Tuesday, 9 September 2014

there's change in the air

We're having a little late summer glory here, but autumn is in the air. The porch is full of leaves, and the spiders make a new lace veil for me to walk through every day as I head out the door for work. This weekend was our food festival so we decorated the chapel for the harvest thanksgiving service.

Obviously if I had seen these before yesterday then the whole thing may have looked a little different!


images from here




and here.

Guiseppe Arcimboldo was an Italian Mannerist painter - these are his four seasons.
He was working in the C16th so they're great for those doing 'history gardening' like myself. 
I particularly like the snozzcumber nose in the image of Summer. 
Note to Siân - vegetable portrait sculptures next year?

At home I'm changing the bed and putting the winter duvet on.
Putting away t-shirts and digging out woollies.
Trying to find some socks.
Thinking about autumn trips and plans.
Exciting - I'll keep you posted...

Monday, 1 September 2014

throwing the baby out with the bathwater

It's the 1st of September and this is my 100th post.
Is this significant?
(If you're me - not particularly).
Or does the theory of coincidence rely on selectively noticing stuff, 
because you happened to notice something else the other day?
(If you're me - probably).
But sometimes the cosmic latticework does start to twitch,
and things that seem unrelated start to come together.

Okay - so I know you're thinking 
'Enough already with the pickling!!!'
I promise this is it for a while….
(fridge now groaning with fermented delights)*

I genuinely started all this pickling malarkey from the basis of:

  • grow cucumbers in hotbed at work every year
  • end up with so many that you can't even give them away
  • love brine pickled cukes
  • am expected to research/experiment with traditional food growing/storage techniques
  • pickle some - it's a no-brainer, right?
But as soon as I started reading up on what to do, I stumbled into the world of the new 'hottest thing in nutrition' - lacto-fermentation. This has nothing to do with dairy by the way, the 'lacto' bit refers to the lactobacillus which proliferate during the fermentation of the veggies. The finished products are alive, unlike the store bought ones, which have been pasteurised for shelf life at room temperature. This is pro-biotics but without the expensive branded yoghurt drinky things.

So far, so what?

I know - the last hottest thing was cupcakes and minted pea puree!

But there is a whole pile of research being done into links between gut health and immune responses - including out of control immune responses like allergies. Better brains than mine are applying themselves to this and I'm not saying that it's a retro fix if you've already got severe allergies. But it does seem to make sense that biodiversity is a good thing when it comes to your guts as well as your garden. Inclusion of bacteria rather than exclusion, especially in early life, is being preached

Now, I've always been in favour of what I would regard as a normal amount of sluttishness in the housekeeping department, and am a long time believer in 'Eat dirt, it's good for you!' (Having said that, I've just been scrubbing the crap off from round the back of the kitchen taps - but that's mostly displacement activity because I'm supposed to be filling in my tax return). Nobody wants to live in squalor, but maybe in our quest for a hyper-clean, pasteurised life we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater…

...glass of bathwater anyone?

* lacto-fermented radishes might just be my new favourite thing in the world ever. All the deep savouriness of a good runny cheese combined with a delicate vegetable pickle. Umami, huh? Who knew?