I’ve said it before, and I say it again: “There are few things in this world that bring me as much pleasure as growing, raising and cultivating my own food.”
It is the land on which I have built my dreams and I completely enjoy the entire experience. From amending the merciless Belpine, Santiam, Dupee and Willakenzie soil types, (which are great for the vitis vinifera but not so much for other things like lettuces), adding fertilizer whenever and wherever needed, to carefully dragging heavy hose to judiciously water my now producing garden and hand tend the nasty everythings that like to feast on my plants.
Might sound bonkers, I know, but it makes this country girl jump out of my bed in early August to grab my latte, greet the morning and my sweet corn with a great big smile, sometimes while I’m still in my jammies.
What makes me even happier?
When my cutie-babes join in on the fun and my little son and daughter and I harvest breakfast strawberries, give ’em a good wash and enjoy them as we go for a short hike out across block 2 of the pinot gris and smell our way to the warm tons and tons of blackberries now barely hanging on their vines. The dark, heady fruit beckoning so sweet, so filled with juicy promise of delicious creations to come.
It amazes me how our very own, sometimes not completely ripe strawberries, taste a million times better than anything I have ever tasted from the supermarket. They’re so good, in fact, I don’t ever make jam out of them. I suppose it’s mainly because they don’t stay around the kitchen long enough.
Yum! I do want to make some ice cream one of these times, strawberry is my favorite.
Which leads me to the next level of happiness in growing and harvesting from the vineyard and garden. It’s best illustrated by what stands as quite possibly my favorite food flick, (next to Chocolat that is), Ratatouille.
In the film, Remy, the talented foodie rat, says to his rat father in defense of humans not just eating food in order to survive, “They don’t just survive, they discover, they create!“ His animated, passionate speech includes images of culinary creations swirling around in delectable clouds above his furry little head.
This, plus the soundtrack, always makes me salivate and want to get crazy in the kitchen.
Man oh geeze, I absolutely love taking raw ingredients and the turning them into whatever my heart or palate desires and then surprising my children, husband and oftentimes the vineyard and winery crew with my little creations.
This time of year, unless I know for sure we will be having company over, for which I’ll plan a menu, I let the garden dictate our every day’s eating. This week was filled with many savory dishes and sweet treats that even had me pickling and turning out some goodies to pack in the freezer for future months when we are without fresh berries or chili peppers.
Also, soon enough my family will be in the throes of the grape harvest, which is looking like a possible all time record in terms of tons we may receive into the winery, so having some tastes of summer ready to enjoy can only be defined as a treat.
Okay, maybe the mini blood orange olive oil berry cakes are a treat and a half, especially come late October.
My sweet, free ranging hens are laying well right now and the Willamette Valley weather, even in these dog days, allows for temperatures comfortable enough to bake lots of yummies and fire up the indoor cook top for plates and plates of garden pastas.
The nights are nice and cool here and with all of the sweaty, dirty, physical vineyard and garden work, sleep is well earned and comes easily, especially after an outdoor bath in my cast iron claw foot tub.
No air conditioning required.
Joy of gardening, joy of cooking, joy of family, joy of dining. I am blessed with them all and goodness knows I wish this good, good life for you as well.
Until we meet again next Sunday, may your dream week grow into something delicious.