Archive for the 'Eco Pretender' Category

Elderflower Cordial & Marmalade!

Hey man! I have turned all domesticated! I have made elderflower cordial and marmalade. It was easy! Any Ex Engineer turned domestic goddess could do it.

We have 10 elder trees at the pump house cottage (and counting) so it seemed appropriate to make use of the produce. Apparently elderflower season is a mere 6 weeks so I took advantage of this transient time and sent the IT guy up a ladder picking flowers – lovely!

Pump House Cottage Elderflower Cordial

40 Elderflower heads – beautiful fresh ones, not a hint of brown, smelling intensely like a cats toilet, collected on a sunny day at midday, turn around three times and touch your toes before plucking, rinse off bugs and place in a big bucket.

Acquire 2 Oranges & 5 Lemons, pare off zest,  cut up the remainder and add all to the elderflowers.

Combine 2.5 kg of sugar with 2 Litres of boiling water – Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble until dissolved.

Using the appropriate face of intense concentration pour the boiling sugar solution over the unsuspecting elderflowers, zest etc.

Quickly whip 100g of citric acid together with a cup of boiling water to dissolve and add to the elderflower party.

Stir, stir, stir… a good 10 seconds of industrious stirring should do it.

Cover the bucket with a tea towel – and leave for 5 days.

At this point the elderflower aroma was quite intense and got me a little bit scared of the potential product – but over night the smell matured and became quite a pleasant background for activities at the pump house cottage. To the left is the mix brewing…

After the 5 days of steeping, sieve through muslin. Keep the elderflower/citrus mulch to the side and bottle the cordial in sterilised bottles – Dilute to taste with water, lemonade – or my favourite – soda water – and enjoy!

The elderflower cordial has been popular – even Auntie Ann took home a bottle – watch out tea lady rellies – there is going to be elderflower cordial all round for christmas presents.

Now for the Marmalade:

Elderflower Marmalade – The Pump House Cottage Recipe.

Now before we begin – a few disclaimers – I am not a jam maker and kinda played this one by ear – but the result was not bad….

Take the elderflower/citrus mulch leftover from the cordial straining and remove the elderflowers (thanks but we don’t need you anymore!) 

Cut the zest and pulp up (I don’t like to have great lumps in my marmalade so I cut it up as finely as I could).

Place the pulverised mess in a saucepan & cover the mixture with elderflower cordial. Cook gently until a test piece of zest is tender to bite.

Weigh the mixture and add the same weight of sugar. Cook until suitably jammy – picking out stray bugs and lemon pips as you go. My setting test was pure guess work  (i.e. hey man it looks like jam now!) You may want to use a more scientific method.

Pour the hot marmalade into jars and ta da! Elderflower marmalade – Yum!

Now the IT guy has caught the bug – and has been brewing elderflower champagne – watch this space to see if he is a fermenting success or all ends in a bomb squad call out.

Another Kitchen? For How Much?

Ok, so we bought another kitchen! This time we paid WAY too much – a whole $25!! Thanks Trademe! We actually bought the kitchen because it came with the option of a $50 oven – score! There is a bit of a story with the kitchen too – it came from an Island Bay home that used to belong to Al Brown of Logan Brown fame – the new owners were getting rid of Al’s much worn and loved old kitchen and accessories – so we now the new owners!

Stove SocialisingYou can tell he is a cooking fanatic as the temperature etc markings have all been worn off the stove – what temperature you are setting the oven at is pure guess work! The IT guy is on to it though and the spare parts to fix the problem are on order – I may have a working oven in time for birthday and christmas baking! Here is the stove – living it up in the dining room – having just a stove hanging out with us at meal times is great – compared to a whole kitchen!!

Al Browns Old Kitchen - ApparentlyI think that Mr Brown may be a bit horrified at the way the rest of his kitchen has been employed –  it is now my latest vege plot – housing tomatoes, rockmelon, cucumber, corguette and aubergine. I think my fellow gardener CFD put it quite nicely when she said it was ‘up-cycling’ must remember that term – it is going to be applied to alot of re-use around here! 

Using a kitchen cabinet for a garden was the inspired idea of the IT guy – not just a pretty face! Now all sorts of ideas are being thrown around – no dig gardens, cloches, cold frames! All of that may be in the pipeline – I will have to start googling!

But – when you think about it $25 is alot to pay for (effectively) a raised vege bed…. but everything costs too much these days – don’t get me started! Watch this space to see if the veges thrive in Al’s kitchen – or if it all turns to custard!

Watch this space!

The Wind! The Wind!

The wind today is doing my head in – good thing I am distracted – slightly – by feijoa trees. The IT guy got given two feijoa trees for fathers day – one from each of the bubs, and now I am wondering if he wouldn’t really miss one if it turned into a granny smith apple tree as if by magic…… I mean, feijoas are pretty gross, so who needs two trees? I am sure the rumor that they make more fruit if there is two of them is just some urban ledgend – or maybe feijoa trees mate for life – who knows – maybe if I split them up they will both wilt and die? Well at least it would be an interesting experiment.

Self Sustainablity is Not Cheap

Went out with the clan this weekend to look at plants for the new 1/2 acre we have bought. I have great plans of growing all our own veges and fruit. Not sure quite how that is going to come off as I am a bit of a ‘plant and hope’ kinda gardener.

Anyway, I bought lemon, orange and grapefruit trees and a blackcurrant cane (love! blackcurrant jam!!). It cost $100! That is an awful lot for these little trees/twigs to live up to – and the twiggyness of it all has not got me particularly convinced that there will be bountiful fruit bearing any time soon. I am an instant gratification type so I am going to have to learn the art of patience. Again – watch this space!

Oh, talking of arts, I have never been gifted in the art of spelling. I give up with it really, so pardon the creative use of letters, I hope the meaning still gets through.

The persona

I, like most humans, have a few bees in my bonnet – one big one is how I have to keep paying people for stuff. In particular I hate paying for food and energy. I think that it is a conspiracy! I am bucking the trend, starting a new wave, creating a faction – or whatever. I am going to be the food producing, energy generating queen! Watch this space.