The saying, “waste not want not” can be traced back to the 1700’s and perhaps, with the current global crisis, it can be argued that it is even more relevant today. One dictionary definition quotes “If we don’t waste what we have, we’ll still have it in the future and will not lack (want) it.”
So this brings us back to our oranges. Hundreds of them. In an earlier blog, we mentioned the glut of windfall oranges and fruit on our trees and how we wanted to make good use of everything that we have on the farm. Our ‘champion juicer’ has been a superstar and we now have over 50 litres of orange juice stored in our freezer. It really is a fantastic little piece of kit and has already paid us back for the initial investment we made.
We’ve received lots of ideas from people suggesting different ways to use our fruit and we’ve had a go at most of these. It is true that oranges on a bonfire don’t burn and instead create little blackened balls in the remains of the ashes, which are no use for anything. However, we’ve found that if we put orange peel on the top of our fireplace, it gets really warm and as well as making the room smell lovely, it dries out and makes fantastic kindling.
As we have a 5 litre container of olive olive from the 2019 harvest that Linda and Andy picked for us, we have more than enough for our own needs so we decided to experiment a little. I’d read once that if an orange is cut in half and the fruit removed without damaging the white stalk part, the shell can be dried, filled with olive olive and the stalk used as the wick to make a candle.
We gave it our best shot at scooping out the fruit although it all got a bit sticky. After allowing it a suitable length of time for drying out, we filled the little orange cup with our olive oil and lit the wick. To start with it burned clear and bright but after about 10 seconds it just fizzled out. Wondering if it was the oil or the wick that was the issue, I took out the middle of a tea-light candle and repeated the process. No problem at all, we had a little orange candle for about 4 hours although I’m not sure if pinching the wick from the tea-light kind of defeated the object?
Next up on the list of things to try out was our home-made orange degreaser. I remember buying orange solvent for cleaning the kitchen back in the UK and swore by it, although at £5 for a tiny bottle, it was quite expensive. To make the home made variety I removed the pith from the orange peelings, put the pieces of peel in a glass jar and covered it with white vinegar. This will now be stashed under the sink for a couple of weeks for the citrus oils to infuse and then it will be ready to try. Watch this space …..
A few days ago I received an email from my Auntie Fay with a couple of recipes attached. My Uncle Frank was famous for his soups at his local church and his main source of inspiration came from his little book of 400 soup recipes, I received two of these in my email : Watercress and orange and carrot and orange. The watercress is still a working progress in the propagator but we tried the carrot and orange for lunch – delicious with a chunk of hot crusty bread and butter.
I also had a go at orange butterfly buns using the whole of an orange (peel, pulp and juice) to make the cake and flavoured the buttercream with orange. I also made another sticky orange drizzle cake.
Mark received a parcel from his daughter Helen and family last week containing his birthday present – included were some Kilner jars, a book about growing citrus trees and a recipe book for all things Marmalade. Having stocked up with sugar, grapefruit and lemon to compliment our oranges, we will be putting this to good use later this week on a mammoth scale.
Meanwhile, while we were busy eking out our orange harvest, the Ecositana team were busy working on the main house.
Both of the new roofs are 95% complete – we are waiting for the delivery of some finishing tiles for the apexes. Although the cladding is only partially fitted on the barn extension, it is starting to look really impressive. We’ve watched the team of builders majestically manoeuvring themselves on and around the roof – it seems an art form in itself to see them work so confidently at these heights.
The timber frame structure for the extension has now been erected and we are starting to get a feel for how the two buildings will connect. Work has started on re-enforcing the wall before the opening can be made to make the old store and the new extension one big living space.
On Thursday morning we woke up to find that we had a power cut. Mark checked out the circuit board and it appeared that there was no supply at all coming to our property. We contacted our electricity provider to try and find out if the problem was unique to us or something on a wider scale – unfortunately we struggled to get an answer to our question. As the builders had been due on site, we contacted Raphael to let him know that we had no electricity and true to form he came to the rescue arranging a visit from the electrician. However, before they arrived the power was re-instated and it seemed that there had been an area fault.
Raphael, Antonio and Jose the electrician arrived at mid-day and although in the rain, we had a very productive meeting. The plans for the revised electrical layout were discussed and agreed and we arranged for Jose to start work in a fortnight’s time. We’ve decided that initially 50% of the electrical work will be undertaken at opposite ends of the house while we’re still making our minds up about the layout of the middle section.
Linda and Andy stopped by on their way to take the dogs for their haircuts and brought us some chu chu plants which will be planted out near to where our veggie patch is going to be sited. Although we were having grotty weather it was a lovely to see them and have a quick socially distanced catch up – it seems so long since it was possible to move around freely visiting friends, exploring the countryside and enjoying a drink outside a cafe-bar. As foreign nationals we are still way down the line regarding getting the vaccine but we are sticking to the rules, keeping our heads down and working on the land until it is our turn.
STOP PRESS … We received the long awaited news that my daughter Amy and her husband Adam had safely delivered their first baby – welcome baby Rupert. Regrettably, due to travel restrictions, cuddles from his grandparents will have to be put on hold but we are so looking forward to finally meeting him.