Fall is around the corner, we already had some cold days and lit the wood stove twice this week, but today is a sunny warm day again, ideal to work in the garden. Our tomato plants are still covered in unripe ones. They don’t taste anything like the sweet juicy red ones, rather acidic and won’t reach full growth or optimum ripeness with the fall temperatures. So instead of admitting defeat, I decided to enjoy them as a tasty green treat: a homemade green tomato chutney. My husband and I are already looking forward to this tasty side dish with its deliciously, sharp, puckering and astringent flavour.
Last Saturday was our big day: we could fetch my early birthday present from my kids: our Orpington chicken! We got 7 large, fluffy hens and a magnificent rooster we called Lancelot, they are top-notch reliable chicken. Of course we want to keep them for eggs, but they are known as wonderful pets too (and many see them as excellent meat providers or fair table fowl). Yep, fallen in love!
We’re still chopping up wood for our wood stove. In France they say “having a wood stove warms you up three times”: chopping the trees, sawing the trunks/splitting them and the heat of the fire of your wood stove, real thermal comfort.
Great was my surprise to find unusual exotic looking vegetables in my weekly local surprise fruit and vegetable pack: hard pear-shaped objects named Chayotes. They are actually a fruit, I was told. The Chayote (Sechium edule), is known as “mirliton/ choko” in the US and “christophene” in France, and obviously sometimes called “vegetable pear”.
Vibrant orange colours pop up near Halloween and so do these charming, tasty, ever so popular here in France as top selling fall crop, miniature pumpkins. With its vigorous vines they are an arts-and-crafter’s dream, just visualise them as the cutest but smallest Jack O’Lanterns.
Fall is prime apple season. The wonderfully warm, crisp scent of harvest apples, their heavenly aroma, makes delicious, healthy and mouthwatering desserts come to mind. Apples loaded with fibre, help preventing type 2 diabetes and protect against Parkinson’s, on top of that they maximise your antioxidant intake.
Sitting outside on a windy day, observing all nature’s beauty around me , I finally picked up writing to you all again. Hearing the sounds of the crows, tractors for the “vendange” (wine harvest of the grapes for the famous Blanquette) in the background, seeing a last courageous wasp, even a lone bumble bee flying about, my dogs sitting all around us and of course the beautiful passion flower, whilst we’re sitting under our pergola to be, I know it is time to let the muse in.
Our surroundings are getting covered in golden rusts, explosions of autumnal glow. The autumn foliage of our potted acer trees on our terrace, are a constant reminder too, the time of “reaping” has arrived. Golden, crispy leaves, chilly days, the sun bursting through the mist… it is quite clear that gone are the long summer days, and coming are the dark nights of winter. Now is the seasonal signpost in Earth’s orbit around the sun, the Earth is bathed evenly in sunlight only twice a year, on the equinoxes. Ethnic people celebrate this golden season by eating moon cakes and gazing at the moon.
Living in the colourful Languedoc wine region, amidst grapes and wine, the perfect grape growing climate and terrain that extends from the sea to the mountains, it was only matter of time before I had to write about the tastevin, the old wine tasting-cup used by tasters and wine-producers. Carried and used by sommeliers and connoisseurs to sample and test the quality, maturity, clarity and colour of wines, it literally means “taste wine” (tâtevin, tâter = to taste), this solid historical item has an interesting story to tell. Available to be bought in the Woo Hoo Cuties’ shop!
Last year, with no knowledge at all of how to, we pruned our plum tree, with as result: a non-fruit bearing tree that year. But our sturdy wild plum tree, doesn’t see this as a set back, in the excruciating heat we have here at the moment, it decided to produce an extra load of plums this year. Seeing its green foliage filled with yellow dots, we knew jam making was ahead, even with temperatures of 35° in the shade (on the terrace). Luckily we have my daughter, her family and a friend, all of them willing to volunteer harvesting our plums. (more…)