A highland fling

our wee adventure on the Black Isle

Autumnal thoughts

Ahhhh, autumn. It is such a bittersweet time of year, or at least it is for me. The weather is still wonderful, with warm days and blue skies. But the nights are drawing in, with the sun setting earlier and the evenings cooler. We love to have our back door open in the evening, and lately it’s been almost too cool to do so.

The garden is still going great guns, but the plants are looking rather sad. The tomato plants start to get wilted and brown, but I’m still picking loads of gorgeous, big tomatoes. The last of the melons have been picked, and my squash are all ripened now, too.

As far as Lujos goes, it’s time to turn my mind to Christmas, can you believe that? It’s not even October yet, but the Christmas soaps need to be made so that they can mature nicely in time for November sales. We have to plan 4-6 weeks ahead for soap! I’ve decided to cut down on the Christmas soaps this year – they are gorgeous, but I have some left in January, what do I do with them? Sell them cheap/use them ourselves/give them as gifts – not ideal!

We have our wood burner installed now, ready for winter fires, so it should be much cozier this winter. But we have no wood cut yet, nor the time to do it for a few weeks, but fingers crossed we’ll get some cut before the rains!

October also brings two of my favourite fiestas – the harvest fiesta at the beginning of the month, and the chestnut and wine later in the month.

The harvest festival falls right after the local “vendimia” (grape harvest), so traditionally the whole village would smell of pressed grapes.  With increasing regulation and taxation, however, most of the artisanal wine making has ceased – don’t governments have enough to do without cracking down on small local craft businesses?

The chestnut and wine festival is fairly new, but very enjoyable. The last couple of years have had huge attendance – where do all the tourists come from, I wonder? The main street is lined with stalls selling ‘handmade’ artisanal items, some obviously  bought in, but some truly wonderful. You can usually buy great meats and cheeses, as well as esparto craft items, leather goods, and local breads, to name but a few.  We’ve been asked to sell Lujos at this fair, but we decided we’d rather play than work!

Polenta and tomato bake

1 cup coarse cornmeal
fresh sage, chopped
salt and pepper
3 cups chicken broth
fresh, ripe tomatoes, sliced
parmesan cheese

First, make the polenta. Boil the broth, and slowly add in the cornmeal.

Polenta and tomato bake

Polenta and tomato bake

Stir over a low heat until cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove from the burner, and stir in chopped sage; season. Pour into a greased loaf pan to cool.

When the polenta is cool, slice into medium thick slices. In a greased pan, alternate the slices of polenta and tomato until the pan is covered. Top with parmesan cheese and bake for 20 minutes in a medium oven.

Author: Ann Larson

One-time IT executive who lives on a 22 acre olive farm in Spain with husband Kenton and 2 boxer dogs. We make Yunquera Gold olive oil, and soap and skincare products from same. We aim to make natural, fresh, and handmade products at affordable prices!

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