Archive for August, 2009

A hand up not a handout

helping-hand-logo

We have just made our fourth loan through  KIVA!

When we started our retail business we decided we would donate  a portion of our profits  to charity, but this is even better.

Kiva is an organization that gives micro loans to small business owners the world over.

We have given loans to four people so far.  One to a Tailor in  Sierra Leone, one for construction in Cambodia,  our third was to a woman in  Nigeria who owns a food market.   This week we made our fourth loan to an apricot seller in Tajikistan. ( I had to look up where that is exactly in the atlas, the former U.S.S.R)

Kiva is in the business of helping people help themselves. I read on  Kiva’s site that the impact made this week is equivalent to one  loan made every 14 seconds!  people like me and you, loaned over 4.4 million dollars in April alone!

There are  many ways to help people help themselves.  We support a local man who sells “The Megaphone” This is a bi-weekly paper  sold by homeless or underemployed and street involved people in our city.   In a city the size of Vancouver there are lots of problems but there are people working together for a solution.

Another organization we support wholeheartedly is The Canadian Flowers for Food Society Homeless people are given donated flowers to sell, the profits are for their own use.

These are just three ways people can help others to make a change in their situation and still maintaining their dignity.  We can all find ways to give back to our local or global communities. You will never regret lending your time or  money when in your heart you know you have done it with honest intentions of helping others. The rewards are instant and immeasurable.

06-18-09-rose-garden-004

PEACE and LOVE

Local fruit in abundance!

08-16-09-plums-003

This years unusually warm summer has left us with tans  and a bumper crop of yellow plums!  We have a neighbour on one side of the house with half a dozen fruit trees, and many branches are on our side so we have been gifted with many, many plums!

The trick has been to try and get them daily so not to attract too many wasps!

I have already made plum jam with a batch of red plums from the front garden, so now we move on to plum sauce!

08-16-09-plums-002I was looking at some history of plums and read that plums are the second most cultivated fruit in the world, second only to apples. Chinese are said to believe plums symbolized good fortune.  It has meant good fortune for us so far as well. I will post my recipe once I have canned all these sweet plums this week!

We’re jamming

Not the Bob Marley kind, the fruit kind!

07-29-09plums

Last week in the blazing sun I decided to harvest our plum tree.

Well it was not my decision exactly. The plums were dropping off the tree at a rate so fast the skunks, squirrels and rats couldn’t keep up!

We gathered about six pounds for our first batch.

Once I had them in the house I needed a recipe. I looked online and was able to find many different ones, some calling for pectin or equal parts sugar to plums. There are various ideas on how to seal the jars once sterilised and how exactly to sterilise the jars in the first place. Luckily I do have some experience in the jamming and canning department as my family made jams and canned tomatoes when I was young. That kind of experience, namely a cold room full of strawberry jam, will have a lasting impression on a kid.

I first decided that I would not add pectin, a gelling agent commonly used in the canning process. Many recipes online said that plums have an enormous amount of pectin naturally and as long as you add some unripe fruit you should have no problem with the jam setting.

I also decided to use the local honey I bought in June from a family near me.

I already had the jars, snap lids, metal canning pot and a strong desire for jam, so I was set!

I washed the fruit, but did not pit it, next time I will, or at least blanch the fruit and pit it first as it is a huge job to remove the pits once the fruit is cooked.

I boiled the fruit in enough water to cover it, on a high temperature.

07-30-09-plum-jam-002

Once the fruit was soft I drained and pitted it and returned it to the heat. I  added honey, about one cup to the three cups of fruit pulp. I boiled the mixture again for a while. Many sites recommend using a candy thermometer to check the temperature, but I just went on instinct. The jam thickened.

07-30-09-plum-jam-005

While I cooked the jam I  washed the jars  in hot soapy water and boiled them in hot water.  I then put them in the oven on a low temperature to dry for about a half hour. I also boiled the lids and rings to seal the jars.

07-30-09-plum-jam-004

I used the standard plate test to check if the jam was set. This simply means you need to put a few plates in the freezer, and once you are ready to test the jam, put a little on a cold plate and return it to the freezer for a few minutes. When you take the jam out run your finger over the jam or slightly push the jam, if it wrinkles it is set, if not, cook a little longer.

07-30-09-plum-jam-003The final step was to pour the jam into the jars,leaving a few fingers width of space on top and  being careful not to touch the inside of the jars with anything as not to contaminate it.  Then add the lids, rings and tighten the jars and put them into the canner and boil for ten minutes.

The end result was two jars of sweet and beautiful plum jam! There is something extra delicious about home made jam on toast, in cookies, or on pancakes.

07-30-09-plum-jam-008

a little bit of summer in a jar?

08-02-09-crabapple-004

Now what to do with the rest of them?

URBNgreen
URBNgreen is committed to education and environmental stewardship. Our objective is share information about what people are doing locally and around the world to create a sustainable future.
Archives
delicate little plant in need of freedom. Einstein quote at DailyLearners.com