Thursday, November 2, 2017

My Fruity, Fall Mantel


I finally got around to decorating our mantel for autumn. I know... but better late than never, right? Besides, we still have about a month and a half before the first day of winter. This seasonal display is an eclectic accumulation of sorts. For starters, Liberty brought the traditional, red bellows back from Norway this summer, while the black, metal rooster was a sweet gift from a friend, who lives in England, a few years ago.


Looking to Mother Nature for inspiration, I browsed her 'wares' and came home with some pretty vine leaves from a neighbouring vineyard. They remind me of the fiery, fall maple leaves back home. After soaking in the sink to keep them hydrated, their spent scent filled the air and I was instantly transported to my childhood of rainy, autumn morning walks to school.


I also shopped the house and snatched fruit themed prints off the walls, candlesticks from the dining room, and cute, ceramic pitchers from the kitchen cupboard. The bunches of sage were collected from my husband's village and the marigolds, still holding up well, despite a few blustery days, were picked from our flowerpots on the patio, while the pomegranates, finally ripe enough to eat, and the walnuts, both came from our trees.


We enjoy afternoon tea in the living room, when the sun visits the space and sits a spell, covering us in a warm blanket of light, as we cozily sit by the mantel, chatting or reading or napping, to recharge, after the last chores of the day are completed, leaving only dinner to prepare.

 

Have you decorated your mantel this autumn?

Thanks for visiting, everyone.
Happy weekend!

xx
Poppy 

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Fig Jam, Infused with Cinnamon & Vanilla

A burst of bright pink bougainvillea is a stunning showstopper on this otherwise
low key street, in the village of Lefkes, on the island of Paros, Greece.

Hello everyone, Happy Fall!
It's been a while since my last post 
- it was an extra busy summer.
For those of you who are still here, 
thanks for sticking around; I appreciate it!

After a refreshing swim, a golden sunset saturates the sky and illuminates the sea at Agios Prokopios, on the island of Naxos. This was taken waiting at the bus stop for our ride back to Chora.

Soon after Liberty returned from Norway, we set out 
for the islands of Naxos and Paros, which were idyllic
in every way. If you follow me on Instagram, you've
already seen the charming beauty of these places.


But, today's post is about jam, fig jam, to be precise. If
you remember, in my last post, we had a wonderful
harvest of this fruit, and so I decided to try my hand
at cooking, sterilizing and canning the sweet stuff, as
a surprise welcome home gift for Libby, who loves it!


I admit, I was somewhat nervous about the sterilization
 and canning process - boiling the glass jars, then heating 
them in the oven - yikes! But now, after having experienced 
these two stages in practice, I'm more confident.

 

Rich and jewel toned, this recipe for fig jam, infused with vanilla essence and aromatic cinnamon, is a treat for the taste buds. Its orange sapphire glow is pure eye candy, while its sweet and spicy scent is irresistibly appetizing. This fig jam is so versatile; its unique flavour complements both sweet and savoury dishes. I especially like to spread it on two slices of sourdough bread that are then topped with a slice of low fat Gouda and shavings of smoked, honey glazed ham. 
Two minutes in the panini press and presto!
 - you have the perfect comfort food sandwich! 


Fig Jam


Ingredients:
2 lbs figs, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
 1 tsp. vanilla essence
 1 cinnamon stick 


Directions:



Peel the figs into a large saucepan, and add the remaining ingredients.



Bring to a boil until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, continuing to stir occasionally for about an hour, or until the liquid is thick and sticky and drops heavily from the ladle. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon stick.
Sterilization and Canning: 
NOTE: Start sterilizing jars and lids when your jam is about 20 minutes away
 from being ready, since the jam needs to be hot when placed in the hot jars. 



After you've checked that there are no chips or dents in your  jars and lids, wash them in hot, soapy water, rinsing well. Turn upside down on a clean tea towel that has been placed in a baking pan. Place jars and lids in a pan of very hot water. Gently boil them for 20 minutes. Do not boil on high, as they may bang into each other and break! 

 

Remove with tongs and place upside down on clean tea towel lining a baking pan. 



Place pan with jars, lids and tea towel in oven, set to 212ºF and heat for 15 minutes. Don't worry; the tea towel won't burn. Immediately after removing the jars and lids from the oven, fill with hot jam, leaving about 1/8 of an inch of space from the top. Be careful when pouring jam into jars. If any gets on the rims, this could cause bacteria, as well as not allowing the lids from sealing properly. Always fill hot jars with hot ingredients and cold jars with cold ingredients, since filling a hot jar with a cold ingredient may cause it to shatter. Close tightly, turn upside down and bring to room temperature. Turn right side up, and store in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight for up to one year.  Once opened, keep in the fridge for up to one month.


 Next summer, when figs are in season once again
and readily available, please give this recipe a try.
It really is scrumptious!


Thanks for visiting!
xo
Poppy

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

August Harvest


Well, it's been almost a month and a half since I last posted, and, in that time, there's been a host of hearty harvests that have graced 
our table, like the platter of sweet, precious figs, above, 


from our one and only fig tree, planted by my husband's father,
 who was a farmer, over sixty years ago, on the outskirts 
of the village in which he was born and grew up.

 

The 'fruits of his labour',
 we are still enjoying, today.


It was very hot, the day we picked the figs, and looking 
up towards the sun to pluck each one from its stem, was
stressful on the eyes, but worth the effort, in the end.

 

   What proved to be more of a challenge, for me, was the rough
 and rocky road back to the car, as I struggled to keep my balance, fearing a flip with every little slip, unlike my husband, whose footsteps seemed to fit perfectly between each pebbly crack and cranny!  


Earlier, we had stopped by the three loaded
walnut trees, to give them a good watering, in
 preparation for their collection, next month.


It's the obvious difference in the shape of their leaves 
that assists in the distinction of each, since from afar, 
these two golden green globes look almost identical!

Facing north, towards the sea, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini and cucumbers

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our veggie 
garden is finally in full swing, after a late start.

Facing south, a variety of tomatoes

Due to our neighbour's towering Leyland Cypresses,
an entire side of our garden, unfortunately, does not
get enough sunlight for veggies or flowers to thrive,
so we planted in the field across the cement wall,

In the background, just before all the dry weeds begin, green onions, most of which 
will be yanked to dry in the sun, then roughly braided and used as cooking onions.





where our little chapel of St. Irene can be found,
 overlooking all the pretty produce in progress.

Clockwise, from top left: lemons, plums, pomegranates and tomatoes

 Our fruit trees are also flourishing! And, since 
tomatoes are technically considered fruit, I 
included them in the collage above. 


Our lemon tree did not disappoint; a second series of blossoms
 a little while ago, freshly scented the breeze and now the fruit
provides tangy, citrus accents in roasts, cakes and cookies.


I hope you've enjoyed reading about our August harvest, this year. We are blessed to have such healthy, organic fare at our fingertips, although, I admit, my  husband deserves all the credit for digging, planting, watering, weeding and worrying about it! I merely whip up a dish with whatever bundle of beautiful, earthy goodness he gathers.


Simple, seasonal, local food (and you can't get any more 
local than your own garden), is, by far, the most exquisite.


What's growing in your garden?
 Thanks for visiting!
xo
Poppy 

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Pisces in Me

source

As a Pisces, I naturally long to live near water.


After all, it is the element that governs my zodiac sign.


Whether it's the sea, a lake, river, pond or stream, 
I am always struck with a feeling of familiarity


 when I am frolicking in a wavy wonderland, 


curiously exploring its rocky coast,


or floating in the depths of its cool fluidity.


Upon descending into a mirror of aquamarines,

 

 I am, at times, still amazed to find that
the sea, my favourite to a large degree, is
 in fact, a colourless, crystal clear oasis. 

source

Ideally, I would love to live in a pretty village by its shores,

 

but since I reside in the countryside,
I made space for a little liquid luxury,


 and that way, I don't feel like a fish out of water,

source

but instead, just another fish in the sea.
And that, my friends, is the Pisces in me.


What about you?  Is your astrological element
an inherent part of your personality?



Thanks for visiting,
xo
Poppy

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