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

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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



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



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.



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



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


Food and the Homemade Kitchen

My home office is in my kitchen so sometimes I end up multi-tasking, working and cooking. My herbs, I grew from seed are on the windowsill beside me, and have been used in several dishes already. Having constant access to fresh herbs is great, it keeps down the cost, tastes nicer and gives you a certain amount of pride to your dish.  I can begin to imagine what it will be like when we are living our new life in Ireland. The thought of eating our home-grown produce, home-made bread, sitting in chairs we’ve made from scratch at a dining table we’ve designed and built from scratch is mind-blowing. I know we’ll be living our dream together.

I love making soups but usually end up sticking to making one or two flavours, Carrot and coriander, cream of cauliflower, mixed veg. Today I thought I’d have a go at broccoli and cream cheese soup.

  • chopped onion
  • little olive oil
  • Plenty of fresh broccoli, chopped into small chunks (the stalks were sliced very thin).
  • A nice chunk of courgette, chopped
  • veg stock
  • ground coriander
  • 2 level tablespoons of low-fat, spreadable cream cheese
  • fresh chopped chives
  • salt % pepper to taste

Method:

  1. sweat the onion in a little oil, till turning transparent, add the ground coriander and stir in.add the broccoli and courgette.
  2. Add the veg stock and stir in, cover and simmer till the veg has softened.
  3. Using a hand-blender, blend the soup adding the cream cheese as you go.
  4. simmer for a few minutes stirring to prevent the cheese splitting.
  5. Finally add salt and pepper as well as chopped chives, stir in and leave to stand, covered for a few minutes before serving

Note: serve with some nice caramelised onion bread/buns and fresh butter.

Eco tips:

  • this can be frozen when cooled, so you can save fuel by making a large batch ahead of time. Also it tastes better the next day or when defrosted.
  • I stored this in the freezer using standard margarine tubs, they hold a nice hearty portion ( be careful though as they can be a little wobbly, so take care when putting them in the freezer).

Enjoy

Ric xx