>First anniversary / Premier anniversaire

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candle_1_1_1 It’s a year since I began the Olives and Artichokes blog at the start of the last gardening year.  One of my earliest posts was about planting our potatoes on the day after the full moon in February 2008.  Yesterday we did just that, again … the cycle of the seasons and the gardening year.

In my first post I hoped that the blog would be ‘a diary of what we learn’.  Well, it has become that, and a lot more too.  Writing the blog has been more involving – and taken more time – than I’d thought, but it has also brought unexpected rewards.  I’ve become part of a worldwide community of gardeners and like-minded people.  I’ve made friends, some of whom I’ve met, some of whom are still ‘virtual’ friends but no less real when it comes to exchanging ideas and advice.

Perhaps most importantly, writing the blog has encouraged me to think more about gardening, food and the environment.  Lo Jardinièr and I are still gardening for the same reasons as we always have done – because we enjoy it, because we like good food and because we believe that local, organic food is better for us and better for the planet.  But now we think through the issues and arguments more and we’re part of a ‘conversation’ that circles the world.

We’re looking forward to the next year of Olives and Artichokes and we hope that all our new and old friends around the world will continue to enjoy reading about our garden and food adventures as much as we enjoy learning about yours.

C’est le premier anniversaire du blog Olives and Artichokes et nous espérons que nos amis et nos lecteurs autour du monde continuent de apprécier l’histoire de notre jardin et notre cuisne autant que nous appécions les vôtres.

PS  Looking back at last February’s posts shows how comparatively cold this year has been and how late this spring is.  On 17 February I posted photos of almond blossom and apricot buds which were about to flower – there’s nothing like that yet this year.

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>Cold wet garden, tapas at home for my 100th post / Un jardin froid et les tapas chez nous

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For nearly a week we’ve had grey skies. Today it’s raining and sleeting. Usually here it’s cold, but clear and bright at this time of the year. We haven’t been able to do any work in the garden, although we did manage our traditional aperitif in the garden on Christmas day, with a brief moment of sunshine.

Pour presqu’une semaine il a fait gris. Aujourd’hui il pleut et un peu de neige fondue tombe de temps en temps. Comme d’habitude ici à cette saison il fait froid, mais clair. Nous n’avons pas pu faire aucun travail au jardin, mais on a pris l’apéritif au jardin le jour de Noel, pendant un petit moment de soleil.

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It’s strange to see olive leaves covered in rain / c’est bizzare de voir les feuilles d’olivier couvertes de pluie.

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Yesterday we went to Grau d’Agde and the sea was grey and rough. / Hier on est allé au Grau d’Agde et la mer était gris et agitée.

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Not the usual view of the Mediterranean!

At home in the evening we cheered ourselves up with a meal of tapas and North African pastries: / Chez nous le soir on s’est remonté le moral avec un repas de tapas et de patisseries maghrébines:

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sheep’s cheese and anchovies
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cured ham and artichoke hearts
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Almond, apricot, fig and walnut pastries.

>November harvest / moisson de novembre

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It’s been so cold and wet this week that it’s been hard to believe it is still autumn and not winter. We’re still picking tomatoes – about 5 kilos this week – but it feels like time for winter vegetables now.

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rainbow chard and some earthy leeks

Il a fait froid cette semaine et on ne peut pas croire que c’est toujours l’automne. On continue de ramasser des tomates – 5 kilos cette semaine – mais ça semble comme le temps pour les légumes d’hiver.

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I made soup with the leeks, an onion and a couple of potatoes. / J’ai fait de la soupe de poireaux en ajoutant un oignon et deux pommes de terre.

Cave Coopérative La Carignano

Gabian is a wine-making village with its own special terroir and a couple of years ago the cave coopérative celebrated its seventieth anniversary. Now it seems that La Carignano will close at the end of the year. There are several independent wine-makers in the village, but it will be sad not to have the cooperative. We went there this morning and bought some white wine – Gabians – in bottles and a bag-in-box – and some almond syrup for adding to white wine to make kir. This syrup can also be used in desserts so I made trifle.

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Almond and apricot trifles

In individual dishes I put some madeleines (or sponge fingers) and poured on a tablespoonful of almond syrup to each dish. I spread a spoonful of apricot jam over the madeleines and then topped each dish with mascarpone mixed with a tablespoonful of Armagnac (or you could use crème fraîche) and garnished them with toasted almonds.

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We don’t eat desserts very often, but these will be a weekend treat when we have friends to supper this evening.

Olive harvest

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In all the olive groves, along roads, in gardens and on roundabouts in villages and towns, the olives are ripening now. The olives in this picture are on one of the trees at Roquessels which I photographed for my post in June when they were in flower. Soon the olive oil producers will take their harvest to the mills. It seems a good time to write about the olive tree and its importance to the countries around the Mediterranean. And it’s obviously of interest to this blog. So over the next week or so I’m planning a series of posts about this vital tree and its history.