Apple cider vinegar is full of beneficial properties. Most significantly if it’s raw, organic, unpasteurised and unfiltered. Unfiltered means it is bottled with the “mother”- a cloudy residue that sits at the bottom of the bottle. Apple cider vinegar, or ACV as it’s commonly referred to, comes packed with with health-enhancing enzymes, amino acids and minerals. When taken daily it regulated the body’s PH and is said to contribute to weight loss. It cleans up lactic acid, which can accumulate in the body and be a common cause of fatigue. ACV, with the help of its potassium and enzymes provides a much needed energy boost when reserves are low. Quite the wonder food. Several years ago I used to take a tablespoon every morning together with a tablespoon of honey in a cup of warm water. I did this for a number of months and the most (pleasantly) surprising outcome was silky soft skin.
Hedgerow boughs are bent with hips, haws, sloes and berries. Positively dripping with nature’s bounty. Some say it’s indicative of a harsh winter waiting in the wings but it may be down to the preceding dry warm months of glorious sunshine. Either way I couldn’t resist helping myself to the shiny purple jewels hanging seductively from the corner of my garden. I considered making jam but elderberries, I read, are at their medicinal best when taken raw. They are a fantastic source of vitamins C and A. Pick only the fully blackened berries as unripe ones are very unpleasant and may make you ill. You will recognise the plant from its lovely cream blooms earlier in the year.
To make my elixir I gathered 300g of berries. I removed only the fully ripened berries from their stalks by combing my fingers through the heads and gave them a rinse under the tap. Then I placed them in a kilner jar with a dessert spoon of raw honey, poured over enough brandy to cover the berries and secured the lid. And that’s it. I’ll leave them to sit in a dark cool place for at least 4 weeks, preferrably 6 weeks if the household can fend off winter bugs for that long. When the brandy has extracted all that fruity goodness I’ll strain the liquid. Maybe I’ll add more honey, but it’s not really meant to be knocked back by the glassful. I plan on taking it a teaspoon at a time when there’s even a small hint of a sniffle. Its medicinal powers are so strong that I’m willing to tolerate the potentially toe-curlingly woeful taste. Small compensation for a clean bill of health!
Before you reach for the branded pharmaceutical fix make that short trip to nature’s medicine chest and gather some elderberries. You’ll be thankful for your boozy berry cure when the tickley throat and sniffy nose set in!
It’s a lovely purple badge this year. The Blog Awards Ireland has chosen Green Jam Jar to be in the final of the Best Eco/Green blog category. I can tell you the competition is stiff and I’m honoured to be in among such talented eco-bloggers. Good luck to all the finalists in the different categories. October 12th is Ceremony night- a date for the diary!
Kohlwha? I know, it’s far from fancypants veggies like these we were reared on. Not popular round these parts, this much neglected veg is more at home in Germanic kitchens. Physically resembling the unplanned love child of a small turnip and a beetroot, Kohlrabi has a mild cabbagy taste with a fresh crunchy texture not unlike a radish. So despite its exotic name it does have a familiar appeal to the Irish palette.
I love it because it is easy to grow – happy to be left alone and quick to mature. For those very reasons it is a terrific starter plant for first-time veggie growers. It also likes cooler temperatures, bringing you out into your veg patch when there is not much else to be had. Harvest them when they are about the size of a medium sized apple as they get woody if they are too large. You can eat the young leaves too. After peeling away the outer skin of the bulb (it’s actually a swollen stem) you can chop it into sticks to stir-fry or to steam. They are also tasty when baked. Personally, I prefer to eat them raw. I use a potato peeler to slice the vegetable mega thinly. Then drizzle some olive oil over the slivers, toss on a few thyme leaves and add a handful of sliced hard goats cheese with a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Hugh F. Whittingstall gives it an air of sophisication by calling his recipe Kohlrabi Carpaccio*. Now that really is fancypants!
So if you have never sown any vegetables for your table this is one that will lure you in. You’ll find Kohlrabi in supermarkets Lidl or Aldi around about now so do test them out for tastiness. Then aim to get your seeds in by early spring and I promise you’ll not be sorry!
*Incidently, this dish works really well as a starter course for a meal, making Kohlrabi a great starter veg in every sense! Thanks to Belinda and her intuitive editing skills!
I’ve seen this project so many times on Pinterest that I couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon. I use Sharpie markers for work so there are always have a few to hand and plain ceramics are easy to come by from second hand shops and market stalls. So what was I waiting for- time to get to doodle making!
After the fun part of decorating my mug I left it for 24 hrs to “set”. Then I placed it in my oven for an hour at 200˚C. I have read some online projects that use a higher temperature – I guess it depends on the ceramic piece you are using. I have also read that the cheaper quality the mug the more permanent the design but couldn’t verify that. It’s important to place your ceramic piece in the cold oven and then switch up the heat so that it doesn’t crack with the sudden change in temperature. Just use a black Sharpie as other colours fade a lot and don’t appear to be as permanent. You can see from my before pic (above) and after picture (below) that the red has faded to a very light pinky brown after baking. I switched the oven off and let the piece cool down completely before removing. The mug is definitely wash proof but I would be nervous to put in a dishwasher and would avoid all abrasive pads on the design.
It’s a great project for personalising presents for friends and family or even for updating some of your own pieces to give them a new lease of life. Did I mention how much fun it is?
The mug is a present for my mum to thank her for all the lovely Beauty of Bath apples and Conference pears that have come from her garden into my kitchen. A token of my appreciation for all the crumbles, stewed and poached fruit that have been consumed in our household over the last few weeks. Thanks mum!
I came across this recipe for compost tea on a tatty of piece of newspaper well past its prime. Obviously it had been in circulation for quite a while, waiting for me to put its instructions to good use. It floated out of a gardening book I had been flicking through. As I bent to pick it up, now, I decided was as good a time as any to put it to the test. The potatoes that I had planted in my polytunnel earlier in the year were long gone and the bare ground was looking dusty and barren. Crying out for a good feed. This is where my compost tea recipe was going to work its magic. My scrap of newspaper promised the stuff would regenerate spent and tired beds in a matter of days. Perfect.
I bought a small, cheap water pump generally used for aquariums from our local pet shop. Its purpose- to pump air through my tea as it brewed. All the ingredients, topsoil, manure, compost, honey and water were assembled into a large bucket and left to sit for three days.
Sure enough on day three the liquid slurry was looking just like the head of a freshly poured beer. All frothy and alive with bubbles. Mixing 1 part tea to 9 part water I watered it onto my soil. I’m hoping to see spectacular results for my next batch of veggies. Has anyone else tried this? I’d love to hear how it worked for you.
Anyone who reads this blog knows I am an avid fan of reusing and upcycling. For fellow fans here is an Irish website you absolutely must check out. Scroll through the case studies to read about inspirational uses for waste products that help both the economy and the environment. What’s not to love?
SMILE Resource Exchange is a free service for businesses that encourages the exchanging of resources between its members in order to save money, reduce waste going to landfill and to develop new business opportunities. Potential exchanges are identified through networking events, an online exchange facility and a support team to assist throughout.
SMILE has entered the World you Like Challenge and needs your support to get the award it so deserves. The Challenge is an EU funded competition that awards low-carbon initiatives in Europe and showcases innovation in green business and sustainability. Visit here and cast your vote to help SMILE become one of the 8 winners. You can vote once daily. So go on- show a little love and highlight a worthy project today and every day up until Monday 6th of September.