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Zero Waste Festival Ireland: What I learned will make me a better human

It is so exciting to see and be part of a movement that is looking to change the world, starting locally, making a difference at home, and then taking the message out to the wider community. The Zero Waste movement in Ireland is very inspiring. There is a closed Facebook group (Zero Waste Ireland) that has over 6000 members. If you are looking for tips, support and inspiration to reduce the plastic and waste in your home, and you are on Facebook, I would urge you to join.

I have been to three super interesting events this year to do with Zero Waste. (All free, or just about free). The most recent being the Zero Waste Festival on the 25th of June in Dublin. This was a very well attended event, all Eventbrite tickets were sold out and entry to the hall for those without tickets was somewhat restricted. (I did not have the presence of mind to buy my ticket online, so I had to wait a while for a space to become available)

I learned a lot. Firstly, that if you don’t really know what to do next, or temporarily feel a little out of your depth (socially awkward) find someone who you can help and  help that someone out for a while. You get to meet people, you get to share insights that may help the common goal to be achieved and you get to practice at being collaborative.

There was a clothes swap; I came home with the best T-shirt: ‘I shot JR’. Just like the one in Father Ted. It is good as it is, but it is also the  perfect quirky T-shirt that can be upcycled into something a bit more interesting. There were vendors there too, a place to buy second hand baby clothes, bamboo toothbrushes, homemade palm free soaps, reusable handmade sanitary towels, refills for washing up liquid and olive oil, bulk buy items such as rice, oats and sultanas and a stall that was selling fruit leathers. There were also a number of excellent workshops on throughout the day. I went to the fermentation workshop.

Blog followers would know that I have at times been a fairly enthusiastic fermenter, so at this festival, I went to a fermentation workshop given by master fermenter and chef Neil Barrett. (He gives fermentation classes) It is always interesting to relearn what you already learned or know from a different source. You get different perspectives and a deeper understanding of the topic because each person focuses on what interests them the most. (That is the reason I enjoy going foraging with other foragers, I always learn new snippets of info)

I left that wonderful workshop with the knowledge that I have been mistreating my milk kefir grains, and that I need to make and eat sauerkraut again. I also left with the feeling that I need to be a little more careful with measuring ingredients, especially when feeding cultures. To put my scientific training to work while experimenting with food. Using scales, keeping notes, aiming for reproducability. All that without loosing the sense of play that I get when I try something new or tread uncharted territory in the kitchen. So I have removed the milk kefir from the fridge, boiled up some water for the newly acquired water kefir, fed my ginger bug and fed my newly acquired sourdough starter, I think I will dig that ancient sauerkraut out of the fridge and have a go of that with dinner. Thanks Neil for the re-inspiration!

This was a great festival, so much to learn, so many interesting people to meet, and re-meet. And to think, I almost chickened out of going.

Pineapple Peel Beer/ Sparkle

My mom used to make Pineapple beer when we were kids, whenever we had pineapple, she would use the peels to make this super easy very bubbly pineapple flavoured soft drink. It is along similar lines to ginger beer in that it does not require the addition of yeast. I love this recipe because it delays the peels’ transit to the compost heap, thus ensuring that all of the nutrients/ goodness are not lost to the system. Next time I make it, I will be freezing the peels that come out of the water to use in fruit scrap vinegar that will then get made once there are enough fruit scraps.

Ingredients and Method

  1. Wash, peel and core pineapple, retain the peel and core. Discard green leafy bit into compost pile
  2. Into a large ceramic, glass or stainless steel container, add the peel and core, a cup of sugar (250ml), handful of raisins (optional) and 2L of water
  3. Stir till the sugar dissolves and cover with a cloth or loose lid to keep the flies out
  4. Stir daily for 2 days, then strain the liquid into pressure safe bottles like the ones in the picture. Not all glass bottles are suitable for this purpose, if the bottle originally contained sparkly stuff, then it should be safe for this purpose. (1L Bulmers bottles are perfect)
  5. Allow the gas to build for a few days, as the drink matures, more of the sugar will be turned into carbon dioxide, so it will get drier and more gassy
  6. Enjoy chilled! Warning: This drink can be very fizzy, so care is required when opening the bottle!Notes: If less fizz is required, use less sugar, this is a loose recipe, and open to be experimented with.

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Elderflower Fritters

June for me is synonymous with elderflower. It is probably the best thing to forage for this month and there are so many things you can do with it. Elderflower sparkle, cordial, addition to rhubarb or gooseberry dishes, and fritters. Elderflower fritters are a good dessert this season; they are light, not too sweet and full of that lovely somewhat musky flavour.

So here is a super easy recipe for flower fritters, other flowers to try in this recipe are white and red clover.

Elderflower Fritters
Tempura batter

  • 3/4 cup cornflower
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup icy water

 

Other requirements

  • 2 inches of oil in a pot
  • 6 large flower heads, separated into florets with stalks attached
  • Icing sugar

Method

  1. Heat the oil in the small pot
  2. To a small bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix
  3. Add the egg and the water, mix through
  4. Coat each floret in batter, shaking off the excess
  5. Fry for less than a minute till cooked through, turning if necessary
  6. Remove fritters from oil and set aside till all are done
  7. Dust with icing sugar and serve while still warm

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