Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Spring's Sprung

If you are not looking closely, you might miss it.  The little swollen leaf or flower buds one day - which blossom quickly the next day!  Then it's definitely in-your-face-all-over-the-place!  Signs everywhere.  Colour.  Sunshine.  A feeling of lightness and hope.

Time to open the shutters and let the sunshine in!
All our citrus that wasn't hungrily devoured in winter are pulsating with colour at this time of the year!  Yellows of the lemonades, lemons and limes.  Oranges of, well, oranges, grapefruits and mandarins.  Nothing like a vitamin C boost - a freshly squeezed glass of citrus juice.  I like to combine 2 grapefruits, several oranges and/or mandarins.  Then I throw in a few frozen cubes of guava juice (frozen in autumn when there was an abundance).  Bliss.  Powerhouse of vitamins!

Citrus harvest and my first broccoli.

My $15 second hand juicer takes the strain off the rotational wrist movement!

Grapefruits bowing the branches.  Golden orbs full of new sunshine.
 We have just had help from our German Helpxchanger, who weeded our garden from north to south, east to west!  Saved me heaps of back-breaking work.  All that is left is to sow some seeds and watch them grow!  He was keen to learn to sew (not seeds but with a sewing machine) - ala-recycled style, so a quick 5 minute crash course ensued, with him creating an over-shoulder "tablet" bag out of coffee bags and an old t.shirt.  Quite impressive, really!  He also learned how to play the ukulele in 20 minutes and has subsequently emailed to say he now owns his very own bright yellow uke.  Look out for a German Vegan, Gluten-free, super-eco-conscious hitchhiker with a great smile, and a yellow ukulele tied to his backpack!!  He could be anywhere between Cape Reinga and The Bluff!
Alex learning how to sew.

The masterpiece!

Silver Beet Bright Lights....... aptly named.

Not sure if my wood fungus is edible.  It sure is fascinating!

A NZ grass - what stunning patterns in Nature!

And in the Kitchen:
Having frozen 2kg of chillies at the end of summer, I finally found some time to turn them into a year's supply of Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce.  It is so deceptively simple and yet, would rank as one of my top 3 favourite sauces.  It spices up any old tired meal!

2kg frozen chillies

A year's supply of oh, so nicey, sweet and spicey sauce!
 At the moment, I have 4 BIG bunches of parsley in the garden.  I am up to my eyeballs in the green fluffy stuff and there's only so much you can add to dishes and salads.  And in Autumn, I dehydrated a whole heap, so have plenty dry herb too, for lean times.  Aha, but then there is always a barter system to take advantage of excess!  There is a local coffee shop in our village, run by a fierce little Vietnamese woman who runs the tightest ship ever!  The crew are all her nieces and nephews and their extended families.  They are worked hard and there does not seem much time for frivolities.  I occasionally pop in for a bag of their old coffee grinds, which one of the nephews always runs to collect for me.  They know me by face, and when I enter, they know I am not a customer but really just an annoying lady who always asks for their used coffee grounds, and without having to ask, the ladies in the kitchen yell out for the guy who always collects the sacks for me.  

The owner, scowls at me each time but I smile and greet her.  A couple of weeks ago, I went in and my contact was nowhere to be seen, so timidly, I ask her for some coffee grinds.  She snarls and says she's too busy.  One of the nieces in the kitchen scurries off and collects the bag and hands it to me, head bowed.  The owner says in an annoyed voice - that they are all too busy to stop and get me the coffee grinds (which is really just outside their back door!).  I apologize for the intrusion, grab my coffee bag and hurry out.

So a plot is hatched.  I realise that although I think I am doing them a favour by collecting their "waste", there is really no visible advantage to them.  A bunch of parsley is tied with a piece of string and I breeze in last week with my green bouquet and I march right up to the grumpy mole and smiling sweetly, hand her the parsley and say, that's what I grow with your coffee grounds!  She looks dumbfounded, accepts the bouquet and I march out the shop.  This morning, I was set to do the same thing just before heading to work.  Hand her the bouquet and march out again.  But this time, she smiles, takes the bouquet and as I am about 3 steps away, calls out and says: "You want coffee?"  Before I can say yes or no, she herself has walked the few steps to the back door, uplifted 2 sacks of coffee and brings them to me!  I thank her and she smiles and says she will fetch a third sack for me!! I sadly decline the offer, saying I will be late for work if I take the 2 sacks to my car and come back for the third.  She laughs.  I ask if she would like more parsley and she nods yes!  A deal is struck.  Parsley for coffee grounds.  I think I just made a friend!  Mission Accomplished.  Weekly nitrogen source for my compost secured!

I have also discovered yet another use for my parsley:  pesto!  Hmm.  Hmmm. Hmmm!

Parsley Pesto Recipe
(off the top of my head)
1 cup of Brazil nuts, ground in blender(recipe called for walnuts)
2 cups parley, chopped and then placed in blender
1-2 cloves garlic chopped and added (I used 2 massive ones for a garlicky hit) 
1/2 cup olive oil drizzled into mixture as you blend above (I added a bit more)
Salt to taste
Finally, I added juice of half a lemon (not in recipe) to add zing

The best-ever Parsley Pesto!

 Finally, in the Creative Realms:
I cannot believe that I have nearly finished knitting my woollen sock!!  All's left to do is sew up the tootsie side!  Very impressive indeed!  I never thought I had it in me to finish! It was seriously doing my head in!  And while sitting in the doctor's waiting room (my daughter - another very long story), I was knitting (sock homework) and an elderly gentleman opposite me tried to hit on me, I swear it was the knitting!  He asked what I was knitting...... "a sock",  then said I was doing well............."no, actually it's doing my head in!"  Oh, he said, he was one of 8 boys who grew up in the South Island, and they had all learned to knit.  Great, I said, focused on my knitting.  Then he said he liked my hair!  I didn't know if I had heard correctly!  Other than my husband (and it's expected of him), no-one has ever "liked" my Cruella d'Ville style hair! I put down my knitting, looked at my daughter with amusement, then looked him in the eye and said - "you mean my daughter's hair?"
No, yours, he said.  "What do you like about my hair?", I asked with amusement.  Uuuh, well, I don't have much myself, he said, so I really appreciate other people's hair!?!! 

I think it was the sock that attracted him.  Made him feel all homely and familiar!   When I told my office  colleague at work, she clapped her hand over her mouth and said, oh God! I hope it wasn't my dad!  We laughed.
The next morning she came and said, "Phew!  The guy at the doctor's wasn't my dad!  I asked Dad and he wasn't at the doctor's night before last!"  What a hoot!

My Doodle Art has gathered momentum - I have added some more tools of the trade to my cornucopia of art materials ..... pastel chalks, gel pens, water-colour pencils and Japanese collage paper.  All been hiding away in dark cupboards, long forgotten once the kids had left behind the creative tools of childhood.  My score!  Yeeha!

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