Sunday, 18 November 2018

Preference for a Natural Gardening

Dear Family & Friends

It's such a beautiful day today. I spent most of the day clearing - chopping and dropping old plants that have finished flowering and fruiting for this year. I also did transplanting of plants here and there as I find more suitable grounds.

red goji berries along with their green leaves glimmers under the sunshiny day

I used to get frustrated with weeds before, but now I see them as part of my garden resource. I just clear them and compost them which will eventually enrich my soil. Some I leave in piles for little garden creatures to have refuge and form some protection for the coming winter.

morning glory flower on dangling vine along with a silky string of spider web

A German family friends recently came to visit us and was pleased to have the opportunity to see a garden that is not the usual 'norm'. They also love gardening but their garden is very different from ours. He maintains it with much digging and labor intensive way. As our garden is 3 times the size of his, I just can't take his method of constant digging to generate air into the soil.

trailing roses, fruit and flower vines mingles with each other

Natural gardening is best suited for us. It does make more sense too. Since we have a very dry hot summers, keeping my garden watered is a much greater priority than digging our soil constantly. We all have different approach with how we work in our garden depending on our environment, climate and resources.

hundreds and hundreds of chrysanthemum flowers in bloom forming a hedge on my garden beds

Garden can zap a lot of energy but I don't think that's how it should be.  I must also enjoy it and find ways that works best for us. Every year as I assess our gardening year, I can just say that our garden has been very productive for our little family's needs.

Year by year, I see how it improves and gets established as nature dictates. I'm not aiming for an impersonal 'park garden' appeal, rather an oasis for our family with all the happy creatures that's in it too:) A safe place where I can grow good food and be amazed:)

Well, I'm sending you good wishes for the week.


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

In the kitchen

Dear Family & Friends

In our kitchen, there's always some form of food going on as we constantly answer to our never ending hungry tummies' demand for home cooked food. Most days it's quick and easy meal and elegant party fanfare is far and few.

rice with sunny side up egg and green beans - as is: a well accepted meal

We eat what we grow from our garden.

batter coated fish, veggie salad and stir fried daikon radish roots and leaves with eggs: eaten with steamed rice

Everyone loves vegetable meal of all sorts, which is one big blessing.

running out of time again - a quick kielbaza sausage with sweet pepper stir fry

From time to time, my little kitchen assistant comes to the kitchen to do her experimentation meals too. We all partake and enjoy whatever she does. When it's food - we eat without complain.

my kitchen assistant is doing apple crumbles - and that will be our dinner meal!!

It's good to be grateful in life. Having food in our table is something that we should be thankful of. It might be that we always have food everyday, but somewhere I understand, there's people who don't:(

Hmmm, it's meal time again soon, I wonder what I will feed my little family this time? I bet it has to be another quick and easy meal once again.

Enjoy your day too.


Thursday, 8 November 2018

Autumn garden scene

Dear Family & Friends

When the presence of autumn arrived, I somehow felt a bit sad. Then slowly I realized that it's not too bad for in this season of change, it also has it's own special beauty of blessings.

In our garden...

The last of the few zinnia flowers are still attracting butterflies specially on a nice sunny day.

Zinnia flowers basking in the sunshine

The vegetable vines of cucumbers and pumpkins have all dried up but we have enjoyed all their fruits they brought us this year, and now their spent leaves will fall into the ground to nourish our soil too.

dried up cucumber plants

Not all plants are ready to go just yet. The goji berries are still busy ripening their beautiful tiny berries and we continue gathering them to enjoy it when we make nourishing warm soup in the kitchen.

ripened  goji berries needs to be collected

The grape arbour is still hanging on. Slowly, some of their leaves are dropping off but by this time we don't need the shade of it's leaves as we did during the hot summer's day.

grapevine in the arbour with very few grapes in bunches left

We enjoyed so many grapes this year. Some were left and dried up like raisins while still hanging on the vine. Yet, there still a few little bunches left for the last snack treats.

the last few grapes still clinging on vines

Our garden this year have been such a great blessing to us. It brought us food and so much enjoyment. Yet, it's not over, for every season just keeps binging it's own special blessings.

Hope you enjoy your garden too.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Fruits preserved in glass jars

Dear Family & Friends

This year we harvested several crates of quince and apples from our garden fruit trees. I didn't want them to go bad, so I had to keep up with cooking and preserving it. It kept me real busy.

quince and apple harvested from our garden

I was on my feet for hours cooking and stirring these fruits for four days in a row. In the end, I just didn't want to face these fruits again till I feel strong and inspired to deal with it once more.

quinces were cooked and bottled to preserve them

I came up with several bottles of preserved fruits in glass jars. These will keep for a few months and it will come very handy. I will use them to mix with pancakes or even use it to make sauce that goes nicely with meat dishes, specially roast or BBQ.

pancake flavored with quince fruit

I still got a couple of qinces in crates to process, but these can wait as they are ones that can continue to ripen before I get my stamina to process and cook them.

not so ripe quinces left in crates to ripen some more

When we grow things and when they come in abundance, we always try not to take it for granted. We need to make use of them and not waste the blessings that we are given.

grateful for fruit preserved in glass bottled that will last for a few months

Today, we had BBQ in the garden and made my first homemade fruity sauce to go with it. Every one wore a big smile on their faces:) One even commented that it was like having an early mince pie - her complimentary to my homemade fruity quince sauce. Having heard that, I thought 'Yes!', we might be having some mince pie for Christmas as we got lots of fruit preserved!

Hope your day is also nice.


Monday, 29 October 2018

Shadows of the season

Dear Family & Friends

After the hot summers, we are now starting to appreciate the sunshine. In autumn, it's so nice to be greeted by the sun. The sunlight creates shadows in our garden. To me, it's all seems a different scene at this season.

trailing rose branches, last few zinnia flowers, pumpkins by the window ledge

There's very little summer annual flowers left as they say goodbye. By now, I have collected some of their seeds for their regeneration next year. My creeping vegetable plants like cucumbers and pumpkins has started withering. All cukes were eaten and enjoyed and the pumpkins are harvested and are sitting by the window ledge to dry up a bit before they go to our kitchen.

a few rose buds insist that they still want to carry on flowering

There's a few roses that still wants to give out their last flowering we take more notice of them. We just have to appreciate everything as season comes and go very quickly. Life is good.

Wishing you a nice day too:)


Wednesday, 24 October 2018

In the garden in autumn

Dear Family & Friends

Perhaps I'm a bit late for the last seed sowing for the year before winter sets in, but the weather is just so nice  that I just have to take the chance to sow more seeds in my vegetable garden. There's mainly cold loving veggie plants that I could grow at this time - like garlic, radishes, onions, brassica plants and salad leaves etc...

in my vegetable garden, I planted rows of garlic for next year 150 bulbs in total

Most of the veggies that I'm growing now won't grow fast as cold sets in but they will catch up quickly by spring time, and we will be able to enjoy an early harvest for next year.

clearing as I go, I also planted some onion bulbs - lots of spring onions to eat soon

As I enjoy working out in the vegetable garden, I heard and saw the ground soil moving gently. I waited to see ...and then, I realized it's our pet tortoise! He started his hibernation season due to cold nights and he normally bury himself in the ground or somewhere among the garden rubbles as he goes into deep sleep for months.

Amongst the garden debris, our tortoise thought it's a good place to bury himself for hibernation time

It's not too cold just yet, but some of our garden friends like the multitude of tiny frogs have already gone into hiding too. As for me, it's still pleasant to be working out in our garden. I must carry on because there's just so much to do before it's too cold.

So, from our little home to yours, wishing you a good day too:)


Friday, 19 October 2018

The making of : dulce de membrillo - quince paste

Dear Family & Friends

The slices of quince that 'the oql & the pussycat' of Edward Lear ate must have been dulce de membrillo or quince paste. Now I can tell you that they are delicious! They look good, taste good and smells good too. Slices of quince with slices of cheese are perefect combination. They goes well with roast meat too.
homegrown quince fruit

Quince paste makes perfect gifts too. It's not a very common fruit these days and once a batch is cooked, it will keep for weeks/months. Not complicated process either - so it's a win-win thing to do in my opinion, specially as we have abundance of this fruit every year.

quince paste - it's so yummy and smells good too:)

Here's how I make my membrillo:

first boil the chopped up quince till soft

Wash the quince and chop it into pieces, taking the core out. Place the fruit in pot and cover with water. Add the lemon juice and bring it to boil till the fruit is very soft. Mash the fruit till consistency of applesauce.

transfer to heavy bottom pan to simmer slowly for 2 hours - quince and sugar ratio 2:1.5

For every 2 cups of fruit, add 13/4 cups of sugar. Carry on cooking in a heavy bottom pot, simmering in low heat and stir it from time to time to prevent burning. Continue cooking till mixture thickens up and almost dry. The color also gets to bright orange red.

once it's bright red orange color and dry in consistency, spread in trays to dry further

Pour the quince paste into a ceramic or glass container and let it get firm. Slice them once they are firm and it will keep for 6 months covered in the refrigerator.

It's a long process to cook these fruit but it's worth all the effort.

Still my next post, have a blessed day.


Monday, 15 October 2018

Slices of Quince that th Owl & the Pussycat Ate

Dear Family & Friends

In school we were told to memorize the poem of Edward Lear - 'The Owl & The Pussycat'. Part of the poem says: ' They dined on mince, and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon; and hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon'. I rattled on without even a clue what exactly they ate - mince and slices of Quince??

boxes and boxes of quince harvested from our two trees

When we moved to Bulgaria, I was mesmerized with a certain fruit tree in our garden. The tree got lots of huge fruits that looks like a cross between an apple and a pear. Later I learned it's called Quince - an old fashioned fruit but it has to be cooked and they taste what a rose would smell. It's a very beautiful fruit tree to have in a garden too.

cleaned and chopped up quince fruit to be cooked

This week, someone decided to help me pick the harvest from our two trees as it is wicked to waste the fruit from year to year. After washing the fussy fruit and chopping it all up, which took us three days at least because we had about four big crates of it to deal with! I spent about four days processing and cooking them.

my goal is to make quince paste or dulce de membrillo

Some kept for fruit crumble, for breakfast cereal mix, or for pancake or fritters. I also made a special quince paste or the Spanish delicacy called dulce de membrillo. Next post I share with you how I make this.

For now, enjoy your day and have a great week:)


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

A Day In Town

Dear Family & Friends

In the town market, we noticed a mountain pile of pumpkin for sale. It amazes me how much a farmer can grow and whether the market vendor manages to sell them all off. We didn't bought any since we grow them ourselves in our garden, and this year we have a good harvest of pumpkins too:)

outdoor market in town

It's nice to visit the city when cooler weather arrives. With young ladies in tow, they always enjoy eating pizza in boxes. There's always the food convenience in the city that we don't get in the village.

convenient food - pizza in a box

At the end of the day, I still say we all prefer the quietness of a village home. It's nice to have convenience but I still very much prefer the quick and easy home cooked meal anytime.

simple homemade warm and nourishing meal

On our next trip to the city, we'll probably take our bikes to enjoy the nearby 8 kilometres of cycle ride around the rowing Canal area from our apartment. It's time for cycling as it's not too hot anymore and before it gets too cold.

Enjoy your day too.


Friday, 5 October 2018

Another Year of Autumn Harvest

Dear Family & Friends

Just after our weekend family 'summer holiday' by the sea, the weather just plummeted. It suddenly feels so cold. I quickly had to get my acts together. I had to plant my garlic for our supply next year. Once I got working, clearing up my garden beds to sow, I felt warm. In the end, I planted around 150 garlic:)

this year's harvest of garlic has been pickled and some peeled and frozen for our supply

This year's veggie harvest was not as good. Perhaps it's because we didn't really have a very hot summer season. Nonetheless, I still managed to freeze some tomatoes for the coming months' use. I can't guarantee what I grow is what we get, it's all a game of surprise. 

No fresh corn treat to enjoy this year:( From the whole seed packet of 25 corn seeds that I planted, not even one produce any corn cob?! Hmp! At least, I've got dried corn stalks to compost - hope it'll help make a better soil:)

Tomatoes are enjoyed fresh and the excess preserved

My sweet pepper and eggplant yielded very little harvest too. Yet, I'm still determined. There's next year to look forward to:) This is what makes gardening exciting. It's a challenge. The good thing: we did had a good harvest of pumpkin. This is the year for pumpkin soup, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin fritters etc... for the coming months.

only a few handful of peppers this year - but still grateful:)

Growing your own food in the garden is an exciting journey from year to year. It's always a surprise and a great blessing with what we can get out of our garden. In life, I've learned to be content, whatever nature gives us, that's what we have and enjoy in our kitchen too!

The garden is winding down, but there's still a few plants that I could sow in the ground that can withstand winter: I've got to bury some of the little onion bulbs so we can have spring onion in spring. So, I wish you a good day and enjoy whatever blessing the day brings in today:)


Saturday, 29 September 2018

Weekend Holiday - La Mer

Dear Family & Friends

We had a quick weekend holiday to the Black Sea - our once a year summer sea coast treat. As usual, we choose the time when majority of the holiday makers had already their fill - so it's quieter for us to enjoy it all. This time we went to Fort Noks - not the 'high security' establishment that most of us knows of... this is just the beach resort in bulgaria.

Fort Noks Holiday Resort in Black Sea
The apartment accommodation have met our approval and we had buffet breakfast, lunch buffet and dinner buffet all included. There were a few outdoor pools with salty water and water slides to enjoy and the sea is just a walking distance too.

As always there's the never ending buffet
To burn off all the calories due to eating all day long...some of us took the challenges of what the gym offers.

only managed to burn off 9 calories?!

As for me, I tried to keep them all with me. I did enjoy eating specially as I didn't need to cook any of it:) So, it's truly a holiday in my opinion:)

healthy food choice

Back home, everyday is reminding me of the autumnal weather. The air is crispy cool and I think I better do some last minute sowing of cool loving veggie salad leaves before it's all too late. I've got to get back to my daily routine:)

Wishing you a nice day too.


Monday, 24 September 2018

Fruit overload

Dear family & Friends

At this time of the year, with the arrival of first autumn air, it brings a mix emotion whenever I go to the garden. The sun is shining but the air is cooler. Slowly you start to notice that some of the plants looks a bit tired, probably because of cold night. Then a bit of their leaves are starting to show yellow tints...soon they will start falling. With the cool breeze blowing during the day, I start hearing lots of rustling noises. All these reminds me, that soon some of them will go into hibernation for a while. My garden won't be as fun and full when they do that:(

these grapes taste like honey.

Yet, it's at this time of the year, when we get lots of harvest to eat from our garden too. We had lots of grapes to fill our tummy till we couldn't take anymore. This year I repent of my wasteful ways. A lot of the grapes starts drying up like raisins while still on vines. As other fruiting trees in our garden are likewise calling us with their ripening fruits.

a variety of grapes collected from our garden

Of the 12 fig trees I planted in our garden, so far only 4 trees are bearing fruits for us. Just imagine the abundance we are already harvesting. Fig is our most favorite fruit. I probably eat at least 6 figs a day myself but slowly, we noticed that we are harvesting more and more each day. They seem to grow their fruit overnight! So, I eat some more till it makes me so full that I forego a meal!

a big bowl of figs harvested today

Now that we are on fig overload mode, I noticed one of the girls have given up on this most coveted fruit, when just weeks ago, she can't wait to harvest some more.

I'm sure there's several ways of using these figs even on cooked meal

I'll probably have to start searching for ways on how to preserve these fruits before it starts going into waste. I don't really fancy making jams but perhaps I could learn how to freeze them and use them in various other cooking ways later. No, we mustn't waste whatever is given to us.

Enjoy your day too.


Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Always go forward

Dear Family & Friends

A garden with a pomagranate tree always looks magical to me, specially when they are laden with red ball shape fruits! They just command your attention. I always wanted a pomagranate tree in our garden. The first one I planted died on me but I was still determined to grow it, so I went and bought another tree to plant. I change it's location to one place that I can easily notice everyday. I'm giving it a very special care and so far so good. One day I know that it will bring a magical feel to my dream garden. 

a fruitful pomagranate tree in someone's garden

In life you just have to keep on trying even if you face set back or failure. If you are so determined, you will figure a way and reach your goal:)

a deflated bread but still very delicious:)

My little girl is in charge of bread making in our home. Nothing complicated as she uses the aid of a bread machine. No one bread comes out the same as she often changes her mix depending on seasonal produce. She could be doing a bread with grated courgette, or grated apples with cinnamon, or with herbs, all depending on what's in our garden. It's all done using her imagination without proper measurement or recipe. Usually she hits it right and we all enjoy her work. Of course there are times the bread comes out deflated...but still very delicious and appreciated by all.

In our family, we do experience obstacles from time to time just like everyone else in life ...but we always go forward. Well, hope you do the same too:)


Friday, 14 September 2018

Is Bartering still in fashion?

Dear Family & Friends

Work is a wonderful thing. Work is a mandate in life, it gives meaning to our living existence, and it sustains us overall. We might work to gain some money so we can buy things we need and want in life, but we can also work in exchange for other things or service. We call this bartering, an ancient form of practice but it is still practiced in our village:)

a box full of very large tomatoes from our next door neighbor

Our neighbour called us over to our property wall and handed us: a bag of potatoes, a bag of peaches that I was coveting from his peach tree that is just next to our boundary wall, and a box full of big red tomatoes! Everything was a big treat for us:)

a bag of potato and peach harvest from our neighbor

Although we also grow veggies, but it is not as big and abundant as theirs. In our village, there's no chance for starvation even though there's no business opportunities. You don't have to buy nor pay for food around here.

In exchange for all the good food we got today, our neighbor also passed on an old chair for us to repair for him. Since we own an electric drill machine, and with just a few bits of screw, we can hand him back a good as new usable chair that he will be so happy of too! That's how we barter things around:)

We noticed autumn air has arrived. It's another very nice season to enjoy. Time is moving on and I hope all is nice where you are too!


Sunday, 9 September 2018

The best pet in the world

Dear Family & Friends

Our two girls are quiet in nature and the only pet we have living in  our garden is just as quiet as the girls. For us, Tin Tin our tortoise, is the best pet there is. He's a free roaming tortoise within our enclosed walled property and we can be assured that we won't lose him. He got complete access of the entire garden. He takes care of himself as he forages and eats whatever he fancies that I grow. Sometimes I don't mind but other times I do!

Can you see tomato seeds over the tortoise back shell? He's been eating our tomatoes in the garden!

This quiet creature likes to come and meet us when he hears us in the garden, mainly in the summer, as he usually hibernates almost half of the year! When I water the garden, he normally gets soaked as he appears from the undergrowth just where I'm watering. We tend to think that tortoise move slowly, certainly not this one. He can walk faster than me!!

Our tortoise and his most favorite food - berries!

Our tortoise is a vegetarian but not every fruit or veggies takes his fancy. When we hand fed him peaches, he took just one bite out of politeness, but he will never say no to berries. Since berries in our garden are now out of season, my big girl goes out in the village to gather some wild blackberries because we just love to see how our tortoise enjoys eating them. 

Once, we noticed that after hand feeding him the blackberry, he lingered a while and then he made a few circle movements around me before walking away. I'm sure it was his language which I don't understand. I can just guess that he was saying 'thank you'.

God definitely created lots of very interesting creature to give us some joy. Enjoy your day.