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Spanish scientists discover a substitute for plastic from banana
26 November 2019

      In recent years, an important concern, which we have throughout the world, is the management of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials. But, on the other hand, there are many scientists investigating new materials, to replace, for example, plastic  --which, unfortunately, is thrown into rivers and sea, many times--.

Residues of plastic

      Well, but some scientists, from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canarias (ULPGC), have developed a material, similar to plastic, from the banana fibers.

The team of scientists

University of Las Palmas

      Gran Canaria, Tenerife and La Palma could be the first three islands of the archipelago to have banana fiber extraction plants, a material of natural and biodegradable origin that can be used to manufacture bags for agriculture, feed for fish and tissues, in addition of to reinforce plastic parts of all kinds.

Banana trees and dry leaves of banana​​​​​​​

      Financed with European funds, the Life Baqua project of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) seeks to "replace a good part of the pieces and plastic bags that people use every day with materials of natural origin", has said its project coordinator, Mario Monzón, during the day of presentation of the results obtained during the three years that the investigation has been extended.

Mario Monzón Verona​​​​​​​

      The appointment of last October has sought to involve different sectors of society, in the project, and has had the presence of potential investors from other regions of the European Union (EU) such as Martinique (France) or Madeira (Portugal), has designated Monzón.

      In his opinion, this "is a strategic moment" for this project to be put into practice, due to "the great worldwide demand for sustainable materials that replace plastics".

      "The idea is that up to five plants for fiber extraction can be set up in the Canary Islands, one in Gran Canaria, two in Tenerife and two in La Palma", said the coordinator, to point out that these would be the three islands where "the numbers indicate that it could be profitable”.

      The project is currently under study for its industrial implementation, both in the Archipelago and in other regions of the EU.

      For the Rector of the ULPGC, Rafael Robaina, Life Baqua is “an example of how universities can contribute to the economy”, in this case specifically to the Canarian economy, where entrepreneurs must “brace themselves and start investing in this type of ideas", since, in his opinion, both companies and the academic institution "owe to society".

Rafael Robaina​​​​​​​

      The fibers extracted from the banana rolls have allowed the ULPGC researchers to create elements such as tissues and bags that can be used to protect the banana pineapple itself in the plantations, replacing the synthetic bags that are currently used in the agriculture.

Fibers of bananas​​​​​​​

Banana trees with bags for protecting pineapples of bananas​​​​​​​

Bag for protecting the pineapple​​​​​​​

      In this way, a "circular economy" model would emerge, because "the material that leaves the plantation returns to it as a bag", Monzón said to remind that the same fibers can also be used to reinforce plastic parts of all kinds as vehicle interiors.

      With the pulp of banana tree rolls, obtained during the fiber extraction process, researchers have managed to create additives for fish feed.

Additives for fish feed​​​​​​​

      But banana fibers have also been used to make baskets, for example, as in the image below, which wraps around a bottle.

A wicker basket for protecting the bottle of crystal​​​​​​​

       "We are very happy because one hundred percent of the banana tree rolls is used and, even, the liquid that comes out of it also has a number of properties that could be of great interest", concluded the coordinator and researcher, to anticipate that, in the next Projects, it could begin to study what applications this liquid may have.

      Well, I hope that this future project will go ahead and i hope that the bags obtained from the banana fibers can be sold all over the world, to end the plastic problem.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Beef stew by a master of Spanish cuisine
16 November 2019

      Today I would like to show you the recipe for “Beef Stew”, by Karlos Arguiñano.

Karlos Arguiñano cooking

      These are the Ingredients (for four people):

       700 grams of veal to cook (aguja = needle).

       3 onions

       200 ml of red wine

       25 gr of black chocolate

       1 bay leaf

       Salt

       Parsley

       24 small potatoes

       12 shallots

       ½ litre of beef stock

       Extra virgin olive oil

       1 teaspoon thyme powder

       Pepper

Note: The shallot is a vegetable native to Asia, which closely resembles onion and its flavour is between onion and garlic.

Chalotas = shallots

      To make this dish, first you have to cut the meat into bite pieces, salt and pepper and put them to brown in the fast pressure cooker with a drizzle of oil. When it browns a little, peel and chop the diced onions. Add them to the pot and cook everything together for 15 minutes.

Fast pressure cooker

      Add the bay leaf, thyme, ounces of chocolate, broth and wine. Boil it, cover the pressure cooker and stew the meat for 20 minutes, after the valve rises.

      Peel the shallots. Heat a pan with a little oil. Add the shallots and potatoes (clean and skinned) and cook them over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle them with a little chopped parsley and season.

Skinned shallots

      Serve the meat with its sauce and accompany it with the potatoes and shallots. Garnish with a sprig of parsley.

      And this must be the result:

Advice: The sauce is not bound, but if you like it thicker you can pass it through the pastry or bind it by adding a little refined cornmeal diluted in cold water.

      Well, I hope that you will want to try to cook this recipe.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Another abandoned village in the north west of Spain
09 November 2019

      Ciñera (or Ciñera de Gordón) is a Spanish village, belonging to the municipality of La Pola de Gordón, in the province of León and the region of the Central Mountain, in the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León.

The map of Ciñera

      This small village is located on the Bernesga River, on the N-630 road between La Robla and Asturias.

Bernesga river

      It has a railway station on the León-Gijón line.

The Ciñera Station

      In Ciñera, there  is one of the best preserved beech trees in Spain, the Faedo of Ciñera, located near the village, next to a mine.

      The Faedo of Ciñera is a small forest located in Ciñera de Gordón (León), about 35km from the capital. The colour of the forest, in autumn, is spectacular and has a tree of more than 500 years, known as "Fagus". In 2007, the Forest received an award for the “most careful forest in Spain”.

A general view of Ciñera

Another view of Ciñera

Ciñera up close

      To get to Faedo, you have to get to Ciñera and leave the car near the church or at the sports center. There is a road of 1.5 km approximately until reaching a mine entry.

The mine entry

The mine El Pozo Ibarra of Ciñera

      We follow the path and we find a stone bridge and the creek.

The creek​​​​​​​

      We follow a small wooden walkway and, in a few metres, the road widens and we contemplate this beautiful picture.

      Finally, we enter the Faedo, reminiscent of a forest enchanted by its colour and the sinuous shapes of the trees ...

Starting inside the Faedo​​​​​​​

Another part of the stream​​​​​​​

Another piece of the path

A pleasant walk through the Faedo​​​​​​​

Resting in the Faedo​​​​​​​

Another incredible corner inside the Faedo​​​​​​​

The incredible colours of Faedo​​​​​​​

Gorge of the Faedo​​​​​​​

Another part of the gorge​​​​​​​

      After a good walk, through the Faedo, you will surely be hungry and, therefore, I recommend the restaurant "La Hornaguera".

La Hornaguera with a parking​​​​​​​

      Telephone number:  987 58 41 33.​​​​​​​

La Hornaguera inside​​​​​​​

      There is a terrace behind:

      These are some of the typical dishes of La Hornaguera:

Squid in ink​​​​​​​

Braised cheek​​​​​​​

Chickpeas with cod and spinach​​​​​​​

Meat stuffed potatoes​​​​​​​

Sirloin with cheese sauce​​​​​​​

Rice with mushrooms​​​​​​​

Cheesecake​​​​​​​

Lemon mousse

      Well, i hope that you will like this article and hope that you will able to visit that wonderful area.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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