Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Bay Tree in The Bay

Our first fire for the season - what a thrill!
As the nights and mornings grow colder, we have begun to light our wonderful warming fires to keep the night-time spirits up.  There is something truly magical about a roaring full-flame fire.
We had the strangest thing happen last week.  Strange but wonderful.  We are friendly with our local Indian store owners and they know that we own a Bay tree.  Someone came in looking for fresh Bay leaves and they passed on our number.  Whilst at kindy last week, one of our mums came up hesitantly and inquired if I had a Bay tree.  When I affirmed that I did, she then sighed and said she had suspected it was me as she didn't think there were any other Jizzy's in Katikati!  Well, turned out that her husband is an exporter of herbs to Hong Kong and he needed to collect 2kg of Bay leaves urgently that day.  I laughed, imagining that  picking anything close to a kilo would take a whole day, let alone 2 kilos!  I consented to them picking and was surprised to arrive home to this amusing sight!

Bay pickers!  5 in total
Well, I hadn't counted on so many Bay pickers, and within an hour they had collected 2kg of Bay - and the best news is that we were paid $60 for our trees offering!  How exciting!  I shall use it to purchase our summer seeds!  The garden sure does pay dividends!  And not always in predictable ways!  And the Bay tree - doesn't look any worse for the wear!

This is for Jasmine Sparrow - HOW TO MAKE LIP BALM (by popular request)
On Thursday night, I whipped up a batch of lip balms and some heel balm, literally, in 10 mins.  The hardest part of making lip balm is ensuring you have all the ingredients on hand.  You need several little containers, washed and dried/sanitised in the oven (100degC for 10 mins).  I never measure anything exactly - it is just a case of intuition.
Ingredients:  (Please note - all measurements are APPROXIMATE)
 1TBSPN beeswax
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used organic cold pressed olive oil and sesame seed oil from Ceres)
5 drops peppermint/rosemary essential oils (if you can imagine eating it, then use the oils that appeal)
6 drops Rescue Remedy
Melt beeswax in small steel pot, whisk in oil gradually, remove from heat and add essential oils and Rescue Remedy.  Pour into warmed up containers (I also use little recycled sage pastille tins).  Wait to cool and set before capping.  Label and give away as gifts and keep one for yourself.  It lasts close on a year.

Lip Balm and Foot Balm
Foot Balm is made much the same way.  Solid perfume can be made in this way too, simply by increasing the drops of essential oils of your choice to about 20 - 25 drops.  I use patchouli, bergamot, geranium, rose and lavender in decreasing quantity.  Again, I never really measure too much - just "what feels right".

Another fun activity happening in my kitchen right now, alongside the curing olives, is the apple cider vinegar making.  We have been buying "seconds" organic apples and Mike juices them every morning.  What to do with the cores?  Make Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).  Dump all the cores into a bottle filled with filtered water, remove froth that collects and any spongey old apple cores and replace with new apple cores.  Slowly the brew begins to ferment to the point when you can smell exactly what is being created - and a final taste test will determine the strength.  5-7 weeks does the trick.  I am experimenting with shortening that time by leaving a little ACV in the bottle and refilling with water to start a second batch.  Seems to be working just fine!

On left, a recycled Braggs ACV bottle filled with "home brew"
On the right, I have left some old mix behind to accelerate a new batch

Small red cherry guavas bursting with tropical flavour
A great Autumn fruit filled with Vitamin C to boost the immune
system against invading winter viruses

Some of our feijoas are rather large

Still harvesting feijoas, the bigger ones are dehydrated for winter
supplies - they taste like candy!

What to do with overgrown Rosemary?
So exactly what do you do with an abundance of Rosemary?  Well, the miracle of Google is still an amazing tool in sharing information.  Not only can you make a tea for rinsing hair, but you can also make mini-wreaths.  So I did.  Several, in fact!  Not terribly sure what you do with a Rosemary wreath, but there you go - my motto is always give something a go once, at least!  And no, I don't think I will try surfing at this grand old age.  Just not my thang!

Double Rosemary wreath

It was rather a pleasant, aromatic outdoor activity.
This last weekend Mike and I planted out a bed of garlic that the chooks had just vacated.  Usually we grow enough to last a year of culinary garlicking, as well as enough to plant out for the following year.  However, our last crop was not that successful.  In fact, it was a dismal failure!  So Mike bought a few bulbs of organic garlic - fat, juicy ones.  Usually we also follow the advice of planting them out on the shortest day in winter, and harvest on the longest day in summer.  This time we are cheating - planting out now while there is still some lovely warm sunny weather and hopefully  this will kick-start their growth.  Grow little garlics, grow!
Another experiment is unfolding - we were given a bag of ginger that was all wrinkled.  Nothing wrong with it, just a little past Best Before.  I have planted out a bed of ginger - it will be very, very exciting if it is successful!  Apparently garlic is not a root crop (ascertained so that I could schedule it into a crop rotation plan) but that the bulb is really a rhizome, a modified stem!  There is nothing like a cup of Rooibos tea with a slice of ginger added for effect - mmmn.  Or a smidgeon squeezed through the juicer into apple/carrot juice blend.

We are collecting a basketful of fruit a day - feijoas, guavas & tamarillos

Cherry Guavas netted against marauding birds
This tree is like a candy shop for birds, they LOVE guavas!
We have planted a corridor of red and yellow cherry guavas, the yellow ones ripen much later, giving an extended picking season.  The yellow ones are sweeter and slightly larger.  The gravity bound fruit usually tends to end up growing several little guava plants, which are easily transplanted out as we have done, and given away.  I love to give fruit plants away to people - it is a gift which keeps on giving, year after year!

Delightful jewel-like orbs encrust our little guava bush

These little delights won't last long on the journey to the kitchen

Feijoa Factory ....... smaller specimens are utilised in crumbles,
purees, baking and of course, eating.

A feijoa crumble to be baked, alongside a bottle of feijoa puree

First batch of bottled olives, with rosemary, lemon slices, coriander
and Bay leaves
On the Forgotten Spring Project, things are spiralling into control (no, not out) with amazing synchronicity, but more about that in another blog.  Exciting times ahead!

Could I have invented the World's First Organic Flea Collar?
Could call it the Ceasar Collar......

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