Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Olive You

Remember that old knock-knock joke? For those of you who don't, here it is...

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Olive who?
Olive you. (this line is supposed to sound vaguely like I love you, in case you don't get it)

What does this have to do with anything? Not much really. Just wanted to bring you some elementary school humor, which reminds me: I was apparently well-known in the family for my incessant need to tell ridiculous jokes that made no sense. My mom acts as if I stopped doing this maybe around the age of 10 or younger. Some would say that I've held on to the habit well into adulthood...

Actually, there really is a link to that knock-knock joke and this post, however small it may be. The link is in the word olive.

If you look in the picture there, you can make out some silver/green-leafed trees. That's our olive grove, if you can call it that. We've got about 80 olive trees that myfather-in-law tucked away in that hard to access valley there. It's nicely surrounded by lots of prickly holly bushes and spikey wild blackberry bushes. This, of course, makes it really fun to work with the trees. So, they've pretty much been left to their own devices for maybe 15 or 20 years. Then, a couple years ago, Muttonchop and I got the idea of trying to harvest some and pickling (or whatever you call it) our own olives. They turned out okay, but they certainly weren't fabulous. This year, though, my father-in-law went to the effort of actually weeding in the general area of the orchard (only a bit) to ease the access. So, this week we have been harvesting. I've been told we've gotten about 100 kilos so far. That's about 220 lbs. Not bad, really, but we need about 3 times that for what we want to do with them... which is to make our own olive oil. We use that way more than we eat olives, so we've contacted a man with a press and have been told that we need about 300 kilos of olives for one pressing. We don't know if we'll get that many, but if we can't, he'll add some of his in and give us back the equivalent of our olives in oil.

I'm really excited about the idea of using our own oil. First, there's the tightwad aspect that pleases me. Why wouldn't it? I mean, that's some expensive stuff, and I use it all the time in cooking and salad dressing. I usually pay at least 7 euros for a nice liter of it. And, our oil would be about as organic as they come. Wild, really, since we don't do anything to the trees. Then, there's the gift idea of it. You can give these away to people for Christmas! Who wouldn't love that? I could even make up some cute little tags for it. If I remember right, the 300 kilos of olives should give us about 50 liters of oil. I don't think we use any more than maybe 15 a year, and we cook a lot. Then, we'd have to give some to the nice friends who helped out with the harvest. A few bottles each family should be enough, since I think they came for the fun of it mostly. They'd certainly deserve to have their share, but I'd doubt they use as much as we do, since people rarely cook as much as I do (and both husband and wife work in those families, so they don't likely eat 3 meals a day at home). That should leave a lot for use in the larger family. My husband's neice is epileptic after a bout with meningitis when she was a tiny baby. She has a very high-fat diet that consists mostly of vegetable oils. I'm pretty sure some oil would be very much appreciated around her house.

Okay, I could go on and on thinking of free Christmas gifts in the form of oil. But, I'll save you all that and stop here. It may not be a bad way to coax family members over from the US. Anyone up for tasting some of our oil? Instead, I'll leave you with another picture of the sun coming through the olive trees. The weather's been great, and it was perfect for picking olives yesterday (take a look at the Weather Pixie in my sidebar for the current temperature here - amazing for late November).

Oh, and thanks for all the suggestions everyone gave about how to fix my picture download problem. It turned out to be just a matter of changing my privacy settings a bit in Flickr. I am giving this blogger photo uploading feature a try in this post again, though, because I want to see how it deals with more than one picture in the same post. As far as I can tell, Flickr doesn't allow that, and it's not a bad idea for some posts. Cross your fingers for me. I'm hoping there will be a picture on the left part way through the post and one on the right a little later (imagine me closing my eyes and quickly nodding my head like in I Dream of Genie for this to work right).