applesteamdream


The Journey
June 15, 2012, 3:27 pm
Filed under: Dad, Life, love, Smile | Tags: , , ,

For Jack Sharples and Michelle Gray

 

Life is a strange old thing, you think you know where you are heading, what you will be and how you will live your life…..then BANG! you realise that life is never as simple as that. As many plans as you make, more forks in the road crop up to steer you a different way. Sometimes objects, people or things take our attention, some for a moment, some for longer, sometimes for a lifetime. Sometimes the road is smooth, sometimes rocky. Every now and then its uphill, seeming to go on for a lot longer than the reality, but with the promise of a time of free-wheeling down the other side to a more relaxed time.

Along the way we may lose people we hold dear, whether they move away, lose touch, fall out with us or something more permanent, leave this physical world behind. Through all the hurt, sorry, recriminations and blame, we are all on the same journey, just following different routes. When we meet someone on the way, that makes us feel the journey is worthwhile, we should hug them close with all our hearts and share what we have found with others.

Always remember to share a smile, a few kind words or a helping hand with others can make all the difference. Who knows what trials of life others are experiencing, when you meet. A smile, like dropping a stone in a pond, can send ripple effects to many, spreading kindness and joy to what can be, at times a dark world.

 

 



The New Year Begun

Now here we are, 2012, just a number. Lots to be done during this number, we have to secure full planning permission on the land but even before that a survey, a complete design and a bit of negotiation with our neighbours, “a plan is in  the making”.

By the end of said number we would like to have found and secured a local supplier of  Douglass Fir, a softwood yet strong and proven to be a great framework building material. This is available in plenty in Ireland so keeps down the carbon footprint of long haulage.

Again the straw supplier has to be sorted, straw is better if bought the previous year and dry stored ready for the build.

As well as an unknown amount of things that side swipe you along the journey to your dream, BUT this is our dream, our end product is simple living, not easy living. We have a vision, “sat aside upon our porch, overhanging roof sheltering the rain, a cigar, a whiskey and a good book” this is our dream, no fast cars or condos.

Just beautiful and together, every day together.

Happy new year xx  

Our best wishes to all, Richard & Ric 



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



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