applesteamdream


Home Made Christmas

In the kitchen saucepans boil,

Onions chopped my tears recoil,

Marrow chutney stews and brew’s to ready for the jar,

Applesteam Christmas gifts, the chutney guys we are.

But to do this both together, learning traits anew,

Things that can’t be done, we find are very few.

Now the onion is reducing, aromas fill the air,

Creating the perfect flavour takes a lot of care.

No burning on the bottom or sticking to the side,

A mistake however small now impossible to hide.

The marrow reveals a mushy melt of mess,

Juices plump and purify, help the fruit distress.

Almost ready for the jars all clean and sterile, shining bright,

We fill them full and label up, what a scrumptious sight.

Signed and sealed these Christmas gifts for family and friend,

Not only chutney within these jars, also love we send.

Happy Christmas – Richard & Ric x



Its a Home-Made Christmas at Applesteamdream…
December 12, 2011, 9:22 am
Filed under: baking, Christmas, cooking, sustainable living | Tags: , , , , ,

With the world in recession still, its been lovely to return to a time when gifts were handmade, when preparations for Christmas involved lots of quality family fun in the kitchen. Though preparations started in October, it makes the season all the more special when it draws closer. We’ve found happiness in the day to day things, not in financial gains. The contentment to be found cooking together, whether it is something for a special occasion, or for dinner, is amazing. Sharing tasks makes them more fun, and becomes a way to bond instead of a chore.

Preparations for the coming festive season have been fun, we’re trying old and new recipes for chutneys, cakes and the like, for Christmas presents, but also going forward for our own store cupboard and the forthcoming Applestaemdream cookbook.

Red Onion Marmalade bubbling away.

Red Onion Marmalade took quite a lot of onions, 1kg and makes only a couple of small jars when ready, but it tastes amazing and works out a lot cheaper than the shop bought variety. A great accompaniment for cold meats or cheeses on Boxing Day and beyond.

Marrow Chutney with our labels on

The first chutney we’ve ever made is now in jars to mature over the next few weeks up to Christmas. Chutney is a great way to preserve the excess of fruit and vegetables from the garden, and make sure you have produce throughout the winter season. The vinegar and sugar act as natural preservatives. Why do commercial companies feel the need to add all those colourings and additives when it looks and lasts so well without? All the flavours will infuse nicely and would normally be ready to eat between 2-4 weeks.  Tonight we will be making some apple and cinnamon jam, and some apple chutney.

The Christmas cake is due to be turned over tonight too, the marzipan will be made and added too. The marzipan needs to be on the cake for up to a week before icing, so it should be ready for this coming weekend.

Marzipan Recipe

350g ground almonds

175g castor sugar

175g icing sugar

1 medium egg beaten

juice from 1/2 a lemon.

Method: all dry ingredients into a bowl, mix well, add lemon juice, then enough beaten egg to make a pliable paste. Coat the surface of the cake in apricot jam, roll out marzipan and cover your cake. Don’t worry if you can’t cover it in one go and need to patch it up, it’ll be covered in icing.   As a special treat make another batch of marzipan,  roll into balls and dip in melted chocolate, allow to cool and wrap a few in cellophane with a red ribbon as a Christmas treat.

Next, the home-made sweet mincemeat will be going in the little buttery pastry cases ready for Christmas guests to have a mince-pie with a brandy or whiskey coffee.

Have a lovely Season and enjoy the journey, and don’t get too stressed.

Ric & Richard

xx



Our Culnady Dwelling.

We’re both hard at work in every department of building our applesteamdream, Ric has accumulated many recipes and ideas inc samples of eco roof tiling (made from recycled bottles).

Eco-slate

Eco-slate 2

Here is a couple of photos of the tile’s, as you can see the difference  in look to standard tiles is very little though they are so much better insulation dew to the proses of weathering, the tiles bond together expelling all air gaps and crate one solid membrane.

We have been searching for an architect to help with the straw bale build and have found Tagarts of Belfast, they designed the Ecos building in Ireland and have taken our project on with wonder and enthusiasm  (at first I think they thought we were bonkers but after the full plan was unfolded they have come round to our way of thinking that everything is possible,  or at least excepted or madness).

All of the land paperwork has now been completed thanks to the hard-working solicitor (J McNally’s) of Magherafelt, we are the proud owners of the land appointed to Culnady Road, Upperlands, its taken six years in total so as you may imagine we are delighted.

Next thing will be a January trip back over to clear and survey the land fully, the house will be built on a platform to take into account  the natural slope towards the river and help protect the straw bale construction. Lots of planning to be done.

Well all for now, Happy days –  Richard & Ric.

 



Season’s Greetings………..”Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas…….”

Well we are into December at last, and our tree has gone up…..still got the hallway to decorate though….just like Narnia Winter wonderland…..watch this space.

As you can see below the wrapping idea worked a treat, we’re really pleased with the way it looks. No sticky tape means the brown paper can be re-used, as well as the cloth red ribbon, 25 mtrs for less than £3, from E-bay. Next year we might use newspaper and string…..what about using gift bags that can be used year after year, try and wrap ecologically and don’t waste paper.

If you use commercial paper, don’t use sticky tape. That way you could buy a recycled paper “log Press” and make eco-logs out of the old paper: add water in a bucket, add paper, place lots of the wet paper into the log press and Hey presto: Eco-log. They take a bit of time to dry out, so do a few at a time.

The eco log will burn slowly on the open fire, what about having a fire pit in the garden….for Boxing Day treat?

On another note, we have just tried a mincemeat recipe that was given my mum, by a lady that was 100 years old, the recipe was given to her by her mother. Its at least 200 years old, the recipe that is not her mother. For our American readers, this mincemeat recipe is a sweet mix of dried and glace fruit, with sugar and brandy etc. Here is a treat….the recipe in question, (bake in little individual pastry cases for delicious mince pies)

1/2 lb currants

1/2 lb sultanas

1/4 lb candied peel

2 oz ground almonds

large cooking apple

1/4 lb suet (we used vegetarian)

1/2 lb soft brown sugar

rind and juice of  1 orange and 1 lemon

1 or 2 teaspoons ground, dried mixed spice (cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, clove, pimento, ginger)

10 glace cherries sliced in half.

Method

Clean fruit, peel and chop apple into small pieces or slivers.

Remove rind of orange and lemon, and squeeze juice, removing pips and pith.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, add two or three tablespoons of brandy or whiskey or dark rum (optional).

Then stir in well. Cover and stir two or three times a day for a couple of days. Then keep in sterilised jars till needed.

Make some individual short crust pastry cases, fill with mincemeat, add pastry lid and bake in line with your pastry recipe.

These are gorgeous served with ice-cream, double cream or custard…or cold with a nice coffee.

You could go the whole distance and serve with double cream mixed with some pouring honey and whiskey….delicious.

Have a lovely time preparing for the festive season,

Ric and Richard xx



Egyptian Dukkah, a great nibble….
October 21, 2011, 5:27 pm
Filed under: baking, cooking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I had tried this at a friends house a few years ago and have been trying to buy it at local delis, in the end I made my own. Dip broken pieces of bread in extra virgin olive oil, then into the dukkah, and eat as anibble or a snack, nice as a starter. Egyptian Dukkah is a blend of toasted nuts, seeds and spices plus a little brown sugar and seasoning. Such a delicious combination and i’m not surprised that this is a popular pre-meal nibble.

Egyptian Dukkah

the quantities below make a lot of Dukkah but  it’s not worth reducing the quantities. Use Dukkah in place of breadcrumbs or layered between buttered sheets of filo pastry. Use whole spices which you should buy in small quantities so they don’t go stale; toast and grind your spices rather than use bought spice blends or powdered spices. Use different combination of nuts  to that in the recipe, be creative and aka use up whatever you have in your cupboard!)

50g almonds

50g pistachio nuts

50g hazelnuts

35g sesame seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

½ a tablespoon black peppercorns

1 small piece of cinnamon bark (this was my one cheat – i used the cassia powder i
bought in new york last year)

2 tablespoons brown sugar (i used dark muscovado)

1 tablespoon sea salt

toast the nuts and seeds in a large dry frying pan over a medium heat for 7-10 minutes until the nuts are golden (i added the sesame seeds a few minutes before the end so they didn’t burn). place the nut mixture in a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

toast the spices in a dry frying pan over a medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes until fragrant. grind them to a powder in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. toss the nuts and spices together, with the sugar and salt, until well combined.



Pantry Plans

We haven’t posted since before the visit we had to Grand Designs Live (GDL). We’ve had lots of things to sort out, and we haven’t had much time to go through all the information we gathered there. One project that has progressed in the planning stage, through discussions around being carbon neutral is our plans to have a vented pantry.

At GDL we noticed a simple pantry cupboard design which utilises some basic principles of food preservation. “In the old days”, they used to have a pantry to keep food in. These were often bare brick walled with shelves attached. In some cases the shelves, or a specific shelf for dairy produce, would be made of stone, slate or granite. These cold stones used to stay even in summer months, reducing the need for refrigeration. Other methods of cold storage have included root cellars, ceramic or terracotta jars. The design we saw utilised two of these principles, it had a slab of granite as the main shelf, and terracotta, lidded jars for further storage of bread and potatoes.

 you can just make out the shelf and the terracotta jars. These jars were set into pull out drawers for ease of access. The design has the added benefit that the granite slab is above the jars; this means that the cool air generated by the granite will sink down, cooling the jars further.

We have done some planning and research and have come across various ideas to increase the efficiency of this idea. Our pantry needs to be on the north side of the house, thus avoiding sun from the south warming the outside wall. We intend to make all the shelves out of stone to create more cold zones and an insulated door. To increase the cooling process we intend to fit the pantry with a chimney in the roof and a vent in the floor. This would be utilizing basic principles to keep the food cool: hot air rises, (through the chimney) as it does this, cool air is drawn in from lower down. All we need to add to this is a filter system to keep mould/fungus out and voila, nice cool pantry.

Ric & Richard

x



Applesteam Dream- Apple Jam and Fresh Bread

First trial of Apple Jam

 I tried a setting on my breadmaker I’ve never used before. I’ve always, in the past used it to make bread from start to finish, but have never been overly impressed with the results. Now I use it to make the dough, but then transfer it to a bread/cake tin to rise a little more, and place it in the oven, much better loaf, and no hole in the bottom because of the mixing paddle.

But today I decided to try the jam setting. I had been given some apples by a friend of my Mum’s, lovely lady that does errands for my parents. So I decided to make some apple jam, with a little cinnamon added at the end. I didn’t realise how easy it was to make, and how few ingredients you need: apples, sugar with pectin (to help it set), lemon juice, a little water, cinnamon.

It filled the flat with the lovely smell of “Applesteam” when it was heating and stirring itself. It has set rather nicely too. We haven’t tried it yet, that’ll be in the morning when Richard comes over to pick me up to go to Grand Designs Live in Birmingham www.granddesignslive.com

We are having toast, made with homemade bread, my Mum’s homemade damson jam and my homemade apple jam…lovely.

xx

Ric