The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Fruit season!

We only have three days of Spring to go.  Summer starts on Friday and wherever I go fruit is setting on trees.  I went walking last night and found a nectarine and a peach tree in a lane that I didn't know about!  All covered in fruit!
Usually I pride myself in knowing every fruit tree around and I didn't know about these!  Even our supermarket has a lemon tree in the car pack. It is amazing how few people pick the lemons and walk right past it to buy lemons in the store.  In fact the whole car park has a hedge of Rosemary and once I saw a lady buying tiny sprigs of Rosemary in a little plastic packet.   I have Rosemary five feet high so I am ok there!

Summer is the hardest month here as we get heatwaves and our power prices are the highest in the world.  And we get blackouts as well.  And we get bushfires.  So mostly I am glad when it is over.  But the fruit and summer vegetables are the best thing! The time to get ready is now!

The Plums were from my Aunts lovely garden. 

Laine always prayed before shopping.  Since I changed my shopping ways and shop many stores I also am in the habit to pray before shopping.  To see the best deals, find the things we need and to have things to build up my pantry.  Well, I do the same with fruit season and produce.

For years I had buckets of apricots from an elderly neighbour plus plums.  Her son put her in a nursing home and pushed down all the trees.   Then I had six years of peaches from neighbours over the back and now they pushed down all three peach trees.  Things are looking grim.  (also what is wrong with people!?)

But there are possibilities everywhere and I am praying that I have lots of fruit come my way.  This is my chance to have a years worth of stewed fruit, pies, jam, relish etc for our household and also for the girls.  This also gives me gifts.  I can make up a hamper of five different jams or a pie with a jar of jam.

Figs from the farm. I can count on these!

The last few years Chloe has picked figs from several trees out on the farm.  I suddenly had to become big on fig recipes!  And I have found so many!  I bake them with chicken, wrap them with prosciutto and fill with cream cheese,  make fig paste and jam,  top a pizza.   Chloe is going to be dehydrating them this year as well.   

Whatever it is that comes your way you can turn it into an asset.  Figs for instance sold for $2 EACH here last summer yet there are trees on farm that no one picks.  How often it is that people have a gold mine in their own backyard and not realise.

Chloe took this picture to show me she had made Lemon Butter plus was using the peels to make vinegar for cleaning! 

I keep a basket in the car just incase of finds!  This year I am watching in some of the out of town fruit and veggie shops for cases of tomatoes.  If I can get any at a great price I will be making relish and sauce.  So I am casting my net further afield. 

I let everyone know I make jam.  I am happy to pick fruit and return with cooking in exchange.  I am willing to knock at a door and ask if I see fruit being wasted.  I have made several friends this way!

Fruit, preserves etc also give you something to barter with.  There is a swap group near us and probably they are everywhere.  Your abundance can be exchanged for something else.  This is full of possibilities!

Teri just sent me pictures of her summers work!  Beautiful.

For now I am busy putting the word out.  Saving containers that I could fill with stewed fruit for the freezer.  Saving jars.  Storing sugar, labels and saving lemons or freezing lemon juice (if you add a little lemon juice to jam you never need to buy pectin) 

I watch for jars everywhere!  I save them and wash them up,  get them from op shops and let everyone know I want jars.  I have about a hundred ready right now.  Also I am saving bottles for tomato sauce, plum sauce and who knows what else!

This week I will be in country op shops again.  So I will be watching for more jars. 

More of Teri's current pantry!

A well stocked pantry is one of the best things you can have.  This is all a great way to add a lot to your shelves for very little.  This is making hay while the sun shines!  Aside of supplies you have the ability to go to the pantry to help someone else,  find a present, take something with you when going to visit someone.

This is Rachel's citrus jam.  Looking gorgeous.

Sometimes I end up with something I am not familiar with.  I still say yes!  This is my chance to learn about something new and find new recipes.  This is when the internet is great.  I just google  "recipes using....." and you get so much information.  

Many times we even overlook things right in front of us.  Until Jes taught me I didn't know how to use rosehips.   If you go to Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth you can find information on how to use everything from your apple peels and cores to your orange skins.   They are all resources!

More preserving by Teri.

My Nan always knew every fruit tree (especially lemon tree) in a fifty mile radius.  She loved produce!  I inherited it from her I think.  Recently Allie my niece told me how she just loves picking fruit.  It turned out she knew nothing of her Great Grandmother.  So I let her know she comes from a long line of industrious cooks!  

This year I would also love to do sun dried tomatoes.  I am asking Andy to build me an outdoor drying rack.  Might as well use the scorching heat for something good!  We have dry heat which is ideal.   So I will be learning something new! 

So I hope this summer will be busy with produce.  I am ready!  

Have a good week!  It will be busy here.  And next weekend I will be putting up the Christmas tree! xxx


  1. Annabel, Tania from Outback Tania has a great dehydrator that her hubby make for her This might help Andy when he starts to build one. I just bought a dehydrator from ALDI but I often dry the flowers I used to infuse in oils in a roasting tray out in the sun with glass over it leaving a little space uncovered to prevent condensation. It works a treat.

    1. Dear Nanna Chel, Thank you! I saw what Tanias husband made (and also the vegetable picking carry basket) and this is what I am showing Andy as he can copy it. He is good with woodwork etc and loves making things! So the idea is to have it made and ready well before we need it. I think to pack my own sun dried tomatoes in olive oil with be fantastic! I love them all year around! Thank you for the tips. With love

  2. I hope your summer doesn't get too hot this year! You are richly blessed in fruits! I love figs! We had some fig bushes in our last home in Delaware and my daughter has a nice fig tree. Fresh figs are so good! It is a shame others in your area don't appreciate the fruit trees. Growing up in Pennsylvania, we had trees with small, tart, green apples. They made the best pies and applesauce. Our neighbors used to go around asking others who did not use theirs , if they could pick them. Many would just let them go to waste. Enjoy putting up your tree! Andrea

    1. Dear Andrea, Thank you! This is true even tart apples can be lovely and still used. Many people let them go to waste!
      I am excited to put up the tree. I already have fairly lights on and will add lots more! With love

  3. Dear Annabel, I have drying racks made from old insect screens. You see them at the Recycle-Reuse section of the Tip all the time. Scrub them well, sit them on bricks to elevate them...perfect. I have cumquats for marmalade just now. I think we are the ONLY house with fruit trees for miles around. Such a terrible shame. Nobody plants them any more and the acreages around us are all giving way to townhouse developments :( Looking forward to making the most of whatever we have this year. Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi, I think this is a good idea. The ones in Greece I have seen look like window screens!
      I hope you come by beautiful QLD fruits. I know you will make the most of everything! With love

    2. Mimi, this is how my Granny did her drying as well. She'd use old window screens and cover the fruit with cheesecloth too. She dried apples and peaches to use to make fried pies with in the winter months. Fried pies are a Southern USA thing, lol. Not exactly healthy but oh so tasty!

  4. Again, you have encouraged me. It is fall here in Alabama, USA, so our harvest time is pretty much over, but you have encouraged me to be thinking about next summer and early fall.

    1. Yes we can be saving, learning and planning. Also being observant and putting the word out... In Spring I watch the blossoms. Very often these lead me to the fruit trees! xxx

  5. I agree with MamaHen. We can start thinking ahead and watching for jars. In winter I can broth and dry beans and meats. I was happy that our daughter in law asked for a pressure canner for Christmas. It is good to teach the next generation.

  6. Annabel, coming back to say that I just saw adorable tiny wreaths made of rosemary and tied with a ribbon on another site. A possible freebie with your huge rosemary there.

    1. Thank you Lana I love that idea! I understand how you feel about your DIL as Chloe asked for a dehydrator and a foodsaver and I also thought yippee this means they are on track! xxx

  7. What a bounty and a blessing. I'll miss out on figs this year as the tree was at Mum's and now she's in a nursing home we don't have access to the tree. But we do have little tiny apples on the apple tree - so stewed apples and dried apples will fill the pantry. And the lime tree is covered in very cute little limes - enough for lots of juice and zest. The strawberry patch is producing better than it ever has, that means there will be enough to make jam and to dehydrate for winter. There are lemons on the lemon tree too, and the raspberry canes look amazing - no fruit yet but I'm sure it will come. It doesn't take much to preserve. I often do a batch of jam while I'm prepping and cooking dinner, or put trays of fruit to dry overnight. This week I'm making pastrami (the corned beef was on sale a couple of weeks ago so I bought up) and smoking chicken ready for salads and sandwiches during the hot weather. I think every backyard should have at least one fruit tree - they could alternate between yards, and all the trees on nature strips should be fruit too, and everyone should be encouraged to pick it and use it, just imagine how nice it would be to be able to pick fruit as you walk :)

    1. Cath there was a section of verges in Budrim that were planted up with everything edible. The council came along and bulldozed the lot saying that it was against the law. It was on the news here when it happened and made me cry. According to the locals nothing was wasted - if someone couldn't use something then someone else could - worked perfectly.


    2. Dear Cath,
      I think there should be fruit trees everywhere too. Should I end up with land I will be planting planting that is for sure. I was just reading Gardenpat said when one source closes another opens so I hope this will happen with the fig tree.
      I agree on the jam. With small batches I use the microwave. I can have it going and done during dinner its that easy!
      Many times I have stayed up late working on big bashes though!
      With love and thanks,

    3. Dear Lynette, That would make me cry also. That is criminal and shows how mean spirited they are. They would like us all dependant on the shops and them I think! With love

  8. I've found it amazing how we are blessed when we pray first about our desire to add to our pantry! There was the time, years ago, when we were test driving someone's car that was for sale and it broke down on the drive. As we walked back to the owner's house we passed a farmhouse that had placed 2 big boxes of cucumbers out by the road with a "free" sign on them! We carried the boxes back to our car and turned them into several jars of home canned pickle relish to add to our shelves!
    This kind of unexpected windfall has happened over and over through the years!
    As one source closes up, it seems like another one shortly appears! Currently, there is a produce market that heavily discounts their produce on Saturday mornings that will be too ripe when they reopen on Tuesday. Many times, they add extra boxes of produce for me for free! As a result, I've canned 28 quarts of diced tomatoes, 32 jars of pickle relish, 36 quarts of applesauce and 28 jars of raspberry jam! At the same time, I've frozen 20 pounds of bananas, 3 quarts of blackberries, 8 quarts of raspberries and 10 pounds of diced onions!
    Friends know that I use and preserve fruits and veggies and so they will often call us to pick their excess fruits from their trees.
    I am convinced that we get help from on high when we are trying our best and ask to be guided to opportunities to add to our pantries! Jmo

    1. Dear Pat, I love the cucumber story! Also what you said about as one source ends another appears as I need that.
      Close time at markets is wonderful. Of course they don't want to pack it up and take it home so this is the time to go. Your pantry must be looking very abundant. This is just fantastic. Being prepared to put in the work is the key. I agree with you, things come our way with help. All the things you have made makes me very excited for our time as it probably is only about a month away before it all starts! With love,

  9. We have some beautiful gardens around us but very few have fruit trees. Those that do have trees have the old stringy mangoes that are not real good for eating but great for cooking. Others have lemon trees and some have macadamia trees. Our block was grass when we moved in four years ago. We now have quite a number of fruit trees with some coming into their first fruiting. Bluey got a Hass Avocado for Fathers Day and he is getting a Bowen Mango for Christmas. One day we will have lots of delicious fruit all from our own garden. I have noticed that a rental around the corner has a Lily pilly hedge. I think I will be knocking on the door to see if I can access the fruit at the end of summer. I tried drying herbs by hanging on the veranda but they went mouldy in that last lot of wet weather. Ok I need to go back to Granny duty as a small dictator is squashing her blueberries, that we just picked off one of our bushes, into the carpet.
    Bluey got the all clear today from the Doctor. All his bloods and heart tests have come back well within the healthy range.
    Life is squishy blueberry good.

    1. Wonderful news about Bluey, Jane! xx Jen in NS

    2. So thankful for Bluey's good report! Enjoy that dictator!

    3. Fantastic news from the Doctor Jane! Fruit trees are such a good investment and gift too!
      We mostly have a dry heat so drying herbs etc is easy. Mould is a problem! Macadamia trees would be wonderful! I don't think I have even seen one! Now I need to google to see what can be made from Lily Pillys! QLD has some amazing fruit. Very exotic from my point of view, avocado, mango etc.
      I know you are having a wonderful time with the small dictator lol!
      With love

    4. Jane so happy that Bluey's tests have all come back well and good luck getting the blueberry out of the carpet too.

      Aren't children just incredibly tactile they just love squishing everything and I found banana squishing was one of my children's favourite squishing fruits when they were young.


    5. great news about Bluey

  10. We are often amazed at how much fruit is left on trees! We have asked and been given permission to pick, then taken back a jar of jam! I'm with you: "What's wrong with people?"

    1. Haha! Yes I do wonder. But this is our advantage! Being enterprising and being prepared to work hard, this makes so much difference. Good food going to waste is awful. I used to think why don't people donate the food to a school or hospital or food bank? Thank you

  11. Dear Annabel and Beautiful Bluebirds,

    Your photos of the fresh fruit, as well as the canned, are gorgeous and mouth watering!

    It is almost time for us to start enjoying citrus here. Lemon bars are one of my usual Christmas treats to have on hand and to include on plates of treats. Our tangelo tree is not very heavily loaded this year, but should provide enough for some fresh fruit and juice. Our neighbors are always very generous with oranges, lemons, tangelos and grapefruit. I make it a practice to take them a plate of lemon bars.

    My little winter garden is growing nicely. Three of the tomato plants have little green tomatoes on them. I just harvested a few sweet potatoes that had grown over the summer. Lettuce and spinach plants are not yet ready to pick, but are growing. I've been picking basil and sharing it with friends. There are quite a few plants self-seeding from the basil. It has been several years since I've planted any other than transplanting the seedlings. We are anticipating a warm winter. Although I enjoy having a bit of cold weather, warmer weather might be better for the plants, especially if we don't get many hard freezes.

    I do hope your summer doesn't get too miserable and that your power stays on! We are just starting on pleasant winter weather and know you are headed for summer.

    I was given some dried figs, cherries, cranberries and a lot of raisins. We have been enjoying them as snacks, cereal and salad toppings and in a couple recipes. I need to go online and look for some additional recipes. I think this year's Christmas treats may include oatmeal raisin cookies!

    Wishing everyone an enjoyable week!

    1. Dear Elaine, I think cooking something and returning it to people has kept me in supplies as then next year they think of you! Plus its just very nice!
      Your dried fruits sound beautiful. I think a lot of possibilities there. Fancy granola, cookies, slices, figs dipped in chocolate ... but I am sure you will find many possibilities!
      This year I hope to be drying fruits. For me I would then put this towards fruit cakes.
      Your winter garden sounds great! It is good you can be growing something most of the year! With love and thanks,

  12. Hello Annabel and beautiful bluebirds :).

    We also have strawberries growing that we separated off other strawberry plants we thinned out but unfortunately about half of the replants didn't take so we may have to buy some more seedlings to fill in some of the gaps.

    Like Annabel we glean from others trees for our fruit where possible. For instance we had a neighbour who had a lovely lemon tree in his yard full of beautiful lemons but we saw he wasn't picking them or using them. I asked DH to ask him if he was going to use them and he said no they don't eat them so he picked them all for us and popped them over the fence for us. They were made into a litre bottle of lovely Meyer lemon cordial which sort of tasted like a cross between an orange and lemon but delicious on hot summer days like we have been having recently.

    I also have a friend that works as a children's crossing at a school and the school also had lots of lemon trees growing there that no-one used or picked. I asked if she would mind bringing us some and I traded for some silver beet we had in our gardens. They were all juiced for the freezer and will be made into some cheesecakes shortly for some yummy dessert and used in baking as well. We also save the zest off them to use on icing on lemon cakes and the like as well as our oranges. The same friend also has fig trees so I swap other produce from our gardens for those as she has way to many for her family to use and then she sells the rest to bring in some extra income to her home.

    I might just start door knocking and asking people if they would mind if we picked some of their fruit too as there are many homes around us in our country area that are full of fruit that most don't pick. Also I would offer them a trade say with vegetables we grow here too.

    The specials are a plenty here at the moment on some fruits so we have also been buying up Valencia oranges and freezing the juice to use here for drinks too.

    It is indeed wise to keep an eye out for what you can trade or pick for free in your area because it is amazing what you can make with them.

    Have a great week :) .


    1. Dear Sewingcreations, All those lovely lemons! Often they are about $1 each here! I think you could do well from the door knocking! I hope so! Do tell how this goes! Truly I think most people cant be bothered and this is to our advantage. Your swaps for the figs and the other lemons are great!
      I find usually this all comes in a rush together and suddenly I have fruit. Some things like peaches I have to work fast as they deteriorate quickly. Other things like lemons you have some time. So I aim to be organised and ready! Lets hope this is a good fruit season! With love

    2. Annabel our lemons are the same price here to buy in the shops being $1 ea, ouch.

      Shall let you know how I go when we find a home with fruit laden trees and ask.


  13. Dear Annabel,

    This is a wonderful post! Just plucking up a little courage to knock on someone's door can yield bounty, make new friends, and keep food from wasting!

    I just saw your picture of Chloe and her farmer!!! Congratulations! Very exciting!

    We had a few lazy flakes of snow today that got us in the Christmas spirit, though our tree is real, so we're still a few weeks away from putting it up. Show us a photo of yours when it's decorated!

    Lots of love,

    Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen, Thank you thank you! Yes it has been an exciting week!
      There is food getting wasted everywhere. And yet its so expensive also. It makes no sense to me! I am mostly able to pluck up the courage to ask! Snow sounds lovely! It is hot here! With love

  14. Dear Annabel,
    This is a wonderful post with some great pictures. I just love looking at jars of home canned food.
    Teri, you worked hard! Thank you for sharing your pictures.
    Love and hugs,

    1. Thank you so much Glenda! Also for your words to Teri. She is doing a great job! With much love

  15. Lovely jams, jellies, and butters!
    My husband and I have hunted for fruit trees and bushes all over our area. Some were wild blackberries. Once we even picked the crabapples in the parking lot of a nearby medical clinic! They made great jelly.
    My latest adventure was forging in September down by the railroad tracks. I harvested 5 gallons of wild elderberries. With these I made elderberry compote which I use for medicinal purposes. 2 weeks ago I was at the health food store and noticed "Natural cold Fighter". The prime ingredient was, you guessed it, elderberries. The price on the bottle? $ 29.95 USD! Told my husband I saved him nearly $180.00 since I put up 6 bottles worth!!
    Our harvest was good this year. Especially with tomatoes. I put up 34 quarts and 20 pints. Then when frost came, I made 18 jars of tomato freezer jam. The kids love it!
    Blessings on your coming harvest!

  16. Need to add a congratulations to Chloe and her beau! I am so happy for her and for you Annabel.

    1. Dear Leslie, Thank you! We are very excited!
      I wondered about Elderberries. Wow that is amazing so I think they must be packed with vitamin C and other good things!
      It sounds like you made the most of the tomato harvest. I think tomatoes are one of the most useful and versatile things.
      I watch parking lots, road sides... everywhere. I think it is kind of fun and you never know! Im so glad you could build up your pantry this season! With love

    2. Annabel Elderberry trees grow well all over Aus, bar the far northern tropics. All you need to be able to do is keep the water up to them when they are young. Once established they do well on their own. The berries make a great cordial that is just lovely in the winter when the cold season is on us. I like mine taken in a lemon balm tea. Yummy.

  17. Dear Annabel,

    It is very hot here today! And tomorrow right up until Friday, to be expected I suppose. We had a bit of rain last week so the garden is happy and so am I.

    I cant wait for fruit picking time. We will have apricots off our tree just before Christmas (not a good time, but I usually stew, then freeze for later). Nectarines will be ready in January, also figs and grapes. We like to forage over in the hills nearby. There we collect peaches, pears, almonds, apples and olives and anything else we can find. We also have a friend who lives on her own with lots of fruit trees in her back yard. She has a beautiful black fig tree and we get to enjoy them every year now :)

    I think it is a good idea to say a prayer before anything we do. It is easy to forget about God in all we do, especially at this busy time of year. Thank you for the gentle reminder :)

    I reckon Andy is up to the task of a solar dryer, I bet he comes up with a great one! Ours works brilliantly (except in the humid weather, you have to watch out for that), so much so that I don't even use our purchased electric one anymore...


    1. Dear Tania, I was thinking of you today knowing it is hotter up there. And things are just getting started!
      You have so much fruit! But I know you are like me ever on the watch and willing to pick road side fruit etc!
      Andy is coping Phils dehydrator! This is brilliant! I am so excited. At least our heat can be useful for something! Then I hope to start on tomatoes but will try other things too depending on what I come by.
      I think the veggie collecting/washing baskets were brilliant too. Phil could have a store I reckon!
      Lets hope for a good season! With love

  18. Annabel,
    Figs make great syrup too to drizzle over muffins or cakes or other desserts. This year I discovered a walnut tree, but because of our kooky weather they dropped too soon and weren't any good, but it's good to know for future reference that walnuts are close by. I never pass up any kind of offerings either my pantry is like a revolving door of things in and out. My homecanned things seem to be the most requested so the shelves will be full and then not so much. It is wise to pay attention to our surroundings no matter where we go because sometimes we come home with things like your fruit or bargains or needed items. Putting the word out that you will use things also helps too. If you are going to dry tomatoes not only can you pack them in olive oil, but you can grind them into tomato powder too which is wonderful to have in the pantry! It is wonderful to hear that Chloe wants to dehydrate and vacuum seal. Those foods really do come in handy and they take up a lot less space. With it being winter here we will not see fruits or veggies unless we get them at the store sadly.

    1. Dear Vicky, Thanks for saying about the syrup. I have seen fig balsamic glaze...I am looking into this! It is meant to drizzle over a salad I think. Mmm this will take investigation! It sounds potentially yummy and maybe gift worthy!
      I knew you would like this post because much of this fruit is our favourite price... free! :) With love

  19. What a fabulous post, Annabel. I love the way you look around your neighbourhood and see what assets are around. It really is a case of opening ones' eyes and being resourceful. I completely agree that I think we have been conditioned to think 'everything is at the shops' and this makes s powerless and at the hand of others. We set off on the weekend looking for mangoes, we only found 3, but it is a start and was fun! Hopefully we will have another drive for mangoes this weekend. I love that Chloe wants to get a dehydrator and I bet she will use it well too. She sounds so clever, just like her Mum. Thank you for the very inspiring post! Lots of love, Bridge

  20. Dear Annabelle congratulations on Chloe's engagement! I wanted to share with you that living in the Southern part of the US I live in peach country. Typically trees are pushed up at about 5 years of age. I have tried to find out why online but haven't seen anything yet. But pushing up and burning peach trees after this time frame is about normal. Of course, more peach trees are planted. A peach farmer has trees in all stages of maturity from 1 year seedling to bearing trees to mature trees that no longer produce well and are about to be pushed up.

    There are so many things one might forage if we just looked. You have all those lovely roses for instance and I know a girl who makes rose syrup and rose hip jelly and so many more things from her roses.

    In my youth, I picked wild blueberries and blackberries and harvested nuts from the trees on our place. Hickory nuts are HARD to pick out but when they are free you find your way to using them, lol. Wild grapes grown (scuppernongs and muscadines) along roadsides and in woods. I used to harvest those as well. We have loads of pine trees and could harvest pine nuts if we chose. They are not as large as those bought but still it is a free item we might use. Gracious my mind has taken off once again with all this usually unseen bounty!


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