Monday, 22 September 2014

Autumn Conserves

Autumn Conserves

A few blogs ago I wrote a blog about late summer and the need to continue conserving ones energy. I think the title misled some readers who though it was going to be about preserving food. The problem is late summer is still very hot. There is hardly anything in the garden. But come the first rains, usually in September, plants plump up and you do find a few things you can put away in jars.

Our zuccini survived the summer, and is now flowering and fruiting again.


We’ve had two earthquakes - one was 6.8 the last 5.4. We’ve also had some spectacular storms. This year we had an early autumn storm with lots of rain. Wonderful for the garden! My capsicums that had just been hanging on with daily watering perked up and now we have good sized fruit, similarly the hot peppers are growing big and plump.

BUT this rain was also wonderful for the weeds, we have succulent purslane everywhere (Portulaca oleracea - also known as verdolaga, pigweed, little hogweed) thick and juicy. I have not tried eating it but I believe you can. It is supposed to add a wonderful crunch to salads and even sandwiches. Click around for recipes for purslane-yogurt-cucumber salad, Turkish purslane and lamb stew,purslane pilaf, chickpea and purslane salad.

A good rain makes weeding easier








Beans and Chili? We try Autumn Mexicana.

The capsicum and hot chile peppers are another plant doing well now we've had rain

Today we had Chili Con Carne. Not very Greek but we enjoyed it. We used the white beans, previously dried, and then soaked and cooked in one of my home bottled tomato sauces. I added a chili from the garden to some chopped fried onions – also from the garden. Mince meat went into this mix, and then after cooking for a while I added the bean and tomato mix to the meat. Into this went chopped olives and a little cumin and curry powder, and the whole was cooked very gently together for an hour. Another bottle of my tomato sauce was doctored with some fried and chopped mushrooms and green capsicums, reduced down, and made into a red sauce. The final touch was a homemade tortilla, then topped with the chili con carne and tomato sauce, grated cheese and chopped lettuce. Yummy Mexicana!

Greek Tomato Glyko? Not for me.

I have a couple of problems when it comes to Greek preserves. One is that I’m now a diabetic and can’t tolerate sugar. The other is that I don’t particularly like some Greek preserves.

So though I have just collected the last tomatoes I’m not tempted to make a Greek Glyko with them. This is the Greek equivalent of jam. You will find that many autumn fruits are kept this way; in a heavy syrup, plus a number of other things, anything from baby aubergines, to watermelon rind or baby tomatoes. Nor will I make more sauce with these tomatoes as we already have more bottles than we can use. I think I might be giving some bottles away before we leave Greece for the year. I’ll just keep these last ones in the fridge for salads.

Carrots Sweet or Savory? I’ll try both.

End of year carrots, discovered when weeding

The only other thing recently harvested from the vegetable garden has been a lot of small carrots. We have dug up one now and then during the year, but when weeding I found that a lot were missed. I did water them these plants now and then but they seem to have actually keep better left in the ground, mostly dry so they did not rot. What can I do with a lot of small carrots? I might make a sugarless carrot cake, but most I’ll probably just grate into a salad. Though Takis has his eye on them to make a Greek carrot, potato and artichokes dish (Aginares a la Polita). This also includes lemon juice, spring onions, fennel and olive oil.

Harvest Variability

Almost too many tomatoes this year


But not enough grapes to dry

A big crop of apricots this spring

Because weather patterns have been different this year our crops have also varied. We have had a poor grape and almond harvest and almost no olives, maybe because it was a much milder winter than usual. In fact Lemnos has been green nearly all year with a late rain in June and an early rain in September. I’ll miss the almonds, as we usually have buckets full. And everyone has had a bad grape harvest so we are not getting our usual bags of grapes from neighbours who have allotment vines. But we did have a huge apricot harvest earlier in the year, and lots and lots of tomatoes over summer. Plus, I still have olives from the really good crop two years ago!

 Snails? Definitely no!


We are getting a lot of snails, and (don’t tell my granddaughters or Takis daughter Lisa) but I’m going around stamping on huge numbers every day. As I yank up the purslane I find they are hiding under their green cover, just waiting to eat anything planted in the vegetable patch.

However I’m reliably told that snails cooked with onions in tomato sauce and served with rice or flomaria is a good Lemnian dish and is called ‘Saligaria Stiffatho’. In fact my neighbour came late for coffee the other day as she had been preparing just this dish. But, looking at the recipe, below, I can see that to try and cook them is very complicated so I think I’ll give that a miss!

Saligaria Stiffatho

Plenty of snails, but not my idea of a meal

However this is the recipe from Recipes from Limnos. By Ourania G. Vayakou

 To make this dish you first place a bunch of thyme plant in a basket and scatter in the freshly picked snails. Seal the basket with a cloth for 2-3 days. Fill a bowl with water; add 4-5 tablespoons of salt and the snails. Stir snails vigorously and rise. Repeat process in changes of water until snails are clear of any saliva. Now fill a bowl with fresh water, immerse snails and allow them to stand for 30 minutes. This will coax them to poke their heads out. Fill a deep saucepan with water, bring to the boil and add snails. Cook for 5 minutes. Strain snails and remove top cone with a sharp knife. Rinse snails in changes of water until clear of shell bits. Fill deep saucepan with water once more, add snails and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove and discard froth. Strain snails and set aside.
Sauté onions add tomato and bay leaves, warm water, salt and spices. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add snails and simmer until cooked. Serve hot or cold with rice or flomaria!!
* Flomaria is a Lemnian pasta.

And Questions This Autumn for Next Year?

To think about. Our Albizias are not doing well. Chop them back and plant something else?

And, should we prune our olive tree back hard? We like the shade but they do better with a hard prune now and then

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