I apologise for my back in Blighty blog-break; although, it was great to catch up with family and friends and I covered a fair amount of London and the southeast on my travels.
As ever, my travels enabled me to visit a good selection of charity shops, where I managed to get myself a rather fetching “Year in Provence” outfit and a suitably Monty Don-ish summer ensemble for Jeremy. If only we had the time to float around the garden, glass in hand, marvelling at exotic flora.
In my absence, Jeremy continued his mammoth wall-building project and we had our wombled gates fitted today. A dry-stone wall maestro is coming at the weekend to join the now finished walls to Jeremy’s new pillars and then we only need to attach the fencing to posts that are already in place.
You’ll have to wait until then for pictures though as Jeremy has forbidden photos until the job’s finished. I think all this wall building is doing to funny things to him. He was going to stop the car yesterday to pick up a random rock he took a fancy to.
Since I’ve been back I’ve been preserving like crazy. The freezer is full of peas and cherries and we’ve enough cherry jam to last the year.
The first few bunches of oregano are drying and I’ve also begun to harvest the first capers and will continue to do so every few days until they stop producing in a few months time.
Like olives, capers need curing before eating. There are a variety of methods to do this, but this is the recipe that I favour. Leave capers in water for 48-hours changing the water after the first day. Then cover with rock salt for two days, squeezing the salty-caper mix gently every now and then.
Day five, rinse and cover in white wine vinegar for two days. Place in a jar and cover with a fresh vinegar/brine mix. I keep adding to a jar until its full. Just make sure the capers are fully covered in liquid. They’ll keep for a couple of years but store in the fridge once opened.
Courgettes have also started producing prolifically so they are featuring in most meals.
Elsewhere in the garden, a few green tomatoes have appeared, so it hopefully won’t be too long before we can enjoy them, but we’re probably a month away from seeing any other vegetables, other than salad crops, appear on the table.
On the fruit-front, a variety of figs (Colombri in dialect or Processotto in Italian) should be ready in a few days. I keep giving them a quick squeeze but they are not quite soft enough yet.
While the Morello cherries are pretty much all done, we’ve a few variety of red cherries that we’re enjoying now. I’ve had a couple of able assistants; although Gaia seems to have understood the phrase cherry picking, Piglet, meanwhile, needs to hone her technique a little, as she just shuts her eyes and opens her mouth before launching at them. Sometimes she gets a cherry, other times it’s just twigs and leaves. We’ve one other variety which fruits a little later that I’ll use to put under grappa (sotto spirito). Unfortunately I only know it by its name in dialect, which is cuore delle donne (ladies hearts). It’s, not surprisingly heart-shaped, has a firm skin and is great for steeping in alcohol and cherry-flavoured grappa really helps provide a warming kick in the winter months.
No thoughts of winter now though, I’m just off out to pick some more cherries.