The Changing Seasons, November 2018

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New growth, grapevine. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Time’s a strange thing. It is defined by its measurement, objective and increasingly precise. Yet even as we observe the system, we experience time in our own unique and subjective ways.

I think about this every month as I begin to write my Changing Seasons post, aware that I experience the passing of different months in very different ways. Indeed I would say I’ve experienced November as almost outside of time, anchored by neither nature nor culture.

In my garden, plants seem to be flourishing, but not in dramatic ways. Blossom has given way to fruit but none of it is ripe. About the only thing that’s noticeably grown is the grape vine.

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It never bears fruit, but in the words of 10cc “it hides an ugly stain (alright, fence) that’s lying there”. Image: Su Leslie 2018

In all the years we’ve lived here, the vine has never produced grapes. Its utility lies instead in covering — at least for a few months a year — a particularly ugly fence.

I am a utility gardener, and while I appreciate the masking properties of the vine, I want more from it. In one of those moments which, in a movie would carry ominous soundtrack warnings, I thought it might be fun to try cooking with the vine leaves.

Fondly imagining some tasty little herby halloumi parcels, I set off across the lawn with my secateurs.

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Fresh vine leaves. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Online, I found lots of advice on blanching the leaves for preserving, and lots of recipes using preserved leaves — but not a lot on using blanched leaves more or less straight away.

With our little vine I can’t really harvest enough leaves to be worth preserving — and besides I wanted to cook NOW.

“NOW” has proved to be a very fluid term. It took me the better part of a day to figure out a combination of blanching, soaking and simmering that would render fibrous leaves edible, turning a quick snack into an edible marathon medal.

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Blanched, soaked, simmered; topped with a slice of halloumi and fresh herbs. Good to go. Image: Su Leslie 2018

The parcels themselves are pretty quick to make. I added my new favourite herb combination of oregano and lemon thyme, and cooked them in a lightly oiled skillet for a few minutes on each side.

 

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Halloumi-stuffed vine leaves with quick-pickled red onion and pomegranate seeds. Image: Su Leslie 2018

The verdict: the dish worked quite well. The pickled onions and pomegranate seeds balanced the salty cheese and I liked the background taste of the herbs. The leaves were ok; still a bit chewy and fibrous, and I wouldn’t serve them to guests.

The idea of garden to table living is incredibly appealing to me, and is indeed what I am aiming for eventually. In that context, the time spent fiddling about cooking leaves doesn’t feel wasted, and I’m not disappointed in the final outcome. I have discovered reserves of patience and tenacity I don’t always think I have, and learned quite a lot about a food I’ve only ever eaten in restaurants and as a take-away.

When I look back on my November, I realise I have spent a great deal of it on projects like this; learning and practicing skills that haven’t necessarily produced the kind of results I would want to photograph, but have changed me for the better.

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Little Pieces of MeChanging of the Season — November 2018 and Changing of the Season — November 2018 (Riding Edition)

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Lee at Ladyleemanila

Ju Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Deb at The Widow Badass Blog

Jude at Under a Cornish Sky

Mick at Mick’s Cogs

 

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63 thoughts on “The Changing Seasons, November 2018

  1. Talk about a month of changes. November has gone from autumn to winter to storm and wind and overflowing rivers … and I don’t know which way is up or down.

    Congratulations on making the date. Sometimes, the month just creeps up on you. I had a book to review tomorrow and I made THAT date and it wasn’t easy. It really wasn’t my kind of book, but I made a date and felt obliged to meed my deadline. I hate being so deadline driven.

    We have gotten 9 inches of rain in November, 18 inches since the beginning of Fall in late September. a lot of indoor pictures, but some stunning ones outdoors, too.

    Congratulations (again) on making a really difficult dish from scratch. I don’t even have enough character to make them from preserved ingredients. I’ll post tomorrow or maybe Friday. The last day of the months somehow seems so appropriate. It might snow again.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Your post has lifted me to a philosophical place – time: objective or subjective, driven by the nature or will.

    I love how you’ve put together this challenging food/design post, presenting it through The Changing Seasons, all in the timeframe! Again, I am inspired by your creative drive driven by the challenges you’ve set for yourself!

    As always, beautifully photographed, aptly worded!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for such kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I do find myself waxing philosophical at times, and wonder if I’m just going to bore readers senseless. πŸ™‚

      Like

  8. Marvellous! Well done you. I can identify with ‘now as a very fluid term’ …I have one or two things to sort out, shouldn’t take too long…but! Your comment on ‘reserves of patience and tenacity I don’t always think I have’ is something that resonates with me these days, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I discovered the true joys of stuffed grape leaves when in Greece last year so I am truly impressed by your journey. The end result looks amazing – although you had me at halloumi πŸ˜‰
    I briefly contemplated raiding my neighbour’s vine next summer … but it would likely be much easier and tastier for me to simply go into the Greek part of the city and buy them πŸ™‚

    It sounds like you and I had a very similar November – several projects that were part of a learning process but not necessarily ‘news worthy’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Joanne. Buying grape leaves here isn’t quite as easy as many places as our Greek and Middle Eastern communities are not long established and are only just beginning to open stores. So it DID seem like a good idea at the time πŸ™‚

      My dearth of photos for the month made me realise how much of my “normal” life produces material for posts and photos. It’s quite liberating to engage in projects that I don’t have to think about how to shoot!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m impressed with your bravery on cooking grape leaves. It’s weird, I had no problem chewing the vegetables I planted, but somehow, I’d fear picking unripe or too old leaves from a grape arbor. (They are just too mysterious to understand.) I felt just as daunted by okraβ€”I kept letting it grow because I didn’t know when it was done, and by then, it was a woody stake you could have impaled vampires with. But I do admire your efforts and the pictures could be in a fine dining article!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Pingback: November – Changing Seasons – My Life Lived Full

  12. I love your garden to table goal, Su. I enjoy walking out to my patio every summer and picking some beans, tomatoes and herbs for my supper table. Living vicariously through you until our next gardening season, here in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it the best feeling. My garden is very small, and frankly not at its best right now. But even having a few herbs and chard to cook with feels like an achievement. It’s great that you can grow food on the patio; you are feeding your soul as well as your body.

      Liked by 1 person

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  14. I think you should ditch that vine and replace it with something that does flower and fruit. I even have to query whether it is a vine? But I suppose you must know that it is to cook with it. The finished result does look very nice and I admire your tenacity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does occasionally produce tiny clusters of fruit buds, but they never ripen. I have thought of replacing it, but in reality, we actually need to re-landscape that whole part of the garden and that seems too daunting, so we end up doing nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

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  17. A beautiful visual feast, Su. I adore halloumi but I think I can give vine leaves a miss. I read somewhere that some grape varieties produce better edible leaves than others. Perhaps your vine was not one of the best for edible leaves. I am sure you did everything possible to prepare them well.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Thanks so much. That little bit of fence exists because of a boundary realignment a few years ago which saw us gain a strip of land — and the grapevine. It is the only panel of that fencing on the whole property and it drives me crazy, but to re-fence the whole place would cost a fortune πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I am in for the seasons challenge this month – and will have my post linked later πŸ™‚

    I like the dark backdrop in your exquisite food photos.
    πŸ™‚
    and enjoyed your ponderings about time…
    and becky b just announced that her challenge theme is “time” for this whole month – and this post fits right in…
    and lastly, just wish we could

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: The Changing Seasons. October and November 2018 | Mick's Cogs

    • Lovely to see you back Mick.
      I hope your mum has settled in well; I know it can be a difficult time for everyone.
      I don’t get the whole Black Friday sale crap here either — for exactly the same reason. But (bloggers notwithstanding hehe) people are idiots.

      Like

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