Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Basic Paella

A BASIC PAELLA – There are many variations

6 or 8 pieces of chicken thighs on the bone, skin on or off, to your taste
Rabbit is fine if you have access to it
Olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
Lots of garlic cloves, skin on
Chicken stock
2 large pinches of saffron
If you have access to a Spanish supermarket, (I buy mine from Mercadona) a teaspoon of Preparado Paella con azafran....this is a mix of colouring and saffron and is great if you have it, but not necessary to the recipe
2 heaped teaspoons of paprika, either sweet or smoked according to your preference
500g paella rice
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves picked, washed and chopped, stalks chopped
2 handfuls of fresh or frozen peas
A portion of fine green beans or asparagus...whatever is your favourite....why not both?
Half a kilo of king prawns with shell on
Any seafood such as slices of squid, mussels etc.
Lemon wedges

A paella pan....otherwise a wok or wide non-stick saucepan will do

Heat the olive oil in the pan and add the onion and fry for a few minutes on a low heat until translucent.  Add the chicken pieces or rabbit and fry until it is brownish.  Throw in the garlic, saffron, paprika, seasoning, stock, paella rice, and cook on the hob (low heat) for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Then add the green beans or asparagus, the prawns and seafood.  Continue to simmer for about 10 minutes and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

A good starter to accompany this would be “Pan con ajo y tomate”....which is bread with garlic rubbed onto slices of bread and topped with fresh tomato wiped across it.

Alioli (a garlic mayonnaise) is usually served with paella.

Thursday, 22 August 2013



1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced into thick rings
2 beef tomatoes sliced into thick rings
2 aubergines sliced into thick rings
1 packet of grated mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste

Lay the onion slices in an ovenproof tray
Put the tomato slices on top.  Season and sprinkle with the oregano and herbs.
Lay the aubergine slices on top.

Bake in the oven (180 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes.

10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the mozzarella cheese.

Sunday, 18 August 2013


A cat can be a wonderful pet, but before choosing a companion, it is necessary to realise the care, attention and commitment required for the next 10-25 years or longer.

The commitment includes day to day care, feeding and the occasional provision of veterinary treatment should the cat become ill or need to travel from one country to another.  They need to be vaccinated annually and wormed every six months, so there will be regular medical costs to be set aside.  Long haired cats require daily grooming in order to avoid matting.  With improved nutrition and veterinary care, cats are now living longer than ever.  Too many cats are waiting to be re-homed due to a change in the owner’s circumstances, so please think carefully before taking on the responsibility.

Another consideration is the cost involved in caring for a cat or cats.  There is the initial cost of the pet, as well as the bedding, bowls, litter tray, cat door, cat carrier for trips to the vet or cattery etc.  Then the on-going cost of food and litter.

A scratch post is a good idea as if kittens are encouraged to use them, it will save any wear and tear on your furniture.  Even if a cat is to be kept indoors it is wise to still fit a collar and identity tag in case the cat should escape through an open door.  Safety collars include a short piece of elastic, allowing the collar to stretch and enable the cat to free itself, if it becomes accidentally trapped by its collar.

If an identity tag is attached to the collar, it can be useful if the cat becomes lost or has an accident.

© Janice Ascott
Previously printed in the Costa Blanca Euroweekly news

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Have Some Fun with your Kitten or Cat

It can be hard in these busy times, to find a few minutes to relax, but playing with your kitten or cat will benefit both of you.  Here are a few ideas to give your cat some entertainment.

Cats are very playful anyway and will often initiate a “chase me” game when you are sitting down in the evening feeling totally relaxed and planning to go to bed.  This can be when a cat will decide to run round in circles and if you chase her, they will hide behind the cupboards or curtains, or into the wardrobe if the door is ajar.  It’s an invitation to play “hide and seek”.

Cats don’t normally fetch objects like dogs do.  However, some will return light things thrown for them.  We used to have a kitten Dusty who loved to play a game on Sunday mornings when we’d have a lie in with coffee and pro-biotic drink in bed.  As soon as she heard the rustle of the silver lid coming off the drink, she’d leap on the bed full of excitement.  We would throw it on the tiled floor and she’d leap at it, skidding all over the place, then put it in her mouth and return it to us for a repeat performance.  For safety’s sake it might be better to use a larger ball of tin foil, rolled up tight so she cannot swallow it.

Some will play with fake mice, especially furry ones on a string.  It’s her chance to pretend she is a ferocious hunter, stalking prey.

Toys need not be expensive:-

- A ball of wool or a piece of string (it is best to keep an eye on the cat, so she cannot strangle herself), or ping pong balls can keep her amused.  

- An old sock filled with catnip and tied at the end.  

- They also like to play hide and seek in a large, strong cardboard box.  Put in some newspapers as they love to screw them up and hear the sound of the paper.  Cut some holes in the sides, so she can peek out.   

- If you can afford one, there are many scratch tree posts with one or more houses on top to hide in.