Monday, September 10, 2018

Cooking with gas

The guests have gone home, the mornings have an autumn chill, and I have veg and fruit to deal with.

The good news is that the tomatoes and tomatillos produced after all!  I took the advice offered and just waited to see if I´d get a crop, and while a number were brown and blotchy from the blight, there are quite a few perfectly acceptable tomatoes.  There is also, for the first time, some blossom end rot.

Mostly it´s obvious, as in the upper case here.  But, I have also found rot inside some that were apparently perfect on the outside, just as a word to the wise.  One of the benefits of quartering and roasting the tomatoes before saucing, I guess.

The tomatillos finally sized up on the ones I planted earliest.  Also roasted for salsa.  If only there were some cilantro left, but it all bolted weeks ago.  Hoping for at least one more picking and will try mixing in some golden tomatoes to the pan.

The potatoes were small and not very numerous and a number were nibbled.  As were these, so I pulled them all.  No sense encouraging the varmints.

And it´s a great apple year.  So I tried another apple pie recipe from Smitten Kitchen - Dutch Apple Pie, and I´m glad to report that it´s delish, and our apples didn´t turn to mush in the oven!

The crust is interesting on this one, more like cookie dough and not as elastic as short crust, and I´m afraid I rolled it out too thin, it wanted to collapse in the latticing.  And I had no raisins on hand, so I threw in a handful of walnuts.  But tasty, nonetheless, and I may be enjoying it for breakfast.

Hope your harvests are plentiful!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

What a week

The weather finally broke, taking us from 90 degrees to 70.  Breo is most pleased.

The power went out, and when it came on again for some reason the circuit controlling the ceiling lights kept tripping. First, we checked all the light bulbs in the house, but that made no difference, so we called the electrician, who came (!) and located a split cable.  He thinks it got hit by a nail when they were installing the flooring.  Just a coincidence?  All now working again and for only 50€.

We´ve discovered mice, once again, in the kitchen.  Traps now laid and cabinets cleaned.

I met with two lovely women who run a local florist shop.  They were very nice and informative, but I went home with all the flowers as they were considered too short and too open to be useful.  Still, I dread this whole face-to-face thing so much that I´m chuffed I´ve started the process.  Must prick out the biennials today before the rain starts.

Breo had a kerfuffle with his cousin the Jack Russell from Madrid, so the sister´s visit had to be reorganized. Now battening down the hatches for the annual 2 week stay of the In-laws. See you in September!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The July Garden

I wish this was going to be more positive, but lately I´m a little frustrated.

The weather this year has been challenging, to say the least.  A looooooong wet spring, followed by an alternating cool wet/hot dry summer has played havoc with anything planted.

So far, lettuce, peas, onions, peppers, french beans, courgettes/zucchinni are all being eaten as well as parsley, cilantro and basil.  Carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, tomatillos, and broad beans are on the way.

Unfortunately, once again the tomatoes and potatoes came down with late blight and I filled two large trash bags of affected foliage yesterday for disposal.

The spring onions went directly to flowering, which means they won´t store.  Never had that happen before, but they´re tough and useless in salads.

Frankly, I´m reconsidering the potatoes and peas for next year.  The peas never seem to climb or produce well, this year they´ve got mildew, and they´re cheap, frozen in the store.  I always plant potatoes mostly just to get started in the spring, but again, Galicia is a big potato producer so I can get good, if basic white/yellow varieties, reasonably priced potatoes in the shops.  I had some small red fingerlings saved for planting, but they rotted before the weather improved. I don´t know what to do about the tomatoes.  Probably I overcroweded them since I was so thrilled that they actually germinated and grew.  I reluctantly used the last of the copper spray, late and obviously not effective, but that will get washed off soon in the odd summer weather we´re having.  I guess blight is just omnipresent in the environment round these parts.

August offers more family visits/dramas, lots more effing housecleaning (OMG the spiders!) and less work done.  And for various reasons, my plans for the flower business are being delayed by at least 6 months, so there will be no poly tunnel or irrigation system this year.  I´ll have to put my efforts into market research and play around with natural dyes and dry flowers I think.  I´ve got trays of biennials germinating (hopefully) so need to get started on a couple of beds for them.

And now, really all I want to do is sit in the shade on the patio and drink.  Which won´t accomplish anything, but there it is.

Hope all your summers are idyllic and filled with bbqs and beaches!

Monday, July 16, 2018

A visit

We had some old friends visit from the States with their 12 year old son.  This is always the perfect excuse to do some siteseeing, although for some reason between my phone and the camera I don´t seem to have many pictures.

Our area is not exactly rich in tourist attractions, but since it was raining off and on for most of their visit, we went to the nearby waterfall.  I don´t know if it´s budget cuts or lack of interest, but the vegetation was so thick a lot of the view was obscured.  Lots of water falling, though.

Then we went to the Monastery at Sobrado dos Monxes, an imposing baroque structure built for the Cistercians.  I blogged about their lake here, when V and I stumbled on it after a wrong turn.

The Cistercians are supposed to be the ¨engineers¨ of the orders, so I was amused by their method of keeping people from coming in directly through the front doors, instead of the preferred route of the tour through the gift shop.  Simple, but effective.

We also spent a day in La Coruña climbing the Torre de Hercules, the oldest functioning lighthouse in Western Europe, ate tapas for lunch in the old city center and swung by a little 16th century castle fortress in Santa Cruz built to fortify defenses of the bay.

All in all, I think it was a good visit and lovely to catch up with them.  And I was happy to have flowers to brighten the guest bedroom.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Another project

V has a new toy and he built a little shelter for it.

In some far away future, when the barn is enclosed, the scooter will live there and we´ll use this for firewood storage.

The complicating factor was building on top of the septic tank.  So the forward posts aren´t excavated, they´re fixed with the planters.  The back posts are fixed to the wall.

He may be getting the hang of this DIY thing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


At last.  Long, warm sunny days.  And I´m always behind on the weeding.

We dug out the solar lights and the cushions for the patio.  V sanded and applied a few coats of teak oil to the table tops, and we planted some annuals in the planters.  Now, that corner is ready for barbecues and summer visitors.

Finally got enough elderflowers together to try the River Cottage cordial recipe again.  Last time, whilst lemony and refreshing, there was a nasty aftertaste to the concoction.  Apparently, there are elder trees and better elder trees.

General directions are to add lemon and orange zest to the cleaned blooms.  Shake them a lot, there were a ton of tiny, tiny black insects on them.  Also, I read somewhere to take as much of the stem off as possible.

Pour boiling water over and let steep over night.

Strain the flowers into a pot, add sugar and the juice of the lemons and orange and bring to a simmer to dissolve.  I didn´t have an orange on hand, so I just threw in a half a cup of orange juice. I also only used about 3/4 of the sugar in the recipe.

While a definite improvement on the first batch, no funky aftertaste this time, this isn´t quite as lemony and refreshing and is really too sweet for my taste, even mixed with sparkling water.  But for someone who enjoys sweet drinks, it would probably make a picturesque, summery refreshment.  I wonder if vodka would help.

Cheers from Galicia for a happy solstice and Viva San Xoan!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Raining Again

It´s been raining and cool, again.  Not much going on, other than some family drama I won´t go into here, though I managed to finish the beds in the sunniest part of the new plot.

Great year for wild foxgloves and broom.  The hedge roses are flowering, while the garden roses are a little slower to open, waiting for more sun.

I was going to have another go at Elderberry flower cordial, but they´re very slow at blooming in this weather, so that will have to be another post.

Fortunately, I have flowers to cheer up the house, just not enough to take around to florists to guage interest.  Oh well, more quality control research.  BTW I am now on Instagram as Granxaromanesca.  Will have to fiddle with the buttons on the right side column.