Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This week's blog is mainly on food items I am afraid.

Has Beans!

Zoot Alors – I do not know what the Italian equivalent is yet. I was looking forward with great relish to eating some roast beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, and, some lovely runner beans from our veggi patch this autumn. Alas, it is not to be. They have grown like billy-oh, fairly zooming up – Jack would have been proud – with loads of and loads of lovely red flowers. Unfortunately, beans have not followed the flowers. After calling an emergency meeting and consulting our vast array of research and reference material we have come up with two likely culprits for this heart-breaking state of affairs, the birds and the bees. The bees have not done their pollination bit right (I thought that was what the birds and the bees were all about) or the birds have come along and eaten the beans as soon as they appeared so it looked as though there had been no bean growth at all.
Highly frustrating. I was thinking about writing to my local MEP, but as the Duchessa correctly pointed out, I cannot write too well in Italian just yet and the result of my letter could be a period of incarceration for some unfortunate turn of phrase I had used infelicitously.
However, our reference sources have thrown up some ideas about being more successful next year.

Competition Time

We have a small problem here at Casa Grotta, and it or rather they, are getting bigger.
We thought we would plant four zucchini (courgette) plants to see how they would grow. You should have already seen the picture of their giant leathery-looking leaves. Well their fruit is now reaching titanic proportions. We see one courgette just about the right size and think I’ll just nip in and get a knife to harvest it and by the time you are back with a kitchen knife, the thing is almost the size of a Zeppelin (apologies to those who don’t know, or are too young to know what a Zeppelin is, but it is a helium filled airship from long ago). So I have to go and get an axe. But again by the time I get that it’s even bigger and I have to go and get the chain saw. Of course, I am exaggerating, but only a little.
So, here is the dilemma. For those zucchini we are unable to catch off guard and harvest them whilst feeling them grow in our hands, we need some ideas of what we can do with them.
Some ideas we have are: hollowed out canoes, floats for sea-planes, giving them to NASA to make an Apollo spaceship, tying them together to make a temporary artificial holiday island in the middle of the Adriatic, as long as it wouldn’t be a hazard to shipping.

Any suggestions will be gratefully received and the winner with the most appropriate use will of course receive a whole courgette for themselves together with a signed certificate. The judges decision is final.

Olive Oyl

The olives are growing extremely well. The berries – if that is the right term – are bountiful on every tree from the littliest to the biggest. They are about the size a large pea now – see picture.
We will have to start finding out what we do to turn them into olio. We think what probably happens is that we will pick them, have them measured/weighed and together with our neighbours have them taken to a processing plant . We will receive our proportion of the whole back as olio. We really are looking forward to having some of “own” olive oil.

Grapes and more birds

Whilst the olives look to be going great guns, the grapes are a different matter. There are some good bunches, but nothing like our neighbours. Her vines are heavy with large bunches. There are a lot of bunches on ours that look as though they never got beyond the forming stage and then sort of withered.
However, although the vines appear not to be doing what we want them to, it does seem they are making something else happy.

A couple of weeks ago we noticed a little bird hopping in and out of a small vine. Out of curiosity, I went to inspect. There was the basis of a nest taking shape. “I must keep checking on this” I said to myself, and then of course never gave it a second thought, until yesterday that is. I was amazed to see the nest completed and with four eggs in it. I really must try and keep an eye on them now as I would love to get a picture of the fledglings if I can. I have been watching the nest from a distance this morning and either the mother or the father is sitting. I want to disturb them as little as possible. Does all growth around here seem to be so quick?

Strange sky

The Duchessa took this photo the other day when we visited Port san Giorgio. It was all bubbly looking, and quite eerie. I hope the picture conveys that a bit

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