geraint britton

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since Sep 18, 2012
Lazio, Italy
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Recent posts by geraint britton

I use lye water in the washing machine instead of bought detergents, it works best with a pre soak. Sometimes I manage to include some soapwort towards the end of the lye cooking, it really makes a difference with fabrics, but I don't bother if I'm going to use it for the dishes or cleaning other surfaces.... Lye is really effective on raw wood.
Unfortunately I can't say what it's effect on plants/soil is like, as my washing machines in the basement in a very mediaeval hilltop village, plummed in to the sewage system, and any changes would certainly be noticed, like perforating walls a metre thick.... but most of my neighbours aren't plummed in at all.... bathrooms appeared here in the 60s, often as a closed in balcony stuck on the back of the house, with a tube sending black/grey water down the rockface. But I have a LOT of bamboo spreading below the drains.
Tried an experiment with lye, mixing it with vinegar to neutralizer the pH then using it as a fertiliser for some Musa /Japanese banana plants... they love the potassium.
I make lye with one part sifted HARDWOOD Ash and 5 parts water, in an old copper pan, mixing on a simmer for a couple of hours. This way I get to make my own copper sulphate (?), which forms on the rim, should I ever need it....
Here near Rome Lye water is/was known as Bucato, which literally means laundry (in Italian its officially called Lisciva). I also use it to cure green olives, or you can throw 'em directly into a pot or bucket of ashes...
3 months ago
Best de-icker/expectorant in my book has to be Coltsfoot flower Tussilago. Have used it on a nasty dry cough (sanding down old roofbeams) and when I do singing recitals. It's always worked for me and has a long history of use by opera singers...and the roots can be candied and the leaves smoked (Pliny's asma cure). Contains pyrrhozoic alkaloids or sumpfin like that, so don't over do it...
9 months ago
Tea Eggs can have infinite variations in the recipe, during the summer you can reboil the eggs in their liquor briefly each day till they're gone (not trying to wipe out the permaculture network here) - after a couple of days they resemble metal eggs, a popular Taiwanese snack (especially common with quail eggs).
I also use duck eggs, they come out a bit harder but I still find them delicious ...
..the measures are in mixed metric...

20 eggs (shells scrubbed clean)
2  litres water (spring water if possible)
an egg sized piece of fresh ginger
"     "        "    amount of garlic cloves
A couple of dried chili peppers,
2 to 4 slices of dried liquorice root
a (small) head of star anice
5 or 6 cloves
a level tablespoon of Chinese five spices powder
30 grams of black tea
20 grams of green tea
150 cc (a small cup) light soy sauce
150 cc.                        rice wine

Put water on to boil in a pot with a lid
Heat a large pan or a wok adding a few drops of vegetable oil, to a medium heat
Slice ginger (thick wafers), add to pan and stir frequently
Bruise the garlic cloves (leave the tunic on)
When the ginger starts to dry out add the garlic cloves and stir, then add the chilli and keep stirring.
When the water starts to boil add the black and green teas cover and take off the heat
When the chilli start to blister add the liquorice root and star anice and stir.
Take an egg at a time and give it a sharp tap on the blunter end or prick it with a needle, then place in pan/wok
Drain the tea off into the pan with the eggs and other ingredients, reserving the leaves
Add 5 spice powder and cloves and heat for 20 minutes on a low heat
Take off the heat and cool for 20 minutes then cook for another 20 minutes on a low heat and cool for another 20 minutes...
Now the fun bit.......
Take out an egg at a time with a tablespoon and give it a series of sharp taps/whacks all over with the back of a teaspoon (6 - 10) and replace in the liquid
Add the soy and wine, also the tea leaves if you want, and cook on a vigorous boil for another 20 minutes.
Let the whole shenanigans cool down then peel and reveal your very own agate effect tea egg

Buon appetito
1 year ago
Satureja hortensis/montana. Summer/winter Savoury. Here in Italy it's called Erba Pepe....guess ...
Used lots with legumes (aids digestion) and is great for calming the itch of mosquito bites. A friend cooks her cabbage with guarana powder - I still haven't tried it out.
1 year ago
Some of the 'Giochi d'acqua' at Villa d'Este, Tivoli, Italy, nearly 500 yrs old.
1 year ago
A cheese from Sardinia, Casu Marsu is full of the larvae of a fly...but it's now illegal to sell it. I've made it accidentally here near Rome, by not turning a sheeps cheese often enough, moisture accumulating and softening the rind enough for the fly to lay her eggs.
My favorite is the mole cricket, a bit of a pest, has a lovely smokey taste, at least the deep fried ones with a puff of chili oil in Thailand do, where people eat lots of stuff. Least favorite so far is silk worms, too squishy inside...and bees are just too valuable.
1 year ago
Ciao Stuart,
If you're near Roma there's some wwoof hosts with a heap load of vetiver - I need to go and check them out...
1 year ago
I was pruning some elder yesterday (2nd February) here near Rome Italy and noticed flower buds-corymbs(?) already an inch long...in a bit of a sheltered sun trap, some bushes have kept their leaves from last year, and neighboring almonds and apricots are already flowering...
Is there a specific medical property to elderflower 'champagne' (the highly explosive fermentation with natural yeasts that to me tastes like litchees)? Or do I just have to content myself with it tasting so refreshing?
I harvest a lot of cloud/wood/jews ears funghi from dead elders. They're very good cooked, I'm not mad on the sweetened cold drink they make in China, but for sure it must have lots of medical benefits - can anyone enlighten me? Grazie mille...
1 year ago
Here in Lazio 40km NE of Rome Italy, at 420m asl I plant chickpeas (and peas, fava and roveya, or Moca in the local dialect, Pisum sativum ssp arvense) in october around the olives on a north facing slope. Don't seem to have many problems with wilt or any viruses/bacteria/funghi, just the rodents, which are able to pinpoint the mature peas from May onwards. I can harvest in july, but by august they're drier and shuck more easily (buts its still a palaver, and maybe I lose quite a few more). Its a windy site, but the local variety is bush forming, maybe 50-60cm tall, so I don't bother with supports, just plenty of mulch/woodchips.
Anybody have experience with cultivating sesame out there?
2 years ago
Hemerocallis/day lily flowers - my personal favourite for salads (add a few toasted sesame seeds or gomasio, a drop of balsamic..) - can also be dried and then added to soups, stews etc, a common practice in china and points east, where they're known as golden needles. Another one that's great in salads is the Yellow Asphodel, Asphodeline lutea, or Aaron's Rod. Did anyone mention elderflowers?
3 years ago