Green and Thrifty

Now that I have the wood fire going all day I am back to making cups of tea with the kettle on the wood stove. When the fire is nicely heated up it takes about ten minutes to boil the kettle. I don't leave it on the stove as I have a horrible history of burning kettles dry, but I love the burbling purr of the kettle when it sits on the stove, close to, but not quite boiling. This is the perfect water temperature for herbal teas. If I want an actual boil I give it ten seconds on the gas stove.

During the week my neighbour cleaned out his freezer and popped over with a chunk of freezer-burned unidentifiable meat for Benny's dinner. I put in in the slow cooker with a bunch of Russian kale from Paul's mum, some brown rice and sorghum and some rosemary from the garden and Benny has a week of delicious doggy dinners all lined up.

Last week I mentioned that I had run out of stickers for labelling jam and a lovely and helpful reader, Cripplewing, advised me to stick ordinary paper to the jar with milk. I only have soy milk, but I gave it a go and it worked perfectly. No need for sticky labels now. Thank you Cripplewing and to all of you who share advice and tips every time I write about anything. I learn so much from everyone.

Rosy and her boyfriend came for dinner for the first time in about three months. It was so lovely! We are very lucky to live in an island state where it seems that for now the virus has been eliminated.. maybe too early to be certain, but there have been no new cases for thirteen days, with only eight cases active and quarantined in the north-west of the state. Fingers crossed. Anyway, we are cautiously beginning to gather again in little family groups. Rosy came straight from her job at a cafe and brought us left-over banana choc chip muffins and also turkish bread which we turned into garlic bread with garlic from the garden. I sent Rosy home with more dried apples. Every day this week I have been drying more of Rosy's apples from last week. We had mashed potato left over from our dinner (Posy always makes the mashed potato. I am banned because I make it lumpy..) and I made potato cakes for dinner the next night.

I took down my collection of herbs drying on trays on top of the bookshelf and found the year's basil harvest ready to crush up and put in a jar. It was a terrible year for basil in my garden - it just did not thrive and I had a few small plants, but even those, when carefully collected and dried and crumbled into a jar made enough dried basil to see us through the next few months, after which we will hopefully have fresh basil again.

I am, I must admit, still not getting much done. I am doing what needs to be done. Well, nearly most of what needs to be done. If something becomes vital to do, I do it. I have completed Posy's home education registration, signed some forms up at her school, gone to the Town Hall to renew my free parking permit (I don't have off-street parking so need a permit from the council to park in the street as we live right close to the heart of town). I keep the fire going. I make dinner if I can't persuade Posy to. I sometimes sweep the floor. The dishes get done. I write a few word here and there. I look at my garden mess/jungle and think, Well, it's not pretty but there's lots of food growing. I think interesting thoughts. Then it's time for bed. Meanwhile, Posy made fruit loaf and three batches of cookies. She is trying all the variations she can think of on the theme of peanut butter. She has given a lot away but it is my difficult duty to have to eat fruit loaf and peanut butter cookies this week..

Stop press: as I was about to hit 'Publish' my neighbour called to say he has 20kg of strawberries on his kitchen bench and would I like some? Well, yes, so i took a stew pot up the street and collected some strawberries to make jam and gave some away to yet another friend who just dropped in.

Why does he have 20kg of strawberries? Because one of his friends manages a strawberry farm and these are the seconds that they don't sell..

Eating this week:
From the garden: Lemons, silverbeet, parsley, sage, spinach.
Weeds: chickweed
Stored food: garlic
Preserved food: lemon verbena tea, dried oregano, apricot jam, cherry jam, tomato passata, dried apples, dried basil, stewed plums out of the freezer.
Gifted food: strawberries, banana and choc chip muffins plus turkish bread from Rosy's cafe job, meat for Benson's dinners which turned out to be wallaby. I took apples and rhubarb back up to the neighbour who brought me the wallaby. Kale and rhubarb from Paul's mum. I also gave more apples away to a friend who stopped by for a cuppa and who brought more cake! My mum and dad stopped in after the dentist and I fed them vegetable soup for lunch and they brought fruit buns and scones from their bakery delivery. Would you look at the crazy social whirl my life has become this week as we carefully pop our heads round our front doors and begin to see other people again!

How are things going where you are? Are you able to venture outside again? Choosing not to? Have you been thrifty? Share all the things:)


Anonymous said…
What a lovely week! Have you read any of the Derek Tangye books about a simpler life in Cornwall? All the growing, and sharing and bartering and pottering. Lovely. Lucinda
Meg said…
It sounds a most lovely week, Jo, filled with apples and strawberries and jam!
Basil is doing well in my garden again this year but it didn't grow well at all the two previous years. No idea why! This week, I've made brown rice and veg rolls, a pie with silverbeet, spring onion and parsley from our garden and sewn a top from a 3m remnant I found at my community centre for $7.50. There's lots of fabric left over so more sewing another day. Meg
Jo said…
Lucinda, I have, but probably 20 years ago now. I'll put them on my library list.

Meg, I think basil has Moods. I had a peek at your blog to to see the top you made, and I love that blue. How clever of you to make clothes for yourself. The satisfaction!
Anonymous said…
All those strawberries! Such luxury!
My basil also failed to thrive this year, but it has otherwise been an excellent year for the garden, and the freezer is now full of potential meals.
Libraries are open again, so we are back to borrowing books. Thank goodness for libraries.
Collected all our coffee grounds and added them to the compost.
My husband pruned a couple of trees, so I shredded all the prunings and mulched a garden area that I have recently cleared. That shredder is over 20 years old, and I think it was our best-ever investment for the garden!

It's a long weekend here, we are now able to travel around the country, and NZers are all being encouraged to support local businesses. Ours is a major tourist town, which has suffered greatly as a result of Covid-19, so an influx of visitors will be very well received by locals.

Thank you for these posts, Jo.

Linda in NZ

simplelife said…
What a lovely week. So much sharing, caring and connecting in the nicest way.
Cheers Kate
Kathy said…
What a lovely bonus to get some gifted strawberries. Have a good week.
Anonymous said…
I love that you are always swapping and sharing. My lovely neighbour has been saving her coffee grounds for our garden - I give her veg over the summer when there is a glut and she turns them into wonderful chutneys and things and shares with her grown son's family.

We have been dreaming of a wood stove like yours for ages but the people at the BBQ shop said we cannot have one. We currently have a big wood stove built in to the wall that has a fan (I'm in an old miner's cottage so it's in the original open fireplace.) They said the mantle piece will get too hot, the heat won't circulate etc...but I am puzzled because every time I watch Escape to The Country someone has this exact arrangement! It just seems so wasteful not to be cooking on top of the stove. Do you have a fan to circulate the heat, and does it heat the house adequately?

This week I dried the silk from organic corn, it makes a fabulous for kidney/bladder health and is actually delicious. I have eggshells waiting to be ground for use around seedlings and lemons waiting to have their skin shaved and dried for firestarters (works well but you do need to add it to some good kindling, gum twigs etc) I've turned a towel into cleaning cloths so I can have people in my studio again and clean after them and am about to be delivered clothes my son has grown out of. He has great taste so I'm looking forward to it!

Enjoy the weekend,

Treaders said…
My brother-in-law grew up in an old (built in the 1400s) cottage in Herefordshire and it was absolutely beautiful. It was a tied cottage and the rent was £12 a year!!!! I know!!!! But they had a beautiful wood stove just like your picture and the kettle was "always on". What a lovely way to grow up. And thanks to Lucinda, I've just downloaded one of the Derek Tangye books. I love Cornwall and the idea of the simple (if hard) life they adopted appeals to me so much. I suspect more of us will be moving towards that way of life if we can, the fast-paced, jet set life not being for most of us.
Jo said…
Linda, shredded trees make amazing mulch that promotes the microbiome of the soil and makes earthworms so happy! I'm glad your town is heading towards recovery. I think a lot of people will be travelling as soon as they can.

Kate, it is so good to see people again, and there is so much food in our house now!

Kathy, strawberries are always an amazing gift - I had no idea that strawberries were even still growing locally.. You have a good week as well:)

Madeleine, probably your woodstove arrangement would circulate air better, and would be bigger and provide more heat. I have a little portable fan on top of the stove which you can see in the photo. Because the woodheater is in the chimney space it heats up the masonry rather than the air, except in the front. That means the whole room keeps warm over night as the bricks release the heat slowly, but it also doesn't heat up the air quite as efficiently. Having said that it heats up our very little cottage, but not upstairs. We can't duct it because it is inside the chimney..
Paul says I could get a bigger fan to put on the floor under the woodheater at the back which would be more efficient.
There is a wooden mantelpiece directly above the woodheater which gets warm but not hot to the touch. The hundred year old wooden mantelpiece in our old house used to get much hotter over the open fireplace, but that didn't cause any problems, and obviously, it had lasted a hundred years..
So, in other words, you will have to do more homework to decide what you want. Do you need all the heat you have now? This is a little Morso stove which is very nice, but it only just manages to keep the heat up on a really cold night. each stove should have specs which tell you how many square metres the stove heats, but it will be less if it is inside the chimney.. good luck!

Jo said…
Anna, we all want your BIL's 15th century 12 pound cottage now! I bet it had terrible plumbing though! Many of my ancestors from both sides of my family came from Cornwall. I turned up some family research the other day when i was cleaning out a cupboard. In the St Keverne parish census for 1861 my ancestor Alice's occupation is listed as 'bedridden'. Some days that just describes me so now I am going to say it is genetic..

Anonymous said…
Jo thank you so much for your answer to my question. What you say about the mantel piece makes perfect sense, you've given me more to think about. The practical question of how well we can heat the house is important as it can get as cold as minus 13!

Jo said…
Madeleine, yes, that is very cold. It really gets below minus 3 here as we are quite protected. I believe that the type of woodheater you have with the built in fan is much more efficient, and it is designed for much of its heat to come out the front and heat the room. If you have space somewhere else though you could put in a small free-standing wood heater for extra heat and to pop the kettle on and make soup:)
I also wanted to say thank you for your idea of using cornsilk as a tea - I have never heard of that and will save it from the corn next year and give it a go. I love all the knowledge that accrues here!
I also dry citrus peel as fire starters - I don't bother shaving it, just dry the whole peel. That's another job I do on a tray on top of the wood heater:)

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