Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Doy Bags

I read about this collective of women in the Philippines, and when I saw their website I was immediately taken with what they do. They collect and recycle the plastic drinks sachets that are so popular in Asia, the non-biodegradable foil and plastic packaging that would otherwise go into landfill sites and incinerators, and they make bags from them. Amazing!

Almost all the women are their family's main breadwinners, most of the husbands being unable to find work due to the poor economy of the area. The women have an average of 4-6 children, thus working for the cooperative makes a real difference, elevating families from extreme poverty to a decent life.

Just at the moment I'm thinking about Christmas and there's a real chance everyone in my family will get one of these. Do have a look at www, read about the women and what they are doing, and reach for your credit card. Spread the word!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sloe vodka

We have had a ground frost twice this last week. And some patient soul has been out gathering sloes. I found them in the farm shop and, feeling I should have got out and picked them myself I dithered, and then gave in. You are supposed to wait until after the first frost to collect sloes, the fruit of the blackthorn, but sometimes the frost comes late and the birds get them all, so luck is on our side this year.

I had it in mind to make sloe gin, which is what you do, but I don’t really like gin. And then I came across a little presentation in the farm shop from Godminster, who make vintage organic cheddar in Bruton, Somerset, and who have lately started making flavoured vodkas too, and it gave me an idea.

I love the Godminster cheddar, with its rich purple wax coat, and recently I had some of their absolutely stunning horseradish flavoured vodka, which is glorious in a Bloody Mary. They started making the vodkas with bought-in spirit to use up some of the fruits and vegetables that grow on their organic farm, and the range now includes cucumber (a star in Pimms), elderflower, the horseradish, and the more traditional blackcurrant as well as sloe. Next year they are going to do rhubarb and ginger. Taking on the Scandinavians from Somerset!

So this is my sloe vodka.

450g/1lb sloes
225g/8oz caster sugar
1 bottle vodka

Prick the skin of the sloes all over with a clean needle and put in a large sterilised jar.
Pour in the sugar and the vodka, seal tightly and shake well.
Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake every other day for a week. Then shake once a week for two months. The sugar will slowly dissolve and the sloe vodka will turn a beautiful dark red and be ready to drink.

Decant into clean bottles.

Just in time for Christmas I think!

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