Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Bamboo, Bumblebees, Plastic and Preserves

A snapshot of the deity that watches over us in our living room
Listening to Deva Premal and Miten, which I chanced upon on Youtube.  Great devotional music, as I write my blog.   Full moon.  I have slept surprisingly well, considering my normal pattern of wakefulness over full moon phase.
A weekend of preserving!  Or so it felt like.  Made 5 small bottles of feijoa jam and 3 large bottles of Tamarillo chutney.  A wonderful feeling when all fruit and vegetables come from the garden!  I thought I was being super-clever by using cellophane covers to seal my chutney but CURSE!  They didn't seal properly - am still novice at using them and I think I pulled them too taut accross the tops and so will have to refrigerate them instead of storing them in my preserves cupboard.  Oh well, we shall be eating Tam Chutney for the next few weeks!

Tamarillo Chutney Recipe (Digby Law's)
24 tamarillos
750g apples
500g onions
600ml apple cider vinegar
1 Tbspn salt
1 1/2 tspn powdered mustard
1 tspn mixed spice (I used a blend of coriander, cumin, clove, chili, cinnamon)
1kilo brown sugar
Peel and chop tams, core and chop apples, peel and chop onions.  Add all to saucepan and simmer gently, covered for about 2 hrs, stirring often.  Pour into hot, clean jars and seal.  Makes about 2 litres.

I cut the cooking time in half by using my pressure cooker.  Sooo easy.  "Suzie Home-maker", that's what my friend calls me!  I quite like it!

Tam Chutney and Feijoa Jam 

Feijoa and Ginger Jam
1kg feijoas, peeled and sliced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup water
4 cups white sugar
Place feijoas, water, lemon juice and zest in saucepan and bring to boil until fruit is soft, about 15 mins.  Gradually add sugar and bring to rapid boil, until jam reaches setting point, about 20mins.  Pour into warmed, sterilized jars, cool then seal.  Makes about 6-8 cups.

I doubled the quantity of fruit, added 2 extra cups sugar and added about 1/4 cup of crystallized ginger then buzzed the jam with my hand blender till smooth. My family confirmed with a taste test - delish!

OLIVES: The next batch of black Manzanilla olives have been bottled in brine, olive oil and herbs.  They have been rinsed in cold water every day for 20 days.  I will leave the greens for a further 10 days before bottling as they still taste extremely bitter.
Next batch of 20 day water-cured olives.  Can't wait to try them out!
GARDEN: The feijoas are coming to an end but the little red cherry guavas are coming into grand production.  I picked about 1 1/2 kilos on the weekend.  My son returned home for the weekend and headed back to uni with a big bagful to boost his Vitamin C intake (along with Tam Chutney and Feijoa Jam).  Nature is wonderful, providing us with exactly what we need at each new season's arrival.  I picked a small bowl of chillis, not quite enough to make Thai Chilli sauce but enough to dehydrate and grind into chilli powder.
Extraordinary delectable guavas...
Assorted chillies in the dehydrator

A trayful makes just one small half-jar, but there's  a sting in
them thar small flakes....  A little will go a long way.
We have discovered the most wonderful waste-busting invention!  Well, actually my eco-aware work friend discovered them first and bought a couple of boxes as a kindergarten fundraiser: Bamboo Toothbrushes!  They are simply the best!  Their tapered bristles get right into all the crevices with ease.  Soft and super efficient!  Spread the word!  Unlike plastic toothbrushes that crowd out our already bursting-at-the-seams landfills, bamboo toothbrushes can be thrown into your compost bin!  Exposed to the usual micro-organisms in a compost bin, the nylon bristles will also totally biodegrade within 3-4 months!  End of unsightly plastic throw away toothbrushes. Yeeha!  Apparently 57 000 plastic ones are thrown away each year in NZ and Australia alone!!  That's a lot of plastic!  The Bamboo toothbrush website have great links to info on plastic pollution like the one on The Magestic Plastic Bag, a mockumentary.  And toothpaste?  We use Weleda's Calendula Toothpaste - brushing teeth just got elevated up there to oral super-sensory-stimulation!

I also make my own hair oil, have done for some years now.  Hair oil?  What's that??  Well, for those with oily hair, you might want to skip this part.  You definitely don't need this product!  But for people like me who endure dry, coarse, frizzy hair, hair oil is The thing to use!  I make up a small bottle of organic cold-pressed sesame seed oil, add a few drop of essential oil that takes my fancy at the moment of making, give it a shake and Voila!  A teaspoonful is massaged into the hands and rubbed through the hair to produce a more "controlled" look.  Not that you can totally control dry, curly hair!!  But it works much better than conditioner.  And totally natural.  The scalp is so close to our body computer - the brain;-  the less chemicals up there, the better!
Our beautiful, earth-friendly, user-pleasing new bamboo

And while I am singing the praises of the Bamboo Toothbrush company, I would also like to mention Sistema, another great NZ company who puts out plastic food containers as well as stainless steel drink bottles.  I dropped mine on it's head and broke the sipper part, rang them up to see if I could get a replacement and they posted 2 sipper tops, free of charge!  Now that's sustainable!!  And worth spreading the good word.  In the Brick bats and Bouquet awards, this is definitely a bouquet!

And now, the Humble Bumblebee.....

Cute little bumble bee spied curled up on my pumpkin in the
late Autumn afternoon sun.
One of my next shed projects will be to make a bumblebee nesting box and see if I can attract them to make a home in our garden.........such fascinating little creatures!

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