Saturday, June 21, 2014

Two Months!

From a lunch at my friend G's farm.

I can't believe that it has been more than two months since I posted on my blog or visited any of my favorite blogs! Well, many things have been happening here; I got sick then I was bitten by a tick and I had to take antibiotics for Lyme Disease. The antibiotics was so strong I felt that I was taking poison! The ironic thing is last day of the antibiotic course I found another tick stuck to the back of my knee! I was devastated but opted to not do anything. I might need to do a test to see if I've got Lyme or not; it is just I have to go to another city and I do not have a car, etc. This year we have an invasion of ticks; they are everywhere. Someone told me essential oil of Thyme helps with warding off the tick, so I have been using it. 
Here are some of my other news in photos:
 My vegetable plot is looking good, despite a nasty attack by moles and voles. I have been fighting them organically and will dedicate a whole post to that, so other gardener might benefit from it. I have planted about 50 tomato plants and many aubergines, cucumbers, peppers, chilies, potato, strawberry, lemon, pumpkin and more.
 I have been enjoying some of my produce; zucchini frittata with strawberries, yum yum

 I also visited few small sleepy villages. If you want to see the beauty if Italy, you have to visit the small villages scattered around. Not big cities, like Rome, Florence, etc. Some of these tiny villages are magical.
 This is the Republic of San Marino; it is one of the tiniest Republic in the world. It is so tiny and its population is tiny too but it is filthy rich because all the banks are there. I did not like at all; all expensive hotels and rich people sauntering around! During Christmas time many people go there for their shopping! It is about 2 hours drive from where I live.
And of course I fed and rescued lots of cats. I will share more about this in another post.
Wish you all a great summer.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Here and there

No, those are not tomatoes, I never eat tomatoes outside of the season.
I had been working like mad in the vegetable plot, preparing beds and adding compost, etc. My seedlings are doing fine and almost all the seeds I sowed had geminated. 

Few days ago I opened the last jar of the pickled bell pepper, red and orange, as in the photo above. I used some lettuce from my plot and organic goat cheese from a small cheese maker. Ah, and I baked bread too.

 Here another lunch I had last week. Broad beans, grilled asparagus (they are wild asparagus picked from the fields) toped with cheese, a salad, and homemade bread.

When I look at old photos of Kiwi I feel so sad. Look how beautiful and chubby he was? Now he has lost a lot of weight and we do not know what is the problem. I took him to the vet, last week I guess, for more tests and I got the results Friday. They were all clear which was a relief but still I wonder what is the problem? Why doesn't he put on any weight? Anyway, I hope it is nothing serious. He is eating well now and sleeps well too. My boy, my lovely sweet boy. 

Ah, from tomorrow temperatures are supposed to rise to 26 degrees! Woohoo, I'm so glad and looking forward to putting on summer dresses and having breakfast outside. I have so many plans for Spring and Summer :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lately at Casa Paradiso :)

 Well, my dear Kiwi has been sick again! Two weeks ago he spent a whole week at the vet and he came back ok. Now and for the last 3 days he has been ill. I took him today to the vet, thanks to my friend Stella who gave us a lift. The vet took some blood and will run some blood test; she also gave him a shot for the sore throat and some med for the diarrhea. I hope it is nothing serious. Poor Kiwi he has bee sleeping like this all the day.
 I foraged these walnuts last November and my landlady gave me the hazelnuts; they are almost finished now. Hazelnuts are so delicious with homemade granola. I make a fresh patch one or twice a week.
 These are the last of the brussels sprouts :( I love them and I feel bad that I have to wait till next December.
 I made a flat bread from rye flour only; it turned out ok, not super but ok for me.
 It has been raining for 3 days today and today it didn't stop at all! The snails and slugs are enjoying the weather. Look at this huge slug I found outside my door! I shuddered at the sight of it. My poor vegetable plot it will be eaten out by them :(  I also have a problem of some moles eating my veggies :( They ate all the fennel heads I planted and was so excited to eat. I just don't know what to do with them? 
The seeds I sowed a week ago in the little poly-tunnel are growing so fast! There will be lots of tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis, kale, radish, basil, salads, and others.
And here is naughty Luna. She's been driving me mad since yesterday. She wants to go out and I don't let her. Look at her paws; they are caked in mud. she spent the night out two days ago and came back covered in mud. I didn't sleep worrying about her getting attacked by a wild animal or having another bout of cold, blocked nose and all. She doesn't understand that visits to the vet cost a lot and that I'm broke with so little money :( I have to admit, my landlady and her son are super, if it weren't for their help with the vet's bill, I wouldn't be able to make it. It is so strange to see/meet two extremes: my ex nasty landlady used to kill kittens and Never feed any cat or animal in need, while my current landlady spends A lot of money on her late mother's cats (15) and on any animal in need. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The last two months

I buy my oranges through a small co-op; I have became a member last year and thy get organic oranges from a small producer in the South of Italy. They are so tasty. I got 10 kilos for 9 Euros and I'm going to make some jam. Anyone got a good recipes to share with me?  

When 2014 started, I planned to blog often and share more stories and some of my worries but things took a different turn and for the whole month of January I felt very unmotivated and a bit down. Then, in Feb I had to go to London UK for a week (for an urgent thing came up). The trip made me more grateful for the life I have now and very sad, verging on being depressed, for the sad situation in London. And what I mean by this is the insatiable desire of people for more stuff, consumerism. waste and all nasty stuff. No one seems to be recycling or caring about it; not people , not businesses! The dreadful plastic bags are everywhere and handed in for free without any shame or guilt. I felt disgusted and sad and just wanted to go back to my isolated place and never set a foot in London again.
 I also get my apples from the same co-op. So delicious. 

Anyway, I came back with a nasty flu and had to take it easy for more than 2 weeks (no staying in bed for me, as despite the sore head,nose, throat, etc,  I had to get up every morning and go out to feed the animals, etc) Now, I feel much better and ready to start planning for my vegetable plot. First, I need to start the sowing the seeds indoors, then work the land. I also need to set up a mini green house. I'm going to ask my friend stella's husband to help me. 
 The veggies I do not grow, I get from a local organic farmer. He is a young guy who grows many different types of veggies because he is a vegetarians! Good for me, I can get Jerusalem artichokes and brussels sprouts.

What else? Ah, when I was in London I stayed with my friend Ivonne and we talked about my plan to buy a small piece of land in central Portugal to set up a small holding. And maybe build a small natural house. She encouraged me to do so and promised to help me a bit. Now, I need to get some money from my family, it will not be a lot, but it will help. Prices of small agricultural plots of land in Portugal are very cheap; for 4 thousands one can get a decent one. So, I'm thinking to buy one by next year because I'm worried sick that prices will go up and can never afford one. My dream was to meet up someone and do this together but as I haven't met anyone, I have to do it alone, which is very scary to me. 
These are two jars of the olives I pickled this year. I gave the other two to my landlady. I picked the olives from a tree on the farm.

Yea, 28 of Feb was my birthday and it was a quite occasion. Actually I didn't celebrate it and only 3 people remembered it! This is sad, isn't it? But I really do not care; it is just a day like all other days and I'm grateful to be healthy, live in one of the most beautiful places in the world (even though it is temporarily), and have a roof above my head and lots of yummy food on my table. :) 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas 2013

 Christmas 2013 was so lovely. I made a wreath, got a tiny Christmas tree and planted it on a pot (will be using it for many years to come) baked cookies, gave presents (all hand and homemade) and received lots of gifts ( food and money :) my kind landlady gave me a generous amount of money and other friends too. I spent Christmas day with my friend Stella and her family and feasted on a great feast. She is an amazing cook.
 This is my Christmas tree, which I got in mid October
 I made this lavender sacks, click on photo for a better view, and gave them as gifts. The flowers I made from felt.
 I also gave some pickled goodies as gifts, see previous post for more photos of my canning for 2013
I also baked bread and dried fruits loaves.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

What I canned this Summer and Autumn!

Here are  some of the stuff I canned this year during Summer and Autumn. I didn't photo everything because it was difficult to drag all the jars from the Cantina, so I just put few. Here is what I made:

1- 40 jars of tomato sauces (1-plain sauce with just some salt. 2-Savory Sauce with onion, garlic, thyme, basil, etc)2-Five Jars of tomato paste. Yup, I made it from the tomato peel!  3-Four jars of Ketchup.

4- 10 jars of Madras pickle (made from aubergine and spices; it is hot)

 5-10 jars of pickles sweet peppers, some under vinegar, some under olive oil
 6- Five jars of pickles artichoke under olive oil. Made late Spring during the season.      6-pickled hot chili.      7-Pickled green tomatoes under olive oil.       8-4 big jars of pickles olives (I gave 2 to my landlady. I first soaked them in a mix of ash and water; it is an antique recipe I got from a farmer friend)      9-Apricot jam         10- Peach and Lavender jam-            I also put into the freezer: strawberries (during the season), sweet bell pepper, fava beans, zucchini cuts into cubes to use for risotto.- I also dried the following: chili, mint, thyme, rose-hip, pomegranate peels, orange peels (still in the process).

A close-up shot of some of the olive and others.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Life lately

 Every Tuesday morning I go to the nearby town, have my second breakfast, photo above, then I go to the small piazza where a friend farmer sells his organic vegetables. 
 When I fist moved to Italy, the only thing I missed about living in UK is Brussels sprouts; I couldn't find them anywhere until I met the young farmer who comes every Tuesday morning to nearby town to  sell his organic produce. Because he is a vegetarian, he grows many veggies that Italians do not know, like Brussels sprouts (I am the only one who buys them) Jerusalem Artichokes, see photo above, Sewde, and parsnips. When it is the season, like now, every week I buy 2 kilos of Brussels Sprouts :)
 And I cook with them almost the whole week; and because they are so fresh I eat them raw as well, grated and with olive oil+vinegar+salt+lemon, etc.
Last Sat this cute kitty arrived at my place; I took her to the vet and she told me she is neutered and seems to be a house cat. She is so affectionate and wants to be inside. Sadly my landlady said that she can not stay inside her house! I tried to let her stay with me but Kiwi was so nasty to her, attacking her viciously, so I couldn't keep her. I named her Isabella but call her Bella. Today I printed 10 copies with an announcement with her photo and tomorrow I'm going to hang them around the main road and nearby town. I really hope her owner would come forward because she can not live outside. :( 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Feeling blue :(

 Well, after being sick with a bad flu for more than two weeks, we had a lot of snow! Kiwi and Luna were delighted and ran and played and opened their mouths for the snowflakes, while I watched them in dismay and resentment. Dealing with snow on a farm is really hard; I had to do all the hard work myself and it is not fun.

Anyway, these days I have been feeling really down; I was first excited by the approach of Christmas (I bought myself a small Christmas tree and planted in in a big pot and will be using it for years. I guess I might need to change the pot when it grows a bit bigger), then now I feel very blue. I have no motivation to do anything, start the decoration, write the cards, make some simple gifts  etc. 

My problem is I started to worry about the future and where I will end up with my kitties. Yes, I'm fine for the time being and have no problems but this place is temporary and I need to find a permeant place; Im just so tired of being rootless and having no base, a place to call home. All I want is a small piece of land, build a small natural home or set up a yurt/caravan, grow my veggies, plant lots of fruit trees, and have chickens for eggs and a couple of goats for milk. Oh, and a couple of donkeys for company and cute overdose :) A small holding is all what I want. Will this ever happen? I pray so.
Last year I made these cookies for Christmas for friends, the two local farmer friends, the postman, the honey seller, the owner of a local small cafe, etc. I found the recipe in my recipe box; it seems I had it from the internet years ago. The cookies were a hit and everyone loved them. Now, I was thinking to remake them and include the recipe in Italian for the friends, etc but I could not find the recipe! I looked every where but it has just disappeared! I wonder if someone can direct me to a similar recipe online? I do not remember the ingredients at all; all I remember is there was ginger powder and apricot jam. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

sick :(

I'm officially sick with bad cold (sore throat, blocked nose, and a heavy headache); the first in 4 years! Yup, this is what farm living does to you: you do not get germs from people and you do not get sick. I tried to distract myself and do some crafts but failed, apart from some felt flowers (on the yellow book in the first photo). Then I made a nice cup of hot cocoa, a fair trade and organic one, but I everything tastes bitter  

Anyway, my kind landlady brought me oranges, lemons, lots of nuts and chestnuts, which I'm going to roast later for dinner.  I might watch a silly film on YouTube. What do you suggest? The fire is roaring and I'm snoozing on the sofa. It is raining cats and dogs outside. Prrrrrrrrr.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Food: Part Two

1- Extra virgin olive oil. I get it from a farmer friend. Every September I make my order of 10 liters of the oil and in November I get the oil.

Food again. So, how do I get the stuff I do not grow myself or forage for in the nearby fields and forest? Well, I source them directly from local small farms around here or get them through a solidarity group that convene once a month in a farm. This group is organized by small local producers; once you sign up with them for free, they sent you an email with the organic and local products they have and you make your order and the day of the meeting (every last Sunday of each month) you go and get it. ALL the veggies, fruits, cheeses, yogurt, and other products are organic and local; in the case of sugar, coffee, etc, they are all organic and fair trade. In the group there are local crafters as well selling their handmade stuff. Before I list the stuff I get from them or the local farmers, let me tell you that it is not as easy as it looks for someone like me who doesn't have a car. It would have been much easier just joining one of my friends on her weekly trip to the supermarket, fill my basket from the dreadful supermarket and get a rid back home. But I do not do such things; for my principles I would go through hardship and hitchhike and ride my bike for kilometers to get locally produced food. It is hard work but I do it. Of course I do not got to the meeting of the solidarity group ever month, as what I buy last me a long time. Here are the Organic and fair trade stuff I get locally as in photos:

2- Cheese. I get all the cheese from a local cheese-maker from Sardinia. Over the years we have become close friends and soon I will be doing an apprenticeship at his farm to learn cheese making.
3-The stuff in this photo I get from the solidarity group: Yogurt. I get from a local farm run by a Swiss couple. They make the best yogurt I've ever eaten. and if you return the empty glass jar, they give you back 30 cents! I used to get it through the group but now I struck a deal with the farmer's daughter to deliver the yogurt (10 jars) and some of their amazing cheese to the nearby town and I meet her up there. In the same photo: Apples from a local farmer. Sometimes I get bread too, made by one of the farmers' wife. the brown sack is lentils.
4-I also get flour, 5 kilos (of course organic and whole meal) for 5 Euros, butter, honey (I usually get my honey from a local producer who come to town every week and set up a stall in the piazza), and fairtrade spices, from a firtrade shop in the nearby town. They are member in the group and bring their products to the meeting to but one can get that directly from their small shop. they sell also coffee, sugar, salt, chocolate, tea, banana, and others. I get coffee and sugar (I use very little sugar) salt and banana from them

I also get biodegradable and chemical-free washing up liquid from the fair trade shop. I bring my empty bottle and they fill it up for me. I get candles and soaps from the honey keeper; his son makes candles and soap from the bee wax. 
Anyway, this is just a tiny bit of the stuff I get locally; they are all organic and local (or fair trade for the coffee and sugar. but I never but pineapple or other exotic fruits because I do not believe in eating what is not local). As I said, it is hard work but I will not have it other way; I will stick to this till the end. I just hope one day I will be able to grow more stuff, keep bees for honey, etc. That will be the day when I have my own farm, inshallah