all hands on deck

It is that time of year when it’s all hands on deck to pick, pickle, jelly, jam, syrup, or preserve in some other way.

There is so much free food out in the hedgerows and indeed your garden, and I don’t mean the vegetable patch.  In the past I have been overwhelmed, unable to do everything and then become exhausted and slightly resentful that I missed out on something.

There is nothing different this year.  In fact I should be more busy as I am taking my turn to chair The Durham Shopping Extravaganza, I am President of our village WI and this is the first full year that Liz and I have been running Messy Church.  But I’m much more in control.  I think I may have Mother Nature on my side.  The late spring and summer has meant that the harvests are just a little bit later and sit nicely in the school holidays.  Furthermore as I am not going back to work in September I don’t have to panic to get everything in before term starts.

Today I picked the rosehips.  Our front garden (actually probably the side garden, but it’s a bit hard to explain) is surrounded by rugosa and dog roses.  And the rosehips are looking splendid.  I stuck to the rugosa today

DSC_1663

 

and boiled them up for rosehip jelly.

 

DSC_1664

 

 

As they are notoriously low in pectin I boiled up some bramleys which have conveniently ripened at the same time.

 

 

Now they just have to drip away overnight and jelly making tomorrow.

We never really use the rosehip syrup all that much so I may pass on that this year, although I will dry some and whizz them up to make rosehip tea.

Back to my old favourite lavender.  I was going to make plum cobbler last night (not my plums, they are still green, but British ones nonetheless) but nobody was in the mood for something quite so heavy.  Poached plums were requested for tonight and we thought we would experiment with serving them with lavender syrup.

They dehydrator is working overtime (currently filled with past their sell by date raspberries) but I managed to squeeze in a tray of lavender and as I type it is seeping away in sugar syrup.

DSC_1666

 

I’ll let you know whether poached pears and lavender are divine or disgusting.

DSC_1668

 

On the no plastic front, my stainless steel atomisers arrived today.  I couldn’t find any without a plastic atomiser head.  Do they exist?  The next job will be to make up the cleaning fluids and fill them up 🙂

 

plastic free

Inspired by nzecochick, who along with thousands of people in New Zealand, Australia and an increasing number of other countries, went plastic free in July.  I decided I would attempt to do the same in September.

I have given myself August to start planning and preparing.  This is an arbitrary and incomplete list of the plastic already in our house.

  1. pet food sacks
  2. toiletry containers
  3. cleaning product containers
  4. food wrapping
  5. toothbrushes
  6. hairbrushes
  7. food storage containers
  8. cd cases
  9. dvd cases
  10. bags
  11. freezer bags
  12. bin bags
  13. medicine bottles
  14. dairy cartons
  15. pencil cases
  16. junk mail/catalogue covers
  17. watering cans
  18. clothes pegs
  19. washing maching balls
  20. tumble drier balls
  21. chopping board
  22. kitchen sink plug
  23. fermenting bin
  24. parcel packaging
  25. wrapping tape
  26. folders
  27. meat baster
  28. shower cap
  29. razor
  30. clothes packaging (multibuy underwear, shirts etc)

I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist.  Suddenly it didn’t seem so easy after all.  Also with three teenage daughters and a husband who thinks that one can go too far and I am approaching that point, I am going to be flying solo.

Fortunately the plastic free movement is live and kicking.  There is a vast array of blogs and information sites on the internet:

Yesterday I walked around the house and looked at what I could change immediately.

  • stainless steel water bottles
  • enamel picnic ware
  • stainless steel straws
  • replace travel mugs (ours are falling apart)
  • bamboo  picnic cutlery
  • stainless steel lunchboxes
  • wooden chopping boards
  • clothes pegs
  • make own yoghurt
  • make own toiletries and cleaning products
  • use stainless steel containers for toiletries and cleaning products
  • download music
  • use DVD library and Netflix
  • cut up a loofah for a pan scrubber

Also I have discovered that there is a Food Weigh House in Gateshead and in Newcastle so I may just be able to buy bulk without packaging after all.  My wonderful butcher thinks I am bonkers but is happy to let me use my own containers and now I just have to have the same conversation with my very friendly fishmonger.  Fortunately the greengrocers are already quite happy for me to tip everything willy nilly into my bags.

Plastic free kitchen storage is going to be a problem.  I need big storage containers for flours, nuts, rice, etc.  I have found some good deals for 2 and 3 litre kilner jars but they are just too (1cm to be precise) tall for my pantry shelves.  I may be able to move some stuff around but this is going to be a more complex issue than just buying new jars.  If anyone knows of any wide & flatter glass storage containers, at least 2l in size please let me know.

So that’s the tip of the iceberg sorted.  Now for the rest.  What plastic can you exclude in September?