Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Harvest Monday, 10 June 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

Guava season has started. I have recently found out that my variety of guava is the hawaiian guava.

I pruned the tree back quite hard after the harvest in Winter 2018, so the crop this year is not bending the tree in half. It has also been a really warm autumn, so my laziness in not bagging the fruit this year means I have had some fruit fly.

This is 1-2 days worth of crop:
guavas 2019

I don’t have the quite the quantities I have had in the past to make such amazing swaps as I did in 2017, and the crop is compromised by the fruit fly. Any takers must be “willing to cut the bad bits out”. The smell is so heady and intense though, and the edible bits of fruit are still quite delicious.

I have recently acquired another dehydrator after my last one went on permanent holiday to a friend’s place (reluctantly!).

So this year, I thought I would try dehydrating the unswappable guavas to a “fruit leather”. I remember reading somewhere that guavas need to be blended with another fruit to make successful fruit leather, so I sort-of-but-not-really-followed this recipe from thorseby cottage, except with apple instead of pear and no thermomix. Oh, and I didn’t measure my ingredients.

Cooking down the fruit:

guavas cooking down
This might be 10-20 good bits of guava, with the seeds scooped out, and one apple. No additional sugar, but a little lime zest and some citric acid to assist preservation.

Ta da!
dehydrating guavas

Hmm. Not quite what I was after. This was dehydrated at 50 deg C for 12 hours. I spread the mixture thin-ish, but in a continuous sheet. I wanted a “leather”, but I didn’t want to have to dehydrate for longer than 12 hours. This clearly hasn’t worked.

Oh well. I have had some suggestions on facebook to blitz this to a powder, and then use as a muffin or icecream flavouring ingredient. I’m not sure. I may keep it as a “crisp” for now. Anyway, I have a little more mixture to play with – I’m going to add some more apple, and try again!

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Harvest Monday, April 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

cherry tomatoes:
Cherry Tomatoes 2019

We had hot weather, then some cool, and then the first weekend in April was another warm one. APril in Autumn. I’m happy that my cherry tomatoes are still producing, but I just don’t have time to harvest them as they ripen right now (so busy!), so some are rotting on the vine or being eaten by snails. Oh dear. I got the plant via a crop swap.

I also am not eating them as fast as I am producing them. So I made oven dehydrated tomatoes:

Dehydrated tomatoes 2019

I haven’t yet decided if I should keep them whole, but I am leaning towards the idea of blitzing them into a powder. Then I can add a sprinkle of them whenever I need a hit of intense tomato flavour.

Apple:

Apple

This is a little on the small side, but I am partial to a small apple. This is from a ballerina columnar apple tree, either Waltz or Bolero. Waltz I think. These trees have done *so* much better since I dug them out of the heavy clay soil (shaded by banana palms) in spring 2018 and put them into pots facing the full western afternoon sun.

I have also harvested another warre box of honey/honeycomb from my first beehive. No photo, sorry. That’s about 36kg from that hive this season.

So dear reader, what have you harvested this autumn?

Yummy things inside

I spotted this in a second hand store recently:

Schlemmertopf

Schlemmertopf! Apparently in German, it is slang for “yummy pot” or “yummy things inside”. This is the first one I’ve seen, and well I ended up buying it. I figure that I can give it a go as an experiment, and if I don’t like it, I can always re-donate it for someone else to discover. Before humans learned to work iron, we cooked in pots like this. I have never seen one of these before, in at least 10 years of op shopping. A friend and talesfromchiconia both claim that these pots were very popular in the 1970s.

First up, I “deep cleaned” it by boiling both the lid and the base for 30 minutes, according to the Römertopf USA distributor’s instructions.

Then I tried to slow cook a steak and vegies. 150 degrees for about 6 hours, lid soaked in water for 30 minutes before cooking.

Before:
(lid soaking in the background, as per instructions)

Steak and veg, schlemmertopf style

After:
Steak and Veg - after schlemmertopf

Although it kind of smelled good while cooking, the meat turned an unappetizing shade of grey.

Next up on the menu is sourdough bread. I am not a confident baker. Usually I start the proving process, then get too busy and the dough becomes overproofed. I am also not confident in my kneading skills and the rigor required to ensure the gluten strands end up in one direction.

My recipe was inspired by the swirling spoon, but with timing instructions from Livestrong. Of course, not having fully read the instructions from the swirling spoon, I don’t realise that the recipe is for two loaves. So I have made ONE LOAF, but with double the amount of starter, and 150% of the flour required. I also have a pumpkin from last season that I had to break into, because the stem broke off and the vermin started to nibble it. The starter was a combo of a 100 year old starter, recently received via a crop swap; and another crop swap starter, about 1 year old. I told you I wasn’t very good at following instructions.

The pumpkin/onion/potato just after roasting:

Roasting Veg in the solidteknics lid

The dough, just after shaping:

Bread proving

Baked bread:
Pumpkin bread - ta da

I cooked this for 250 deg C with the lid on for 20 minutes; then 200 deg C with the lid on for 15 minutes. I then removed the lid and checked at 5 minute intervals until the skewer came out clean. 45 minutes total.

I let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

Pumpkin bread - sliced

It smelled pretty tasty. With the onion though, not sure how well it will go with the morning’s peanut butter!!

So dear reader. What mysterious item of cookware have you recently rediscovered?

Harvest Monday, February 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

Snakebeans and cherry tomatoes:
Snake beans, Cherry tomatoes

The snakebeans have been described as “cute”.

Bunya pine nuts:
Bunya Pine nuts

You know those pine nuts that you buy from the shop for about 90AUD per kilo? Well these are a giant version of these.

I didn’t grow them, I foraged them. The pine cones of Araucaria bidwillii can be the size of a football or larger, and I collected about 4.5 pine cones – approx weight 5kg. I then reduced this to 1.5kg worth of viable pods, and stripping out the outer layer, reduced it again to about 1kg of actual nut. Last year I only got about 4 viable nuts per bunya nut cone, this year it’s been about 15 per cone. These will be frozen for storage, and then turned into pesto or added to soups for bulk. Others have turned their harvest into a “milk”, or roasted for extra yumminess. Usually the bunya pine fruits every 3 years.

Eggplant:
Eggplant

Not grown, swapped. The other swapper was happy to give them away for free, but I didn’t feel that was fair. So I swapped four of my snakebeans and a small amount of honey. Once the other swapper saw the honey, she gave me some extra silveebeet and a ‘bottle gourd’ sample to try. I’m supposed to cook it like zucchini. I still feel like I came away with the better part of that deal.

So dear reader, what have you harvested this summer?

Harvest Monday, January 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the January 2019 host of Monday harvests, please visit the From Seed to Table blog.

This sounds daft, but summer has been hot, hot, hot. We had a week of 35 deg C + temperatures, and not only that, but 15 of the hottest places were in Australia last week. So for that week, I got up stupid early to water the garden and hang up gauze cloth coverings over the most vulnerable plants.

Cherry Tomatoes:
Cherry tomatoes

I think I got the plant via a crop swap. My neighbour dislikes cherry tomatoes, too fiddly for her, but I like seeing these little jewels glowing amongst the greenery. This garden bed now has a Olla embedded within it, and the plants are looking really lush. I am filling this Olla about once every two days. Yes, I got the Olla via a swap.

Snake Beans
Snake beans

I planted some snake bean seeds, one germinated, and then I planted this seeding out. I went away, came back three weeks later, what is this plant? It’s snake beans! First time growing them, it’s amazing the growth that the beans can put on overnight. the vine itself is growing over the shadecloth framework.

Beetroot:
Beetroot

I bought these seedlings, didn’t realise it, but it looks like the beetroot itself is a striped variety. This got turned into a Sri Lankan beetroot curry, along with some leftover pumpkin from last years’ harvest and some curry leaves fresh from the garden.

Sri Lankan beetroot curry

It was quite an unusual curry to my palate – I haven’t really used fresh curry leaves before, but they do give an interesting taste to any dish.

Honeycomb:
Beatbox hive honey harvest

Harvested from the batbox hive. These ladies are on the cranky side, so as soon as we lifted the quilt off, the noise level “went up”. I think I’m going to have to put the callout for somebody to take over this slightly hot hive, because I cannot cope with having to hide in the house for the remainder of the weekend/week, just because I played with the bees on one day.

This crate is approximately 12kg worth of honey. I harvested 12kg in December 2018, and about 1kg in November (one frame: the reason why there is one bright white coloured frame in this box). That makes 25 kg this season.

Beeswax harvest is a little harder to calculate, as I have a big 20L bucket which contains (still) honeycomb waste from last season, as well as being topped up with honeycomb waste from this season. One advantage of this hot weather is having my solar wax extractor working perfectly.

So dear reader, what have you harvested this summer?

Harvest Monday, 15 October 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The state of New South Wales is 100% drought declared, but we have had rain in the Sydney Basin for the past fortnight. Rain not where the farmers want it. But it is falling in the city so way the cityslickers don’t realise that just because it has rained in the city, does not mean that we are still not in drought. I have gone from saving every drop of laundry grey water to water my plants with, to letting it run down the sink because everything is so soggy.

Butter Lettuce:

Butter lettuce

I got some seedlings via crop swap, and this has just grown so much from the rain. I have been stir frying lettuce for dinner greens.

Pepino Melon:

Pepino melon

These have been hanging on the plant (Solanum muricatum) basically all winter. Most of the greenery and smaller fruits were lost to frost. The original plant cutting I also got via a swap.

Curly Kale:
Curly kale

My brassicas have been covered by a net to keep the worst of the vermin off. It has kept the aphids on the kale to manageable and squashable numbers, but reduced the “chill hours” that the brussels sprouts need. I think this year is my last attempt at brussels sprouts.

What about you dear reader? What have you been harvesting this month?

Plastic Free July Day 31

60. Plastic Spoon

Share from Pixlr

My plastic spoon, rescued from an aeroplane dinner service a few months ago, made up part of my “takeway cutlery kit”. Today, it broke. Vale poor spoon, I guess it’s time to find a metal one instead.

In some good news, my workplace, them that use incredible amounts of plastic plates and cutlery, decided to give away double wall steel reusable water bottles today. Woot.