>La Sainte Cathérine


On the French calendar, provided for us each year by the local fire service, today 25th November is Sainte Cathérine’s day.  And the saying which everyone here repeats whenever tree-planting is mentioned is: À la Sainte Cathérine tout bois prend racine.  On Saint Catherine’s day all wood takes root.  This is the season for planting trees and shrubs.  We’ve already planted two cherry tree cuttings, a fig tree and our lemon tree.  Today on this special day for planting we put in a Pyracantha coccinea shrub, which will have red berries.

planting pyracantha_1_1
Pyracantha coccinea
Pyracantha coccinea_1_1 Pretty red stems and dark green leaves

Aujourd’hui, la Sainte-Cathérine, en suivant le dicton ‘ À la Sainte Cathérine tout bois prend racine’, nous avons planté un buisson de Pyracantha coccinea.

The lemon tree seems happy in its new sunny corner, the flowers are opening and the fruit is ripening.  We’ve covered it with a sort of ‘tent’ for the next few days as cold nights are forecast.

lemon flower november_1_2_1 lemon tree tent_1_1_1

Le citronier va bien dans son coin ensoleillé.  Les fleurs ouvrent et le fruit mûrit.  Nous l’avons couvert d’une sorte de ‘tente’ pour les prochains jours parceque des nuits froids sont prévues.

Today’s harvest / Le moisson d’aujourd’hui

St Catz harvest_1_1

Leeks, turnips, rosemary, oregano and sage

poireaux, navets, romarin, oregane, sauge

>Eating well … as usual

>We’ve had the family staying with us for the past week and we’ve eaten very well and had lots of help with the garden. We’ve had meals in the house and in the garden with our son and daughter, all four of us cooking together as we like to do, and meals out in restaurants.

Vine leaves again

It’s a bit late in the year to pick vine leaves for dolmas, so I’ll have to wait till next year to make more of those. But we’ve been experimenting with cooking with the leaves all the same. If they’re used to wrap food on the barbecue a slight toughness doesn’t matter as the leaves aren’t eaten, but just keep the flavour in and give extra taste of their own. We wrapped sardines in them again and then tried wrapping goats’ cheese:

Goats’ cheese in vine leaves

Small round goats’ cheeses – they are called pelardons here, but other names are used in other areas
2 or 4 vine leaves per cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil

Cut the cheeses in half or in quarters (depending on size of cheese and leaf). Brush some olive oil onto the leaves.
Place a piece of cheese on each leaf. Add some chopped herbs – I used oregano and savoury – and salt and pepper.

Wrap the cheese in the leaf, then secure with a cocktail stick or skewer.
Grill on a barbecue for a few minutes – just long enough for the cheese to melt.
The tastiest part of the cheese is nearest to the leaf.

One evening in the garden we barbecued encornets (small squid) – a couple of minutes on each side, then a squeeze of lemon and serve with salsa (La Jardiniera’s recipe):


1 red chilli pepper
2 small long green sweet peppers
1 small red onion
2 large tomatoes
1 large clove of garlic
salt and pepper
olive oil

Chop all the ingredients and mix with salt and pepper and olive oil.

Sausage and rosemary

And there was our son’s recipe for grilled sausage and rosemary:

Form a long piece of sausage into a spiral and thread rosemary branches through it crossways.
Grill over charcoal. Simple and delicious.

Tomato and bread

Now that the tomatoes are ripening even more quickly than we can eat them, we can have my favourite breakfast, which we ate in Andalucian cafés, pan y tomate. We’ve also eaten this in Catalunya where it’s called pan amb tomaquet in Catalan:

Skin some ripe tomatoes and chop the flesh finely, discarding the juicy pips. Sprinkle with salt and leave to drain in a sieve for 15 minutes (or longer if you have time).
Grill pieces of crusty bread (grilling isn’t essential – you can do this with untoasted bread).
Spread the bread with the tomato, add salt and olive oil.

In Catalunya we found that this chopped tomato spread is used instead of butter in sandwiches. Since we discovered it there, we always do this for sandwiches to take on journeys as it doesn’t melt in the heat like butter does.