Monday, November 4, 2013

Slow Living in October

"Dit is die maand Oktober,
                       die mooiste, mooiste maand:

Dan is die dag so helder,
                       so groen is elke aand,
So blou en sonder wolke
                       die hemel heerlik bo,
So blomtuin-vol van kleure...."

C. Louis Leipoldt

The beautiful Afrikaans poem that has lingered in my mind since school days accurately describes our October: This is the month October, the most beautiful month. Then the days are so clear, each evening so green, the lovely sky above so blue and cloudless, the garden full of colours..."

Good rain has brought relief to our land, and in between the thundershowers we have been blessed with crystal clear, still, warm days and evenings. The fields are greener, the garden is beautiful. Join me as I remember the days gone by last month along with Slow Living Essentials.


Seasonal eating, teaches patience and true appreciation of the delights from our garden. A longed for fruit or vegetable tastes much sweeter and is enjoyed wholeheartedly in its abundant, yet short season. My philosophy of USE IT-DON'T LOSE IT, keeps me on my toes as spring produce ripens and brings new flavours to our table. October has brought us plenty of strawberries, onions, baby cabbages, mangetout peas, broad beans, rhubarb and asparagus. More variety encourages exciting explorations into gorgeous recipe books and tantalising food blogs. This in turn results in some delicious new mealtime experiments... for example: coriander and pea slaw from What's Cooking Good Looking (pic above) and my variation on garden pea and rocket pesto soup from Bernadette Le Roux's tribute to heirloom veggies, Roots, shoots & leaves (pic below).


My delightful new gift, the recipe book, Sugar Salt Smoke, has inspired me to rinse off those jars that gathered dust in winter and put them to some use.

I made a jar and a half of  very strong 'wholegrain honey mustard' using our own honey stores and my super potent apple cider instead of vinegar. Then I bubbled up enough heart-melting 'nearly strawberry jam' to serve on breakfast muffins. Finally I eked a few tots worth of wickedly wonderful 'rhubarb schnapps' from our rather too young rhubarb plants.

Oh yes, how could I forget, I also made my best ever camembert cheese this month as well as some farmhouse cheddar to add to our stores.


Slugs with a rather presumptuous sense of self-entitlement have appeared in the veggie tunnel and would love to feast on my lettuces and strawberries, but I have other plans for these long awaited treats. So I dry eggshells on the windowsill before crushing them into spiky slug barriers around my precious plants. We also feed a few crushed shells back to the hens and so maintain the calcium cycle.


Don't you think ruminant lawn mowers are far more appealing than the noisy mechanical alternative?

Actually, this was our solution to a broken lawn mower. The cheeky animals had to be supervised or they would have mowed down the roses too.


It's been out with the leeks and brassicas and in with the beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins. The potatoes are growing faster than we can earth up their beds and there are strawberry popcorn shoots springing up, and young carrots and beets promising hope for Summer. I still need to plant the last few tomato plants into their beds, but the rest of the Spring planting is mostly done.

I am loving the herb and strawberry wheel we built last year, and it is loving the soaking rain. Decadent Dad's fun strawberry spiral is showing potential for next spring.

My biggest delights at the moment are the flowers. My study window looks out over a bed of irises, cornflowers, herbs, virginian stocks, poppies and daisies. It's becoming a real cottage garden. When the sunlight wakes me at 5 in the morning I love to slip on something warm and wander around the dew drenched garden while my family is still sleeping. Often the lambs and calves are snoozing too. Only the chickens crowd at their gate, hustling to get out.

Our daughter has recently rediscovered the peaceful joy of crochet and has embarked on a blanket project in anticipation of a new room in a faraway town next year when she leaves home for college. It delights my heart to see her beginning to enjoy the gentle arts of cooking and crafting as she is preparing to leave home. 


Ooh, October's down-time has found me immersed in some delightful books: On Kindle - A Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick, a novel which tells the true story of Clara and Helga Estby who walked across North America in 1896. In paperback - the classic, Eleni, by Nicholas Gage, another true story of courage, love and revenge in Greece during the 1940's. 

Top of the list of delicious books at the moment is Jamie Oliver's famous, Jamie at Home, published in 2007A friend lent it to me along with the dvd series of the same name. I love Jamie Oliver's easy, practical, yet gorgeous recipes, and his veggie garden, the main source of his ingredients, is magnificent and something to aspire to. Best of all is that we are growing each one of the veggies he focuses on in his chapter on Spring. 


Our children attend art classes in our little town. This month they participated in a fabulous exhibition of the student's work. 


The highlight of our month was a special birthday treat of a night away for Decadent Dad's birthday. We stayed in a tiny secluded stone cottage at an old mill dating back to the 1820's. I pampered him with an Elastic Mom spa treatment and delectable food. 

We also had a lovely weekend with family from KZN. The big boys played as boys will do, shooting targets, sneaking camouflaged through the fields with their bows, and returning home happy and empty handed. 

photo by Karin
'Die mooiste maand", October, has brought respite in the form of rain, variety from our veggies and some soul-strengthening rest. 


  1. Ooh, Cath..any chance of the rhubarb schnapps recipe?? It sounds divine! Jamie at home would be my favourite of his series'..and books. Wonderful to visit your space again. :)

    1. Thanks Christine, I'll do a recipe post.

  2. Oh my what a beautiful place you live in! The photos are just awesome! Your October was anything but 'slow living' but thank you for sharing. It is just so much fun to meet folks from places so different and yet so similar.

    1. Thank you Kathy. It is good to share with like-minded people.