Monday, November 26, 2012

Good garlic

One of the mysteries of life I frequently contemplate is the almost impossibility of buying garlic grown in Australia in Australia, especially in the Colesworths of the world. Why is this so? We seem to be able to grow and sell everything else, but when it comes to garlic - no can do. Does anyone out there know the reason?
I'm a bit dubious about imported garlic. I have vague recollections of reports that Chinese garlic and like are fumigated/sprayed to pieces to prevent them rotting. Spooky.
Never mind, garlic is easy to grow. It only takes up a square metre or so in the garden. This is about half of the garlic I've grown for this year, more to come. Just in a nick of time too, as I had just about used up last year's garlic. The garlic bulbs are now drying off in the sun. Then they'll be stored in a basket in the pantry, where they seem to do ok for nearly a year.
Meanwhile, the coffee dehusking carries on. Last night, for example, I sat down for about 45 minutes and dehusked a couple of handfuls of coffee beans. Remember, this is done bean by bean with your fingers. After 45 minutes I decided to weigh the results. 16 grams - only! I weighed all the beans Action Man, myself and the kids had done over the last week - 180 grams! Yep, this is a slow old process. The only way to approach it is to come over all Zen-like and treat it as a daily meditation.  We have heaps more beans drying and on the bushes still to dry. I can see myself dehusking coffee for months, years maybe after which time I'll be a Zen master. Or something like that!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to process coffee beans - Part 2

So, you've picked your coffee beans. You've popped them out of their soft red outer shell. You've left them to ferment in a bit of water for a day or so. You are ready for the next stage - here is the first batch of coffee beans for the season drying in the sun in my garden sieve. It's the best thing I've found for the job so far.
The slimy coating on the fresh coffee bean has dried and hardened. Now to getting that dry outer shell off. No, sadly, kbenco, I have no magic method for making this task less tedious. While the initial peeling of the beans prior to drying is kind of fun and addictive (a bit like popping bubble plastic, or is that just me?), dehusking coffee beans is hard graft, because each bean has to be done INDIVIDUALLY. This hasn't been too onerous to date, because our harvests have never been that big. This year however, we have heaps, easily four times more than usual. Hmmm - child labour/bribery might be in order here.

Bridget - We planted our coffee bushes nearly 10 years ago. They were slow to grow to start with. From memory, I think we started picking coffee beans in the third year. They are now each over 2 metres tall.

Tracy - The homegrown coffee, once you finally get to the brewing stage, tastes just great. So, I guess it is all worth the time and trouble.

Thanks too to everyone re comments on my lack-of-work situation. We are very fortunate in that we  manage ok on one income - I know so many families rely on two incomes. And I fully intend to  use this gift of spare time to the max, because who knows what's round the corner? I can't control the economy, but I can control my attitude.

Monday, November 19, 2012

How to process coffee beans - Part 1

 After issues with cameras, then computers dying, then simply getting out of the habit of looking at the world with my blog spectacles on (ie. thinking "I'll put this on the blog", then taking the appropriate picture etc. etc.), it's been a prolonged absence. But here I am. Let's crack on shall we?
We've started picking coffee, and 2012 looks like the best season yet. We have three bushes, and with the high rainfall of the last couple of years, all the bushes have grown substantially and are covered with berries.
I would put growing coffee beans in the novelty category of self-sufficiency. Three bushes is no where near enough for caffeine self-sufficency for us. More than that, without machinery, processing the berries is labour intensive. Any more beans than what we have and the novelty would wear off, well and truly.
This is the first batch of beans for the season (the berries don't ripen at the same rate on the tree, thank goodness, otherwise this would be completely undoable). We've just taken the soft red outer skin of the berry off. Then, into a bowl with a bit of water to ferment for a day or so, before they go into a tray in the sun to allow the slimy coating to harden.

It's been an interesting couple of months here workwise at Spades and Spoons. I lost my job suddenly, but not unexpectedly, in May. Since then I have been looking for work without success. I'm guessing a combination of a depressed local economy, and let's face it, my age, are against me. I can't think of another reason. This has never happened to me before - I've always found work when I wanted to work. This time, it's different and it is difficult not to get despondent about it at times.
What irks me most, though, is the reaction of people to my jobless status, normally people who do not know me. "Don't you get bored?" they ask, as if it my choice to not have a job. Actually, no, boredom is not a problem I have. (I am never quick enough to reply "Jobs are for people who get bored easily!") Nope, boredom is not the problem. There is too much to do, and I have too many interests. Indeed, the upside of being jobless is that I've been able to pursue those interests. Another upside is I feel a lot healthier than I did this time last year when I was pretty much working full time.
So it's not all bad.  I'll just keep plugging away with applications that don't get acknowledged, and keep hoping that Christmas will bring me a job!

Lastly - Blogger tells me this is my 300th post! Yay!