These are olives my friend Sharon and I foraged from someone’s yard. Don’t worry – we asked permission and were granted it by the really nice ladies who lived there. They even supplied us with a step ladder to get at some of the higher branches. When we walked up their steps and rang their bell I thought they’d probably think we were trying to bring them some religion and worried they might be hostile. Or maybe they’d think we were on to some make-up scam and be hostile. I’m glad we took the chance and I’m equally glad that they were so agreeable.
There are more olive pictures at the bottom of this post. I’ve been meaning to share this disturbing picture with you: this is what happens when you think you’re being all thrifty and freeze “tomato water” for use in soups. What I don’t want to know is why is the water part all yellowy? Such a nasty surprise to find in my freezer.
I also wanted to chronicle how much you have to cook tomato sauce down to get a nice thick sauce. This is the pre-cooked picture. See how full that big pot is? Do you know how much work it took to clean, score, core and blanch then peel, squeeze, and dice that big pot of tomatoes? If you’ve done this before then you DO know.
The steam didn’t cooperate with my camera but you can see through it that the tomato level has dropped dramatically.
This is my 22 pound French heirloom squash that the produce stand people called “Peanut Squash” – it was difficult to find anything definitive on the subject but I’m completely sure that this squash is actually called Galeux d’Eysines. It’s fairly pumpkin-like in flavor but is less watery than pumpkin. This mean-ass squash caused me to cut myself. When wrestling such enormous cucurbitas – I recommend being particularly aware of the location of all your fingers in relation to your knife.
Olives are one of my favorite foods. The only kind of olive I’m not fond of are the black canned Mission olives ubiquitous on pizzas from chain restaurants. I don’t hate them but I would never voluntarily add them to food. But give me any kind of green olive or black olive that is salty, or salty and vinegary, or salty and herby – yeah, big fan here. Years ago I read a whole book about olives because my Grandfather was interested in them. He told me stories about the olive orchard he bought in Italy when he was still a young-ish man. It was supposedly one of the locations written about in Homer’s Odyssey. My grandmother eventually forced him to sell the orchard and I got the feeling he still wasn’t over it in his 80′s. Big clue as to how come they got divorced eventually.
The book I read was “Olives” by Mort Rosenblum. It was informative and whet my appetite for curing olives on my own. It also irritated me – Mort is something of a pompous windbag – though he may not be like that in real life at all. It’s just the tone of the book and honestly, I read it so long ago now I’m not sure I’d have the same opinion the second time around. The point is that for over 12 years I’ve had the ambition to cure my own olives but back then it didn’t occur to me that I might be able to forage some and I certainly didn’t have any access to fresh olives for sale.
Since that time I have become a pretty good forager of walnuts, nettles, elderberries, blackberries, rose hips, and plantain – but until moving back to California there were no olives to forage for. But now I am seeing them everywhere. The biggest problem is that a lot of the ones I’m seeing are too small to bother with curing them. Sharon and I definitely got enough to play with and in just a few minutes I’m going to introduce my haul to a lye bath*.
What I really want to do today is drive all over town looking for more olives to forage.
I am in full chipmunk mode now. I’m taking the dog for a walk to see if the walnuts have started falling in the neighborhood. Sometimes I wish I could forage and preserve food all the time – without other obligations like working or writing books (not really an obligation since I am unpublished and completely unknown – let’s just call it an obligation to myself) or running errands. I want to spend all my time cooking and experimenting with food preserving. And foraging.
I must go get dressed and made up – the olives are waiting for me and I need lipstick today. I should also probably check on my fermenting pickles, shouldn’t I? You might be curious how they’re doing about now. I’m a little scared to look. Drat – I also need to clean my work table.
And all I want to do is go collect nuts and fruits in my cheeks to store in my tree trunk.