Wednesday, 30 July 2014

B is for berries.

Blackberries - in July?  

We normally pick from the middle of August through September and even maybe into October - we remember adding them to a batch of either black fig or black grapes during wine making - and there's certainly neither of them ready yet.
There are quite a lot of them growing along the side of the path and around the fuente,  some are still small and hard and red maybe because they are in a shadier and drier place than the others,  but the ones closest to the fuente are juicy and ripe.  I picked a handful a day or so ago which we have eaten,  tomorrow I must remember to take a bag with me on our morning walk,  much less messy!

Not too good these photos of the blackberries,  they hadn't quite caught the morning sun,  they are growing amongst wild honeysuckle and clematis.

We had a bowl of mixed fruits after lunch today,   blackberries, our strawberries and pears from next doors tree,  only got a dozen or so this year,  the rest have dropped onto the ground and rotted. 

The strawberry glut is well and truly over,  we are getting about 200 grams twice a week at the moment which is enough to eat without thinking   'oh, no not strawberries again!'  We started picking April 27th,  a kilo that day,  but by May 19th we were up to the biggest day - 5.6 kilos.  Then back down to a manageable amount.

So far we've picked 39.5 kilos!!

What do we do with them all?  Eat lots,  we dried a couple of kilos to eat with cereals and maybe to add to this Christmas's boozy mincemeat recipe that I found,  gave some away,  took some to our Fiesta to share,  and made 44 litres of wine.

The other berry that I was going to mention isn't worth a mention really.  We were given a raspberry cane a few years back,  it produced a handful of berries that autumn, next year there were 13 little canes but only a handful of fruit again,  this year only 3 canes have survived and they are just sitting there in the ground looking pathetic.  No flowers,  no growth - unless you call 3 inches of raspberry cane growth - which we don't.  So sad, but thank goodness for the strawberries. 

Monday, 28 July 2014

A is for Almonds

But in July??

Our almonds are always ready for picking in September,  and I know I've said before that every year is different and again that is so true.  One variety of our almonds are easy to crack - well,  comparatively easy as they are bigger than some types,  and we have 2 trees close to the house.  Yesterday I noticed that the husks were opening and the almonds are already dropping onto the ground.  Checked the other tree this morning,  same thing happening.  But only that type of almond, the others are all green and closed still.

The ones I could reach I picked and they are drying off,  the husks too as they burn well in the wood burner,  we pack them into cartons or cardboard egg boxes so they don't fall out of the grate at the bottom. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Summer days.

We have early starts on these long hot summer days,  the sun shines into the bedroom at about 7.30 and that's when the day starts for us.  Normally woken up by the dogs who like a walk,  preferably before it's too hot.   Also starting at this time are the runner bean and tomato pickers.....

On the way up to Yegen from here is a large area planted every year with runner beans and followed on with tomatoes. 
looking to the extreme left,


and to the right side...lots of veg!

Between 7.30 and 8am every day a 4x4 pulling a trailer full of empty crates,  followed by a van,  both of which have passengers/pickers in,  go up to this area.   Up till last week they went back down about 6pm,  all laden with crates full of runner beans.  Last week the van started going down at about 11.30 very slowly and low on its axles,    an hour later returning much faster.  Another trip about 2pm,  and again at 6pm followed by the 4x4 with a trailer and all full of tomatoes.

We were given some tomatoes recently,  large misshapen things all knobbly and of different sizes,   but they tasted wonderful. 

and just recently a van has been passing by,  stopping and beeping to see if we need to buy any vegetables.  He has had tomates verde,  it means green tomatoes but they are large and more like a beef tomato I think,  also has pera  which I call Italiano,  and basic round ones,  plus pepinos (short cucumbers)  runner beans,  and aubergines both purple and striped white/purple.  We bought some aubergines and a box of tomatoes (6kg toms/€4)

 from him that we cut up and dried for a day

1st batch of sliced tomatoes in the drier...

before frying and whizzing and freezing.  The frying gives a whole new flavour to the tomatoes,  it's not the way tomato frito is really made here,  you are supposed to shallow fry sliced fresh tomato but seem to need more oil as a fresh tomato sort of collapses,  but after a day in the drier it is easier.  Still a juicy slice,  in between fresh and dry if that makes any sort of sense!

We are on our twice weekly morning or evening watering cycle for the veg patches.  Mostly dwarf beans, chillis,  courgettes, strawberries  and baby red skinned potatoes at the moment with more beans following on,  the kohlrabi are swelling and the Jerusalem artichoke plants are taller than me - waiting for some flowers now - maybe soon - the squash plants and peppers are flowering well so fingers crossed,  the sweetcorn have been very disappointing,  small plants and not much of a corn - certainly not worth eating but they might do as seeds for next year....

By midday I aim to be done with morning stuff,  and by then I'm hot and sticky so it's in the pool for a swim.  20 'acrosses' (can't do widths in a round pool)  another 60 in the afternoon and the last 20 in the evening.  That makes about 800 metres all together - and a much more pleasant way of taking exercise than anything else in this heat.