Friday, August 22, 2014

Blue sky

Sort of. There's not much to recommend weather-wise this August. We're having October temperatures. And the first half of the month saw more rain than we normally get in a whole month. When the sun shines, it feels like a crisp fall day. If there's no wind. Thankfully, the past few days have been calm with some sun and we've been able to spend pleasant afternoons on the deck.

It still looks like summer, but it's starting to feel like fall. I can tell that the days are getting shorter.

Today I have garden chores to do. There are beans to pick and tomatoes to gather. I've also got to water some now that the surface soil has dried out. We have a bounty of peaches (from a neighbor) and plums (that Ken gathered from trees that no one is tending). Yesterday, Ken pitted the plums and froze them for use later making pies and other things. I'll probably make a peach tart today or tomorrow. And we may be ready to make our first batch of tomato sauce for the freezer this weekend.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday

This week I didn't forget Thursday. The year was 1987. Ken and I had moved to San Francisco the year before and a friend was visiting us from Washington, DC. We hit a lot of the tourist destinations (we were still exploring, too) and on this particular day we headed over the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Woods in Marin County.

Walt and Ken at the base of a very old redwood tree.

It's a beautiful park nestled in a foggy coastal valley and filled with redwood trees. The woods are eerily quiet, a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the city just a few miles away. If you're ever in the Bay Area, I recommend a visit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Preliminaries

We had a lovely lunch on the deck Tuesday with some friends. It was so nice to be able to sit on the deck and be comfortable; mostly sunny, no wind, warm(ish). We ended up having the whole meal outside. I actually remembered to take some photos of the apéro and starter courses, but then totally forgot the camera for the rest of the meal. Oh well, too much fun!

Finger food: deep-fried zucchini hushpuppies with a curry dipping sauce.

We started out with zucchini hushpuppies. They're a cornmeal batter with finely grated zucchini mixed in, then deep-fried to a golden brown and served with an Indian-style curry sauce. The original recipe uses chickpea flour and it's good, but this twist with cornmeal works well.

Summer salad of garden cucumber and tomato with sheep's feta and fresh basil, dressed with balsamic vinegar.

Our entrée (starter course) was made with produce from our vegetable garden: chopped cucumber and tomato with cubes of feta-style cheese, topped with a chiffonade of basil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Tasty! After that we had a bolognese lasagna followed by a salad of our garden green beans with shallot and tomato in a vinaigrette dressing. Our guests brought a fantastic blackberry and apple crumble topped with an English custard for dessert.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Through the woods

During one of our recent morning walks, Callie heard something and bolted after it into the woods next to one of the vineyard parcels we walk around. I never saw what she was chasing, but I assume it was a chevreuil (roe deer). I followed her into the woods and could hear her barking ahead. This patch of woods is one that Callie knows well as we walk through it often; the path through leads to where the Artsy Organized Neighbor keeps his piles of stuff and continues on to another familiar vineyard parcel that we walk around frequently.

Ferns love to grow in dark, damp, woodsy places.

On the way through, I walked by this clump of fougères (ferns) next to a pile of branches (no doubt stacked by the A.O.N.). Nearby was a small pile of large stone or concrete squares, maybe paving stones of some kind. I didn't take a picture of those. Yet.

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's starting

Some of the grapes out in the vineyards are beginning to turn red. The red ones, that is. I think these are côt (also known as malbec) grapes, but they could be gamay. I'm not sure. There are three red varietals grown in our area, the third being cabernet franc. By looking at the leaves, I don't think these are cabernet grapes (I compare them with internet images to try to figure it out).

The grapes are starting to ripen.

I had a hard time sleeping early this morning. I was awake between 3:30 and 5:00. The air was still and a little stuffy, even with the window open. This morning is overcast (where'd that sun go?), so that may be the reason.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The cucumber tree

This year's experiment with the cucumber tree has been moderately successful. Once I got the cucumber seeds to germinate (next time I'll start them in pots indoors), I was able to train them up on the supports. The tripod I built was not the best support for them, even after I wrapped it in twine to give the vines more to cling to. So I'll have to go with a more traditional support system the next time.

Cukes growing on the vine. The lush greenery around them is cilantro, which has flowered and is going to seed.

Also, the fruit is not as straight as I expected it to be from hanging. One reason for that is the variety of cucumber, I suppose. I would like to find seeds for what's called the English cucumber (the fruit of which is what you always get in French supermarkets), but I have yet to see them in the garden centers. Still, all six of my plants have climbed and they are producing. In fact, we ate the first cucumber this week, sliced and dressed in yogurt with fresh tarragon. Tasty! I'm looking forward to more.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A hard row to mow

It's Saturday and we're expecting a sunny day. It's actually predicted to be sunny for the next week, but it will not be hot. We're barely supposed to get up over 20ºC (not quite 70ºF) in the foreseeable future. Summer has abandoned us for warmer climes.

The grower who tends these vines mows between the rows to help control weeds.

Today is also the last day for our bread delivery for two weeks. The woman who delivers the bread is going on her vacation (hopefully someplace warmer) until the end of August. It's not a problem for us since it gives us a chance to use up frozen bread, make some of our own, and sample bread from other bakeries around us.