The cabbage experiment …

For the last week, my house has smelt like a sauerkraut factory. In fact, unless you are partial to the smell of boiled cabbage, the word you would probably use would be stink rather than smell.  The aroma of stale boiled cabbage is NOT nice.

What was supposed to be a quick eco-dyeing experiment with Purple Cabbage, iron and eucalyptus leaves, turned into a week long obsession quite by accident. On discovering that I had run out of plain cotton fabric to insert between the layers of fabric and leaves, I decided to improvise by inserting sheets of ordinary copy paper before wrapping it around bamboo and simmering it in a pot of cabbage water and iron.

I expected that the paper would be a soggy mess destined for the compost pile, but no, there were some really lovely outlines of leaves on a soft aqua background …

So then of course I was hooked. I had to continue, with different weights of paper – 80gsm, 110gsm and 250gsm, and fresh leaves, dried leaves and leaves soaked in iron water. Endless possibilities.

At the same time, and in the same pot, I was trying fresh and dry Eucalyptus citriodora leaves on linen …

And some unidentified dry eucalyptus leaves on Raw Silk

Every morning I bounded out of bed to see what unbundling suprises awaited me. But eventually, I had to stop, clear everything away, and simmer some citriodora leaves for a few hours to get rid of the stale cabbage aroma.  I’ll be at it again as soon as I’ve caught up with my garden jobs.

Burnt Citrus syrup …

OMG – I’ve died and gone to heaven …
I’ve just tried my first batch of home-made Burnt Citrus Syrup and it tastes fabulous.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. About a month ago, I lunched at Popla, a new Bellingen restaurant, where I tried their home-made Chinotto Mocktail.  It was spicy, sour, sweet, smoky, citrus and delicious.  It set me thinking about an Italian soft drink I had tried when I was young.  So I tracked down a bottle of Chinotto and tried it – it was truly HORRIBLE!  When I looked at the ingredients, I discovered that it was entirely made of chemicals – not even a trace of the Chinotto orange after which it is named.

Surely with my abundance of ugly, misshapen citrus, I could do better?

After a few minutes searching on the internet, I had enough information to give it a go. You need sweet and sour citrus – I used orange, mandarin and cumquat with a few bought, locally grown pink grapefruit. For the spices I used coriander seeds, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns, cloves (sparingly) and star anise (also sparingly).  I chopped the citrus into chunks, popped them on some baking paper in a large roasting pan and sprinkled over the herbs and spices.

Then I slow roasted them in the oven at 130C (260F) for four to five hours. Your kitchen will smell wonderful, but the result will look a bit like a baking disaster. Never fear, it’s all good.

I allowed the citrus to cool and then split it into three wide mouthed sterilised jars, filled them with sugar syrup and waited for one month. This is the hardest part.

Then it’s tasting time … try the syrup in sparkling wine, with gin, soda or tonic water. Pop a piece of the burnt citrus in the bottom of your glass and eat it at the end when it’s a bit sozzled.  Amazing and a little bit deadly.  Tasting is quite strenuous so excuse me, I need a little nap …  after which I will post the full recipe.

Hibernation dyeing …

I can’t believe that it’s two months since I last posted something on my blog.  My excuse is that I hate cold weather and I have a tendency to hibernate over winter, only venturing forth on nice sunny days to prune something before scurrying back to the fire.

Winter hasn’t been entirely unproductive though.  Two of my eco-dyed scarves won a prize at the Bellingen Agricultural Show. It’s not exactly the Sydney Show but who cares!

I made up an “artist’s book” of my paper and fabric dyeing successes (and failures)  for display at our local library…

The display was mounted by the Mixed Up Art group as part of Readers & Writers week. The group held a bookbinding workshop in May, and whilst my bookbinding/sewing skills would benefit from some (a lot) more practice, the book held together and much to my surprise was featured in our local paper.

On rainy days, I have been experimenting with leaves gathered from the garden and on my morning walks.  Some leaves were disappointing – yielding absolutely no colour – but others such as Ornamental Maple and Native Tulipwood rewarded me with soft silhouettes, Geranium varied leaf by leaf, steamed Purple Carrot worked well,  but sometimes the bundle wrapping was more successful than the fabric piece.

The “compost experiment” failed primarily because I forgot about it.  By the time I dug it out of my compost heap, the bugs had munched on the silk and the bacteria had broken down the fibres.  Note to self: write a reminder in your diary!

One of my experiments using Native Tulipwood leaves on Habotai silk which was then dipped in a purple cabbage and iron bath – was particularly successful.  Depending on whether the cabbage is permanent or fugitive, this scarf may be a contender for next year’s Bellingen Show.  It’s all a bit of fun …

 

Black Sapote ice-cream …

Black Sapote Ice Cream (or Mousse)
(
read in conjunction with my previous post on harvesting Black Sapote)

Because Black Sapotes contain useful quantities of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Potassium, Fibre, Calcium, Phosphorus and Iron and zero fat, they make a good base for a dessert. That is, until … you start adding naughty things.

This is an adaptable recipe depending upon your preference for yoghurt, sugar and flavourings. If you don’t have enough Black Sapote flesh, you can bulk it up with very ripe banana.  If you don’t want to use coconut sugar, you can use another sugar.  You virtually can’t go wrong.

Basic Ingredients

220 ml/1cup yoghurt of your choice
220 ml/1 cup of ripe sapote pulp (15-20 fruit depending upon size)
50-100 g coconut sugar – or sugar of your choice
30g good quality cocoa or cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½  tsp nutmeg

Scoop out the seeds and the pith from the middle of the sapote. Discard. Then scoop out the flesh making sure you don’t include any skin, and purée in a food processor until completely smooth.

Add the yoghurt, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and nutmeg and process again until completely combined. (you can add a ripe banana here if you like)

Taste and adjust sugar – remembering that freezing intensifies the flavour.

Place in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes, and to allow the sugar to dissolve.

Process in your ice-cream maker for 10-20 minutes according to directions. If you don’t have an ice-cream maker you can just eat it like a mousse.  It’s delicious either way.

And here are a couple of other flavour ideas:

  • Add a shot of espresso and/or a shot of your favourite liqueur right at the end of churning. Don’t add it at the beginning or the alcohol will stop the mixture from freezing. I added Frangelico which is my favourite liqueur.
  • Add a ripe banana to the sapote pulp when processing.
  • Add some home-made shredded mandarin or cumquats in syrup. There are plenty of recipes on the internet