We asked for blackberry recipes and that's what we got! Our community worker happens to enjoy some time in the kitchen so has had great fun with this particular challenge. Keep an eye out for more of her blackberry recipes on the way. Over to you Alex...
Super Simple Fruit Compote
Fruit compotes are a great way to use up leftover fruits. Soft fruits like berries are ideal! Compotes are super simple and easy to adapt the recipe to what you have in the house...
Mix and match flavourings
For this mini-jar I used frozen foraged blackberries, a drop of orange juice, honey and mint from the garden.
1. Add the fruit to a pan over a medium heat. Allow the fruit to soften completely, stirring occasionally. Depending on the water content of the fruit you may like to add a splash of water or juice to help get things going.
2. Your mixture should gradually turn to an almost jam-like consistency, give it a taste and add whichever flavours you fancy! Some berries can be quite sharp so you may want to add something to sweeten it up a little. You won't need much to make a difference. Taste again and play with flavours until you're happy.
3. That's it. Enjoy! Fruit compote can be used as an alternative as jam but will only last for a few days in the fridge as it doesn't have all the preservatives in it. Don't waste any of this yummy concoction, only make what you need!
We had family coming over and wanted a little treat with a cup of tea. However, post lockdown people might be feeling a little wary of their waist lines... So I made wholemeal honey scones as an alternative to cake! This fruit compote is a tasty alternative to sugar filled jam and counts towards your five a day. If you were really pushing the boat you could swap the clotted cream for greek yoghurt but sometimes clotted cream is the right and only answer!
Jo topped the scones... I would have done it the right way and put compote first, OBVIOUSLY!
Check back tomorrow for more!
Tips, tips, community tips!!! These are making us very happy... Got to love it when the community get involved.
We're keeping things short and simple today, with this top tip from Ryan. As many of us do, Ryan's family had 2 cars. Recently they've made the decision get rid of the second car, making the effort to cycle when possible and using the moped when needs must. Great job team, keep up the good work!
We know this can be a big step and that's OK. We've all got to start somewhere, even baby steps are a step in the right direction. We're all human, perfection is practically impossible, just do the best that you can with what's right for you.
Some tips for getting started...
Did you know that 1 in 4 car journeys are less than a mile... A mile can be easily walked in 20 minutes, even at a beginner's pace. It's been recommended that we try to fit 30 minutes of moderate activity into our day - that can include walking. If you cut out a 1 mile car journey and replace it with a walk, the walk there and back again counts as you daily exercise!
Why not try a car share? If you've got a colleague who lives nearby, why not take it into turns to drive and share the commute... Admittedly, you may have to wait until covid regulations ease before giving this one a go.
Plan a bike ride for your family day out! Most of us like some quality time with loved ones at the weekend. Leave the motor behind, pump up your bike tyres and you're away! This could be just a little spin around the local area or off on a day long jolly. Bristol, Bath and surrounding areas have great cycle tracks to explore with more than a few pit stops selling tasty treats along the way.
See you tomorrow!
Watch out Gordon Ramsey... Move over Jamie Oliver... There's a new chef on the scene!
Thank you to Rosie, age 12 - superstar chef and her friend Grace - future camerawoman for their fantastic video on how to make blackberry and apple fool... Using foraged blackberries of course!
Serves 4. Prep time 15 mins, cook time 5 mins.
1 large dessert apple, peeled, cored and chopped
A few drops of vanilla essence
3 - 4 tbsp of clear honey
1 egg white
4 - 5 tbsp thick Greek yoghurt
Mint leaves - optional
Not only is this delicious dessert easy to prepare it is low in calories and packed full of vitamin c!
1. Place the apple, vanilla and honey in a pan and cook gently until just softened. Add the blackberries (keep back a few for decoration) and cook gently until all the fruit is soft.
2. Put a couple of blackberries in the base of each serving dish. Leave the rest until cold. Then gently mash or lightly beat the fruit together without turning it into a puree.
3. Whisk the egg white until standing in peaks and fold this into the fruit mixture along with the yoghurt, but don't fold too much.
4. Divide evenly between the four serving dishes and leave to chill. Serve the blackberry and apple fool decorated with the remaining fruit and mint leaves.
See you tomorrow!
Question time. How many jars of chutneys, jams and pickles do you get at Christmas? You know the ones, all the fancy flavours that you find at the Christmas markets... Jars of special somethings in stylish hampers... The cute layered cake mixes you might get as a gift from the cousin you see once a year...
Now add in all the jars you buy during the year to keep your store cupboard well stocked. That's a fair few jars collected right? Now what are you going to do with them? Stick them in the recycling?
Well that is one option but it's far better to repurpose and reuse them in some way. With a little creative thinking a plain boring old jar could be just the thing you need around the house. Or maybe you could fill them up with goodies, pretty them up a bit with some ribbon and make beautiful homemade gifts for loved ones.
Here's a few ideas...
Make sure to give them a good clean before you repurpose them and you're good to go! If you're going to use them to store foods make sure you sterilise them before each use.
Sterilising is easy. Pop your oven on to 150 - 160 degrees C. While your oven is heating up give the jars and lids a wash in hot soapy water, then rinse, leaving upside down on the draining board. When the oven has reached temperature place them on a baking tray and 'bake' for about 10 minutes. Providing they are dry fill them as soon as you can so you don't risk contaminating the freshly sterilised jars.
That's it for now. Make sure to check back as we've got some great community tips and recipes on the way!
Time to get picking!
Yep, as we said earlier throughout this September we'll keep coming back to the themes of community tips and recipes around foraged fruits.
We've picked blackberries in particular as they are easily recognisable and easy to find, therefore a great option for foraging beginner's. Other easy to spot fruits for beginners are apples and pears. The best time to pick these will depend on the variety, just get exploring and see what's local to you. Wapley Bushes where Alex visited earlier today have all 3 so you can grab yourself a free fruity feast!
For some great foraging tips visit last year's post Foraging Fun... Blackberries are super common so you shouldn't have much trouble finding a patch to call your own. They grow on hedgerows, woodlands, along the roadside or maybe even hiding behind the fences to your back garden. We wouldn't recommend picking blackberries that are close to busy roads though, they might look tasty but exhaust fumes won't make them the healthiest of crops.
Blackberries typically are at their peak in late August and early September so make a great late summer treat... Like Alex said in the video the weather brought them on early in a lot of places so go and nab yours before you miss out. We picked our first crop at the end of July!
Check back tomorrow for the first of our blackberry recipes. We'd love to see yours too, so please send them in either by email, facebook or visit the community drop in. Meanwhile, just for the fun of it...
Blackberry myths and legends...
Never pick blackberries after September 29th (Michaelmas Day)! The devil fell from heaven on Michaelmas Day and landed in a blackberry bush. In his anger he exacted his revenge by urinating on it... Yuck.
Blackberries were the downfall of Belleraphon, a Greek hero. He rode Pegasus to Mount Olympus only to be thrown into a bramble bush. He was blinded by the thorns so wandered alone and sightless ever after…
Whether you believe it or not there are some lessons in folklore. Poor wet and cold conditions in October can cause the fruit to spoil and you definitely want to watch out for the prickles when you're blackberrying!
Get picking... Get freezing what you don't use straight away... Enjoy!
Reference: Country File
Hooray... Another community tip!!!! These make us very happy.
Today's community tip is actually from Ruth - AAG's secretary. And it's a simple one, one we should really already know and do but somehow, some of us forget.
When it's dark...
And you walk into a room, turn this on...
When you leave...
Turn it off again...
Told you it was simple.
So simple we're going to add a little extra tip in, we'll even tell a story with it.
Our tip is when you pick up a good habit that saves you money and saves the planet... Teach someone else. Because then there are 2 of you saving the planet and feeling a little more financially smug. If both of you then teach another person, that's four people saving the planet and feeling financially smug.
Ruth is a very good lady who always remembers to turn off lights when she leaves the room. That's 1 person turning off their lights. Richard, sometimes forgets... so Ruth reminds him. Sadly, he still forgets.
So Ruth taught Rosie and Ellen to turn off the lights when they leave the room instead. That's 3 people turning off their lights and sometimes they also turn off Richard's lights. Hooray!!! Richard still sometimes forgets...
Ruth came in to the office and talked about ideas for the sustainability blog and said it's a good idea to turn your lights off when you leave the room. Alex wrote it in the sustainability blog! So now that's Abbotswood residents, Alex, Ruth, Ellen and Rosie all turning off their lights when they leave the room.
Well done Ruth, good work! Together we'll save the planet one light switch at a time... And maybe along the way we can all remind Richard...
Lights off for now and see you again tomorrow!
With the world turning more and more to technology and our happy habits for 'retail therapy' libraries need our support now more than ever... Once you're in the door they can support you just as much as you support them!
Libraries and book swaps aren't exactly a new concept so why aren't more of using them? Save your pocket by reading a book that someone has already read, then pass it along to someone who hasn't.
Chances our your local library is offering a lot more than just a few thousand or so books to browse. Yate Library is a fantastic community resources just waiting for your visit. Pre lockdown you could use their computers, bring your little ones to story time, be part of the poetry group or speak to Bevan Evemy for some free legal advice. And that's just a small fraction of the list! They're in the process of reopening some of their services so make sure you take a look!
Summer Reading Challenge...
We're proud to be supporting the summer reading challenge!
This is a fantastic annual event to get your kids enjoying reading! Challenge bags include reading suggestions, even e-books count, and some fun arts and crafts. Perhaps you would like to join Mason and accessorize your silly squad giraffe...
For your summer reading challenge bags or pyjamama bags if you've got pre-schoolers, you can pop over to the library, see Alex at our community drop in or join is near the Abbotswood play equipment on Friday 11th September from 2.30pm.
What will you be reading?
See you again tomorrow!
Not that we want to lower the tone in anyway... We have some very serious business to attend to...
Naturally as humans we have to spend a few minutes every day on the loo... A good time to think about the important things in life, right? Well, have you ever thought about how green your toilet habits are? And no, that's not green as in you might need to see a doctor... We mean green as in environmentally friendly.
Think green like Barbara!
We've been asking around for tips and tricks from the community on how to live sustainably. Our lovely friend Barbara has given toilet trips a fair bit of thought and has come up with a way to make them a little better for the planet.
Being the nice, tidy, clean people that we are - we all go about our business, press the flush and give our hands a thoroughly good scrub. All good. Well we learnt today that flushing toilets accounts for almost a third of household water usage. A third!!
Now then, you might like to invest in a low-flush toilet. You know the ones, where you've got 2 different flush presses... One for a quick swirl after spending a penny and a bigger gush for when things may need a little extra help around the U-bend... Fair enough, a worthy investment and will save you water along the way.
Or you could you just not flush it...
The sink to the rescue!
You still have to wash your hands, silly. On top of the third of household water going literally down the pan, you've got extras going down the drain every time you tidy up after yourself.
The tip is simple. When you're finished, don't pull the flush. Instead make sure you've got a washbowl available to prop up in the sink, so the water goes into the bowl and not down the plughole. Give your hands the good scrub they deserve then empty the bowl into the toilet. Hey presto, you've got yourself a home-made flush!
A job well done...
We'll stop with the puns now, that's quite enough toilet humor for one day...
See you tomorrow for day 3!
We did it everyone! Sustainable September is almost over for another year.
So what are we going to talk about for our last tip. Here's a question to think about for a moment...
What is sustainability?
We know. It may seem an odd question to ask at this late stage, but let's seriously think about it for a moment. What is sustainability?
How about a definition. Sustainability is being able to meet present day needs, without compromising future needs. The three main factors associated with sustainability are the economy, the environment and social stability.
Great. So what does that mean for us? It means not using up our resources so that our future selves can continue to function effectively. This could be avoiding frivolous spending. It could be taking a more mindful approach to life so we limit waste. It could be taking better care of our native wildlife. It could be encouraging healthier lifestyles, therefore putting less strain on the NHS. It could be saving energy at home.
There are so many things that we can do to work towards a sustainable planet. This month we've only scratched the surface, but it's a start. So what's the final tip? Set an example! If you've been following the blog, you could have made 29 changes to the way you live. Spread the word! If you can share what you've learnt with one person, then those 29 changes suddenly become 58! Keep going, let's work together to make a difference in our communities.
Don't just tell people, really lead by example. Help teach our children healthy, sustainable habits. Eventually they'll teach their children. Don't forget sustainability isn't just about us, it's about future generations working for the future of the planet...
At the Refill briefing one of the speakers said that people like to do what other people are doing. It's true, we've seen it for ourselves. Before we started the Sustainable September blog we had a plan for every blog entry we were going to post. Many of them never happened because once we started people were coming out of the woodwork with their own ideas. Our blog posts have been contributed to, liked, commented on, shared with others and we have received over 80 website clicks every week during September. People have shared their own recipes, taken up the doing our bit challenge with videos of their own and suggested their own ways of sustainable living.
If we can do it, you can too. So be the trend setter that your neighbours follow!
We hope you put these tips to good use, and we'll see you next year. Maybe you'll have a few pointers of your own to share by then. We'd love to hear from you...
Soup. Also known as a very grown up way to use the inside of your Halloween pumpkin!
The great thing about soups is that they are such flexible recipes. Using our very basic guide you can make any number of inventions. You could use home grown veggies straight out of the garden, oddments you've found in the fridge or pull out one of those freezer boxes you prepared a few weeks back. It' even up to you how you cook it, if you fancy some quiet time in front of the hob then carry on... Or if it's a lazy Sunday afternoon, then fire up the slow cooker and flop on the sofa. Like we did!
Our basic ingredient guide:
Your ingredient pile might end up looking something like this:
The plan was to make a spicy pumpkin soup but apparently we're too early in the season... So we improvised! Do us a favour, when you tell your friends about this amazing recipe, can you tell them it was pumpkin for a spooky Halloween soup please?
Step one: Deseed and peel the squash (cough PUMPKIN cough) and cut into chunks. Season with pepper and chilli flakes then roast for about 30 minutes in a 200 degrees C oven. If you can't be bothered to roast it, fair enough! Put the roasted (or not) squash in your slow cooker pot or pan on the hob.
Step two: Roughly chop your remaining vegetables (or open your freezer box) and add to the pot/pan.
Step three: Add your stock. How much is up to you depending on how thick you want your finished soup. If you're using the hob about a pint is a good place to start. Slow cookers need less liquid so we used a mug and a half of stock. You can always add more water later on if required. Add your seasoning.
Step four: If you're using the hob, leave to slowly boil for about an hour, stirring occasionally. If you're using a slow cooker, turn it to high and take a four hour nap or turn it to low and take a day trip.
Step five: Blend to the consistency you like.
Step six: We're hoping the Queen might call in so we primped our soup with garlic oil, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of fresh coriander.
Hints and tips:
The main flavour - make sure this is the bulk of your ingredients.
The secondary flavour - Use odd little bits of whatever you like, but if you want to make your soup look pretty at the end, use vegetables that are similar colours to each other.
Dried pulses - Dried lentils, beans or chickpeas are great thickeners but just be careful. They can take more cooking than you think, so soak them first and follow instructions on the packet.
Dairy - Cream, cheese, yoghurt or crème fraiche are all excellent options for thickeners or garnishes, but remember they reactive differently depending on how you are cooking. If you're using a hob and want to add cream or cheese then add it with the stock and stir occasionally. However if you're using a slow cooker you are at greater risk of the soup mix splitting and curdling so add it just before you blend the soup.
Have fun improvising with your harvest this Halloween!
Keep a look out for a post closer to Halloween. We have a carved pumpkin alternative for any crafty grown ups out there, but thought you might have read enough for one day... Check back soon...
We have lots of things to talk about at Abbotswood Action Group. We're sure you do too, get in touch if you would like to be a guest blogger...