Another week. Vanilla Essence, Home brewing, seed saving etc

This has been such a busy week here! The garden is running a muck (read, weeds out of control) and I have been working way more than we were expecting me to due to short staffing. Roger has been busy elsewhere during the weekends and we are behind in everything. But… all is good 🙂

We got a great buy!! I must say here when my hubby bid on it on an auction site I thought he was buying a Still and encouraged him, alas it is a beer making kit which is NOT QUITE THE SAME. Beer isn’t cheap and though I can see the sense in making one’s own….I hate the stuff. I was thinking vodka for fruit liquers and preserving herbs (yummy things), he was thinking ice cold beers at the end of a working day …. every Kiwi male enjoys his beer. But I did get something out of it. This all came for $53 and note the glass bottles, 1 dozen of those gorgeous things which we will not be using for beer 🙂 This unit had been used once.Image

I mentioned last week a friend had made us some vodka so I have been trying different things with it. He has told us we can borrow his Still to make our own, if you have Vodka you can make all sorts and homemade vodka is soooo cheap – $28 for 8 large bottles!

Vanilla Essence:

Split 6 vanilla pods sideways then cut in half. Place in bottle and pour over 1 cup vodka. Leave to stand in a dark cupboard for 8 weeks to mature. Apparently this will last forever, just topping up vodka or adding another pod as required. It smells divine!

Vanilla Essence

Vanilla Essence

After 3 days:

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Herbal Tinctures:

Instructions from my sister-in-law Beth – Place 300 g of desired herb in airtight jar and cover with vodka. Leave to sit in a cool dark place to 2 weeks, shaking regularly. Squeeze all liquid out of the leaves and discard, strain and bottle. Take 1 – 3 tsp a day. I want to build up a supply of these but my first is Feverfew, used for migraines and as an anti-inflammatory.

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Freezing without blanching: A tip.

I do all my beans, zucchini and pumpkin this way (if pumpkin is not storing well I will freeze it). It’s the quickest method I have found and removes all the air without need for a vacuum pump. The snaplock bags can be used dozens of times.

Place vegetables in bag filling about 3/4 full.Image

Without sealing shake all vegetables down, fold over to meet vegetables while letting air escape.Image

Seal while folded. All excess air is gone.

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Press out flat for storage

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Coriander Seed:

Whose idea was it to dry and collect this? Oh yeah…. mine. Alot more complicated than it sounded at the time because we never pulled it out and hung it upside down in a rubbish bag when we should’ve. By the time we pulled it they had been dropping for weeks so instead we did it the hard way!

One coriander plant = thousands of seeds

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Just a little of them.

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McGyver’s (Mr QAL’s) solution for separating seed from stalk 🙂 🙂

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1 bowl full, as far as we have – and this AFTER Syd chased the cat through the lounge and spread a complete bowl all over the carpet. Back to the flippin heater / fan stage of collection, instead I threw my hands in the air yelling “That’s it, I’ve had it!” so it might sit there a few days before the final product is clean and edible!

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Chocolate and Almond Buckwheat Granola Clusters:

A few months ago I changed to a gluten free diet, this past few weeks I have been craving a decent cereal to replace homemade muesli. Fran from Serendipity Farm saved the day with a wonderful recipe for these granola clusters which she has tweaked from another recipe. http://theroadtoserendipity.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/narf7s-bolshie-blissful-buckwheat-granola-clusters/

I then tweaked hers and came up with this which I will post in a wee while but Oh yum, it’s delicious and not nearly as expensive as similar products on the market, in fact it turned out far cheaper than I thought it would.Image

First you need Sunflower Butter and I have been wanting to try some of this so a good excuse. Also an economical butter to make and tastes delicious. The recipe for this can also be found on Fran’s post or http://www.gypsyforest.com/welcome_to_gypsy_forest/2012/09/cinnamon-maple-sunflower-seed-butter.html

I used honey rather than maple syrup.

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Coconut Oil Deodorant:

This is all I use nowadays and is very economical to make compared with organic deodorants. I shall also post this this separately.Image

It’s a beautiful day here today and I have so much to do I don’t know where to start but at the beginning is probably a good idea….coffee, while I think about everything and procastinate as well as only I can do 🙂

Oh, I did have a nice thing happen. I got an email from a fellow blogger from Australia who is coming to NZ and would like to visit if he can manage it. I think that’s pretty cool 🙂

And this week I started reading on the e-course I won on Everyday Simplicity from http://handcraftedtravellers.com. Check out their site if you haven’t already, it’s just lovely.

Freezing eggs and preserving….my busy time of the year.

And so it starts – all those tiny seeds planted in spring by an very exuberant husband pays off in a barage of “stuff to do something with” now. There is 2- 3 months ahead of me in food processing and most days I love it, some days I wonder why on earth we do all this. Once it’s all finished though and we get to step back and see the years food all sitting there, it’s a satisfying thing.The garden is flourishing and gaps have been newly planted for autumn, the last chance to grow for winter food – bar the raised garden of greens out in the front yard and “yay” the glasshouse this year.

Freezing eggs: We normally give surplus eggs away but have started freezing them for use over winter when laying is minimal. It makes no sense to give them away and buy over winter. Whole eggs can just be stirred (not whisked as it gives too much air) and frozen in ice cube trays or zip lock packages with the amounts on. Our eggs are quite large so two cubes equals one egg (for baking)Image

My provident journey did this post on freezing eggs which people might be interested in if wanting to freeze yolks and whites separately http://myprovidentjourney.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/provident-uses-for-your-freezer-eggs-other-things-i-havent-tried/

Beetroot/Beets: 

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Beetroot is one of our favourite vegetables to grow – I think so far we have planted over 200 or so with more to come. It’s easy, virtually disease and pest free, has a good leeway when it can be harvested so can be preserved when I have the time, both the bulbs and leaves can be eaten and it’s super healthy. We use it nearly every day either grated in salads, roasted, juiced (except I blew up my juicer forcing beetroot into it!) and we bottle heaps of it. It’s a good food to have in sandwiches through winter when tomatoes aren’t available. https://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/spiced-beetroot-preserving-recipe/

Spiced Beetroot is a delicious recipe for bottling and we make it every year

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Beetroot Chutney

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The recipe for this I found at http://hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/beetroot-chutney/ I had never tried it before so made just one quantity to try it. This has alot of ginger in and is spicy/gingery. I like it but I don’t think hubby will. Note my labels 🙂 🙂 This is so the lady of the house who wears reading glasses but doesn’t bother when getting food from the pantry, doesn’t serve up feijoa jam to go with cold meat when we have guests….again! I needed something BIG. I found these labels and was rapt, they peel off so next season I don’t need to soak anything off. A bonus, and worth every cent.

My husband refuses to eat the leaves cooked (though he will eat small ones in a salad) but I saw this recipe earlier in the week and really want to try it, it looks utterly delicious http://backyardfarmer.co.nz/2014/01/28/ricotta-and-beetroot-tops-pasta-one-of-the-best-pastas-i-have-ever-eaten-and-i-have-eaten-a-lot-of-pasta/

Zucchini:

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:):) Yep, we have a glut, especially as Roger planted 6 plants this year because he really likes the chutney I make and this vegetable is so versatile. We are giving it away left, right and centre lol. But I am freezing some, making heaps of the chutney because it gets ladled onto to everything all year long and we are eating it every night. I tried zucchini chips but they didn’t work out – I will try it again at some stage.

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Yesterdays harvest minus the four marrow I gave away.

Raspberry Liqueur: A friend of ours who makes his own spirits kindly made us a batch of vodka. I would never buy vodka but wanted to try making my own fruit liqueurs and this is affordable and can be used with many different fruits. 1 lb of fruit, 3 cups of vodka and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Leave to steep for a month, shake or stir regularly. Strain, sit a month then filter and rebottle, leave at least 3 months before drinking. Yep, I know….3 whole months!! I wonder if the same thing will happen that happened with our wine, drunk too soon but it was very good!

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I have slowly been adding dried vegetables to a large jar of dried soup mix. We bought a metre and a half of aluminium fly screen netting to place on top of our oven racks and vegetables can be tried overnight at 50 – 60 degrees. I have done carrots, beans, onions, pumpkin to add too lentils, barley, herbs etc. This is slow going but given I used to buy a packet of stockpot mix as a base to each pot I made I figure at least I know what is in my homemade.

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Back to the garden!….

My posts of late seem to be about everything else but! so I took photos as I went through my day today. I have worked nearly full time the past two weeks so haven’t really done the food stuff.

This morning when I got up this was what Roger had left on the bench from his brekkie. So far we have collected 10 kg of raspberries. We are not really jam eaters so they have been frozen for smoothies and desserts.

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So I had some of these for my breakfast with sliced banana and topped with leftover ground dates, almonds and sunflower seeds (from a chocolate avocado tart base) and homemade yogurt.

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Harvested our smaller first lot of carrots from the raised garden. This were just washed and put in the crisper (no freezing till the bigger lots come in.

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Also out of the raised garden the first of the beetroot (beets)

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This were made into Spiced Beetroot which is a delicious way to preserve them. By the end of the season I hope to have 50 or 60 jars. Sorry not a great photo. The recipe for these can be found here https://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/spiced-beetroot-preserving-recipe/

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Then I cooked and froze my bags of beans, lentils and chickpeas. This is so much cheaper than canned beans, a 500 g bag of mixed beans cost $2.59 made 9 packets which would each equal a can, each can would cost nearly that.

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I also found out today I had won a “Giveaway” draw from The Contented Crafter, a set of greeting cards. I am very excited about this as she does the most gorgeous pictures. Please do check out her blog, she is such a delight and so talented 🙂

http://paulinekingblog.wordpress.com/

I also have two more more awards I need to do but just have not had the time. To those who nominated me thanks so much and I will be onto it soon!!

Garden Harvest Vegetable Stock

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For some weird reason this got me all excited lol. I am intrigued by it – this is a very different way of making vegetable stock! I should call my blog Stumble Upon because invariably what I show in my blog is other’s ideas and recipes I have stumbled upon out of need for something. I am thankful to http://myovercrowdedgarden.blogspot.co.nz/2013/10/homegrown-vegetable-stock-mix.html for putting this on her blog.

I had been wanting a natural vegetable stock powder. Commercial ones are too expensive, the thought of having to dehydrate and muck around creating my own was sounding like a long drawn out process. This looks perfect to try. It has a large amount of salt which preserves the paste for 6 months. The other thing that appealed was this looked a good way to use some of the frozen vegetables left from last season that have not such a great texture but still taste ok. For this I used a combination of fresh and frozen and am hoping the frozen doesn’t cause any deterioration in the storage time so it is an experiment. 2/3 of the vegetables are fresh though.

Basically 950 g of vegetables (any combination desired) are needed per ration of 250 g salt. Plus the garlic, herbs etc.

For this I used:

200 g pumpkin

200 g carrots

200 g leeks

100 g spinach

100 g onions

A few sundried tomatoes and cloves garlic

A large handful parsley and thyme

250 g salt

Put all in a food processor and process until smooth. This may need to be done in batches and combined at the end. Put into sterilised jars and apparently this will keep for 6 months in a cool, dry cupboard.

I seriously need to find another processor! Mine was bought secondhand about 8 years ago and the blades are quite blunt, hence this didn’t get quite a smooth as I would’ve liked but close to.

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Use a couple of teaspoons in soups, stews etc and season after adding this and doing a taste test as it is highly salted.

3 Fruit Marmalade

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My husband came home with citrus fruit from the farm orchard – alot of the trees were knocked around in last weeks storm and there was fruit everywhere. He hadn’t even known they had an orchard. It’s old, uncared for and some of the trees don’t fruit anymore so he is going to prune them all back and get them up to scratch for the owners….I suspect he has a hidden agenda there lol, forever the forager! Anyway, 3 fruit marmalade.

1 kg mixed grapefruit and oranges, depending on your preference for flavour

2 large lemons

2 litres water

7 cups of sugar

Wash the fruit then cut the peel off all, leaving the pith on fruit. Chop peel into small strips of pieces. Cut the pith off fruit and discard. Chop fruit into pieces taking care not to lose the juice off your board. Place all fruit and peel into a large pan. Add water and bring to boil, simmer until the peel is soft and liquid has reduced by half.

Add the sugar, stir till dissolved then simmer again until this has reached setting point (a small spoonful in a plate and refrigerated turns to jam like consistency. When ready take off the heat and stand 10 minutes. Skim any foam gently off the top and pour into sterilised jars. This made 4 jars from around 375g to 450g.

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Feijoa and Ginger Jam

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What we call feijoas are pineapple guavas elsewhere. This is good way to use all those little ones as the whole fruit is used.

This recipe calls for glace ginger which I didn’t have and I substituted with 1 1/2 tsp crushed ginger and a small spoonful of honey. Would rather have had the real thing but this jam is good.

1.8 kg feijoas

120 g crystalised ginger

2 cups water

2 lemons

1.8 kg sugar

Roughly chop unpeeled feijoas. Place in pan with ginger and water and cook gently for 40 minutes. Add rind and juice of lemons and the sugar. Slowly return to boil stirring until sugar dissolved. Boil till setting point reached and pour into sterilised jars.

Pickled Onions

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Pickled Onions:

1 kg small pickling onions

1/2 cup salt 5 cups water

1 litre malt vinegar

1/2 cup of white sugar

1 tbspn pickling spice (I just like whole cloves)

Put onions, salt and water in large bowl and soak overnight, drain and rinse well. Pack into 500 g jars.

Combine remaining ingredients in large saucepan, stir over medium heat and bring mix to boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool and strain cold vinegar over onions to cover. Seal jars.

 

Into my third week of “retirement”……all set for winter!

I am loving not working and am managing to keep VERY busy lol. There’s so much to do, however the preserving for the winter months has slowed down – there is very little left in the garden and once the fiejoas stop I think I’ll be done. Roger keeps saying he’ll bring home pears and quinces but I haven’t seen them yet.

He has a week off work coming up and is hoping to make the glasshouse he wants, out of recycled windows he’s been collecting for a long time. We need to get more seaweed from the beach to lay over the wintering garden. It’s just too cold here to grow much of anything in winter so the raised garden out in the front yard, in full sunlight, is all we’ll be using.

My kitchen is becoming quieter and more relaxed. We’re hoping we have managed to grow and store enough to see us through. This is our first year of doing this on quite this scale so it will be a learning curve for us.

In the freezer there is a whole lot of: carrots, berries, beans, leeks, peppers, field mushrooms sauteed in oil and butter, beetroot, zucchini, tomatoes (chopped, pureed and concentrated) apple sauce, soups, around 9 different herbs for cooking and teas (in ice cubes) frozen kale and spinach in cubes for juices which I like, and fruit juices. The freezer is bursting…really hoping no power cuts!! This does make me me aware if we were doing it for survival means this would not do, freezing has been the easiest way to store this year with me working and also not really knowing my way around dehydrating properly but next year things will be done alot differently.

Bottled are: lots of different chutneys and sauces, pickled onions, spiced beetroot, pickles, heaps of fruit and tomato products.

Dried are: figs, feijoa, apple, mushrooms, leeks, sundried tomatoes in oil, beans, masses of herbs and leaves for cooking and teas, onions and garlic.

Stored are pumpkins, potatoes, walnuts, onions and garlic.

In the garden there will still be plenty of winter growing greens….brussell sprouts, silverbeet, broccoli, leeks, broad beans etc.

And we have wine and cider vinegar doing their thing without much assistance at present, am really hoping they both work out ok!

Most of our grocery money is going on just the staples – milk, flour, decent bread, coffee, sugar (been buying heaps for preserving) hard cheese, oats, brown  rice….and alot of dog food! We have 3 dogs here at present – Bob, Syd and my son’s dog as he is away for 5 weeks. We are spending more on them than ourselves 🙂 I also buy dates, raisins, peanuts and seeds because they are nutritious and help with a bit of variety in our diet (but using alot more sparingly). I wanted to dry some grapes but all we had access to this year were seeded ones. We have one seedless variety in the garden but a young vine with little on this year. I do baking when we feel like something sweet and make puddings. There are some things I am missing though – nice cheese for one! I absolutely refuse to pay those prices now but have heard of a local couple who sell fresh milk at $2 a litre so I will try making my own very soon, and yogurt (really missing that). I also will do more bread making as I get more time, I want to learn how to make decent pumpernickel 🙂 And good crackers we need, mine never turn out quite good enough – the dogs usually get them lol.

We have heaps of firewood, this is important!

And, as mentioned in the past I want to try soap making…there will certainly be no lack of things to do over the winter months to keep me occupied. I have one paper left to do for my Dip. Psychology, just tossing up whether to do this over winter or not., can I be bothered right now!? Hubby is interested in making outdoor rustic furniture to sell. He has access to heaps of old  fencing and gates that will get burned otherwise (sooner or later) and also manuka (tea tree) He has a workshop which is presently so messy he can’t even get in it! because the past 6 months has been taken up with gardening, but he is planning big things for it over winter. And I have been making and selling homemade  herbal tobacco, which I just found out is actually ILLEGAL here. Ooops! How fortunate I am to have grown children who can steer me in the right directions in life!!! But, there are ways and means of making a bit more money from home, we just need to think out of our original square a little. I just  love this: 🙂

grow food

Another poster this week was talking about time, how not living by the clock has enriched her life. I am also finding the same thing. From someone who has just finished a community job of many daily appointments, rushing here there and everywhere – then never having enough time at home to get things done, I am just feeling absolutely perfect pottering through the day without even looking at the clock. I am achieving everything I need to, and more, without feeling harried or rushed, not having to answer to anyone or be anywhere. I certainly can feel my high blood pressure has just calmed right back down to normal, I am so much more relaxed….it’s just got to be so much better for you!

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