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

August 24, 2013

I SO Want One of These In My Dream Home!

Filed under: Audley End House,ENGLAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you ask two Foodies like my Singaporean friend “Velvetine” and I which part of Audley End House we would like most to replicate in our if-we-won-the-lottery dream homes, we would be sitting debating for a while to decide if it would be the Kitchens we have just visited or the Kitchen gardens we have discovered now.

Seriously, I really want a garden like this one day (ok I may have to scale down my vision just a little LOL) Therefore I first opted for the kitchen garden but changed my mind and decided to be greedy:

I sooo want both.  I’m delighted to see that the Audley End kitchen garden is also organic…

An information board tells me:

The kitchen garden at Audley End provided a continual supply of fruit, vegetables and flowers for the household.

It was established in the mid-18th century, and grew to a peak of productivity around 1900, when it covered nearly 9 acres. The restoration of the kitchen garden is the result of a special partnership between English Heritage and Garden Organic . Europe’s leading organic gardening organisation.

The framework of the garden, including the  path layout and glasshouses, has been restored by English Heritage. A team of gardeners from Garden Organic is creating a working example of a walled Victorian kitchen, demonstrating the best of both the past and the future. Organic gardeners use practical, effective, environment friendly alternatives to artificial fertilisers and pesticides – harnessing natural systems to create healthy, attractive gardens.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The original glass-house was built in 1856 to the designs of Thomas River to house fruit trees in pots, especially peaches. The present glasshouse is a replica, built in 2001.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Historic garden. This is the historic core of the garden and  and is being authentically restored and managed as it would have been around 1900, with vegetables, fruit and flowers of the period.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Vinery. The magnificent vinery, one of the largest and earliest surviving in the country is back in full production, with it’s historic vines and  and a central show house for flowers and exotics.

I find it really interesting that the glass roof of the vinery follows the pattern of the large wall that runs along the back side of it…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Back sheds. Tucked out of sight behind the vinery’s array of glass, this row of buildings formed the heart of the working garden, The potting shed and tool shed are once again in use and the mushroom  mushroom house and the boilerhouse have been opened up to  visitors.

These sheds are neatly tucked along the wall, (the other side of which has the vinery along the length of it.)

In the 19th century, two apprentice gardeners lived here in the bothy.

Bothy Garden. This part of the garden kitchen garden is planted with ornamental plants that are beneficial to wildlife, as well as being attractive to look at. the large grassed in the centre of the garden is bordered with heritage apples trees.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 7, 2012

Mike’s Beer…. Organic, Whisky,Coffee, Imperial or Pale Ale Brew?

Filed under: Beer,PHOTOGRAPHY,Reviews,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Beer, glorious beer! Of course we are looking at the main product of Mike’s Brewery… There are Porters, Pale Ales, specialist beers like Whisky, Coffee  or Imperial Porters, which are limited editions in individually numbered bottled and all organic! I’m no beer drinker but we bought some to take with us for Himself to enjoy and review later and Himself said he was very pleased with his selection because everything he bought tasted very good.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 6, 2012

Beer, Pies, Coffee and the Longest Chip We’ve Ever Seen…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are just north of Urenui, on the east coast of  New Zealand’s North Island and visiting the White Cliff Estate organic brewery, a.k.a. Brewery Mike’s.

Lunch has just arrived and whilst fries are not healthy, they and the pies are welcome on a hot day after our car journey.

Himself washes his food down with a beer and pronounces it very favourable indeed but the one for the road is definitely a coffee.

Kiwi Daughter scores the longest French fry we have ever seen, she holds it up to her face and it reaches from her forehead to just past her chin.

I then get a series of photographs where she tips her head back and tries to swallow it whole like she’s eating a Dutch pickled herring. I’ve deleted her face from one of the photos to give you and idea of  how long it was, the top is by her forehead and the bottom reaches past her chin. That must have been one massive potato!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 5, 2012

A Comfortable Look Inside…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It was a hot Taranaki day when we stopped in at Brewery Mike’s for lunch.

I can’t remember now if the old hall used to be a schoolhouse or if it was an RSA  (Returned Serviceman’s Association) Hall but either way it’s been well decorated for it’s present use, there are relaxing seating areas inside as well as out.

There  is a small display of local art (Kiwi Daughter spent some pocket money buying one of the paintings  in the photo) and some interesting old photos of local brewing, but since our food was arriving at the table outside I forget to check if  these were photos taken of this brewing family or not.

The place is cool in the summer heat and by the looks of the log burner in the corner surrounded by sofas, it’s probably pretty comfortable  in the winter too.

I like that not only is the beer organic but they stock a few organic snacks too, for example organic chocolate. Let’s take a look around.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 4, 2012

Stopping in at Mike’s for a Brew….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

An easy drive down the coast near the small town of  Urenui,  Himself suddenly spies a large sign on the roof of a building that says “brewery” and as the beer drinker in the family he’s suddenly finding himself very interested in a break from the road, a hearty lunch accompanied… possibly, very strangely coincidently…. by a beer.

We have stumbled upon Brewery Mike’s White Cliff Estate organic brewery…

We pull in to find an old hall that”s been converted into a  beer shop and café, a massive deck has been built out the front and it’s been covered with a sail-like canopy so there is ample shade, excellent for a scorching day like today.

The kids want to run round on the large lawn at the front but after a few circuits and a quick investigation of the outer edges they decide it’s just too hot and come and flop at the table with a cold drink and waiting for the food to arrive.

We place our orders and take a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 7, 2012

Blues and Red Hot Blues… WOW!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sunshine Organics in the small town of Maungaturoto in Northland New Zealand is the place where I found these next gems

Blue tortilla chips are made from blue organic corn  (ALL new  discoveries for me!) and are to die for!

We tried the Blue chips first and thought “ooooh Bliss!!” … Then we tried the Red Hot Blues and I had to pinch myself to see if I hadn’t actually died and gone to heaven.

Just enough heat to make you go weak at the knees and have your taste-buds soar but  not so much that it rips your insides to bits… perfection!

I’m not mobile enough to go looking for these here in The Hague, but once I am this is the item I’d hang just out of arms reach in front of the treadmill and be prepared to walk kilometres for. … or just say heck and grab the bag and make myself decadently comfortable with the bag on the sofa LOL.

Annoyingly I was sure I’d photographed the makers details on the back of the package but can’t find the photo anywhere at the moment… but if I find it later I’ll  be sure to slot it into this post.

I dare you to find the nearest organics shop to you JUST for the hope that they stock THESE CHIPS   (at the very least) … you won’t be sorry!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 6, 2012

A Healthy Way of By-Passing the Supermarket’s Tricks of the Trade…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sunshine Organics in the small Northland town of Maungaturoto is a find that delights me… and talking to the owner I’m becoming more aware of many of the tricks of the trade the supermarkets employ to separate you from more of your hard earned cash than is actually necessary.

One of these tricks is to sell you what would be one of your regular staple bulk products in a little bag. For instance: 500g  (1 lb) of rice… or 200g  or a cup of nuts.

Supermarkets charge a completely disproportionate price for the small amount when it’s far more cost effective for the customer to buy exactly the same  rice or nuts loose from bulk bins.

I watched as the owner was busy getting her bulk bins filled up and since I always manage to find something “arty” in food, the textures and forms of the items intrigued me so I  used the zoom lens on my camera to get up close and personal with this foodie textural art.

I also learned that whilst organic products are at the moment more expensive than non-organic, that buying from bulk bins like these gives the customer such a big saving  over  the supermarket  small plastic bag counterparts that the over-all cost is  still  less for the customer. That tells me a lot about just how big the mark-up is on these items in the supermarket chains.

This is one time that “supersizing”  a product (meant in the best sense) and getting away from tiny bags of plastic is a good  thing!

Apparently it hasn’t taken long for some in the local community here to figure this out either, and these items are a top seller in the shop. The good thing is too, that  turnover is quick so you are constantly getting fresh stock.  I love the shapes and textures that these make…  let’s look at my impromptu Bulk Bin Art Exhibition!

Basmati Brown Rice…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Dried Banana !…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Quick Cook Rolled Oats…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(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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