Crafty in the Med

I am here to enjoy meeting other bloggers and to share my love of craft ,mostly crochet, my thoughts and my daily happenings here in Alicante,Spain, my adopted country. I belong to a local choir because singing and music makes me happy. Flea markets and book shops are two of my favourite places to be. I read lots......sci´fi/fantasy,buried treasure, and off world adventures. I have a passion for history! I walk and walk and walk for about 10 months per year during the hot months I swim.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

We three Kings of Orient are bearing gifts we....

The Christmas season is when so much is happening! I think you will agree with me on this! However it seems it is more prolonged here than back home in the UK.
In Spain they keep to the old twelve days of Christmas and the last day of Christmas is on 6th January which is Twelfth night. Sunday therefore is the Kings night when the three kings visit the children to leave them gifts or coal if they haven't been good!

 There is a big parade through the centre of the city and a multitude of children line the streets. The Kings parade on their horses and camels;floats and bands march and sweets are thrown.When it is finished the Kings:Gaspar, Melchor and Baltasar, after a bit of a rest, pop into the children's houses when they are asleep and leave them presents .........yes I know....again!!!!
In my house at least as I have to celebrate Christmas day too!

Can you imagine a Christmas Day with no Father Christmas?  I can't!
I remember the very first Christmas I spent in Spain it was hard for me because my Spanish family did not celebrate Christmas in the same way.
I felt very homesick!
There was no Christmas tree only a nativity scene.Father Christmas did not make an appearance! However there were meals after meals after meals in different homes visiting the family.The Spanish families were on holiday and there was laughter and tears when an unexpected member of the family turned up, especially if they had traveled far. There was lots and lots of laughter and smiling faces. Everyone greeted each other ,families,neighbours,shop keepers,friends,colleagues with a smile calling out "Feliz Navidad, Feliz Dia, Felices fiestas " .
Once I adapted I realized that it was a good way to celebrate Christmas too and when I moved into my own place I was able to enjoy my own tradition and the Spanish ones as well.

Christmas Day lunch is always a decision we make together.......turkey,duck,a leg of something or a Spanish meal. It is traditional in this area of Spain to have cocido on Christmas Day and this year Sr P asked me if we could have that.
 As my mother-in-law taught me how to make cocido way back when we lived with my in laws and as it is one of the most practical dishes to make because it can be prepared and cooked in advance. This works out very well especially on a day like Christmas day. The late Christmas Eve dinner the night before with all the family means we do get up very late on Christmas day so I was more than happy to do that.

Cocido is a main meal soup
It is a Chicken soup packed full with lots and lots of ingredients:

  • half a small chicken
  • half a boiling fowl
  • half a pigeon (if you can get it but optional)
  • meat bone x 1
  • ham bone x 1
  • chunk of stewing beef
  • small piece of belly pork 
  • chunk of cooking chorizo
  • Chicken stock cube x1
  • bay leaves by 3
  • parsley
  • carrots x 4
  • swede x 1  (small)
  • parsnip x 1 (small)
  • celery x 2 sticks
  • leek x 1
  • onion x 1
  • large whole potatoes x 4
  • Saffron
  • salt 
  • chickpeas  ( soaked over night)
  • Medium sized meat balls x 6 
  • morcilla sausage   x 1 (optional)
  • lettuce ( outer leaves)  x 6 to 8
  • water to cover

Wash and prepare all ingredients. Place all ingredients except the meat balls in a pressure cooker cover with water add salt. Calculate 20 minutes from the minute steam escapes from the valve. Lower heat.
At the end of cooking time turn off heat,remove valve. DO NOT TRY TO OPEN LID until all the steam has been released through valve nozzle....IT IS DANGEROUS!!!    Once all steam has escaped open lid.   Strain soup into another pan. Discard stewing chorizo, sausage,bones,belly pork and lettuce leaves ( I don't like celery so that goes too) . Cut up some of the chicken and the other ingredients (very much depends on personal likes) and add to the strained soup,add meat balls and cook for 20 minutes approx.
Serve with a dash of lemon ( not everyone likes the lemon).
 I downloaded these images of Cocido from Google because so much was going on during our lunch and what with a glass or two of Rioja red as well I completely forgot to take photos :-)

*If you buy a jar of chickpeas they are normally already cooked so add to soup 5 minutes before end of strained soup with meat balls cooking time.
*Sometimes only the meat balls are added to the strained soup and all the ingredients are served on a large platter in the centre of the table so everyone can choose what they want to add to their soup.
*Advice:The soup is much better if you make and strain it the day before. 

It does look a long process but it isn't once you have all the ingredients into the pressure cooker you can go and crochet for 20 mins!

 I am very happy to announce.....

that BIG Fred the BIG puddy cat, whose photo and appeal from the Spanish Strays organisation in Andalucia has been displayed on my blog for some weeks now, has finally been adopted and has a FOREVER HOME.
This was just before Christmas makes me feel so good!

Now you will see there is another photo displayed on the left of my page ....Charlie boy who also wants a forever home too!   I'm afraid you will be seeing many more puddy cats looking for forever homes announced on my blog as Kerrie at Spanish Strays tells me they have over 70 cats and kittens to find homes for!  

Have a great weekend

Amanda :-)


  1. I wondered if they put up Christmas trees there! It's always interesting to hear of the different customs you share with us. It seems like most of us here are always in a rush to put Christmas up and then immediately take it down.
    As for the soup, it sounds mighty tasty.

  2. Hello Lynne

    Thanks for visiting. They do put up Christmas trees now and in fact things have changed quite a bit since I first came to Spain. Many people celebrate Christmas day more and they have turned to Father Christmas too ….but they divide the gifts giving some on Christmas Day and a few put back for the Kings Night.

    Keep well

    Amanda x

  3. It sounds like you've adapted really well Amanda, but brought in your own traditions too ...

    Don't think I could cope with Christmas going on for so long, especially with having 2 present giving days! Enjoy your Epiphany celebrations and Happy New Year too!

    Love claire xxx

    1. Hello Claire
      It does get a bit much ....and another dinner ...more prep but I can't begrudge Sr P wanting to keep his traditions as well and my grand-daughter loves it.
      A xx

  4. Double celebrations sounds good to me.

  5. I enjoyed your post Amanda-Happy weekend! we have a big winter storm coming in tonight through tuesday lots of snow and bitter cold-so getting ready for it

  6. thanks for the recipe - will be giving it a try! double celebrations sounds fab!!!

  7. We joined in with the Spanish traditions while making our own as a newly married couple & then with a baby. Loved it.

  8. It is interesting to read about celebrations in different places, I think even within the UK families celebrate very differently but moving abroad must be a huge contrast. I am glad Fred found a home, Charlie looks just like our kitten will look when he grows up, I hope he is lucky soon.

  9. Happy New Year to you and your family lovely Amanda!...Your post reflects everything Ashley has told me about traditions in Spain...she has so many lovely Spanish friends and can't wait to return's great that you have found a way to mix the two traditions.
    Thank you so much for visiting me over the last year Amanda and I'm looking forward to visiting you throughout 2014!
    Susan x

  10. How interesting Amanda, it was much the same when I moved to Syria, although they celebrated Christmas on the same day it was a religious festival only, there was no father Christmas or Christmas tree's and the giving of gifts was unheard of. Christmas dinner was and still is boiled chicken which has been stuffed with rice, meat and spices. I hated it at first and resented not having Christmas as I new it, but you do adapt and once I had my own home I was able to celebrate in my own way and introduce my in laws our traditions, I think it's nice to have a mix of both. Enjoy your celebrations Amanda. :)

  11. Hooray for forever HOMES. I work at our local shelter every thursday a.m. in the OR . I assist our vet with spays and neuters before they can go home. I LOVE my volunteer work there.
    Mmmm your dinner looks yummy

  12. Good idea on the posting Cats who need Forever Homes; interesting reciepe Amanda. Happy New Year !!! xx

  13. I love to hear about your Christmas traditions Amanda, thank you for sharing your festivities with all of us.

  14. Thank you for sharing. I always find it interesting when you share things about your "new" home. I think I would be very exhausted by so much celebration but understand your wanting to keep both you and your husbands traditions alive.

  15. Hi, if anyone needs pigeon for the above delicious recipe let me know. I'm currently feeding a whole FLOCK on the best birdseed the RSPB has to offer. They are very fat!! I HATE them, but like to feed the sparrows!

    1. Hello Rachel

      Thanks for visiting.

      Thats funny!!! I know who to come to then when I need pigeon … Actually quite expensive here and difficult to come across in the butchers. I can't think why as there are plenty of these pests mucking up the plazas here.

      Keep well

      Amanda xx

  16. I enjoyed this post very much Amanda. We haven't gone back to UK for Christmas for the past two years. I do miss it but not the dreadful weather that seems to happen around that time.
    Thank you for the recipe. I'm going to try that (minus the pigeon) and would love it if you share more traditional Spanish recipes from time to time.
    Happy New Year!
    Margaret x

  17. That does sound (and look) yummy, but pray do tell - what is a Bowling Fowl? (I'm picturing a chicken having a game of ten-pin bowling, down at the local games alley when suddenly he is interrupted from his game and captured unsuspectingly mid-bowl, and whisked off to be turned into festive soup! Am I close?) ;-)
    Happy New Year to you & yours,

    1. Hello Gilly

      Ha! Ha! That is so funny!!!….sounds like you have a vivid imagination just like me….but yes how did you guess….!!

      Better get in and correct that pretty sure I wrote boiling fowl ….but could be I was thinking of more sporting things at the time and my subconscious took over !!!

      A xx

  18. Happy New Year, Amanda! Oh, how I miss Christmas time in Spain! I remember like it was yesterday " la noche de Reyes". The excitement we felt as children. :) I know what you mean. When I got married and I came to live in the USA, it took me a long time to get used to the customs here. Cocido!!! Yum, Yum! Feliz Reyes!

  19. It's been lovely to read about the ways that you have fused UK and Spanish traditions. Happy New Year - I hope that 2014 goes well for you. Jx

  20. Happy New Year, dear Amanda! I wish it brings you good health, joy and love to you and your family.
    It is always very interesting to read about different traditions in other countries. Come by my blog to read about the Greek 1st of the year. And I am preparing a new post about tomorrow's Epiphany also, which is also our last day of the season's celebrations.
    Hugs to you!!!!

  21. The holiday was so hectic, but enjoyable with my three grands around. They really do make Christmas memorable. Your soup looks wonderful and inviting; the cold weather begs for soup! XOXO

  22. Thanks for sharing more about your traditions, Amanda. Interesting, soup recipe, too! I especially love that you have lots of gatherings with family and friends even though my inclination is to be a recluse :) Happy gatherings are healthier, I think! xx

  23. Hello Amanda. Thank you for visiting my blog and becoming a follower. I see I have been missing out on some interesting things going on here on your postings. I also see you and I share some similar interests and so I am now one of your newest followers as well. I will come back and check out more of your posts. Have a Happy New Year!
    (((HUGS))) Susanne :)

  24. Lovely to read about your Christmas traditions, Amanda! Wishing you a very Happy New Year, and looking forward to visiting you here through 2014.
    Helen xox

  25. Mmmm...that looks so tempting and inviting. Wish you a wonderful and happy new year.


Thank you for your comments. I do read them and try to reply to all as well.Please keep them coming. Amanda :-)