We have previously written about giant pumpkins, but never before about giant feijoas. Unlike pumpkins, which are measured in hundreds of kilograms, giant feijoas are measured in hundreds of grams.

Hawke's Bay Today reports a new New Zealand record has been set by a couple, Roger and Julie, from Havelock North. They have raised some beauties that are weighing in at 316g. They say the secret is good pruning and lots of sheep manure.

The story did not mention the variety but if you want big fruit you may like to try the larger varieties, like Golden Goose, which has fruit between 60g and 200g.

Feijoas grow so well in this country it's hard to believe they're actually a native of South America. They make a great hedge and produce huge amounts of fruit. They are so plentiful when they are in season, that you can often get them for free. The season generally runs from March to late June.

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Given how plentiful they are right now, here are some suggestions for using them.

Stewed feijoas are delicious on cereal for breakfast, or as a simple dessert with cream or icecream, as a pie filling, or with a hot sponge topping. All you need is 3/4 cup sugar, 2 cups water, and 12 peeled and quartered feijoas. Prepare a syrup with the sugar and water, add the feijoas and simmer until tender.

To make feijoa jam, cut unpeeled feijoas into thin slices. To 1kg of sliced feijoas add 1/4 cup water and cook until soft. Gradually add 4 cups sugar, and bring carefully to the boil, stirring constantly. Then bring to a fast rolling boil until the mixture reaches setting point -- when a dollop dropped on to a saucer solidifies and gels. Because feijoas are high in pectin, this can happen quite quickly. Pour into heated sterilised jars and seal.

A reader writes, "We have a hedge of feijoa trees which we use to shelter the garden. The bonus is we have lots of feijoas. I am not naturally inclined towards the taste so I had to go searching for recipes to sweeten it up, and I came across this feijoa and apple crumble. This is what you do. To make the crumble, combine 75g of butter (which I dice up to make it mix easier), 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup of soft brown sugar, 1/4 cup of coconut and 1/4 cup of rolled oats (the same ones I use for my breakfast). I mix this in a blender. That's the crumble. For the fruit I peel and slice a dozen or so medium sized feijoas and two sweet apples (because I like things sweet). I lay the fruit into a baking dish then sprinkle over a 1/4 cup of white sugar (that sweet tooth again).

"I then top it off with the crumble mix and bake it in a preheated oven at 180C until the crumble is crisp, which will take about 40 minutes. If I have any pulp left over I have it with porridge for breakfast."

If you have a favourite feijoa recipe please write to us via oilyrag.co.nz and we will share it with others.

Now to some of your questions.

Jane from Auckland writes: "I would like some advice as to how to clean mildew from cream coloured cotton/linen curtains."

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Valmae asks, "My query is related to keeping track of income and expenditure. What do others recommend as the easiest and most efficient method of tracking our money? Is there some great cheap or free software or an already set up spreadsheet? It would be great to hear what others find useful, simple, and user friendly."

Delia from Whangarei asks, "Just wondered if anyone knows of a cheap but hearty dog food? Pets can be expensive!"

And Karen from Pukekohe asks, "Does anyone have any tips for keeping ants or mice out of the house now that the winter is coming?"

If you can help Jane, Valmae, Delia or Karen please drop us a note via our website.

Thanks for your questions and tips -- please keep them coming! You can send in your ideas and join the Oily Rag mailing list, by visiting our website or you can write to us at Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Read tips at www.oilyrag.co.nz