Pets, Friends, Fresh Fruit & Preserving

Although we are heading in to winter here in New Zealand there is still loads of fruit around. Kiwifruit season has started.

Some gold & green kiwifruit. Personally I don't think it is 'real' kiwifruit unless it is green & furry.
Some gold & green kiwifruit. Personally I don’t think it is ‘real’ kiwifruit unless it is green & furry.

At the moment I have a couple staying with me from China who are on a year long trip around New Zealand. Sophie & Bob are very sweet and I am really enjoying the cultural exchanges that happen when you have people from another country staying with you.

Bob & Sophie checking out the local 'old' car show.
Bob & Sophie checking out the local ‘old’ car show.

The fur babies are a hit. They are loving all the attention they are getting from two extra people. Which is good news as a few of them have had incidences in the recent past. Charlie in particular has been propping up the vet’s bank account though Jackie has done her fair share to keep up.

Jackie in her 'happy' place.
Jackie in her ‘happy’ place.

Recently she took to hiding under my bed. Warning signals flashed when she began to refuse to come out for two days. When we visited the vet it turned out three of her teeth were infected. I felt like the worst fur baby mama ever. The vet was a little shocked as only a few months ago she had her regular check up and though there was some tartar it was not enough to worry about. Apparently that can change quickly. We had to have the teeth taken out and for a week or more I had one very unhappy pussy cat. Sophie & Bob were sure I only had the one cat, as she was not at all social. Though under the bed still seems to be her ‘happy’ place, at least these days she is back to eating normal food and seems quite happy to venture out again. Now the baby of the family [Charlie] thinks he needs to make sure that other cats in the area know he is man. When the neighbours recently had family staying which also added three new cats to the mix, things got a little hairy. A trip to the vets was in order when he came home barely able to walk. The pads on his feet were in a terrible state and he had had a knock around his shoulder as well as scratches to his neck. We are still unsure what happened but either he tried to take on the whole neighbourhood’s cat population or possible a dog got hold of him. Seems that wasn’t enough of a deterrent. Last Friday evening he again came home in a sorry state. Does anyone else notice pets seem to get in to strife when the vets are closed ????? Great gouges out of his eyelid and nose, as well as one very sore left shoulder area. He was lucky though that the claw that did the damage missed his eyeball. I was lucky [financially] that the tear in his lid does not require surgery to stop it irritating the eye in future. Today is the first day he has been allowed outside since the incident. We have had to listen to a rather loud ongoing vocal disapproval of being confined indoors. I wondered if he was going to fly this morning when I opened the door for him, he took off so fast his feet seemed airborne.

The eye looks good but his nose has a little hair to grow back still.
The eye looks good but his nose has a little hair to grow back still.

As for Chevvy…luckily for me she is behaving at the moment. Though a wee while ago she also got in to a scrap which saw her eye and paws in a sorry state. I am thinking of arranging an extra mortgage just to keep up with the vets bills. We have managed to fix the fence problem. For a small dog she sure can scale things, but these days she no longer escapes the minute my back is turned. She does enjoy a good bone on the lawn as a reward.

The bone is almost as big as the dog.
The bone is almost as big as the dog.

I have taken to soothing my nerves with cooking. I recently raided a few friends’ gardens and came home with bags full of bounty. From one friend I came home with enough Red Cherry Guavas to make 13 jars of guava jelly.

Red Cherry Guavas
Red Cherry Guavas

This is the cookbook I got the recipe from…isn’t it beautiful ??

Journal of Agriculture Cookbook.
Journal of Agriculture Cookbook.

This was my second attempt at the jelly and I am thrilled with the results. This recipe makes it hard to go wrong…I did add a little extra pectin. I also had to look up how many cups a quart is. 2015-04-21 10.37.39I have become a bit of an addict when it comes to guava jelly.

Guava Jelly ready for distribution amongst friends.
Guava Jelly ready for distribution amongst friends.

From another friend I scored two bags of feijoas and some Chilean Guavas.

Chilean Guavas...tiny yes but sooo delicious.
Chilean Guavas…tiny yes but sooo delicious.

By crikey, I think my love affair with guavas has become a permanent relationship. I might try my hand at feijoa jam next. I will keep you updated.

Feijoas ready for feasting & jam making.
Feijoas ready for feasting & jam making.

Although I have been advised that feijoa chutney is pretty good too. My next stop saw me bag a whole lot of apples. They reminded me of growing up. These days in the supermarket the only fruit you see is shiny and there is never a mark to be seen. Of course this all comes about because of pesticide use. Growing up, fruit was never perfect, but it was still delicious and pesticide free. Those apples took me back to a time when you either cut out the bad bits…or you just ate them anyway.

Pesticide free apples.
Pesticide free apples.

I picked what may well be the last of the chillies from my garden yesterday.

There is something so tempting about red food.
There is something so tempting about red food.

Later today I am attempting to make Chilli & Apple Jelly. This could be interesting. I have already a jar of chilli sauce fermenting in my pantry. Yes I did say fermenting. I am in to fermenting these days. Even made a batch of Zuurkool the other day.

Zuurkool ready to eat.
Zuurkool ready to eat.

That is the Dutch name for Sauerkraut. I haven’t made it in years and feel that perhaps I added too much salt. But we live and we learn, and after a good rinse it was very yummy. To finish off what was a rather long winding post I thought I would leave you with a video of Chevvy…doing what Chevvy does best…being cute. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2RJZYvlwmQ

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Author: Jo Bryant

I was born in the land of Banjo Paterson, gum trees, and weather extremes. I am a freelance writer. I live in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, but still like to claim my Australian heritage. I graduated with a Bachelor of Communications in 2008. I am writing my first novel. I love to write poetry, short stories, and also write for the web. And there is nothing that is on a par with a sunny summer's day spent at Waihi Beach.

55 thoughts on “Pets, Friends, Fresh Fruit & Preserving”

      1. Nothing else you can do. I have two felines now. I’m a lost cause as far as my two go. Dickens is a new arrival end of January this year. He crawled under my skin and I forgive him things I never did any other cat.

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          1. Yep…he is leaving in June/July and the house is then going on the market. Been keeping my eye on the real estate down there…just trying to get a feel for it. Hope to make a road trip down there before. Just got to find a pet friendly motel as Chevvy frets if I leave her at the kennel so she has to come with me.

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  1. Chevvy is indeed very cute. 🙂 You sound like you’ve been really busy, Jo. No wonder you haven’t found time to blog for a while. Glad to know you’re fine. Your vet must really be rubbing his hands, with all the visits lately. Hope that’s it for a while at least. It’s Murphy’s Law that whenever one is really in need of a vet, a dentist or a doctor, it’s always when they’re closed for the weekend. Your chilli and apple jelly does make my mouth water. 🙂

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    1. I am afraid I have just lost the inspiration for blogging lately. But I am doing a couple of courses to try to get my mojo back. I don’t begrudge the vet the money they earn. Mine is fabulous. A holistic vet who really knows her stuff and offers so much more than a traditional vet. But when you have a run of things occur it does make you want to pull your hair out just a bit. Poor Charlie was soooo sore he actually hissed at her…something he never does, being the laid back kitty he is. And they are so there for you. When Crash passed away they were so kind, so understanding. I rather like the sound of the chilli and apple jelly myself. It is a ‘Nigella’ recipe…so here is hoping I get it right.

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    1. Not a bad idea. I had thought of it a little myself. But seeing as so many friends give me produce I really like passing it on to them and other friends. I am so lucky with the help I get from people and this is my own ‘small’ way of saying thank you for being there for me. I make a little for me and some for them. As for the critters…Charlie is such a handful. It is like having a two year old around.

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    1. Cooking soothes me. So I actually really enjoy it. And the gathering of produce is a bonus as I get to chat and have tea/coffee/gin & tonics with friends after. Win/Win if you ask me.

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  2. Full of admiration for your preserving skills Jo . Quite different from a jar of Branstons Pickle 😀 Lovely sounding flavours .
    Oh yes I’ve never known a Vet or Dentist who struggles … but we love our animals and the so we do what I do . Chevy is a cute one x

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  3. I love this time of year in NZ. Definitely the best fruits available ( except for those few weeks when Golden Queen peaches are around). I tried my first feijoa cake yesterday; jam tomorrow. Hope the fur babies all stay well and happy 🙂

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      1. I’ve seen feijoa cakes in a couple of cafes recently and had one baked for me last weekend. I made an attempt at a dairy and gluten-free one a couple of days ago. It’s not perfect (I modified a recipe and have learned from the experience), but it tasted pretty good. Wrote about it here: https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/in-praise-of-the-fabulous-feijoa/. Loads of more conventional feijoa cake recipes online, and if I weren’t trying to be healthy I’d go for one with lemony cream cheese frosting.

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          1. Carrot is still my favourite cake – ever. But it has to have lots of cream cheese frosting, and bits of dried fruit and pumpkin seeds on top (not that I’m fussy). Feijoa cake is tasty, but the texture is a bit gritty. Not that I’ve given up, I will probably bake another today (purely for research purposes). Cheers, Su,

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  4. I’m going to be a vet in my next life! Actually I lie there are some things I’m not brave enough to do. Chevvy is cute and great fun 🙂 Your preserving options make me envious, but it is nice here getting free damsons from abandoned trees.

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    1. I wanted to be a vet when I was younger, but I realise that I could not have done it. Too hard to see fur babies suffering all the time. It would have broken me in to little pieces. Had to look up ‘damsons’. Heard about a fig tree in town…so I am off to check it out later.

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  5. You’ve been as busy as a bee. Where’s your beehive full of honey. 😀
    Our fur children need the same amount of care as our children. It’s a shame they don’t let us know more quickly when they have issues. I hope they all get better soon. I’m sure lots of love and head rubs is helping that.
    It’s nice to see a post from you. Glad all is well.
    Happy preserving and nursing. 😍

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    1. All fixed and deleted. I want a beehive actually. been looking in to getting one. they have these smaller, portable ones for use in urban areas. I hate that they can’t tell you what is wrong…poor babies. I need to learn to become an animal whisperer.

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      1. Gee … an animal whisperer sounds perfect. I feel so sad for kitties when their sick. 😢
        A friend of mine – who lives on the beach here in Florida – discovered a beehive under her stilt house. It was huge. She had never noticed it. She called a bee keeper who came and took the beehive. Don’t ask me how … I have no idea. He charged her for doing it – over $300.00 dollars to do it. He must have felt guilty about the price and his gain in the size of it because he brought her some honey jars months later. She said it was honey like no other she had tasted before. 😊
        I’m not good at growing or cultivating anything except orchids. I just killed a parsley plant and have a basil one looking to join it. BUT … I love fresh everything and homemade everything so I’ll buy some of your jellies and honey. Wish I could pop-over from Florida. I guess not. Okay then, have some for me. 😍

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  6. Good to hear from you again Jo. Do hope your fur babies have learnt not to get into fights now. I also wanted to be a vet but it was way to expensive for the course and you actually needed higher education qualifications than was needed for a doctors degree, so no way could I get in.
    I’m just down the road from you at the moment, we are staying with my daughter in Tauranga. We cruised here this time and on the stop over in Napier we had the good fortune to meet up with Jill and John, such a lovely couple. http://jillscene.com/2015/04/04/two-blogging-friends-cruise-in-to-my-hometown/ Keep us updated about the house sale, seems to be a sellers market over here at the moment. But then of course you also have to buy… Good luck…

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  7. Sorry about the vet bills, sometimes fur children seem to be just as expensive as human ones! You sound like you have been busy though! Wish you could send me some guava jelly. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear how the chili apple comes out…I love red pepper jelly. I’m a sucker for sweet and spicy!

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  8. The Dutch and the Norwegian name is almost the same. Zuurkool – Surkål, it’s basically pronounced the same way.
    Sounds like an ordeal with all the trips to the vet, but luckily you can always make jam to relax!
    Making jam is addictive. I haven’t eaten any store bought jam since I started making my own and I also make mine with chilies. It’s always good to spice things up.

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  9. Oh my, and no your not a bad furry Mom, 🙂 Lol.. so sorry to hear about your little cat had to have her teeth out… ouch not nice.. And yes I remember well how my cats would always get into fights when the vets were closed. 🙂

    I had never heard of the fruit guavas before look interesting.. Kiwi fruit I just love.. And you look to have been very busy..
    Enjoy your foreign visitors Jo.. Love your way xxx Sue ❤

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  10. I haven’t eaten Kiwi fruit in ages. I think it’s time I must come and visit Jo. 😛

    It looks like the couple staying at you are really enjoying it and it seems your furbabies too. 😀

    Shame, that must have been quite uncomfortable for Jackie. That tartar just sucks, doesn’t it? I am just glad she doing better now and don’t worry, it happens to all of us. 😀

    Poor Charlie! You certainly had your share with all the mishaps hon. My nerves would be shattered by now. LOL!

    Chevvy sounds like she is keeping you busy too. At least that bone keeps her busy. Give them all a hug and kiss from me and tell them to behave and not give you so many grey hairs. 😀

    Oh, I have an old recipe book as well that looks so worn. It was my grandmothers. They have the best recipes for sure. 😀

    Looks like you’re having quite fun with all the jelly making and cooking hon. Now I wish I was there right now and I bet the monkeys wish they were too. LOL!

    I’ve never eaten Sauerkraut in my life and have no idea if I will like it. It does look yummy though. 😀

    Love the video. Chevvy is such a happy little girl. Simba still loves to do that but I have to put him on the bed as he is too old to jump on anymore. Russel enjoys that too. Such sweet little darlings that we have. They give us so much joy and love. 😀

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