Our French Country Home

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A good day to begin this blog

Living in the south-west of France means than when the short, sharp winter comes to an end at the end of March then the garden suddenly burst forth giving us plenty to keep us occupied.

It has been the hottest day so far this Spring, touching 30 degrees and hotter than hell in the polytunnel. Everything has now been moved outside except for the cucumbers and melons that seem to cope with the heat.

The cherries have ripened in a week and now the race is on to see who can get to them first, me or the birds and the wasps and the butterflies. I am outnumbered really and fight a losing battle. I would like to leave the cherries on the tree until they are almost black and really sweet but the birds like them that way too and they get up earlier in the morning than I do. So judging when to pick is a work of art. I wouldn't mind them eating the ones out of reach at the top of the tree if they left the rest for me, but there you are, we still have plenty! Today I have picked 6kg of cherries and made jam, leaving some for bottling. I shucked the broad beans and blanched them, then popped out the sweet, bright green little nuggets of goodness for freezing, for the most delicious winter soup. Bazza has preserved our purple artichokes in olive oil (recipe below) for serving as an antipasto.

2.5 kg baby artichokes
500ml white wine vinegar
250ml white wine
a few sage leaves
sprig of rosemary
salt
a few small dries red chillies
garlic cloves (peeled and whole)
few black peppercorns
few bay leaves
olive oil to cover the artichokes in the jar

(email me for the whole recipe)

My flower garden is just awash with colour. The dianthus of every type and height and colour looks just amazing. The lavender is in flower, the towering anchusa with its brilliant blue, borage-type flowers is at its best and my old pink rose by the gate is just superb. This is truly the best time of year here.

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