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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Cucumbers....and more cucumbers.

I know we have touched on the cucumber thing already, but it really is out of hand now! I worried about the amount of courgettes I was getting earlier, but these are a lot more versatile than cucumbers, and since we have bought a freezer and discovered courgette and ginger jam, are welcomed. But what do you do with cues? My attempt at pickle/chutney was revolting, and even I am getting fed up of tzatziki every day. As said earlier, the Bulgarians just keep eating them when in season, and two large plates of diced cucumber round at Venka's was a revelation, and an experience I don't really want to repeat (though to be fair, they don't. Repeat that is. )

Yesterday we were given four large ones...they seem to be getting bigger. This brought the total in the fridge to nine. I gave one to the chickens. So, in desperation, I have pickled six of them. I don't really know what I am doing, but took direction from several recipes I found searching the web, all of which recommended you don't pickle regular cucumbers as they go soggy. I salted them first, and de-seeded them, then added a couple of small vine leaves to the jars as this is supposed to help with crispness. So, here we are, with two small jars filled with what were six large cues, which we may never eat. At least I tried, and hope that neither neighbour thinks of us when they next have too many......

Dave is continuing with his wood chopping. We have had a day of much needed rain so that is all he could do outside. He is a bit hyperactive so doesn't do well confined to the house. I have to say he has it down to a fine art, which is just as well seeing the lack of any safety gear!
 With the day's courgette donation I thought I would make a cake with a recipe I found using some of my precious reserve of cocoa. I was pleased with the result when it came out of the oven, it was evenly risen and seemed really moist. I had to make icing sugar for icing, which was a bit gritty, but better than nothing. But I was so disappointed with the flavour. The texture was more puddingy and would probably be better with custard or cream than icing. I have a feeling it needed a spot of salt. Courgettes are quite bland and the butter here is unsalted. I won't make that recipe again, even though it is disappearing fast (well, he needs energy to keep up the chopping!) I have another recipe for courgette muffins saved on my computer. Where is my computer I wonder? Hmmm.

Much to Bella dog's disgust, there seem to be a lot less bugs about now, though the biting flies are plentiful. The cuckoos have also stopped calling and there are a lot of tree sparrow and swallow youngsters in the garden. The sparrows are collecting chicken feathers for refurbishing their nests, the chickens are scrapping a bit so there are a few around. The chickens spend a lot of time chrging at the sparrows if they come foraging in the run, as well as using energy chasing flies and butterflies when it's cooler. The energy should be going into producing eggs. Come on girls!
The apricots are all finished now, with the last of the windfalls mushing on the 'lawn'. The pears, though small, are turning pink and most have fallen, with more to go today with the wind we have. It seems awfully early but they are very sweet and appear to be ripe, but are tiny so too small to do anything with. Which is a shame as all that's left in the way of fruit are plums and three peaches. I can't decide whether to make plum chutney or more jam, though at the moment chutney is popular with Dave. I am sure jam will go in winter when he wants something sweet though, we are planning on having a woodburner with small oven, ideal for rice pudding making. The walnuts are hanging on, I want those to do well as they are really good for you and I eat nuts instead of meat.

 Our poor hydrangea has really suffered in the rain this time. It is a stunningly beautiful big plant when it is allowed to be, but because there are so many lovely flowers it is heavy once wet and collapses. Next year we will have to think early and make sure it has proper support. The neighbours love a handful of flowers occasionally, and the old lady across the road.
 I have touched on the massacred grape vines on earlier pages. They are no doing really well and next year should offer shade, and with a bit of luck some grapes. Dave can maybe look into making wine as a new hobby. Or rakia, which is his preference, though the stills are a bit costly. There are also other trees trying to make a come-back on the lawn. Most are too close to the house to allow to grow, but there is a fig desperate to regenerate, and a peach which we are encouraging. We will see what happens next year, though the fig will need a good thinning. It must be pretty ancient going by the stump.

 The other plentiful source of food are snails. They are huge with really tough shells. Stand on one in the night and the only crunching sound will be your ankle! Venka often offers snails done in garlic butter to family and friends (thank goodness I am a veggie!) but refuses to eat them herself.

Venka continues to mother us, I'm sure she thinks we don't eat. There was a delicious smelling pan of soup yesterday, which she forgot to tell me was chicken. luckily I realised it smelled too good to be veggie, but the dogs relished my share on their breakfast this morning. They haven't eaten so well for ages, and spent a few minutes afterwards chasing the bowls to see if they could make them give more. I'm sure Venka would be delighted.

Or maybe not.

Bella on the beer...

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