Counting Butterflies – A Day Off

A longer weekend. We have rain after what seems to have been weeks of heat. In fact, it was around three, or was it four. I wonder if the grass will grow again, will it be green and long. No hose pipe bans here as yet. I remember the summer of ’95 and syphoning off bath water to feed the greenhouse then.

We grew all kinds of fruits in that little space. Cucumbers, loved by us and the slugs that found their way in. Peppers and tomatoes, turning from green to yellow and red, like traffic lights. An aubergine plant, a melon plant which broke through to the outside, reaching for the sky – no fruit though.

I grow nothing right now. But hope to again. Instead I go in search of good fruit. The local grocer has a good variety as do the market stalls. the difference between a large lemon with a thick skin and a puny think-skinned one is all about aroma and flavour, longevity.

Aldi offers decent avocados, in a green that you’d want to dive in to. Piccolo tomatoes which smell as if they are straight from the soil.

Shopping around pays, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth either.

I have gotten through a fair number of tasks in relation to writing in recent weeks and achieved quite a bit. There is a brief hiatus as I wait for autumn to bring fresh results. September tends to bring change for me year on year.

As I go walkabout, it is more and more apparent to me what my life *should* be hereon in.

In the meantime, I have reading. Ivo Andric’s Bosnian Chronicle, Collected Fictions – Jorge Luis Borge and to finish Pullman’s latest La Belle Sauvage, which is delightful. Three more shorter novels on the side thereafter with cuisine themes, and a reserve at the library waits for me – George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo.

Someone once said all you need is a library and a garden and life’s just fine. Okay. I may have finally come to accept that. Except one needs yarns too.

Starting today for the next three weeks, Butterfly Conservation are asking us to count butterflies. Visit their website, download the app or chart. You spend 15 mins at a time counting. You can do it as often as you like over the next three weeks. I’ve noticed many recently on these hot days, and bees. Just lovely, absolutely lovely.

A veggie rice pita

Filo is easy to work with and not that hard to make! But if you want to buy some, go for Greek of Turkish if you can. Failing that, there are standard varieties available. You may have noticed there’s more than one type. Experiment with them all and you will find what suits you best and for which type of filling. Also whether you roll or stack.

For this pita, because the filling is heavy, I have gone with a packet of eight large sheets, using two sheets per roll of filling, bending each roll in a circular fashion around the tevsija.

You will need:

A large oven dish, ideally round and enamel

Packet of 8 large filo sheets

For the filling:

Cooked brown rice

Half an onion, 1 courgette, half a squash, half a red pepper, half a carrot, 1 celery stick – all chopped. You could add feta if you like.

Olive oil, 1 tsp of good no-salt veggie stock, ground black pepper, fennel seeds, thyme

Put the filling ingredients on a pan on the stove top with  a lid on, low heat, until the veg have softened.

Let the filling cool a little then spoon along two sheets on top of each other then roll over, repeat until all sheets are used.

Put olive oil in the oven dish and lay the rolls on top.

Place parchment paper on top and bake slowly for 45 mins to 1 hour. Serve with Mexican bean salad!

 

 

 

Mexican bean salad

Summer days are almost here. The season of colours has already arrived after a long, slow  spring. It’s humid though. A strange ill wind blows, haar has come in from the east coast on some days. Cool buildings are enticing, as is the grocery in the village. I took a walk over and came back with a medley of veg and fruit. As supermarkets start to bag everything in plastic for fear of people stealing from self-serve checkouts, the small shop has its appeal when all you need is one or two of everything, or prefer brown paper bags! So when you have all your fresh fruit and veg in your basket,  it’s time to quickly turn it into delicious summer salads.

One of my favourite salads is Mexican bean. There are variations on this recipe, this is my interpretation.

You will need:

A medium-sized clay bowl, preferably round and deep, ideally Mexican in style! Look at these! Talavera from http://www.lafuente.com/Mexican-Decor/Talavera-Pottery/

Serves 2 generously:

Red kidney beans – a large tin of

Half a red onion  – chopped

One corn on the cob – its kernels

1 large tomato – diced

Half a red pepper – diced

Fresh coriander leaves – chopped

Half a courgette – grated

Half a large carrot – grated

Hot chilli sauce – make some!

A glug of olive oil, some ground black pepper, splash of cider vinegar, juice from half a lime.

Put all the ingredients in the bowl and fold gently with a large spoon. Eat immediately. It does save well in the fridge for a couple of days. I had some today with falafel, brown pitta bread, green lettuce leaves, a little yoghurt.