With the windfall quinces I mentioned in my post the other day, I made membrillo or quince paste.  It lasts all through the winter in a cool place and can be sliced and eaten on its own, cut in chunks and rolled in sugar as a sweet, or served with cheese, especially Manchego.  It takes a while but it’s easy to make:

Cut the quinces into large chunks, including the cores and pips but discarding any bruised or insect-infested bits. Cover with water in a large pan and boil until soft – it takes about an hour. Drain the fruit and put through a sieve or mouli legumes. Weigh the resulting pulp and add the same weight of sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer as it slowly thickens and darkens – this can take a couple of hours. Stir it and make sure it doesn’t burn – I use a diffuser between the flame and the pan.  Line a large baking tray with grease-proof paper and spread the membrillo out in a layer about 2 cm thick. Allow it to cool and dry. Cut it into pieces (whatever size you find most convenient – mine are about 12 cm x 8 cm), wrap them well in grease-proof paper and store in a cool place, a larder or fridge.


Summer or autumn?

Daytime temperatures are in the 30s, and the aubergine plants are flowering again:


and there are small aubergines growing:


But we’ve picked the first of the pumpkins to store for the winter, five that we thought would be butternut squashes but which seem to be a hybrid:


and we’re making the first batch of membrillo with windfall quinces (more on this when it’s finished bubbling away on the hob):


>Definitely autumn


Our son was staying with us this week and, while it was warm enough to have lunch in the garden a couple of times, the sea wasn’t warm enough for swimming.

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Barbecued lamb and peppers for lunch, but the sea was chilly at Portiragnes-plage.

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We’re still picking plenty of aubergines and peppers – the red ones are Kolaska, a delicious spicy variety, the green ones are Marconi and Corno di Toro which I don’t think will ripen now as it’s too late in the year. They’re very tasty when they’re green, though. The Praying Mantis seemed to be looking for somewhere to lay its eggs.

Pézenas market

On Saturday morning, before going back to London, our son wanted to buy jambon to take with him… we saw a few other stalls as well:

denim and sunflowers…
IMGP1993 baskets….
winter hats and scarves….
IMGP2005 olive oil and salt cod…
IMGP2007 fritters and sea food salads IMGP2009 eggs and charcuterie….
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and fish.

Sunday lunch

On our own again after our son went home, we consoled ourselves with a very good lunch:

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Aubergine slices with goats’ cheese, garlic and oregano, with honey and balsamic vinegar dressing for our first course, followed by pieces of shoulder of lamb slow-cooked with figs, shallots and white wine, served with rice.

Quinces again

We picked a basketful of quinces to make membrillo (quince paste), as we usually do at this time of year – the recipe is on the Mediterranean cuisine blog. The quinces this year are of much better quality, bigger with fewer bugs in them, so easier to cook.

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And a beautiful sunset this evening


>First frost?


Tonight the temperature is forecast to fall below freezing for the first time this winter, with daytime temperatures at a chilly 5 to 6 degrees and a cold north wind. We think that the plants in the garden will all be able to withstand the cold, but just to make sure we put some straw around the broad bean plants today and covered the oregano to try to delay its inevitable winter dying back.

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The broad beans are doing so well – we don’t want to lose them. The plants form the first sowing in October are in the photo on the left – they are about 30 cm tall now. In the photo on the right are the second (November) sowing of broad beans (left) and the Spanish habas. They all now have a blanket of straw around them at ground level.

And how long can the flowers last?

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The roses and the osteospermum are all still blooming … so far.

Quinces again!


Yesterday a friend brought us this basketful of windfall quinces. They are very ripe, but rather damaged by insects. As we’ve already made plenty of membrillo this year, we’ve chosen the best to use in a stew with pork or lamb. The most damaged ones we’ve used to make a spicy quince pickle to eat with cheese or cold meats.

Spicy quince pickle

1 kilo chopped quince (with the peel, but not the cores); 500 gm brown sugar; 3 medium onions, chopped; 450 ml red wine vinegar; 100 gm raisins; juice and zest of a lemon; a 3cm-piece of ginger, peeled and grated; 2 teaspoonfuls cinnamon; 1 tablespoonful ground coriander; 1 heaped teaspoonful paprika (or more if you like); 1 teaspoonful salt.

Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 1 hour covered and 1 hour uncovered. Put into sterilised glass jars.


The pickle has a lovely colour and smells and tastes deliciously of quince. It scented the whole house while it was cooking!

>After the rain / Après la pluie


Everything looks clean and bright after a torrential thunderstorm last night. Tous semblent propre et clair après un orage torrentiel hier soir.

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We’ve made more than 3 kilos of membrillo (quince paste) with the quinces we picked the other day. The recipe is on the Mediterranean cuisine blog. / Nous avons fait plus de 3 kilos de pâte de coings. La recette est sur le blog de la cuisine mediterranéenne.


And I’ve made squid stuffed with onions and capers ready for the arrival of our daughter, La Jardinièra, tomorrow. The recipe is on the Mediterranean cuisine blog. Et j’ai fait des encornets farcis d’oignons et câpres, pour l’arrivée de notre fille, La Jardinièra, demain. La recette est sur le blog de la cuisine méditerranéenne.

No more posts for a few days because we’ll be having fun with La Jardinièra. / Plus d’articles pour quelques jours parce que nous nous régalerons avec La Jardinièra.