Veggies that taste like veggies

I don’t have any green house, I like my veggies to grow under the sun so they get beautiful colour and amazing taste. We have that in Spain so I must make the most out of it.

The sun is shinning outside, the kids are playing around and I am sitting in my dinning room (that’s what happens when farming. Once I started working outdoor, paperwork got boring and I never find the time to do so but it is necessary too). It’s been raining quite a lot the past 10 days so while I wait for the land to dry and therefore be able to start seeding the veggies for next season, I finalise the field distribution.

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I start thinking of the organisation in the field. The amount of plants and which varieties I will be growing. It is not as easy as it may look, crops rotation is one of the most important things in ecological farming. Since we do not use any chemical products this is how we control plagues or diseases and how we keep our land clean and healthy.

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I grow plants of different families and alternate them within cycles. Different plants need different nutrients from the land. What some plants absorbe others provide so a good rotation is the main key to a successful harvest.

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I divide the field in 4 different areas.

I am thinking to grow strawberries and berries in one of those. I love baking and cakes should come out wonderful with those. Another sector will be occupied by tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Two varieties of beans. Cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. The third will contain leeks and onions. Lettuce. Spinach. And the last one will grow potatoes, pumpkins, zucchinis and cucumbers.

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While I organise all these, I imagine the results; all the green lines with the veggies growing. The feeling of harvesting the results to all these hard work and the joy in the kitchen while cooking them. I can already feel the taste of our wonderful veggies! 🍆🍅

I can’t wait to get to the field and make my hands dirty! 🙌 Let the countdown begin…

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Photography by Mercè Rial

Goat cheese and pumpkin Lasagna

Again… a quick and easy recipe for all those busy moms who still love inviting guests! As some of my Instagram followers have requested after seeing the pictures, I finally found the moment to write the goat cheese and pumpkin lasagna recipe I had promised!

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Although the pumpkin season is over in our part of the world… some might be about to begin! And for those who did like us or bought our packs, you can still enjoy the recipe. For those who are not aware, when our harvested pumpkins were about to spoil, I started peeling, cutting and packing them. We froze enough packs to be able to eat organic pumpkin from our orchard until october when the new harvest arrives. Those we did not need were sold in local shops or sold online and sent direct from our farm to the homes.

I won’t take longer, following is the recipe! I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Package of Candyliving Pumpkin – (800gr)
  • 250 gr of onion cut into thin strips or dices.
  • 125gr of goat cheese in pieces.
  • 6 slices of lasagne
  • Olive oil
  • Grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 50gr of goat cheese
  • 200ml cream
  • Salt and pepper

1. Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, cook the pumpkin at very low temperature, with salt and pepper. The pumpkin is ready when you can squash it with the fork.

2. In a different pan we golden the onion. Then you add the onion to the pumpkin and add the goat cheese. Blend at a very low temperature.

3. In the mean time cook the lasagna plaques in salty water.

4. For the sauce: we put a spoon of olive oil in a pan (low fire). We add the cream (salt and pepper)  and goat cheese in dices. We mix until the cheese melts and blends with the cream. (keep mixing until it thickens a little bit.

5. Take an oven tray. Paint with butter and then start preparing the lasagna. A layer of pasta, then add some of the pumpkin mix and some of the sauce and another layer of pasta. Keep adding as much layers as you want. Once you put the last layer of pasta, add some sauce on top and then some grated cheese.

Add it to the preheated oven at 180ºC during 15 min and then 5 more minutes cooking au gratin.

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Photography by Mercè Rial

Simple things to have fun with

As a parent, have you ever had that feeling of having the house full of toys which the kids don’t even look at? Or you don’t know what to give them because they already have everything?

This is a fun and useful present I would suggest you for your kids, an “adventure/explorer bag”. When my kids hear me saying – “let’s prepare the explorer bag” – they jump of excitement because they know something fun is going to happen next.

Buy a “safari” style bag and but some items inside such as binoculars, a loupe, a canteen filled with water and any other items that you might like to use. We usually take an empty pot, in case we find any bug we want to collect to observe later on.

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We also put some dry-fruit and chocolate inside, so they learn the importance of bringing high energy products when going for a hike. It is not that important now but it will be when they are older and hike in higher altitudes where your body needs extra vitamins. In addition you can find yourself in a drop in blood pressure or your body might need sugar.

Once the bag is ready just go out with them, explore and enjoy.

**Our Sunday story

We wake up on Sunday morning, we have our slow breakfast, put on our hiking boots and take our “explorer bag”. The kids and I decided our destination today would be the highest hill in our country-state. Jaume constantly asks me to go climbing (climbing at  this age means going up on top of hills without a path).

We get on the car to get a bit closer since Candi still doesn’t walk very long distances and we start our Sunday adventure. It had been raining the week before and we even had one day of snow so the paths were a bit muddy. We got stuck several times but we managed to get out until we got stuck for real and we had to leave the car in the forest and go back home walking.

With the binoculars, Jaume and Candi would constantly check wether we were walking the right direction towards home.

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On the way back we found several animal footprints which we observed and tried guessing which animal had past by. We also left our footprints marked so following them we can find our car once the mud dries a bit.

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When Candi gets tired, Jaume motivates her to continue walking while holding her  hand and making some jokes.

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Having fun the simple way is always the most memorable one. When they grow old they won’t remember the hours they spent in front of TV or playing computer games but those “adventures” with their family.

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Cookies

For those who asked… today I post my cookies recipe!

Have you ever tasted those yummy soft cookies that melt in your mouth together with the chocolate flavour? Have you tried baking them and they never came out as good? they looked yummy but became hard like rocks? Here is a super easy recipe and a few tips to bake quick and yummy cookies. Non of your guests will be able to resist them!

 

INGREDIENTS:

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Use a glass for measure (always the same).

  • 1 egg
  • 1 glass of butter
  • 1 glass and 1/4 of brown sugar
  • 1 glass and 1/4 of white sugar
  • 2 glasses of wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar

 

First of all (before starting to prepare the dough) set the oven at 190ºC (the secret of the cooking softness is  in the baking). While the oven heats, start preparing the dough:

  1. Take a big bowl and add the egg, sugar and butter. (*I would suggest you to melt a little bit the butter before adding it to the bowl, it is much easier to blend everything. Just make sure you don’t add it very hot inside the mix). candyliving-cookies2
  2. Take another bowl and add the flour, baking powder, vanilla sugar and chocolate chips. (I personally prefer to add just a few of the chocolate chips now and I add them the rest directly on top of the cookies later on so they are better spread all around the cookies, otherwise they might all be in the same point of the cookie and I like to feel the taste in every bite 😋) candyliving-cookies3
  3. Add the flour bowl inside the first bowl little by little while mixing the dough. I personally like doing it directly with my hands. When both bowls are mixed, the dough is ready and you can start shaping the cookies.
  4. Once the cookies are on the tray add the chocolate all around.

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Now they are ready to go in the oven. Make sure the oven is already preheated at 190ºC. The secret to get soft cookies is in the baking. The oven must be heated at the temperature and the cookies need to be inside 10 minutes.

When you take them out of the oven after 10-12 minutes, they will seem raw but they are not. Take the warm platter under them away and let them cool.

In the following picture you will see the cookies have different colours. The two on top were in the oven 10 minutes. The third one (down left side) was in the oven for 15 minutes. The fourth one (down right) was in the oven for 20 minutes. The first two are delicious, the third one is quite ok and the 4th looks yummy but it is like a rock. So… do not wait for the cookies to look golden. Take them out after 10 minutes.

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I used milk chocolate because it is my favourite but you can add anything you like, up to your imagination! White chocolate, dark chocolate, coloured choco chips… Even Nutela! I love those too. if you want to add nutela inside the cookie make a thin cookie, add nutela and add another layer of thin cookie dough on top (you don’t need to stick them, they will by themselves with the oven heat.

I hope you, your family, friends and guests will enjoy the recipe!! Please mention @Candyliving if you decide to try them so I can see the results!

I love them with a good tea! 🍪 ☕️

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Last Photography by Mercè Rial  & Setting by Candyliving

Hard beginnings in the farm

You start a project with excitement and people around just move with interests and lack of word and commitment. And now I wonder which is the problem… Am I too young? Is it because I am a girl? Do I trust people too much? Are we farmers too naive?

After all the love we have put in growing our pumpkins, the soil gave us back its love with great results in quality and amount. After harvesting we stored our delicious and spoilt pumpkins in boxes. We were super excited to be able to start selling them. We had analysed a couple of them and they came out to be in optimum conditions in all the aspects; Colour, taste and great properties. So our dream was coming true. We managed to grow a great product and now we could give some families who believe in healthy food the opportunity of having them.

So I start calling the companies and supermarkets who had shown interest in our product. One had promised me a price and is giving me half of the price now once they are ready. The other said they would buy us, as much pumpkins as we would grow… I knock the door now and it is only excuses to avoid even a meeting. The next one will not even bother in listening to your proposal, they prefer buying cheaper/less quality product to a distributor but then they appear on magazines saying they value “proximity products” and organic food from local farmers.

Yeap… this is life.

I don’t know the answer to my questions about which is the problem. The only thing I know is that our product is wonderful and super healthy. So I won’t give up. I will continue selling in the small shops and restaurants who have trusted us since the first day and we might be setting a market stand until our pumpkins are all sold out and have meet our goal; to reach some lucky families who value our product.

We are ready for the next stage!

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Photography by Mercè Rial

Working with love and passion

I often hear friends or people around saying “what could I do?” ” I want to change job but I don’t know what to do” “I want to do something on my own”… In those cases I suggest to think of the thing you like the most, start doing it as a hobby and then think about how can you turn that into an income.

No matter what you are going to do… Do it with love and passion. Believe in your product, take care of it as if it was your kid.

Last may my dad and I were wondering what to do with the land. Farming prices are low and there is loads of working hours. But when you love the land… you can’t live without it.  It was spring, loads of seeds can be planted at that time so I did some research about health, products, production process, etc. And all of a sudden I bumped into pumpkins. I was amazed by all the health benefits they provide. So I decided to do a trial in one of the fields. I did some research about types of pumpkins, I bought the ecological seeds (if I believe in health I want them to be ecologic) of the ones I thought would have better results in the kitchen and for our climate and soil.

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I can’t express the feeling of happiness and excitement when we saw the first leave coming out of the soil to enjoy its first rays of sun.

Once most of the seeds were born, we planted those tiny plants in the field. After checking them everyday, watering, observing, discovering about this plant and its flowers the pumpkin fruits were born.

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A few months later they were ready to harvest so that’s what we did.

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They are now in the fresh house basements waiting to be sold.

I have felt so many feelings during the whole process. The wonder if they will all be born while seeding, the excitement of seeing their leaves come out of the soil, the happiness of seeing them grow everyday, the suffering during any climate threats (specially one day we had a big ice-stones storm in the middle of summer)… the surprise of the big amount of pumpkins that were appearing under those huge plants when we started harvesting, and now seeing them all together stored in the fresh home basement. Such a blend of feelings!

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Seeing the wonderful results of the nutritional analysis we did to 2 of the pumpkins and  tasting the amazing dishes that come out of  them… has been so rewarding after all the hard work.

Now it is time for the next step. Growing the amount of extension next spring. Looking for  clients to sell them. And I would definitely love to go further with them so… I will start brain storming what else to do with our delicious pumpkins. I know we can succeed with such a  wonderful product.

Any ideas will be welcome!

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Photography by Mercè Rial 

Fresh apples for the Apple Pie

The apple picking season has started, and I couldn’t think of a better way to start it but backing an Apple pie. So… if during any of the rainy afternoons this fall you wonder about what to do with your kids… Here is a great plan to have fun in the kitchen! Our delicious Apple pie recipe!

The kids and I go out, it is a warm and sunny fall day. We get our baskets and head to the fruit trees area in our garden. It is time for them to learn how to pick apples, they have to get the biggest ones with more reddish skin colour. Whenever we find a damaged one we put it in a different basket that we will later give to the horses. They love them!

 

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They start by getting on a chair to get them until they find out how to get on a tree. Jaume picks them and Candi puts them in the basket. Good team work kids!

When they get tired, we sit down and explore an apple. We taste it, I explain them how healthy they are and I show them how to choose the best ones to eat and separate them from the damaged ones.

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In the afternoon we decide to bake a very easy and fast to do but still delicious apple pie recipe so they can taste them cooked too. Following is the recipe for :

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  • Puff pastry
  • Apples
  • Sugar
  1. Pre-heat oven at 200ºC.
  2. Spread the puff pastry on the baking paper and place on an oven tray.
  3. With a fork make a few wholes within the pastry (it will avoid the dough from swelling when heated)
  4. Spread some sugar on top of the dough (aprox. 2 handfuls)
  5. Place the apple pieces on top of the dough. Make sure between pieces and rows there is no empty spaces. (The apple becomes smaller when heated and it would look empty).
  6. Put in the oven for 10-15 min. (keep an eye on it until the apples and the dough look cooked.
  7. When you take it out of the oven and the pie is hot you can spread some sugar on top. You can also spread some jam (it can be apple jam or any other taste you like to blend with apple)

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Enjoy your pie!!

📷 Photography by Mercè Rial

 

Onion beating cough

With the changing season colds are quite common… Sleepless nights because the kids (or yourself) can’t stop coughing. And first you try with some water, then swallowing something and it seems it worked (you have that moment of glory thinking it is finally gone) until you lay down in bed and the coughing nightmare begins again… Do you know what I am talking about? If so, this is for you!

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A solution to this problem might be easy in a city where there is always a 24h open pharmacy nearby but for me… Finding a pharmacy might take me more than an hour drive if I am lucky. In addition to that I am quite fond of natural remedies before turning to  medicine. So there we go, the best solution to a coughing nightmare: 1 ONION.

Cut the onion in half and place it near the bed. It sounds awkward but it really works well at home. The room will smell next morning but if you open the window it disappears completely.

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Today we are picking onions in our orchard. It is one of the kids’ favourite to collect since you pull the leaves and they come out from under the ground. They can’t stop shouting “Look mom! Look how strong I am !” and they feel proud of their power.

We will now store the onions in the fresh basements of our country house so we have onions for the entire winter, they last long. We will now be ready for any cough attack! We use onions in most of our dishes too

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📷 Photography by Mercè Rial

Parmesan lollipops

It’s been almost a month since my last post! After a non-stop summer… My life is finally getting organised again with the school beginning two days ago. Today I will post another of those quick and easy recipes ideal for busy moms who love inviting at home. ❤

What do you thing of some parmesan lollypops along with a glass of wine? Those girls nights are definitely my favourite!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 100gr of grated parmesan cheese
  • Wooden skewers

 

RECIPE

Get a baking sheet, cover with baking paper and lay the skewers on top. Add the parmesan on one end of each skewer. (**Make sure that there is enough space between skewers so that the parmesan lollipops don’t touch each other to avoid them  from getting sticked once baked)

On top of the lollipops you put a layer of oven paper and a tray on top (to gain some weight and press). Put in the oven for 10 min at 180ºC.

10 minutes later make sure the cheese got consistence and take out of the oven.

Let them chill a while and they are ready to be served! I hope you’ll enjoy it!!

Photography by Mercè Rial

A summer without holidays

All of us mommies know what the word “summer” means. No school, disorganisation, long days and long nights, dinners, friends, family… in addition to that, living in a farm means orchard full of veggies that need to be taken care of, picked up, cooked and/or canned and stored. Ou wait, and my main job is taking care of tourists staying in our holiday cottages and they have have been fully packed from mid june to beginning of september.

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I am participating in an Instagram challenge for a month with the hashtag #augusthomesteading. Today’s word is NEW and since I don’t have anything new at home… I decided to write a NEW post in my blog after a long time of absence during the hectic summer. And the post is about new.

The first thing that comes to my mind right now when I think of new is end of summer. We celebrate new year on December 31st but the new year for me begins in September. When summer season is over, kids get back to school, everyone gets back to routine, life gets organised again…and we also start the farming year. In september all the fields need to be ready to be planted within end of september/beginning of october, so I need to plan all the harvest for next year. I decide what will be planted, I have to order the seeds, organise the work…

In addition to all that, after 3 years of moving around like nomads, we are settling down in a new home in our backyard. I could say my first proper house and with my dream kitchen! I couldn’t ask for more! Hopefully we will be able to move by the end of september.

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Work-wise, the year begins with new projects for which I am really excited and motivated, they have to do with organic or ecological farming. We have been experimenting with organic pumpkins this summer, and it went really well so… We are going bigger this year. I will be talking about them all year long as they grow. And much more things to come!

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So… I could say that this summer was quite inspiring, after long walks within nature after tasks, inspirational talks during long cozy dinners and some internet research; I am starting “the year” super motivated, with new goals and with loads of new ideas! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays and they were as refreshing as my “non-holiday summer”.

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📷 Photography by Mercè Rial