Category: ECOSYSTEM

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Fury, The Hawk

Bird of Prey

Fury, The Hawk

 

Fury and his handler, photo by JMorton

In Profile

  • Name: Fury
  • Age: 9 Years old
  • Aves: Hawk
  • Occupation: Pest Controller
  • Place of Work: Old Royal Navy College – Greenwich, South London, UK

 

We met Fury and his handler recently whilst on a visit at the Old Royal Navy College to attend a tour of a once in a lifetime opportunity to be up close with the hall and ceiling murals, which is the most extensive work in the UK and can rival Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

Anyway, Fury and his handler were promenading outside the building, alert to any uninvited guests.

Hawk is 9 years old and he regularly patrols the building and its surrounding areas for any marauding pigeons, rats, and other pests, who can create so much deposit of poos and upheavals to wherever they congregate.

Hawks are often used as guardians and mascots of large public building and areas as they are known for their keen eyesight and intelligence.

Fury at just 9, is still a ‘spring chicken’  Hawks in captivity usually live until 20 years of age.

 

Upside Down Ducks

The video below is of upside down ducks.

And please it is not a delicious duck recipe. 🙂

I took the video while we were perambulating at Golders Hill Park in North West London on a sunny day early this spring 2018.

To be honest for a girl, who grew up in a farm, I have never seen ducks feeding in the water in an upside down position. It was rather amazing to see and watch them doing their business.

Upside Down Ducks

@GlobalGranaryVideo

Pomelo (Suha) – Citrus Fruit

Pomelo, photo by Ruben Ortega

Pomelo (Suha) – Citrus Fruit

Pomelo is called suha in Tagalog and dogmon in Ilocano.

It is 3 to 4 times the size of a grapefruit and can be as big as a melon.  In fact pomelo is the largest citrus fruit that it has acquired a scientific name of citrus maxima or citrus grandis.

Pomelo is closely related to the grapefruit, but I actually prefer suha as I find grapefruit can be rather bitter.

The pomelo tree can grow really tall and when it flowers, the little cluster of white blossoms has the most fragrant smell.

Pomelo is rich in vitamin C.  Really juicy and when fully ripen in the tree, it can be very sweet.

But I actually love a pomelo that it still just before it truly ripen.  I love the slight sour taste which a little sprinkle of salt will activate the salivary gland.  Just thinking of this now makes my mouth water. Actually I prefer when the flesh of the pomelo is left to steep in a dish of slightly salty vinegar.  Delicious.

Suha, photo by Ruben Ortega

The juicy flesh here is pink but suha can also be yellowish white.

Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Our good friend and close neighbour Mick regularly supplies us with fresh vegetables grown on his allotment located across the road from us.

Mick has had his allotment for over fifty years, planting vegetables and even fruit trees.

One of my favourite vegetables he grows for harvesting each autumn time is beetroot. Mick grows a popular type called ‘Boltardty AGM’. Boltardy seeds can be sown at various times during the growing year and in most types of soil. It does not have excessive ‘bolting, a gardening term, which means premature sprouting of stalks flowering stem(s). Excessive bolting can divert resources & nutriment from the beetroot and reduce its quality.

All Photos By PH Morton

After harvesting, Mick then produces jars of delicious slightly sweet pickled beetroot for his family and us. We save a jar for Christmas time. Beetroot is perfect to accompany Christmas meals.  This year, Mick invited me to harvest some of his beetroot. He then showed us how to make his ‘signature’ pickled beetroot. I took various photos from harvesting to our jars filled with delicious picked beetroot. Under Mick’s tutelage and help, Jean & I enjoyed producing our own jars of this delicious vegetable. Making pickled beetroot is quite simple & straightforward. 🙂

If using homegrown beetroots from garden or allotment etc., a good time to harvest is from 50 to 70 days after planting. Avoid letting the beetroot get too big. A hand or tennis ball size is ideal. Do not let the stalks/stems bolt or grow above 6 inches (15cms). Dig around the beetroot and pick up avoiding breaking the stalk/greens from the beetroot.

Thoroughly clean & wash the dirt off and trim the stalks/stems short. Again do not pull out the stems, as water can get into the beetroot and damage it when boiling prior to pickling.

Harvested fresh beetroot can be stored in a refrigerator for about seven days.

Depending how many beetroots you are pickling, you will require:-

  1. Pickling /preserve jars with airtight lids. The normal size is around 500ml, or as large as you want. Most hardware stores will supply.
  2. Pickling vinegar, which comes in 1.4 litre size. Most larger supermarkets etc supply.
  3. Brown or white sugar granules to sweeten the vinegar taste to your choice.

Place the beetroots in a suitably sized saucepan(s) and cover with water.

Boil for two hours.

Carefully strain off the water and either allow air cooling or running cold water over the beetroots then dry.

Completely remove remaining stalks/roots etc.

The boiled soft skin of the beetroot does not need to be peeled with a knife as can be easily removed by hand.

Cut or slice the beetroot to whatever size you prefer.

Pour in small amount sugar, then add a small measure of the pickling vinegar, enough to cover the first layer of the slices of beetroot into the bottom of the jar.  Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar (to taste) then add another layer, pour pickling vinegar, then another layer, sugar, pickling vinegar until it reaches the top of the jar.

Close the jar, gently shake it then turn it upside down and leave for about 30 minutes. This will allow the vinegar and sugar to seep through the beetroot. Top up with the pickling vinegar if needed to completely cover the sliced beetroot in the jar.

If you want you can label the jar with day & month of pickling.

Home made pickled beetroot can be kept for 6 weeks to 3 months, refrigerated.
In practice, it can be longer.

But if you store them beyond 3 months and you’re worried, check for signs of spoilage (rising bubbles, cloudy liquid, unnatural colour) and don’t eat or taste.

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.

 

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