Thursday, August 22, 2013

Garden Goings On

photo by Rémi,  age 8 yrs.
Which ever way I turn, there's always something ripe and ready to be picked at the moment!

The spinach has bowed out gracefully and left centre stage to beans, courgette, potato, lettuce and peas.

little hands make light work!

A whole family of Butternut squash are flourishing out the back of the house while their Potimarron 'Vert Kabosha' cousins seem to have found their niche in amongst the leeks.

This little lot...

... got made into these...

while this little bunch of spinach, mint, parsley and carrot tops, thrown in for the last 5 mins of cooking time, turned a simple pan of green lentils into a tasty supper sensation!

I'm not sure if the corn will have time to ripen into anything worth eating.  No matter, I love watching it sway in the breeze, these three seem almost synchronized!
Next year I will plant more and keep it undercover until it is standing strong.

Tino's cherry tomato plant produces two or three ripe ones every couple of days.  One each for him and his chicken loves!

Ah, the simple things in life! A flourishing garden, a few pots of loveliness to greet meet each morning...

... and send me off to sleep at night.

Sweet Dreams.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Slow Living Essentials 2013 - July

A monthly review as we make our way towards living a slower, more meaningful life.
It' my first time sharing over at Slow Living Essentials, I'm very excited!  Hope I do everything right!   Here goes...
July, it's been a gloriously warm month, in fact the hottest in France for years.  We spent a wonderful first week of the month in Wales, visiting family and friends and learning new tricks.  After drinking rather more coffee that usual during our stay, on returning home, I decided to give it up.  It never occurred to me to do it progressively, cutting down a little each day.  I just stopped.  My goodness, the cold turkey was horrendous.  I would liken it to a five day flu.  I'm now fully caffeine free and have no intention of ever going back to being a coffee drinker.

As ever we strive to eat as healthy, natural and as homemade as possible.  I have my favorite stalls at the market who sell good quality seasonal produce, but at the moment have little use for them as the garden is blooming.  Is there anything more satisfying than a quick trip out to the veggi patch and chicken coop to forage for the lunch time meal?
spinach ,basil and new potato fritta (with a bit of left over salami and feta)
I just love spinach, even if a huge sink full of it shrinks into a ridiculously tiny lump when cooked. I like to think of it as concentrated goodness!  And anyway it grows back so very quickly.

Spinach and goats cheese pasties
All my jamming and canning supplies are being stock piled, just a question of time before the raw goods ripen.  I'm hoping to get started later in the coming week.  For beans I much prefer freezing to canning.  Also started drying and freezing (ice-cube method) herbs for use in the winter.
Granola and Natalie's Sandwich Spread
Richard's mother recently gifted us this desk, now third hand.  To which Richard remarked - "it totally matches the rest of our stuff, that's all second hand as well".  I like furniture with a history!
Doesn't he look handsome in his new glasses.  They are making reading so much easier for him. 
He got a blue pair too!
After reading one of the many wonderful articles on Fresh Eggs Daily I have been tending my chickens with fresh herbs.  Will used the dried versions this winter.  Mint in their water to keep them cool and also the coop to keep it smelling fresh(ish), oregano as it's a natural antibiotic, parsley and nasturtium (also a natural wormer) as laying stimulants, basil and alfalfa for deeper colored yolks and cilantro for general health.   I also crush up their empty egg shells and mix it into their food, or sprinkle it around plants that seem to be particularly appetizing to slugs!

BASIL!!! nothing short of a miracle for me.  

I'm somewhat of a serial killer when it comes to basil.  I'm barely able to keep a plant alive the time it takes to get it home from the market.  So until this year I'd never entertained the idea of actually growing my own. Imagine my surprise when it grew!     

My current creative endeavors can be seen here, but today I wanted to share with you a little something my s.i.l has made using a shopping bag and and old long sleeved t-shirt (modeled by Richi)

Despite my original reluctance to buy a Kindle, I'm discovering lots of reason to like it.  We have only a very small english language section in the library here and can't order books.  I can read in french but it's not the same, it necessitates far more effort and doesn't feel like relaxation at the end of the day.   I do belong to a english speaking book club, which is sort of like a mini library in that everyone brings along a selection of books to present to the other members, which are then loaned out to whom ever wants them.  I always come away from a book club evening with a good selection of books, but there always seem to be a particular title I want to read that nobody has!  Amazon serves me well for this as we don't have an english language book store here, but to avoid paying 6€ postage for a single book I tend to spend over 20€ to get free postage.  With Kindle,  the book is cheaper (although not always by very much) and I can just buy one at a time.  All this said, given the choice I much prefer turning the pages of a printed book.

For the first time in many years, I didn't help out with the monumental task of catering for the village party.  I felt a wee bit guilty but everyone seemed to get adequately feed and watered without my culinary skills.   No one is irreplaceable as they say!  I have however volunteered to work in the runners restaurant during the weekend of the Mont Blanc Ultra Trail at the end of august.  

As we live in the mountains the boys don't get to spent much time in the sea.  So when we go to Wales the kids go crazy for the water, even when it's only at 13°.  Tino, who has a nasty eczema flare up when he comes into contact with chlorine thus can't go to the swimming pool, was especially excited at being able to get  throughly wet.
At a local market I found a wonderful cream by Beelief Botanics, locally made by an australian lady.  Since using it his skin is a smooth and soft as a four year olds should be.
They had a blast learning a new sport!
The rest of our days were spent hiking and fishing...

...(and our evenings too!)

Phew! that's the longest post I've ever written. 
Looking forward to reading about everyone else's slow living in July.