Saturday, January 4, 2014

Slow Living in December

December, being holiday month was filled with festivity, family, friends and fun. It was also the beginning of harvest time in our tunnel, and our daughter's last month on the farm, so every day was jam packed with activities. hustle and bustle. Slow living at a fast pace was how December rolled. Come and join me, along with Slow Living Essentials as I reflect on the month that was.

We ate a lot of peaches in December. The first peaches of the season are dessert peaches, best eaten warm and juicy off the tree. I poached some in a light sugar syrup with a cinnamon stick, a few cloves and some brandy. The were magnificent served with cream as dessert. I used the last spiced, brandied peaches in our Christmas Trifle… Layers of sherry-soaked boudoir biscuits, said peaches, custard, cream and topped with candied cherries and slivers of almond. We had peach smoothies for a few breakfasts, and sliced peaches on muesli and oats porridge. 

Even more than preserved fruits and jams, I love pickled garden veggies and chutneys. I grow dill purely so that it is always available for Dilly Beans, Refrigerator Cucumber Pickles and Pickle Packed Beets, all of which I made this month. They keep about three months in the refrigerator and add a great zing to summer meals on the verandah. Our heirloom yellow french beans (Roquefort) are producing prolifically, as are the scarlet Runner Beans, so we have started blanching the surplus runner beans and pickling the french beans, that is after using them in many meals and sharing too. Decadent Dad had a great time making pancetta with his home made cold smoker. The results are brilliant and could prove to be a potential source of extra income, another item to add to the cheeses and croissants at our market stall. 

I am interested in herbs as a form of natural medicine, and hope to explore this avenue more in the future. In the meantime, I use what I know. When a rash appeared on my arm after picking gem squash I rubbed it with the gel squeezed out from the fleshy leaf of a bulbinella plant. It worked well, soothing the itch rapidly.

Our veggie tunnel turned jungle when my back was turned. All the back breaking composting has paid off. The Summer rains have helped too. I have never before seen asparagus fronds reaching the netting over the top. The stepping stones between the beds are hard to find. The tomatoes have turned triffid along with the pumpkins, gems and beans. All the planning and preparing has started to pay off as the fruit is bursting forth in abundance. We harvested onions, garlic, beans, mange tout peas, the last of the broad beans, cucumbers, our first green pepper, a few courgettes, gem squash, lettuce, borage and nasturtium flowers, swiss chard, carrots, beets, parsnips, potatoes, one raspberry, a couple of gooseberries and two massive pumpkins. We have food for our family, food to share, food to preserve and food to freeze. 

Christmas wrappings in our house are almost always recycled paper, ribbons and decorations from previous years. 

Decadent Dad, ever creative, has created these beautiful rolling pins. He likes them sturdy, man-sized, and ready to roll out giant pizzas or batches of croissants without bashing knuckles on the table. 

We discovered a new place to walk on our neighbour's farm, complete with stream, old stone ruins, grassy fields, and a sense of a time gone by.

I am doing my bit in the community by adopting a puppy. Little Kariba, Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy on the left, will join our family at the end of January. I have visited her regularly and I am smitten. 

What better way to enjoy the festive season than with family and friends. We had visits from my old school friend and her husband, my sister and brother in law, my niece and her friend. Our home was filled with laughter, fun, and good food. Everyone was game for joining in, whether  the occasion was applying face masks from our Christmas stockings, washing mountains of dishes, churning out a tower of waffles, or swinging at the old barn.

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