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Frozen mangoes to Urban Nanna

"We believe that positive environmental and cultural change is ultimately possible, but that it will be infinitely more attainable if we work together as a supportive global neighbourhood." Anna Matilda/Urban Nanna

This photograph is where I began today. Well sort of. I have been trying to use up various things that have been tucked away in the back of my freezer, and one of the things I have been pondering on is some frozen mango. Since my somewhat disappointing experience with this year's plum crop I have been thinking about how I can boost the jam supply - for us and for my family who, from time to time, raid the jam shelf. Aha - mangoes I thought, but also thought that they might be just a bit too sweet. However, the other day my lovely friend Monika gave me some rhubarb, which I suddenly thought would make a good tart counterpart to the mangoes. So yes I shall be making mango and rhubarb jam - maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Mango and rhubarb seems to be a fairly popular combination in the foodie world - mostly for crumbles but also a few tarts, smoothies and chutneys. So why not jam?

Then as I sat down to ponder on what to write about today I decided to have a look at my list of websites to look at and the next one on my list was this one - The Urban Nanna.

I was intrigued by that subtitle - traditional methods made modern, but when I read the About section I confess my heart sank a little as it was very much into permaculture and saving the world. Now don't get me wrong I also would like to save the world, and like the lady responsible for the website Anna Matilda, I do think that one day the world will come together and get it right. Mind you in the present combative environment of power hungry, mad men, the complete opposite may occur. However, to return to Anna Matilda and her philosophies - waste not, share, grow, forage and all that - as I said - at first my heart sank a little, because it was all a bit holier than thou. Reading a profile of her on the website Local Food Connect also made me cringe a little. I am now asking myself why, because of course, she is saying all the right things and actually doing something about it. Not only does she have the website but she also runs workshops, writes books and gives talks. She is much to be admired. I suppose it makes me feel guilty that I don't do more.

However, I started to look at some of her recent posts, and I have to say they are very well presented, sometimes very informative, and also with some good ideas. So here are just a few of the most recent.

The first one is the link to my mangoes and rhubarb - Use it up jam, in which she encourages you to use up leftover fruit - from Christmas in this case - and then:

"Mix fruit with ¾ it’s weight in sugar. 

Leave til its goes runny.

Heat til it goes jelly-like.

Seal it in a clean jar."

I think that's probably rather more sugar than I would use, but her concern is the preserving aspect. Mine is more taste, so I think I would be adding something to cut the sugary taste - lemon or lime - or that rhubarb, and also cutting the sugar back to half, maybe even less. I'm also not sure I would macerate the fruit with the sugar although that is a perfectly valid way of doing things. Me, I would heat the fruit add the sugar and when dissolved boil until set. But maybe I should try her way for a change. There is a more detailed recipe and there are also photographs of the process, plus a few more really helpful, thoughtful and encouraging words/tips:

"just remember that once upon a time, people used to learn said skill with no fancy cookbooks, no TV shows, and definitely no internet. You’ll be alright – just break it down into basic steps, and try to think about why those steps were done in the past. That should help make sense of it and give you some confidence." and:

"* If your jam just doesn’t want to set, rather than continuing to boil it until it becomes toffee, just jar it up runny and call it syrup! Excellent on ice-cream or yoghurt as a dessert…

* Hang on to the bits of lemon you pull out of the jam before jarring up – either dehydrate them to enjoy as sticky, gooey candied treats, or pop into a glass with G&T or bubbles. Deliciously frugal! "

I notice that this post is dated Christmas last year and there are not many following ones, so she is not a prolific poster on the site. But then she is doing all these other things as well and each post is pretty detailed.

Take the one on Urban foraging in Australia - Winter. I am interested in using weeds, and very occasionally I do, so this appealed to me, particularly when I realised that she lives not very far away from me in Blackburn North - well half an hour's drive - but not in the UK or USA where everything is different. These are the plants I might see on my walks around here and also in my garden. In the article she deals in detail with five common weeds and plants: dandelion, oxalis, nasturtium, onion grass and magnolia with a few additional brief words about hairy bittercress, chickweed, wild brassica and wild radish which are shown in the picture here. Then there's wild fennel, stinging nettles, cleavers/sticky grass, wild sweet violet, lilli pilli, common mallow and wild dog rose. As well as showing you what they look like and what you can do with them, she also provides links, not just to more of her articles, but to books and articles too, And of course, there is lots of safety advice. I recommend this article in particular if you are at all interested in such things.

And her recipe for Weedy green pesto is an interesting follow-up with a few tips like:

"Many weeds are quite bitter, so including non-bitter greens like basil, parsley or coriander is advised."

and lots of links to books, websites, Facebook and Instagram accounts as well.

One more for those of you who are looking to make foodie gifts for Christmas Immun-i-tea. Not really my kind of thing, and you will need to visit a health food store for some of the ingredients, but it looks pretty and if you are into this kind of thing, it's a pretty useful post.

What more can I say? Well it's a Wordpress site, but much more interesting looking than most. I find most of the Wordpress sites follow the same fairly boring layout. So good on her for doing something a bit different.

As I say, it's not really my thing, but there are indeed things I can learn from the website and I'm impressed by the research and the links to the wider world of the subject she is talking about. It's very greenie, and health foodie and I am, I suppose, only mildly into these things. An admirable lady. Long may she do her thing.

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