I was recently asked if I take contributions from readers and after thinking about it for a while it struck me as an excellent idea. Here is first post I have published from a reader - Liz
When Mankind first discovered uses for fire and could sit in the caves behind a defensive flare of flames while mammoth trunks sizzled on coals there started a tool making revolution that went on for a squillion years. This continued until a gentleman (Babbage), during the reign of good Queen Victoria, thought up the idea of a mechanical calculating machine that was capable of being programmed to do different things. He never got one to work but the cat was out of the bag so to speak and others ploughed ahead sparked by Babbage’s idea.
Finally a very bright German, Kruse, in 1939 stitched together, not a mechanical but an electric calculator which was in fact a programmable computer. Then the real explosion started because what had happened was that man had made something which went beyond extending the use of his hands but had made one which extended the use of his mind. This explosion is continuing today when something like half the homes in Australia has home computers which can access the Internet, a vast body of knowledge and ideas.
(Before the ladies hammer me with claiming I am a sexist let me say that I have worked with women and girls all my life and have much admiration for their skills, intelligence, perspicacity, tolerance, inventiveness, and general toughness. Further, I am not kidding I mean it! In a complex business environment in my experience a team of motivated women will cream the opposition. The generic term ‘man’ therefore in my language means males and most specifically females without whom life would be very dull)
And use Google. Google is an unbelievably powerful and intuitive Internet search engine.
What has this got to do with this delightful website designed by Liz? I’ll explain. Google has gone almost psychic and offers suggestions as to what you might be interested in. I was looking up straw bale gardening (my Mum did it with spuds in a bin) and somehow I slipped into SuburbanTomato. So glad I did.
What a revelation, a very productive garden producing family size quantities of herbs, in incredible diversity, and vegetables in an area about the size of a small lounge room! With two kids, 3 and 6 and not a lot of time on her hands I reckon.
Anyway to cut a long story short I was totally rapt with the whole site but I thought that there was something which could add even more value – reader contributions. I am an addicted web surfer (mainly recipes, garden ideas and trivia – I’m easily side tracked) and one of the things I have noticed is that readers often have brilliant ideas.
So I put it to Liz and hence this post for her consideration.
Two or three years ago I wanted to make strawberry jam and fluked across a recipe by a very good cook called the French Tart who published on www.food.com a recipe for a strawberry jam which in the French manner has the strawberries still whole rather than semi-mashed. This syrup is the result of me playing about with that recipe to see what could be done with it. When strawberries are cheap I launch into action.
My Strawberry Syrup
This so simple you won’t believe it until you try it.
Take roughly a kilo of strawberries – they are cheap now
Wash them thoroughly in a colander under running water to get any grit or dirt out and weigh them.
Now weigh out an equal quantity of white sugar.
Put the sugar and the strawberries into a non-metallic bowl in layers
Cover with a lid or cling wrap and leave on the bench
There is not much else to do. Notice I didn’t mention hulling them – no need. All I do really is cut out any bad bits I notice or off ones while I washed them. The hardest bit really is the washing because it is important for the final result that they are quite clean. Sand or grit will wreck the syrup.
Twelve hours or so later have a look at the strawberry/sugar mix. The sugar is now saturated with strawberry juice. Give it a stir.
The interesting part is if you watch closely over the next days you can see the strawberries shrink until they are little tough bullets as the sugar sucks them dry.
Strain the mix when you think you have waited long enough – my record is 5 days. Discard shrunken strawberries.
Bring strawberry syrup to a rolling boil for 5-6 minutes, take off heat and allow to cool.
Bottle and refrigerate. Used PET bottles are ideal.
How long does it keep? No idea but I do know that it is weeks but it is all gone far too early to be a real test of longevity.
If you are worried about it a good trick is to slip about 15 ml of vodka into each 750 ml bottle. It seems to stop any impurities forming and is not noticeable in the syrup – I reckon.
I love the idea of readers contributing to my blog and would be delighted if this was the first of a number of reader contributions. So if any other readers would like to write a post or have a fabulous kitchen gardening related idea that they would like me to write about then please let me know at Liz@suburbantomato.com. I can’t guarantee I will be able to fulfill all requests but I will try. - Liz
P.S: I’m sure John would love some comments about his syrup or his guest post.