A Break in the Weather

At last there’s a break in the weather, a cool snap with a little rain. Is it time to rejoice or was that last shower just another drizzle of hope? This summer and autumn have been hot and dry, pleasant weather if you’re by the seaside, but not so kind for those who love their gardens and farms. An omen of what’s to come? To date, we have had around 60 ml of rainfall over the last three months. The tanks and dams are low, the fruit trees are dropping their leaves too early: rabbits crawl up and over fences in search of something green to eat, starting with their favourite snack, the ring- barking of fruit trees before looking for small gaps in the well fenced vegetable patch. The figs look like hard little bullets and have given up the battle.

Midst our paddocks of desiccation, there are some welcome surprises. The quinces are fabulous this year, picked just in time before the birds got desperate. Such an old-fashioned and demanding fruit, I love the way they turn from hard golden knobbly lumps into the most exotic concoctions. How do you describe the flavour and colour of poached quince?

With the sound of the rain on the tin roof, my thoughts turn to food and preserves. Quince jelly, quince syrup, perhaps to use as an exotic base for gin, a torta of ricotta and quince cubes, quince ice cream, the syrup swirled through a softened tub of good vanilla ice cream, perhaps some Spanish membrillo.

Long thin eggplants have been fruiting for months. While not as useful as the fat varieties, they grow more abundantly in our micro-climate.

After chopping the eggplant for a Chinese dish, I noticed their resemblance to the cushions.

The Pink Lady apples are the star this year. We grow 13 varieties of apple, and each has its year. The crop has been well protected by netting, though the desperado cockatoos are beginning to notice. Picked and stored in the fridge, they are reasonable keepers.

With the change of season, I hope to return to my usual pattern of posting and cooking. There will be more recipes coming and anecdotes of one kind or another, simple stories about the beauty of life. As the saying goes, ‘I’ll keep you posted’.

 

 

24 thoughts on “A Break in the Weather”

  1. I think cooked quinces are sensuous. The Greek lady who lived across the street from us in Darwin used to cook them and would give me a small jar. I tried once but I didn’t have her skill and they are pretty scarce here in Alice anyway. Glad you got at least a little rain. We got 3mm. We are way down on rainfall too, Francesca, and my figs are little hard knobs too. The weather has turned gloriously cool and breezy (for us) and so at least that is something. Best wishes for more rain for you.

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    1. Hello Ardys, May the rains come your way. After writing, more rain came and we had around 15ml so I can now plant seed. I’m struggling with writing at present, torn between so many jobs and pastimes.
      The Greeks excel in preserving sweet fruits. It is a good memory to have. Best wishes, xx

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  2. Hehe, “I’ll keep you posted” is just the thing to say for us bloggers. I’ve posted my 5-year blogoversary post today. If I’d seen this before, I would have included it. Next time. Much luck to both – you and critters in search of food. Everything is a symbol of things to come.

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  3. It’s been an interesting season on the back of several interesting seasons. I know what you mean… the warm sunny days are enjoyable except if rain is a cog in your day-to-day. Those quinces look wonderful with possibilities… I love them for their aroma and joyful colour. Up here, the season has been kind to our passionfruit which suffered two sour unpalatable unless used for curd years prior. Not plentiful but enough and delicious just spooned through breakfast yoghurt & muesli. After a dry summer which depleted our tanks, autumn rain hasn’t been abundant, simply sufficient to green the hills and keep the tanks full. Happy with that, although this morning has brought a chilly wind which will soon negate the benefits to the garden of yesterday’s 15 ml rain.

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    1. I am envious of your greening hills Dale- our land is parched and dry- similar to a desert. The poor remaining two cows get by with purchased hay. These are expensive pets, but then their manure is like gold for my compost.
      May the deities of rain bring more soon- the right amount for all of us.

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  4. We have an abundance of passionfruit which, once turned purple, were picked and stored in our kitchen. About 1/3rd were empty upon opening. We’ve put this down to the drought because they were well-watered by us. Gardens are suffering!

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    1. The drought has affected so many crops. And the drought last Spring was the worst: with no rain during the Spring months, many fruit trees form fruit at that stage, but worse still, no grass grew in the paddocks at all. The December rains were too late.

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      1. Yes it’s bad, especially for farmers. I wish the La Nina would return. No grass for the cattle to eat, just dust everywhere as the white grass turns to dust. We’ve pulped the full passionfruit and put them into ice cubes. Did have oodles (hundreds) I must say but only 2/3rds any good.

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  5. What a wonderful quince crop! I love the perfumed air as they cook. We cook them every year and freeze the poached gems in their own syrup for use throughout the year. Meanwhile, I miss my own quince tree back in the UK, but the fruit does not go to waste as it is harvested by a friend. Weather turning here in Greece, but the opposite of yours – cold and rainy to warm sunshine. All the spring wildflowers are out – one of my favourite seasons here.

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    1. I bet you miss your lovely home garden Debi: I remember you writing fondly of it. I must consider freezing the excess poached quince- the poor freezer is groaning for space.
      Still, you have adapted so well to life in Greece: you’re almost a local now.

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  6. Quinces are to me entirely exotic. As far as I know, they could be grown here in Michigan, or at least in some states a bit further to the South, but I have never seen them in orchards or local farm markets, and only very very rarely in supermarkets. I once saw a quince tree in France — my entire experience with them! While I have a sort of mind’s eye for tastes (maybe a mind’s mouth?) I have no mental “image” for quince.

    Your descriptions of growing things and how you use them are always very fascinating.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  7. I never saw a quince until I was bout 30, although they were grown in home gardens around Melbourne, as an aunt often made quince jelly, but I never saw the tree. These days they have had a renaissance of sorts and I can attribute this to two factors: Australian food writers of the 90s such as Stephanie Alexander and Maggie beer, who both write so evocatively of quince, and the presence of Middle Eastern migrants in Melbourne from the 70s, who also love quince.
    My current quince tree is now about 7 years old and is booming. It is a hardy specimen. Thanks for your comment Mae, I am still wondering if I’ll participate in the IMK this month – we’ll see. xx

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  8. You truly have made me go back! Personally have not been as much of Stephanie Alexander’s world but Maggie Beer hits me with both Internet advantage of purchasing ‘her stuff’ and being part of her Foundation for decent food for those ‘in care’. Hardly any gardening this past summer season for ‘health’ reasons but do wish I had your quinces . . .

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  9. We’ve been blessed by a break in the weather too, some decent rainfall and a very welcome drop in both the temperature and humidity. We’re still revelling in the affects of the prolonged heat, with peppers and tomatoes still exceptionally cheap and good. I miss the distinct change in seasons. I hope you get more rain….

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    1. We got around 17ml in total which will save us till the next lot. we still keep a couple of cows- our pets and manure suppliers, so life has been tough for them. Our paddocks are brown and devoid of grass. With climate change factors to consider, it’s probably time we made the move out and left our self sufficient lifestyle to some younger folk with more energy but still looking for an idyllic location.

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  10. I know how I describe the colour of poached quince …amazing! I have some stunning Chinese quince which are ripening. The turkeys have them I their sights too! Looking forward to quince jelly … I just made some crabapple the other day .. Yum

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