Local Heart, Global Soul

August 8, 2014

Diversification Comes Naturally…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are having a quiet rest day in Platania  when my sister-in-law asks me if I would maybe mind to do a favour for one of their friends in the village.

Like many Greeks, the locals here have had a difficult time in the economic crisis and we have heard many of stories of  hard times and forced diversification.

For instance after government cut-backs meant withdrawal of subsidies for physiotherapy treatments, many patients faced with the full tariff simply cancelled their treatments because they could no longer afford them.

In turn the physiotherapist has become the local odd-job man, turning his hand at various D.I.Y. needs in the local region to make his own ends meet.

He is not alone, some people in the village apparently have several part time jobs, some seasonal, some year round and many former professionals in the district now survive by the same method.

Unlike in the big cities, people here have the advantage of  having their own garden plots and chickens as an important way to keep within budget.

The tourist trade, partly because of bad press about Greece and unrest in cities like Athens at the time contributed to a roughly thirty percent downturn in tourist trade (at least this was so in 2012) and local businesses across the board were feeling the pinch.

Nikos, The owner of  Des Roses Hotel in Platania has been interested in ecologically friendly tourism for a long time now a some years back began hosting local eco-tours and then int0 making his own soap products with local organically grown herbs, flowers and spices and fresh local olive oil.

The favour that is being asked is that Nikos’s website needs updating and could I maybe help out by taking some photographs for him to use please?

I was delighted to be of help and immediately got a demonstration from Nikos on how to make natural, organic and amazing soap. The process begins with his own crops of organically grown thyme, lavender, myrrh, bay-leaves, roses, camomile, rosemary, mint and geraniums. Each of these is harvested and put into large jars, which are then filled with pure olive oil. This is then closed and left to infuse for at least two months.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The colours in the jars are like jewels. the smell when the lid comes off is amazing…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Let the soap making process begin…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The infused oil (in this case it’s lavender)  is strained though a sieve into a large pan…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You need to get every drop of oil but sieve out the lavender bits (they have done their job).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

More olive oil is added…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now starts the stirring process… the liquid at this stage is very yellow in colour and thin in consistency…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The stirring process thickens it very slowly…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And the colour slowly but surely changes to a soft creamy yellow…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now it’s noticeably thicker…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Time to add a little bit of Vitamin E oil…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And stir well until it’s well mixed…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The tray for the bars has been lined and prepared…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And the mixture is now poured into the tray…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are too many photographs for one post so I will continue with Nikos’s demonstration tomorrow…

http://www.greecepelion.com/desroses/

http://www.peliondesroses.gr/desrosessoapactivities-en.pdf

May 15, 2012

Lemon & Paeroa …Seeing What the Fizz is About…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Welcome to my retro tour of New Zealand, Family Kiwidutch were there in December 2011 – Janurary 2012 and after weeks in Christchurch taking care of  the house we own there (damaged by the recent spate of earthquakes) and catching up with family and friends for Christmas, we are now heading to the north of the North Island to see more family and friends.

Because I’m familiar with an iconic Kiwi product and we are passing “close-ish” by, I’m keen to see the place that quite literally made it’s name with the unique product it produces.

This is why we have arrived in the small town of Paeroa …   “World famous in New Zealand”  as the adverts always cheekily proclaimed,  for their product called “Lemon & Paeroa” , or the nick-name by which  Kiwi’s  affectionately know it:  “L&P“.

O.K. First you need to know that Lemon & Paeroa is a fizzy soft drink.  The “lemon”  bit is of course self explanatory,  the “Paeroa ” bit is not only the name of the town but also refers in this instance to the naturally sparking mineral water that was found in Paeroa  in 1904.

In 1908  Robert Fewell and Frank Brinkler bought the land where the spring originated and started a company called  the “Paeroa Natural Mineral Water Company”  and bottled the spring water. At some point after 1915  lemon was added to the sparkling mineral water and the newly flavoured drink went on to become a New Zealand icon.

The company went through various ownership changes from 1915 until eventually it was bought out by Coca Cola who still make the product today.

I have to admit that I have mostly preferred my L&P as a mixer rather than straight up,  but that said,  it’s great on a really hot day when you want something to quench a thirst and it’s brilliantly excellent added into both alcoholic and non-alcoholic party punch bowls.

Even if you found a Kiwi who’d never tried the drink (um…does one exist?) then chances are high that they would still instantly recognise it and it’s distinctive brown yellow and red bottle.

Naturally it’s no surprise to find a few mega-sized examples of the towns most famous product around town, there are two that I know of … we saw both but traffic obscured the other one and I couldn’t get a  good shot of it without leaving the car in said traffic.

Considering that at this point the rain was hammering down,  I have to confess that I took the far easier option and wound down the window and did a few point and shoot’s of the other one from the dry comfort of the van’s passenger seat.

I still like to have a Lemon & Paeroa  every now and again for old time’s sake, and I do miss it if  want to make my favourite party punch recipe, so I’m delighted to have finally visited the place where New Zealand’s iconic “Lemon & Paeroa”  was born.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 10, 2012

Making Amazing Soap from Dried Fruit… Are You Nuts?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When I first saw these little round hard nuts in a basket I had no clue what I was looking at.

Reading the information card next to them was an eye opener because although they might be called “soap nuts” they are actually the dried  fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree which is found in the Himalayas.

Apparently these fruits/soap nuts are an excellent cleaning product, since they are natural, organic, biodegradable (in that they can be composted after use) and have the added bonus of having antibacterial properties.

Wow, talk about nature’s basket of tricks and wonders!

A little further research tells me that using these nuts in your washing machine will get your clothes clean, using them in your dishwasher will get your dishes clean and there are even on-line recommendations for use as shampoo and as a general household cleaning  product.

The one thing to get used to is that this stuff doesn’t produce all the bubbles and lather that we are all familiar with our modern cleansing products, but that’s more of an advertising tactic in synthetic compound formulations  to convince consumers that the product is “working”. Therefore a little patience to get used to seeing less bubbles and change of mind-set is needed on the part of new Soap Nut users.

I also read that the nuts can be used as is, a few at a time out of the bag and then composted, or a bulk amount can be boiled down to make a concentrated liquid that you could then use as you would other washing liquids.

Your soap nut liquid can then be diluted for use as shampoo or left concentrated if you want to use it as a household cleaner and then  perfumed as/if you wish with the addition of essential oils.

Another thing that really interests me are soap nuts anti-insecticidal properties: apparently the soap from Soap Nuts repels mosquitoes and other insects. (I love this if it works, because both Kiwi Daughter and myself are allergic to mosquitoes).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since both Himself and my families were unwillingly genetically well-endowed with a long list of allergies, I’m also delighted to see that Soap nuts appear to be excellent for people with allergies,  sensitive skin issues or skin diseases such as dermatitis or eczema,

I’ve long since given up trying  beautifully perfumed soaps and entire commercial ranges of cosmetics because after trying a tester (or a product if it happened to be a gift) I’ve often been left with bright red, blotchy, irritated and painfully itchy skin.

Whilst commercial ranges of cosmetics available for those of us with allergies and eczema have grown amazingly in recent decades I still especially struggle with laundry powders, especially when we are away from home and the product used is beyond my control.

I know that it’s not realistic for us to try and bring Soap Nuts back to the Netherlands in our already bulging suitcases, but I will add them to my list of things to find back in The Netherlands and give them a go for myself.  We are however on our way to visit a friend who I know is really into organic products and trying to live a healthier, greener lifestyle so we pick up a bag of Soap Nuts as a gift for her, along with some other natural soaps here in the holistic shop.

Isn’t it amazing the wonders that Mother Nature serves up? … not only in the big and powerful as in the geothermal area we are staying in but also packing an organic clean punch  in little round, soapy packages, that quite literally grow on trees.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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