Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fusilli with Sweet Red Peppers, Garlic, and Capers...and Dirac the kitten

Late summer is when pepper harvesting begins as it takes a long time for green peppers to blush deeply and to develop the mellow flavour I prefer.  Piments doux très long des Landesour southwest region is known for this varietyare mildly piquant if green but sweet when crimson. Their two-in-oneness allows staggered picking: I leave half on the plants to mature and resort to freezing if there is a surplus of either kind.

Straight from our potager

While the pasta is cooking, cut rinsed peppers in half and remove seeds. Slice thinly. Mince a clove or two of garlic. Drain a tablespoon or so of capers. Heat up a small amount of olive oil in a skillet and gently saute the peppers for a few minutes or until nearly tender. Add the garlic along with the capers and cook for a minute or so longer.  Keep aside a few tablespoons of cooking water when draining the pastathis little trick works so well to smooth out the oil or butter I always regret when I forget to do it. Add the reserved water and pasta into the skillet with the peppers. Simmer while stirring for a minute or until the water has evaporated. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

This easy-to-do meal was exceedingly satisfying and delicious!

Don't be shy with the freshly grated Parmesan!

What to do with ripened-on-the-vine tomatoes direct from your garden?  Not much. 

Burpee Delicious did well in our potager this season

Sprinkling sourdough rye with olive oil and thyme, then layering on tomato slices topped with some more thyme is all that is needed to envelop me in bliss. The juices are easily absorbed by the bread making such eating not only a tasty affair but also a neat one.

Fleur de sel would not be amiss either.

Blueberries, raspberries, and to a lesser degree, strawberries, continue to be harvested.

Again, with homegrown produce, simple preparation goes a long way.

Sugared and creamed!

In the freezer, there was a remaining bag of strawberries harvested from the previous season.

Coffee ice cream smothered in syrupy strawberries topped with crème chantilly

A colleague of The Calm One brought us some of his mother's Gâteau Basque, a 'dry cake' originating in the region from where his maternal family hails. Usually filled with either pastry cream or cherry jam, this one had frangipane. Its deeply carmelised crust, dense, heavy but moist crumb, and fragrant almondy goodness was almost more pleasure than I could take but with courage on my side I bravely finished it all and in record time too!

The Calm One in his capacity as the butler chez nous answered the doorbell when it rang one sunny day a couple of weeks agoEnough time passed to make me curious necessitating a furtive peek which revealed The Calm One holding a frisky kitten. He also was holding an animated conversation with a teenaged girl standing behind the front gate. How silly, I thought, she is trying to convince him to take the mewling one. As if we could have said no.

Looking at that visage automatically removes the word no from one's vocabulary

Dirac, named after the legendary scientist* when a professional opinion of our kitten's correct gender made my first choice of Daphne a no-go, did type his name at the keyboard like his much beloved predecessor, Dayo, had done. However, it remains unknown as he cleverly used a password data field. This mysterious name is way longer than the one I chose! Often I find myself vocalising the first syllable Dir but following it with ee, that is, Dearie.

A kitten and his keyboard

After some research I identified his magnificent coat as being a full tabby of the blue mackerel persuasion. If that beauty was not enough, Dirac's eyes has gone the hazel route. His preferred toys are garlic cloves which he noisily bats one by one around the house. When the clove gets lodged behind some unsurmountable barrier, he jumps onto the kitchen counter and fetches fresh prey from the basket where I put them after he gleefully has separated a whole head or two or three.

A forlorn clove

Telling him to be sparing because this season's harvest has been meagre is to no avail.

Some representatives from our abundant onion but small garlic harvests along with sour dough rye bread

Meanwhile, our place being booby trapped with countless, odouriferous nodules makes the vacuum cleaner tremble.

That couldn't be a garlic clove between his paws, now could it?

As much as we can discern, he was abandoned causing him to become way too bony and infested with fleas. He is filling out nicely and is now free of bloodsuckers thanks to the excellent care given by his vet who has concluded that our three-month-old garlic player will grow up into a large, undoubtedly male, and needless to say, beautiful cat.

His demi-doppelgänger is Sliver, a plush dolphin

His becoming so robust is a bit hard to accept right now, but his sizable ears and paws along with the length of his skinny legs indicates that well may be his destiny. Additionally, family visiting from Britain all said that he was awfully big for a kitten his age. We'll see. But we all agree that he is super soft to the touch.

His pale golden glow is referred to as the patina of the blue mackerel tabby

In the garden, my success at weeding has much to be desired because with still plentiful rain, as soon as I pull some, their replacements already are popping up.

Peeking through tilted shutters while watching the garden getting drenched

The wild area is flourishing as its various critters with all this moisture.

That is most likely a moth caterpillar scrambling on some brambles

I was careful not to let my skin brush against it as orange, black, and white stripey colouring could indicate contact toxicity.

It's about four inches long and has what are called crochets to hook itself on the leaf!

Once Dirac gets snipped and vaccinated, the garden will become part of his territory.

À la prochaine!


Green piments des Landes can be used in Piperade
Green piments des Landes go well in smashed potatoes
Thaumetopoea pityocampa


Freezing peppers
Wikipedia article on caterpillars
Aposematism: warning colouration
The Gateau Basque Museum

*Paul Dirac though considered to have been problematically taciturnhis Cambridge colleagues with great amusement defined a unit of a dirac as being one word per hourwas able to express himself with such finesse and clarity that the end product was gracious wit: Another story told of Dirac is that when he first met the young Richard Feynman at a conference, he said after a long silence, "I have an equation. Do you have one too?" Now if that is not playing nice I don't know what is.