Goat Cheese and Pimiento Pastries; Wood Stoves; pretty, deadly, caterpillars

Goat Cheese and Pimiento PastriesPastry_pimiento_finish

I lived in a smart house once.

It was the year after we sold our house in Minnesota, and before we moved to Ireland.  We rented a house ‘in town’ to live in while we sorted out our life before the big move.

It had a computer-controlled environment.

It was the most marvelous thing. 

We moved in late fall.  I programmed it to start warming the house 30 minutes before we got up.  It stayed at that temperature for an hour, then cooled down to a daytime temperature which it maintained until late afternoon.  It warmed up again for evening then cooled down significantly for sleeping.

It had a separate program for weekends.

Truly, it was a most marvelous thing.

We managed to do something similar with our boilers in both Andorra and the Vendée by attaching a timer to the on/off switch.  Not as sophisticated, but effective.

A wood stove cannot be controlled by either a computer or a timer.

A wood stove heats exactly the opposite of how I like my house.

I get up in the morning, when I want warmth, and it’s cold; the fire having burned down or gone out several hours earlier.

We light the fire.

It’s still cold whilst we have breakfast and morning coffee. 

It’s starts getting warm about the same time we get active with the chores of the day.

By mid-afternoon we don’t need it, but if we let it go out the house will be cold for the evening. 

We open the doors and windows to let in some fresh air…

Be evening we have a lovely fire and it’s toasty warm, just in time to go to bed when I like it to be cool.

As morning draws nearer the house gets colder, just in time to start the whole backward cycle over again.

I’m sure (she says, hopefully) we’ll get it sorted out next winter.  But, now it’s spring and we have a warm day followed by a cold rainy day.  Some days we have a fire, others not.  The walls are thick and never got properly warmed this winter so they don’t have any residual heat. Our friend in Spain hasn’t had a fire in 3 weeks but his walls are still warm.

We  open the doors to the sunshine, to let in heat, when we can; close them and light a fire when we can’t.

It’s not nearly as convenient as the computer house….

But I’m definitely more in tune with nature.

Speaking of nature, I had an unpleasant surprise the other afternoon: Processonàrias! 

Processional caterpillars were common in Andorra and Spain, and now we have them in our very own garden.

They’re pretty little things, yellow and gray stripes.  They crawl, nose to tail, in lines.  In the mountains I’ve seen lines several meters long. 

They make web-like nests in pine trees, which will, eventually, kill the tree.  Their only known enemy is the hoopoe, which is no longer very common in Europe.

They can kill small pets.

They have toxic hairs that can get in your curious pet’s, or child’s, nose, mouth or eyes causing serious injury and/or death.  If your pet or small child comes in contact with them, get them (child or pet) to a doctor.

I accidentally touched one once, very briefly, and my hand was itchy and swollen for several weeks.  I finally had to go to the pharmacist for treatment.

Fortunately, I was able to make some lovely pastries to make me feel better….

Pastry with Pimiento

Here I am again, with exceptionally, easy food.

Chevre and Pimiento Pastries

Cut  2 squares of puff pastry and score a line around the edges with a table knife.

Lay some drained pimiento (pimento) with the scored lines.  If they are whole pimientos, cut them in half, first

Pastry with Pimento and Goat Cheese

Slice some chevre (aged goat cheese) and lay on the pimiento,

Sprinkle a bit of oregano on top.

Bake, 400F (200C) until the edges have puffed up a bit and are a lovely golden brown.

Pastry with Pimiento and Chevre

Serve with a bit of tomato sauce.

Wasn’t that easy?


14 thoughts on “Goat Cheese and Pimiento Pastries; Wood Stoves; pretty, deadly, caterpillars”

  1. Hi Katie, sorry that you’re not enjoying your woodburner at the moment – I hope that you’ll come to love it. Here’s a tip for the mornings: in the evening, make sure that you have a good thick pile of glowing embers when it’s bedtime (in other words, stoke the fire up until half an hour or so before that). Then, shut down all the air controls available to you, and rake some ash over the embers (how much you’ll need to experiment with). In the morning, some of the embers should still be glowing. Open up the airways, use a poker to let some air in from below, add fuel, and WHOOSH, heat, almost instant. You can do this when you go out. You’ll have to experiment with your particular stove.
    The other tip is to get one of those gas torches that builders use for brazing …. it means you can get a fire started from cold in moments, provided you have a little kindling.
    Good luck

  2. We all need exceptionally, easy food. That looks marvi. We all need exceptionally, easy warmth in the morning when it’s cold.
    Processonàrias! I think I don’t need to meet up with them.

  3. I do like exceptionally easy food! Especially when chevre is involved.
    Your bugs sound like something out of a horror movie, hope they don’t get inside!

  4. Wood fire does take some getting use to. I know my grandparents use to have one and it always seemed like the same problems. The joy is though the nice wood smell in the house is usually there.
    I do really want a wood fire stove though for pizza/general cookery.

  5. If there is a French equivalent to Windex, try spraying it on the webs of these caterpillars – it won’t hurt the trees but it gets through the protein of the webs and the cleaner in them is toxic to tent caterpillars in this country. Nasty sounding, especially to curious canines!

  6. The saving grace of a woodburning stove is the smell of a cosy fire. Nothing beats it really. Herd up the caterpillars and throw them in, have some of these lovely tarts and a lovely glass of French wine and enjoy your new surroundings…which I know you are:D

  7. Looks mahvelous! I think instead of the oregano, I might schmear a bit of pesto on the goats cheese. Yummo.

  8. Oh, we have both! (the computer heater up thingy that does weekends and vacations plús the procession scaries) Do you think there’s a connection?
    The caterpillars were in the oak trees in front of our house, we had a note up asking visitors to come in through the back door. (because the wind blows those nasty hairs everywhere, you don’t have to touch them to be affected). Then the men in coveralls and masks came spraying.. Our old gardener watched it from a distance, shook his head and told me the only way to get rid of them is fire; he made a make shift torch from a stick, a t-shirt and fuel…Whoosh.. bye bye crawly creeps. Happy tree.

  9. Katie – I’ve never heard of those caterpillars, and I thought we had every known pest in New Mexico! Ouch! Time to re-introduce the hoopoe, I think!
    Now, as for your recipe, your timing is perfect! I’m headed for New Mexico to spend time with my (almost) vegetarian homme. I think he’ll love these!

  10. The pastries look gorgeous and I love the idea of adding a sauce..mmmmm…
    Wouldn’t like to run into one of those caterpillars. Definitely spiky looking! Their destructive habits have me cringing already, remembering that the Japanese Gypsy Moths will be returning soon. They’ll eat every single leaf off the deciduous trees as soon as they finish producing their leaves for the Summer. The trees end up directing all their energy towards growing new leaves, rather than trunk growth. Then there’s their other preferred pasttime – dangling from branches. Nothing destroys a hike in the woods quite like finding wiggly green gross things on yourself in the woods. *shiver*

  11. Joanna, thanks for the tips – we’ll get the hang of it… More practice, but next winter, I hope ;-))
    Tanna, I’m really into easy, lately..
    Scott, goat cheese is a staple here!
    Natashya, they really are pretty – and nasty!
    Jeff, unfortunately ours is only for heating.
    Zoomie, thanks, I’ll try it -better than a gas torch!
    Val, and gazing into the flames….
    Cindy, pesto would be good…
    Baking Soda, didn’t know that about the hairs – thanks!
    Toni, I’ve seen one or two hoopoe’s – in 5 years. Not enough!
    Cymry, I HATE things dropping out of treese (shudder!)

  12. Yikes – those caterpillars look creepy… We have quite a lot of hoopoes in South Africa – maybe that’s why I’ve never seen these!! The pastries sound wonderful though – I’m sure they soothed your frazzled nerves.

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