olive harvest 2021

 We started picking from our olive grove on Friday 5th Nov.  A beautiful mild day, brilliant blue sky, with a welcome breeze.  This year we have about 20 odd trees to harvest with the remaining 12 trees  - pruned hard last year, so this year they are just putting out leaf.  From one tree today we gathered 6 (10lt) buckets of olives.


28 October

It seems as though this might be the end of summer, we have weather coming in from the Atlantic bringing lots of rain for the next 3 days.  Fortunately yesterday we managed to have a trip to the far eastern frontier of Portugal, very different from our neck of the woods. 

Marvão an amazing hilltop walled town in the Alentejo.  The sun was hot and we even saw a Black Vulture soaring overhead in the clear blue sky.

Mid October swim

 We did get in the sea - for a few moments.  The sun was warm but the water was perishing.


Wine fermenting - the background noise is it happening.


Moussaka based on nice mr. Fernley Whittingstall’s recipe.

I have tried this recipe using goat or beef, both worked well.  I always use meat that I have previously casseroled.  The texture is good and you need some sauce with it.

 350 g meat not including sauce

3 or 4 long aubergines

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

thyme, mint, coriander as preferred

150ml milk

150 ml fresh homemade yoghurt

1 egg

2 dessertspoons flour

some cheese grated (sml amount)

I also added home made lecsõ maybe half a cup

Slice aubergines, brush lightly with oil and grill till golden, both sides.  Fry onion and garlic. Chop beef or goat, add to onion, add sauce, tomatoes lecsõ, chillies as you like.

Cook gently to meld flavours and textures.

line deep bowl with aubergine slices, add 1/2 the meat sauce, add another layer of aubergines, and another layer of meat, then cover with one last layer of aubergines, and pour over sauce topping -

which is made by ;-

mix a little cold milk into the flour, when smooth add the rest of the 150 ml, add to this one egg and beat till well mixed, then add the youghurt and some salt.  Heat gently, when thickened and heated through pour over top aubergines and sprinkle on a litttle cheese.

Bake 30-40 mins in hot ish oven.

The top layer of yoghurt, sauce is essential for giving a lightly set slightly sharp accent offsetting the rich meat.  Serve with a green salad.


Vintage, vendemia, vindima

 24 September, we celebrated the last stage of our grape harvest.  We have about 80 or so vines and make both red and white wine in a very mini micro production.  Now we have 15 containers fizzing away and by mid November we  can finally taste the resulting wine.

Baking Day

 Have just submitted our last design plan to Zen Hankook in Korea - we are never very sure how many of our ideas are taken up till we go out to visit, which given Covid, is not likely for a while.

My mum's birthday would have been last month, and it is with her in mind that this design came to fruition.

Old family recipes read like poetry, calming and soothing words - words to welcome a child home from school, phrases with evoke warm kitchens on cold winter afternoons and the joy of returning to the family.

The phrases - so familiar, delicious in themselves - Sifting and scattering, whisking, melting and stirring, cooling. Ingredients of intense flavours, lemon zest and cinnamon, honey, cocoa, vanilla.

Even the writing - faded and uneven from years of use and reference, holds memories within its familiar scrawl, recollections of motherly affection.

With this design I celebrate the preciousness of our mothers, whose love for us throughout our childhood was constant and ever present in their daily acts of kindness and attention.


Praia fluvial September dip.

 Afternoon spent swimming at one of our favourite river beaches, For a while we had it all to ourselves (other than a turtle - or terapin? who sat on a rock on the far side).


5th Sept. Mid 30 degrees and standing over a barbi

 A glut of sweet and hot peppers


Passion fruit jam

 This huge passionfruit vine started out as a small wizzened fruit bought in Aldi in Ludlow in 2018.  I kept it in the fridge over some months till it was even more dried out.  Then brought it with me to Portugal where I finally cut it open and sowed the seeds.  2 years later we are eating its fragrant fruit and have just made some jam.


Azerbajani stuffed vine leaves via Portugal

Feride Buyuran's Dolmas 

This has become a firm favourite with us and is definitely worth doing, I was very impressed with watching Feride Buyuran's recipe, here below is my version, I have added a few variations of my own.

She can show you how it's really done!  If you would like my version ...


Out of the blue

It's a wonderful thing when you are surprised by the loveliness of a vegetable plant growing in one's plot.  OK, some might consider it to be technicaly a fruit, but that I think is splitting hairs.  Here is my favourite aubergine, with its gorgeous velvety leaves, with their cockled edges. It  produces many elongated slim aubergines which are delicious and have no hint of bitterness or sharp spines on their calix, in other words an all round good thing.  I am preparing Moussaka tonight - will report back...


Magnum opus

 Well OK maybe not, but still my latest creation does not fail to raise a smile.  When we bought the house we found a large dried out gourd, which seemed like a total waste of time to have grown, but needing a bathroom waste bin we sawed it in 2 and just this week I got round to painting it and afixing legs.  Admittedly it now looks remarkably like a cow's udder - but it has a certain charm.


 Temperatures here are in the mid-30s and so perversely I decided that our next design suggestion for Zen in Korea should be for Christmas.  We work well in advance to get manufacturing deadlines right for the season. 

I wanted to buck the trend of the normal, Christmas themed scarlet /green/ holly/ baubles motifs. Instead I wanted to evoke a winter’s night in a forest.  The wind blows between the trees and mist swirls in the chilled air casting a hazy diffuse aura in the night sky.

I chose 2 simple shapes – here shown is the elongated oblong (just right for a generous handing round of mince pies) and a tall mug.


Pickled cucs - August 8th

 We're well into the preserving season now.  The garden is producing more than we can manage to eat so I'm busily bottling our tomatoes, pickling chillies and cucumbers  and have just purchased a food dehydrator.

These though are a real fav.  In the States they are called refridgerator pickles.  They don't keep for long as they are in a subtle vinegar- not the usual sort that will strip your mouth of sensations with their acidity!

I make a light vinegar- 

1 cup vinegar (6%) 

3 cups water

1 tsp salt

4 tsp sugar

dill, coriander seed - whatever is growing handy.  Boil all this up for 1 min and cool.  In the meantime, chop gherkins into fingers or chunks as you like.  Put in a capacious bowl.  Sprinkle on 1 tsp course sea salt and leave to drain.  After 30mins, pack into sterile jars and pour over pickling brine.  Seal and put in fridge.  Will keep safely for 1 month - but one's loved ones will steal them well before that date. 


5th August - All the constituent parts ready to harvest


Finally my first aubergines are ripe and picked.  this year I am growing Asian ones, enlongated, and creamy smooth texture with no bitterness.  Tonight I will of course cook a rat.

water gimchi on a hot day - perfect.

 i love the contradictions, cold juice and searing chilli.  The shock must do great things for your endorphins.


 Rain and more rain  - it has its benefits, now our spring is gushing and gurgling happily.


It's been a while...


Now all of our designs are sold in South Korea I have been taking a breather from showing what I am up to on my blog, but a suddenly thought I should put a toe back in the water.  Here is "Painted Olive" a detail from a mug.