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...a glimpse into life on Vancouver Island, needle felting, photography, food, gardening, etcetera...etcetera
"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Friday, April 6, 2012

Nasty but tasty!

I am in search of the famed nettle.
O.K, maybe I don't have to search very far, in fact there
are plenty close at hand.
Healthy and many.
Up in the back of our property, in behind the hen yard, the nettles are at their prime.
Now is the time to use them as spinach, or in pesto as I'm doing...
"But wait!" you say.
"Aren't those things called stinging nettle for a reason?"
Oh yes!
Don't go hunting without these weapons of protection!
Gloves to save yourself from the histamines in these tiny spines on raw nettles...
...and clippers to snip the tops.
I find even with gloves, pinching them off can cause a sting
if you don't have leather gloves.
If you've never encountered the wrath of a nettle, believe me you NEVER want to.
The sting from these babies will be with you for days.
Kind of a combination of a burn and a bee sting.
Nettles are so high in iron and good for blood purification, dandruff, allergies
and countless other things too many to mention.
A tea made from loads of them is great fertilizer for your garden.
The trick?
Steam them for about 2 minutes and the sting is gone.
I freeze steamed nettles on cookie sheets and pack them loosely in bags.
Use them for a spinach substitute, adding them to soups, spannokopita,
stews, tea or as I did, making pesto.
There are many recipes on the net for nettle pesto but
my take on it is that I still add some basil for flavour.
It's much more economical and probably more nutritious.
Just remember...
always use tongs and gloves and long sleeves and pants until
you've safely steamed them.
Good for your heart too!
So love them big time!

Song for Friday and movie review...

Last night we watched a fun movie called "Midnight in Paris".
It's the latest Woody Allen film which came out last year.
Great theme...time travelling.
Something I always want to do.
And what a time and place to do it in!
Paris in the 1920's...
Jazz, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picaso, Dali...
the list goes on.
The music was superb so here's a little music from the score...
Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Treasure of the Sierra Madres part dos...

Continuing on our Journey to the little town of San Sebastian...
At 4,500 feet the terrain changes quite a bit from the tropical feel by the coast.
Tall pine trees grow here instead of coconut and date, rivers are akin
to those back home with boulders worn and smoothed by
centuries of running water...
When we arrived within 10 minutes of the town, the bus parked on the road
and we walked the rest of the way, enjoying the quiet of this sleepy town...
Founded in 1605, San Sebastian was one of the gold and
silver centers of Mexico.
At one time there were reportedly 30,000 people living here
but now it is a sleepy population of about 600.
The mines were what created the town of Puerto Vallarta and
after being mined and smelted, it was taken by mule train
to Guadalajara and Mexico City then to Veracruz where
once a year it was sent by ship to Spain.
This town has basically stayed unchanged since then.
Before we arrived in the town, our guide warned us NOT to touch any dogs.
Mostly because if you do, they'll follow you around all day and if they're
not friendly, they could bite and could have rabies.
Well, this was the first dog we met, who lived in front of the funeral home...
I think his breed was Chihuaha-bacca... for all you Star Wars fans.
The next 'dangerous' dog was this girl...
 Yeah, I think she could love you to death!
We visited one woman's little museum where her family has lived for over 300 years.
Her family history was like a million piece jigsaw puzzle!
Cousins marrying uncles who are brothers and sisters aunts who become your wifes daughter.
 Swallows making their home here under her porch roof on the 300 year old beams.
Her friendly kitty.
It was a beautiful day to wander about and check out the historical buildings.
One of the most beautiful was the church built in the 1600s
and then rebuilt after an earthquake in the 1860s...

I loved the colours of the interior...a lovely, soft robins egg blue and custard cream...
Like the translation of this sign...
We visited the local jail cell, which is still in use and tried to act the part of condemned prisoners...
I wasn't sure how much the girls would like this tour compared to all the beach stuff,
but they all agreed it was one of their favorite things we did.
I always believe you should find out the story of a place and people and culture when you go there
and the trip to San Sebastian didn't disappoint one bit.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Treasure of the Sierra Madres...

No, I'm not talking Humphrey Bogart but a pretty little town up in the hills.
One of the tours we took while in Mexico was to the historical
silver mining town of San Sebastian.
It took us an hour and a half to get there by bus, with an
excellent tour guide by the name of Juan Carlos.
This guy knew his history and taught us so much about
Mexico and the area in the most entertaining way.
We left by bus from the marina in Nuevo Vallarta where, yes,
you have to be cautious of the crocodiles!
By the way, no diving or swimming...
While we waited we were treated by the appearance of this sweet little heron fishing for breakfast...
This road out of town was a great opportunity for us to see some of 'real' Mexico...
This trip used to take 3 days from the town back in the days before cars.
Now there's a fairly good road and most recently a new bridge...
At this stop, we found the prettiest kitty, and like a lot of animals  we met,
she just wanted a bit of love and affection...
Another stop on the way up to San Sebastian was a lovely old Hacienda...
 ...the cobblestone drive past the derelict out buildings...
This house was home to the big land owner in the area who
ran the silver mine...
Here, one of the resident dogs with her 'special' collection of prized bones...
This place is a step back in time and is open as a B&B.
The day we were there, there were no guests so we were free to wander through the rooms...
LOVED the kitchen!
The bedrooms were so simple with lovely light coming in the large windows.
Bananas and lemons right outside your door.
Next stop was an old, organic, shade grown coffee plantation and lunch in an open air cantina...
Surrounded by beautiful views of the hills, the local rodeo ring (not to be confused with a bullfighting ring), papaya trees, orchids and oranges...sigh!
whew...running out of time...for now I will leave you with these morsels
and come back again to show you the little town of San Sebastian.
Adios for now.