Sunday, 21 September 2014

Vicky's paella

Russ & I attended a delightful paella party hosted by our dear friend, Vicky. 
What makes a paella party a party is the collaborative preparation activities.  The careful banking of the charcoal and then a sip of wine, the trimming of the bell peppers and a sip of wine, the blending of the spices and aromatics & a sip of wine.
There is lots of laugher and comparison of notes regarding the various national versions of paella.  Then the selection of the paella pan by the hostess.  This involves a nose count and careful calculation of the pan circumference so that the depth of the ingredients is just right.
Once the pan is selected, the true artistry of a great paella starts.  The placement of the ingredients to make the perfect presentation of color and texture so that the pan slow cooks the ingredients to a picture perfect result.

Ingredients (for 6 persons)
Rice (2 cups)
Sausage (2-3 links)
Bell pepper (1 big bell pepper)
Chicken wings or drumsticks (1-2 per person)
Shrimp - 2 per person, the rest will be used as appetizers
Half of this package will be added to the base
About 1-2 cups
Half of this can was used to prepare the base.
The base can be cooked in advance.

Paella pan
  • 12" paella pan is enough for 6 servings. The level of water should be slightly above the rivet, we measured 8 cups of water to get to this level.

  • Start the charcoal, it will take 1.5 -2 hours to get it to the right temperature, meanwhile the party goes on

  • For  the base you'll need half of an onion, diced, 1-2 cloves of garlic,  half of crushed tomatoes can, salt, olive oil and a cube of fish stock. Saute all ingredients in a skillet. Add saffron when you are ready to start paella, You'll need 4-5 Tbsp of the base  for paella

  • Cut bell pepper and sausage

  • Season chicken and shrimp which will be used as appetizer with salt and pepper

Moving closer to the grill
  • Pour some olive oil into the pan and level the grill

  • Start cooking seasoned shrimp and sausage, don't forget to sip your wine

  • Cooking  bell peppers and chicken is the last step before we put everything together

  • Now we combine in a pan the base, chicken, sausage, add 8 cups of water, and let everything simmer for about 20 min

  • After 20 min season the broth, add some water if it is necessary to bring the level back to the rivet, add green peas, rice and stir everything together

Final touch
  • Add raw unseasoned shrimp and cooked bell pepper and arrange all ingredients on the surface in an artistic way, because - IMPORTANT- after this you are not supposed to touch paella...

  • ...until it turns into this delicious, flavorful, out of this world piece of culinary art

Thank you Vicky! Cheers!

Sunday, 21 April 2013


Traditionally, the third week week of April is peak blooming period for bluebonnets in  Texas. This year, Elena and I had a little free time and decided to visit the Ennis, Texas area renown for bluebonnet wild seeding.

About 9 miles north of Ennis, we started our search based on an Internet lead for Sugar Ridge Rd, known for the fantastic hillsides and fields covered in wildflowers. What an adventure, around every curve and crest of each hill, we found a vista filled with bluebonnets and other wild flowers. Nearly all the traffic encountered on the road was like minded folks, driving slow and enjoying each stop along the road.

The day was perfect in temperature, sunshine and clean fragrant air. As you can see, “photo ops” were plentiful.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

What's blooming?

Today I took a closer look at inconspicuous plants in my garden through the Macro lens.
I wonder what the neighbors think as they see me crawling in the richly composted dirt with camera in hand?



I may look awkward, getting on my hands and knees in the garden with my butt in the air, but the resulting images are well worth the effort.