Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Recipient of a bountiful harvest

Dear Family & Friends

After 2 days of proper rain, we're in for more sunny days. Out in the garden, I can hear neighbours harvesting their garden goods by the wheel borrow loads...sometimes they have to come and borrow ours too, in order to contain their yearly bounty. I also went out to check my garden ..yes they're so over grown...but mostly of weeds;P

two boxes filled with garden harvest from our neighbor this week


Then, over the wall, our next door neighbour was calling us to receive trays of various garden goodies. We're the village's yearly recipient of their bountiful harvest. Sometimes, I think we don't really need to grow any for ourselves because...like it or not...we always get good harvest poured in from various villagers. The gift we receive is more than enough for several meals and I always end up preserving them in quantities too! I'm just growing things for fun...but they grow it the serious way.

just to show you how big these tomato gift we got from next door neighbour!

Our neighbour just feel so joyful in sharing their goods. They say that it all just grow in abundance, a blessing that they just need to share:) They are happy that we are here to receive and enjoy them! So today, we had super fresh veggies for our lunch - all for free! ..and there's more to come:) Life is so rich here and they don't cost a penny.

Hope you stay as blessed as we are:) Have a good day.

Yours

Saturday, 12 August 2017

pickled peaches

Dear Family & Friends

Our two little peach trees are loaded with fruits this year...unfortunately, it didn't occur to us that the tree branch couldn't take the weight. A branch broke and down came about 30 unripen peaches with it:( Next year, we should know better and we will either prop the branch or take out some baby fruits out to avoid branch breakage.

the peach fruit around May this year...and it carried on growing bigger....

The sad thing is that the peaches are a bit rosy by now but not really ready to be eaten. Yet, not all is lost because I realized we could actually pickle these unripen peaches. This is what I did and perhaps you would be interested should you have unripen peaches on hand.

2 pounds fresh peaches (about eight that are hard but with rosy color)
2 cups white rice vinegar (I used ordinary fruit vinegar)
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp salt
3 3/4 cups cold water

Wash and dry the peaches, do not slice or peel them. In a big jar, put the vinegar, sugar, salt, and water. Stir well, then add the peaches. Then, cover the jar tightly and refrigerate for 3 days before using. These peaches will keep in the refrigerator for at least six months.

Any pickled fruit and veggies are always well received in our home. I myself love things that are pickled in vinegar...it's good for the health of a stomach;P Although we lost the possibility of juicy sweet ripe peaches...yet it gave me the opportunity to make this pickle:) There's always good things in everything.

Hope you can try this too.

Yours

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Our Job Needs To Be Efficient

Dear Family & Friends

The two girls are still working for their homeschool certificates, at the same time, they have their share of daily household chores, and they also maintain their part time job which earns them more than the UK's legal minimum wage for their young age, right in our own home! They hold much more responsibility in life than I did when I was their age! Most likely they are more smarter and intelligent than I was, but I do believe that I could take some credit... as I took a great deal of training them at home:) It's all paying off:)

perenial plant -echinea, is not only a beautiful long lasting flower but it is also good for medicinal herbal tea

Guiding and training your own children is most important. That's number one priority in life if you want to have happy, secured, and responsible children. That's my top job priority... all others - secondary. 

As much as I love gardening...yet, I always want to find ways to minimize work...you probably can't take short cut on bringing up children, but you can with gardening:)


this carrot wasn't harvested and it ended up producing beautiful flower and later seeds to grow again

Besides the annual veggies that I grow for our food like tomatoes, leafy greens, potatoes etc... I'm gearing towards growing more perennial plants...or ones that would just self seed. I always believe that I should also be able to enjoy the garden, rather than be it's slave.


harvested a vast amount of lavender flowers - great for house scent and potpourri

There's so many beautiful plants that would just take care of itself in the garden with minimum human interference. ... Planting fruit trees is one of them. A job which is done only once - the initial planting...and after a couple of years, most hard work is just the harvesting. If you allow plants to produce seeds and leave them to fall on the ground (like tomatoes, carrots, leafy greens etc...) they will grow themselves. No need to clean up the garden and disturb the soil. Doing so, you 'll find greater joy as nature is very capable of producing great fruitful surprises for you!

I love how our garden is getting more established - the natural way. It's the Head Gardener - up there - that is doing the work....God allows us to benefit the joy of gardening:) Afterall, He designed the garden of Eden right from the beginning! Gardening is His idea:)

Enjoy your day and your garden too!

Yours

Friday, 4 August 2017

Enjoying summer's meal - our way

Dear Family & Friends

Our little family always have good appetite! No one's afraid of carbohydrate because there's always lots of work to do around here that it's all easily burnt up:) I'm number one avid fan of rice...a simple steamed rice with lemon grass  thrown into the rice cooker. It fills the kitchen with good fragrance...

my typical and favourite meal

In summer, the rice cooker deals with the cooking itself. Great for a chef who wants to keep cool and collected. Rice is always great with veggies...either fresh veggie or very quick stir fry. Then, I simply defrost my pre-cooked stew...and there goes a good summer's balanced meal for the family:) - without much work!!

rice sandwich

We can play and be creative with our steamed rice....make them look like a sandwich, which becomes a nice finger morsel food for the summer.

our alternative sushi - yum!

If fed up with rice, my little girl would always volunteer to make her quick creative pancake - savoury or sweet....just place your order. These pancakes cook very quickly too:)

pancake incorporated with fruit or veggies - anything goes - they're good

Otherwise, I have the other big sister, who would just be too happy to go out in the garden and collect fresh veggies for quick salad mix.

summer's typical salad - cucumber and tomatoes - with or without dressing:) 

Dessert can be part of our summer's menu...just approach any fruit tree in the garden and check if they have anything nice that would be available for us to take and enjoy. Usually, our fruit trees are very generous:)

figs are perfect dessert...just take a bite and gather some more from the tree

Summer is the time when you don't want to do much work because the heat can really drain you out....but we still need to eat...and if we need to do that....we can do it the enjoyable way:)

Just to leave a note... This week we had a visit from two policemen in uniform. Where in the world do you get this personal service?! They came by in their car to our house for reason of checking on us...if all is OK. We are known to them as the foreign family living in this village. They left reminding us that if there's any problem, we should know where to call for help. As all is well, we bade each other good day.  Life is good. Hope yours is too. Enjoy your day!

Yours

Monday, 31 July 2017

Homemade plum vinegar

Dear Family & Friends

When our fruit harvest comes...it's not time to complain. It's a blessing! It's free! It's clean healthy food that we all need. But I must prepare to work hard because when they come, they come in torrent! With our present plum harvest, we've been eating them fresh, dehydrated them as dried fruit health snacks.  I've also made a few bottles of 'umeboshi' - a Japanese salted pickled plums - using unripen plums - I will try to write about how I do this - next time.

Processing our plum harvest
For this time, I made some plum vinegar. Vinegar is an amazing product...good for health and for organic safe general cleaning product to use in the house. As always, anything we can make ourselves at home is always superior than what's available in shops. The shop bought vinegar is good to use as cleaning product, but homemade fruit vinegar is best for our health food consumption:)

and other fruits that we gather from the garden.


Here's a simple method of how to make fruit vinegar:

Deseed the plums or roughly chop the fruit you have on hand. (you can use any other fruits too like apple, banana, pineapple etc) and put them all in a  glass jar. For 2 cups of fruits, add 4 cups of water and a teaspoon of sugar to it. Cover it to prevent bugs and dust from getting in and leave it out of direct sunlight to ferment quietly for 2 months. After that time...strain the liquid and you now have healthy vinegar to add to the dishes you make:)

In the process of fermentation, if you see scum forming, don't worry... it is just the cellulose formed by the acetic acid bacteria present in nature and all unpasturized fermented food. It happens when airborne wild yeast starts feeding on the sugar present in the fruit. Yes, there's always bacteria present in the air that we breath...just part of our life whether we want it or not:)

homemade food is the best....but it requires time and effort


Now, there's nothing difficult in making homemade healthy food - is there? Making homemade vinegar is definitely one of them.  I enjoy giving my family the best I could...it always brings joy. Hope you enjoy your family too - with caring and sharing:)

Yours

Thursday, 27 July 2017

It's potato season in our village

Dear Family & Friends

At this moment, most of our villagers are harvesting or have already harvested their potatoes. We harvested ours, but it's a complete failure this year. We got very little as most of them were eaten by the cricket moles that live deep in the soil. I have yet to know how we can deal with this problem!! 


one of the villagers' home garden

Despite not successful with our potato harvest this year, yet, there's no way we are to be without:) Our next door neighbour gave us a box full of big potatoes because he was grateful we got his Friday newspaper for him. We are grateful for the gift of potatoes too:)


time to replant other crops in a village garden

Then, yesterday as my girl was walking in the village for a late afternoon stroll, she stopped by and said 'hello' to a grandmother sitting in a bench outside her house. The grandmother shared with her the disappointment of their potato harvest...because they were not as big. thus, she's giving it to her chickens! To our standard, a potato the size of large chicken egg is good enough! When she heard about our own failure...she asked my girl to carry a bucketful back home. With some of it...I made grated potato pancake with chives...it was so delicious and my girl took a dozen of it back to the grandmother to enjoy too:)  'Now grandmother...don't be too wasteful. We all love the 'small' spuds ;P'


a homey garden in our village

We live amongst these people, who loves simple living. They grow their own food...care for their families and still manage to share their abundance with others. As you can see, all photos in today's post is not our garden....when my two girls are out and about walking in the village, sometimes grandmothers invite them to come and see their garden....They get the joy of chatting with the girls. 

Our village folks works hard and they are proud of their achievements. I think they should! The richness of our village people never fails:) May you also be filled with the joy of good people surrounding you where you are too:)

Yours

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Sticky Business

Dear Family & Friends

Every year the plum tree at the end of our garden produces abundance of fruits. We take it for granted and most fruits just falls and liter the ground. Enough waste! I feel it is a shameful thing to do! So, this year, I resolved to do my best. 

a big basket of plums harvested and two courgette were also picked along the way:)

I usually prepare our garden fruits to be frozen for future use. It's the quickest and easiest way for me to do. We use the fruits for dessert or with pancakes during the course of the year. Lately, to make life more efficient, I learned to cook in big batch and freeze meal portions...mainly with meat meals such as stews. It works very well for us and will continue to do so. Our big chest freezer just fills up so quickly with food storage specially at this time of the year when we have all sorts of garden harvest.


sticky business of preserving fruit harvest

Thus, I resolved to do more fruit dehydrating for this year. It's literally a sticky business. I only have a five tier dehydrator and it seem to take forever to accomplish the mount of harvest. Other than that, my other complain is that dehydrating indoor heats up the house too!! Certainly not good in summer!

dehydrating plums on dehydrator

Enough moaning... task must be faced. I have no right to waste food and so I march on with preserving them. after all, it's all for just a season. I am thankful for God's goodness pouring down on us. So far, I have done ten 750 ml bottles filled with dried plums. Plenty snacks for the family to enjoy in the months to come....but I still have more to do...in fact, just half way through that one tree. I can't leave them as time goes on...it's a job that just needs to be done.

In all of these, there's always the joy of  knowing that I can also provide good food for the people around me. Satisfaction for everyone. Hope you are enjoying your day too with whatever task you're on to.

Yours

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Still working on merrily ...

Dear Family & Friends

Our tiny city apartment is still in working progress but we're almost there. Yes, the famous last words:) Let's blame it on the nitty gritty tiling of the bathroom... but once it's done...we're all ready for our shower!! Hope it will all be in time for our big girl to make use of - for short stay during the course of her driving school course. The school is literally a walking distance. All things work for good here...always the case:) 

we're supporting UK economy:) wooden blinds were ordered and posted from UK - finally installed.

Although the furniture and fixtures are not in place yet, but at least our wooden blinds are now up to shield us from preying eyes and intense summer's heat. There's just an electric fan to cool us when we go there to do some day work, but to install an air conditioner is a must... it's the only means to cool the place during the height of intense summer's heat...and also to warm the place when intense freezing weather arrives.

here's where that aircon has to go, but we have yet to get the right size for it!

Our challenge for the moment is to find suitable fixtures to fit our needs. We're always searching for 'that' special size fixtures to fit in our apartment. These days we are grateful that there's option of ordering online that's not within the country either, giving us a wider choice but researching is a must.


while we take time with our interior decorating...developers are coming up with more apartments!

Whilst we work and make very slow progress in our apartment interiors....from our balcony we can't help watch the speedy developments...yes, more apartments are rising up just by our doorstep...this will certainly be a one happy complex - for they say: the more the merrier!

Everything is going on it's merry speed but we are taking a day at a time, always with a grateful heart:) You do the same and stay well and happy.

Yours

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Coping with summer

Dear Family & Friends

Sun is blazing hot these days. The mediterrenean lavender plants just loves it. In fact we've already pruned the bush as the flowers have already fed all sorts of insects in our garden. The main big bloom for the year is finished but it will give another small flower bloom later on. Such an easy going plant for us here...no wonder my husband just wants our garden to be filled with it! 

just two of the many big mounts of lavender blooms we have in the garden
In the summer we have extreme hot weather ...on some days temp goes up to 41C!! but humidity is low. Inside our thick mud wall house is cool... so we can survive without an airconditioner. When heat wave hits...an electric fan is enough for our luxury need:) Our temporary outdoor garden shower area is another luxury item... some of us go for about 4 quick cold showers in the garden a day!...and water drains to the garden ground for some boost! It's a genius concept!


it's mostly too bright in the garden these days

Our free garden roaming pet tortoise is not bothered with the summer heat... by now our strawberry harvest is over...he is going for my bean plants...it makes me wonder if we will have enough garden beans to eat this year! I can't be greedy....I need to share too...afterall, our tortoise always take care of his own need without our assistance. 'Help yourself with everything in the garden, Tortoise! :)'

our tortoise don't mind summer time and very self sufficient!

At this time of the year...I conserve all my energy. Summertime does crazy things to my body system as I fail to adjust quickly. Thus, no much gardening activities. I have to let go a bit, and will catch up again later. I don't cook anymore either...so all the pre-cooked frozen food are slowly utilized. Call me lazy if you want...but that's my way of coping. I sit counting the days till it's over. Hope you are having better time than me....

Yours

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Eat organic food

Dear Family & Friends

You don't need to be rich to eat organic food. Food that is not grown with pesticides - which are so poisonous for us. This sort of poison doesn't immediately react within us...but as you know, they are the culprit for the many strange diseases that abound these days.

My garden Kale - grown without any chemical help


You'd say 'but I can't afford to buy organic food...they are expensive' I can well understand that because it cost more for the farmer to grow good food. But hey! Why not grow some of your food which the family could eat and enjoy? They are far more superior in taste too.



Amaranth leaves and seeds are all edible..safe and healthy food to go for right from the garden 

Growing vegetables, however little you could, is a good start. It's not hard and it is not expensive. You don't need to buy fertilizers...just get good seeds - not GMO ones, nor hybrids, so you could save seeds to replant again next year without having to buy again. Old fashion plant variety is better as they are tried and tested over the years....it's not worth going for the fancy types.


My daily collection of fresh veggies for our family home cooked meal


Once you have grown a few vegetables of your own....you and your family will understand what is delicious tasting veggies, and will give you more joy in eating more of them. You don't need to be contented with the tasteless supermarket veggies...

Good food are worth every penny


If we are to eat, we might as well eat good and tasty food. Growing our own is cheaper and far better in quality too. If we are willing to work hard to gain some monies, we might as well be conscious of where we would spend it on too...Don't bother giving some to the doctors or pharmaceutical companies...keep healthy...thus, it's worth spending them on good food.


We grow, harvest , keep, and eat them - almost all year long - for free!

It's another gardening year for us here. As my yearly aspiration...there's nothing more that I want to give to my family but clean, good and healthy food. I'm off to my garden now and get on with my dream.

Hope you have a happy and most productive and fruitful week too:)

Yours

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Bite into Reality

Dear Family & Friends


I grow real food in my garden. When I prepare it, I try to find ways to keep the taste and goodness of that real food alive. I cook vegetables as short a time as possible, and in little or no water, to keep vitamins and taste from leaching out. 

a variety of green food from the garden




Without any added water, they taste more wholesome in flavor. That goes without saying that prolonged boiling of veggies is not our choice of cooking method.



a handful of mulberries gathered today are really delicious snack food 


Another favorite way of processing excess food gathered from our garden is to dry them. Dried fruits are popular snack food that's eaten like candy – right out of the bag or jar. Dried vegetables like tomatoes also make a good, quick pizza topping or pasta dish – as do frozen herbs and sweet peppers which we incorporate with our cooked meals during the week.



a mixture of freshly harvested herbs that will be mixed in our meal today


From time to time I make our own pasta and sprinkle dried crumbled up herbs into it. Anything that looks green becomes very appealing to this family for some reason, and they eat it:)


I encourage you to go for real food and make eating: worth the while. Wishing you good health and good day too:)


Yours

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

My 'A' student - Our success!

Dear Family & Friends

There are times when we have to be more understanding and supportive to our children simply because we love and care for them and wants to draw out their best potential. We raised our two girls in a well secured and happy home environment and we never considered in putting them into a box to conform with others. So, forget about the 'social' and 'bubble world' comments that we get from critics...they're all untrue and not necessary:)

our home schooled girls takes their own responsibility to excel themselves

Our two beautiful girls are home schooled, although some looks at it as a weird thing to do but we believe in what we do with all confidence:) We only want the very best for our children. I gave up secular work to stay at home for them and I'm glad I did. It paid over and above the cost. Both girls are very intelligent but most of all, we grew them to develop 'godly character'.

both girls are very different in their ways but both posses the godly character that we want in them

Both were taught the character needed in life but it does not mean that they both have the same personality. Skills were taught but they tackle it differently in their own individual ways. But along the way, my big girl somehow developed a phobia in writing her educational essay for certificate requirement.  I know what caused the fear but it can't be helped...all I needed to do was to pray, be patient, and give courage (with no sugar coating deal) from time to time.



proverbs 22:6 says: train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Looking back, it seems crazy that it took her 3 years to overcome the fear of completing these essays...but she did it , much tears accompanied it from time to time.....it was hard to watch.

This week, we are celebrating with her:) She finished and wrote it very beautifully.... The official results from the educational board in the UK came back and all her works got 'A' marks! Now, she looks back and laugh at her foolishness....it''s all of the past! She is an overcomer and we are very proud of her:)

Educational achievement is not everything...it's the character that counts the most. Both girls are self taught linguist...it amazes me to hear them speak languages that we parents can't speak well...it's their great asset and they're using it to their credit along with responsibilities too:)

We're having summer heat wave for the moment...but we're not going to be defeated...we're determined to go out and celebrate the blessings of everyday life with joy! You do the same and enjoy your day too!

Yours


Saturday, 1 July 2017

edible golden needle - day lily flower buds

Dear Family & Friends

Did you know that day lily is an edible flower? We planted daylilies in our garden and they are not fussy plants. By now, we have a big stock pile of these plants. I thought it is about time to put them to good use.

A full bloom daylily flower
You can buy dried day lily flowers in Oriental stores. It is known as 'golden needle'. It is delicious cooked with chicken in soy sauce sauce stew. Since we don't have Oriental stores here, I thought I should try preserving these flowers for cooking. I heard it is not advisable to eat these in great quantities...so harvesting them for future storage is also a good idea. Otherwise, they will all bloom up and it is not suitable for cooking anymore.

day lily flower buds are edible - best if they are still close buds

It's best to harvest the flowers as buds. Stir frying them - so delicious. I also gathered a few and steamed it for five minutes, then I dried them in a dehydrator. Now I have a bottle full of dried daylily buds for later use


my harvest of day lily flower buds

By autumn time, I will definitely propagate by dividing my day lilies and replant them so we can go all out in using them as edible food next year...the more day lilies in the garden - the better! They are easy perennial plants and if you don't eat them...the blooms are so beautiful for the garden too:) It's a winner plant!

Every year I'm learning to eat more edible plants to add to a wide variation of plant food for a healthier living. But with the intense summer heat...my immune system was knocked down with sleep deprivation. This week was bad. I had to medicate myself with cups and cups of herbal tea (echinea + lavender) it was so bitter that I added cherries to make it fruity:) With at least 10 herbal tea mugs that day and non-stop sleeping all night and all day...the flu just went! Grateful for the fresh medicinal cupboard we have in our own garden:) Hope your week was better than mine.

Yours 

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Grow herbal tea

Dear Family & Friends

Gardening can be time consuming, but it depends on what kind of garden you want. I find planting annuals plants time consuming as I have to replant them every year. But there are many perrenial plants that we could grow which bears beautiful flowers and some of them can be used for cooking and medicinal purpose.


self seeding camomille - all for free and very pretty too:)

We have a clever neighbour who comes to our garden to harvest some herbs. Once in the middle of winter while our garden was buried in deep snow, she came asking for some sage as she was having bad sore throat. She went straight to the garden and knows exactly where to get them despite everything covered in thick snow:)

life is good with a good cup of  camomille herbal tea - only the best

Here are some of the plants we grow in our garden which we use for medicinal and culinary purpose:

Camomille - Use the flowers for indigestion/colic, anxiety, tension and irritation.
Echinacea - this is an immune booster that is great for the flu.
Lavender - Can be used to calm and ease pain...also as an antiseptic.
Lemon Balm - relieves anxiety, insommia, calms stomach upset, threats cuts, soothes insect bites.
Marigold - soothes sunburn, acne, ulcers and digestion.
Parsley - helps soothe upset stomach and bad breath
Rosemary - helps improve memory and concentration
Sage - good for solving sore throat problems


my edible wilderness in all its beauty

Other basic herbs are onion tops, chives, basil, parsley, cilantro, oregano, peppermint, tarragon and thyme...most of which just grow themselves, even self seeding if you just avoid digging and disturbing the soil. These plants can work wonders for your kitchen cooking.

our free roaming tortoise sunbathing in the garden with hind legs stretched out

Well, what more could I say. Chill out...grow herbs and use them for your health as much as possible. Not a difficult thing to do. 

We're into our proper summer time...not the best season of the year for me because I'm not so good in coping with the intense heat we get ..30..35...40...42C!! But I'll try my best, it just for a season, so, I'm off to chill out in the garden shade...sit on my green garden chair and sip some cool herbal tea. I need to recharge my small battery pack and that's what I will do to make my little family happy:) You do the same too:)

Yours


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Former Grass Lawn

Dear Family & Friends

It was one T-Storm week in late May, when clouds gathered up thickly, casting shade for us. As it builds it's rain clouds, my hard working husband couldn't resist the offer and timing. He wanted to fill up the former grass lawn which we turned into fruit and nut orchard last autumn, with more plants as understory.

lined up lavender row in between fruit and nut orchard

It's good that I'm always prepared with propagated plants. I quickly took hold of three dozens of Lavender plants to the delight of my husband. Yes, he have been asking me to grow more lavender. Now is the time he got his wishes. We planted three more long rows of lavender in between the orchard.

in between trees, are understory of gooseberries and goji berries

Planting rows of lavender is always a good idea over here. It grows very well, needs very little care as it is a very hardy tough mediterrenean plant, withstanding both the extreme summer heat and winter cold too. Of course, the abundance of very fragrant flowers all summer. It blooms twice in a season:)

trenches helps hold water

With alternate fruit and nut trees rows, which also grows gooseberries and goji berries in between, the former grass lawn is already becoming very productive for us. Wise husband is clever...there's no more grass lawn to trim either:)

grass lawn no more...it's now a productive food and herb galore

Although this orchard group is still very young to provide us with fruits, yet, the berries we planted in between, are already giving us great eating pleasure:) Another year or so, those trees will start to reward us and most important of all, I believe it will provide us the micro climate that I long for.

Summer is here. The best place to be is in the garden. We all come out and we all agree that its just so nice to be able to enjoy the ever changing garden sceneries, along with the company of so many happy birds and bees and all that lives within. Life is good:) Hope it is the same with you all:)

Yours