Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A short break

Taking a short break.  Back soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Garden expansion

Got started on enlarging the veg patch.  Decided to rent a tiller and give it a go.  Not a huge success.  The area was rutted years ago when they first cleared the site in a wet January with heavy machinery.  The perennial weeds have extensive roots (which I know personally), and then the tiller itself gave up the ghost and the crank cord broke when V tried to re-start it.  Oh well.

First pass:

Second pass:

After I go over it again to remove 1) the rest of the roots and 2) rocks and 3) shape the beds, it should double the size of the garden.  In more good news, the rental shop has metal wire panels, so I can better support the tomatoes next year.

Breo, however, is delighted since fresh dirt is the Best.Thing.Ever.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Halloween Mystery

One of these things is not like the other.  Store bought on the right.

Was sold ¨Butternut Squash¨ seedlings.  Apparently not.

At first I thought I´d been stupid to plant them next to the zucchini/courgettes, since it´s been (mumble, mumble) years since high school biology.  But, after consulting Mr. Google, turns out the fault lies with either the seller, or the grower last year who let two squashes cross and then used the seed.

But what to do with them...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

And then it was Autumn

Abruptly, the temperatures dropped and the rains came.  Breo and I walk later because it´s still dark at 8:00.  Roses are putting out their last blooms of the year.  The leaves are turning and falling.

And the whine of chainsaws is constant in the distance, as tractors and trailers rumble up and down the road up the hill.

 They´ve cleared an entire lot of oaks, pines, and even eucalyptus. 

Unfortunately, one was a favorite of mine, an old oak curving out over the path like the figurehead on the prow of a boat, tall and elegantly swathed in a green velvet robe of moss.  I feel it´s absence.

This year I will plant trees.

Still, new life appears.  The rain has brought out the mushrooms, some quite tall. Looks like a good year for chestnuts and acorns, too.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Mussels with Tomatoes and Pasta

This was really tasty and a great way to use up some of the cherry tomatoes. 

I cover the mussels in cold, salted water for a couple of hours before starting, discarding all broken ones and any that never close. 

Saute a handful of diced onion, a minced garlic clove in a little olive oil.  Add the clean, de-bearded mussels, a glug of white wine and a dash of black pepper. Cover and bring to the boil, then let steam with the heat off for a few minutes.  Let cool.

Strain the mussels, retaining the liquid.  In the same pan, saute some green or red pepper, perhaps some more onion/garlic and a handful of cherry tomatoes per person.  Add the liquid back in and simmer to reduce.  Separate the mussels from their shells.  Cook your pasta.  Just before al dente, add the strained pasta to the reduced sauce along with the mussels.  Shake/toss gently until warmed through and serve.  Don´t add salt until the very end after tasting, because I find the liquor from the mussels is quite salty enough.

¡Que aproveche!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Fall Garden

This was the second very dry summer in a row.  I think it rained twice between May and September.  Good summer for fruit, though.  We´ve had apples, pears, plums, lots of blackberries, even a couple of walnuts but not a single, solitary grape.  Got good production from the runner beans, onions, courgette/zucchini, peppers, green basil and, surprisingly enough, the tomatoes.  The cherry tomatoes especially were still pumping out product.  Unfortunately, they all had blight and I ripped them out to burn them.  The Santiago Black was especially good and flavorful.

Carrots are a little short, but I wasn´t diligent about thinning them.  Tasty though.

I got one strawberry.  Didn´t net adequately or early enough.

I have renewed respect for anyone that can grow a decent head of cauliflower.  All ours were buggy and scant.  The broccoli was only slightly better.

Peppers finally showed up.  Unfortunately, I had a tough time telling which were the Orense, the Piquillo and the Padron.  Wondering how to preserve them now.  Can I roast and freeze them?

Peas didn´t like the heat or the drought.  I planted more, and they´ve germinated, but it´s probably too late to get any this fall.

The courgette got powdery mildew and passed it on to the butternut squash.  So far there are 3 giant and 2 good sized squash growing, as well as some littler ones.  Hoping they ripen.

Brussels sprouts are tall and sprouting.  Not exactly sure when one harvests them. Is there a trick to getting nice tight heads?

Planted beet greens, kale, spinach and parsnips and all appear to have germinated.  Will probably buy some cabbage starts from the farmers market, though cabbage is so cheap and the dreaded white butterflies so plentiful it may not be worth it.  I bought 4 tiny rhubarb starts, some lavendar and some sage the last time I was there. Garlic will probably go in where the tomatoes and peppers were.  Thinking of doubling the size of the garden.  We´ve discovered you can rent a tiller for 18€ a day in the village and it seems to me money well spent, if only to get experience using one. I´ve had plastic down to kill the grass for a while.  Now mulling a new layout.

Got 2 jars of pickles, 4 jars of tomato sauce, 2 jars of pesto, 4 small jars of blackberry jam, and 2 jars of bramble jelly done.  Am thinking I should try making sauerkraut to see if I like it.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Happy Equinox

Took a hiatus after the parade of family that visited during August.

Breo is fabulous and was a total charmer with everyone who came, human or animal.  We had his cousin from Madrid, a 9 month Jack Russell mix for 2 weeks and it was a non-stop playdate the entire time.  Poor Breo slept 2 entire days after he left.

Some pics from our walk this morning. Fall is in the air!