Heads up

Some of you may remember that I was rather stressed about my brassicas not performing in the vegetable bed.  They were growing very well but not making heads.  Around that time I made a new friend who is a veggie farmer who kept on urging me to just wait.  I read up about them and decided that I would have to pull them all up and start again.  I was again urged to just wait.

My new friend came to visit me recently, and walked into my veggie garden and yanked a complete broccoli plant out of the ground.  I nearly hit him over the head!

He showed me where I had J-rooted the plant but kindly (and probably because he saw my face) replanted the plant in the same spot.  I did not hold out much hope for it though.

Well today I can announce that my brassicas all have heads and I will be getting some cauliflowers, broccoli and cabbage.  Yay!

Some pictures from the beds

As you can see – I am loving my new camera.  So many new things in my life right now.  This is good. 🙂

 

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The blog post that should have been.

So I was busy preparing to write a blog post to show you this….

My home-grown, totally organic tomatoes picked fresh of the vine,  and this……

my first gooseberries from the tiny twig that thinks it’s a gooseberry bush.
All delicious by the way. I gobbled the gooseberries right there after I took the photo and the tomatoes were served with our dinner – just sliced up with a little salt so that we could see what they really taste like.  There is NOTHING like a home-grown tomato!  Anyway – I digress.
Then I was going to tell you how dry it is and how much we wait for the first spring rains here – it’s a regional past-time, guessing when it’s going to finally fall.  Waiting for those first big hot drops to fall onto the dusty red sand.  It hasn’t come yet, but the first beautiful tiny green leaves are starting to bud on the trees. So I thought I should go out and take a photo of the first greeness arriving when I heard STOMP! CRASH! SCRAPE! MUNCH! MUNCH!
I swung around on my chair (it swivels :)) to quickly look out the door, camera already in hand and who should be standing right there………..
eating all my new fresh leaves that I have been waiting for ALL WINTER!  Man oh man. So that was the end of the blog post that was planned and you get a photo of a greedy giraffe instead. (but you can actually see the greeness starting up can’t you?)
Not as planned but still quite awesome, isn’t it?
(this photo was taken from my study desk in my room)
If you have any questions that you would like to ask about our life in the African bush, please just post them in the comments.  When I have enough questions I will answer them all in a post (so long as I don’t get disturbed by another animal…… come to think of it – we had an incident with a legavaan today too… hmmmm)

Delicious Tomato and Basil Jam

As mentioned a few days ago, The Bean and I made jam to give away as gifts this season.  A few of you have requested the recipe so here it is.

Homemade Tomato and Basil Jam  (best served with cheese)

Because I mainly use this jam to eat on cheese and crackers I like to use whole cocktail tomatoes so that you can place the small tomato right on top of your cheese.  You can use large peeled, chopped and deseeded tomatoes for a smoother jam.  I like it chunky.

You will need:

  • cocktail tomatoes – I use about 2 large coffee mugs full of the small tomatoes per jar of jam.
  • sugar – half the weight of the tomatoes
  • lemon juice – about 3/4 cup for every three jars of jam
  • Fresh basil chopped – one handful per 3 jars of jam

I sterilise my bottles and lids by boiling them after they have had a really good scrub in the sink.  I use them directly from the boiling water so most times end up scalding my fingers.  If you have the correct equipment it will help although I just make use of a stainless steel serving spoon to removed the bottles and lids.  Some folk use their dishwashers to sterilize their jars but I like to use mine steaming hot (and I also no longer own a dishwasher).  I only sterilise my bottles just before I am ready to bottle the jam.

Method:

Place your washed tomatoes in a thick based pot and add the sugar and the lemon juice and heat gently till your tomatoes produce enough juice to raise the heat without burning. Boil the jam stirring often until it gets thicker.  I boil/ simmer for about an hour and just keep testing the thickness by placing a spot of jam on a saucer and putting it in the fridge for a few minutes.  Once the consistency is to your liking you can add the chopped basil stir through and check the flavour. If you would like it a little more tart – add some more lemon juice and then bottle the jam into your sterilised jars.

You now have a few different options depending on the health department in your area, your need for a sterile existence, your belief of everything written on the internet and your faith in old-fashioned cooking methods.

  • You can use a water bath canner to reheat, sterilize and seal your jars. (This seems to be the norm)  A pressure canner is not necessary because of the high acid content of the jam.

or

  • You can store your jam in the fridge.

or

  • You can  ‘bottle’  like our grandmothers.

 

I use the same method my mother used – I don’t use a water-bath or pressure canner.  I fill my bottles to the brim while they are very, very hot and the jam is scorching and seal with a good fitting hot boiled lid.

I suggest the jam be kept in the fridge after opening although even this may not be necessary due to acid content.