>La Sainte Cathérine

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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

>More artichokes … and tapas

>Weve had two trips over the border this month – to Andalucia, and to Navarra and the Basque country – and weve come back with lots of food ideas … and some food: cheeses from the Basque country, cured sausages, olive oils from Andalucia, red wine from Navarra and so on. Ill be writing more about all of these soon, but meanwhile weve come back to some good things too so here are some tastes from this week in Gabian.

The garden is very overgrown with weeds, so well be doing a lot of work there over the next few days, weeding and planting out tomato, pepper, aubergine and courgette plants. The artichokes are growing and I picked a couple more small ones when we got back. I used them to make a very simple dish which I ate in Figueres, Catalunya, a year or so ago: use small artichokes which do not need to have the choke removed. Cut off the outer leaves and peel the stalk, slice them downwards in thin cross-sections, about 2 mm, sprinkle them with lemon juice as you cut the slices so that they do not go brown, then sauté them in olive oil for a few minutes until the heart and stalk soften and the ends of the leaves start to crisp a bit. Arrange on a plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Its a simple but delicious tapas or first course.

We had a sage bush which had grown rather woody so this spring we pruned it back quite drastically and now there is lots of new growth. We picked some of these leaves for Lo Jardinièr to make another simple tapas dish: Wash and dry some large sage leaves. Prepare a batter using chickpea flour, salt and water, mixed to the consistency of single cream. Dip the sage leaves in the batter then fry in olive oil for a few minutes.

This morning in the market in Gabian I was thrilled to see some of this seasons fresh garlic. It looks so beautiful it almost seems a shame to eat it.

In the garden this afternoon a lizard was enjoying the heat of the sun on a terracotta sculpture.