Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Autumnal Delights

The beautiful Monarch Butterfly
April.  Feijoa-flavoured month.  Everywhere I look, everything I eat, everything I collect, whatever I bake or preserve, everything I smell and everything I give away - feijoas.  Crumble, puree, dehydrated, cake, fresh or frozen.  April brings a feijoa-scented smell to the house.  By the end of the 5-6 week window, I am definitely over feijoas for another good year or so.  
Feijoas lie scattered on the ground each day.
They start in a small drip-drop kind of way that makes each one such a treasure.  10 or 12 a day.  Manageable and I can cope with that.  Then after 2 weeks, they start to drop in bucket-loads.  Daily.  Tonight I picked up about 5-6 kilos of the guys.  That will continue for the next 4 weeks or more.  I take them to kindy, to the rest home and to the local backpackers to share the vitamin C overload.  Great to fortify bodies for the cold winter lurking around the corner.....  I made 2 feijoa crumbles on the weekend, and pureed a 1&1/2L bottle tonight.  Pureed and sealed in hot jars, they last a good 5 months on the shelf.  Longer in the fridge.

An old peg apron makes a great 2kg collecting bag.

The spoils of one tree... great to give away.  A gift of Vitamin C.
Harvesting all our cucurbits too..... those are vine-growing veggies - butternuts, gem squashes, pumpkins- all shapes and sizes.  I clean them off with a little bath, then store them away for winter meals.  Baked, soups, stews ............. mmmmmmmmn, there is something to look forward to even in the colder months!  A few years back I had a hungry little family of mice hollowing out each carefully stored pumpkin in our shed.  From the back of the shelf, so looking at them, I didn't even know that they were being eaten!  It was only when I went to pick up on ultra-light one that I discovered the nasty truth!!  
My favourite:  butternuts.

A gnarley-looking pumpkin called Marina di Chioggia

Maori kamo kamo amass themselves for a giant assault in the kitchen

Stored squashes in an outdoor shelving unit

Another Marina di Chioggia and not sure what the middle one is.....
Other harvests also keep me busy; late strawberries, red and yellow cherry guavas and chillies.  Yay, I always make at least 2 liters of Sweet Thai Chilli sauce to get us through the year.  Some chillies are also dried to grind as a powdered spice for that extra little bite in Indian cuisine.

Chillies, guavas and Strawbs

Another cache of the Hot Stuff

Ripening red cherry guavas in the afternoon sunshine...
The apples are also ripening.  We had a handful of the early season Freyberg apple a month ago, and our reds are now slowly sweetening and ripening.  I pick up any that drop, cut out the manky bits and make juice in the mornings.  This morning we had a medley of grapes (very hard on the juicer), guavas, lemon and apple juice.  A powerhouse of liquid energy. Sadly, our Monty's Surprise apples (a NZ heritage apple) did not bear any fruit this year, due to some rather  severe pruning last winter.  
Red apple - a gala perhaps?

Sweet, juicy crisp eating apples.

Eve's Temptation Tool

Clusters of green cooking apples
I had a wee peek into the pheromone coddling moth trap last week and spied many little buggery moths.  Apparently the males are attracted to the pheromone plug and congregate on the sticky pad, and die.  Those that are trapped are unable to mate with the females.  Hee hee.  Tricky little blighters to get rid of so I am happy to report that after about 8 years of fighting, I think we may be winning the battle!  We underplant with lavenders, chives and rose geranium - all stinky plants to repel the wee buggers.  Also do cardboard collars to trap them in (but only seem to trap earwigs), grease bands, the works!

Male coddling moths

Pheromone coddling moth trap
Other dastardly visitors are these gorgeous white butterflies which flit about, looking awfully pretty and appealing.  But their annoying habit of laying eggs on the undersides of all my brassicas has me walking around with flailing arms in feeble attempts to swat them (nigh impossible).  And the result:  worm infested, shredded leaves.  Tonight however, I resorted to (organic) chemical warfare ..... sprayed the crops with a white butterfly repelling concoction. First time I have bothered, but desperate times call for desperate measures...... All previous attempts (building little cages, cloches etc.) have failed.

The beautiful and deadly white butterfly.
The masses of harvests are keeping me busy in the kitchen - cleaning, storing, preserving or bagging fruit.  Sheesh, anyone able to come and help us eat all this food?

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