Paints and Preserves

I’ve been growing vegetables for a couple of years now, with the help of my friend and sidekick, Denis.  Before I left for France last December, I managed to get garlic and onions down, then I went away and forgot about this place for nearly five months.  Since I’ve come back, the weather has been truly awful – this has been one of the wettest, coldest summers on record.

I planted salad leaves, courgettes and broad beans.  The salad bolted – produced seed heads, with just a couple of tiny leaves clustered at the bottom.  The courgettes sat in the rain, practically shivering, in shock.  I’m sure if they were capable of rational thought they would have been thinking “What a stupid woman – she planted us in the Winter!”  The broad beans were planted in the remains of the muck heap at the back of the arena – out of sight and out of mind – and they were quickly swamped with weeds, as I was distracted by the many other things going on in my life.

But the garlic, onions and my now well-established strawberry bed saved the day.  The strawberries have been turned into jam, which we are slowly working our way through.  Denis will inherit what we don’t eat before departure day – he has a real sweet tooth!  I pickled the shallots and I’m working my way through the rest of the onions.  But the garlic, oh the garlic – what to do…

There’s enough garlic for at least one household for a full year.  I could have made a big fat garlic plait out of it and brought it to Provence with us, but that seemed so wrong – just like bringing coals to Newcastle!  So I researched a couple of recipes for preserving garlic and set Denis to work :

Denis, hard at work
I’ve tried three recipes, one from epicurious, one found by a friend via which is so simple it can’t possibly work (peel garlic. put in jar. cover with oil. Voilà!) and one for pickling in balsamic vinegar which I adapted slightly.
Garlic pickled in balsamic vinegar, waiting to be bottled
They need to sit and wait for a while, now.  I’m looking forward to trying them in a couple of months.
Left to right, strawberry jam, French pickled garlic, garlic in oil, giant stone jar of British pub-style pickled onions, pickled onions from a very old Irish cookbook and more French pickled garlic
In between pickling and preserving, I’ve been painting.  And packing.  And tidying.  And, dare I say it, the house is READY!  Anyone want to rent a house?  Here’s a few photos, just to give a flavour :
Our Incredibly Tidy House
Now, perhaps, I might actually be able to ride one of my horses…
Oh yes, horses.  
I remember, once upon a time, this used to be a horse blog, before dogs and house stuff took over!  Maybe there will be something horsey to write about tomorrow.
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