Make It Your Own

Make it unique. Make it yourself. Make it your own

Apricot Harvest 11 December, 2008

Filed under: Home cooking,Thoughts — makeityourown @ 6:44 pm

Hi every body (including my Dad; nice to have a comment from you!)

Someone requested a baby update last week so here it is: I am now 31 weeks pregnant. Everything is perfectly normal so far and I can feel his feet and elbows sticking into me on a regular basis. He is going to be born at Ashford Private Hospital. I am planning on being a stay at home Mum. Matthew is going to be a stay at home Dad for the first 8 weeks. If you ask me about names I will give you a suitably vague reply. Names and the date of the scheduled caesarean are a secret! Okay?

WHY BOTHER WITH GROWING AND PRESERVING FRUIT

Over the last couple of weeks I have been dealing with our apricot harvest. Our small tree gave us about 5 kilograms of fruit. Not bad for a 5 year old tree. We watered it regularly while the fruit was forming so each apricot was perfectly delicious and juicy. Yum! We now have in the cupboard 12 jars of golden orange jam and 8 jars of bottled halves in sugar syrup.

Apricot Jam

Bottled Apricots

Seems like a lot of work though, doesn’t it? I guess it is a fair bit of work and takes a fair bit of time sitting at the table slicing kilos of apricots, boiling up jam, putting the halves neatly into bottles, watching over the bottles so they stay at the right temperature for the required amount of time, not to mention the slight anxiety felt over whether the jam will set or not or the bottles stay sealed or not. Is it worth it? I think it is for a few different reasons.

Taste: I’m sorry but you just can’t buy apricot jam that tastes as good as homemade jam from homegrown apricots. Just starting with a superior raw material makes a huge difference. Even if you buy apricots to make jam it will still taste better then supermarket jam. Bottled apricot halves from homegrown apricots may look the same as tinned apricots but that is where the similarities end. Homegrown apricots bottled in a light sugar syrup (or fruit juice if you prefer) taste exquisite, not an adjective used to describe even the best tinned halves. Aside from all the fantastic fruit you can eat straight from the tree, homemade jam and bottled apricots are are very tasty way of using the fruit all year round.

Food Miles: “Food miles” seems to be a fashionable thing to talk about at the moment. It is a serious issue though. Lots and lots of the food we eat is trucked thousands of kilometres in carbon burning, fossil fuel using semi trailers. The more food we eat that comes from our local area the better in terms of the environment and also in terms of taste and quality. Tomatoes that are grown in Queensland and eaten in Adelaide have to be tough to survive the journey and tough they are. The same goes for strawberries from WA. Fruit that comes from your own backyard is very low in “food miles”. Yes you may have to buy sugar from Queensland to make jam in Adelaide but it’s still better than having that sugar go to NSW to make the jam then have the jars of jam trucked to Adelaide. We live in a perfect stone-fruit-growing area; why on earth should we buy stone fruit in a tin from Victoria? (Let me stress that some things just can’t be grown in our local area. I consider coffee and sugar to be essential items and I’m happy to have them trucked from Queensland, or Ethiopia or wherever our coffee comes from. Queenslanders of course will have other items that need to be brought from the southern states and so on for whatever area you live in.)

No additives: my jam has three ingredients: fruit, sugar and pectin. Pectin is a natural ingredient found in fruit anyway and helps jam to set. My bottled fruit also has three ingredients: fruit, water and sugar. No colours, no flavours, no preservatives, no mysterious numbers, none of those strange things that make many children behave strangely.

Fun: I actually enjoy making jam and bottling fruit. They are not difficult skills to master and give a great feeling of satisfaction when you see the jars lined up in your cupboard.

Our peaches will be ready soon, the tomatoes too…

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Why buy a house 3 December, 2008

Filed under: Thoughts — makeityourown @ 8:55 am

A few months ago I was flicking channels and came across the Hack Half Hour on ABC 2 (Monday nights) where they were having the rent or buy property debate. Renting a home or buying a home are of course the two traditional methods for paying for accommodation but there are other methods such as cooperatives or not paying at all such as squatting (God forbid!). In the debate they covered aspects such as working really hard and having no fun in order to pay off a mortgage and the more carefree, less burdensome style that comes with renting. I would suggest there is a happy medium. There is no need to mortgage yourself the hilt and pay it all off in ten years and neither is renting easy and cheap with rents always going up. They questioned whether rent money is “dead” money as real estate agents would have you believe. Someone suggested that the interest we pay to banks with a mortgage is also pretty “dead”.

Since then I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our home owner status. Obviously whether it’s better to rent or buy is totally dependent on your taste and situation and one is not better than the other.

We bought a modest home in the inner suburbs of Adelaide nearly eight years ago and we are glad we did. Owning our own house has allowed us to do many things we wanted to do that we couldn’t have done renting. Here are few reasons we love owning a house…

Energy saving: we have been able to install insulation in the roof and install ceiling fans in the lounge and the bedroom, both lessening the need for the air conditioner and the heater. We have installed a gas heater so there is no need for power sucking electric heaters. We have planted trees in front of the two west facing windows to provide shade in summer.

Garden: while you can plant a vegetable garden in a rented property, it doesn’t make much sense to plant fruit trees since you may not be around to reap the benefits. We have a large vegetable garden with raised beds and we have spent years adding to the soil to get it right. Over the years we have planted an apricot, a peach, an apple, a pear and a lemon tree. We know we’ll still be reaping the fruit from these and the benefits of the improved soil in the future.

Decorating: a small consideration really but it is nice to be able to paint rooms the colour we want and hang pictures were we want without having to ask. Many landlords will allow renters to do these things anyway.

It’s ours for good: our little house has its idiosyncrasies but we are fond of it. It’s solid house in a nice area close to the tram, the city and the beach. Since we own it, we won’t ever have to leave unless we want to.

Wages go up, mortgage stays the same: Over a 25 year mortgage, your payments are roughly the same (with variations due to interest rates of course) every month over the whole 25 years. In 10, 15 and 20 years’ time your payments will have roughly the same dollar figure as they do now. Wages, however will increase over that time due to inflation so the fraction of your wages spent on the mortgage will lessen considerably. That can only be a good thing! Not so with renting. Dollar figures for rent will always increase with inflation along with your increase in wages due to inflation so the fraction of wages spent on rent will remain the same.

The “Great Australian Dream” of owning property does make some kind of sense but to us it isn’t so that we can “own our own bit of property” or “have the security of bricks and mortar”. We can’t take it with us when we die and our security rests in something bigger, God.