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- Homestead Albania Tour
We will help answer all inquires here at Homestead Albania. We have 47 varieties of fruit trees and vines plus a large organic garden. Our land also has a beautiful mount and trail with a beautiful view of the lake, town and surrounding mountains. Tastings will include wine (while supplies last) and a variety of raki.
- Persimmon or Pumpkin?
As the holiday season kicks off across the pond we are still enjoying the last little taste of fall. Our fall meals change as the garden slows. We have cabbage, leeks, pumpkins, spring onions and garlic, broccoli, and a few peppers and tomatoes ready for picking in the garden. Fruit wise it's officially persimmon season. I like to bake with persimmons in replacement of pumpkin. Add a little cinnamon, nutmeg with the honey sweetness of the persimmon it's devine and reminds me of the flavor of a pumpkin chai. We've dried the persimmons this year and I am a fan, they are sweet and chewy. A fantastic addition to the pantry. What's your vote on pumpkin vs persimmon? We are nearing the end of pomegranate season, but the orchard is little golden beauties. Lemons and orange tree are nearly ready to pick and our asian persimmon bloomed. It's grafted on our quince tree so we'll see how that does over the next few months of cold damp weather. November has been full of little mini adventures. We had family visiting from the states and visited an area called Tale, Albania. It's little village north of the capital that sits on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The water is clear and the sand is beautiful. It has a few condo projects coming up but is rather undeveloped. What do you think? Would you invest in this view? Our next mini adventure included a movie premier starring my nephew Mateo. We graced the red carpet, met the cast, and enjoyed the movie, even shed a few tears. The movie is based on a true story and it captures the essence of Albanian Hospitality and part of it was shot up north in Boge near us. He gave a wonderful performance and this was his second big screen appearance. We were very proud. Our annual fall foraging trip to the Mokset hills did not disappoint. We came back with a trunk full of wild tart pomegranates. It was a beautiful sunny day and we had some wandering company. And we juiced about ten liters of juice and have had to some rearranging of the freezer to stock up all the bottles. Our next adventure included a trip to Velipoje, Albania another town set on the coast to pay our respects to the family of our sister in law. It's off season and takes about fifty minutes from our front door to the water. During summer season it would likely take two hours but I digress. We checked out the new additions to the boardwalk and enjoyed a long week on on the beach all to ourselves. We've discussed the investing in a beachside apartment or condo over the years but they're locations are close. We can make a day trip and sleep in our own beds. But the idea of running out and going for a swim any time does sound amazing. The beach from the boardwalk to the water is almost 90 meters at the widest section and it's 14 km (8.6 miles) long. Water is clear and the sand quality is fantastic so between Tale and Velipoje it's two amazing options to enjoy the coast. And last weekend we stopped by the small mountain village of Razem and captured the last of the fall foliage and a few grazing horses before the rain. We've been busy this month and still have a few days left. I am happy to announce my novel Guide Time Inside, Book Four in the Ember in Time Series is with my editor and will be out in December. And for those following my author's journey. I will be starting another mini book tour in December 26th through January 19th to celebrate the final series book and an upcoming mystery book, Twisting Hercules. I'll post the dates and locations soon. From our homestead to yours, stay well and enjoy the holidays.
- Fall Garden and Prep for Winter
Here at Homestead Albania we do a fair amount of canning. And this year we stocked the pantry with various versions of tomato based sauces, pickled various peppers, eggplants and tomatoes, made a few rounds of mulberry and grape pekmez, fig and plum jams, made plum and pear compote, dried chickpeas, beans, popcorn, figs, plums, quince, lavender, mountain tea, rosebud, mint, chamomile, spearmint, rosemary, basil, thyme and parsley. And added various jars of honey from local beekeepers. The deep freeze is full of meat, blueberries, pomegranate juice, and figs. I know I am missing a few items, but I think you get the idea. It's packed and ready for some long winter nights and cooler days. One of our great mama hens added another ten baby chicks to our flock this week. Egg production averages about four to six a day. In the garden, we are still harvesting eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, squash, melons, watermelons, mountain tea, brussel sprouts, and broccoli. We are still awaiting the cabbage, leeks, a few pumpkins plus the spring onions and garlic are poppin. We picked all but six pomegranates in the orchard. We've confirmed that the turkish variety ripen first and they are sweet. The wonderful variety need a few more weeks to ripen but we did taste test one and it has a semi-tart flavor. The davendish variety trees are slowest to mature. We only had three poms of this variety and we are waiting to pick for another week or so. And we did pull the sweet domestic mature pomegranates from the garden this week. We squeezed 13 liters of fresh juice. And this month we granted life long wishes for two visitors, Jennifer and Enola. They stopped by and toured our little corner of the world. We took them up the hill to give them a birds eye view. They were giddy excited to take in the views. They also picked a few grapes and got to live out their 'I Love Lucy' dreams of stomping grapes with some Albanian music playing. We danced and laughed a lot. It was amazing sharing their joy and seeing our homestead through their eyes. Albania offers US citizens a one year visa free stay. This attracts remote working/retired travelers to make Albania home for a year at a time. We've had 17 visitors stop by over the last few years. It's always great to share a bit of the history and seasonal goodies from the homestead. We harvested a second round of grapes for wine. It took two days to collect and crush another 220 liters of grapes to ferment. So far we've pulled about three liters of grape juice (mushti) with a kick and it's amazing so far. High praises so far for the wine this season. Art finished the cellar project just in time for more wine. A fresh coat of paint on the walls and floor. Custom steel and wood shelves add the storage we need to expand our wine production and store other canned goods. This week we've been blessed with a visit. Art's sister and brother in law are here just in time to enjoy the beautiful sunshine. Cheers to an amazing fall with bright warm days and average temps in the mid seventies (23°C).
- Four years, many wines ago...
We've picked, crushed, smushed, and fermented our çylek grapes. Yesterday we filtered and drained the wine from our 500 liter and 50 liter barrel of mush to begin the racking process. We moved the wine to a 200 liter barrel inside to rest for a few days and then we filter the wine into another barrel to rest again. The mush will rest for raki to brewed in few weeks. We repeat this process every few days to remove the muck and sediment from the wine for the first seven to ten days. Once the wine stabilizes we will move the wine into our oak barrels to age. Tasting the wine at nearly every stage from sugary sweet grape juice, bubbly sweet grape juice, smooth grape juice with less sugar, and on day 14 it taste more like wine and less like juice. Young wine is always a great introduction for people that are new to wine. It's got a lot of the great flavor without the punch of a mature wine. This round will yield about 60 bottles of wine. But we aren't done with our season. We will be harvesting the rest of our ripened grapes this week to start the process over again. If you are nearby come by and we'll let you stomp some of the next round. The grapes is not the only thing that is ripe. We've picked several pomegranates and squeezed out amazingly sweet juice from our garden and even several from the orchard. And our quince tree is full and ready for picking. We will be peeling, slicing and preserving the quince in the form of jam. The garden is still producing beans, peppers, eggplants, brussel sprouts, watermelons, and pumpkins. Our garlic, onions, cabbage, and leeks are growing fast. The remaining producing trees are the olives, walnuts, jujubes, persimmons, orange and lemons. I fly our small drone a few times a month to capture the changes. I put together a few shots over the last six months. We live in a beautiful bowl where our sneezes and laughter echo around. The mount behind the house has some magical views. Today marks four years here in Albania. One of the many questions I hear often, is why Albania...my dear people, why not! Our beloved property has evolved in many ways over the last four years. One project underway includes the destruction of an old stone shed built by my husband and his father in the 90s. We did consider keeping a few walls but the condition is just too far gone. We are planning a steel-framed building in it's place to store our wine and raki equipment, and additional cold storage for the pomegranates. And one day accomodations and tasting room. Just need to sell a few more books. Happy Fall!
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About Kim Malaj Author/Wine Taster/Blogger When I moved to my husband's tenth generation land and homestead in Albania, I had a vague idea of what I was getting into but the journey has been more enlightening and life changing in the most unexpected ways. From a corporate jet set life to working and running a small vineyard and homestead outside of the US in the mountain valley town Bajze, Albania. I have found peace, home and life outside of a 9-5. We enjoy every aspect of living outside of the US and want to share our a simple life of culture and wine. I first started writing our journey in a notebook stored in the bedside table to capture the activities of our homestead because each day is an adventure. After a short trip back to the US to visit family and friends, I found that trying to catch them up on the day to day life living abroad in beautiful Albania was nearly impossible. Homestead Albania has become an outlet for us to document our epic journey and allows others to tag along. Author of Who Is Maggie, the Ember in Time Series and The Old Untold.