Thursday, 30 September 2010

What I bought this month...

2 ceramic rabbits
bag of clothes from the charity shop (it was a fill a carrier bag for £2 sale, me and mum got 3 pairs of trousers, 3 tshirts and a dress in our bag and shared them - I ended up with 1 tshirt, 1 pair of trousers and the dress - that's 28p per item!!)
cardigan from the charity shop

I also had a birthday this month, lots of my presents were use-up-able, like smellies from Lush (yey!)  and chocolate (yey!) but some were beautiful things to keep (a bedspread and cushion, a camper van mug and a notebook and some little drawers for on my desk), I sent 3 big bin bags of stuff to the charity shop and a carrier bag of books and discs to my national trust place so I think that nicely makes room for all the new birthdayness and other new things too!!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

My Other Garden...

I thought today I'd show you some photos of the allotment I help with at the National Trust property I volunteer at.  Yesterday I went to the property as a visitor so I could take my camera (I never take it when I'm volunteering because me + camera+ mud would = broken camera!)

We started in the spring when it was a bare patch of earth, we've done a lot of digging of manure, lots of weeding, planted lots of seeds and watered lots of baby plants and this is the result - although it looks slightly soggy and sad now because most of the potatoes, courgettes, marrows and dwarf beans have finished.  I'm more interested in growing food than growing flowers, and we don't have this much room at home so this has been a really good chance to learn more about it.

That's our allotment to the left, the other ones belong to members of the community.  We've been selling our veggies to the public when the property's open (in plastic bags if you can believe it!  I'm so cross about that and am trying to use all my powers of persuasion to convince the head gardener to order in some paper bags or something more eco friendly).  Can you see the tufty plant that grows in our allotment, we don't know what he is but he has really big roots, and I liked the look of him, so he was allowed to stay, now he's made some beautiful flowers - thanks tufty plant!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Drying Rose Hips for Tea and Chillies for Chili Flakes and Freezing Garlic...

Last week we visited the seaside town where I went to uni  and we had a lovely day on the beach.

We went for a walk down the riverbank, where I spotted a load of wild rose bushes all with hips on them.  I've been thinking about rose hips for a while, they're mentioned in a couple of the books I have as really good sources of vitamin C and Alys Fowler's book says you can make tea from them.  I try my best not to buy any imported fruit and veg, but during the winter it's hard not to, so I thought I'd try out this way of getting some extra, homegrown vitamin C (I'd really like to have a go at making rose hip syrup like they did in the war, but I didn't pick enough hips).  Having returned home and calmed down a bit from the rose hip picking mania, I did some research and found out that it's really a bit too early to pick rose hips - you should wait until after the first frost, but I can't waste the ones I've picked now, I'm going to make tea with them!

Firstly, I found this conversation on a gardening web-forum useful when I was having a mild panic about the possibility of poisoning myself from poisonous rose hips!

I wanted to dry my rose hips whole, but didn't know if this would work and spent ages trying to find somewhere that would tell me - eventually I found this site, which told me it was fine.  So I washed the rose hips in some salty water (I think this kills bugs or something, my mum always says to do it!), got rid of the stalks and flower heads, then whacked them onto my dehydrator and away we went.

Now they're safely stored away in a jar.  I'll have to experiment with the tea making, but from what I've read I think if I boil a couple of hips in a saucepan of water for 5-10 minutes I should get tea!
I also picked a lot of chillies of my plants, too many to use straight away, so they went into the dehydrator too.  I wish I had worn gloves to chop my chillies up, my hands are sooo sore, they feel like they're burning and I haven't touched a chili for hours!  I've washed them with soap, alcohol (gin!), salt, oil and lemon, and they're still burning. :(  Once they were dried I popped them in a jar, later I can either crush them with my pestle and mortar to make chili flakes or drop them whole into stews and things.

I also peeled all the garlic I'd grown and put them in a jar, jar in the freezer, it seemed the simplest way and it seems to have worked, although I haven't used them from frozen yet so we'll see then!

Thursday, 16 September 2010


The lovely Miho from Sagojyou's Vegan Page has given me two awards!  How lovely!

This is the first of the awards, the rules for this award say I have to tell you 7 random facts about they are...
1.  I'm waiting for my driving instructor to arrive and take me on a lesson.  I've been learning to drive for 6 months even though I think it's bad for the environment and will never own a car, I live in the countryside (ish) and need to drive to improve my job prospects.  I am very proud of myself for being able to slam on the breaks in an emergency, rather than close my eyes and scream (which is what I did when I first started learning!)
2.  It was my birthday last week and I had a picnic in the sun with my friends and a trip to the seaside with my mum, we saw some dolphins!
3.  My Nan and Grandad used to live with us when I was a teenager (in our garage, which we had converted into a granny flat!) and they had lots of funny sayings which I like to drop into my day to day conversations - such as 'By Jingos!' 'Don't be a Sammy Duck' 'Bobby Dazzler' and  'What are we going to do with you? Put you in a bag and shake you up'.
4.  If you look up Grandad in the dictionary it's spelled 'Granddad', even though I've never seen it spelled like that anywhere!
5.  No matter how much I eat I'm pretty much always hungry.  Even if I eat till I'm really, really full, you can guarantee that in half an hour I'll be hungry again!
6.  Hablo un poco de Espanol!  Hablas Espanol?  Hola, Que tal? Estoy muy bein gracias!  Soy Susie y vivo en Inglerra con mi Mamita y mi caracol!  Quiero champignons y manzanas! Cuanto cuesta? No neccessito una bolsa! Hasta Lugego!
7. The only race I ever won was the year six sack race at junior school.  I only won becuase I put my feet in the corners of the sack and ran.  I'm not sure if that's cheating or not!

I'm supposed to pick 15 people to pass the award onto!

There are three things I need to do for this next award,

1. Answer this question: If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, what would it be?
I wouldn't change anything, I try not to have regrets!

2. Pick 6 people and kill them. No, wait, not kill- let them know they got it. my bad.

3. Thank your awarder.

Thanks Sagojyou/Miho!  I always enjoy reading about your vegan adventures :D

I don't think I can choose 21 blogs to pass this award onto, so I'm going to take the easy way out - if you read my blog or if I follow yours then it's cos I think you're awesome and a versatile blogger and cherry on top-py, and therefore you definitely deserve this award! Please feel free to swipe it for your own blog! (Hope you don't think that's cheating too much Miho!)

Monday, 13 September 2010

Zero Waste Week - What I Learned..

In case you haven't noticed this week I've been photographing my food waste for National Zero Waste week, I didn't think I wasted much food and as it turns out I pretty much proved myself right.  Hurrah!

This is what I did waste during the week -
4 apple cores
2 manky grapes
quite a lot of pistachio nut shells
2 lots of potato peelings
3 mushroom stalks
garlic peelings
a bit of bread crust
1 poppadom
1 piece of green bean
2 lots of broccoli/cauliflower stalks
2 blobs of ketchup
2 plates of left over bean juice

Which still seems quite a lot to me, but the good news is that pretty much everything I didn't/couldn't eat was composted.  Apart from the bread crust, which I fed to my garden birds, the ketchup and bean juice which were washed away in the dishwasher and the poppadom which went in the bin.

Completing this challenge has given me a few things to think about, and there are a few things I'm going to change.  I'm going to control myself with the ketchup bottle so I don't feed the dishwasher any more of it!  I'm also going to try to reduce my use of pre-made food, for example when I had oven chips and vegan sausage I wrote I made no food waste, because there was no waste on my plate, but during their manufacture surely there was waste - potato peelings from the chips, goodness knows what from the vegan sausage, and so on.  I'm going to write to the companies and see if they can tell me what happens to their waste, but also try to eat more homemade meals so I'm able to dispose responsibly for any food waste that happens.  And this will help me with packaging issues too.  Although I was producing very little food waste I was still making a lot of packaging waste this week :(

I hope everyone who joined in had a great Zero Waste Week!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

National Zero Waste Week in Food Waste Photos - Day 7...

The final day!  I've really enjoyed reading all the food waste tips on My Zero Waste and joining in with my own food waste photos! 

Breakfast - Cocopops and mug of water.  Food waste - none!

Lunch - Tiger bread, cashew nuts, pistachio nuts, raw yellow pepper, windfall apple.  Food waste - nut shells, apple core.

Tea - Linda Mcartney Sausages, roast potatoes, broccilli, cauliflower and sweetcorn.  Food waste - potato peelings (didn't get to photograph them cos mum made tea while I was busy and they'd already been put in the compost), broccilli and cauliflower stalks - composted.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

National Zero Waste Week in Zero Waste Photos - Day 6...

Breakfast - coco pops and mug of water.  Food waste - none!

Lunch - Chickpeas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and couscous, handful of pistachio nuts, handful of crisps.  Food waste - pistachio shells.

Tea - Popadoms, curry and naanbread.  Food waste - 1 popadom refused to 'cook' we tried twice, he went in the bin,  I didn't get a photo of it, because hot oil was involved and I was moving fast.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Zero Waste Week in Food Waste Photos - Day 5...

Breakfast - coco pops and mug of water.  Food waste - none!

Lunch - Sweet corn fritters (made from left over sweetcorn we froze), broccoli, pistachio nuts, windfall apple (saved from the floor from yesterdays garden volunteering stint).  Food waste - broccoli stalks, nut shells, apple core - composted.

Tea - chips from the chippy :) Food waste - ketchup - washed away by dishwasher.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

National Zero Waste Week in Food Waste Photos - Day 4...

Breakfast - 2 wheatabix with margarine on, mug of water.  Food waste - none!

I had 2 bourbon biscuits during my tea break at my garden volunteering this morning - I needed the sugary fuel to help me to carry on harvesting a LOT of apples!

Lunch - I grabbed a couple of crumpets before I had to hurry out again.  Food waste - none!

Tea - Garlic mushrooms and pasta.  Food waste - mushroom stalks and garlic peel - composted.

National Zero Waste Week in Food Waste Photos - Day 3...

Breakfast - cocopops and a mug of water.  Food Waste - none!

Lunch - vegan sausage rolls, apple, nuts, chocolate.  Food Waste - apple core (brought home to compost this time)

Tea - vegan sausage and chips, slice of bread.  Food Waste - bit of brown bread crust - thrown out for the birds in our garden, ketchup - washed down the sink.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

National Zero Waste Week in Food Waste Photos - Day 2...

I ate a bit weirdly today, I worked a late shift at work, so I had a really early lunch, and early tea and then 'supper' when I got's a hard life...

Breakfast - 2 wheatabix with margarine on, mug of water.  Food waste - none!

Lunch - Beans on Toast, grapes.  Food waste - some bean juice - washed off, 2 manky grapes - composted.

Tea - Leftover bake from yesterday, apple, cashew nuts.  Food waste - apple core - composted (there's a lady at work who I haven't met yet, but who has put a composting bin next to the other bin and takes
it home to put in her worm bin, and she writes updates on the notice board about how much the compost-waste weighed and how much her worms enjoyed it! I love this woman!!)

Supper - 2 vegan sausage rolls, crisps, chocolate.  Food waste - none!

No pic of my tea, because I took it with my phone at work and I don't know where the cable for attaching that to the computer is!

Monday, 6 September 2010

National Zero Waste Week in Food Waste Photos - Day 1...

A couple of post's down I wrote about my pledge to take photographic evidence of any food waste I create every day this week - which is My Zero Waste's National Zero Waste week. 

I had coco pops and a mug of water for breakfast.  No food waste.

Beans on toast, crisps and an apple for lunch.  Food waste - apple core - composted.

Veggie bake and garlic bread for tea.  Food waste - veggie peelings (not pictured, cos we made it yesterday and I forgot) - composted, 1 errant piece of green bean that found it's way into my portion of bake - composted.

See you tomorrow for more pictures of my empty (hopefully!) plates!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

I LOVE my garden...

Yup, time for more garden progress pictures again!

First of all, we dug up our first lot of potatoes, we didn't get very many, and they had 'scab' (so says mummy) but they were sooo nice roasted with our sunday dinner!

These are some Leeklets, they've taken ages to grow hope we aren't going to run out of time to get them in the ground!

My chillies are great-stuff, the first pic is of a finger chili I bought for 99p in a sale, and the other one is a cayanne pepper...

Everything else I've grown this year has gone a bit brown, and sad looking, I don't know if it's blight or if it's some other disease or just an effect of the funny weather, the tomatoes at least are still fruiting even if they look a bit horrible...

The courgettes haven't courgetted for ages, all the leaves went brown and brittle, so I cut them off - a few days later a flower appeared on one of them so maybe I'll get a few more out of them...

So there it is, a bit brown and scabby, but still making delicious food and giving me something interesting to do...I love it!

Adventures in Making Fruit Leather...

After my blackberrying adventures last week I decided to make blackberry fruit leather in my dehydrator with the berries I hadn't eaten was super easy, but I think I made my mixture too runny - my leather is really thin!  It tastes nice though!

Here's how to do it...

1. Wash blackberries, in salted water, to make sure there's no wildlife in it.

2. Put blackberries in a blender with some lemon juice (I'm not sure why, I googled making fruit leather and most of the instructions I found said to add it, I think it helps to preserve stuff and it makes it tangy) and some icing sugar, blend it up then taste it, add more sugar or lemon until it tastes nice.

3.  Sieve the blended mixture to get rid of pips.

4. Pour the mixture into your dehydrator (line with baking paper first!)

5.  Dehydrate!  Until it's stopped being sticky and it comes away from the baking paper in one piece (this is where mine went a bit wrong I think, mine would only come off in little funny shaped bits)

6.  Store, in bits or rolled up, I covered mine in icing sugar to stop them sticking together.

As you can see, it's very thin!  Has anyone who's (successfully!) made fruit leather tell me where I went wrong!? 

Thursday, 2 September 2010

National Zero Waste Week...

National Zero Waste Week is from the 6th of September until the 12th.  My Zero Waste are running a food waste reduction theme ('Cooking for Victory')

National Zero Waste Week

I found taking part in last years My Zero Waste's Zero Waste Week's challenge really effective - the challenge was to reduce your household waste somehow, I chose two really simple steps, no more buying bottled water and no more using plastic bags.  Since then I think I've bought one bottle of water (it was very distressing, I was very hot and it was the only choice other than feel increasingly wibbly from being dehydrated) and rarely take a plastic bag. 

I really wanted to take part this year too, but I feel like food waste isn't really a problem in our household (food packaging waste is a different story, but as I currently don't buy the food I don't really get much of a say!) - we control our portions, eat leftovers, eat things before they go off and compost the peelings, etc.  So, after a bit of a think, I decided to use this years Zero Waste challenge as a chance to test myself and see if I really am as low-food-waste as I think I am.  I'm going to take a photo after every meal I eat to show what food's left over.  Then I'll post them here, of course.  This will show that either I really don't have any food waste, or where I can improve if I do.

Is anyone else taking part in the Cooking for Victory challenge?  I'd love to hear what you pledged to do!