Friday, March 6, 2015

Green and Thrifty



Goodness, it's that time of the week again. And it's Autumn, my favourite season. The beginning of March always signals a slight turning of the weather here in Tasmania. A chill in the morning, a need to wear socks in the evening. BUT, the days are glorious. The sky is the deepest blue imaginable, the light is golden. I stood at the back door to take this photo, but it hardly does justice to the truly glorious blue that we just drown in here every March. I still don't understand why everyone doesn't move to Tasmania. I mean, really, why wouldn't you?

Each day this week I have collected a bucket of apples or pears, or both. First I fill the dryer trays to make dried fruit chips, then I stew what's left with rhubarb, or the blueberries we picked at the blueberry farm over summer. A handful of blueberries makes a whole pot of apples and pears into a pinky-purple treat, and that helps the blueberries go a long way.

I have cooked up 12kg of tomatoes into passata and will present my passata findings and recipes next week. I now need MORE tomatoes to make a year's worth of passata and get all those empty jars I have been collecting out of my sideboard. I think I will need 36kg of tomatoes altogether if my forward estimates are correct...



This much basil (6 packed cups of leaves) makes two small jars of pesto. Luckily I have a lot of basil, and intend to keep cranking out the pesto over the next couple of weeks. I have nearly run out of olive oil, so will have to go 'shopping' for more. This means I will have to walk over to my friend Jane's house with my oil tin, and she will fill it up with organic Australian olive oil because she runs a bulk-buy organic food co-op from her kitchen. I might have a cup of tea while I am there. My life is so hard.

While I was whizzing up the pesto in the food processor it suddenly occurred to me that generations of Italian nonnas probably did not make pesto in a blender.. it took me some time before I worked out that those great big granite and marble mortar and pestle sets that decorate many kitchen counters would be the kitchen gadget of choice for making pesto without electricity. I have now put that on my list of things to look for at garage sales. Add to that a mouli for making passata without a stick blender, and soon I will be able to process the harvest like a true peasant.. because that is what I have decided I want to be when I grow up. A peasant with a house full of food that I have grown and made myself. A peasant with access to hot water, chocolate and the library. You know, a peasant with benefits:) That, or a witch. I haven't decided yet. Still, medicinal herbs don't take up much space. And I'm good at cackling, and already have the cats, so maybe I could do both..

Here is what Rosy has been up to this week:


Honestly, children have no fear. Rosy decided she wanted to sew a lined pencil case with a zip. If I had decided that, it would take me six months of research, consultation with sewing friends, and then a postponement due to nerves. Rosy set up the sewing machine with her school laptop parked in front of it running a tutorial from You Tube, and an hour later had the finished product. She used the zipper foot! She even shortened the zip!! I am amazed.

She 'shopped the shed' for the fabric - a vintage cushion cover I bought from an op shop years ago, and the lining is a pair of my old pyjamas. The zip she found in the sewing drawer. The pencil case is dirty already because she has been using it all week at school, but at least we know it will wash easily. She now has plans to make more for gifts for friends. Did you hear that? My teenager is going to make her own gifts for friends' birthdays. This is the kind of thing I hoped I would be able to start doing this year, but the 14yo is way ahead of me. I am so proud:)

What green and thrifty activities have you been up to this week? Tell me about your harvesting and preserving if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, and your dreams for your garden and seed sprouting dramas if you live way up North.


15 comments:

theroadtoserendipity said...

Do tell about the bulk buying cooperative Ms Jo? Is it reasonably priced for penniless student hippies and is your friend open to new recruits? Kudos on the fruity preservation and the glorious tomato bounty. I have 3 basil plants. Most of them have been chewed in significant places by "something". I was assured by the interweb that NOTHING eats basil. Obviously 'nothing' lives on Serendipity Farm. Your daughter is an unmitigated genius. I can't sew "the end". Like you, I would be phaffing around over tutorials and planning and working myself up into a nervous wreck of a state. Looks like you have a 'practical' one there Ms Jo :) Have a wonderful week doing what you do. It certainly makes me smile :)

Tanya Murray said...

The Rosie story makes my heart soar! I can also relate to your role and Rosie's because it is the same task attitude here at my house. I dither and flip flop and worry but my daughter doesn't even entertain the thought she can't do it. Imagine the future....

Jo said...

Fran, I will email you the details. I think the prices are more or less on a par with those at Wholesome House, but you can have a look at the price list and see if it will work for you.
Isn't it lucky you don't like basil? And that you have planted dozens of other things that you do like? Actually, maybe the basil knows you don't like it, so has turned up its toes in despair?
Tanya, oh yes, I have great faith in the next generation. That 'can do' attitude will need to see them through some tricky times..

Barbara said...

As someone who has makes vast
quantities of pesto most years,
I'd suggest you keep the food
processor. Pounding in a mortar
get old really quickly!

Jo said...

Barbara, lovely to hear from a voice of experience! You sound like someone with a large family and large garden. Or an Italian restaurant! I am sure you are right, and I am sure I will keep making pesto in my food processor for quite some time. BUT I want to experience how to make it the traditional way as well. It may just be something I will do for a little fun, or you never know, maybe I'll be able to stop going to the gym because of the enormous muscles I'll get while pounding pesto! Humour me:)

jj said...

Hi Jo, I've followed you here from the Archdruid's blog, & what a delightful read yours is!

Do you have a recipe for the passata?

After a number of visits over the years, I also think Tassie is a wonderful place, so to that end my partner & I will be having a bit of a road trip (to celebrate his 65th, OMG he says, how did that happen!) along the Great Ocean Road from Adelaide, visit family in Melbourne, catch the ferry over & visit your fair shores & mountains, with half a mind to making the move in a couple of years.

Which part of the island are you in? cheers julie

Bek said...

I would totally move to Tasmania, if it weren't for my family and friends, job, sport and garden all in Melbourne. Selfish bastards.
Well done on raising a self sufficient and thrifty child. Everyone loves a homemade personalised gift. So much more meaningful than a gift certificate.

Jo said...

Julie, welcome, lovely to have you here:) I am from Adelaide too - one hot summer we decided we'd had enough and moved to the coolest spot we could think of.. we are in the north, in Launceston. Just love it!! I am sure you will have a wonderful trip. I love the Great Ocean Road trip too, it is a cracker. Although we have one to rival that, down the east coast of Tasmania..
Oh Bek, come on, there are some houses for sale in my street..

Jo said...

PS Julie, I will be putting up my final passata recipe soon, just need to do a little tweaking..

Mimi Mama said...

Jo, I love this post from the top of your pesto and passata to the tip of Rosies too-cute-for-words DIY pencil case. Love, the will to learn, and ingenuity solve so many ills, don't you think? I think you and I and others like us, are aliens rather than witches. Or one would imagine so from the raised eyebrows and odd looks sent our way sometimes! When and how did it happen, that we learned to make do, make the most of, and make hay while the sun shines, while everyone else sits on their hands ordering up big online and trawling the shopping centres. What a wonderful example you set for your gorgeous girls. Mimi xxx

jj said...

yes, the hot days are getting much worse in Adelaide, hello climate change! Launceston & surrounds is a lovely part of Tassie, what made you choose to settle there?

Siwzy Wysome said...

Hi Jo, yet another delightful trip to Tasmania, and yes I would love to visit and experience what Tasmania has to offer but my meagre lifestyle in the UK won't stretch so your weekly windows into life down there will have to satisfy my appetite, and believe me they do. Keep Posting, your posts start my week x

heather said...

Ooh, I've got a green and thrifty! I pulled out two of our farm chickens which had been in the freezer way too long (because the others in the batch were tough, I've put off using them) and cooked them in the slow cooker, hoping that stewing magic would make them more tender. Sadly, this didn't work to tenderize the meat (anyone know how to cook a tough bird properly?), but I chopped it up fine to use in meals anyway. I added some to vegetable soup and we had a second meal with it in pasta sauce. AND I used the carcasses to make and can stock. Of course those chickens would still be in the deep freeze without your inspiration, Jo, and the prospect of reporting the above here. It makes it much more enjoyable to inflict my green and thrifty ideas on the family if I can imagine that someone, somewhere will appreciate those efforts, since those at home generally don't. :)
--Heather In CA

heather said...

Green and thrifty PS: was just on my way to the compost bucket, fuming over my bag of organic apples that turned out to be terrible, bruised and mealy. Thought of you and chopped up five; they're now stewing in a little pot for oatmeal topping for tomorrow. Thanks for the nudge.
--Heather in CA

Jo said...

Dear Mimi, so lovely to have you pop over! Where does a different attitude to life come from? I have thrifty parents who passed on a strong ethical framework for living a life in line with my values, I have a bunch of thrifty, ethical, creative friends who are willing to try anything, brave and hilarious children, and I read all sorts of arcane, philosophical works, which have sent me on a different path as well.. also, I watched 'The Good Life' on TV at an impressionable age..:)
Julie, we settled here because this is where ex-hub found a job. We ordered the Tassie papers from our local newsagent in Adelaide, and he applied for jobs until he got one! Then we up and moved. But it has been a great decision. Launceston is big enough to have everything we need, and small enough to always bump into someone you know in town. It is a bit like downtown Adelaide in the 1950s..And it is gorgeous. You'll see. You'll never want to leave:)
Siwzy, for my part I love peeking into your part of the world through the photos and descriptions on your blog. I love visiting other parts of the world via blogs, because it means I never have to get on a beastly plane:)
Heather, I am gob-smacked and terribly pleased that I have been an inspiration to be green and thrifty, and yes, I am totally impressed with your chicken-rescue dinners. I must say, I have never had a cut of meat that did not tenderise in the slow-cooker - they must have been very muscly chickens!! I am also amazed that you manage to kill you own chickens - you will need to be one of my chicken mentors when I finally brave up enough to get some!
Well done on saving some of those apples. Isn't it infuriating to be disappointed in expensive organic fruit? But your 'make do and mend' grannies from the Depression would be proud of you:)
btw we have another Heather from California as well who reads and comments. What will we do? At the moment I can tell you apart because she doesn't have chickens... so make sure you always mention the chickens:)

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