Friday 22 December 2017

The Whispers of Spring

Conversation just had with Lester, my other half:
re: Christmas Lunch
L: (drifting past as I was doing a bit of crochet) I was thinking about some Christmas nibbles....
V: I thought you didn't want us to buy any fancy foods.....
L: ..... I was thinking about dinner..... we've got plenty of potatoes we can roast,.... and we could have some lamb with it...or a chicken.....
V: .... well that's not a change....we have a lot of roast dinners. We still have some pork, but I was thinking about doing  rabbit in white wine sauce, just to make a change.
L: ..... Oh, ....... (wondering back to his computer,)
Ten minutes later, after I had done a search for the recipe....
V: The rabbit recipe has bacon, in it........
L: Have we got any of our bacon left?
V: No. I have to buy some......
L: We won't bother with  bacon then. We'll just do a white wine sauce.....
V: The recipe is for rabbit with apricots in white wine sauce.....
L: Do we have any apricots?
V: No. I have to buy some.....
L: No need for apricots then, just rabbit in white wine sauce.
V: But we haven't any white wine in the house......I shall have to buy some
L: Pork and roast potatoes it is then!
V: And there is cabbage out in the veg garden, and a jar of canned carrots......
So the 'Rabbit in apricots, bacon, and white wine sauce' recipe remains an untried meal, probably forever, and I shall carry on with my normal way of using the rabbit meat stored in the freezer.
I did start off with good intent to cook something different for Christmas Day, but the thought of having to buy most of the ingredients from the supermarket does not sit well with us, so a 'normal' roast dinner it will be.
Thus it is that we continue on with our dislike of commercial food stuffs, although it is possible that we might buy some chocolate, perhaps a tub of ice cream. We have no inclination to go shopping, but prefer to dig something out of our larder and freezers. Memories of large amounts of rich, expensive, and full of additives and chemicals binge food sit in our past, as could be seen by the amount of weight we were both carrying. Even though we worked hard, our days were spent in sedentary occupations, and so we gathered up quite a bit of body lard over the years. most of which has thankfully melted away although I still have a small over layer which I much appreciate because it helps to keep me warm.
But don't think that we have lost the taste for the less than healthy food stuffs which abound at this time of year. Two weeks ago I was given a large box of chocolates by way of a 'thank you' from the choir I was privileged to play the piano for. The concert had been a success, and I was impressed by the effort everyone had put into the event. I was going to save the choccies for Christmas, but they didn't last two days in the house, and all are now gone.
So we will eat less than healthy food stuffs if they come our way, which does not happen very often. What does happen is that we have a dislike of buying food which we have not produced ourselves, apart from staples like flour, etc.....
Lunch yesterday: Liver (ours) in leeks (ours), peppers (ours) and mushrooms (not ours), with sautéed spiced potatoes (ours) and Brussels sprouts (ours).  Dessert: Pear tart (Pears ours, eggs ours, flour, margarine and sugar not ours). This is usual food for us, and well worth the effort of having to grow and harvest it all.
And so it was that we arrived at the shortest day yesterday. The winter has been difficult this year, and has felt quite long. But yesterday the weather seemed to have calmed down, so off outside I went to let the Veg Plots know that I was still around........and the first whispers of Spring were in the air. The year had changed. No matter what weather comes our way Spring has already announced that we are not to mind, that soon we shall be benefitting from warmer weather. My spirits became lifted, not enough to fill me with super duper energy, but enough to dribble in a small recharge to my batteries.
Today the day has not woken up though. Everything is still: no wind movement, no rain falling, no sun shining, no white frostings of snow, just calmness, as if everything is having a rest, as if everything is waiting.............
Wishing you the best of the season,
for love and harmony to be with you all, 
for grace and acceptance to be within your hearts,
and for you to be filled with an eagerness to embrace all that 2018 has in store for you.
Bye for now,

Sunday 3 December 2017

A Winters's Harvest

Winter is now with us.
I know this to be a fact because most mornings our fields have been white with frost
and, even though I wear home made knitted socks, my toes have started feeling chilly, a sure sign that winter has come. So I have had to start wearing my 'best' boots indoors instead of my summer sandals. Sandals and thick socks look a bit silly. Sort of neither summer gear or winter gear, but a mixture of both. Anyway, my feet now look appropriate for this time of year and can cope better with walking over cold,  hard, tiled floors which are so lovely and cool on baking hot summer days but not so comfy when winter's chill is with us. Walking bare footed on freezing cold tiles is not something one wants to do too often at the moment.  
These photos of this morning's dawn. The faint grey line on the horizon between sky and land are the Pyrenees mountains. Snow has now fallen on them. I know this because the chill of snow is in the air. Fortunately we live close enough to enjoy the mountains but not so close that we get any mountain type weather.
And when it is cold and frosty we are guaranteed to get a good dose of warmish sunshine, not enough to sit outside today, but warm enough to go raid Veg Plot 1 for some salad greens.

I wore my gardening boots. I think they might need renewing. Five minutes walking over the ground in VP1, and my feet were as cold as ice, even colder than when walking over the floors in the house wearing just socks and sandals.
But it was nice being outside for a quick check up of what is surviving the low temperatures, and to marvel at the strength of endurance that some of the plants have.
The Market Garden Project:
This has gone on 'hold' for the moment, which it would have done anyway because of winter conditions making it difficult to work outside, but now that he is working full time Lester does not have the time to make this project go forward. He thinks we shall have to get someone in to build the greenhouse and tractor shed, and do other building work which is needed.
Not to worry, although this project is slowing down, it has not stopped completely.
What could be seen as a set back, but which I have refused to get worried about, is the emergence of a huge commercial 'bio' market garden just up the road to us. It has the most enormous polytunnels, and lots of them too. They are growing 'ordinary' seasonal veg, and will squash all other veg producers in this area by the sheer size of the operation.
We remain undefeated by this 'set back'. We shall find a niche market, of that I am sure. 
iPhone Update:
Lester remains fascinated by the phone and is often to be found with it, (on the loo, in bed, etc...)
Meanwhile, I remain unfascinated by it, although I have heard tell that it takes good photos, which would be handy when I am out and about, and the other day I met a friend in the local supermarket who was using her iPhone to translate the words of a product she wanted to buy. I thought this was very handy and would be tremendously useful for saving time when out shopping. Dithering in front of the shelves because I don't understand what is written on the tin / jar/ box, etc., is a frequent occupation of mine.
The Rayburn is continuing to chug away for us. It is starting to look sooty. I did wash it the other day, but that did not seem to clean it up much, just made it look like it had a sooty face.
I am not cooking with the Rayburn very much as we are conserving our wood supplies; We are aware that we need to get through to the end of March next year, so keep the firebox tended but not over loaded, so the oven does not get hot enough to bake in, but occasionally it does.....
 ..... one pear tart, and one chocolate swirl tray bake. Simple recipes, quick to do, and shallow enough to bake on the floor of the Rayburn's oven.
Meanwhile, the Rayburn continues to heat all of our rooms downstairs, and for that I bless it.
Hope your fingers and toes are keeping warm,
Bye for now,