Category: ECOSYSTEM

Rosehip Syrup

Rose hips

I noticed the abundance of rosehip from my garden and I got to thinking if I could do something with them. My husband suggested a rosehip syrup that he remembers fondly from his childhood. The syrup was sweet-tasting and bursting with goodness of Vitamin C, just the drink, hot or cold, during the autumn season.

Anyway here is a recipe from Hugh Feanley-Whittingstall

Rosehip syrup

 

Rosehip syrup is dripping with vitamin C and has long had a reputation for keeping colds at bay all winter. Far from being austere, though, it has a surprisingly tropical tang, with notes of lychee and mango. Diluted with about five parts cold water, it makes a delicious cordial drink, which kids will love, and a fantastic autumn cocktail for grown-ups. It’s also an indulgent alternative to maple syrup on ice cream, waffles and pancakes.

 

  • You will also need a jelly bag (or a clean cotton cloth and a big sieve)
  • Put two litres of water in a large pan and bring to the boil. Throw in the chopped rosehips, bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for half an hour, stirring from time to time.
  • Strain the mixture through a jelly bag. (Alternatively, line a colander with a couple of layers of muslin and place over a large bowl. Tip in the rosehip mixture, and leave suspended over the bowl.)
  • Set the strained juice aside and transfer the rosehip pulp back to the saucepan, along with another litre of boiling water. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat, infuse for another half an hour and strain as before. Discard the pulp and combine the two lots of strained juice in a clean pan. Bring to the boil, and boil until the volume has decreased by half. Remove from the heat.
  • Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Return to the stove, bring to the boil and boil hard for five minutes. Pour into warmed, sterilised jars or bottles and seal.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1kg rosehips, washed and chopped
  • 1kg caster sugar

Kakiemon Elephant

Kakiemon Elephant

This Kakiemon elephant is on display at the British Museum.

This is apparently made between 1660-1690 in the Kakiemon style.  Kakiemon is the first to create the enamel porcelain.  What is interesting about this sculpture is that the artist has never seen an elephant.

You might have noticed that the elephant trunk in the photo is pointing downward.  There is a superstition in the east that pointing downward is for good luck.  In the west, it is the opposite.  It should be upward.  Another case of east and west not meeting.  LOL

What do we know about elephants?

  • Their gestation period is 22 months, 2 months short of 2 years pregnancy.  Ouch
  • Their life span is between 50 – 70 years but their was a recorded one of 82 years of age.
  • There are two types of elephants:

Asian (Indian) Elephants which smaller in stature, smaller ears and only the male have tusks.

African Elephants are larger with larger ears.  Both male and female have tusks.  They are               also  less hairy than the Asian elephants.

 

 

 

Bamboo Shoots


Bamboo Shoots

Photo by Haragayato of Tokyo, Japan

If you are rather partial to Chinese food, you are probably familiar with bamboo shoots.

And if you have been to the Philippines, it is possible that you have come across bamboo shoots in menus.  Probably they would have been called labong in the Tagalog regions or rabong in the Ilocos region.  They are also often called ubod.

Outside of Asia, bamboo shoots would most probably come in cans/tins or jars.

Bamboo shoots are usually harvested during the rainy season when they shoots grow profusely.  As per above photo, the shoots are like cones covered in papery, a la papyrus, brownish and greenish leaves.  The outer shell of leaves are then trimmed off leaving a yellowish tuber.

They can be cooked in variety of ways and can then be also made into a delicious if rather spicy and piquant salad.

 

Woven Rattan Baskets

Rattan basket, photo by JMorton

Woven Rattan Baskets

Rattan is some sort of a climbing bamboo looking plant which grows profusely in the mountains of Ilocos and other parts of the Philippines.

Thank goodness that they do grow abundantly as they provide materials for weaving so many things necessary to the farming communities of the Philippines.

Rattan basket, photo by JMorton

Bilao in Tagalog is a winnowing flat basket which is called bigao in Ilocano.  This flat basket is necessary in separating the husks or hulls from the rice grains, especially when a mortar and pestle had been used to manually dehusk the palay into rice.

 

Rattan basket, photo by JMorton

 

You Are What You Eat

The proof is in the eating of the cupcake, lol, Photo by PH Morton

You Are What You Eat

It is true I am afraid, well in my case anyway.  I love chocolates and it shows: in the tummy area, along the hips, in the face and everywhere. 🙂

Belonging to the class mammalia (species with the mammary glands, lol) we are rather versatile in what we include in what we eat.

There are at least four classifications of diets or intake of nourishment.  Which do you belong?

  • Herbivores, these are those who eat greens, the verdant leaves and sprouts of plants.  Are you as vegetarian as the brontosaurus?  Or cows and horses perhaps?
  • Carnivores, these are those who like to eat meat.  I must admit, I have to have meat in my diet.  I am very partial to pork and chicken.  Now and again, you here news of people who are practising cannibals, meaning they eat people. There are even news that during the Russian famine of the 1920s, food was extremely scarce the peasant started eating human limbs, which were up for sale.  Anything for survival.
  • Omnivores, these are those who eat greens and meat (also chocolates), which are us humans.  We do like a variety in our diet.  Apparently some bears are also known to be omnivores.  We don’t just like to eat grass like cows and carabaos on pasture.  We want a bit of both in our meals.  Roast meat with three vegs.  🙂
  • Insectivores, these are those who eat insects.  Some humans have a penchant for eating insects like locust, crickets, grasshoppers and juicy spiders.  Humans are now giving aardvarks a run for their money.

 

 

Goldfish

Goldfish, photo by PH Morton

Goldfish, Photo by PH Morton

Goldfish

We have kept goldfish in our garden pond since 2006.  I remember digging a hole for the pond during a rather fraught England game during the World Cup 2006.  I must say because of that game we were able to build a pond in just a few hours.  🙂

It was so exciting filling up the pond, watching the flow of water into a thick  black plastic liner.  We were novice about keeping a pond so without much thought, we released a lone red goldfish my son had in an aquarium.

My son then said ‘you might just had killed that goldfish.  You are to wait at least three days for the water to settle and then introduce the fish slowly to acclimatise to the temperature.”

Thank goodness, the fish survived.  He is resilient!

Goldfish is a freshwater fish, they are easy to keep, as we have discovered, therefore, the most popular fish for ponds and aquariums.

There is a myth that goldfish has only a 3-second memory but this is not true.   Our goldfish in our pond know about feeding time.  They have also been a victim of a starving heron, which ate more than half of their numbers.  This so traumatised those who were left behind (including us) that they would not willingly come up the water surface anymore.  We had to put netting near the surface of the pond and this seemed to have reassured the remaining goldfish.

Apparently a study was done by the School of Psychology in the  University of Plymouth.  It was found that goldfish have at least 3 months worth of memory.  They can recognise sound, colours and shapes.

 

Coconut, Tree of Life

Coconuts, photo by Reuben Ortega

Coconut tree, photo by PH Morton

Coconut, Tree of Life

In the Philippines, where I grew up, the coconut is very important that it is considered as the tree of life.

The basic reason is that the tree trunks, the whole fruits they bear, the leaves, in essence the whole tree can be of use to us.

Coconut is big business as well. The Philippines is a second major exporter of copra, which is dried coconut meat/flesh, a good source of coconut oil, which can be used for cooking, shampoo, and ingredients to beauty products and use for medicinal purposes..

The leaves are used to bind and wrap specialty foods like tupig, a much love dessert from the Ilocos region, where some of my ancestors lived.

The long spinedly woody part that runs through the fronds can be gathered up together to make a good stick broom called walis tingting in the Philippines.

The trunk of the tree is solid and strong hence it is known to be used in making wooden bridges and huts.  In fact there is a beautiful building in the Philippines called the Coconut Palace, a project of Imelda Marcos.

The ‘water’ from a young or mature coconut fruit is a delicious thirst quencher.

The shell from the fruit can be made into charcoal.

This is my favourite, have fun polishing your floor and get good exercise by using the coconut husk.

These are just a few where you can use the coconut, the tree of life.

But having said that falling coconuts have killed more people that by shark attacks!

For the Filipino legend, click here.

 

Chayote (Sayote)

Chayote vine, photo by JMorton

Sayote, photo by JMorton

Chayote (Sayote)

Chayote is what is called sayote in the Philippines.  It is also known as vegetable pear worldwide because of its pear shape and colour.  Chayote belongs to the gourd family like cucumber, squash and melon.  Chayote is a rich source of vitamin C.

It is a much love vegetable in the Philippnes as it is very versatile.  It can be stir-fried, lightly stewed and added to many recipes.  It can also a good substitute for the unripe papaya for a chicken soup called tinola.

Sayote is mostly grown in the mountainous part of the Ilocos region in the Philippines.  In fact the photo above is taken while we were trekking the rice terraces of Benguet.

The vine grows supported by chicken wire against a fence.

Taro (Colocasia Esculenta )

Gabi, photo by JMORTON

TARO, PHOTO BY JMORTON

Taro (Colocasia Esculenta )

At the back of our house in Marag, plenty of gabi or taro used to grow.  They grew next to our well (bubon) where the vicinity always has water.

Gabi growing profusely in our backyard was a Godsend.  It was a ready source for a vegetarian viand.  Thank goodness we also had a constant supply of coconuts which goes deliciously with taro.

As children, we were told to treat gabi with respect.  Eaten raw the leaves and stalks can be poisonous as they contain oxalic acid.  The sap that comes out when the stalks and leaves are torn can cause itch.

Croton Punctatum

Punctatum, photo by JMorton

Croton Punctatum

The above plant grows profusely in the Philippines, where the photo was taken.  It is apparently called punctatum of the croton family.

As a young girl, still living in Marag my sister and I would go to our neighbours, who grew the plants in their garden to give us cuttings.  The neighbours were so good to us that they would allow us to turn their once beautiful shrubs hedging their yards into stringy sorry sight of bald shrubs as if a ravenous swarm of locusts had been.  🙂 🙂 🙂

With our treasure of twigs of beautiful narrow verdant green leaves speckled with golden dust, we would dash home and plant these twigs in our front yard.  We would religiously water our new plant for at least a few days and then we forget as by then we moved on to another hobby.  Some of the twigs would live and some dries up and shrivelled under the punishing sun.

I must say that they do make a lovely hedge.  Their bright leaves have golden dusting and they are just beautiful under the sun.

 

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