Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Cumquat Daiquiri

The Cumquat is a marvellous bush.  Grown widely outside its native place in Southern China, it is basically a warm climate tree but as an onamental bush it is grown in much cooler places -- such as Sydney and Copenhagen. A large part of its visual appeal is its bright yellow fruit, which look like mini-oranges and which the tree puts out prolifically twice a year.

Sadly, however, people mostly ignore the fruit as a food source because it has an appealing but strong taste -- rather bitter.  The one thing the fruit is used for is to make a jam -- and Cumquat jam is the best marmalade you ever tasted.  Once you have had Cumquat jam on your toast, you will never buy another marmalade.

Brisbane is a rather warm place so my cumquat tree is around 10' tall now -- having been planted only about 10 years ago.  And it is in season now at the begining of spring.  I couldn't see all those bright yellow fruit go to waste so I decided to make a Daiquiri out of them.

Daiquiris are a popular tropical cocktail.  Their basic recipe is some form of citrus plus LOTS of sugar, served cold.  The citrus is usually lime or lemon but there are also such abominations as strawberry Daiquiris. In my youth I used to use grapefruit for the citrus juice, which made a REALLY strong drink. I believe Hemingway used grapefruit too. There are several things you can do to get maximum sugar into the drink but the simplest is to use Caster sugar, which is what I use.

So I harvested some of my Cumquat crop and juiced them on my citrus juicer.  It took a while.  Because they are so small, you have to juice a lot of them to get much juice.  But I persevered, added caster sugar until it no longer dissolved plus vodka and topped up with cold soda water.  It was a unique and very refreshing drink.  If you have access to a Cumquat tree, you know what to do now.

When I was at the Uni of NSW in Sydney, the library used to have ornamental Cumqat shrubs outside it. The fruit was unmistakeable. It nomally just fell to waste so I used to go around at night and harvest all the ripe fruit. Nobody seemed to mind.  They didn't know what a treasure they had.

Incidentally, in the Philippines they have a hybrid Cumquat tree called a Calamansi. It is probably a hybrid with a Mandarin.   They use it routinely there to make a fruit juice drink.  It has the unique Cumquat taste without the bitterness. You can even get it in cans.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Cancer update

I am the cancer kid.  I have been having skin cancers removed since I was about 20.  And that has gradually got more frequent.  I now have that done nearly once a week. That is mostly done by a small local skin clinic and bulk-billed, so costs me nothing.  Nitrogen spraying gets rid of a lot of the bad bits and shave biopsies zap nearly all the rest.  As a frequent visitor I also get very friendly and courteous treatment there.  So having so many procedures does not get me down. I had a cancer underneath my left eyelid frozen last Friday.

I recently had a big operation for a cancer under my left jaw. In getting the tumor out, my left facial nerve was cut, despite the surgeon doing a lot to avoid that.  So there are now areas of numbness on my left face.  I have however had good recovery of function.  I don't have a sagging mouth or a crooked smile and I can eat and drink with no great problems. I do however have an itchy ear that we are working on and my left eye tends to get a bit watery outdoors. A pair of sunglasses helps that however --if I can remember to put them on!

I also have metastasized prostate cancer but it is controlled by an anti-androgenic injection once a month.  And that seems to be working well.  My most recent PSA score was 2.5, which is close to zero.  So my prostate cancer has shrunk, which is the desideratum.  The cost of the injections of "Firmagon" is interesting.  Each injection costs the government $400 but thanks to the PBS, I pay only $40.  So on the financial side, I have a lot to be thankful for.