We are now into the third week of the second lockdown in France. This time things are a lot freer than they were with the first lockdown and life in the McArthur household is pretty much unchanged. The two youngest are still going to college and lycée, and it’s very much business as usual for our business Kingdom Vegetal. The landscaping is at it’s peak with the tree planting season now in full swing and the garden centre is open for collections of orders by appointment. Although we can’t accept bookings in our gites, my freelance work is as busy as ever and I still never seem to have enough time to do everything…
The only difference really is that we have to fill out a special form (Attestation de Deplacement derogatoire) giving a valid reason for being out of the home. We can’t visit friends, shop for anything other than food and we can’t go out unless we have a valid reason (authorised work that can’t be carried out at a distance, food shopping, medical appointments, school runs and exercise within 1km of the house being the main ones).
Our eldest son is home for the lockdown (or confinement as we call in in France) as is our middle son who’s university studies are currently online. Second eldest is still in Montpellier as his partner is still able to work, so just the six of us at home for now.
The Fruits of our Labour
Back in March/April of this year during the first widespread lockdown in France, we took the opportunity to get our veggie plot going – you can read about it here. Loads of seeds were sown and seedlings planted. Now, in France’s second lockdown, we are reaping the benefits of our labour. We have (literally) tons of pumpkin “Longue de Nice”, bottle gourds, chayotes and a multitude of chillies.
Luckily we all love pumpkin because I think we’ll be eating it daily for the rest of the year. We have a number of delicious recipes we’ve devloped over the years, which I’ll share with you over the coming weeks.
This week we’ve been pickling some of the huge crop of chillies we harvested this year. Here’s the recipe – it’s a delicious way to preserve chillies and is ideal for adding to cooking, sandwiches – pretty much anything really that needs a bit of spice. It’s a very easy recipe I’ve adapted to our taste:
Vinegar (I used white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar)
Cardamon pods (2 or 3 per jar)
- Take the chillies and chop off the green end and discard. Chop the chillies into smaller pieces – I used lemon drop chillies and cut most of them into 2 or 3 pieces (depending on their size).
- Place a layer of chillies into a sterilised jar,
- Sprinkle a few chopped garlic and some mixed herbs over the layer. I only put a max of 2 or 3 cardamom pods and small pieces of star anise in each jar, otherwise their flavour can be overwhelming – but do it to your taste.
- Repeat layering the chillies with the garlic and herbs until you can’t fit any more in the jar.
- Place enough vinegar to fill the jar(s) into a pan and heat until it just reaches boiling point.
- Pour the vinegar into the jars leaving as little airspace as possible.
- Put the lid tightly on each jar, label and store for 4 weeks before eating. They will apparently last for up to 4 months in the fridge, but eat within 2-3 weeks once opened.
In addition we will be preserving some of our chillies by stringing them up and air drying. This way we’ll be able to use them for the whole year.
Later this week I’m going to try a Sweet Chilli sauce recipe – I’ll let you know how I get on.