Monday, November 23, 2009

Fowl weather and the ETS

As Australian politicians enter the final few days of debate over an emissions trading scheme, all over Australia the weather is breaking records for the wettest, hottest and driest November, depending on where you live. Here, after a confused yo yoing between winter and summer the warmer weather has arrived and spring has been condensed into a few days in between.

The response of everything here has been amazing; the enzyme cleanser is bubbling away on the window sill, the sourdough is ready in four hours instead of twelve and rises right to the top of its tin, every green leafy vegetable has suddenly bolted skywards and we have had ten baby chickens hatch - a hundred percent success rate for the first time ever.
The easterlies from the desert have begun and the noise of dripping rain has been replaced with the crackle of gum leaves under foot as the trees begin to shed. Our town has has already had one serious wild fire that has threatened homes and left four hundred hectares of coastal heath blackened and ugly around one of the most popular beach side settlements.
In the rush to clear our gutters, plant summer vegetables, reset the irrigation and look towards fruit crops and all consuming madness of Christmas, it seems as if we are always running out of time.
My Christmas wish is that our pollies enter this debate with their eyes open and look to the faces of their children and grandchildren for guidance. We can't afford to run out of time this time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More Hubble Bubble

A weekend visitor asked if she could take a photo of my window sill. She said that no one else had a window sill like mine. Tomorrow, there will be another strange thing to look at, this is why…
I was researching the health benefits of chrysanthemum tea the other day when I came across a blog from Malaysia full of all sorts of interesting recipes and information. This particular cleaning enzyme had been adapted from a formula for a garbage enzyme developed by a naturopath, Dr Joeen Oon, who is concerned about the 7.3 million tonnes of waste that Malaysia generates each year. She uses the enzyme, diluted with water to do everything: cleaning toilets, bathrooms, dishes, laundry, washing fruit and vegetables, clearing drains, to mop floors, as a natural repellent and as shampoo and face cleanser!!!!! I think that deserves a few exclamation marks, don’t you?
You can use any food scraps you like but meat and other proteins will make it smell really bad during its fermenting process. In the homemaker blog she used only citrus peels. How wonderful to find another use for something the chooks won’t eat and are not great in the compost. Anything that uses lemons instantly gets my attention as I have a Meyer lemon that has obscene amounts of fruit for ten months of the year.

Here is my interpretation that combines both versions of the recipe:

Citrus Enzyme Based Multipurpose Cleaner
You will need either; a large plastic container, a screw top jar, 2 litre juice bottle or a 10 litre lidded bucket, depending on how much you want to make.
The only ingredients you need are brown sugar, kitchen scraps and water in a proportion of 1:3:10.
The amounts given below will fit into a 2 litre juice bottle.

100 g brown sugar
300g of citrus or other scraps
1 litre of water
Use a funnel to pour the sugar into the bottle.
Drop in the fruit slices
Pour in the water (tap water is okay)
Put the lid on tightly.
Mark the bottle with the date it will be ready, in 3 months time.
Give it a good shake.
For the first month you will need to open the lid as the pressure inside builds up with the fermentation process. Don’t let the bottle start to swell.
After 3 months it should be a nice brown colour, if not add an extra amount of sugar and ferment some more. It should not smell ‘rotten’ this means it needs to ferment some more.
Filter through an old cloth and bottle.

Use diluted 1 Tbsp to one litre of water. You will need to experiment to find the best dilution for your brew.
This all sounds good to me; cheap and easy to make, environmentally friendly, uses something you would otherwise throw away and has a little bit of magic too! If anyone else has done this, let me know how you got on with it.
I’ll let you know how mine goes

Thursday, November 5, 2009

And I will make thee beds of roses...

‘…my mouth fills at the memory of the perfume, like cream and marshmallow and burnt sugar and the heady mingling of cognac and fresh ground cocoa beans. It is the scent of a woman’s hair, just where the nape joins the skull’s tender hollow, the scent of ripe apricots in the sun…’

‘Chocolat’ by Joanne Harris

The garden at the moment is heady with such intense fragrance I can only close my eyes, breathe it in deeply and hope to place it in some part of memory where I can recall at will that ethereal, heady swooning sensation.
The fences are laden with pink jasmine and honeysuckle, Mr. Lincoln is sighing his rich redness into the air and the lemon tree is laden with absurd amounts of tart blossoms. The sweet almondy purple flowers of the cherry pie have wound their way into the lemon verbena like some rich dessert recipe. Custardy elderflowers and the fresh scent of lavender remind me of afternoon tea with elderly relatives, the musky scent of the poppies of forbidden pleasures.
Spring is a busy time, there is manure and hay to spread, summer vegetables to plant, bulbs to be dug. The window sill holds a growing collection of jars and bottles, oils and essences of petals and flowers and the dryer is full of lavender, roses and calendula, all in an attempt to capture the elusive nature of fragrance.
Unless you can grow acres of fragrant flowers, you won’t be able to create your own essential oils. It needs thousands of flowers to pass through the distillation process to produce a very small amount of oil. There is another process that can be done at home. It is a variation on the enfleurage method of extraction. There are a few different variations of this, each using oil or fat. I have found a good cheat’s method that will give you a nicely scented oil infusion.

Fill a jar with scented petals of your choice, a mixture of flowers can be lovely. Cover with grape seed or jojoba oil and add 2 teaspoons of vodka.Place on a sunny window sill or in a warm spot. Each day, strain the oil and replace the flowers with fresh ones. Check after ten days. If you would like a stronger scent, continue replacing the flowers each day. Finally, strain the oil through a piece of muslin into a dark glass bottle and store in a cool place out of the sun or refrigerate. Use in perfume blends, cosmetics or massage oil.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies…’
Christopher Marlowe