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Homemade Olives and Winter At Last

True winter arrived this morning in a hurtling fury of bitingly cold winds and plunging temperatures. We pulled on layers and I worked in front of a blowing heater to keep my fingers nimble enough to type. Brrr!

Breakfast was a hearty casserole made with chunks of olive sourdough bread, mounds of sausage, duck eggs, milk, roasted garlic, and good sharp cheddar. It sure hit the spot.

Bear braved the frigid weather and spent the afternoon building a medieval stove to take with us to Abbey Medieval Festival next weekend. It’s going to be a beauty, based on one in the Bayeux Tapestry, with special Bear additions designed to make cooking over the fire as easy as possible for those of us out there brewing medieval-style coffee, stirring medieval Bedouin pudding, or just heating up a stew for dinner.

I stayed warm inside working through my seemingly endless to-do list that always precedes a few days away from our property. There are lamb roasts to cook over the fire for a medieval feast with friends, medicines to mix, herbs to gather, medieval garb to finish, cakes to bake, tipples to brew, gardens to water and weed, animals to water and feed, laundry to finish, bags to pack, and a staggering list of articles to complete and submit. I’m getting there, slowly but surely, and it feels mighty good to cross each thing off my list.

I finally got outside this afternoon, as the late sun was sinking down through the trees, illuminating my gardens in a filtered dance of light.

With true winter’s arrival came a heavy frost, and it put an end to my record-breaking run of eggplants, chilies, and tomatoes. I reached amongst brittle frost-bitten vines and plucked the last of summer’s bounty, delighted to still be eating such things at this time of year.

The frost didn’t hamper much else in my gardens. My vines are still covered with peas, broad beans are flowering beautifully, and the sweet potatoes and horseradish are ready to be dug up.

It was so nice to be out there, in spite of the cold, soaking up sunshine and seeing so many things growing. I’m looking forward to a few weeks down the road when I’ll be harvesting candy-striped beetroot and purple carrots, and a few more weeks when it will be time to shell fat broad beans and maybe collect the first asparagus of spring.

In the meantime we’re thoroughly enjoying our bumper harvest of home-cured marinated olives.

It’s been quite a few months since Bear and I took turns clambering up a ladder into the wind-tossed branches of olive trees to pick olives for the first time. Since then I spent a couple weeks giving them a daily bath in fresh water, then slit every single one of them and putting them into brine for another few weeks, tasting them once a week until they were just right.

Then I gave them a good rinse and packed them into jars with an assortment of marinades. Some I covered with brown vinegar, others with a mild salt solution. Into every jar I tucked cloves of fresh garlic, in some I added shards of bush lemon zest and a sprinkling of dill weed, others received sprigs of rosemary, and one or two stayed with just garlic.

I confess I was nervous every step of the way, so worried I’d mess something up and ruin all our hard work. But I needn’t have been. The olives turned out beautifully, far better than I could’ve hoped for. Some are strong garlic (my favorite!), others have an almost nutty flavour (Bear’s favorite), and others have just that little hint of lemon, dill, or rosemary (yum!). Our friend Sue declared the garlic, dill, and lemon ones the best olives she’s ever had, which, of course, totally made my day.

The sun is setting now, lavishly golden through our bedroom window, and it’s time for a glass of wine, some pasta, and writing my next newspaper column before I head to bed.

What’s the weather like in your part of the world? xo


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Emma Raphael - I don’t think you can beat a good “to do” list, there’s something so satisfying about completing one! 😀 Your olives sound and look divine! 🙂

Nancy | Plus Ate Six - Your breakfast sounds a-mazing. I’d love to wake up to that any day of the year. As for your olives – what a great accomplishment you must be so happy with your success. We’re sweltering through the rainy season although the cicadas have just started in the trees which means the heat is about to be turned up to 40C. Eeeeekk!!!!

Deborah Regen - Krista – your photos are always so colorful and beautiful, makes one’s mouth water for all the foods you display. 🙂

Tracy A. - What a wonderful harvest, and your breakfast sounds perfect for a cold morning!

Krysten (@themomnoms) - Those olives look so amazing to me. I am an olive fanatic.
Does it get really cold where you live?
In San Francisco, our weather is cold, but not biting. It snowed where I used to live and I really miss that.
Stay warm!

Evelyne CulturEatz - Ha ha ha love the commetn “brewing medieval-style coffee”. Gorgeous harvest at this colder time for you and the olives looks superb.

Kirsty - Amazing your garden is still producing such a bounty. My last crops are all but a memory, but a few early winter plantings are hanging in there, but are battling the frosts daily. Canberra has had some below freezing mornings with frosts. Days are sunny but low sun means the rays are short lived. Happy to hear your olives worked out. Well done 🙂

Anna @ shenANNAgans - WOAH…. look at your bounty of deliciousness. I wish my garden had me picking all that yumminess, it’s icy cold and frosty here in the Berra, not much seems to enjoy that. Le SIGH! Perhaps you might send me some of those sunshine loaded olives?

Tandy | Lavender and Lime - Please send some of that breakfast over. It is so cold here I can barely feel my toes. So glad your olives worked out 🙂

budget jan - All those olives need is some goat’s cheese to accompany them! They look AMAZING.

Julie - Oh, those nutty olives sound delicious! It’s fun hearing about your seasons, as we’re just (finally!) settling into summer – sunny and breezy, and not uncomfortably hot- my favorite! (Until autumn, which is my favorite, and then snow, also my favorite…)

Can’t wait to hear about your big campout!

Turkey's For Life - Ohh, those garlic olives you mentioned sound lovely. Think they would be my favourite, too. 🙂 Your garden looks so abundant at the moment. Happy harvesting and enjoy your medieval weekend. 🙂

Rosemarie of Travel and Beyond - The home cured marinated olives look absolutely delicious. I could eat olives every day, it’s my favourite snack! I especially like green olives. Thank you for showing us bits of your beautiful harvest!

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