Thursday, 15 September 2011

Food from our own garden

My dream of growing our own vegetables has almost rained away. There has just not been enough sunlight for the vegetables to grow properly. In addition, there has been so much rain that some plants have simply drowned. It was actually so bad that green algae grew in the little puddles that formed around the vegetable beds, since it was never dry enough for the soil to absorb all the water. Because of all the moisture, the peas as well as several other plants have developed some sort of fungal disease.

The only things thriving in this weather are slugs, which have feasted on my fragile flowers and vegetables. Can you imagine, they ate up all my radishes, except for one. The string bean plants that were large and lovely when I planted them out, were quickly reduced to unsightly stems some of which only produced a single bean.

It is easy to give up in such miserable conditions, but I was nonetheless determined that all the hard work should result in at least a couple of dinners. So today I went out between the rain showers, and harvested a small selection of vegetables as an accompaniment for the meatballs.

Well, this isn’t exactly the bountiful vegetable basket I had planned for, but it will suffice as dinner for two. Here we have potatoes in various sizes, carrots in more or less obscene shapes, a few string beans, some pea pods, a small onion, two tiny leeks, some sugar snaps, and a single cherry tomato. None of the other tomatoes have ripened yet, and I doubt whether they ever will, now that we are struggling with a growth defeating combination of low night temperatures as well as a lack of sun. However, I have not completely given up. I have brought the smaller tomato plants inside and placed them in the bay window, hoping the fruits will ripen there.

Here we have the result: Meatballs in onion sauce, potatoes, carrots, peas and green beans. Aside from the meatballs, everything comes from the garden, as does the blackcurrant juice, by the way.
Home grown produce harvested from the garden less than an hour previously tasted wonderful! I just wish there was more of it….

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Turn it off!

Once I had a Persian cat. You know the sort, with a flat face and a superior attitude, as spoiled and grumpy as only a real Persian can be. She took it for granted that I lived only to cater for her every need, and as the self-appointed servant that I was, I did everything in my power to make her life as comfortable as possible: I offered her my snug and cosy lap when it was windy, found the big, warm sheepskin pillow when it was cold, and provided a shady resting place when it was hot. There was only one thing I couldn’t do anything about - rain. A fact which, needless to say, vexed her terribly.
Puss enjoyed the outdoors, but simply couldn’t bear to get her fur wet. Whenever she felt like a bit of fresh air, she wandered over to the veranda door and meowed compellingly. If, to her dismay, it was raining outside, she stood there with her backend safely inside and sniffed the air disapprovingly, before she turned and stared reproachfully at me, as if to say: Turn it off! Make this damned water falling from the sky stop!
It has been many years now since Puss departed from this life on earth. I think she is probably resting blissfully in heaven, on one of those tiny white clouds, far away from the wind and wet weather. I don’t think of her as often anymore, but I remembered her today as I stood with the veranda door ajar and stared miserably out at the rain pouring down for the umpteenth day in a row. I found myself looking up towards the weather gods, imploring them: Turn it off!
I'm so tired of rain! The consolation for summer being over, is supposed to be that autumn is so beautiful, with its warm, vibrant colours and crisp, cool air. Not this year. Now it's just grey and brown, threatening dark clouds and mud.
I don’t know if the weather gods read house blogs, but in the offhand chance they might be looking for some easy reading, I will take this opportunity to tell them what sort of autumn I would like to have:

I wish for blue skies and a sun that makes the trees look like huge flaming torches with their beautiful yellow and orange leaves.

I would like to enjoy the sight of rowan trees showing off their crimson berries.

I want to go strolling in the woods, playfully kicking through dry leaves. When I'm tired, I’d like to rest my legs and sit for a while on a dry and sun-warmed wooden bench.

I want to sit in a shelter and admire the view over a valley, while I enjoy a hot cup of coffee from my thermos.

I’d like to see sun-ripe stalks of grass bowed over, heavy with seed, promising me that they will provide green meadows when spring comes next year.

I want to see rows of hay bales, (in Norway they are covered in white plastic, and we call them “tractor eggs”.) so that the farmers and their animals have what they need through the winter.

I’d like to look at a lake reflecting the clear blue colour of the sky, and a late afternoon sun that will make even an old rowboat look picturesque.

I wish for red rosehips, bursting with promises of fragrant, pink petals.

I want to see a timeworn old fence, and run my hand over the brittle, weathered wood, knowing that it won’t rot away this autumn either.

Is it too much to hope for, you think?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Autumn Feeling

I got the first real autumn feeling today, when I was out in the garden and discovered that the leaves on the trees are starting to turn yellow. The air felt cold in a way that makes you want a thick woolly jumper and warm socks.

The desire came over me to snuggle up in a comfy armchair in front of the fireplace with a rug and a cup of hot chocolate.

There was even some cake left over from the weekend. Flake Cake made from my Mother in law’s recipe. It may not look too impressive, but it’s absolutely scrumptious. It’s rich and tasty, and goes perfect with hot chocolate. The lovely big cup is Ego from the Finish designer Iittala. I only have one, so it’s perfect for indulging on one’s own.

Hubby has taught me how to make a delicious hot chocolate: Just warm the milk, break up a few pieces of chocolate in the blender, pour over the milk and blast it for a few seconds. Then you get lovely frothy chocolate. A couple of marshmallows are the Pièce de résistance.
Here I have used Rausch Plantagen chocolate, which is absolutely gorgeous. You can get it with different degrees of cocoa content, so you’re able to pick your favourite. After extensive testing (It was hard work, I can tell you.), I finally concluded that 43% is right for me. I'm not so fond of this rock hard dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. Mostly I've only eaten it because it’s supposed to be healthier than other chocolate. However, I read in the newspaper last week that milk chocolate was healthy as well, so now it’s happy days.

I don’t know why, but it’s like I am addicted to flames at this time of the year. I just have to burn candles all the time, and keep the fire going, even if it's really warm enough without it. The urge to make the house feel cosy, snug and comfy must be due to a need to comfort myself for the fact that summer is over and we have a long cold winter ahead.
I designed and made the sheoak tray, as well as the knitted rug. I think I have bragged about it on the blog before, but I rarely manage to finish a knitting project, so I just have to show off a little.

The embroidered linen cushion is new. I think it fits the chair perfectly, especially with a sheepskin rug to set it off. The amphora is something I brought back from Spain a few years ago. It is very brittle, so I wrapped it up as best I could and actually managed to get it home in one piece. When I put it in the holder though, the silly thing cracked. Now it's artfully glued back together, and really doesn’t look too bad.

Eddie grows bigger every day, and is starting to resemble a real standard poodle. He is seven months old today, and has learned to appreciate the pleasures of autumn. After frolicking around in the autumn leaves, he thinks it's really nice to doze in front of the fireplace.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

First potatoes from the garden

After all the rain we've been having lately, I was getting worried for our potatoes. Some of the plants were starting to look very sorry for themselves, so today I pulled up a few to check on the progress. I needn't have worried. The spuds were looking pink and healthy, albeit a bit small still.

Today we'll have our first home grown potatoes with the Sunday roast. We have covered a pork neck with a thick layer of French herbs and garlic. It has been in the oven for an hour now, and it smells simply divine. So I'll wish myself Bon Appétit!

Hope you all have a lovely Sunday.