WELCOME TO Val's Alentejo -I write about my region of Alentejo. My art ,painting, my cottages, Family life, my animals -Travels And my love for Roses- and rural country life.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Adding to Christmas fare

My last  walk around the pool area before sunset last night.   I noticed that I had flowers on my little 'Madronho' tree.   A friend gave it to me over nearly 2 years ago.   I was delighted. for at one time, I thought i might just take it up.  
 Its been raining on and off, and I really didn't take much notice of it, Its blossomed with this weird weather.     They take a long time to grow.  Its still about the same size as when it was given to me.  I was delighted to see that the fruit is growing.

                                   I think it such an exotic tree.  Even the flower and the fruit are exotic looking.  I rushed back into the house ..Got  my camera and took these photos.

                                         The fruit  on a larger tree .It looks like a leechi !! (courtesey)
There are a couple of species of the Madrono tree..  But all grow in warmer climates.. Mediterranean, Western Europe -North America, where its warmer areas.  
The fruit is edible.. but not really nice .
Once distilled it becomes a sweet fruity liquer .

I am sure that most have you have seen or know about the Madrona tree.... In Portugal its 'Madronho' .
The hills of the Monchique area of The Algarve, is where most  of the production  is distilled.  Some people distill the madronho from the fruit of their own trees.   A very old tradition.

This is what my friend did ..  2 bottles of home made Modronho was produced..
Its been a long time since i had a shot of this potent drink..  This last weekend.  My eldest son and family together with me... we all had a toast to Mr. M.   We could see him laughing at us all.  We had all had a little shot of Madronha and an extra for M.

 Christmas is closing in, and after I took the photos of my little tree.      Thoughts of what drinks my family like at christmas came to mind..
  Drinks with christmas lunch , a starter drink and then afters!! Christmas Eve, Boxing day.

I think everyone does it their own way.
We all drink mainly red wine so I am stocked up with that.   Some like now and again a white.. I have that too.
 I get a warm feeling, when we all make a toast around the christmas table.. The fire burning bright, and the laughter of my grandchildren.  Can't wait.

                                                                                                                Whisky on the rocks.. so i must get ice cubes ready.

                                                      Tea, coffee or hot chocolate, for the T T.!!!   A few varieties .. for before or after..                    


My favorite-

Baileys.. sometimes with coffee.. sometimes with chocolate.. or just on the rocks.   Sounds like I am an alcoholic!!!  but not so.     When together with the family we all enjoy our wine.  
After all its Christmas.   
Christmas -opening presents.. with a nice hot home made mince pie..!
I am pretty much prepared for next week.  Can't believe that 2014 has gone so fast.  (for me anyway).!

   Our free range enormous Turkey will arrive wed morning.. I will then prepare it for the oven, for christmas lunch.    A very large bowl with water ,  mix in the spices and let the turkey  rest  in it  all day and night.
 - Traditional English stuffing- (I make my own ) no packet made.  i have all the herbs needed.  Fresh rosemary, from my garden, thyme and parsley from a friends veggie garden in village.
This year, Filipe has asked to be with me, while I prepare the stuffing and get the turkey ready.   Its his first year, that he wants to be in the kitchen with me.  Looking forward to that.. with a little tipple to get us in the mood. );-

This year , as some of my daughter in law's family will be with me.. we have delegated some of the desserts.

My sprouts are blanched and in the freezer.. carrots tomorrow, and the rest on Thursday.
When i was at my apartment last month .. I was able to take a visit to the english shop.  I bought lots of goodies.

I have never rushed at christmas time.   Living in the country is perfect.  Life goes at a different pace than the city.  I get my fresh produce that is grown locally .. fresh fish on a wed at the little market..
Its a relaxing way to get prepared for christmas.

          Christmas Eve.    We always have the traditional Midnight  meal.   Bacalhau. (dried codfish)
A Portuguese tradition for centuries.   Christmas Eve  is all  Portuguese goodies.. good cheer and toasts all around.
                                                                Traditional sweet potato cakes..
But most of all dear friends.  Its not the Tree- or the food- or the drinks- Its being together with family and remembering what Christmas is all about.

Wishing you all a happy week.



  1. Christmas mood in this lovely post Val! I really enjoyed it! And I love bacalhau..I'v never been in Portugal, I would like to.
    Wish you the happiest Christmas holidays!

    1. Thank you Olympia.. Its close now to the 25th..
      Maybe you eat bacalhau in Greece!
      Portugal is a beautiful country..
      wishing you happy christmas season.

  2. I know just how you feel Val now that your Madrono Tree has flowered - I am only vaguely familar with the one you have, but know the one with the red flowers often called the strawberry tree.
    Your Christmas sounds as if you are well prepared - I am getting off really lightly this year as I shall be with my youngest son's family, but will take along a hamper of food with some wine and champagne.

    1. I am thrilled that the little scrawny tree is now growing and giving fruit. Yes, there is one with the red flower..the Strawberry tree. I would like to get one of those.
      As the years pass by.. life is less hectic. I have plenty of time to be organised for christmas.
      So pleased you are going to your son's -
      I give M and Heleen a hamper at christmas.. its fun to buy all the different things.
      Thank you for you kind comment Rosemary.

  3. Dear Val, It all sounds sospecial. How nice that your family likes to get together and celebrate Christmas. Your meals are well planned and including your family in the preparations sounds like so much fun.
    I can tell that you are a large and loving family. Nothing is more wonderful.

    1. Thank you Gina. My mother always made christmas special. I carried the tradition on and my daughter too.
      Now Filipe will be learning the ins and outs of it .. Nothing better, than being with family during christmas time.
      We are very close Gina.
      Hope that you have a wonderful day too. xx

  4. sounds like you are well stocked and well prepared for a bunch of family. nice to toast to mr. m., too. :)

    1. Yes.. we will all be together, except for Nina in Switzerland. But she had pre christmas dinner with me on wednesday.
      Thanks Tex

  5. Hi Val, It seems you are all set and will have a wonderful time with your family. Your meal sounds delicious and you do sound relaxed and eager. I know you will have a wonderful time. I never knew the name of that bush but we had a hedge of it at our elementary school when I was in the first grade and we would play house and use the little flowers for milk bottles Hope you have a memorable and wonderful Christmas, my dear friend...Happy Tuesday..Judy

    1. What a sweet little story about the madrono tree.. very potent.
      Yes, all is relaxed and prepared here Judy.
      Looking forward to all the family.
      getting the tables ready monday.
      Thanks for your comment x

  6. What a beautiful post about your Christmas traditions, Val. I have never heard of the Madrono tree but it looks attractive, and evidently can produce a very special drink. That is nice that you could raise a glass to Mr M.
    Your slow approach to Christmas is one I could think about doing myself - too much rushing about here. The free-range turkey will be a wonderful treat for your family. Because of the heat, we tend to drink champagne rather than red wine on Christmas Day. It goes nicely with turkey. Enjoy your preparations and a wonderful family Christmas next week.
    Patricia xxx

    1. Thank you so much Patricia.
      I myself, only found out about the Modrono tree, when I came to live here.
      I enjoy taking time for christmas preperations. Dont like to rush.
      We always get free range turkey.. more tender.

  7. Those little flowers are so sweet! You are going to be making merry and feasting next week. Have fun!

    1. Thank you Jen
      Looking forward for us all to be together.. special times.

  8. Hi Val,
    The hot chocolate looks so good, especially right now when it's raining so heavy here. It sounds like you have a feast to prepare for Christmas. I love your tree pictures. They are so pretty with the delicate flowers starting to bud. What was so special I thought is what you said about your family being together and remembering what Christmas is all about.

    I'm so glad we can spend Christmas together here in blogland, Val.


    1. Christmas is always the same tradition at home here. My children love it. No fuss..just more festivity and togetherness.
      I am so pleased Sheri, with my Modronho tree..
      I so agree.. Its wonderful that we can share Christmas together in blogland Sheri.. xx Thank you for your kind comment.

  9. Dear Val,such preety flowers from your Madronho tree!I'm sure you will have a wonderful time with your family!We also have bacalhau in Greece(dry or fresh) but i always stafted a chicken for Christmas eve and make the traditional mince pie,that reminds me the years back to Melbourne!In Australia they celebrate ,Boxing Day too!
    Wish you all the best!Enjoy!Have fun!

    1. Thank you Dimi,
      nice that you too keep up the traditional christmas lunch..
      I thought that you might eat Bacalhau in Greece.
      wishing you all the best.. xxx

  10. I'm sorry I missed the Anniversary of Mr M's death, thinking of you.
    I enjoyed reading about the English & Portuguese traditions you have had Christmas and all the different types of drinks! Sarah x

    1. Dear Sarah,
      Thank you for your kind comment.. No need to apologise..
      M will always be with us. The year has passed quickly.
      wishing you a happy christmas..

  11. Loving the sound of your Christmas Val and it looks like you're well ahead with the preparations. Baileys is my favourite tipple at this time of year. I'm going to watch a Christmas film, probably "Love Actually" or "The Holiday" this evening and I might just have to open up the bottle - well it is nearly Christmas isn't it! Speak soon. Hugs. P x

    1. Dear Patricia,
      I enjoy preperations for christmas.. take it slowly .. and it all falls into place.. no stress.
      I have aleady finished one bottle of baileys.. had visitors yesterday.

  12. It's nice to have the traditional food and drinks and share it with family. You have a wonderful week ahead! Merry Christmas sweet friend. Hugs, Diane


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