Sunday, October 3, 2010

Summertime In Review (Complete with Photos)

Since we moved house at the end of May, we spent most of the summer months just getting settled. For a homebody like me, the process involves so much more than just placing furniture and hanging pictures. It means getting familiar with our surroundings and doing ordinary things over and over again until they become routine. It means waking up each day in this different place with a different arrangement of rooms including a different kitchen with a stove/oven that works differently and doing something normal like making French toast or popcorn or chocolate chip cookies.

It also means getting to know the neighborhood and meeting the neighbors. In this post I wrote about meeting two elderly ladies, and I mentioned going blackberry picking with them. That is something else I did a lot of this summer: picking blackberries.

A couple years ago, back when we lived in Greater London, I wrote about blackberries here, but now that we live outside the City, it seemed like we came across a new patch of blackberry brambles every time we went out. It was practically ridiculous. They were everywhere! And I couldn't just walk right on past them, could I? They were way too luscious, way too tempting. Halfway through August, I even started carrying plastic containers in my purse "just in case," and I ended up bringing so many buckets of berries home that Matt started to call me a blackberry thief!

(I felt much better when an English friend kindly offered this correction: "Actually, we call it foraging," she said. Sounds so much more civilized than thieving, doesn't it?)

Anyway, here's a picture of sweet Sophie on one of our berry-picking outings. Notice she is trying to steal the berries from my bucket and put them into hers so she can eat them on the spot! Notice the telltale berry stains on her fingertips and around her mouth. Like mother, like daughter!

And here are a batch of berries ready to be washed and turned into jam. Yes, I spent much of my summer vacation making jam! (And not a little bit of my summer vacation eating jam. Ahem.)

Here I am, scraping the last bit of jam into a jar. (Missing: The picture Jack took of me frantically stirring jam on the stove while talking to my Mom on the phone and saying, "I've got to go, the jam needs to be poured out." Notice how calm I am at this point in the process. A couple minutes earlier -- not so much.)

And here's Jack, proudly holding up our first attempt at jam tarts. Mmm, they were yummy. (Happy 17th Birthday, Sarah! So glad you could be here so we could help you celebrate!)

In the background of this picture, you'll see some jars of jam. Of course, you might not notice them right off, being distracted by the monstrous, 19-inch zucchini on the counter! Not to mention those beautiful raspberries.

The couple who live across the street (also older, but only in their 60s I'd say) have an allotment, a patch of land outside town where they plant fruit and veg for their own use. The woman was so excited to share some of their produce with us -- they harvested much more than they could eat themselves -- and we were equally excited to receive it. In fact, I think my kids ate fresh broad beans every day for three weeks! But that's a topic for another post.

Anyway, the only thing I could think of doing with that humongous zucchini (UK translation: courgette) was to make zucchini bread. So I got out the food processor, shredded the entire zucchini (minus the stem and bottom ends) and turned to a favorite recipe in a favorite cookbook.

Here are the first three of nine loaves of zucchini bread that I made from that crazy thing. Nine loaves! And that only used half of the shredded zucchini. The rest went into spaghetti sauce and soups.

Some of the jam and most of the zucchini bread was shared with various neighbors and friends. (The older folks were especially surprised that a vegetable like courgette could be made into cake!)

Summer is over now. The days are distinctly shorter, wetter and colder. I'm happy to say that we're feeling nicely settled in our house as well as our neighborhood. And it feels like home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post Laura - I remember many a berry cobbler "back home" - and this reminded me of such - and how we can relate to each other and touch each other's live's by dropping off fresh veggies/fruits/jams/breads etc... Thanks!


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