Saturday, 22 March 2014

Lacto-ferments, Germans and Garden Tours

Hoo Boy!  Just went to a great little workshop last weekend on lacto-fermenting fruit and veggies with Jen Mead.  What a great morning we had, listening to the thunderous rainfall as we stood chopping veggies in the little lean-to annex to her kitchen.  We learned how to make kimchi (Korean spicey fermented cabbage dish), Saurkraut (fermented cabbage), plum topping, garlic-carrot sticks and fruit fizz (fizzy fermented fruit drink).  Took home  a basket full of goodies.  What a wonderful way to spend the morning, with like-minded folk who were all as excited as me to learn a new art of preserving.

A medley of veggies for making kimchi

Tools of the trade: My trusty cleaver makes chopping a breeze
So coming home on that rainy, blustery day, I decided that the best way to spend the rest of the day, was to preserve.  So I set about on a gigantic chopping, blending, bottling journey that involved yet another bottle of saurkraut, kimchi, 5 bottles of feijoa fizz, 2 bottles of peach fizz and 3 bottles of fermented beans.  That night, I was sitting at the table and could hear a regular tick, tick, tick - so I got up to check my kitchen clock, suspecting the batteries needed changing.  Nope.  I glanced at the tap - not dripping.  I walked around trying to discover what little insect had crawled in and was trying to echo-locate his mates - nothing.  Then as I passed my rows of bottled ferments, I became aware of one of them ticking!!  I released the gas from one of the bottles with a convex lid, praying that they wouldn't explode while we were asleep that night!

The next night, I was again sitting down to check emails when a little squeal sounded out.  I stopped and waited...... another squeal.  High pitched.  Evenly spaced.  I called out to the cat, but she was clearly curled up and asleep.  I waited a while longer.... squeal...I yelled upstairs to Mike -"What are you doing up there?"  He answered, "Nothing!"  So on a hunch, I got up and went over to the row of bottles - yep, one of them was squealing!  It is the oddest thing I have ever encountered.  You let these bottles of fruit and veg ferment for 3-5 days, so for the past week, I have heard a variety of different "ferment sounds".  Am glad to be able to refrigerate them now in the sound-proofed tomb of the fridge.  No more odd noises in the night.

My ferments from the workshop: from left: Garlic-carrot sticks,
Kimchi, Saurkraut and plum topping.  Stones are used to weight the kimchi and saurkraut down.
Heading off to the beach the next day, we were greeted by this wonderful ephemeral artwork.  A great big corral of sorts.  It was very symmetrical, so I imagine that the children were set to collecting the driftwood while the adult built the structure.  Beaches are wonderful places to create a temporary artwork for others to admire, it is called transient or ephemeral art.  The waves will eventually wash the art away, which makes it  all the more precious and a very eco-sustainable art form.

Imagining it was built as a giant deck-chair for sunning oneself.
And on the Garden front, we opened up our home for the EnviroHub's Sustainable Backyards Events on 8 March.  I put up a sign at the entrance: "Warning:  You are Not entering a Weed-Free Zone."  Just in case they thought it was going to be a model of perfectionism.  March is a strange time to open up your garden and home, as it is the end of summer growth, so the garden is looking it's most tired.  Veggies are straggly, dry and at the end of their life.  Would be great to have Sustainable Backyards on mid-Feb. Anyway, I do feel a responsibility to share.  If our lifestyle can inspire someone to just try one or two earth-friendly practices, then I feel that it is worth it.  If Joe Polaischer and Trish Allen had not opened up their wonderful Rainbow Valley Farm to us 15 years ago, we would never have been inspired to start our very own journey toward a Sustainable Lifestyle.

Table of ideas
We did not know if we would have 6 or even 0 visitors, so we set about putting up signs to direct them toward the house, and a table of simple ideas to kick-start the journey.  We were run off our feet conducting tours around the garden and explaining how our solar panels work for the 2 hours of the open garden and home, with 14 visitors coming from Papamoa, Tauranga, Katikati and the Mount!  I was amazed that people would drive 30-40 mins to view our place, as we were the only open home in Katikati!  There was even someone I knew from my kindy connection, who did not know she was coming to view my place!  Small world!

Soapnuts for laundry

Home-crafted personal care products

Chamomile, horse-tail, geranium and mint tea blend.


Greencane toilet paper

Garden ties

 Re-purposed waste materials

Wood basket liner made from recycled coffee pouches
Guest book for Sustainable Backyards Open Home and Garden

Solar Tracker tells us how much energy we generate daily

Pear and apple harvest
On the Social Front, despite being described by our son as social pariahs, (I had to look that one up in the dictionery), we have had quite a social 2 weeks.  We had 2 sets of our old German Helpxchangers coming back to visit us!  On the same day!  First Amelie and Daniel arrived on their way up to Auckland.  It was lovely to reconnect.  They were a little more tanned and relaxed.  Amelie came to us with Irritable Bowl syndrome, and a simple suggestion of Mike's to soak a teaspoon of chia seeds overnight and drink them in the morning has had a wonderful impact on her health.  It is wonderful to know that you can help others with simple solutions to their seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.  And of course, it was great to reconnect with "old friends" again.

Amelie and Daniel
No sooner had Daniel and Amelie left,when a camper van of 3 burly Germans arrived!  Ex-helpxchanger, Seb brought his friends Kevin and Sebastian to visit.  They stayed overnight and we fed them dinner that evening, breakfast the next day and lunch.  But I made use of Good German Muscle by setting them to task before lunch.  Each one carted 3 loads of mulch to cover our pathways.  What good is it to have 3 fit young Germans in your house if you can't tap into that German Know-How-Can-Do Muscle Energy?!!
Seb made us laugh, when he told us he left after 2 weeks with us, and ordered some of our "GreeNZ" toys online, namely a Zen Chi machine, a back massager, Don Tolman's books and a Nikken PiMag Vortex machine!  They will be awaiting his return to Germany!!
Kevin, Seb and Sebastian!
We currently have a 21yr old Frenchman staying for a week.  He is a personal gym trainer in France, built like Dolf Lundgren, the actor.  So he too, has been put to good use, carting and distributing mulch around the garden as we clear the jungle-high weeds.  Sweet!

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