Harvest Diaries, by Christine Stevens
Following the success of her organic cookbook Harvest Diaries, Christine Stevens pauses to reflect on her life, food and the beautiful, organic farm she calls home.
January is full of surprises. In the first year after we bought the farm, we were celebrating New Year's Eve when a storm blew through this seemingly tranquil place bringing hail that devastated the ripening grapes. A couple of years later a strong north-westerly wind blew over row upon row of grape-laden vines. My vista is superb. Rows of vines are backed by imposing mountains. Bunches of jasper-green grapes hang from the vines. I am waiting for the first blush of pale pink that will herald the rich purple of fully ripe grapes. This year, the process has been slower and I know this is due to storms that raged in November. I will have to be patient. Peace reigns in the mountain-rimmed valley. The farm workers are on their annual summer vacation, before the hectic routines of grape harvest begin. Opposite me, the horses graze contentedly in their paddocks. I can work uninterrupted. Apart from the comforting sing-song of the birds and the gentle sounds of our animals, the farm is silent. I write, research and answer correspondence in the cool of the morning, before the heat of the day brings children to play in the pool, and demands for food are issued. This morning I took an early walk down to the vineyard to inspect the vines for that of ripening pink. There is not a breath of wind and the day will be hot. I turn on water for the thirsty vegetable garden, and then stroll over to say good morning to our hens. They dislike this heat and I can tell from their dropping feathers and the clucking banter between them that they are beginning to feel the discomfort of the day. They are going to need more drinking water and I turn up the supply tab. Egg production will be affected if this carries on. Twenty-one chicks were hatched this year. One poor mother sat successfully on fourteen eggs. What patience and dedication. The chicks are now twelve weeks old and getting stronger, running around with such speed that I wonder how that mother manages to keep an eye on them all at once. Her biggest problems are the pied crows that wheel in the skies by day, and the sly genets that raid the nests by night. I spare a thought for the sew of less fortunate batters hens, who never see daylight or get to scratch the earth for tasty treats. The peach tree next to the nursery paddock where the hens live is laden. Several peaches have been pecked at by the birds, which always seem to go after the ripe fruit first. This morning I beat them to it and picked eight glorious fresh peaches for breakfast, devouring two on my way to the kitchen. Cooking is such a pleasure at this time of year. The vegetable gardens are abundant with offerings. Simple meals made from fresh ingredients are eaten outside. Breakfasts a reserved mid-morning when everyone has surfaced. Supper is eaten later in the evening when we take advantage of the long light evenings to sit outside under a beautiful starlight sky. This is the best way to share food and wine, as the taste just seems to better when food is eaten outdoors. The pace is leisurely and there are no pressures of e morning commitments. This is the season when fruit is served with every meal, in one form or another. Berries ripen and peaches, plums, figs and cherries hang from the trees, like edible Christmas decorations. Huge juicy melons trail along arger and riper under the sun. These sweet ripe globes natur detach themselves from the stem when ready to be eaten. In summer, sweet melons are included in nearly every meal. I serve them on their own, add them to salads, garnish them sliced with slivers of air-dried hams and salami. My sons love them cooked with duck, glazed by their honeyed juices at the end of cooking. Yesterday I gathered a basket of juicy ripe specimens and left some outside the kitchen. This morning I saw that bites had been taken from three of them. I'm sure it must have been a baboon. I often hear them barking on the mountainside at night. Last year they raided through rows of my ripe sweet corn, taking bites from several cobs and discarding them. [...]
This is an excerpt from the book: Harvest Diaries, by Christine Stevens.
Title: Harvest Diaries
Author: Christine Stevens
Type: Cookbook, Lifestyle
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers
Johannesburg, South Africa 2010
ISBN 9781920289263 / ISBN 978-1-920289-26-3
Softcover, 19x25 cm, 198 pages, troughout colour pages
Stevens, Christine im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Harvest diaries is both a memoir and a reflection on a year for food and wine on an organic farm in South Africa.
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