>After the freeze

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We’ve had some very cold nights with temperatures down to minus 3 C on the balcony and, apparently, minus 6 C in the countryside around the village. Even during the days and in the sunshine there have been icicles on the fountains.

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In the garden, the artichoke leaves (above, left) have been affected but they should recover, the habas and the second sowing of broad beans (centre) look completely unaffected while the first sowing of broad beans (right), plants which had grown to around 30 cm tall, have flopped a bit but should recover.

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We’ve had bright, clear sunlit days with a cold north wind turning up the lovely silvery undersides of the olive leaves.

Milder weather is forecast for the coming week, so we’re hoping to be able to have our traditional apéritifs in the garden at midday on the 25th. Our only worry is that Eurostar get their trains going again so that our family can get here!

>Still summer, or is it autumn? / Toujours l’été, ou l’automne?

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We spent a few days staying with friends in a village in Navarra, in the Spanish Basque country, last week and everything seemed very green and damp there. / On a passé quelques jours avec des amis dans un village en Navarra, au pays Basque espagnol, la semaine dernière et tout y semblait très vert et humide.

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The garden plots on the flat land between the river and the houses are used for vegetables, maize and cattle. Sheep are kept on the hillsides around the village and the air is filled with the lovely sound of their bells. / Les jardins sur la terre plate entre la rivière et les maisons sont utilisés pour les légumes, le maïs et les vaches. Il y a des brébis sur les collines autour du village et l’air et rempli du son de leurs clochettes.

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Stacks of bracken, to be used for animal bedding, outside a house in the Basque village of Zubieta.

Des meules de fougère près d’une maison basque.

While we were away there was some rain here – heavy enough to wash away some of our seedlings but still not enough. It’s good to come back to bright light and dry days, but we need water for the garden. We’re still harvesting melons, courgettes, peppers and aubergines, and a few tomatoes.

Pendant que nous étions en vacances il a plu un peu ici – assez pour emporter des petits plants, mais pas encore assez pour le jardin. C’est bon revenir à la lumière éclatante et le temps sec, mais on a besoin de l’eau pour le jardin. On ramasse toujours les melons, les courgettes, les poivrons et les aubergines, et quelques tomates.

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The artichoke leaves are beginning to grow again, our saffron crocus has flowered and the olives are beginning to ripen. / Les feuilles d’artichaut commencent à repousser, le crocus de safran fleuri et les olives commencent à mûrir.

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We’ve brought back chorizo peppers from our friend in the Basque country and piments d’Espelette from the French Basque country to dry on the balcony. / Nous avons emporté des piments de chorizo de notre ami au pays Basque et des piments d’Espelette pour sècher sour le balcon.

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And we’ve picked quinces to make membrillo like we did last year – the recipe is here.

Et nous avons ramasser des coings pour faire la pâte à coing – la recette est ici.

The basket is one I brought back from the Basque country, handmade from chestnut by an old man.

>Summer’s here! / L’été est arrivé

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Olive flowers / les fleurs d’olivier

At last, after a long cold spring, summer has arrived, with the temperature in the high 20s centigrade, and of course the need to water every day. / Enfin, après un printemps long et froid, l’été est arrivé, la temperature monte et on a besoin d’arroser chaque jour.

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The roses are out and so are the lizards / Les roses sortent et aussi les lézards.

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The borlotti beans are climbing and the cucumber plants are flowering / Les haricots grimpent et les concombres fleurissent.
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We’ve picked the last artichokes (a sad moment for me) and the new potatoes are ready to eat. / Nous avons ramassé les derniers artichauts et les pommes de terre précoce sont prêtes à manger.

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The tomato plants are doing well and the November sowing of broad beans are nearly over – we’re saving these for seed as the variety, Seville, has given us a wonderful crop.
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Our first courgette and first pepper have appeared. / La première courgette et le premier poivron ont apparu.

>Market day / Le jour du marché

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As usual we went to the market this morning.  This is what we bought – and it’s not all to eat today, of course!  / Comme d’habitude on est allé au marché ce matin.  On a acheté:

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Sheeps’ cheese from Lacaune, strawberries from Fouzilhon, sausage from Lacaune, mackerel from Valras-plage, morcillas from Spain, onions, aubergines, lemons, .  /  Fromage de brebis de Lacaune, des fraises de Fouzilhon, la saucisse fraiche de Lacaune, des mackeraux de Valras-plage, morcillas de l’Espagne, ognions, aubergines, citrons.

Cherries

We’ve picked cherries from the tree in the garden of some friends – they’ve gone away and told us we can pick them.  For the second year running this tree has a huge crop.  We picked about 10 kilos and hardly touched the total.  I’ve bottled some in Armagnac – 6 jars which should be ready to eat in a few months’ time.  Here they are served after the dessert with the coffee.  Lo Jardinièr has made jam.  And we’ve eaten them fresh, of course.

Nous avons ramasser les cerises dans le jardin de nos amis qui sont partis.  J’ai mis quelques uns à l’Armagnac – 6 bocaux qui seront prêts à manger dans quelques mois.  Lo Jardinièr a fait de la confiture.  Et nous les avons mangé fraiches.

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watering_1_1 The weather has turned dry, sunny and hot so we’re having to water the garden every day. Luckily there is still plenty of water in the stream. / Il fait chaud donc on doit arroser le jardin chaque jour.  Heureusement il y a beaucoup d’eau dans le ruisseau.

Another way of cooking artichokes / Une autre façon de cuire les artichauts

The barbecue was alight at lunchtime today to cook the mackerel, so I tried cooking the artichokes on it.  I took off most of the outer leaves and cut them in half, brushed them with olive oil and put them on the grill with some slices of aubergine.  They tasted very good.  / J’ai essayé de cuire des artichauts sur la grillade.  J’ai enlevé la plupart des feuilles externes et je les ai coupé en deux.  J’ai mis de l’huile d’olive et je les ai mis sur la grillade avec des tranches d’aubergine.  Le gout était très bon.

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>May Day / Le Premier Mai

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On our first morning back from our trip to Wales it seems as though we’ve woken up to the first day of summer. We had a very good holiday and ate excellent food – Japanese, Turkish and our own family Mediterranean mix of delicious things, but it’s wonderful to be back home again. There was rain while we were away so the garden looks very green and bright. One of our neighbours had kept an eye on it for us and thrown out the snails who’d found their way into the cold frame.

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Ce matin, le premier après notre retour du Pays de Galles, est comme le premier jour de l’été. Il a plu pendant la dernière semaine et le jardin est vert et clair.

We found a huge crop of mangetout peas and broad beans / on a trouvé beaucoup de pois mangetout et fèves . . .

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the apricots and artichokes growing well / les abricots et les artichauts poussent bien . . .

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the garden full of the sound of birds and insects / le jardin plein du chant d’oiseau et d’insectes . . .

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I thought that this one was a moth at first. Now I think it’s a butterfly but I still can’t identify it. Please leave a comment if you have any idea what it might be.

The pepper plants are still growing very slowly and I think we may have to buy plants but the tomato plants are ready to be planted out so we have a busy weekend ahead!

Les poivrons poussent très lentement encore et je pense qu’il faut en acheter des plantes, mais les tomates sont prêtes à planter donc le weekend sera chargé!

>Roses and an artichoke / Les roses et un artichaut

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Our Rose Banksieae has really become well established after four years and it has covered our sun shelter with beautiful, delicate yellow flowers.  / La Rose Banksieae s’est bien enracinée après quatre ans et elle a couvert l’abri des belles fleurs delicates et jaune.

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We’ve picked the first mangetout peas / on a ramassé les premiers petit pois mangetout.

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The irises are out and you can see why they’re called ‘flags’ when they’re blown about by the wind like this.  /  Les iris fleurissent et on peut voir pourquoi on les appele ‘drapeaux’ en anglais quand ils volent au vent comme ça.

The first artichoke / le premier artichaut

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We cut the first artichoke of the year and ate it thinly sliced and fried in olive oil – it was wonderful!  /  On a coupé le premier artichaut et on l’a mangé coupé en tranches fines et puis sauté à l’huile d’olive – il est superbe!

It’s really difficult to leave the garden at this time of the year, but I’ll be away for the next few days.  There should be some more artichokes to come back to, though, the three little ones growing around the one we ate today and more on the other plants.

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>Sowing after the rain / Semer après la pluie

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After two more days of heavy rain there are no concerns about drought for the next few months.  The stream which runs down from the spring above the gardens, La Resclauze, is full.  The weeds are loving the rain, but luckily so are the plants and trees.

Après deux jours encore de pluie on ne doit pas s’inquiete sur la secheresse.  Le ruisseau qui coule de la source au-dessus des jardins, La Resclauze, est pleine.  Les mauvaise herbes aime la pluie, mais hereusement les plantes et les arbres aussi.

Sowing rampion / Semer le raiponce

Rampion is a plant which grows wild around the Mediterranean.  Its leaves can be eaten in salad and its roots are like radishes.  I found the plant mentioned in a poem by Occitan writer Max Rouquette (in Occitan the plant is called reponchon) and then discovered I could buy the seeds from Seeds of Italy.  In German the plant is called Rapunzel, as in the fairy tale, she of the long blonde hair.

Le Raiponce pousse autour de la Méditerranéen.  On peut manger les feuilles en salade et les racines comme les radis.  J’ai trouvé le mot Occitan, reponchon, dans un poème de Max Rouquette et puis j’ai les acheté de Seeds of Italy

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The instructions on the packet included the Italian words: al momento della semina miscelare con sabbia.  Luckily I remembered just enough Italian to realise this meant the seeds must be mixed with sand and when I opened the packet I could see why.  They are the tiniest seeds I have ever seen!  The picture above shows hundreds of them in the palm of my hand.  I can hardly believe that they will grow!

Il faut mélanger les semences avec la sable parce qu’elles sont toutes petites.  Je ne peut guère croire que les plant pousseront!

Artichoke and chicken liver salad / Salade aux artichauts et à la foie de volaille

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At home this evening Lo Jardinièr made this delicious salad with leaves from the garden, artichokes and chicken liver. / Chez nous ce soir Lo Jardinièr a fait cette salade delicieuse aux feuilles du jardin, les artichauts et la foie de volaille.

For our main course we had chicken rissoles with tomato sauce, bulgur and rainbow chard – the recipe for the rissoles is on the Mediterranean cuisine blog. / Pour le plat principal on a mangé des rissoles de poulet à la sauce tomate et au bulgour – la recette des rissoles est sur le blog Mediterranean cuisine

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>Another gift of wild food / Encore un cadeau sauvage

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Today a friend brought us these wild leeks.  She says you can take the little ‘seed’ bulbs off them and plant them for next year’s crop. / Aujourd’hui une amie nous a apporté ces poireaux sauvages (porettes).  Elle dit qu’on peut enlever les petits pepins pour les planter dans le jardin.

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We cooked them, let them cool and then dressed them with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make a salad.

Nous les avons cuits, et puis nous avons ajouté de l’huile d’olive, du jus de citron, sel et poivre pour faire une salade.

 

At this time of the year I begin to long for summer vegetables, weeks before we will have them in the garden.  Today in the market I couldn’t resist buying artichokes, aubergines, courgettes and a red pepper. / Je commence à avoir très envie des légumes d’été, et j’ai acheté sur le marché aujourd’hui des artichauts, des aubergines et courgettes et un poivron rouge.

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I cooked the artichokes in olive oil and white wine and with the courgettes, aubergines and pepper I made chichoumeille, as ratatouille is called in the Languedoc.  Recipes will be on the Mediterranean cuisine blog.

J’ai cuit les artichauts à l’huile d’olive et au vin blanc, et j’ai fait le chichoumeille, comme on appelle le ratatouille dans le Languedoc.  Les recettes seront sur le blog Mediterranean cuisine

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