Monday, October 31, 2011

Curing olives: harvest

I have been curing olives since I was six years old, when we moved into my grandfather’s house. One of my first memories from that time is when his cousin sent him 60 lbs of Manzanilla olives from his hometown. My grandfather, who was in his seventies at the time and had moved to Seville as a teenager, still remembered many of these country things. I accompanied him on walks around the neighborhood, looking for ingredients for the olives in abandoned lots. Some years later, after my grandfather's passing, I remember walking past those same lots, the herbs and plants long gone and replaced by trash and junky cars. It was sad to see how the urban makeup of my neighborhood changed in just a few years.

You cannot eat olives straight from the tree. They are so bitter you’ll want to scrub the inside of your mouth with a brillo pad. That bitterness needs to be leached out first. Once that’s done, you brine and season them. It is amazing how something that originally was so unpleasant ends up being so delicious.

We have a young olive tree in front of our house. This year was not a good one. We had a wet spring and a cool summer. During bloom, all that rain knocked off a whole lot of flowers. My crop was this little, barely two cups’ worth.

There are some old olive trees at the community college near our house. We drove by on Sunday to see if we could perhaps supplement our crop. Sadly, the trees were completely bare: not a single olive on them. Olive trees are notorious for their alternate bearing tendency. Some years they are loaded, some years there’s nothing. Last year these trees were so full we were able to fill a three-gallon bucket easily.

So my 2011 harvest is what it is. I have a handful of pockmarked, scarred olives. They are not stellar, by any means. I’m going to cure them anyway. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

We've been booed

A cool thing happened today: we were booed.

Sometime in the morning a sneaky neighbor left a basket on our front door, with a note.

The note said that we had been booed.

I had heard of Secret Santas, but never of Secret Halloweeners. I went to the website listed on the note, and apparently this is a new tradition.

Even though I am not a big fan of Halloween, this is something that fosters good feelings, so I'm all for it. I love surprises, and this was a sweet thing to do.

We unpacked the basket and found some interesting loot

The note had a little poem, and instruction on how to keep the Boo going around the neighborhood. We now have to put the sign with the little ghost on our door, prepare two Boo baskets, and secretly deliver them to two homes without a Boo sign.

My husband suggested that instead of candy and cheetos we should put carrot sticks and tofu. If we did that, then we'd really get booed. I think I'm going to go for some beer and potato chips. Later on tonight I'll sneak out and deliver the baskets to the theme of Mission Impossible.

Have you heard about this new tradition? What do you think?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Here we go

I've been tinkering with the idea of starting a blog for a while.  I have found three thousand excuses not to.  In many cases, not so much excuses, but simple moves, like putting my mind elsewhere.  But one of those elsewheres took me here, ironically, and I started playing with Blogger and well, here we go. I may continue changing the format of the blog and adding bells and whistles as I go, but I have to get this thing off the ground and not wait until it is perfect.

I don't think my blog is going to have a theme.  I like too many things.  When I say I am eclectic, I am not kidding.  For many years I have envied those that get fixated on something, anything, and run with it forever.  I like to do a whole bunch of stuff, but there is nothing that I would classify as a passion.  So I have always perceived my eclectic nature as a negative.  As I grow older, I tend to be a bit more forgiving with myself, and I am starting to accept that this is the way I am, so be it.

Because I like to eat, drink, craft, read, listen to music, take photos and have opinions, this blog will probably have all of the above, and some.

By the way, if you have any suggestions for a rookie blogger, I am all ears!

Thank you for reading!