48. Autumn in Bulgaria

by | Nov 8, 2011 | Bulgarian life, Food & recipes, Gardening bore | 0 comments

Okay, so we had a freak snowstorm in October. Yes, October. Thankfully it happened a few days after we got our heating fitted so we stayed nice and warm. Apparently it’s pretty unusual for the temperature to drop so much in October. Although, saying that, we were house hunting here last October and I remember being effing freezing then too. November, so far, has been gorgeous. Lovely bright, sunny days and about 15°C, but feeling warmer in the sun. The nights and early mornings are getting very cold. It’s not pleasant if, like me, you have the World’s Smallest Bladder and have to get up for a wee in the night. I shudder to think about what it will be like in January – perhaps we’ll keep the woodburner going all night.

Ah, the woodburner. My new best friend, light of my life, replacement for television, and source of hot food. How I love thee.

 

We’re going to need considerably bigger logs…

 

The woodburning beast is doing a darn good job. It heats the downstairs to a roasting 20-25° no problem. It feeds radiators in the rest of the house and heats our hot water too. Upstairs is definitely colder than downstairs – radiators just don’t kick out as much heat as the beast downstairs – but it’s still comfortable. The woodburner has a good size oven too, so we’ve been able to have roast dinners again! I’ve missed baking and roasting. Our little electric hotplate still gets its fair share of use but it’s nice to cook something other than one-pot wonders.

We’ve been enjoying some home-grown autumn produce lately. We made a couple of crumbles with apples from the garden. Last night we made our first batch of quince jelly – we’ve got two quince trees in the garden and they’ve produced more quince than I know what to do with. Think we’ll definitely have to make some more quince jelly, as the first batch seems to have gone okay. And I’ve got some quince poaching in the oven as I write, ready to make a quince and walnut cake tomorrow.

 

Our first efforts at quince jelly.

 

Walnuts. We’ve got them coming out of our ears. We collected them up from the garden a couple of weeks ago with the help of our 63-year-old neighbour. His technique is amazing. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but this is our (again, 63-year-old) neighbour climbing to the top of one of our walnut trees (which is easily as tall as our house or more) and jumping on the branches to make the walnuts fall out. Just to make sure he got them all, he returned later with a ruddy great stick and climbed it again, hitting the very top branches with said ruddy great stick. I don’t know how to say “please be careful” in Bulgarian so I just stood mutely. Then, obviously, I went to get my camera!

 

Just bonkers.

 

I didn’t know that walnuts don’t actually look like walnuts on the tree. They grow covered in this strange green fruit-like casing. They look a little like round limes. By the time they fall to the ground, the fruit should be soft enough to scrape off, revealing the walnut inside. WARNING the fruity stuff seriously stains your hands black, and it lasts for weeks. We wore surgical gloves when peeling ours (like the little English jessies we are) and Rob still ended up with a black thumb. You can spot the Bulgarians with walnut trees, because they’ve got totally black hands at this time of year.

Autumn is lovely here. Weekends we go to the market or for a nice long walk up in the mountains. The mountains are all covered in trees so you can really see the change in colours at this time of year. When the trees were covered in snow, it was amazingly pretty.  Roll on December baby, because I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.

 

 
Our Sunday walk…
 

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