Tomatoes for 5 Months

We are now just back from our 5 weeks in Japan continuing our research into single stone porcelain. We were lucky enough to get to many more sites on this visit, where porcelain stone is, or has been mined. See my earlier posts below.

I have been able to make a few nice pots while I’ve been here. Actually, I made a lot of pots, but destroyed all of inferior work that wasn’t up to scratch and didn’t make the cut.  I’m not here to make rubbish. I want to make things that I can be proud of, nothing less. My rejected pots have all been crushed up to dry powder, packed into boxes and shipped back home for a possible 2nd life. My best work was glazed and fired onsite and also shipped home. All my efforts are currently in containers at the port or on the high seas. I will see them again in 2 months. Hopefully they will still look as good when we are reunited.

This work is all a part of my 10 year project to go to all the places in the world where single stone porcelain has been made and then make some work at each of these places, out of the material that is to be found there. These works will then be shipped back here to Australia, where I will exhibit the whole body of work from all the sites along-side my own single stone porcelain pots, that I have made here, in one big show. I’m rather hoping that it will look good when all amassed together in one show. Only time will tell. I’m almost finished. Next year should see the end of it.

As soon as we are back home and settled in. We unpack our bags and put on a load of our soiled clothes into the washing machine, which grumbles and squeeks as it grinds along. I can’t complain, this machine is over twenty years old and still going – just. I think that it is the leaking water pump that is the problem. I have a new one in stock. I ordered it months ago when I noticed the water starting to leak from underneath. It took months to get here. It arrived just a week before we left on our long trip. I didn’t have time to install it before we left. Now that I’m back, I will have to make time.

After the basics are dealt with, then it’s straight out into the garden to check out how all the plants have fared while we have been away. Apparently it has been very dry for most of the time, with just one proper fall of rain. Annabelle Slougetté has been living here in our absence and has kept everything alive for us.

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The first thing that I notice when I get into the garden, is how dead so much of the garden is. The last of the summer corn, has finished, dried out and turned up its fibrous toes. We made an effort to mulch as much of it as we could in the week before we left and this has really paid off for us. There are so few weeds now. A couple of days of intensive work will bring it all back into healthy production again, as there are loads of winter vegetables coming on. I made an effort to get all these planted early in the season, at the end of summer/early autumn. So, now we have broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and spinach ready to pick.

Surprisingly, many of the late summer plants are still lingering on and still producing food. Others, their time being up, have gone to the big veggie patch in the sky. They will soon be headed into the compost bin, where they will rot down and be fertiliser for next seasons crop of summer vegetables.

As I look around, I see that there are still some little yellow tomatoes ripening on the old, almost dead, vines. We have been picking tomatoes now for 5 months, pretty amazing for us. So this is global warming?

This will likely be the last pick, as the plants have lost all their leaves and are pretty much dead now. Interestingly though, there are still some small new tomato plants germinating and growing up. One is even flowering, but I can’t believe that this will amount to anything, as the first day of winter is only 2 days away. The first frosts can’t be too long after that.

We  used to get our first frosts at the beginning of May, now its the end of May or early June and possibly later? A couple of years ago, we went right through winter with only minimal frosts, to the point that we didn’t get any apples on any of the trees the following summer. Apples need a minimum number of frosts (or winter chilling hours) to develop the hormones that are necessary to make the flowers fertile.

I go straight back out into the garden with my basket and fill it with little yellow tomatoes, the last of the lingering sweet basil and a load of capsicums and chillis.


I set about making a tomato/caps/chilli salsa by browning a few onions in good olive oil and adding 6 small knobs of garlic. The ones that are so small at 20 to 30mm. dia. that it really isn’t worth peeling them. They will add heaps of flavour to this mix and the small amount of skins and paper will be removed when I strain the whole batch. I let them softening down along with all the diced fruit over a long time at low heat on the wood fired kitchen stove.


I will  pass it all through the kitchen mouli sieve to take out all the tomato and capsicum  skins and seeds, then reheat it to sterilise it and bottle it in heated glass jars. It will keep for a year or so, but probably won’t last that long. It’s too delicious, although very ‘hot’ with chilli flavour. It will make a great addition to winter stocks and sauces over the coming cooler months.

This little effort marks the end of our summer preserving for this year. I’m very pleased, as I wasn’t expecting there to be any fruit left to preserve. This simple garden-to-kitchen-to-pantry excercise grounds me and resets my emotional and spirituual compass to ‘home’ after being away. This is what I do. This is what I live for. This is me. The self-reliant potter/gardener.

A close inspection of the garden beds reveals a lot of little germinating seedlings of onions, carrots, beetroot and rocket. I planted these seeds just the week before we left. I also planted a few hundred cloves of garlic. Most of which have now germinated and are showing their green shoots. Peas are also up and growing quite strongly, I hope to see them flowering soon.

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There are a lot of capsicums ready to pick, so I decide to stuff them with ricotta and bake them in the oven, as the stove is lit, we are making hot water and warming the house up as well, seeing that we are now home and the weather is so windy and cold. Such a change from the weather in southern Japan, where it was almost summer and the weather was balmy to hot.


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I make a stuffing out of whatever we have at hand in the fridge. Before we left I had bottled some little cucumbers and some dried tomatoes. I add these into a lump of fresh ricotta. I add a few cloves of our garlic, along with a few capers and an anchovy or two, a few olives, a shallot and some parsley. I dice it all up and mash it together with some veggie and herb salt substitute. I would like to add a little bit of finely diced feta cheese to give it a little bit of chewy texture to the cheesey mix, but I don’t have any at this time. I’ll add to my shopping list for next trip into town. There are plenty of capsicums left to pick, so we will be having a meal, not unlike this one again in the coming days or weeks. I like to use what I have in the garden and pantry. Our main food expense these days since we lost our chickens and ducks is protein, which these days consists mostly of fish.

The fresh fish truck is up from the coast today, so I buy a small piece of super-fresh sashimi grade kingfish, we have a small fillet for lunch. I skin it and slice it up and we have it with a little soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger in vinegar. Yum. Itadakimas!