Tag Archives: food

Cafe Opening

Garden in the City - Elen Sentier
Garden in the City – Elen Sentier

Garden in the City opens at 10am on Thursday 9th December 2010.

Do come.

 

Wye’s Women

Elen Sentier & Jennie Russell-Smith

My profiles: Facebook WordPress Twitter YouTube

Rose Hip update …

I’ve just got the mush into the muslin, draining overnight into the bucket, tomorrow I’ll make the juice into the jelly.

It’s now Apple, Rose Hip & Hawthorn jelly. I went out for a walk this afternoon, onto Honeymoor Common, and was greeted by more rose hips and lots and lots of haws – the hawthorn berries. The trees on the common are loaded with berries, dark tree-limbs jewelled with bright garnets that glow in the autumn sun. I couldn’t get all the way I wanted to, along the footpath across the common to come into the village behind the church, the stiles were too high, I would need to pull myself up onto them and having only one working arm doesn’t make this a good idea to try! So, I turned back and walked around the common past the smaller pool, then back to the big pool and to the lane home. It was a good walk.

Coming near to the big pool there was this exquisite hawthorn tree. She had lost all her leaves and stood at the edge of the water glowing with her garnets. She called to me. I asked again when I got to her – never take anything for granted. A robin – again, like yesterday – sang to me. I said that I would only take a few, what my big coat pocket could hold, and leave the rest for the critters and birds. Both tree and bird seemed satisfied and the slight pressure I’d felt, a sort of wariness, wanting me to have some of the fruit but hoping I wasn’t going to be greedy, slipped away. I took some fruit from all the branches I could reach, it quickly half-filled the pocket, weighing the coat down on the shoulder that side. Not my operated shoulder. When I’d finished I thanked the tree, and the land and the beasties and moorhens I could hear in the long grass and reeds, and went on homewards.

In the lane,m before I got our drive, the sun caught the fruit on a lovely apple tree. bright greens and reds, and the tree herself had a lovely shape. I stopped to admire. No-one had picked the fruit although it was well ripe and the tree stood right by the gate – but outside – of one of the houses in the lane. It called too. I looked at the fruit but I couldn’t take it, not without asking the people, but there were a lots of windfalls, many of them good, lying in the grass. I felt I could take those. Again, I asked the tree. “Please! Please!” she said. “I want my fruit eaten.” So I did, filling both the big pockets in my coat with the gorgeous apples. The scent was delicious.

So I got home with all the makings for the jelly, and all wild-harvested. The rose hips from yesterday are in my wild hedge although they get the biodynamic treatment. I love this, asking Mother Nature for food and being given it. It’s always worth watching the things that happen to you, the apparent “accidents” like me not being able to do the walk I had intended. If I had done I may well not have gone anywhere near the hawthorn tree, nor would the sun have necessarily been in the right place to show me the apple tree, and nor might I have been in the right frame of mind to see any of it either. I don’t subscribe to accidents and coincidences as many do. I try to always listen and hear and see the little gifts the Mother showers on me every day, and to return gifts of my own whenever I can. the little everyday magics are amazing :-).

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wish List

My profiles: Facebook Blogger WordPress

Twitter Latest tweet: Rosehip & Apple Jelly: http://wp.me/pB8nY-ur 

Apple & Rose Hip Jelly

Rosehip and Apple Jelly Recipe

* Comments(91)

My thanks to The cottage Smallholder for this recipe Smile

Rosehips in our gardenRosehips are ripening and perfect for picking now. Some people wait until after the first frost, when the rosehips will be soft. We start picking from the first week in September. They need to cook for longer but we know that they’re really fresh. They’re high in vitamin C and a great asset for the self sufficient smallholder. As a child, I remember my Mother giving us rosehip syrup (a dessert spoon daily). It was rather good. Nowadays, we make apple and rosehip jelly.

The rosehip flavour combines well with the apple. This is a delicate jelly with a fuller taste than plain apple jelly; good with toast for breakfast and excellent served with chicken, pork or a mild cheese.

Incidentally, I recently heard that rosehip concoctions are good for sore throats. Perhaps we should all toy with a spoonful when we’re next in bed with a bug.

Rosehip and Apple Jelly recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb/900g rosehips
  • 4 lb/1800g of sweet eating apples. We use windfalls as they won’t keep
  • Zest of half a lemon (add to the apples)
  • Juice of half a lemon (strained). Half a medium lemon equates to one tablespoon of juice.
  • Sugar – 1pt/600ml of strained juice to 1lb/454g of white granulated sugar
  • This recipe makes 14 half pound jars. So adjust accordingly.

Method:
As the rosehips can take longer than the apple to soften I always cook them separately. In this way both are cooked for their individual optimum time. I cook the rosehips on one evening, straining it overnight, and then cook the apples on the next evening. The juice will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, in covered containers. Split over three evenings, the jelly is not a palaver and can be easily fitted into a busy routine.

  1. Remove stalks from the rosehips and place in a large pan. Don’t use an iron or aluminium pan as this will strip away the vitamin C. A large glass or enamelled saucepan is ideal. I use a large non stick or stainless steel stock pot. Barely cover the hips with water and bring to the boil and simmer gently until the hips are soft. This can take quite a while if the hips are still firm (when I was making this jelly, the hips took a good hour and a half to soften). Keep an eye on them, stirring from time to time. Top up with water if necessary. (I mashed them gently with a plastic potato masher to hurry them along). If you are using my three evening method, strain the rosehips through sterilised muslin (see points 3 and 4 below)
  2. Wash the apples, cut out bad bits and chop roughly. There is no need to peel or core the apples. Add water to coverc of the fruit. Add the lemon zest. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer very gently until all the fruit is soft and squishy. (This can take anything from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how ripe the fruit is.)
  3. Pour the cooked fruit through sterilised muslin into a large clean bucket or bowl (how do I sterilise muslin/the jelly bag? See tips and tricks below). The muslin is often referred to as a “jelly bag”. We use tall buckets to catch the drips from the jelly bags. Rather than hang the bags (conventional method-between the legs of an upturned stool) I find it easier to line a large plastic sieve with the muslin. This clips neatly onto the top of a clean bucket. The sieve is covered with a clean tea cloth to protect against flies.
  4. Leave the jelly bag to drip overnight (or about 12 hours).
  5. Measure the juice the next day.
  6. Pour the juice into a deep heavy bottomed saucepan and add 1lb/454g of white granulated sugar for each 1pt/570ml of juice.
  7. Add the lemon juice.
  8. Heat the juice and sugar gently stirring from time to time, so as to make sure that that all the sugar has dissolved before bringing the liquid slowly to the boil.
  9. As there are apples (high in pectin) in this recipe only continue to boil for about 10 minutes before testing for a set. This is called a rolling boil. Test every 3 to 5 minutes until setting point is reached. (What is testing for a set? See tips and tricks below).
  10. Tossing in a nugget of butter towards the end will reduce the frothing that can occur.
  11. When jelly has reached setting point pour into warm sterilised jars using a funnel and ladle. (How do I sterilise jars? See tips and tricks below).
  12. Cover immediately with plastic lined screw top lids or waxed disks and cellophane tops secured with a rubber band.
  13. If you don’t think that the jelly has set properly, you can reboil jelly the next day. The boiling reduces the water in the jelly. I have done this in the past. Ideally you should try for the right set the first time.
  14. Label when cold and store in a cool, dark place. Away from damp.

Tips and tricks:

  • What is a jelly bag?
    A jelly bag is traditionally a piece of muslin but it can be cheesecloth, an old thin tea cloth or even a pillowcase. The piece needs to be about 18 inches square. When your fruit is cooked and ready to be put in the jelly bag, lay your cloth over a large bowl. Pour the fruit into the centre of the cloth and tie the four corners together so that they can be slung on a stick to drip over the bowl. Traditionally a stool is turned upside down, the stick is rested on the wood between the legs and the jelly bag hangs over the bowl. We experimented and now line a sieve with muslin, place it over a bucket and cover the lot with clean tea cloths (against the flies).
  • How do I sterilise muslin/the jelly bag?
    Iron the clean jelly bag with a hot iron. This method will also sterilise tea cloths.
  • Jelly “set” or “setting point”?
    Getting the right set can be tricky. I have tried using a jam thermometer but find it easier to use the following method.
    Before you start to make the jelly, put a couple of plates in the fridge so that the warm jam can be drizzled onto a cold plate (when we make jam we often forget to return the plate to the fridge between tests, using two plates means that you have a spare cold plate). Return the plate to the fridge to cool for approx two minutes. It has set when you run your finger through it and leave a crinkly track mark. If after two minutes the cooled jam is too liquid, continue to boil the jelly, testing it every few minutes until you have the right set. The jelly is far more delicious if it is slightly runny. It does get firmer after a few months.
  • How do I sterilise the jars and lids?
    We collect jars all year round for our jelly, chutney and jam making sessions. I try to soak off labels and store the clean jars and metal plastic coated screw-top lids in an accessible place. The sterilising method that we use is simple. Just before making the jam, I quickly wash and rinse the jars and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c (140c fan-assisted). When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The jars will stay warm for quite a while. I only use plastic lined lids for preserves as the all-metal lids can go rusty. I boil these for five minutes in water to sterilise them. If I use Le Parfait jars, I do the same with the rubber rings.

Read more: The Cottage Smallholder » Rosehip and Apple Jelly Recipe http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/rosehip-and-apple-jelly-recipe-60#ixzz13GPwVd6v

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wish List

My profiles: Facebook Blogger WordPress

Twitter Latest tweet: Rose Hips: http://wp.me/pB8nY-up 

Healthy Food Helps You Slim

I found this diet site today. I was just looking up how many calories = 1 pound and it came up, it’s perhaps the best info site I’ve found on calories, weight, food and their interconnection.

Part of being a shaman is to be as healthy as you can, being overweight (as I was before the knee op) is not good. it stresses you emotionally and mentally as well as doing your physical body in, so your ability to discern, to have good judgement and clear vision are much impaired. Yes, it really does make a difference! even with a lifetime of experience working with otherworld i found my abilities impaired, my judgement less good and my faculties out of kilter. Losing the weight has made a difference.

So any aids to getting to your proper weight, getting fit, are part of the shaman’s way.

This particular article is very good about how eating good food helps. It talks about eating as little processed food as possible, eating whole foods, eating natural foods. I would add eating organic and biodynamic foods ups the anti on this but that’s more difficult for a generalist site like this to do without seeming partisan and so putting people off .. which I certainly don’t want it to do Smile

So, form a shamanic point of view, as well as a wannabe healthy person, i recommend you get to your optimum weight and fitness state … and this article can help.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wish List

My profiles: Facebook Blogger WordPress

Twitter Latest tweet: http://fb.me/CTdbRxJ8 

Prep 500 – alchemical magic

On 29th September Paul and Jennie did the annual making of Prep 500 for all of us. I wasn’t there, I was walking on Exmoor with the 3rd year Rainbow Warrior students on their final workshop – I missed a great day but we all had a wonderful time on the moor too.

Prep 500 is cow manure which has been buried in a cow’s horn from autumn to spring equinox. As I said in a previous blog the cow’s four stomachs are magical … like the four processes of alchemy. These processes are …

  • nigredo (-putrefactio), blackening (-putrefaction): corruption, dissolution
  • albedo, whitening: purification, burnout of impurity; the moon, female
  • citrinitas, yellowing: spiritualization, enlightenment; the sun, male
  • rubedo, reddening: unification of man with God, unification of the limited with the unlimited

Although one cannot say this is exactly what happens inside a cow there are similarities that are worth taking into account in thinking about gardening and farming in a far wider sense than just growing food and flowers. Steiner certainly thought so.

The way I work with it is shamanic, through the way of the goddess, Mother Earth, the Lady of the Land.

This picture is like the ancient many-breasted Diana of Epheseus. For me, this is a form of the goddess, of the Lady Sovereignty … however you don’t have to believe this to do biodynamics J. I like this picture as amongst other things it shows the for kingdoms of mineral, vegetable, animal and human in the form of the goddess’ dress. These four kingdoms are the four elements, and also the four processes of alchemy.

Gradually all things break down to soil, to the mineral kingdom … in gardening we call it composting. This is a return to the mineral kingdom, it is dissolution.

Vegetation grows out of the soil, is fed and watered by the soil, made of the reformed atoms of the soil. It is very much affected by the moon – as we know in biodynamics. It is a form of purification.

Animals feed on vegetation, so do we humans. We live because of the minerals breaking down into its component atoms, being eaten by animals and ourselves, and by eating the animals who have further processed the vegetables for us, made them easier for us to digest. Enlightenment and spiritualisation.

And then, after that, we come to the what happens when all these things come together … the unification of the limited with the unlimited, the unification of man with God.

Another way of doing the four processes of alchemy.

This picture shows the Lord and Lady of the alchemical wedding, the sun and the moon and the stars … the things that drive the processes of biodynamics although we don’t really know how they do this. 80-plus years of work and research show that they do, even the American Department of Agriculture has investigated it and said it found changes, differences, between biodynamic compost and the ordinary stuff.

The lord and lady hold two branches that form a horizontal cross that mark the four elements – earth, water, air and fire. These elements correspond to the four parts of a plant – roots, leaves, flowers and fruit.

All of these sets of fours correspond …

Nigredo Albedo Citrinato Rubado
Earth Water Air Fire
Roots Leaves Flowers Fruit
Abomasum Omasum Rumen Reticulum

So … Paul and Jennie made prep 500, stuffing fresh cow-pats into cow horns. They buried them in the pit, the good earth, the soil that is the skin of Mother Earth. Lying there the horns will be acted upon by the four elements – the earth, the rain, the air and the fire of the sun. The pull of the moon works on them too, and the stars, the constellations that the moon focuses every month. Over the dark time of the year, from autumn to spring, the horns lie in the womb of the Mother and gestate. Come the spring they birth into the new year to give up their magic substance, prep 500, that will help the soil to exchange their goodness with the plants.

Come the spring, we’ll dig them up and use that goodness on the land.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

My profiles: Facebook Blogger WordPress

Twitter Latest tweet: Back home again and feeling OK … so far 

Pests & Diseases

Slug !!!

Pests and diseases, the little darlings, are major bug-bears of gardeners. Slugs, snails and rabbits that munch cheerfully through your salads before you get the chance; aphids that cause havoc with the roses and honeysuckle; blackfly murdering your beans; leatherjackets wrecking the lawn; mice eating the pea seeds and all the other critters that want your plants. Then there are all the diseases the plants can get. Gardening can be a nightmare!

Biodynamics does not eradicate pests, this is quite contrary to its ethos, but it does help you put the garden into balance with itself, and its surroundings. Being in balance really makes a huge difference to how pests and diseases work (or don’t!) in your garden.

Pests and weeds come when things are out of balance, when you have row upon row of lettuces just asking for slugs to come and make a feast, with nothing to get in their way. The darn lettuces seem to actually be singing siren songs to the slugs! And in a sense they are. Nature abhors a vacuum. And she abhors gluts too. This doesn’t mean you must grow fewer lettuces but it does mean it’s worth doing what you can to help maintain the balance. Gardens are not natural places, they are made by human beings – as is most of our countryside in the populated world. Therefore we are a part of the system we have made, so we need to work with it to help it work well. Biodynamics helps us do just that.

The spray preparations – the 500 horn manure and the 501 horn silica – help the soil and the plants reach their optimum potential. This happens, even if we don’t really know why. We don’t know why electricity works, but we’re quite content to trust the light switch will work whenever we want, we may even get quite cross when it doesn’t. With a little practice we can become equally blasé about biodynamics and with equal justification. We know how to make electricity work even if we don’t know why it does it. We can learn how to make biodynamics work as we have learned how to make electricity work and, again, without needing to know why it does it. And it does work. A part of its work is to help the garden grow into balance with itself, and stay in balance, so the pests and diseases don’t trouble us. It’s been working well for me since the early 1990s.

So … the first thing to do, to deal with pests and diseases, is to get your garden working well, in balance, by using the spray and compost preparations.

cabbage white butterfly

Pests

Pests are just about anything the gardener has a problem with, animals, insects, birds, butterflies, other people, children.  Usually it is anything that wants to eat or otherwise damage the plants the gardener has carefully tended and grown whether ornamental or vegetable. Coddling moths, slugs and snails, leatherjackets, pigeons after the peas, blackbirds after the raspberries or pulling up the newly planted bulbs or onions, blackfly on the beans, whitefly in the greenhouse, rabbits in the salad, squirrels in the trees, caterpillars eating the cabbages.

cabbage white caterpillars

Many of these can be dealt with most effectively by prevention, barriers, stopping the critters getting at the pants in the first place. Netting, fine meshes, fruit/vegetable cages, grease barriers, all these are far more effective than poisons. Even the humble slug/snail pub does a very effective job and, if you go in for nematodes you’ll find you also need them to deal with the already grown adults the nematodes won’t get to.

Sometimes things can get serious very quickly, as with aphids, so that you have to use soft soap to kill them or the plants will die, you can’t wait for the more usual organic methods to work. Biodynamics doesn’t deny you this ability, nobody wants your plants to die.

Cute ... until he eats your veg !!!

However, thinking ahead really does help. I get my slug pubs going as soon as I start to work outside, I don’t wait for the baby slugs to get to adult size … and begin breeding to produce even more of the little darlings to eat my hostas and brassicas. All the brassicas live inside mesh tunnels to make it impossible for the butterflies to get to the leaves to lay their eggs so, with a reasonable amount of care, no caterpillars get to them. I do plant lots of nasturtiums which the caterpillars like even better, and leave a couple of cabbages outside the net so they have something to eat and we do have more butterflies next year. It’s all a question of balance, of give and take. I want to take from the land in the form of beauty – i.e., hostas, dahlias, etc – so I give back to the land and her creatures with some plants for them to feed on. Usually this works out, unless the weather is very bad with lots of summer rain to encourage the slugs, or some other factor comes into play. I win some, I lose some. In the long term both Nature and myself get what we need.

Rats

One creature that can really be a problem is the rat. Wherever you are on planet Earth you are never more than a couple of meters away from a rat. Rats and people have been close neighbours quite possibly as long as there have been humans … the rats, of course, are a far older species than we, goodness what they cuddled up to before we came along. Modern human living suites rats to a T, they really thrive on our wasteful culture. And we are generally terrified of them … a problem we’ve brought on ourselves.

The best way to tell if you have a rat problem is if you see them … if you do there are too many, they are getting hungry and much braver in consequence, so coming out when people are around and not running away. The milder winters we’ve had for some time now mean they don’t die off in the cold so there are more of them to start over again each spring. That happens with slugs and snails too, by the way … the milder climate means they live longer!

Whatever, rats are a problem, they do need to be kept under control and out of the compost heap. If you begin to see rats then you need to take steps to cull them, or have someone do this for you. The farmers’ stores have poisons that will do this or you can contact your local authority to sort them out for you.

  • NB – if you put poison down make quite sure it can’t be eaten by other creatures you don’t want to cull … like your cat or dog!
  • And – keep a very close eye on your own pets. Modern rat poisons work more slowly than the old ones and tend to make the animal drowsy, watch your pets, they might eat a rat that’s been poisoned, or even a mouse that’s take some of the poison. If you suspect this take your pet to the vet immediately and ask for tests. Vitamin K can counteract the poison and save your pet’s life but you must act quickly.
  • And – over the past few years many people have seen rats climbing onto bird tables and eating the seed and nuts. Some of the bird foods are rich in vitamin K, with the consequent result that the rats who eat it develop a resistance to the poison! Ho hum! We do make rods for our own backs so long as we look only to cure an effect rather than seeking the cause.

A biodynamic way of dealing with rats is to make a pepper – see the next section on Peppers – but handling rats is dangerous, even when they’re dead, because of the diseases you can unfortunately catch from them. We have used a rat-pepper and it does work, however it takes much longer than using poison so I don’t work that way if the problem is big, if we have an explosion in the rat population.

Rats in Compost Bins

Keeping rats out of the compost heap is best done by putting a layer of mesh – plasterer’s mesh, as it’s called in the UK – underneath the bins. This is sufficiently narrow so that even baby rats can’t get through, but the worms and bugs that do so much good in your heap can.

  • Go to a builders’ yard and ask for plasterers’ mesh.
  • Buy enough to go under your bin(s).
  • Lay it on the ground where the bin is going to be.
  • You may need to stake the mesh down into the ground or weight it down with bricks.
  • Put the bin(s) back on top of the mesh and continue making compost as normal.

We always do this with all our bins, whether or not we see any rats. We know they’re there and that they will go into the bins if they can so we use prevention, in the form of the mesh.

writer artist gardener shaman
Wye’s Woman Rainbow Warrior
__________________________________________

Contact Me WordpressFacebookYoutubeMySpaceTwitterAmazonLinkedinFlickrStumbleUpon
Celtic shaman – Elen Sentier No-Knead Bread

Autumn Veg Planting

Like many gardeners, I always plant some vegetables in the autumn for overwintering. The space is available again and crops have time to get going before winter sets in. It means I get significantly earlier crops of delicious veg than spring sown alternatives so the season is extended. I sow Garlic, Onions, Broad Beans and Douce Provence peas for over wintering.

For Garlic I use  Red Sicilian, a red hardneck variety also known as Nubian Red, it’s deliciously warm and spicy. I’m also having a go with Provence Wight. I’m told it’s a vigorous, white softneck garlic that produces really large, ‘sweet’ bulbs, supposed to be perfect for adding some Mediterranean flavour.

I always plant the biodynamic Radar onion sets and find they give me superb, large, Spanish-size onions early in the year, very sweet and very welcome. I also plant the Japanese onion, Senshu Yellow as seed and find they do me very well too. Both mean that I’m harvesting onions weeks earlier than spring planted sets, and overwintering gives them a strong root growth to build on. Even through last winter’s weeks of snow I still got a good crop, I did cover them and gave them extra Prep 500 to help their roots.

For the Broad Beans I sow Aquadulce and am always pleased with the result. Fresh Broad Beans in may is such a delight. I usually sow them in late October or early November and cover with fleece to protect from cold and beasties who want to dig things up !!!

Douce Provence peas are very good and come both early and late. I have the very last crop maturing in the garden now for harvest in a couple of weeks. I keep them protected as we do have frosts now. The overwintering ones need to get established before the weather gets too wintery.

Before any of this planting I feed and turn the soil, get it aerated and the weeds out. I feed with our own BD compost and manure, sometimes with a liquid manure feed instead of the solid as the ground already has masses of fibre. And then it gets a spraying of Prep 500. This year that will be on 26-27 October, on the cusp between southern and northern planting times but still perfectly effective.