Thursday, June 21, 2018

Oooooo! I love onions!

This is all the onions that I haven't eaten all piled on the little table for cleaning and sorting. Plus a couple of garlics under there somewhere. I'm going to cut off the green parts and freeze them, and put the rest into a big bin into the shed. 

So, last night I was puttering around, weeding and building my endless trellis, (that now completely encloses two sides of the ornamental garden and has a grape annex that is turning into a gazebo) and I thought I would pull my remaining onions. I wanted to make some room for a big raised bed I'm planning on the no-dig method.

I was quite pleased with the onion harvest. I've been pulling a few as I've needed them for cooking and the remaining ones have filled a whole bucket. I realised it was a little bit early (normally you wait until the onion leaves die back and this is when the bulb is fully formed) but I was still pretty happy with the ones I got. I put the white ones in in the autumn and the red ones in in the spring after I pulled the last of the cauliflower. Onions really do take FOREVER!

But the red ones were doing so well they were already popping out of the ground and saying, "Where's the soup?!" I figured I could cut off the green leaves and put them in the freezer bag of vegetable trimmings I'm saving for making stock.

But when I proudly showed off my harvest Annamaria told me you have to at least wait until the Crescente. This is a bit of folk wisdom that I'm just learning about now. The Crescente is when the moon starts ensmallening again. We're just about there. We had two new moons this month, and the Calente lasts until the 27th. I have a special contadina farmer's and gardener's calendar that tells me all this stuff. (Annamaria, of course, grows whole wheelbarrows-full, and gave me enough to last most of the winter.)

Anyway, today I start building the first of the tufa block raised beds in the orto. I figure it will take a while, what with the Italian summer making it fun to work in the blazing heat. But it should be ready in time to put in the winter's brassicas. Annamaria does hers in late August, and they did way better than mine that I put in September 14th.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Narrowboat hermitage

This is something not well known outside Britain. Narrowboats are obviously holdovers from when the canal system was the major way of moving goods around the country, from the late 18th century to the time of the trains.

They don't move goods anymore of course but the canals are all still there, and the boats too and if you want, you can traverse more or less the whole country this way.

At Manchester airport. First time we'd seen each other in 35 years. I knew him instantly from across the baggage room.

Having a nice tea in Chester.  I miss them both something terrible; and the whole mad clan.

My aunt and uncle, Gill and Mike, were big into them many years ago (I think they had their own), and have just recently gone back and got a nice boat-share for their hols.

The idea appealed to me immediately, and I spent a lot of time going down and admiring the boats, walking up and down the canal towpaths, that are lined with all good things like blackberries, elder and hazel. It's really one of the best things about Britain.

I imagine that if a person wanted to live a semi-eremitical life, this would be a good way to do it. You could mostly live by yourself but would really never be completely alone. As the chap here says, there's a close and friendly community ready made. Buying a boat is an expensive prospect of course, but its a great deal less than a house (housing prices in the UK are unbelievable. A perfectly ordinary middle class single-fam dwelling can easily go for 350,000 to half a million pounds.) Near Tattenhall there is a narrowboat moorage, and people pretty much set up house there permanently, with gardens and everything. Like a little narrowboat village.

Some day, if I ever get a yen to move back to the UK this might be the only way I'd think to do it.

You really don't have to live like they tell you. You really, really don't.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Fried pumpkin flowers

Right, that's a keeper...

Having finally learned the difference between male and female flowers on my pumpkin plants, I collected a few of the male flowers to eat this morning. They are very popular among the Italians, but I had no idea how to do them apart from the deep-fried-in-batter-with-cheese thing you get in Rome restaurants.

Not having a deep fat frier I just washed them in cool water, sliced them in half (and plucked out the dead ants) dipped them in a bit of whisked egg, then dredged in some seasoned flour, and fried them in less than an inch of hot olive oil in the bottom of my cast iron enamel pot.

They're completely addictive.



Also, discovered that if you cut them young enough, even halloween pumpkins are very tasty, like dense zucchini, sliced thin and deep fried the same way.