Saturday, January 15, 2011


Actually, it was history first and tea later when Derek Winterbottom's new book,
 "TENERIFE An English History" was presented to an appreciative audience of over eighty guests in the gardens of Sitio Litre in Puerto de la Cruz last Wednesday, January 12, 2011.

Derek, an historian and author of some twenty publications has now written a comprehensive history of the island as it has been recorded in the English language.

 Derek Winterbottom

After guests were seated in the garden,  John Lucas and Ken Fisher began by introducing the author, who then took the microphone to tell us about his new book.

 The weather was fair and sunny. 
There were ladies wearing summery straw hats, and men in Panamas. 

Peter, a friend of the author

Tea and coffee were served with sandwiches and cakes after the presentation. 

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves at the event and it was pleasant to stroll around the garden afterward to admire the orchids and other exotic plants.

Unlike many other publications in English about Tenerife, Derek's book takes one in a very readable manner through the island's history and development from the early volcanic beginnings,  the Guanche era, the Spanish conquest, the arrival of foreign visitors and settlers,  the growth of agriculture and trade,  up to events of recent years.

With a detailed index of local names and places, and with photos in both colour and black and white, "TENERIFE An English History"  will serve as an invaluable introduction to the island's history for those English-speaking residents or visitors who would like to improve their knowledge of Tenerife's interesting past.

Derek Winterbottom

Derek Winterbottom resides on the Isle of Man and spends winters on Tenerife. 

His book is available through the English Library in Puerto de la Cruz and costs twelve Euros.

Slideshow of Derek Winterbottom's book launch in the gardens of Sitio Litre.

Have a lovely weekend! Thanks for dropping by and hasta la vista!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Arroz À La Cubana (Cuban Rice)

 I don't often post recipes since there are so many hundreds of blogs which do just that.  But yesterday I met a lady who heard that I have blogs and her first question was..."do you give recipes?"

My answer was that I don't have time to experiment frequently with new culinary creations as I try to keep our diet simple and basic, with as little baked goods and sweets as possible.

But then I thought ....well,  after so many years of living and cooking in Spain, there are many dishes I have learned to make that could perhaps interest others.

So today I'm filling in here with a recipe before I write about a lovely garden party I attended yesterday to launch a new book about Tenerife written by an author and historian from the Isle of Man.

Today I'm giving you one of my "lean days" menus that I learned to make while living in Palma de Mallorca, as a music teacher with two small children and very little income.
My little girls loved this dish.

  Cuban Rice or Arroz à la Cubana was one of the things we ate a lot.  I don't know if the recipe did originate in Cuba but it was also a dish that could be found on the menu of the more humble restaurants in Palma, and I have even seen it offered here in a popular Tenerife restaurant.

My photo, by the way, has been copied many times on the internet.  You will see it when you Google  Arroz Cubana or Arroz à la Cubana.  It has been altered, reversed, added to and changed a little to hide the fact that it was copied.  But nevertheless it is my original photo.

  I guess I was lucky that the egg turned out just right without breaking and since copying is a form of flattery, I don't mind a bit that my photo of Cuban Rice has become so popular.


For three people:

3 ripe bananas
3 eggs
rice - three servings
tomato sauce or puré - about 1 cup
salt and pepper
oil or butter

1) Boil the rice until tender in salted water.  Drain.

2) Split the bananas lengthwise and sauté gently in butter or oil.

3) Heat the tomato sauce.

4) Fry the eggs in butter or oil keeping yolks runny.

5)  Arrange the rice in the center of each plate, with a banana half on each side, cover the rice with an egg and pour sauce over top.  Add salt & pepper.

Poached eggs instead of fried are also good.

* Note:  here in Spain the tomato sauce I use is called "tomate frito".  It's a smooth sauce of tomato fried in olive oil which comes in tetra brik packs, tins or glass jars and is used a lot in Spanish kitchens.

 See you soon!  Hasta la vista.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Blackbirds are Back

The blackbirds are back at my tree feeder and it is a treat to watch them while sitting at my computer looking out the window.  Here is one that I caught the other day..

HD video taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10.

I know I'll be taking more of these and the other birds as I can set up my tripod beside me on the table in front of the window and film while I'm working on my computer.

I hope I can also catch some video of the little blue tits that come from time to time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Los Reyes Magos

Last night the Three Kings, Los Reyes Magos arrived from the Orient to bring Christmas gifts for the children of Spain and other Hispanic countries. Known as Los Reyes Magos, or The Magi, they appear on decorated floats or riding on camels.

In Madrid they arrived amidst a spectacular parade with many floats and marching bands.

Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid


 In the Canary Islands, they appeared riding on camels with an exotic entourage.

Melchoir in Santa Cruz de Tenerife



All images above were taken from RTVC...Canarias television.

 One charming custom is for the mayor of the city to present the Kings with a large golden key, which is supposedly a magic key which enables them to be able to open all the doors of the homes in the city so they can distribute gifts while the children sleep.

Before going to bed, children will leave bowls of milk and cookies in their living room for both the Kings and the camels.

Thanks for dropping by.  Have a lovely Dia de Reyes, or 6th of January, a national holiday here in Spain.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

El Roscón de Reyes

 El Roscón de Reyes or King Cake

 Tonight, 5th of January,  is Noche de Reyes, or the evening when the Three Kings,  Los Reyes Magos or Wise Men arrive from the Orient on camels (or helicopters or boats) to bring Christmas gifts to Spanish children.  Throughout the country there will be parades where the kings accompany their loads of colourful boxes, waving and throwing sweets to the children from atop a camel or decorated float.

And this evening or tomorrow's holiday of Epiphany will see the appearance on many tables of the ROSCÓN DE REYES, or King Cake, traditionally served on this day. Often split and served with a custard or whipped cream filling, the cake contains two surprises, a dried bean (haba) and a small ceramic figure of a king.  Whoever finds the bean in their piece of cake is obliged to pay for the roscón and the person who finds the king will be as lucky as a king in the coming year.   Here is the saying in Spanish:

"Si es el haba lo encontrado este postre pagarás, mas si ello es la figura coronado y Rey serás."

I bought my roscón at the bakery this afternoon.  
It is so special that it came in a beautiful gold box.

And I have to admit that I couldn't wait....and already had a piece!   
And I found the little ceramic king - it was Balthasar, from Egypt (or Ethiopia so they say.)

 I'll hide him back inside the cake so there will be again a lucky surprise for who has the next piece of cake!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What a Great Sunny Winter!

We're having beautiful weather with sunshine every day since we had that bad storm.
Even the blackbirds think it's time to start singing and building nests.  They are certainly coming to visit me every day.  Or rather my bird feeder.  And there's one persistent dove who must have remembered this feeding tray from last spring.
Here's one of my visiting blackbirds again:

Today I walked downtown to the main plaza.  It only took half an hour and the temperature was just right, at about 23°C (73.4°F),

Down the steps at Calle Iriarte

Tapas in Calle Iriarte
Waffle stand in Plaza del Charco

And because we are still in the Christmas period here, there is a fairground with a giant ferris wheel set up near the fishermen's harbour.

Tomorrow evening the Three Kings will arrive bearing gifts for the children, with parades through the streets of Spain's cities and towns.  In some places live camels will be used to carry the packages, while in others decorated floats will be used.  So today, the town was still very much in a Christmas mood.

A porcelain Nativity Scene

I stopped at the Columbus Plaza to have a look at the bakery and the Roscones de Reyes, or King's Cakes,
those light and puffy pastry rings topped with candied fruit and a gold crown,  made only for the holiday of the Three Kings, on January 6th.

Here you can see a few crown-topped king cakes in the left display case.

Here below is one from a previous year at our neighbourhood bakery:

Doris holding a Roscon de Reyes or King Cake

So while I was downtown in Columbus Plaza, I decided to have lunch of....yes, roast TURKEY again.
It came in a delicious mushroom gravy with German sautéed potatoes.

Roast turkey in mushroom gravy

Well I'll leave you with thoughts of food today.  Perhaps I'll be able to take some photos of the parade tomorrow.  I hope they will have camels this year.
(If you'd care to see them, there are a few more photos from today's walk  in my slideshow.)

Thanks for dropping by and hasta la vista! 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year !

What a surprise to see the peach tree already beginning to bloom on the first day of January!  
But as we have been having such balmy warm weather I suppose the tree feels spring is here.

Even the blackbirds are back here at my window, waiting for me to fill the feeder.

And in the street the tourists are happy to be able to walk around without snow.

And in our garden, Teresa helps me to water the plants and lawn.

And the cactus garden thrives in this dry weather.

 I hope you had a happy and safe New Year celebration last night.

Wishing you a peaceful day to start the New Year!

Thanks for dropping by.  ¡Hasta la vista!


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