LESS IS MORE: Juice of the season

ORANGES are at their best in winter. Delicious sweet navels have just come into season and I recently visited my favourite orchard to pick a bucket of delicious Bulga oranges*.

We’re enjoying freshly squeezed orange juice with breakfast and orange jelly has become a regular treat. I haven’t looked at the ingredients on a packet of jelly lately – but I’m certain it would include loads of sugar and a few artificial colours and flavours. Jelly can be easily made using only juice, honey and gelatine (or agar agar for a vegan version). I just sweeten the juice to taste and simply follow the instructions on the gelatine packet.

Oranges are at their best in winter. Picture by Tricia Hogbin

Enjoying this seasonal bounty has left my compost bin overflowing with citrus peel, so I’m exploring useful ways to use it. My favourite is homemade citrus cleaner. I fill a jar with peel, cover with white vinegar, pop on the lid and leave in a dark cupboard. After brewing for a couple of weeks I strain the vinegar into a spray bottle. Citrus peel contains a natural solvent, making it a powerful, inexpensive, all-purpose natural cleaner.

Given its high oil content, orange peel also makes a good fire starter.

Dry the peel on a tray in the sun or by the fire and a few weeks later you’ll have a pile of sweet smelling fire starters. I dry our peels on top of our pot-belly stove and as a bonus our home smells delicious.

Hundreds of other ways to use citrus peel are revealed by a quick search of the internet. Orange peel chutney, chocolate-dipped candied peel and cooking an egg in an orange peel over a camp fire are next on my list. I might even rub peel all over my face, as apparently the citric acid in the peel will make my face ‘glow’.

*Betty and Harold of Hillsdale Orchard, Thompsons Road Bulga, welcome the public to come and pick their own oranges. To arrange a visit phone 02 65745173. You’ll also find their oranges at Lake Macquarie City Farmers Markets each Saturday and Newcastle City Farmers Markets each Sunday.

Tricia writes about learning to live better with less at littleecofootprints杭州夜生活m.

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John Dee, changing the world

JON Dee created his first enterprise at 17. As a music-obsessed teenager living in the small English town of Wem, he founded the fan club for the rock band Yes.

NO TIME TO REST: Environmental and charity campaigner Jon Dee has been campaigning since he was a teenager. Picture: Jacky Ghossein

“Through that I got to meet all my heroes,” he recalls. “I was getting drunk at 17 with [Led Zeppelin’s influential guitarist] Jimmy Page and meeting all the guys from Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and Queen. They found out I was doing charity work at my school and then suddenly someone got confused one day and said, ‘Jon does charity stuff with rock bands’. My first paid job was fixing up a charity concert that had gone off the rails.

“I realised that was what I wanted to do, that this was a way of merging my networking skills and passion for charity work, so I decided to become a consultant at 19 to help charities and musicians to improve the way they organise their charity events.”

Dee then co-produced the global broadcast that launched World AIDS Day on December 1, 1988.

“I got the BBC to donate all their studios for free for a 55-country global event.”

He has headed a dizzying number and variety of projects since then, and his vast network includes a who’s who of entertainment, business and politics. Prior to our interview, the social entrepreneur had been exchanging emails with long-time friend and charity partner Olivia Newton-John. The pair are working on the One Tree Per Child campaign, an international follow-up to their successful National Tree Day project. More than 10 million trees were planted throughout Australia during the 15 years they managed the annual event.

Dee, an in-demand consultant and speaker, is also the managing director of DoSomething!, a non-profit organisation he founded with long-time friend Pat Cash and the former executive director of the National Trust of Australia, Tina Jackson, which brings together businesses and community enterprises to create “positive social and environmental change”.

“I’m one of those people that if I see something I don’t like, I find it almost impossible not to do something about it,” he laughs.

One of the organisation’s great successes has been the creation of the website DoSomethingNearYou杭州夜生活m.au, which lists community groups in 16,000 suburbs. If you are interested in volunteering, you type in your postcode and a list of local organisations appears.

“We’ve done it without a single cent of government funding,” he says proudly.

“Initially the Pratt family and the Pat Cash Foundation funded the project and it then got to the point that we accepted it was going to need quite a bit of money every year to run so Aldi have agreed to sponsor it.”

The 49-year-old, who lives in the Blue Mountains with wife Leanne and daughters Estelle, 9, and Claudia, 5, is determined to smash the myth that you have to “either be for the environment and social change or for business”.

“We’ve got to become better at using resources and creating sustainability across all areas of our lives and the most powerful tool is business because that’s who we interact with on a day-to-day basis in a way we don’t with our politicians.

“If we can get this positive outcome between business and community, that is where I see the influential decisions being made.”

Dee is an astute and effective networker as well as a determined and focused campaigner. He has lobbied all sides of politics to support various projects including “Ban the Bulb”, during which incandescent light globes were phased out over three years.

“I went to the Howard government with the idea to phase out light globes to save hundreds of millions of dollars in electricity bills, and at the same time making a big difference to the environment. Malcolm Turnbull pressed the button on that campaign and Peter Garrett implemented it with the Rudd Government.

“We were the first developed country to do that, and because Australia took the lead, Europe followed. You cannot buy an incandescent globe in the European Union and now China and America have announced they’re going to do it too.

“Australia should take the lead on projects like this; we’re only 23 million people, we’re well educated, we’re doing far better economically than most countries in the world. If we can’t take the lead, be the change that the world wants to see, then who is going to do it?”

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Cooper still rated a danger over the ditch

Reds five-eighth Quade Cooper was ”unlucky” to miss out on the British and Irish Lions series and holds the key to Queensland’s Super Rugby hopes, says All Blacks and Chiefs No.10 Aaron Cruden.

”He’s a fantastic player, obviously he’s got that X-factor and that unpredictability,” Cruden said. ”I think that’s what makes him so hard to defend and mark.”

Despite his difficult World Cup campaign in 2011, Cooper has been in good form in his trips across the ditch this year, linking well with No.9 Will Genia in the 34-33 win against the Highlanders in Dunedin and most notably in the 31-23 success against the Chiefs in Hamilton. That Cooper performance, in which his kicking game was strong and he sold Cruden a nice dummy to score under the posts, remains one high point in a season in which the good has been mixed with the inaccurate.

It is an 80 minutes that is still fresh in Cruden’s mind.

”He had an outstanding game against us earlier in the year,” he said. ”I think he was pretty unlucky not to be involved in the Wallabies mix, but for whatever reason the coaches decided to go with some other players.

”He’s going to be a real threat, especially if the Reds get a bit of momentum. And you never know what’s going to happen in Christchurch [when the Reds play the Crusaders] over the weekend.

”He’s just one of those guys you hope you can shut down but he’s just so unpredictable that you’ve got to be ready for whatever he’s going to throw.”

A Reds win against Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and co would set up a second trip to Hamilton this year for the Queenslanders and prolong Ewen McKenzie’s reign, although the continued injury-enforced absence of midfielder Anthony Faingaa (hamstring) will harm their chances. Just as significantly, the Reds and the Brumbies are coming to terms with getting back into the rhythm of Super Rugby after the British and Irish Lions series, and Cruden could empathise with the difficulty of that task. ”We [the Chiefs] probably haven’t been at our best since coming back from the international break [a series against France],” Cruden said. ”It can be quite difficult.

”You’ve just got to try and adapt and get back into the groove as fast as possible. Sometimes it’s really hard getting back to the familiar calls of what team you are actually playing for and mentally it can take a bit of a toll on you as well and obviously physically, if you are putting your body through a bit of hurt week in and week out. The most important thing is trying to get back into the groove.”

Cruden also gave an insight into the Chiefs’ enduring relationship with Sonny Bill Williams, which clearly will be a factor in the Rooster’s mind as he weighs up his options for next year and 2015.

Williams was at the Blues v Chiefs game in Auckland last weekend and Cruden was delighted they could celebrate winning the New Zealand conference with the dual international.

”It’s really nice,” Cruden said. ”All the boys got to know him last year when he was here with the Chiefs, and he’s such a great guy. He had a bit of time off and came back to New Zealand and it was awesome to see him in the changing rooms [after the game] and chew the fat and have a good yarn with him. It was good for all the lads.”

Twitter: @whiskeycully

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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Brumbies look to class of ’04 for inspiration

They pulled on the retro ”heavy, cotton jerseys of a playing strip revolution” to relive their championship memories and those last links to the Brumbies’ golden era are determined to deliver success to a new generation.

Brumbies George Smith and Clyde Rathbone will play against the Cheetahs at Canberra Stadium on Sunday in the club’s first Super Rugby finals appearance since 2004. They’re the only guys still playing from from the team that won the title nine years ago.

Rathbone will be included in the Brumbies’ starting team, capping off a remarkable comeback to rugby after chronic injuries forced him to retire in 2009. The shock call-up on to the wing in one of the club’s most important games in a decade comes just 18 months after 31-year-old Rathbone went public with his battle against depression.

Smith is back in the capital for a farewell season following stints in France and Japan and the finals clash will likely be his last game at Canberra Stadium.

”If we were wearing these [2004] jerseys now, they’d weigh an extra three kilograms if it rained. Now they’re all skin tight and light,” Rathbone said after pulling on the 2004 jersey. ”It reiterated how old George and I are. It brought back memories of how awesome that season was.

”But this week isn’t about reminiscing about 2004. It’s about beating the Cheetahs. It’s going to be amazing on Sunday, I could see how excited George was, even after everything he’s done.”

Almost 12,000 tickets have been sold as coach Jake White and his team attempt to stay alive in the championship race. If the Brumbies win, they will fly to South Africa on Monday to play against the Bulls in the second week of the finals.

The players ramped up the hype when they hosted a barbecue in Canberra on Thursday and hundreds of fans turned up for autographs and ticket giveaways. The excitement is giving Rathbone and Smith a sense of deja vu.

As rising stars in 2004, the duo were part of a team of champions, including Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, Owen Finegan, Joe Roff and Stirling Mortlock. Rathbone, then 22, was in his second season in Canberra.

The Brumbies had made the finals every year from 2000-05, including titles in 2001 and 2004.

No one thought beating the Canterbury Crusaders in an absorbing 47-38 grand final in 2004 would be the last time the Brumbies would see play-off action until almost a decade later.

”There are similarities and differences now. Back then finals were probably valued a bit higher because there were less chances to see the Brumbies,” Rathbone said.

”I didn’t appreciate how rare it was. I was injured in ’03 and we won the comp in ’04. When you’re young you just think winning is just what the Brumbies do.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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Frustrated Evans switches sights to stage win as podium chances disappear

For Cadel Evans, accepting his pursuit of a top overall place in the 100th Tour de France was over was hard – no matter how obvious it might have looked to others.

On Wednesday, Evans (BMC), the first Australian to win the Tour, revealed that ”in the last 24 hours” his purpose for this year’s Tour had changed from being a rider racing for general classification. At the time, he was placed 17th overall 16 minutes, 40 seconds behind Tour leader Chris Froome (Sky).

Even then, Evans, 36, said while warming down after his ride in the 32 kilometre stage 17 mountain time trial from Embrun to Chorges, it was a team decision.

Asked when his target switched from a high overall placing to a stage win before the Tour’s finish on Sunday, Evans said: ”The team decided, and … ‘OK, I am here to do my job. I tried in one aspect [for] the GC, and couldn’t deliver for whatever reasons, and that has only come in the last 24 hours.”

Evans later finished 167th in the time trial from 177 finishers at 8.04 to Froome. The Australian dropped further on the overall standings to 18th, 24.44 behind Froome, who won the stage by 9s over Spaniard Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).

The stage place didn’t matter to Evans. He had deliberately held himself back to save energy should the opportunity to win a stage in the Alps beckon.

”If I am going to have chance of doing anything in the stages to come, I am going to have to be recovered and to back off today,” Evans said.

”I will see if there is an opportunity [in stage 18]; if not, take it easy again in the hope of coming around for one of the [last] stages.”

To his fans watching – many of them Australian – his stage result mattered little either. They were just happy to catch a glimpse of the rider who captured their hearts two years ago with his Tour win. They offered words of encouragement as he spun the lactate out of his legs. Evans replied with a smile and a wave.

Calmly, Evans explained the difficulty in shifting his focus from the general classification to a stage win. For many, it was an obvious call to make when he lost a chunk of time on stage eight to Ax 3 Domaines in the Pyrenees, again in the stage 11 time trial at Mont Saint-Michel and then after stage 15 to Mont Ventoux.

But Evans’ ambition, as with pride, runs deep. Until stage 14, he was still being spoken of by his team as a top 10 overall chance.

”You go in with big ambitions. It’s not that you can get anywhere without ambitions. They are a pretty strong driving force for getting anywhere,” Evans said.

”Not living up to those – or not delivering – is always disappointing and something to deal with, something that inevitably is going to happen every now and then in sport – certainly at a high level at least.

”Being here is always helping me for the end of the season, or next year. I have to accept that I can’t go back and correct my time losses from Ax 3 Domaines or at Ventoux. That’s the way it is. I have put that behind me and get on with it.”

Evans said it was too early to say what went wrong in his ninth Tour. He suspects racing the three-week Giro d’Italia to third place off a short six-week preparation might have been too much for him.

”It would seem that the Giro took a lot more out of me than I first thought, than we first thought and understood,” Evans said.

”It’s really at that top end that I am lacking it … When the real selection is being made on an uphill finale or finish is where I am finding myself legless. It is something we have to look at – take a bit of time to analyse. I want to be back at a good level, of course. But it’s first important to understand that.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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