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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Pumpkin Dilemma

The 5 pumpkin plants that were given to us by our neighbours really are starting to become a concern not least because we were expecting them to be traditional round orange pumpkins and they’re very long large mostly green although some are totally white.  Having lost control of this patch and lost count of the pumpkins growing in it, we’re not sure what variety they are or when they’re considered ripe.  I took one off the vine while still green because I’d heard from another friend that they should be between 40cm – 80cm long and this one was nearly 60cms so I figured it was probably ready and delivered our first fruit to the neighbour who gave us his plants (sadly his pumpkin plants haven’t yet produced a single pumpkin which is excellent news for us so we finally have someone we can share some produce with – it must be the only vegetable our neighbours don’t have a glut of themselves!!).  They were very gracious in thanking us before telling us we’d picked it too soon and if left it should turn yellow/orange in due course and so we’ve left them alone although there is still no sign of any yellow or orange but they’re getting bigger by the day and so I may have to invite the neighbours round just to inspect and give us some advice on what to do and when they should be picked.  Some photos below of the glut that will soon be coming our way!

In trying to decipher what variety we have growing, I googled pumpkins and discovered that we’re a long way off from winning any competitions as the record for the world’s largest pumpkin is held by someone who grew a pumpkin that weighed in at 2,009 pounds!!  I’m quite relieved that we don’t have that variety growing in abundance although by the end of it we may have that weight in total.

The other exciting development having eaten our way through our first crop of heirloom lettuces, we’d planted a second batch, 9 different heirloom varieties, just before we left for Geneva and Burgundy and some of these are now ready to eat – they’re all spectacularly delicious and there’s just something quite special about making a salad for lunch made up entirely of produce from the garden now that we have the tomatoes we’d salvaged, green peppers, carrots, onions, many more cucumbers (photo of yet another cucumber to be picked this afternoon), beetroot, snap peas and green beans, delicious yellow courgettes and fresh parsley, basil, mint, tarragon, thyme, sage & rosemary.

The item from the garden we’re still looking forward to is the fresh corn – Tony planted 80 plants and we’ve now got 2-3 ears popping up on each plant so there is a corn eating regime in our future and possibly the purchase of a chest freezer finally so that we can store some of this, the freezer we currently have is bursting at the seams with courgette lasagna, our neighbours green beans, courgette loaf cake & courgette soup!

Our next door village holds a night market every Thursday for the months of July and August and last week we invited our neighbours to join us for a bite to eat – it’s always a fun time with a meal of duck and fries or a duck sandwich and fries accompanied by a glass of local wine for EUR4!  This is all enjoyed with a live band playing (usually a local band with an accordion player) and various market stalls selling local produce and crafts and so it was here that we met our local beekeeper.  When we returned this year we noticed that our neighbours had lots of hives on his land, the field immediately next to ours and we can hear them on occasion, apparently the beekeeper uses his land to keep his bees on occasion.  We are understandably very happy to have bees in the neighbourhood to help with the pollination of all we’ve been growing.  But, even better is that we bought his Acacia honey and this was made form the Acacia trees that we can see from our house and were all in full bloom when we arrived in May.  I don’t think I’ve ever had honey that’s literally been made next door and it’s absolutely delicious so we’ll be heading back to the night market tomorrow with our EUR8 for dinner and a drink and a few extra euros for the honey so that we can stock up – it does go particularly well with our homemade yogurt for breakfast.

I shall leave you with another recipe, this one for Spanish stuffed marrow - we tried it with half of one of our neighbours marrows the other night and it was absolutely delicious although still enough to feed 6 people!  I've posted the link below it's a BBC Good Food recipe - I recommend reading the comments before making it (note to cut the canned tomatoes down although I used fresh from the garden, I also substituted parmesan for manchego) and if not overly keen on spice, be careful of the cayenne or do as we did and serve it accompanied by a nice fresh tzatsiki (yogurt, dill, garlic and cucumber) which will offset the spice.

Bon apetit!

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