applesteamdream


MEDITERRANEAN MADNESS

mdina

It’s quite a while since we last posted on here and life has taken many different turns since then. We are still in the villa we found when we first moved over, but haven’t developed the garden at all, we just haven’t had time.

Moving to a small island (Malta is only 17 miles by 9) means that you have to become very adaptable, A lot of the ideas we had when we moved over here have changed. The jams, chutneys etc are made rather infrequently at the moment. We lost a lot of the grapefruit crop due to high winds as they were almost ready to harvest.

Our interior design business that we had in the UK is now thriving over here as well as the maintenance part of the business. We have an ever-growing client base and word of mouth is getting us plenty of work.

Now we are starting to move into the furniture up-cycling and re-design part of the business that we always wanted to do. We have several projects on the go, two sink units, one from an old telegraph pole the other from big wooden posts. An old wooden slab used to be the footing for scaffolding is being turned into a designer side table with built in table lamp, (photos to follow).

We have many design ideas coming together, some with re-cycled materials, some from scratch.

We thought we’d share the bed that we made for ourselves first, out of 8″square beams and 3″square posts.:

bed 2

bed 1

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Christmas Smile

A deep breath is what it takes,

time to bake the Christmas cakes,

feel the cold of winters flakes,

a deep breath is all it takes.

A bright smile for all to see,

no cost involved as smiles are free,

the warmest gift from you to me,

the way our world shall always be.

A glass of wine to drink your health,

in your eyes I see loves wealth,

our love for each is never stealth.

Richard x



Season’s Greetings and the three R’s

We haven’t posted for a while, its been a bit mad with family stuff, but it doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy.

The latest batch of Applesteamdream Apple and Cinnamon jam is ready, been put into jars and the labels are now on, ready to go into friend’s Christmas Present boxes. This year we are making as much as we can for presents, this traditional approach suits the Applesteamdream way. So our friends can expect homemade things like: Egyptian Dukkha; jams; brownies; chutneys; lemon curd; as well as other non-edible delights. It seems to give a whole new dimension to the run up to the winter holidays.  Presents will be wrapped, this year, in brown paper with coloured ribbon. Ribbon can be re-used, and because there’s no sellotape, the brown paper can be used again, following the 3 R’s mantra: Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. Jam jars can be bought but why not save jars after use. We save all our glass jars and sterilise them, wash, then in bicarbonate of soda and hot water, then in the oven for a few minutes, usually when the oven is already hot from baking….waste not want not (even the heat in the oven is re-used).

By making many of the presents ourselves we have also managed to reduce our carbon footprint, by not buying things that have been shipped all over the world. The apples were from a family friend’s tree, which would have dropped to the ground and be lost. Its amazing when you start on this journey, how much fruit you see going to waste in people’s gardens. Next year, I am going to walk around the neighbourhood and offer some pots of jam or chutney in exchange for the fruit.  It’ll save them having to clear up the windfall from their gardens too.

This afternoon we are putting the trimmings up, usually they go up on December 1st, but all this prep has put us in the Christmas mood. The cake that was baked a few weeks ago will get another drink of Brandy…..MMMmmmm WARNING: “Please Don’t Eat Christmas Cake and Drive”…not ours anyway. It’ll be another couple of weeks before the marzipan will be made and the cake covered. Please have a go at making your own marzipan, its easy and tastes so much better. TIP: leave the marzipan covered cake for up to a week to settle, before adding the icing.

Looking forward this afternoon: to mince pies, cappuccino with a sprinkling of cinnamon on and Christmas music as the flat takes on its winter festive mantel.

Season’s Greetings

Ric & Richard xx

Applesteamdream



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



A Lovely Gift

Last evening Ric surprised me with a ticket to the Grand Designs Live show (which is tomorrow, Sat 8th Oct). The show has a massive section on Eco building, straw bale construction and different heating/cooling systems. I’m not sure I have enough brain space to take it all in in one day so a reusable bag filled with hopefully recycled leaflets will be required.
We will return with ideas & photos soon.
I can feel some tired feet coming on.

Take care, Richard



Movement every day….

When we first started discussing the Applesteam dream, it all seemed like a pipedream, set somewhere in the future, in a land far far away…… As time passes, little by little, preparations are being made. The land is now sorted and all the legal stuff is signed off, and we are now in the process of learning about what we intend to build, and how we intend to live.

The Applesteam dream is now taking a turn towards thinking and planning the house, though construction won’t be for some time, the build will be here before we know it, so the next few years we have the luxury of fine tuning our home’s design.

It was my birthday the other week and two very dear friends, also in the process of planning major life changes and a new home, surprised me with some wonderful help towards our sustainable living….two books…..

Patio Produce

A wonderful book on growing things in small places, very surprised at some of the possibilities, can;t wait to get started. The second and most exciting for me is a book on foraging…

food for free

I have been talking about this idea for quite a bit of the summer and both myself and Richard are looking forward to our first free hedgerow lunch. I’ve got a few days away from the office, spending time with my parents this coming week and intend to spend some time digesting some of the information and tips in this book. Nettle soup and mixed weed salad here we come. Mmmm nettle bread…….that might work…

Tonight I am working on setting up a large lever arch file ready for inspiration, clippings and booklets to go in, so our build ideas are all together. By the time we’re ready to employ an architect to draw the official plans, from our own drwings, we’ll have all the relevant information to hand over to him ready to plan the build.
We’ve found lots of inspirational pictures on the internet of construction; design features; architectural detailing and layouts, but these will only be for inspiration as our home will be totally unique, a reflection of both of us. We are even reasearching some straw bale building courses at local colleges. If we manage to attend one before next summer, we may even do our own small workshop on the techniques next summer at a festival we attend.
Well, I must get on with the Applesteam Dream file now.
Ric
xx