“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing …
In the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing”
Have you ever got the feeling that if you do not do something it will never get done?
Well, that is how I have been feeling for the last weeks. Let me tell you why.
In front of our house, between our path and the road, there is a stretch of land with bushes and trees (and yes, we already hanged a bird feeder from one tree which faces my son’s bedroom window, so he can see the birds) which in summer is a fresh green natural screen that separate us from the road and in winter is just bare and…yes, wintery.
Because this stretch of land is now bare, I can see everything: twigs, branches, stones, plants, and…. rubbish. Lots of. Bottles. Cans. Wrappings. Pieces of aged polystyrene. Supermarket bags. Lids. Costa Coffee cups. All scattered along this stretch of land which is about 50 metres long. This stretch I must see it every morning when I leave for work, and every afternoon / evening when I come back from work. I have to see it every time I walk along with my son to go to School, or to the park. You get the picture.
I SEE IT ALL THE TIME.And it is annoying. Waking up, move the curtains, look up, look down…and I see litter. Come back from the park…and litter. This stretch of land is trimmed by a quadrille that comes in the autumn to cut the hedge and to trim the trees. But not to clean it.
Hence…. Today was the day when I decided it had to change. Since we are on school holidays and my little one is remarkably better (he has been unwell for almost the entire week) and it is sunny outside (for a change!) I thought it would be a good idea to go out with the grabber, plastic bags, gloves, and woolly hats to pick up the litter. And so, we did.
No need to say that contrary to everybody else’s views and opinions, my little one had a blast of a time. What could be more fun than to go with the grabber and pick up a wrapping, a bottle, a lid? Discover bottles and count how many cans we found?
My little one saying aloud “all this plastic is no good for birds’ mummy! We must collect it with the grabber!” and giggling after every finding, saying “yucky!” more times than I can remember and watching him separating plastic, tin and glass in some kind of order, pattern only known to him with a scientific concentration was priceless.
We stopped for lunch and afterwards we finish what we started. We brought back into our yard 2 bags full of plastic, about 6 cans and 4 bottles (yes, my son counted it all).
Our reward was to put some seeds for the birds on the bird feeder and a new feeder, but this one hanging from the hedge, as an experiment.
We ended tired, but happy. I hope this activity helps him to recognise how important it is to put the littler where it should go and helps him to understand that he is responsible for looking after this planet of ours…no matter how small the contribution.
Few weeks back, we went to a friend’s house in the middle of the beautiful English countryside. In his garden, big apple trees were giving away the sure sign that summer was ending, offering big, green cooking apples.
My little one – who gave his first steps in this same garden – found many apples on the ground and spotted many others hanging from the tree. He went on collecting the windfalls and I picked many from the tree. They were all big and juicy. We had so many! Hence, the only thing that felt right to do was to convert them into chutney. I posted some pictures of the chutney on social media and many people asked for the recipe.
The recipe I got comes from a lady whom I used to travel with on the same bus at the same time for many years. She gave it to me once we met and I was with a bag full of apples and I was not sure what to do…and I did not want to waste them!
Without further ado, here it goes. Enjoy!
You will need:
Heavy based pan (the biggest one you can find)
With regards of the quantities, you can slash the recipe in half. Times may not have to be shortened…you may need to keep an eye and follow your common sense. The first time I did it I had to do it with only half the quantities mainly because I did not have a big enough pan. The result was great…which lead me to make an investment and buy the pan I have now.
1 kg cooking apples, peeled and cored *900 grams is the weight of the apples once peeled, cored and chopped.
250 gr onions, peeled and chopped *same as the apples, 250 grams of the onions once peeled and chopped.
250 gr raisins
1 teaspoon salt
900 ml white vinegar (distilled malt)
60 gr mixed pickling spice (I used “Barts”)
3 teaspoons ground ginger
500 gr soft brown sugar
About 2 hours. You need patience…and if you can rope someone in to help you with the peeling and coring and chopping, the better!
With this quantities, I get about 4 / 5 jars. (Kilner jars follow the link to give you an idea)
Turn the oven on at 120/140 (fan). Wash with hot soapy water your jars and give them a good rinse. Stick them in the oven and take them out when you are about to pot the chutney.
For the rubber seals and / or lids, wash them in hot soapy water, rinse them and put them in a pan with enough water to cover them completely. Bring to the boil and boil the rubber seals / lids for 10 minutes. Turn the hob off, cover the pan with a lid and leave the rubber seals in the pan until you are ready to use them.
Now that the sterilising is done, prepare the spices. Weight in a kitchen scale 60 grs and put it in a muslin. I think you can buy the bags but if you do not have any, a clean non-coloured (white) piece of muslin will do. Put the spices and tie up the muslin making a bag.
Put in the pan in a medium to high with the chopped apples, onions, raisins, and the salt. Add the vinegar. Add the spices bag and give it a good stir. Bring it to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer until tender. Remove the spice bag and add the ground ginger.
Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Continue to simmer until the chutney is thick. Stir occasionally so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once it is done to your liking, take the jars from the oven, and put them on top of a wooden table or marble and pot the chutney. Take the rubber seals / lids and close the pots. Leave them to cool completely. Add a label with the date.
Now. The chutney must mature, so hide them in a dark, cool place for two or three months.
You may ask how long it lasts. That depends a lot on the hygiene procedures of sterilisation. I will say to use your common sense on this one: if you open it and the smell or texture is not right, discard it.
Yesterday afternoon I spend time with my little one outside on the patio. As the weather forecast was notifying us about rainy days ahead, I decided it was a great idea to make the most of the rainy days approaching and re pot / re plant all the small seedlings from tomatoes, butternut squash and verbenas I had wandering around growing silly in rather tiny pots.
All this “let’s plant seeds” started back in March, when I thought it would be a really good idea to get more flowers, but my purse was extremely light due to the lack of coins inside to purchase ready-to-pot plants.
Also, why not make the most of what I already had? I had seeds left from an old petunia which died during winter leaving me plenty of seeds to experiment with and a packet of flower seeds – verbenas in this case – that came with a magazine quite some time ago.
Tomato seedlings (the cherry variety) and butternut squash seedlings came from…yes, a tomato and a butternut squash bought in the supermarket. Since we were well advanced with our planting frenzy why not plant the seeds left?
The small inconvenience was that there were not enough pots to replant in. Since the verbenas were planted in a plastic eggbox and the butternut squash were growing inside an old plastic container (the tomatoes were the lucky ones planted in individual reasonable sized pots) I was puzzled as to how I was going to do it. I looked around and already most of the pots/containers were taken.
And there came my son, bringing with him an old yogurt pot from his sand box. “Eureka!” I said followed by a “thank you” to my son. I was going to use old yogurt pots. My son got the idea and promptly he came with more empty pots and before I could say anything he started to fill the pots with soil. When we run out of yogurt pots, I went rummaging in the plastic recycling box where I rescued a couple of plastic boxes where fruit such as plums, grapes, and peaches came.
So, with a little help he replanted the seedlings. And thanks to him we recycled the old yogurt pots and boxes, we leased life to these new seedlings leasing life to these pots and boxes we unleashed life, helping these seedlings to expand and to fulfil their existence so to say.
It felt good.