July

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 The sun shines high in its zenith. It’s another hot summer day, the kind of day in which, when you’re finished pegging the washed laundry on one end of the line, it is already dry on the first end.

 July. These summer months show little mercy upon us, hiding in the shade and longing for the sweet rumor of a cold stream in which to dip our feet. The stream is just down the hill, and I’m pretty sure that’s where we’ll head to pretty soon.

But this summer has also been a very busy time. Watering the garden isn’t a forgiving task, but it’s a rewarding one for sure. The tomatoes, aubergines and peppers get riper by the day, and in the meanwhile we’ve been harvesting zucchinis, turnips and carrots, beetroots and different salads, and an abundance of green beans. The flowers greet us every day: yarrow, nasturtiums, calendulas, borage, snapdragons, paperflowers, cosmos and the first sunflowers make for a colourful good morning when me and J walk down to the garden every morning before breakfast.

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We’ve also welcomed two little chickens into our family, a typical portuguese breed called Pedrês, conveniently named Ofélia and Maria-Luísa.

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BUT THE BUSIEST OF ALL??

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 Has been the arrival of this truck, the wood deliver for our roof! There is one main beam in eucalyptus, 30 rafters in chestnut, and insulation. Sam has been pretty busy every day for the last couple of weeks, skinning and sanding each rafter. It’s a hard, seemingly-endless work, I tell you! We’ve had friends coming and helping, which has been wonderful – and gives us that being-at-home feeling. Friends, community, helping out whenever one can.

 It will be good to have this work done, so we can start putting the roof together. The walls are raised, the floor is finished (heep heep!), and before passing on to anything else, the roof needs to be on place.

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 Dear friends, have a magical summer, the fullness of the year.  I shall return soon.

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{Wearing the raddest, most feel-good t-shirt from my friend Roaming Soul Apothecary}

Clearing & creating

Happy May, y'all!

Everything is green, thanks to the unexpected recent rains, which were a real bless ~ our water mine is full to the brim, the rainwater tanks are replenished and the earth is moist and rich. It's hard to believe that we're in May and I didn't have to water the garden yet, which is such a surprise to me!

Everything being so happy and full of life, I thought this would be a good time to share with you all the clearings we've done on the land this past winter. Clearing bushes {mato, as we call it}, thinning the mimosa/eucalyptus forest, which is still far away from its end, a general sense of air being breathed in. Clearing also means more space for gardening and planting native and fruit trees - win win!

I've included some pictures you can swipe to compare before & afters. It gives us such a good feeling to look at how much we've done so far, but we're nowhere near finished yet.

Above is the view from our big boulder, below the house, a couple weeks ago and then in February last year, when we visited the land for the first time.

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This winter's clearing was only possible with the help of our neighbor down the hill, with whom we did a work swap. We worked a couple weeks at our place, and then passed down to his. He brought over his chipper, which is such an amazing tool. Most of the mimosas and bushes were instantly turned into rich mulch!

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And the larger trees, well, other neighbors came up with the horses to take them home to build fences with. Nothing gets lost!

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We also made a few burnings, on rainy days, when it all got a bit much.

Above you can see the view from next to our trailer down to the house {this is the most  forest-y part of the land}, two weeks ago and then last Autumn.

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Oh, I like this one. This the view of the house from the rock: on our first visit in February last year, then last summer and, finally, today.

Our small olive grove also got cleared and pruned, finally!

We've planted our first trees: one orange tree, two cherry trees from different varieties, one almond tree, one apple tree and one plum tree.

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To finish, the garden, last week and then one year ago!

And with this I say goodbye and go soak a bit in the sun before it all gets too hot.
A big hug from me to you. Thank you so much for following along as we turn this new land of ours into home.

Spring Garden Burgers

 Spring has sprung! At least on the northern hemisphere - sorry, southern folks, it's our turn now! And even if Spring hasn't exactly come yet to where you live, because we all know that seasons don't follow days on a calendar, you've probably started noticing the shift of energy that accompanies the Equinox. The days grow longer, the Sun's arch is wider, some birds are returning after their travels down south, while others say farewell until next Autumn. Some wild flowers start to bloom, insects show up behind every tree and the garden seems to be bursting with a renewed excitement. We, too, feel this change. For me, I feel like waking up after a long wintery sleep and making long lists of everything I wish to do on this sunny days ahead. I feel like cleansing my body of the slow wintery sluggishness and get my limbs moving wide once again. I feel like giving everything a good scrub, airing up every linen and tapestry. But most of all? I feel like cooking.

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 Around the equinox, after a long and weary day of land clearing (more on that later, I promise!), I went to the garden  for a little harvest and felt like really celebrating the shift of season through a filling and rich meal. And I thought, well why, garden burgers it will be!

 You can do these burgers with any leafy green, roots, stems or flowers you have. You can also incorporate wild greens - I think nettle, chickweed or young dandelion leaves would make a wonderful addition. But as I've said before, when in doubt, don't pick. Make sure you know what you are picking, know the poisonous plants in your bio-region and always cross and double check references. And, if you're foraging for the first time, make sure you take along a seasoned herbalist or forager friend!

{By the way, this video on wild edibles shared by the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine made my day in a very funny way!} 

 Right! Gathered your vegetables? Gathered your roots? Your free abundant generous and resilient greens? Let's head to the place where magic happens - the kitchen!

 The quantity of vegetables you use in your burgers is totally up to you. In the end, what it really comes to is having the right texture, so they don't crumble apart as you flip them on the skillet.

Directions

  • Start by cooking your choice of cereals, grains or pulses. When soft, set aside and let it cool down. If using large pulses, like beans, you may want to mash it a bit.
  • Combine all your greens and roots together with the onion and garlic and add this mixture to the base you just cooked. Use your hand to combine everything thoroughly. If using an egg, crack it inside.
  • Now, it's rule of thumb. Keep adding breadcrumbs until the texture is malleable. It can still be a bit runny, and there is nothing like placing a dollop on the skillet with a tiny bit of olive oil and see if you can flip it using two spoons and care, without crumbling it.
  • Got the right texture? Wonderful! Now you can slowly fry them in medium flame, until golden. I recommend covering them with a large lid while cooking, to ensure they cook right to the center.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • A couple handfuls of greens, thinly sliced
  • Roots, grated
  • 2 cups of cereals, grains or pulses (this is what keeps it all together! I used red lentils)
  • about 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, or what necessary for a firm texture (I literally grated a piece of old homemade bread about the size of my fist)
  • 1 egg (optional, for consistency)
  • Olive oil, or a local oil you use

 


Ah, my choice of greens was cabbage blooms, savoy cabbage leaves, mustard leaves and radishes.

Grab some homemade bread (well, I'm sure hamburger bread would do just as fine!), sauces (uh-uuuh), salad leaves and a nice glass of fizzling kombucha! Happy spring on a plate!

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 Have you got any favorite ways of celebrating Spring at the table? I'd love to know them! <3

Wood whittlers for a day

Communities are rich places. Especially when everybody is so different. 

We are thankful to be part of a community of folks who are so deeply passionate about their things. Some people are really good at house building, others are sourdough masters; some can understand how electricity works like no one else, while others know exactly just what it takes for a goat to be healthy. Not to mention, the amazing baker up the hill or the crocheter on the other side of the hill (yes, I mean you, Jaymie).

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On a sunny day, we gathered with Jaymie and Marlley around good food, cardamom coffee and Yoav, who for me is pretty much the epitome of wood carving, for an introduction to carving. We did (ehm, attempted to do) spoons, coat hangers and Jaymie even made some crochet hooks!

And now, I'll let these few pictures speak for themselves.

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By the way, these cups are tots carved by him too!

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Here's to more skill trading, bonfires and good friends!

Wishing you all a happy and creative March!