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Monday, 22 February 2016

Tea for Two, and Two For Tea

Not long ago I wrote a post about my favourite tea, as part of my frugal ways. It was one that really did have totally biodegradable teabags and packaging, when so many don't. Almost as soon as that post left my fingertips they stopped making it! Since then I have been buying loose tea and making my own mix (of Earl Grey and green tea), and using a little metal plunger. But I can't find loose tea in biodegradable packaging except for one at $18 for a small bag. I'm not going back to work so that I can drink my favourite tea!
So my solution is...

Tea Plants - Camelia Sinesis 

I found a couple of these at the local garden centre.

So hopefully soon I will be able to produce the green tea portion of my brew, and just got a little more self sufficient in the process. Then I will just have to figure how to make Earl Grey tea. I have read that black tea comes from a different variety of tea plant (which is not what the label on my new tea plant says), and the bergamot flavouring is not from the herb bergamot, but from an orange. It might be a bit harder to perfect, but I love a good challenge.
Oh, and I found a coffee plant while I was there, which we have the ideal under-cover environment for.

Reducing the plastic in our lives is a constant. Can you believe how we have all embraced the use of this material without actually thinking about what happens to it in the end - that it never goes away.
If you have glass shower doors you probably have one of these to keep the glass looking good...

They don't last very long before they need replacing. No more replacing. We now use an old towel to wipe down the shower after use. It works perfectly well, saves money and is better for the environment.

And a good few hours of work yesterday saw me picking peaches from son and daughter-in-law's place and preserving them.

The peaches were just falling off the tree, unwanted. Amy wants me to teach her how to bottle fruit one day, but they are in the process of moving house, so not this year. 
I just love being able to help the younger generation learn these skills.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

(Some Of) What I'm Not Making and What I Am Making.

In the past few years I have been trying to make more and buy less. This works well for some things, others I have discovered are better off bought. It's all a big experiment.
Yesterday I discovered yet another product that I will buy instead of make - sweet chilli sauce. Firstly, my chillies turned out to be smaller than I had hoped - and you know, the smaller the chilli, the hotter it is. Still determined to make my own chilli sauce I decided to use two red capsicums in there to reduce the heat, plus I barely used more than 6 chilli seeds in it. The seeds of course are the hottest part.

Well the chilli sauce turned out nice. Hot, but not too hot. The problem is, I think it cost more to make than it would have to buy, plus it took me ages to remove all those chilli seeds and prepare it all. Not to mention the burning fingers for hours afterwards, despite having worn gloves. 
So that goes onto the shopping list again, along with dishwasher powder(which I can refill into my own container), and currently I'm buying Eco Store coconut soap, after I ran out of my home made soap. It's cardboard packaged, is reasonably inexpensive and does as good a job, including hair and face washing as my own soap. And it smells yum. 
I find that making everything can be just a little exhausting at times, when added to garden upkeep and everything else, so I'm happy to find some items that meet my criteria to buy. 

Something that I have made recently - and it's just a bit of fun - from bits and pieces lying around that we have picked up.

My Junk Man

Something I will be making lots more of:
Market bags
My prototype market bag

I am working with a group to help our Farmer's Market become plastic bag free, starting with plastic carrier bags. We aim to have a supply of bags to give out to people entering the market who have forgotten their own bags. The District Council have donated a good quantity of "Love It Here" cloth bags for us to distribute. We also aim to make some (via SewGood, the community sewing group that is getting up and running), which hopefully we will be able to get small donations for, to support SewGood.
I was given a huge carton of the most fabulous curtain offcuts, just for having asked, from a local business.

I was so excited to be given this for our project

 I have made one up as a prototype - I hope this all works to plan - I'll let you know, eventually.   

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Upcycled Letterboxes, Tapioca Coconut Pudding

We've been collecting photos of the ingenious letterboxes that New Zealanders create from upcycled materials. So here are a few more....

These letterbox owners were all neighbours - I think they must have been in competition.

Tapioca Coconut Pudding
While we were in Auckland recently, we popped into Rangoon Poon Restaurant for a dessert. Their sago pudding was so good that I had to try to recreate it when I got home.

The first thing is - it was misnamed, it wasn't actually sago, but tapioca that they had used. Their dessert had a palm sugar syrup on it, but it's really great with fresh fruit too.
What I love is that I can recreate this at home, and it's very easy, for probably three or four dollars for 5-6 servings, instead of the $13 that we paid for one.

1 cup of dry tapioca (or sago works well too)
2 cups of water
1&1/2 cans of coconut milk (that's about 600mls)
2 Tablespoons of palm sugar or sweetener of your choice

Rinse the tapioca and discard anything that floats up.
Soak the tapioca in the water for an hour or longer.
Drain in a sieve.
Place the tapioca in a large bowl and add the coconut milk (ratio should be 2:1 milk to tapioca)
Cover and microwave for 5 - 10 minutes (I find 6 minutes enough)
Stir and add sweetener.
Check that your tapioca is cooked through - it should be soft with no hard bits.
Spoon into small glasses and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.

Yes, that's right, only 5+ minutes of cooking in there. Delicious tropical coconut creaminess.  How easy is that?!