A few years into his retirement, my dad, who is a lawyer and had a leading position in the city administration during his active work years, was chosen to become a chairman of a local family foundation and take care of its legal affairs. The foundation was created in the 17th century by a northern German merchant who by his last will determined that his assets should be transferred into a foundation administered by his descendants, and his money should be used to maintain the estate and support community projects and students’ education. This still happens today. In addition, thanks to her interest in genealogy, my mom found out that she and I are both descendants, which is why I got a scholarship from them during my studies and some financial support for my marriage. That helped a lot!
Two years ago, I visited the estate together with my parents. It is situated at the outskirts of the city – one moment, you drive through an industrial area, and the next moment, you turn into an inconspicuous, bumpy canopy road and feel thrown into a different sphere of reality.
The estate consists of the mansion, several old houses, a landscaped garden with carp ponds, extended fields, and a forest. Nowadays, the houses are still inhabited by people who take care of the estate, and the mansion is alternatingly used as residence by the chairmen and their families. My parents’ turn will be next year, but my mom has already celebrated her last birthday there. They are very much looking forward to spending the summer months there.
~ the little mansion ~
The garden is very pretty. I love wild gardens like that!
Since the ponds were so silted, my dad suggested they should be cleaned out. This has been done by now, and during the whole endeavor, the carps were carefully evacuated to another pond until all ponds were restored. This summer, it looked like this.
Next to the houses, there is an area used as a vegetable garden, and now that my dad is a chairman, my parents get their share of whatever the estate is yielding.
~ vegetable garden area ~
So, once a week, one of them or both go there and pick up baskets with produce prepared for them – vegetables, fruit, and flowers. What they get depends on the season and what has been planted. This year’s harvest was worse compared to last year’s, because the whole spring was cold and rainy and summer was very short, but nevertheless there was quite a lot.
Since this whole thing started, my parents have not bought a single potato anymore, because they are so well-supplied. Sometimes the harvest is so rich that my mom blanches huge batches of vegetables and freezes them, and she also gives some of them to my grandmoms. Every now and then, my parents make a package they send to Peter and me, and then we get something like this.
This is wonderful, because the vegetables are organic and taste very good, and it also helps us financially because we have to buy less. So kind!
As you can see above, we recently received a lot of zucchini, and admittedly I was feeling slightly overwhelmed because I am not a big zucchini eater and Peter’s appetite is a bit unpredictable. Then I had the idea to make antipasti zucchini, because Peter likes such things to eat with a slice of bread during the day. Fresh thyme and oregano from the balcony, accompanied by garlic, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar, provided additional flavors, and Peter liked them very much.
- vegetable oil
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 750 g (1 1/2 lb) zucchini, sliced and then cut into strips
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 pinch of brown sugar
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- pepper to taste
Carefully heat up some oil in a large pan. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and sautée until brown, then add the zucchini strips and sautée them as well. Season with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and thyme. If you use dried oregano, add it already, otherwise keep it for later. Cover and let everything cook at medium heat until the zucchini are soft. Stir in the oregano now if you use fresh, and add pepper to taste. Let everything cool down, then transfer to jars and keep refridgerated up to a couple of days.