Saturday, August 6, 2022

Preserving and tending...

 One of our tomato plants was loaded with large green tomatoes, and as we have a few other plants with ripening tomatoes, I decided to make green tomato relish and green tomato sauce.

Last year I came across an old Women's Weekly book on preserving (the recipes Nana used) so I chose recipes from that book.

I did begin by watching a few YouTube videos on 'modern' green tomato recipes, but having recently re-injured the patella tendon in my right leg, avoiding a trip to the supermarket was important, and besides, I already had everything needed in my pantry and garden for the older recipes.

Apparently with this relish, as opposed to chutney or pickle, the shelf life is not as long, and in our climate its best stored in the fridge. Same with the green tomato sauce. I'll share a bit around and we will use the rest over the next few months. 

Once we have red tomatoes in surplus I can make tomato chutney, and red tomato sauce (cause hubby loves tomato sauce).

I also made guava jam, but haven't taken a photo. Never mind, our tree is brimming with a new flush of guavas so I can make a lot more in a month or two. I only found six ripe guavas on the tree for the jam, and decided to eat one of them fresh! They taste like a cross between a passionfruit and a strawberry, and you can eat the skin as well.

We have so many cucumbers. SO MANY, and all from the one abundantly fruitful vine. Last weekend I learned how to make refrigerator pickled cucumbers. Using six cucumbers I now have two 1 litre jars (a litre is almost the same as quart)

Today we will open one jar and enjoy them with salads, as even though this is the last month of our Australian winter, it's very warm and humid in the tropics already. Salads every day are the best meal for cooling yourself down.

I also decided to pickle a jar of carrots...which we'll also open this weekend.

Today I've been outside gathering calendula flowers and herbs to dehydrate.

Herbal teas are a favourite of mine in the afternoon and evening. We have five calendula pots growing around the garden, and now that they are well established and blooming daily it's time to start harvesting the flowers mid-morning to dry...

I lay them out on a light coloured cloth for 30 minutes before they are gently shaken and placed on the dehydrator tray, as when you pick them all these tiny little bugs escape, so a bit of time for them all to fly away is important.

I also picked spearmint, and common mint to dry. In our very hot, humid tropical climate, mint does not do very well as it hates the heat - but in winter and early spring it flourishes. Mint tea is a favourite of mine, with a bit of fresh or dehydrated ginger, so I'm making sure I can still enjoy it through the hot months to come.

Lemon balm is another favourite herb for tea. Made with a bit of ginger and raw local honey, it's medicinal properties are the very best for calming the mind and body, or as a sleep tonic. I always sleep better when I drink this before bedtime.

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, and will spread and take over a garden just like mint (even more so in my experience) so I grow mint and lemon balm in pots or small raised beds.

My 4yo granddaughter Rafaella always picks the leaves of both herbs and eats them while playing in my garden or watering the plants for me. 

I filled four trays, one for each herb and one for the calendula flowers.

As I write this blog post, the room is filled with the fragrance of mint and lemon. The only place to use the dehydrator is on the dining table, so whatever is in there sends its fragrance through the whole house. The day I dehydrated pineapple, and the day I dehydrated ginger, stand out in my mind!

Tending the garden is a big job for one person, and I admit to being far more worn these past two years than previously, as hubby works six days a week, long hours, and therefore more responsibility for growing, tending and maintenance fell on my shoulders. 

However I feel very blessed to have our quarter acre, and to see it producing food, always alive with beauty, becoming a haven for so many native birds, bees and insects.
Watching the cockatoos in the bird feeder, the rainbow lorikeets sucking nectar from the grevillia, tiny honey eaters darting to and fro among the flowers before sitting on branches under the shade of the huge poincianna tree, sparrows building nests high in our trees, and the blue faced miner birds who love to feast on fruit scraps. 

It's a privilege to have a garden, one I take seriously. 
It's a privilege to have a husband who works so hard, by the grace of God managing painful arthritis, in order to pay off our mortgage so that we will always have a roof over our head.
It's a privilege to have a home to maintain and care for, a place to offer welcome and sanctuary to friends, and especially our loved ones. 
It's a privilege to be able to learn new homemaker skills, even in my 60's. 
It's a privilege to have the ability, knowledge and experience, to make every meal from scratch...and the wisdom to know when it's time to take a night off and enjoy a simple take-out curry.

Life is a privilege, a gift from God. Every day when I wake, I thank God that I did wake! I thank Him for another day to make the most of this gift, and to praise Him as I go about my chores.

Being the wife of my husband and having him trust me implicitly is a tremendous privilege. That he obeyed God by asking me, a fellow student at university in his economic history class, to come to church and stand with him on a night that would change my life forever - what a privilege.

Sharing this life with a 28yo daughter nearby, who is also my dearest friend and sister in Christ, and to be able to grandmother her three precious babies...that is a privilege. 

To have been raised by a grandmother and a grandfather, who lived simply, who laughed often, who loved me without measure, who taught me that God is real...that's a privilege beyond words. 

How are you privileged?

This past week was a busy one, but the highlight was Thursday, Cully May's 6th birthday. That little girl, with a smile as a wide as the sky, wrapped herself around my heart six years ago, and she's never let go. I am privileged to be her Nana.

I hope to have the second chapter of our book study ready to share here next week. I might be a few days late, but you never know. Each day has a way of unfolding and offering its own path of what to do and what is needed doing, people to share it with, and a wise balance to be made of everything before us. 

I'm slowly getting used to turning away from self imposed deadlines, and instead, living life within its natural rhythms moment by moment, and my oh my, 'tis a good life.

God bless you, God keep you safe, God draw you out of the chaos and into His marvellous peace.


Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
What a bountiful garden ! Canning and making jam ! Capturing that home mande goodness in a jar :) Growing up we did a lot of canning and jam making and filling the freezer. After filling and processing the jars one would here the " pings " as the jars cooled and the lids sealed. Home made dill pickles were the best !
I looked up patella tendon. advice is , I had to laugh ...
" Avoid activity that causes pain " this was really written down !
Thanks for sharing all these beautiful garden and family photos :)
Privileged in many ways including
good health care at " my door step "
fresh air, drinking water and electicity and Internet and time and energy to learn, create and share.
Thank you for a beautiful Saturday morning read :)
hugs, take care,

Águeda said...

Dear Jennifer, Your life is full of work and exhaustion, but it is full of blessings as well. Your post has given me a lot of peace by also reminding me of good times of making preserves with my grandmothers. If you have a surplus of cucumbers, perhaps you can pick them before they get too big and pickle them. We call them "Pepinillos en vinagre" here. They are really small and delicious. Thank you so much for share your day to day. A big hug.

Lin said...

Lovely post Jennifer. Lots of goodness in your garden and pretty flowers. xx

Jan said...

Dear Jennifer,
one of the loveliest privileges I have is your online friendship sharing God's love, joy and contentment; your gorgeous garden, your homme making wisdom; and your abundant creativity!
Thank you!

Allie said...

Oh my word these pictures - Happy Birthday Cully May!!!!!!!!!!!! That smile could power all of Australia.
Thank you my lovely sister for encouraging me to slow down and enjoy every moment, the gift from the you!

Susan said...

Beautiful photos of everything. I had never seen a guava cut open, though I've drunk the juice often. Cully Mae looks happy and so cute with her new tooth coming in. Hard to think she's already six! I'm so glad your relaxed life is making you happy and bringing you joy.

Angie in SoCal said...

A lovely post. Thank you! Cully Mae is so cute! I must have missed it but would you tell us again what you use the Callendula flowers for? Tea?

Hope your leg is better soon.
Angie in SoCal

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post! Thanks so much for sharing your life and your thoughts. I always look forward to reading them. God has truly blessed your home. He has blessed me also, and for that I am truly grateful.

Blessings in Christ!

Mary-Louise said...

I am also very privileged to be saved by His Wonderful amazing Grace! I loved your blog and wonderful bright colourful photos! You have a real gift for sharing! Even though I am riddled with Osteoarthritis and recently my back is locking, I would not be without My Our Saviour, like you I chat away to Him frequently every day and pray for 2 of our 3 children to come back to our Lovingly Heavenly Father. I love my small colourful garden, cycling my e bike as both knees not great, sea and pool swimming and being creative with my machine and paints! XxML

Clara said...

What a beautiful post, Jenny! During the summer I use to make jams, tomato sauce, sicilian "caponata" and many other preserves. We appreciate them in winter. And, you're right... life itself is a privilege!

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer
What a beautiful post today. Happy Birthday to Cully. She is growing up so quickly. Your gardens are amazingly productive.. I am green with envy....My gardens aren't as productive or as pretty. But my herbs are the most productive . They love all the sun and humidity. And I have been busy dehydrating almost every day. I dehydrated collard and spinach for making my greens powder for my daily smoothie on yesterday. So nice to know I made it myself at a fraction of the cost to buy it from the market. I love seeing your birds. We don't have those gorgeous bids here they are only in zoo's here in the USA where I live at. I will pray for your knee to get better ASAP. But all things are in God's time not ours.

Createology said...

My daughter is the homemaker who gardens, preserves and dries foods, raises chickens, bunnies and goats. I am grateful for her taking after her Great Grandma Dot. I am not good in the kitchen except for baking cookies. You and your garden, home, sewing and cleaning are very inspirational. You are also so fortunate to be near your daughter and grandchildren. Blessings Dear…

Ondrea said...

That is a delightful cheeky grin Cully May has. Can't believe she is 6. Some lovely harvesting there. You are so good bottling and pickling the abundance from your garden. Sorry I missed a pot or 2. Just catching up with blogs now.

Susan Lugar said...

Dear Jennifer and thanks for sharing these lovely photos and lists of gratitudes. It’s true we are so blessed by God. I pray the tendon heals soon and that you can somehow stay off of it more in the coming days, at least for a while…your posts are a blessing…

Annabel said...

I am so privileged to have two beautiful daughters and five beautiful Grand children. I still have my Mum as well. I am so privileged to have been born into a wonderful family. I am so privileged to have a lovely home and land, animals and garden, even a pantry of my dreams! I am so privileged to have wonderful friends including you

Berenice T. said...

Jennifer, Hi from across the Pacific! San Diego area specifically. Being privileged has unfortunately taken a different meaning in my world. I much prefer you definition and examples. I don't remember exactly how I came across your blog (probably the embroidery!), but your kind soul and lovely words have been a balm to my life many times. I tend to "hoard" your posts and sit down and read them every few weeks, unless a special recipe or design catches my eye! My granddaughter just turned 6 on 8/16, which was my 60th. She was the best birthday present ever!! I just wanted to say thank you for continuing to post, good times or difficult times. And I love all your pics!! The birds and flowers are my favorites after the kiddos. And maybe after your "slice" baked goods pictures. You are certainly a gift from our Father!