Sunday, 16 June 2013

Kale Beer and Bottling Olives

Stairway to Heaven
 Our last helpxchange girls, Simmi and Franzi from Germany, have definitely left their mark on our home and lives.  Apart from helping to pick 3 bucket loads of olives (which I bottled this weekend), they also decorated our stairwell.  It was looking a little tired, scuffed and in need of a paint job.  But being on the stairs creates a logistical nightmare with placing of ladders and pots of paint.  So I set them a challenge of over-brushing the existing paintwork with a darker yellow, and pasting these little Chinese shrine offering papers onto the wall.  I love these little papers, which are printed onto hand-made paper and have gold-leaf pasted over them.  I have had them for years and used them for so many decorating purposes and had only 7 left, so they were spaced intermittently on the stair wall, to great effect.  A very artistic stairwell indeed!  Love it!
Shrine offering papers

The finished stairwell.

The artists with their finished masterpiece.

Voila, stairs with a difference.
Daffodil Delight
A couple of weekends ago, I set to cleaning up the carpet of weeds covering the ground around Josephine, our scarecrow.  I planted at least 100 daffodil bulbs and then mulched it over with wood chip.  I can't wait to see the daffodils when they bloom - it'll surely be bloomin' marvellous!

New Daffodil bed surrounding Josephine
The walkway is newly topped up with untreated sawdust

Daffie bed before weeding!  Over-run with weeds and nasturtiums
Kale Brew
Kale, glorious kale.  Highly nutritious, but oh, so tough if slightly under-cooked!  It's a popular European green leafy veg not all that well known in these parts.  They are cold-hardy and quite prolific, they keep you in green leaves for a good part of 6-7 months!  But one can have only so much kale and ours were growing into veritable trees and not being harvested much.  I have made several batches of Kale Chips last year - very very delectable indeed!  This year, I have been feeding the chooks with the leaves, so they were not going to waste, but I felt that I needed to use them for our benefit too.  So I had a little brain-wave - hey, seeing as I made very successful Nettle Beer for my son, why not Kale Beer??  Highly nutritious, in fact, I call it Iron Brew as it's rich in iron!  Harvested about a kilo or two, brewed it up and bottled it.  Not too sure about this lot, no bubbles, so it may not have fermented enough.  We shall have to see.... After 4 weeks Cam should be able to test it and give me the results.  Watch this space....

My kale tree

Brewing Kale Beer

The bottled beer.  4.5L
Potash Stramash (meaning a disturbance or racket)
Lighting fires in winter brings an added benefit to the garden - wood ash!  Every second week we harvest a 5L pot of wood ash which can be added straight onto veg beds, or strewn onto the compost heap.  It is in keeping with the idea of recycling waste back into the garden and provides potassium, phosphorus and calcium, boron and other trace elements plants need for growing healthily.  As it is alkaline, it can be useful for balancing or raising the pH of the soil.

Potash (Ashes in a pot) or Wood Ash
Chilli Chow
Tis the season of chillies!  I have 2 bags of about 1kg each, in the freezer.  I harvested a whole mass of fresh chillies last weekend, and was able to make 1 big and 1 small bottle of Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce.  This is one of our favourite accompaniments and goes well with just about anything!  Indian dishes, bread and cheese, potato wedges, you name it.....

Chillis, bananas and caspsicum harvest

Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce
Ovoid Olives 
Olive bottling Fever!  This weekend, I spent all of Saturday morning bottling olives!  Tiresome toward the end, but thinking of biting into all those succulent little fleshy treats in 3-4 months time kept me going.  Bottle after bottle after bottle.  24 in all, some 3L bottles, others just small 1/2L ones.  A year's supply of olives.  Mike figured out it is roughly $400 worth of olives if we had to buy the same weight in store-bought specimens! 
First box of olives

Our own olives - made one big jar and a smaller one.

The first batch hot off the press - the green ones.

Preparation for bottling
Slices lemon, pepper, coriander, rosemary, bay leaves and garlic in the jars

Green olives packed tightly into the jars and topped with brine and then
olive oil to seal

Black olives stacked and ready to be brined and sealed

Finished product
Cruddy Colds
Aside from olive bottling, I nursed my cold which started on Thursday with a tickle in the throat, a slight irritating cough and snotty nose.  A few cups of Indian Ayurvedic remedy and I am still standing and getting better and better each day!  Want in on the not-so-secret recipe?  This bright yellow drink is deceptively powerful and easy to drink, a cupful in the morning and one at night.

1/2 tspn tumeric
1/2 cupful hot water
1/2 tspn honey
milk to taste

Pumpkins and squashes waiting to become some lovely winter's culinary delight

Another harvest: Root treasures: parsnips


  1. Love your produce! I'm dying to hear how the kale beer turns out. I've been wanting to try making nettle beer... need to get hold of some receptacles to make it in and be in one place long enough :)

    What did you do with your nasturtiums? I hope you dried them at least or tinctured them - insta-antibiotic there.

    The stairs are so pretty! What a creative idea. Now pass some olives please? Those look really plump.

  2. Hey Tint!! I love to experiment - not all turn out successfully but there are heaps that surprise me! I have a super easy recipe if you ever want it - does not take longer than 5 weeks.
    Nasturtium seeds are collected and made into Poor Man's Capers and a few leaves and flowers end up in salads. Tell me more about tincture....
    Come over and taste the olives - we have a generous year's supply, even if we managed 2 bottles a month! This is the Life!
    Now where's the sun?