Well, today is the shortest day so we can start looking forward to next year's planting. We still have a couple of months of winter but as spring comes early we want to be ready to plant out broad beans and peas as soon as we can. At the moment we are still having hard frosts every night as this autumn has been unusually cold. The last few days have been foggy as well as frosty which makes everything look amazingly beautiful, especially when the sun comes out. We are now due some milder weather with temperatures rising to 15 by the middle of next week and no frost. No white Christmas here then.
I thought we would not be bothering with Christmas food this year. I don't know how it's happened but I seem to be spending too much time making 'stuff'. I am still having trouble with pastry so we have not had any mince pies yet, though we have had mincemeat samosas....well we had to make sure the mincemeat was OK. It's lovely. It looks like mud though. Have also made my version of stollen, a much lighter version though, with home made marzipan. Very nice (I did a little one for us to try) but unfortunately it got a bit caramelised on the bottom. Still it's only for us. Also made some nice biscuits. Dave couldn't find peanut butter in Lidl, so got peanut chocolate sauce. Yeuch. Even Dave doesn't like it. However it does make scrummy biscuits, and when our English neighbour came round he thought so too, so they didn't have time to go stale! The cake is made, based on the cherry cake, I have added other fruits such as dates, sultanas and crystalised pineapple, as well as stem ginger. It will make a change from traditional cake which never gets finished, and there is enough fruity stuff with mincemeat and pudding. There is also a thin sponge for trifle and a salmon quiche. I seem to have pork pie and vegetable pie on my list too...and the other day we had some of Venka's amazing pickled peppers with cheese and onion pie and warm mustard potato salad. Better start excercising! Oh, and Pizza.....
And Dave also had the first of his steaks, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
Dave is having pork on Christmas day, unfortunately not from next door as they seem to have sold it all. Dave has said he has gone off the idea of having a pig to rear for meat. He was outside when no 2 was killed and the noise it made is still in his head. He doesn't think he can go through that with one he has looked after for months. Anyway, we were in Kaufland the other day and he couldn't decide what he wanted. They had frozen fowl of all descriptions but not a lot on the butcher counter, they don't seem to go a bundle on joints and the only one they had I couldn't decide what meat it was, but it looked like beef, so I left him looking and he came back with a couple of pieces of lean belly pork, no crackling but I am sure it will be fine. I shall be making a nut roast with our own walnuts and vegetables.
We have been gobsmacked at the generosity of our neighbours while we have been here, and the other day we were quite choked with the reaction of the Post Office ladies in the village to a simple hand made card Dave took to them to thank them for their help. We had put a greeting inside in English and Bulgarian and it caused a bit of a stir when delivered. The next day they sent us, by courier, (next door neighbour) a glass bowl filled with decorations...baubles, hand made corn decs and mini gourds...and a card with carefully written English and Bulgarian greetings. We both had a little tear in our eyes, what a lovely thing. We have cards for the neighbours which we will give out next week, and a small thank you present each for Venka and Jordan. I just hope they don't all feel the need to give back, but it seems to be their culture.
We have made a bit of effort at decorations. We bought a small artificial tree for the extension and have lights outside, and an even smaller tree which was my late Mum's on the printer. While Dave was putting out the blue lights on the apricot tree he had an interested audience as Venka and Jordan watched, goodness knows what they think of the mad English and their lights, the English next door have also got them out. We have found that the top of the wood burner is great at drying fruit for natural decs.
The chickens are all looking really fed up with the cold weather and mud. And even the chicks are changeing feathers so that is not helping. They are nearly full size now and making very grown up noises. The mud is odd as we have had no rain since the snow, in fact it has been very dry altogether with no significant falls due. Very odd for people from GB! Dave noticed the English neighbours had a huge pile of leaves sitting on their plot and has brought them over for the chickens, happy they were! A few chopped up walnuts thrown in the leaves gives them something to do.
We were told there were deer living on the hills surrounding the village, and the other day we saw a small herd when we went out to the shops. Unfortunately there was nowhere to stop for photos, but maybe another time. Meanwhile there seem to be more and more buzzards about, but they are very shy and fly off when a car stops, maybe they are used to having pot shots taken. But there are still some smaller birds who are not camera shy, like this shrike.
We'd like to take the opportunity to thank all our readers for staying with us through my ramblings, and wish you all a very happy Christmas. I will raise a glass to you all on the day.