Friday, 7 October 2011

My But Time Flies, Parties & Baking,

My Love lies bleeding.
Last of the roses :-(
Wow it's been almost a month since my last post, where does the time goooooooooo?
It will be interesting for me, writing this, to see exactly what we have done. It's easy (especially with a memory like mine) to feel like we have done nothing! So I think this may be a long one :-)
So lets start with a round up through pictures.........
A days harvest
Grapes harvested & vino is under construction :-D

Lunch from the garden 
Well we have had a bumper crop of veggies this year, so glad we managed to get the back paddock plowed up in time. There were things that we were too late to plant, so next year we are looking forward to even more, & the pumpkins are smaller than last year as they were late in but other than that we have done really well. Lots of beetroot, which I love freshly pulled & cooked, no better way to eat them yummmmmmm.
Tomatoes were forth coming, in fact I have just bought in half a builders bucket full with still green ones on the vine & I have been cooking lots of spicy tomato soupa for the winter. Some I have jarred but most is in the freezer in portions. We have enjoyed lots of juicy beefsteak tomatoes in salads & have plenty of jars of tomatoes for cooking with through the year & some wonderful tasting tomato & fresh basil sauce frozen for adding to pasta's & meat later.  I am most pleased though, with the amount & size of our peppers this year, they looked just like the ones being sold in the markets, so we did good :-))) I have been cooking with them all season with enough chopped & frozen  to last a very long time. Add to these the aubergines & I have lots of ratatouille also in the freezer.  Yet again though the cucumbers although we got a few were disappointing, but they were planted late so next year we will try again, last time though!  I have had a wonderful crop of green & purple basil; this year too & the rocket was wonderful. I added the rocket to beetroot leaves for a tasty salad with toms & some of our cucumber for a really nice light lunch with boiled eggs, nice.
We have still to get in the butternut squashes. Again I am really pleased with these. I grew them from the seed of the one I roasted for Christmas & have a crop of 12 big butternuts. Looking forward to having our home grown roast squash this year :-) As I said before they were all late being planted so I am chuffed that we have managed what we have. We even got a few nice big marrows, not many but enough to make lots of chutney & jams.
Baking rustic breads
My new passion is baking rustic breads & I have two lovely breads, tomato & fresh basil & a gorgeous mixed pepper bread. Both are lovely with soup or on its own with butter, very impressed. The other I am baking is Irish Soda bread. Still trying to recreate the one my mum used to make when I was young. Mum can't remember how she made it so I have to keep on till I get it, but in the mean time it's OK a great quick bread for dipping especially in stew, well it is Irish & they love their stews
Our unwelcome Locust visitor!
We very often get visitors in the house. Lizards, frogs along with a cacophony of creepies, but this was a very unwelcome locust. The last thing we want around our crops is a munching demon haha bless on its own it was quite sweet but we were concerned there may have been more. As it happened all was well.
Poaching our pears in our homemade vino
Love my pepper roaster
I was having a laugh with my sister in law who said it seemed like all I was doing was cooking, she see's my facebook posts. Well yes that's all I was doing cooking & baking, every day for a couple of months. Its all about the preserving here. Lots of English people who come here don't bother, but they are really missing out, just ask any of us that do grow & preserve. Its very satisfying & so much better than anything you buy from a supermarket. Second best is buying fresh fruit & veg in season from the markets. Forget finding a farmers market & spending a fortune on the foods here its all from local grown small holdings even from ordinary villagers who sell their excess produce. Wonderful flavour & fantastic prices, everyday.
Going to parties ;-D
The shepherd after too much Rakia. He couldn't walk & this was taken just before he fell down. He had been helped out once then came back :-))) Yovo & Anton managed to get him outside & under a tree to sleep it off :-D
We love socialising with our Bulgarian friends, there is always someone new to meet. This was our village day party. The village has a little fete in the centrum with candy floss & highly coloured sweet lollies, I would hate to be a parent of small children on that day! There is folk dancing Then the villagers get together in different ways with music, biera & rakia. Some sit in the centrum dancing & others go into the countryside surrounding the village & have picnics. As you can see from above, its a good excuse to have too much to drink. Yovo & Pavlika always have a big party, this year we were only 10, so small scale this year but good fun.
Meeting new friends
We were very kindly invited to a 31st wedding anniversary party by people I only knew on facebook. We had joint REAL friends, so myself & Nigel didn't feel awkward :-) It was great meeting new people & hearing different stories, some very sad, as well as happy, of life in Bulgaria. We met some lovely ladies & enjoyed the day. It was sunny & very hot, perfect weather for their celebration, thank you Elaine & Allan. We don't normally mix with large numbers of expats as we have lots of Bulgarian & Russian friends, so it made a nice change. Our English friends tend to be scattered around Bulgaria & as we do most of the entertaining we usually only have two or four English friends & family when they are here. We tend to mix it up English Bulgarian & Russian which is interesting, watching who mixes it up & who stays within the English or Bulgarian groupings. We have found the Bulgarians let go more when the English have left, now I am not sure if this is because the English leave early when they are just starting to get going or if its just shyness :-D The English reserve is very obvious too & its great when friends really get stuck into getting to know people with hand gestures & laughter but being reserved of dealing with a foreign language can really stop people having fun.
Fundraiser at the Silistra orphanage
The garden party was a huge success & the children had a great day. We too enjoyed it very much & the weather was fantastic, good old Bulgaria came up trumps yet again! The orphanage is well run & the children well fed & clothed. They also seem to be loved & also importantly liked! This is down to a wonderful English couple Bernie & Dougie who work tirelessly to fundraise & collect clothing & essentials. They organise this garden party every year to raise funds & this year the day raised close to 2,000 leva which is being used to repair the roof. Well done & thank you Bernie & Dougie xxxxxxxx 
Nigel's grown an Apricot tree from seed  :-)
Nigel has put his back out :-( It started when he was renovating our barn (which is still not finished, yet) & then compounded when he did a roof reno & I think the 7 hour round trip for the garden party finished it off. The road going was very bumpy with pot holes everywhere & then standing around all day didn't help :-((((
We took a friend & her two boys & all had a great day. The boys are the best behaved I have ever met, also very polite & respectful something you find very rarely in 10 & 8 year olds, even when they are tired!
\we got back really late & I hadn't even thought about dinner so we went for a meal with them in a really nice place in Popovo, nice end to the day. Thanks Alison xxx
I was excited to meet up with facebook friends that are moving over just down the road from us :-) & how brilliant are they :-D Lovely, really looking forward to having fantastic neighbours & enjoying lots of social couplings hehe. We have enjoyed many hours of chatting & enjoyed a nice meal with them in the restaurant with the pool which is right by them. What a nice place, they were obviously waiting on us to leave but didn't chuck us out or ask us to leave or, as you sometimes get, proffer the bill till we asked for it! Nice food & cheap, menus in Bulgarian but just ask for the foods you know you like, easy. We had shopska salad & Kavarma all round 2 pork & 2 chicken with chips. I ordered potatoes in garlic & dill & got chip in garlic & dill, which was not what I imagined but was actually very nice & was, I would think, cooked especially for me :-D When you find a small place run by nice people its lovely.  We really enjoy eating out here, it never bankrupts us & the food is fabulous I do however miss a good steak & Lamb shank!!! Steak here is very expensive & out of our price range.
Sophie went missing again. Gone for a week, she turned up all skinny, hungry & full of love & kisses :-) So now we have the job of fattening her up yet again. I wish she would stop going out visiting but she jumps over 7' high fences so until we get loads of money we can't stop her :-( We have put her in the compound 7' high & she has jumped it we chained her in the compound & she jumped with the chain on her, that was very dangerous! So now we let her do her thing & hope she is sensible enough to stay away from certain elements! She actually slept in doors last night with Kamishka!
So the end of a rather long blog, my apologies but living in Bulgaria is a very busy life, winter will be less busy but then not much  to blog about. Isn't that what we call sods law?

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