Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lessons from the garden: sustaining yourself in every way

Coming up to summer solstice, I am back in the garden, looking at what I shall be harvesting this year... There's still time to plant a few more seeds, and give the plants that are struggling some extra help...

I'm doing the same in my personal life... still weeding & planting, sowing and watering, harvesting and planning...

This week, it was pointed out to me that although circumstances may change, life is not lived in stops and starts, but in a long sequence of events... much like the continuous turning of the seasons...
I liked that...

Makes gardening in a sustainable way even more appealing too...

I guess if you want to sustain yourself well, you need to identify your requirements for vitality, physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually.... and put in the work to cultivate, harvest, and process them as best you can...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gardening as a healing tool


Gardening is an art, that is healing... contemplative... meditative... transformative...

You can grow some food and connect with the land upon which you live...

It grounds the mind, exercises the body, and feeds the soul with wonder ...

Babies arriving, and Dear Ones leaving over the past little while, are reminders of the fragility and transience of life...

Gardening provides a container, a context, in which gardeners can accept these things, whilst not needing to understand such mystery...
 



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Art of my heart

Good morning to you!
I'm just about to start drawing, and thinking I find this such a pleasurable activity, that I deny it to myself... This attitude is a bit dark,isn't it? Old fashioned Protestant work ethic, perhaps?

I feel guilty about doing something I love so much with no focus upon selling it... or publicity... no reason to think it will help me make my way in this world... I just love drawing, and always have...
Sometimes, I say I hate the discipline of it, but that's not the same sort of drawing as this, with which I'm about to indulge myself... this is delicious freedom... "play"... exploration, and discovery... this is adventure!

THIS is where REAL art is born... where magic can manifest... where what is needed in the world can make itself known... letting the Arwen flow

I KNOW this! So why do I struggle to make money, when I know I can make art so joyfully?

Perhaps I'll just take a chance for a while, and "play" more... I won't starve... in fact, I might even make art that people want to pay for! Ha! My heart is light...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beltaine Elderflower Cordial/Syrup




It's Beltaine ritual, gathering these spring blossoms, for refreshing drinks for the coming summer, and to dry for healthful teas throughout the year.. just as the ancestors have, for thousands of years...

So, first, pick a big bowl of about 60 elder flowers, shake off insects, & remove flowers from stalks with a fork, as best you can - the less green the better - I've read it's poisonous...

I mixed this with the zest & juice of 8 lemons... mmm... smells fantastic! At this point, I knew I needed 2 bowls, as I'd picked rather a lot of blossom...
In a pot, bring approximately  2.5 litres water to boil, then turn off. Add 4kgs sugar, & stir to dissolve. Cool about 15 minutes. Then add 75gms  citric acid and 75gms tartaric, & stir out any lumps with a long spoon... Pour liquid over flowers & lemons, cover well, and leave overnight for flavours to infuse...

  
Next day...
strain the flower mixture back into the pot, and bring to the boil again, then cool, and pour into warm (I put mine in the oven 20 minutes 160 degrees from cold) sterilized glass jars with pop top lids, or whatever you prefer whilst it is warm.
This recipe filled 5 passata jars, and assorted juice bottles I had saved & washed. I really can't tell you the exact yeild, but it is quite enough for me to share and enjoy with family and friends. 

You're meant to refrigerate this, but mine is on stone benches in a cellar, as my fridge is tiny. This works well for me, and I wish you much joy if you ever make this cordial at Beltaine.
* In Australia, Elder is a garden shrub, not a wild plant, as in Europe - I planted a hedgerow garden, but that's another story!
Cheers!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Easy vegetarian zucchini pie recipe


It's rather  hot in Melbourne today, and I'm busy, so I made this for later, when I know I'll be needing a rest...

2 medium zucchinis (courgettes) sliced thickly & blanched.
1 onion sliced
2 garlic cloves
roasted capsicum chopped
fresh basil hand torn
fresh Italian parsley chopped
4 free range eggs
good dollop naturally thick cream
good dollop passatta
parmesan cheese grated
freshly ground black pepper
pure sea salt

Gently sweat onions & garlic until soft then place them in bottom of pie dish
put blanched zucchini on top, followed by capsicum, then cover top of pie with torn basil leaves & chopped parsley, season with salt & pepper.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, cream & passatta - don't worry if it looks runny - it will firm up when baked - pour over pie.
A thick sprinkling of parmesan cheese, and Roberto's your uncle!

I'll serve it cold later, with a green salad...

* you can add any vegetables to this really... eg sliced mushrooms, or roasted eggplant/ pumpkin...

Hope you feel inspired to have a go! If you do, please let me know how you get on without measuring everything!










Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Easy Rose Petal Jam Recipe



Marigold Fairweather's favorite Rose Petal Jam Recipe





4 cups fresh, fragrant, dark red rose petals (only use home-grown, or roses you KNOW haven't been sprayed!)
 

3 cups sugar
 

2 cups water
 

juice of 1/2 lemon


Snip white base from each petal with scissors, keep the red part, & wash very gently in cold water
 

Layer petals carefully in a glass, ceramic, or enamel bowl, & sprinkle each layer with about 2 tablespoons of the sugar, cover with a clean tea towel, & leave it overnight
 

Next day, dissolve the remaining sugar with the water in a heavy based pan, stirring occasionally until dissolved, then bring to boil, add lemon juice, & boil 5 minutes without stirring.
 

Remove syrup from heat & cool to lukewarm

Gently add rose petals & their liquid, return pan to heat & boil gently 15 minutes, or until syrup is thick when tested in a cold saucer.

Ladle into warm, sterilized jars, & seal when cool

***
The first time I made this, many years ago, I didn't think my jam was thick enough, so added pectin, & ended up with such a firm toffee, I couldn't even get it out of the jars! I ended up heating it, spooning it out of the glass, and incorporating it into rice puddings, rhubarb crumble, and assorted cakes & biscuits.

Later, I bought a jar from an Lebanese supermarket, and found the commercial jam was runny anyway!

Home made tastes best, and is delightful on scones...






Thursday, October 2, 2014

Art as spiritual practice

Spring Equinox was a solitary affair for me... I marked it by creating magical papers...

imbued with the changing balance of light energy, as held within plants from my garden, and combined with gleanings from the forest floor...

Carefully selected for their metaphysical properties, as well as good looks, I put them together with love and care, hoping they'd look beautiful...

and so my work became my ritual... I began doing this at Winter Solstice... Now my art has become my spiritual practice...

The result is so much more than the outlines & embossing of leaves and flowers... It is an outpouring of my appreciation for the season, an observance of the balance of celestial harmonies at Spring Equinox... of new beginnings, and hope, and the fragility of of life, in all its forms.



I wish you all the blessings and optimism of a new cycle, wherever you are on Earth.