…and at last s is for the summer too. Hot, sunny days without a cloud in the sky so of course s is also for swimming. We have returned recently to one of our favourite spots and, because it’s September, we had the place mostly to ourselves. We took our friend Ana-Louisa with us plus a picnic. The water was bitterly cold at the start but this didn’t bother the dog who thought she had gone to heaven.
S is also for seedlings. There’s plenty to be done in the veg patch as the second round of crops are sown; so far cabbage, calabrese, cauliflower, chard, sweet peas and broad beans have all germinated. I need to get rid of the pesky mouse that’s making holes in the beds before I plant them though.
Meanwhile the courgettes are just about still going, the tomatoes too, and we have peppers and aubergines ready. Yesterday we had the last of our potatoes though (how I hate having to buy them now!) but the first of our leeks which made up for that, they’re great this year.
Finally, S is for Spain as we plan another camping trip this time a couple of days in Salamanca. Super!
We’ve been so busy this week we haven’t had time to put up an anniversary blog entry. We flew into Portugal on September 11, 2009 (an easy date to remember) to begin our new life and here we are a year later in our wonderful home. The reason for the lack of postings? Well, we’ve been enjoying ourselves! We’ve had my sister, Sue and brother-in-law, Kevin over to stay. While they were here we swam in the sea at Figueira da Foz and in the river at Zezere and went for walks in the countryside including one with a new bunch of Portugal friends near the beautiful village of Dornes. We also returned to the ancient town and castle at Tomar. I usually keep these non Casa Azul activities to my regular Portugal blog but I thought I’d slip these photos in here anyway.
All this of course doesn’t stop activity in the garden and kitchen and Jackie has been as busy as ever tart making. Although our tiny fig tree is not yet ready to start producing there are loads of fig trees near our house to plunder and right now they are all in fruit. Here is a delicious fig tart Jackie made recently. She has also been making Courgette cakes which are the business. When she is next out of the kitchen, I’ll make sure she puts finger to keyboard and gets the recipe on our recipe page.
Other news: Well the hot chillies are finally going red as are the sweet peppers. We will have a final flush of tomatoes before they finish and sadly we have had our last fresh cucumber (pickled ones will be ready soon). But as we have now been here for a year we can look forward to the crops we first harvested last year – the walnuts will soon be ready and then we are into the olive harvest. Can’t wait!
The summer heat is here – the plants are wilting, helicopters hover overhead laden with water for forest fires and the wind feels like a giant hair dryer. Just the kind of heat that makes you crave a dip in a cool river beach. Hurrah! then for the numerous river beaches in central Portugal – another fantastic one we were taken to the other day. No salt, no chlorine, just clear, fresh water and some amazing scenery:
The heat has meant all garden work is done early in the morning after a spot of bird watching. The birds haven’t always been welcome visitors though and CDs and aluminium foil have been hung up around the runner beans whose flowers are all disappearing. The swedes and turnips will have to be sown again having been eaten by flea beetles and a cat has dug up the chard seedlings. However, more carrots have come through, more onions are in the ground and, in lots of little pots, cabbage, calabrese and cauliflower are waiting to go in the old legume bed (rotation, rotation). We’re now eating the dwarf french beans – from seed to stomach in seven weeks – so I’m hoping that this ignoring the seed packet sowing dates will work for everything else as well.
One buttercup squash refuses to die which is great as we’ve already eaten quite a few of them already. The flowers are always open in the morning to greet me and the bees:
It’s been great collecting the day’s produce. The courgettes plants have come alive again and so we had courgette fritters for lunch (which were fantastic) and the courgette cake was a success too. We were also really pleased with our second melon. The first one wasn’t quite ripe and so we waited a week and had another go. Looks like melon for pud for the next few weeks…
Our chillies are eventually turning red (but, stubbornly, not the sweet peppers). Initially I’d put them in a metal dish (as recommended on a UK website) to dry in the sun only to discover that they’d cooked! Hanging them up in the hot air seems to be working much better:
Richard has been making a great som tam salad using courgettes instead of papaya although the chillies so far haven’t been quite as hot as he’d like. The barbecued aubergines make a great moutabal too, I’m hoping the tahini we brought over with us from Jordan is ok still! Oh yes, we’re eating quite a few of the sprouts. Here’s hoping there’s enough growing for Christmas!