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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

>Kate’s visit / La visite de Kate


Our few days with the Vegetable Vagabond have passed incredibly quickly and now she has moved on to Mas du Diable. Its been wonderful to spend time with someone who is as excited as we are about our garden and about food and eating!

On Wednesday Kate was as eager as we were to go to the market. We bought squid and I made paella on the barbecue, adding our best green pepper, some haricots verts and some tomatoes from the garden.

Le séjour de la Vagabonde des Légumes est passé très vite et aujourdhui elle est partie au Mas du Diable. Cétait génial – passer du temps avec quelquune qui a autant denthousiasme que nous pour notre jardin, pour lalimentation et pour manger!

Mercredi Kate était aussi désireuse que nous daller au marché. Nous avons acheté des encornets et jai cuit une paella au barbecue. Jai ajouté notre meilleur poivron vert, des haricots verts et des tomates du jardin.

Kate planted the mizuna (Asian salad leaf) seedlings wed grown from seeds sent to us by Laura from Mas du Diable. Kate suggested putting them between the cabbages which shed also helped us plant out.

Kate a planté des plants de mizuna (salade dAsie) qui ont poussé des semis que Laura nous a envoyé. Kate a suggeré quils iraient bien parmi les choux quelle nous a aidé planter.

And when our neighbour unexpectedly gave us two cherry tree suckers Kate helped with planting those too.

Et quand notre voisine nous a donné deux petits guiniers Kate nous a aidé les planter aussi.

Membrillo / pâte de coing / quince paste

Kate worked in the kitchen too – the time had come to cook the quinces wed picked a few days before, so Kate cut up the fruit. We boiled the pieces in water until they were tender and then I put them through a mouli légumes to separate the fruit purée from the skins.

Kate a travaillé dans la cuisine aussi – le temps était arrivé pour cuire les coings que nous avions ramasser quelques jours avant, donc Kate les a coupé. Nous les avons fait cuire jusquà ce quils aient été tendre et puis je les ai passé par le mouli légumes pour séparer la purée de fruit de la peau.

We then added the same weight of sugar and simmered the purée until it darkened and thickened.

Puis nous avons ajouté le même poids de sucre et nous avons fait cuire à feu doux pour faire une purée sombre et épaisse.

Then I spread the purée in a layer about 1 cm thick on grease-proof paper in a baking tray and put it in a low oven (100° C) for a few hours. When it had dried I cut it in pieces about 10 cm x 10 cm. You can keep this for months, wrapped in grease-proof paper in a cool place. Its delicious with cheese.

Puis il faut létaler dune épaisseur de 1 cm sur du papier cuisson dans une plaque de four et la mettre au four très doux (100° C) pour quelques heures. Quand elle a seché, coupez-la en morceaux de 10 cm x 10 cm. On peut les garder pour quelques mois au frais, emballés dans le papier cuisson. Cest delicieux avec le fromage.

Olives and artichokes and Italian mussels / Olives et artichauts et moules à litalienne

On Kates last evening with us I thought she should eat olives and artichokes!

La dernière soirée de la visite de Kate, jai pensé quelle a dû manger des olives et des artichauts!

But first we had oysters from Bouzigues and a glass of Picpoul de Pinet, the white wine made nearby which goes perfectly with oysters.

D’abord on a mangé des huitres de Bouzigues avec un verre de Picpoul de Pinet, le vin blanc qui accompagne parfaitement les huitres.

Then Kate made one of her favourite mussel dishes – delicious Italian mussels (recipe here).

Puis Kate a préparé un de ses plats de moules favoris – moules à l
italienne (recette ici) – delicieux!

Weve enjoyed our few days with Kate enormously and weve got so much out of it. Weve all spent the time talking about gardening and food, and about writing about gardening and food – all so important for Kate, Lo Jardinièr and me. Weve exchanged ideas, laughed, eaten, persuaded Kate to try the local wine as well as her favourite limoncello and got to know each other really well. We even managed a swim in the sea – Kates first in the Mediterranean. Her trip was a great idea and it is linking all of us food-growing bloggers – Ian of Kitchen Garden in France brought her here, so weve met him too, and now shes gone on to Mas du Diable, taking some of the quince paste we made to Laura. Oh, and I mustnt finish without mentioning the wine Ian brought us from Perigord, made by his friend Bernard, Clos de Castelau 2005, a lovely warm Bergerac red, a bottle of which weve already enjoyed with Kate.

Kate has written about her stay in Gabian, as well as the rest of her trip, on Hills and Plains Seedsavers.

Olives update

A couple of weeks ago I was worried that our olives were damaged and afraid that we might have an infestation of Dacus olea. Talking to friends about their olives which also have small marks on the skins and are ripening, I realised that what we had was hail damage from the storm at the beginning of September. This means the olives aren’t as pretty as they should be, but they’ll be fine to eat – all 36 of them!

We’ll be harvesting them soon.

PS Waste not ….

I saved the water we’d boiled the quinces in because it looked good and the friend who had given us the quinces had said you could use it to make jam. There was about a litre of it and I simply added a kilo of sugar and simmered until it was reduced to a thick dark red syrup. This made two jars and a leftover bowl full of quince jelly. We tried it tonight with some St Nectaire fermier cheese and it was lovely.

>Mellow fruitfulness / moisson moelleux ?


quince / coing

A friend said that we could pick the figs and quinces from her trees. The figs are wonderful. Two varieties – black and green. The black ones are so ripe they almost taste like jam already. The green ones have a more interesting flavour. We’ve made jam with each – I added a pinch of cinnamon to the green figs – and we’ve eaten them fresh. We’ve baked them with honey from a neighbour’s bees, poured Armagnac over them while they were still hot and added crème fraîche – a real fig feast!

green figs / figues vertes

Une amie nous a dit que nous pouvions ramasser les figues et les coings de ses arbres. Les figues sont superbes. Deux varietés – noire et verte. Les noires sont si mûres qu’elles ont déjà le gout de confiture. Les vertes ont un gout plus complex. Nous avons cuit de la confiture avec chaque varieté – j’ai ajouté un peu de cannelle aux figues vertes – et nous les avons mangé toutes fraîches. Nous les avons cuit au four avec du miel des abeilles de notre voisin, puis nous avons versé de l’Armagnac quand elles étaient chaud et ajouté de la crème fraîche – un vrai festin de figues!


The quinces are still waiting … more on these later.

Les coings nous attendent encore … on en parlera plus tard.