettable experience and a good laugh.
December 27, 2010
I’ve brought you back to our adventures and travels in Portugal.
We are in the small northern Portuguese town of Arcos de Valdevez. The second delight that we find here is the river that runs though the middle of the town.
We were here at the end of August, beginning of September and it’s hot to say the least, around 33 C (91 F) so the sight of people swimming and playing in the river gets our kids hopping with excitement in the back seat of the car.
We find a car park and the kids don’t need asking twice to get out of the car. We have swimming gear and towels in the boot of the car and in no time at all we have crossed the bridge and are on the recreational stony opposite bank of the river.
There are a few trees dotted around closer to the water and I find one to sit under as I’m a reluctant swimmer. Technically I can swim, but it’s what I call “lifejacket style” swimming i.e. I can swim if my life, or that of one of my kids depended on it, but in that situation I would be swimming in desperation and not for pleasure.
Learning to be confident in water is something I’d like to master in my lifetime, but I think I will have to take some adult swimming lessons and to be honest that’s not high priority with Himself, two kids, job, house etc requiring time too.
Luckily Himself and Kiwi Daughter are confident and accomplished swimmers and judging by his lessons so far, Little Mr. is rapidly working himself out of my swimming league and into his Fathers and Sisters, so they take to the river like ducks and enjoy splashing around and getting wet.
As Chief Towel, Valuables and Clothes Keeper, I stay in the shade and take photos for the Family Album, until the water proves too cold eventually and the hunger pangs draw the kids towards getting changed and urging us towards a venue that sports refreshments.
We like Arcos de Valdevez and and Himself and I would like to explore more, but first… we need to go in search of food for four rumbling tummies.
…in the distance, on the other side of the River…
December 24, 2010
During our wanderings out and about in northern Portugal we happened upon the small town of Arcos de Valdevez.
It was a welcome break from the narrow winding roads that we had been on for quite a while and as an added bonus we discovered several great points about the town that we liked very much indeed…
But first let’s look at a beautiful feature that stands by the river that runs right though the town.
Close to the centre of town, and running alongside one o the main streets we spy a wonderful scene in stone and bronze.
These jousting knights are magnificently set into a massive stone base, and directly behind them are a series of fountains that gush water at irregular intervals, just like the cut and thrust of battle.
I was delighted to stop and get some photos of this amazing art form. I was certainly captivated by the beautiful forms of both the horses and the riders… ok, the horses here have no legs, but that leaves you to imagine the thunder of the hooves and the kicking up of the dust…
Supporters wave the ribbons in the colours of your favourite knight…
December 23, 2010
Following up on yesterdays post, where I mislaid and then found a camera chip and wanted to tell you about two more sellers I met in the medieval market in Vila Nova de Cerveira.
Yesterdays post was about a man who faces his impairment head on and works hard despite his disability and he is truly an inspiration to me.
Today’s post was about the genuine friendliness and fun of people despite language barriers.
This gentleman sells pottery items that he has made, I saw his stall and I love pots so went over to have a look. He asked me some questions as he saw my interest and we quickly worked out that my few words of Portuguese and his few words of English were not nearly enough for a conversation.
That didn’t deter us, he clearly wanted to know if I was interested in buying something. In spite of feeling silly, I left inhibition behind and with a smile and outstretched arms mimicked an aeoplane (my arms being the wings) and tried to let him know that we were flying home and that our bags were already full.
His reaction made it clear that it was a pity, and with a smile he mimicked driving a car, so I got the idea that he meant that next time we should drive to Portugal instead of flying.
Then he noticed that I was smiling as I looked at a chamber pot that had a face on the side of it… he laughingly picked it up and made some more serious arty poses with it as I took photos, then he posed with it upside down on his head.
I left him after a fit of giggles and felt that the world was a better place for having had a good laugh, a good conversation in international sign language and where a little bit of humour and a smile goes a very long way.
It reminds me that meeting the locals is the best bit of travelling abroad, that being willing to make a gesture to show that you appreciate and admire the goods even if you are not in a practical position to buy, is often appreciated by the seller.
He’s been standing there all day, no doubt many people just averted their eyes and walked on past… a smile was appreciated and we both had a good laugh. This is typical of the down to earth friendliness of the Portuguese, but you know what? Give most people and opportunity to be friendly and in my experience 99.9% of them will.
So… make eye contact, have a laugh, communicate with people, even if you do speak the language, don’t let formality get in the way, smile and go on… dare a little.
These are the true riches of not only travel, but of Life.
December 22, 2010
I’m being a bit haphazard here and skipping back to an earlier post today… I misplaced a camera chip that featured a two more of the artisans who were working and selling at the medieval market that took place on the weekend of the 27th August in Vila Nova de Cerveira.
Today I found the chip at the bottom of the side pocket of my camera bag (looked before there but missed it the first time) so I’m taking the time to re-visit these two artisans because both were friendly and delightful and because they made a real impression on me.
Neither spoke more than three words of English and my ten words of Portuguese didn’t go particularly far but sign language and smiles are international and we made do most excellently with both.
Himself has taken the kids and his excellent Portuguese language talent to the tapas restaurant restrooms for an urgent kid pit-stop, and they wanting to take the short route back to the car afterwards, this was my opportunity to negotiate the one side street full of market stalls that I had not yet seen, so I nipped off to have a look around and will meet up with them at the car.
Two stalls in particular stood out… and this post is about the broom seller.
It was instantly clear this this man suffered from a substantial learning problem, his words came out slurred and with great difficulty, but he had a very willing (and very noticeably toothless) smile and when he wasn’t attempting to engage with potential customers he was sitting on a stool constructing a new brooms before my eyes.
The process is swift, his hands dexterously show that he has done this before, probably thousands of times and the head of the broom takes shape with a speed and ease that makes it looks easy.
I know enough about handwork to know that when it looks that easy it definitely isn’t… if I were ever silly enough to try this, I’d be all fingers and thumbs and people would br cracking up with laughter.
He made a great impression on me because in spite of a clear and profound communication disability, he had found a skill and was attempting to make the very best of it in spite of it.
If you could only have heard him attempting to speak you would understand how painful it must be to put yourself “out there” on full show and in full view the market place and public with this kind of impediment. I’m not one brave enough to stand and speak in public willingly at any time, so this man earned my utmost respect for doing this and you know what, his handcrafted brooms were amazing too.
Bravo to this man for not only learning a skill that hopefully helps him to make a living, but for also having the courage to actually set up a stall and do the selling himself. He is a wonderful example of someone who’s trying hard to look at all the positives in life and not just dwelling on the negatives.
He might have every reason and excuse to use this profound communication problem to not participate fully in life or work, but it’s clear that he has no intention of letting his difficulties hold him back, and for this he earns my utmost respect.
Sadly even a very beautiful a broom wasn’t going to fit into our bags for the flight home or I would have seriously been thinking about getting one.
I wanted to make a blog post about him as soon as I found my “lost” photos of him because he is the sort of person who should be an inspiration to us all.
December 21, 2010
I never cease to be amazed at how many water fountains we see in this area of northern Portugal.
Just outside the campsite where we are staying, a short walk towards the village there is a serious of no less than three water pumps and receptacles standing right next to each other. I’m confused.
I could start with the biggest of them and work down to the smallest, and that might seem logical at first glance, but since the three are standing so close together I think I will go in another order… and that is the order that the water flows in.
The water “appears” by the smallest of the three devices, it’s a stone block column with a protruding “tray” and a tap that sticks out above it.
My educated guess is that this one is for filling water containers, but it looks like the tap on this one has been turned off for rather a long time.
How the water enters this stone column is unclear, there appears to be no pump or motor that I can see, yet in spite of that water constantly flows, attested by the the fact that at the rear of this column there is a small pipe that follows the base of the wall and leads to an open trough just a few steps away.
The water enters the trough in a constant stream via a pipe and a plastic bit of tubing, falling though the sparkling sunshine into the concrete tub below. Hmmm a watering hole for stock I’m guessing?
The water circulates within the tub and then exits via a sort of over-flow pipe, though a concrete wall an into the shed next door.
OK, I’m calling it a “shed” but it’s like a concrete hut, there’s a roof, and open doorway and inside a strange arrangement of a very large concrete tub that’s almost divided in two by a partition down the centre that barely clears the water line.
In the middle by the partition, the overflow from the outside tub brings in a steady stream of water that divides itself between the two tubs inside, and in turn there is a lower lip running the entire length of the front edge of both tubs that is the overflow of each, and the water from that in turn disappears with a bubbling sound to somewhere outside and I think, down the hill.
I go inside the “shed” to take the photos and am immediately struck by the welcome coolness inside, as the sun beats down outside and the temperatures soar.
I look around and try and figure out what this might have been used for, and since there is a distinct lack of cobwebs, what it might still be used for.
There is only cold water on offer, so is this a communal bathing area? whoa, a cool bath might be nice on a blazing hot day but this would be a very cold tub of water and surely not an enjoyable bath at all.
So, I’m thinking a bit more and wondering that this facility might be used for, either now or in the past. The only thing I can think of is that possibly it was a communal laundry for washing clothes…?
There is a little plaque above the doorway but it only says ” 1977″ so no further information there.
If anyone knows for sure what these are or has some brilliant ideas as to it’s use, I’d love to hear from you…
December 20, 2010
We are back in the northern Portuguese town of Vila Nova de Cerveira, this time we are eating out again Recanto de Vila, a Restaurant that specialises in “Tapas Variadas” (varieties of Tapas).
The day has been warm indeed, we are tired and as it’s late in the day.
We opt for a simple tapas meal, and with the last rays of the setting sun finds us seated outside with a simple meal of bread, meat and cheese, accompanied by a simple side salad of tomatoes and onion and some fries to indulge the kids.
Some of the best meals are this simple, the bread is soft and divine as usual and the meats are smoky.
The cheeses are creamy and go well with the meats… all in all we have a brilliant meal.
Had it not been so late already (and Little Mr. fading) I would have been interested in ordering something from the barbecue, if only to have been able to have had the novelty of seeing it cooked on this medieval looking, humongously solid machine.
The heat of the day and the tiredness of the kids however dictated common sense when choosing from the menu and all in all, our meal turned out very well indeed.
Verdict? … Yum!