Thursday, 29 October 2009

7.15 this morning

Opened the curtains this morning and saw this! Left on the photo is Sierra Gador, 2000 metres high, and coming through the gap in the hills from the coast is very low lying cloud. I think it looks like the tide is coming in! It gradually crept along the valley towards Yator, but disappeared as the sun came up.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

It's Wednesday again...

Looking back over the blogs I have written, a lot seem to be on Wednesday, and usually about 9-9.30 in the evening. Why, I don't know but anyway......

After last week's weather blip, it has got warm again, back in the low 20's although now the clocks have changed the sun is going down behind the hill at about 6pm and then it's as if someone has turned off the central heating....the temperature doesn't drop there and then, but it feels so much cooler so quickly. We only had the wood burner on that one evening last week, and haven't needed it again. Normally by the end of October, it is much chillier. There are signs of Autumn, the leaves on the grapevines are changing colour and starting to drop as are the fig leaves and the poplars down by the river below El Golco are a lovely colour.

More pickles today, there are quite a lot of small aubergines which I'm not sure will get big before they get seeds, so I've made some spicy pickle to have with curry......
aubergines, garlic, ginger, chillis, turmeric, garam masala cooked in olive oil and then bottled. It keeps for a couple of months in the fridge. Also made bread and rolls today, and then de-seeding all the plants I'd put aside earlier this year. When the rocket and chives went to seed I made bags from newspaper and put the heads/plants in to dry and today I sat out by the pool in the sun and de-seeded all the dead heads, put all the stalks and such like into the compost and the seeds have gone into labelled bags. A couple of weeks back I collected seed heads from the wild fennel and left them to dry so I have de-seeded them as well and bagged them up. We use a lot of fennel seeds in spicy food but don't have enough yet. Seemed to take ages, most of the afternoon actually but in the process my tan got topped up!

6 weeks or so ago we went to a friend's house for a (non)curry evening, he's back again for half term holidays, and invited the same people down again for another curry, yes, a slightly spicier curry! But just in case, we all took extra curry sauce, jalopenos and onion bhajis , and a variety of different chillis to spice it up from the other friends.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

So what's new this week?

The pool is full and looks wonderful again, the frog/s haven't reappeared, next door's pool also had frogs - 2 of them - and they have gone as well. Maybe something ate them, who knows. There are owls around at night - sound like screech owls, so maybe the frogs have been a meal for them.

42 quince from 1 tree, (4 quince to a kilo) so far made into 7 pudding sized portions for winter pies and crumbles, 12 jars of chutney with jalopenos, ginger and figs added, and still 14 quince to go. Friends of ours have 5 trees, I can't imagine how many fruits they produce! We have jalopenos sliced and pickled, red ones hanging up to dry and countless more on the bushes and some have also been given to friends. The tomatoes are coming to an end, although they are still on the bush, are slow to ripen. Maybe a kilo a week at the moment. Also coming to an end are the aubergines and dwarf beans, they are still producing but not much.

The weather is iffy, up till the weekend it was in the low 20's, then Monday got cloudier as the day went on, Tuesday started off well but followed Mondays pattern and last night/early hours of today the wind got up and it poured down - the wheel barrow was full - and today it hasn't gone above 14! There was snow up on the Sierras above Valor and Berchules this morning.... Quite chilly feeling, the lady in the tabac says we are going from summer to winter without autumn although the forecast is ok for next week, back to low 20's again, so we shall see. There was a lovely smell of wood smoke as I came through Yator this morning, from all the wood burners/log fires and we lit ours this evening as there seemed a nip in the air indoors. First fire of ours alight since end of March though.

I emptied one of the compost heaps yesterday, I needed it - unfortunately for me - up 2 terraces which meant going up a slope, along past the aubergines/dwarf beans, round under an olive tree, over 2 water channels and then onto one of last years onion beds. 6 trips to cover the bed and then to dig it in. One of my new years resolutions is to make a compost heap on each terrace, preferably near the water supply which each terrace has anyway, as it's easier to barrow it all downhill, not up!! Then 2 barrow loads went up - but only 1 terrace- to be dug in the old strawberry patch. The strawberry runners are all doing well, but they also have self seeded broad beans in with them, some of the beans have popped up in the strawberry pots and some in between the plants.

And what else...trying now to cook double batches of meals, one for the freezer, as come November we will be busy preparing the land ready for olive harvest i.e. strimming under the trees,raking, clearing and levelling land as it's easier to lay the nets, and need "ready meals" at night, plus soups and bread for quick, tasty lunches. The olives are starting to ripen, seems earlier than usual so maybe an early harvest this year. Some varieties are always ready from December onwards, and we also need to pick, brine and bottle for next years tapas.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Dogs, frogs and dirty pools

Since the rain in the middle of September, our pool has got quite yucky looking, it overflowed and since then it's got a lot of algae on the floor and for some reason also floating on the surface. So today I opened the tap and started to send the water down to our bottom acre of land around to the olive trees. As it went and the steps appeared from out of the murk, Pip started to investigate....and we saw a frog who has made it his home, unbeknown to us. In her excitement she turned round too quickly on the step, her back legs slipped and in she went! I had to pull her out as she was scrabbling at the step above, not swimming to one she could have got onto. Then this evening she did it again, about 5 steps down, trying to get past Monty who also was investigating the water/frog and then just before we came into eat, Monty fell in but he had the sense to swim around - a compete circuit - until he found a step to get out from. We have had the pool for 2 years now and only once has Pip fallen in, and that was when she was tiny and running too fast and too close to the edge. Monty has never fallen in.....I suppose the moral is not to have a frog!!!! So we have 2 very clean dogs now and 2 very wet towels for the wash tomorrow. By the morning it should be empty so it'll be welly boot time to sweep up the sludge - not a dog friendly activity - I think I'd be better doing it on my own if that's possible, and then we can start to refill it. It's probably not going to get warm enough now to swim in, although the air temperature is warm, the water won't warm up enough but you never know! People do swim at this time of the year.

As well as our pool, I also emptied out next doors today and cleaned it and that is refilling as I write this. I thought all their water channels were in place so opened the tap to let the water go off to the olives, but found a lot of dug up ground, probably done by a jabali (wild boar) as they love wet, boggy ground. And they had 2 frogs in their pool which are now someway downhill having gone out with the water. I've no doubt they'll find their way back up but won't like the nice clean water - nothing to eat - so hopefully they won't stay. I don't dislike frogs - they're just so noisy! And when it's breeding season it's even noisier!! Better off without any.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Fruit time again

Most of the soft fruit has finished although there are still some apples hanging on but now is the time for pomegranates and quinces. I picked 30 pomegranates a few days ago and squeezed out 3 litres of juice - very messy business as all the little juice/seed pods burst all over the place - but very tasty so well worth the mess. Also we have picked 46 quinces which we will turn into puree as an alternative to apple sauce, sliced for crumble, again as an alternative or to add to apples, and also to make chutney. We have a lot of jalopenos growing and I think they will go nicely together to make a spicy, fruity chutney. I made quince chutney last year and added some Indian spices - coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, not sure what else but it was excellent and a change from mango chutney. Somewhere I have the recipe but we have some jars left over, so this year I want to make something different.

Now here's a question for you...why haven't the sprout plants got any sprouts? Is it too early - surely not - they are lovely tall healthy plants but sproutless!!! The cabbages are looking good, it may be that we will have to eat sprout leaves as extra cabbage if they don't do something soon! Haven't grown sprouts for a year of so but I'm sure they have usually appeared by now....any ideas, anyone?