Tuesday, 20 November 2012

New doors

The builders finished a week ago, the new patio doors are in an the house is weather tight again.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Joy of Veg

The day has arrived when some of my new plants have come up with the goods!  Oh Frabjus day.
First up the Yacon; the frost had previously taken out the leaves, so I figured that its useful days of growing were over for this season.... Time to have a look under the ground.  I was expecting one or two tubers, but what I got was five decent sized ones.  Now I believe these things can grow to be huge so I might look back at these and think they are rather tame, but for now I am quite pleased with five hens egg sized tubers.
The plant had only been in my garden for one and a half months, the root structure was still pot shapes and the stem only reached about one meter.  Next year with a full run at the growing season the results may be bigger and better.
I had to look up how to harvest Yacon on line to make sure I would not kill it.  It turns out that the round tubery things are the bounty and the ones that look like Jerusalem artichokes are the bit that propagate next year.  you have to keep the crown, as a plant after harvesting.  It is now in a bucket in my porch to keep it frost free.
But what of the flavor? They are sweet, and crunchy with a light texture.  Rather delightful! The texture is quite unexpected for a root vegetable, more like an apple than a root vegetable.  This did lead me to wonder what the french would call it, as 'apple of the ground' is already taken.  I can only assume they would call it a Yacon.  But maybe their name for potato will need revising.
Next up the Oca; less of a run away success, but only in quantity.  Like the Yacon, it was still growing in the shape of its old pot.  It had grown a few tubers.  Some of which the slugs had nibbled.  Unlike the Yacon the eaty bit of the Oca is also the growy bit for next year, so some restraint is needed.  But I had to have a nibble on one.  It was like a raw potato in texture with a slightly sour acidic citrus flavor.  Apparently the acidic flavor mellows after a couple of days in the sun, but I am not going to eat any more to find out as the rest are going to be seed for next year.

Last and by a long way, not least, the Chilean Guava;  When I bought the plant it had two berries on it.  Having read that they look ready long before they are, I didn't want to risk picking them too early.  As the leaves are falling off of the trees, I figured they will not be getting any riper, so I gave it a go.  Wow I can see what Queen Victoria was on about!  They are amazing.  The most obvious thing they taste like is strawberries, but there is something more that I could not quite put my finger on.  It looks like that other flavor will have to wait until next year.  Lets hope it produced more berries next year.

Friday, 9 November 2012

New kitchen; day 2

A new opening in the fireplace.  Woo hoo!

And an new hole in the back of the house.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The New Kitchen; Phase 1

Today I came home to a new house.  It looked a lot like the old house that I am used to, but it has changed and been transformed into something more.  A version of its old self, but with extra excitement.  The reason for this extra excitement is that today is the first day of building work.  I am having some walls removed and some new ones put in.  It will be amazing and choirs of angels will sing as you walk in.  Something like that anyway.

The first and most obvious change that I noticed when I arrived at the house was that where there was once a driveway, there is now an enormous pile of rubble.  I had been warned that this was the case.  The main builder had rung me at work to warn me that they had not been able to fit a skip onto the drive and still get into the front door.  So the rubble is resting on the drive and will be cleared tomorrow.  It was a small drive before but now it is very small.

Upon entering the house I was instantly hit by the change.  The door closed with a bit more force than usual  this was due to there being a big hole in the back of the house.  But far more exciting than that I could see the back of the house from just inside the front door.  The wall that used to make the kitchen feel small and the dining room feel dingy was gone.  All that remains is ends of some bricks

This all probably doesn't mean too much with out a before picture.  

Its a different view, but you get the idea.

Tomorrow there should be fewer holes and acros in the house.  The chimney should be opened up too.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Soap demo

I thought I'd put together a few photos of soap making as there has been some interest.

Put all of the fats (olive oil, beeswax, coconut oil) in a pan.

Heat it all up.

The fats and caustic.

Pour the caustic into the fats and mix until trace.  Once it reaches trace, add the tea tree oil.

Put the soap mixture into a mold.
Simple as that!  I have it down to less than half an hour from getting the ingredients out, to putting the soap in the molds and washing up the bowls.