Monday, 8 April 2013

Good buy?

SWMBO and I took our German neighbours to a few garden centres recently. They were looking for a new palm to replace one lost to the dreaded Red Palm Weevil and an alternative to their straggly bouganvilla.

In one of the centres, I spotted a set of three large cacti. Way out of my price range, I imagined, but I went over to have a closer look and to check the price anyway.  It was marked at just 47 euro, which I thought must be a mistake, but when I asked about it, I was told that as it was marked at that price, I could buy it at that price. So I did. (And then I paid more than that for the pot!)

It was delivered a couple of days ago and I wanted to know just what I had bought. As is the wont here in Spain, most garden centres do not mark cacti and are of little help in identifying them, so I placed a pleading post on the Cactus World Online forum and within less than an hour had the name I was searching for: Pachycereus pringlei.

The tallest of the three parts stand 90cm. with an almost unbelievable maximum circumference of 70cm.

As well as the portrait view, you might enjoy a top view of one of the stems and a closeup of an areole with its spines.

A good buy, I think.

Good bye.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Fruit soup

Over a hundred and fifty years ago, Lewis Carroll provided us with one of the very best tales ever to have been committed to paper, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Like Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Alice is often regarded as no more than a children's book, and contributions by the Disneys of this world have not helped in this respect.

Carroll provided us with mathematical insights, exercises in logic, word play, and many more non-childish aspects in Alice. One of these was parody, though that parody is now largely lost, as we tend to remember more Carroll's parodical versions than the originals and therefore have little basis for comparison.

One such parody that Carroll presented was in the form of Soup Of The Evening, and he based this poem on a popular song of his time called Star Of The Evening by James M. Sayles.

Carroll's amusing version goes thus:

Soup Of The Evening
by Lewis Carroll 
Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Beau—ootiful Soooop!
Beauootiful Soooop!
Soooop of the eeevening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!
Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
Beauootiful Soooop!
Beauootiful Soooop!
Soooop of the eeevening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!
One would imagine that Carroll held soup in the same high regard as SWMBO.

I do not share their enthusiasm. At least not for the vegetable soups that SWMBO usually prepares in the Soup&Co machine that we purchased recently and which I have already written about. I am even less enthusiastic about fish soups, shellfish soups, or any other form of marine creature soups, and keep well away from cold soups of the gazpacho ilk.

As you can imagine, the Soup&Co has been put to enthusiastic use by SWMBO, so that vegetable-type soups are just about coming out of my ears. Recently, however, I have discovered a far more sensible use for the Soup&Co: it produces extremely fine fruit drinks.

And I make them in it.

The photo shows today's creation, a magnificent concoction consisting of half a mango, about 150 gr of strawberries, a largish banana, the juice of half a lime, a piece of ginger about the size of the top part of a thumb, cut up (the ginger, not the thumb), and freshly pressed orange juice. That was enough for four glasses of the size shown in the pic (roughly 33 cl. each).

These drinks are very easy to make. I started out with a book of recipes for smoothies and other fruit drinks, but once you get the hang of it, such a book becomes just a source of inspiration, not something to be rigidly followed. Basically, you just put the fruits into the machine (larger fruits being first cut into smaller pieces), add a liquid ingredient (and I've used yoghurt, horchata, Casera—a sort of sugarless cream soda—and, of course, orange juice) and mix it all up for about thirty seconds at top speed. Check for taste and consistency, adding some honey, if necessary, or some more liquid, then mix again for a few more seconds.

Tomoroow I shall make something based on papaya.

Lubbly jubbly!