Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Harbingers of doom and the sauering of kraut

Mum turned 75 last week (happy birthday, Mum!).  In Sydney, in January 1939, on the fourth day of Mum's ex-utero career, the temperature reached 113.6ºF. Forty-five point something, in the new money.

Mum tells a story about hospitals requisitioning wherever was cool, which meant new babies and their mothers being installed in butchers' cool-rooms, beside the hanging carcasses, I guess. 

Adelaide is going to out-heatwave 1939 this week, and Melbourne's not very far behind. We're into Day 2 of what will be a five day stink-a-thon. It was still 37ºC at 2am last night, a special kind of apocalyptic. I woke up just after midnight when a hot westerly pelted a window shut, shattering the glass, and I spent the next three hours awake in the bristling heat, watching the thermometer and worrying about the dry lightning that was falling all around. Tomorrow's set to reach 44ºC, Friday 41ºC. The glazier can't fix the window because it's too hot to work and too hot for putty to set. I think doomish thoughts when it's like this. Our chooks are panting, holding their wings away from their bodies, despite icy water and frozen corn. We've done what we can for our more sensitive plants, but they still shrivel and look sad. The 7000L water tank is almost empty, only half way through Summer. There's a 4000L back-up tank, but it doesn't have a pump, so it's pesky to use.

So. Anyway. Enough with the global warming already. I would be very happy for 1939's records to remain unbroken. I would like this kind of weather to be rare and surprising. I would really like not to find myself thinking about the moral pickle of air conditioning: on the one hand, there are people whose lives have probably been spared today because of air conditioning; on the other, air conditioning units are just pumping inside's hot air outside, where the birds and insects and trees get an extra dose of shrivelling heat; to say nothing of the carbon dioxide that's diffused into the atmosphere in order to power the majority of Australia's air conditioning units, which carbon dioxide, as you know, is contributing to the hot air that needs conditioning. (This is not a very productive line of complaint, I realise, but it's too hot for productive lines of complaint. I just want to complain unproductively, and/or for a stonking southerly wind to saunter up from Antarctica, bearing buckets of rain.)

In happier news, Sunday was lovely. Exemplary Summer weather. Top of 25º, cool breezes. This chap was harvesting plums from next door's tree:

Wise bird. Knows which side his plum is buttered on. Knows to eat fruit before it stews on the tree. From this fine feathered citizen of the air I augured that it was time to haul some food in from the garden.

The red cabbage that's been growing since August or so, some leaves from the seven bagillionth generation of silverbeet in the front yard, beetroots of love, and some very dried out coriander.

There's been some serious fermentation afoot in the Lalorium (yo, hipsters), in the spirit of which I chopped some of this veg up into teeny bits and set about sauering my kraut ...

This home-grown cabbage and beetroot palooza is now burbling away under its own juice in a giant jar, wee little lactobacilli acidifying the krauty ecosystem and producing a rather gruesome froth atop the surface. Yes, indeed. Foaming tankard of cabbage. Everybody's fave.

The dried out coriander yielded these seeds, plus some high-end coriander-flavoured straw:

One day, when it's less beastly hot, I might cook again. When that day comes, I will activate Operation Coriander Seed. Oh yes I will.

Hold me.


  1. And don't forget that Canberra is also sweltering. And not, for a change, from the hot air emitted by our elected leaders. We are marginally cooler (going for tops of 39 or 40), but I am a sad and soggy mess and the garden has been crispified.
    Cooking? April or May sounds like a possibility. Perhaps.

  2. Oh, so sorry, Elephant's Child. You poor thing. It's hideous. Hope you can find a cool spot.

    Re cooking: I have forsaken it for a diet of frozen peas, corn and carrots.

  3. You know, we should follow my plan. Slaves* waving palm fronds all day are very cost-effective, and not big contributors to climate change. Also, incredibly cooling.

    *And/or public servants. Either way is good.

  4. They'd have to be sustainably harvested palm fronds. And unionised slaves.

    1. Unionised, you say? Um, how about onionised? Got a nice deal on some Ancient Egyptian slaves. Onion's sure to be part of their diet.