Green and Thrifty

I was watching a video the other day about building a passivhaus - where the house is built so tight and with so much insulation that it hardly needs any heating or cooling, and the owner builder said that the secret is in the thousand tiny things you do to reduce heat loss, not in any one, big thing. This is exactly what I find when reducing household expenditure, and journeying towards less waste and using less energy. There is no one big, magic cure-all, but every little daily action adds up to making a large impact.

This week's small actions:

I made fruit and nut bread. I am pretty good at baking bread, if I say so myself. It would cost a good $8/loaf to buy the bread I make. In fact, I can't think of anywhere in town I can buy an organic loaf, so my bread is practically priceless!

I used the last of last year's foraged walnuts for the nut part of the bread.

This week I looked at an expensive seed mix for bread at the wholefood shop, then realised I have all of those seeds at home. I mixed all the seeds in a jar, then tipped the required half a cup into the blender and whizzed it up. Voila! Expensive seed mix for less.

I dried plums from my neighbour's tree for chewy snacking goodness.

I planted out broccoli, cabbage, silverbeet, spring onions and kale. I potted up some flower seedlings that have popped up in the vegie patch to replant elsewhere. I discovered that French tarragon is very easy to divide, so I dug up a chunk for Paul's garden. It is very important to always have French tarragon available for my salads wherever I go.. I finally packaged up the beetroot seeds I saved and had hanging on the plant in the shed. I planted beetroot seeds in the vegie garden, and sprinkled them around the flower garden. This year I have had self-sown beetroot popping up in the flower gardens, so I am helping that process along a little..

My mum brought me rhubarb and blackberries. I gave her tomatoes.

We all ate 'car crash' vegies and drank 'car crash' wine from Paul's unfortunate escapade of last week. The 'car crash' peaches weren't in mint condition, so I stewed them with the last of summer's blueberries from the freezer.

I made all our meals, and the girls had a packed lunch every day. I love it when we get through a week without resorting to the school canteen!

I made passata from my tomatoes. I keep giving them away, but more keep coming..

When Paul's sling from the emergency department at the hospital gave up, I made him one out of a jaunty pink plaid Madras cotton from my fabric stash. It was left over from making a maternity dress when I was pregnant with The Girl twenty one years ago. Paul wore the sling with great panache until he could get a proper one from the physio on Monday.

In the spirit of using what I have I am working through the enormous collection of herbal teas in my kitchen. I do not buy these, they turn up as gifts, or as unwanted refugees from other kitchens. I must drink them up before they take over my house. One cup a day. I will be super healthy, relaxed, detoxed and rejuvenated, according to various labels.

I made a new batch of Bathroom Paste and Salad Dressing.

Paul and I found a plum tree in the street on the way home from the shops and foraged a bunch of plums from it. Paul is very tall which confers a distinct foraging advantage.

From the garden this week we ate potatoes, tomatoes, Cape gooseberries, pineapple ground cherries, lemons, rosemary, sage, beetroot, parsley, thyme, basil, capsicums. But mostly tomatoes.. To my great shame we are buying lettuce. Must plant more lettuce..

And one big thing - I did not buy a single thing other than food this week. Which is lucky, because the roofing man finally turned up to fix the leaking roof. A roof that doesn't leak? Priceless. Well, actually, it wasn't. It was quite expensive. But, roof not leaking. That is Good.

You know, I was feeling like I hadn't accomplished much this week, but writing it all down, I feel like I have made more progress than I thought. Tell me your green and thrifty triumphs. I promise you will feel better for it!


Darwin Girl said…
Those tomatoes look rather toothsome!
Jo said…
Franny and Danny, you mean the ones that aren't covered in dirt??
GretchenJoanna said…
I don't think I'd ever heard the name "silverbeet" before! I looked it up and discovered it is what we know as (Swiss) chard, and I also found that there are other interesting names for this vegetable I previously had one lonely name for!

You also reminded me that I have some silverbeet growing out there in my own garden, and though it does cook down sooo much, I should bring in a few leaves and add it to soup at least.

Thank you, Jo!
Jamie said…
Do you take the seeds out of your plums before drying? Do you have a handy method?

How do you use tarragon in your salad? I'm thinking of starting to grow it so I can make my own bearnaise sauce, but I would love other recipes to use it in.
Jo said…
Gretchen Joanna, I love finding out all the different names for the same plants, although it can get confusing! When our silver beet has red stems we call it red chard, just to confuse things even more.. oh, and there is rainbow chard, when you get a mix of red, yellow and pink stems..

Jamie, I took the seeds out of these plums because they were the big Japanese purple ones and they come out relatively easily. Smaller plums I tend to make into jam, cooking up the whole plum and taking out the stones with tongs (very tedious, pour the stewed plums into a tray to do this before adding the sugar) or sieve the mixture to make jelly.

Tarragon is my new favourite herb, and I have tried using it on everything! It is wonderful with chicken, divine with potatoes, either sprinkled on plain boiled with butter, or in potato salad. It is perfect on salmon with lemon, and I made a beautiful salsa verde from parsley and tarragon recently, will put up the recipe this week. We ate that on everything, and it was gorgeous on olive bread with cheese. For salads I just sprinkle it over the top as a garnish, and I also made the last batch of salad dressing with a lot of fresh tarragon. So far there is not much I would not recommend it with.. and I have never made bearnaise sauce, must look it up - what do you eat it with?
Treaders said…
I keep saying it but I can't wait to retire so I can get more into gardening and so on. In fact, this Saturday there is a "class" given by a new-to-me organization on how to prepare your veggie plot organically for the upcoming spring planting. I have never heard of this organization but they seem to be into more than just organic gardening so I think I will give it a shot (but gotta dash back for the international rugby afterwards)! Anna
Jo said…
Anna, have you considered gardening in a pot? It is very time efficient. That is how I started gardening, at age 16, with a pot of cherry tomatoes and a petunia plant given to me by my aunt. For the next six years, I grew a cherry tomato and a petunia in that pot every spring until I moved into a house with a garden of my own..
Jamie said…
Jo, I like to eat my bearnaise sauce with grilled chicken breast, but I'm sure there are lots of other things it would work with. I also like it with potatoes.

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