Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Post (and indeed title!) inspired by the lovely Fay at The Wind & The Wellies - she posted about Wombling earlier today - a post which was itself inspired by Rhonda at Down To Earth - phew, what a lot of inspiration flowing around blog-land today!
Anyhow - their two posts got me thinking about recycling in general, and how we deal with it here specifically. Having spent time in the Hebrides I think we are probably more conscious of the need to reduce waste than many of our neighbours. A lot of the things that Fay mentions we already do - jars never get thrown away, and in fact we harvest them in from elsewhere too. Some we use ourselves, and others get passed to Mum-in-Law. Those plastic trays from mushrooms, soft fruit etc? Perfect seed trays. Newspapers are used to start fires when camping, (in designated spots, rather than just randomly in fields!) to line the cold-box, for wrapping things. Gift bags from presents get carefully folded flat and stored to the next occasion - it's a family joke that some of those making an appearance each christmas will have been around for years! We and the neighbours have a "book & DVD exchange" in our communal hallway, and items of furniture which are no longer required tend to find their way out there at first and often get rehomed - our electric fire was aquired in exactly that way, I re-use carrier bags for delivering Avon orders in, and Mum and I swap toiletries and makeup between us when one of us hasn't got on so well with something. We create very little food waste simply by shopping carefully and then ensuring that every scrap gets used for something. The large butternut squash I bought earlier in the week for example, has already had part of it used as a component in a potato and onion (and squash, obviously!) bake, and some more will get used in a curry on Friday. The balance might make soup for Saturday I think.
Wombling goes further than just Reducing, Re-using and Recycling, though, or at least it does for us. Those little chaps at the top of the post? Crab apples. 2kg of them are currently simmering away in our big stockpot in the kitchen and will be turned into jars of apple jelly which can either be used by us or given away. Last night's project was rosehip syrup (which is delicious!) and the weekend will see some form of chutney with the rest of the apples I think. I must consult the River Cottage Preserves book for inspiration. Still to make for christmas gifts will be Lime cordial, some picalli and maybe some form of jam. It's amazing how well home made goodies go down with friends and family! The apples which are cooking at the moment will produce about half a dozen jars of beautful pale pink jelly - total cost for all of them? A little under a bag of sugar (82p) plus a bit of gas. Oh, and some time and love, but we don't charge for that. Say around 15p a jar. Price in the supermarket? Around £2 a jar!
It's incredible just how much free food there is out there - especially at this time of year. Sloes, damsons, bullaces, apples, blackberries, haws, rosehips...we even found a mass of wild plums a few weeks ago - which are now stewed down and waiting in the freezer for a crumble, or perhaps a pie of some description. Start looking around you when you are out and about in your local area and see what you find. Richard Maybey's excellent book "Food for Free" is a help in identifying anything you're not certain of, and there is also a River Cottage Hedgerow handbook now, by the ever enthusiastic John Wright. Get out there and look, then come home, get cooking, and marvel at just what is available out there, under your nose, for FREE!