Sunday, 17 June 2007

This sight always makes me happy. It is a kiki (baby shoot) coming off its mama and beginning a new life. In this case, this is the virgin orchid that I bought back from Tobago and have tied onto my palms. It's been dormant for sometime but is now on a growth spurt. We are not out of the woods yet, as I have learnt the hard way. Those lovely tender roots that give me so much joy are gourmet meals for slugs. And it could be over in a matter of days. These tender shoots are also susceptible to fungus and bacteria. If you are separating orchids, this is usually a good time to do it but always sterilize the shears before going from one plant to another so that no funguses or bacteria are spread. Another trick of the professionals that I've learnt is to use cinnamon powder which is a potent antifungal and does have some antibacterial properties. And there's no worry about chemicals. Just sprinkle gently over the roots of your plant.

My decorative purple banana is sandwiched between the sexy orange and pink. Unlike the miniature pink bananas, these purple simply do not know their place! They are walkers and are very leafy so I spend my life up on the bench trimming leaves so that we can see the bananas. One thing that I do love about them is the fact that the yellow orioles love this plant and the contrast of the bright yellow bird against the purple bananas is a treat everytime. Once I can save up for a zoom lens, I might be able to post some shots of this.
My Sexy Oranges are here. Every year I can time them almost to the day. These are my most striking hanging heliconias and my largest by far. Like all hanging heliconias, the secret to showcasing the flowers is to keep the leaves trimmed. It seems ruthless but it is essential so that your blooms don't clash with the leaves. I do this for all my heliconias, especially my rostrata.

Chutney Recipe

Tomorrow is meant to be chutney day. Once everything is prepared, it's a very quick process. My chutney is different to many other Trinidadian recipes. The most commonly seen chutney in local recipe books is grated mango with chadon beni and garlic. This is the one that we make in our family:

Mango Chutney
26 mangoes- julie, vert, or starch. Half ripe at most- Definitely not ripe! Peeled and sliced or minced
1/2 lb of raisins
1 lb of currants
1 lb of prune
1/2 lb of dates (optional)
4 ozs garlic
1/2 lb of fresh ginger
2 tsp salt
3lbs of brown sugar
1-2 hot peppers to taste
1-2 litres of vinegar (apple cider preferably)

Mix everything together (can use food processor) except sugar and marinate overnight at room temperature (not in fridge).
Next day add sugar and cook for one hour. Stir as needed until wooden spoon stands firm (not too stiff) and mixture starts to leave the sides of the pot. It will start to make hot puffs and bubble. Bottle into sterilized bottles. Label and give to friends.
Notes- The original recipe actually calls for 4 lbs of brown sugar. Last year I used 2 as an experiment. It was quite tart at the beginning but aged beautifully with the flavours really coming in after about six months. The happy medium for me seems to be 3 lbs. You can chunky chop your ingredients (which I do) because I like to see my mango. Many others prefer it minced. It's really your choice. This chutney is great with curry, in sandwiches, spread on top of philly cheese and served with crix for a nice dip.