Two ways of frying artichokes

Yesterday’s bouquet of artichokes made their contributions to two meals.  For supper last night I used the two smallest artichokes, removed the outer leaves and sliced the hearts and stems quite finely – about 3 mm – and shallow fried them in olive oil.  This is a dish I first had in a restaurant in Figueres in Catalunya and it’s so simple, all the slices need is a little salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.  In the restaurant they were served on their own, covering a large plate, as a first course.  We often eat them with other tapas, as we did last night.

sliced artichokes

I deep-fried the three largest artichokes for lunch today.  I removed the outer leaves and peeled the stem then quartered them and put them in a bowl with the juice of a lemon diluted with water so that they wouldn’t go brown while I was preparing them. 

preparing artichokes

These small artichokes have no choke, but if you used larger ones you would have to remove the choke. I drained the quarters, dried them with kitchen paper, dipped them in a beaten egg and then in flour.  I heated some olive oil and fried them in two batches until they were golden brown and the flesh was cooked.  That’s all!  They were delicious.  It’s the first time I’ve cooked them like this and I’ll certainly be doing it again.

deep-fried artichokes

The artichokes were a real treat at the end of a morning spent collecting goat manure for the garden from the farm at Mas Rolland, where the first kids of the season are being born and soon there will be goats’ cheese for sale again after the winter break.  It’s hard work, but always a pleasure to drive up through the hills.  It was cloudy on the way and the landscape looked a bit grey, but the sun came out as we returned home.

landscape 1

landscape 2

landscape 3

And then there was all that lovely manure for the garden.  We’ll need at least one more trip before we have enough to spread over the vegetable beds, but this is a good start.

goat manure

>First lizard and a trip to the goat farm

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It was a beautiful spring morning after a cold night, around freezing temperature at dawn but up to about 20 C by midday, perfect for our trip to Mas Rolland to fetch a trailer-load of goat manure.

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The vineyards and the garrigue-covered hillsides looked beautiful in the sunlight and when we got to the garden there were lizards sunning themselves on the wall by the path.  Several of them scuttled under stones as I approached, but I managed to catch this one in time.

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There’s nothing quite like goat manure for the garden.  We’ll be using this to improve the soil in the beds where we’ll be growing peppers and tomatoes this summer.

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The apricot tree is still blossoming and the flowers were attracting a lot of bees – a good sign for this year’s fruit.

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Daffodils, aubretia and jasmine are flowering, and there are a lot more jasmine buds still about to open.

Home to a good lunch….

IMGP7373Lettuce and wild rocket from the garden, sobresada and peppered sausage brought for us

from the Spanish border by our neighbour, chorizo and jambon cru from Lacaune.

>Fertiliser

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This morning we went up into the hills to Mas Rolland to collect a trailer-load of manure – the first of several we hope.  Last year we did this and it made a huge difference to the soil, and its ability to retain moisture especially.

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It was cold and grey.  The hillsides looked dry and wintry, with just the evergreen plants and trees, like these holm oaks in the foreground above, contrasting with the rocks.  The milking goats are still indoors in their winter quarters but this billy with amazing horns was outside watching us.

DSC01187 We now have the first pile of manure in the garden ready to spread on the ground and we’ll go to fetch some more later in the week.  In spite of the cloudy, cold weather, it feels as though we’ve started the new gardening year now, and that’s a good feeling.  The artichoke plants  – just visible in the background here – have suffered from the cold, but they should recover.  Everything else looks fine.

Winter harvest

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We picked our last cauliflower and dug up a couple of leeks.  Our neighbour gave us some beetroot and some celery stalks.  I put the celery into the dish I made when we got home, with haricot beans, pancetta, carrots and onions, which we ate with toast and tapenade and a glass of red wine.  A very warming lunch!