All posts by Duncan Colman

Preparing Your Home for Autumn

While the sun is shining and we’re all making the most of the Great British Summer, it’s sometimes hard to believe that in a few months’ time we’ll be wrapping up warm, stoking fires and sweeping leaves in the garden. It may seem quite early to start thinking about these things and perhaps best not to until autumn properly arrives, however it is a good idea to get ahead and make some preparations for the season.

Here at Glowing Embers we thought we would put together a small guide to help you prepare for autumn, looking at the kinds of things you can get done around the and in the garden so you’re ready when the leaves begin to fall.

Outside

There are plenty of things you can prepare for outside in the run-up to autumn, making your life easier when the winds begin to blow and the rain starts falling. Not only will many of these tasks keep your house and garden in shape during the autumn months but also throughout winter and even into spring too.

  • Clean gutters and drainage

A very simple and easy task, cleaning your gutters and unblocking drains ensures they will not be constantly clogged up with any excess debris when the autumn rains begin to fall. However, don’t forget to keep on top of this when autumn does come around as falling leaves will likely block them too.

  • Check your home for cracks

While the weather is nice and warm, a quick inspection of your home in the summer can save a lot of hassle later in the year. If you see any cracks or holes in the walls or roof, get them repaired, either by yourself or by hiring a professional.

  • Cut back bushes

Another good excuse to get out in the garden this summer, cutting back any garden bushes not only keeps your garden looking good but avoids having to wrestle with an out of control hedge in the freezing winter months.

  • Plant bulbs

This may sound bizarre, but the best time to plant your bulbs for spring is towards the end of summer and beginning of autumn. While the soil is still soft and fertile, make sure you plant any spring flowers’ bulbs now before it gets too wet and cold.

  • Stock up on wood

If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace then it’s a good idea to start stocking up on some new logs and rotate any seasoned pieces of wood you have. Bring the seasoned wood indoors and replace it with fresh logs for next year.

  • Rearranging your shed

By making sure leaf rakes and shears are easy to hand in your shed whilst moving deckchairs and parasols to the back can save a lot of hassle when your having to tidy up the garden in autumn.

 

 

 

Inside

Whilst it’s important to prepare the outside of your house and garden for autumn, it is equally, if not more, important to get the inside of your home ready. With just a few simple changes and checks, you can relax and even save money during the autumn.

  • Check for draught

A simple check for cracks inside your house or gaps between windows can remedy a lot of problems in autumn and winter. There’s nothing worse than a draughty house in autumn and dealing with them now will keep you warm in the months ahead and save money on heating bills. If your spot a crack and/or a draught, get it filled or, if very serious, checked out by a professional.

  • Look at your thermostat

Setting your thermostat to an automatically lower temperature at night time when the temperatures begin to drop can save money on your heating bills.

  • Stock up on fuel

Making sure you have ample fuel in your house for your fire, whether it be wood or coal, means you don’t have to rush out to get some if the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse.

  • Test devices

Device like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors can run out of battery or become faulty after a time and in the autumn, having a fire on in your home means you are more likely to need them. Just give them a quick check and replace any batteries or devices where necessary.

  • Get chimney swept

It’s sometimes easy to forget that you ever needed to have a fire on in the house when the weather is so good. However, all that wood and coal you burnt last winter and autumn produces a lot of soot which can get clogged up in your chimney. While you’re not using your fireplace, hire a professional to inspect and sweep the chimney, and give your fireplace a good clean.

  • Get your boiler serviced

Whether this is a full service or a simple inspection by a hired professional, keeping on top of your boiler’s status will not only avoid any horrible surprises when it gets chilly but also potentially save you money on your heating bills.

 

Whilst there may seem like a lot that you need to do in the run up to autumn, in truth many of these tasks only take a few minutes to complete and some are even a nice way to enjoy the summer weather outdoors. Autumn may seem like a long way off, but, in reality, it’s only just around the corner and by staying on top of things and preparing your house and garden for the season you can save money and make your life much easier.

 

Cooking Ideas for Your Fire Pit

With the amazing weather we’ve been having this summer, it’s no surprise that we are rushing outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and make the most out of the summer heat wave. At the top of the list for many of us is the opportunity to have friends round in the garden for a get together, some drinks and some good food.

If you have a fire pit then no doubt you’ll be using it to keep your guests warm as the sun goes down in the summer evenings, however, many fire pits have more to offer than simply providing warmth for your garden. If you want to add a bit of class to your dining experience and impress your guests this summer, you can also use your fire pit to whip up some quick dishes which are not only easy to make but taste amazing.

Here are just a few of our favourite, fire pit cooking ideas which are both simple and will transform a simple barbeque into a delicious dining experience.

Kebabs

If there is one thing that is easy to cook and will be a crowd pleaser when it comes to outdoor cooking, then it’s a Kebab. Here a couple of quick and simple recipes which you can try on your firepit and impress friends and family.

 

Lamb Koftas

A staple in the Eastern Mediterranean, these kebabs are far tastier and healthier than your usual late night takeaway.

Serves between 4-5 people.

Ingredients:

  • 500g Lamb Mince
  • Olive Oil
  • 1tsp (teaspoons) of Ground Cumin
  • 2tsp of Ground Coriander
  • 1tbsp (tablespoon) of Chopped Mint
  • 2 Crushed Garlic Cloves
  • A Pinch of Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients, minus the oil, in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Form the mixture into separate sausage shapes (how many is up to you), making sure they are very compact. Then thread them lengthways with metal skewers or wooden skewers soaked which have been soaked in water.
  3. Place the grill of your fire pit above the coals when they are white hot and then place the kebabs on the grill, brushing each with the olive oil.
  4. Cook for around 15 minutes, turning the kebabs every 5 minutes and brushing with more oil if needed.
  5. After 15 minutes, check a kebab by cutting it in half. If it is not pink then it is ready to go! Serve with mint yoghurt and inside toasted pitta breads.

 

Island Kebabs

If you want to make your barbeque a bit more exciting, then these sticky Island Kebabs are a brilliant way to enhance pork or chicken in your outdoor cooking.

Serves between 4-5 people.

Ingredients:

  • 600g Diced Chicken Breast or Diced Pork
  • Rapeseed Oil
  • A Pineapple cut up into 1” pieces
  • 1tbsp of Chopped Fresh Ginger
  • 1tbsp of Soy Sauce
  • 2tbsp of Brown Sugar
  • 100g Tomato Ketchup
  • 2 Crushed Garlic Cloves
  • A Pinch of Salt and Pepper
  • 3 Mixed Peppers cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 Red Onions cut into 1” pieces

Method:

  1. Place the meat you are using, the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar and tomato ketchup in a bowl and mix together with a pinch of salt and pepper until thoroughly coated. Cover the bowl in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least an hour (overnight is preferable).
  2. After the meat has marinated, get some metal skewers or wooden ones that have been soaked in water beforehand, and thread a pieces of red onion on each one followed by a piece of pepper, pineapple and then a chunk of the marinated meat. Repeat this process on each skewer until you can’t fit any more on the skewers.
  3. Place fire pit grill above the coals when they are white hot and then place the kebabs on the grill, brushing each with the rapeseed oil and any remaining marinade.
  4. Grill for at least 15 minutes, turning the kebabs and brushing with oil and the marinade every 5 minutes. If you are using pork then the meat may only take 10 minutes so in this case turn and coat every 3 minutes instead.
  5. Check the thickest piece of meat on the kebabs after the cooking time and if it is not pink inside then it is ready!

 

 

 

 

Sides

It’s always great to have something on the side with your meal and there are plenty of side dishes you can make on a fire pit to have with your main event or, if you want, you can combine them together to make a scrumptious vegetarian main.

 

Baked Corn

A simple side which can be left to cook on the fire pit while you prepare other things, these deliciously sweet cobs of corn can be served with any savoury main. Just remember to get something to hold the ends with!

Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 4 Pieces of Corn on the Cob
  • Butter
  • Chopped Chilli (optional)

Method:

  1. Place each cob in a parcel of foil with a piece of butter on top and add the chopped chilli if you like it spicy.
  2. Seal the foil parcels and place on the grill for 30 mins or until tender. If you want to char them up a bit you can place them on the grill after 20 mins outside the foil, turning them over every now and then until ready.
  3. When ready, take the cobs out of their foil and serve them up.

BBQ Sweet Potatoes

Easy to make and with little preparation needed, these baked sweet potatoes can be served alongside a meat dish or with the Proper Baked Beans recipe below as a main.

Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 4 Medium Sized Sweet Potatoes
  • Salt
  • Oil

Method:

  1. Rub each sweet potato in some oil and salt then wrap each one in two layers of foil.
  2. Seal the foil parcels and place the sweet potatoes on the grill for 30 mins, turning half way.
  3. When finished, serve as a side or with the baked beans.

 

Proper baked beans

Whilst it is easier to just get a can of baked beans and heat them up, these home cooked baked beans taste way better and are a staple you can come back to time and again. This dish is great with sausage and baked potatoes.

Serves 5 people as a main, between 7-8 people as a side

Ingredients:

  • 240g Drained Borlotti Beans from a Can
  • 240g Drained Haricot Beans from a Can
  • 2tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Chopped Onions
  • 200g Barbeque Sauce
  • 500g Passata
  • 3 Crushed Garlic Cloves
  • 30g Muscovado Sugar
  • 2 Fresh Rosemary Sprigs

Method:

  1. Get a large oven proof dish, place it on the grill and add 2 tbsps of oil.
  2. Cook the onion and garlic till soft and then add the sugar, stirring until caramelised.
  3. Chuck in the sprigs of rosemary, around 200g BBQ sauce, the passata and beans.
  4. Then, cover the pan in several layers of foil and place in the coals for around 8-10 minutes.
  5. When piping hot, place on a heat proof surface and serve.

Sweet Things

When it comes to cooking on your firepit, you don’t have to restrict yourself to savoury dishes. If you’re still a bit peckish after your mains or simply fancy a treat for yourself and your guests, here are a couple of moreish sweet recipes you can try on your firepit.

 

Grilled Nutty Bananas

Incredibly quick to knock up and extremely tasty, these yummy bananas are best served straight from the fire pit with a generous dollop of ice cream.

Serves 4 People

Ingredients:

  • 4 Ripe Bananas in their skins
  • A Handful of Chopped Hazelnuts
  • Chocolate Spread

Method:

  1. Get your bananas and place them on the grill with the skin on, turning them for about 6 minutes until charred.
  2. Cut the bananas open, remove the skin and slice each banana in half length ways.
  3. Fill each banana with chocolate spread and hazelnuts before serving with ice cream on top.

 

 

 

Baked Apples

A brilliant way to use up spare cooking apples or making use of an early windfall, these baked apples can be pre-prepared and then left to cook on the fire pit while you enjoy your main course.

Serves 4 People

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cooking Apples
  • 75g Raisins
  • 75g Chopped Dried Dates
  • 50g Light Muscovado Sugar
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 30g Chopped Nuts
  • Butter

Method:

  1. Core the cooking apples and make a slight cut around the centre of each apple so they look like cricket balls.
  2. In a bowl mix the raisins, chopped nuts, cinnamon, sugar and chopped dates.
  3. Stuff each apple with the mixture and top with a knob of butter.
  4. Wrap each apple in foil and place on the grill for 35 mins until soft. Then, when ready serve with a big dollop of vanilla ice-cream while still warm, or if it’s a bit chilly, some warm custard.

 

As you can see, there are loads of ways you can use your fire pit to produce a top-notch meal for your family or an outdoor get together with your friends. We hope you’ve been inspired to give outdoor cooking a go and make the most out of your fire pit this summer So get out there, get cooking and put some smiles on peoples’ faces!

If you want to find out more about Glowing Embers’ range of fire pits, you can click the link below:

https://www.glowing-embers.co.uk/outdoor-heaters/firepits?zenid=ig5ugegdcsuud3s4hp5p4p06l1

 

What does EcoDesign mean?

If you have been looking at getting a wood burning stove this year, then you may have heard the term ‘EcoDesign ready’ being used as well as a lot of media coverage on the environmental impact of wood burning stoves. These issues, however, have raised quite a few questions. What does EcoDesign actually mean? Do you need an EcoDesign wood burning stove and why should you consider buying one?

Well, here at Glowing Embers, we thought we’d guide you through everything you need to know about EcoDesign wood burning stoves, their benefits and the implications for stoves of in the future.

The Government and EcoDesign

With recent Government legislation aimed at improving air quality and creating a benchmark of environmental standards for wood burning stoves, it is important to know what is changing.

The Government have already made some moves towards making Britain’s air cleaner, including talks about clean air zones and introducing a ban on the sale of wood burning stoves that don’t meet environmental standards. Furthermore, a specific certification has recently been introduced for wood burning stoves, denoting whether they are eco-friendly or not.

These stoves have been checked by DEFRA (Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) and awarded an ‘EcoDesign’ certificate. This means they produce less smoke and particle emissions than other woodboring stoves. Part of a European wide programme to lower harmful emissions in the atmosphere, the Government aims to make nearly all wood burning stoves DEFRA approved by 2022.

In the case of smoke control zones, which are currently being talked about by the Government and local authorities, such as Sadihiq Khan’s latest proposals for London’s pollution problem, having an EcoDeign wood burning stove may not only be beneficial but soon necessary.

EcoDesign Wood Burning Stoves

Wood burning stoves that have met the regulations set down by DEFRA differ from conventional stoves in a number of ways. Firstly, EcoDesign wood burning stoves are designed to allow as much air to the fire as possible, ensuring the fire is not ‘starved’ and, hence, smoky. According to the independent researchers SIA, Ecodesign stoves can reduce particle emissions by up to 90% when compared to an open fire and 80% when compared to a traditional stove.

Not only does this design reduce the amount of smoke and harmful particle pollution emitted by the fire, but it also increases its burning efficiency (over 70%) of the fire creating more heat with less fuel, creating less emissions and saving fuel in the process.

Here are a few examples of EcoDesign wood burning stoves you can buy today:

Jydepejsen Senza Steel Stove

Featuring a very modern and sophisticated design, the Jydepejsen Senza Steel Stove is also an incredibly efficient burner with an output of up to 5 kW and a fully DEFRA approved status. The stove comes with options for side glass panels and incorporates Jydepejsen’s own DuplicAir fire control system which allows you to control the primary and secondary air intakes to improve the efficacy and heat production of the fire further.

Aduro Asgard 2

Compact and contemporary, the Aduro Asgard 2 is the perfect EcoDesign wood burning stove for small properties or small spaces in households. Developed alongside the Danish Technological Institute, this wood burning stove has achieved DEFRA certification due to its high efficiency and incredibly low smoke emissions which also make it an ideal wood burner for smokeless zones.

Flavel Arundel Multifuel Stove

The Flavel Arundrel is a brilliant example of an affordable yet incredibly efficient wood burning stove which meets DEFRA’s EcoDesign standards. With an output of 4.9 kW and an efficiency of 78.4%, this wood burning stove is both cost effective and eco-friendly, with its low emissions making it more than suitable for smoke control areas.

Here we have highlighted just a few of the wood burning stoves that are EcoDesign ready and at Glowing Embers we have a wide selection of these eco-friendly stoves to choose from. If you would like to browse our range of DEFRA approved, EcoDesign wood burning stoves then flow the link here. For further information on how to reduce your stove’s emissions and help the environment, DEFRA have put together a useful guide which is full of useful tips for maintaining a wood burning stoves and keeping them eco-friendly:

https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/reports/cat07/1712041200_171010_open_fires_wood_burning_stoves_FINAL.pdf

 

Creating the Perfect Garden Party

Summer is certainly on its way and as the nights get longer and the days warmer, it’s a perfect excuse to get your friends round and enjoy the weather together. Garden parties are a great way to bring people together, and with the right music, aesthetic as well as good food and drink, you can create a truly magical atmosphere that you and your guests will remember for years to come.

Here we’ll give you some great hints and tips for creating the ideal garden party for this summer with as little stress and hassle as possible. With these few simple ideas and a plan in place you can make sure your guests remain comfortable, well fed and suitably merry!

 

 

The Space and Setting

The most obvious first step to take is to consider where your garden party is going to be. Yes, it’s in the garden (!), but where in the garden? Do you have a patio, a large lawn? Is there a conservatory and enough room for seating and tables?

It’s always a good idea to create a kind of ‘dedicated’ space for the party, even if it’s boundaries are by no means enclosed. This way you can picture the setting more clearly and where things like furniture, lights, heating, etc. will go.

If lots of guests are coming, make sure they have plenty of room to move and mingle, and if only a few are attending, try not to make them fell lost in a large open space far away from drinks and food. Additionally, make sure everything is accessible and visible, you don’t want that table of canapés you spent hours assembling being forgotten about!

 

Once you’ve decided where you’re going to have your party and how big or small it will be, you can begin thinking about the type or party you’re going to have. Is it going to be a sit-down meal or a buffet-style cocktail party? A celebration or just an excuse to socialise and have fun?

Whatever you decide for your party, you need to stick with the theme you choose. This means you can stay focussed on making that party special for everyone. Think about the kind of arrangement you want, whether a large central table for dining or smaller ones for drinks and nibbles. Try and stay committed to the visual theme of the party too. Whilst you don’t want the party to appear bland and boring, sometimes it’s best to stick to mantra less is more when selecting things like decorations and other visual elements.

 

 

Food and Drink

Whilst in theory you can have a party without food or drink, suffice to say, it would not make for a memorable experience. Sharing food and enjoying a cooling drink on a hot summer’s day is the perfect way to get conversation flowing and guests mingling.

As with any other element of the party, getting the food and drink right is all about planning. Decide what you’re doing and a stick with it!

If you are having a barbeque, make sure you test out recipes beforehand, so you know how long they take and whether they work. Have a dedicated barbeque ‘manager’ too. Whether this is yourself or someone else, this means the barbeque can be set up and managed without too many people getting in the way.

Whatever you’re doing for food, pre-preparation will make the whole experience much easier and more enjoyable. Marinate meat in advance and prepare snacks and canapés well before the party. Just keep fresh stuff in the fridge until it needs to be served and it will be all ready to go when the guests arrive. Also keep in mind any dietary requirements for your guests and make something special for them as well; no one wants to make do with a bland salad!

 

When it comes to drinks, it’s best to dedicate an obvious area for them, whether this is just a specific table, or a full bar set up. Offer a drink to guests when they arrive and keep any drinks that need to be cool in ice buckets or, if you have one, a portable fridge. Have plenty of glasses at the ready and a good selection of both alcoholic and soft drinks means no one gets left out and anyone can help themselves as they please.

If you’re going to have cocktails, test them out first and try to keep your choices fresh and concise, you don’t want too many different bottles taking up all the space. Also, if you’re worried about breakages on your patio, try using plastic alternatives for the glasses as there’s plenty of brilliant mock-Champaign flutes, wine and cocktail glasses out there to choose from.

 

 

Atmosphere and Comfort

Creating an atmosphere and ensuring your guests are comfortable are both vital elements for making your party truly something to remember. Following the theme you have chosen, try and make your outdoor space somewhere exciting and interesting, whilst at the same time making it seem natural.

Themed table cloths, crockery and napkins can all go along way towards giving the party an identity. Try not to go overboard in this respect but keep decorations both vibrant and natural. If a significant part of the party is going to be during the day, also think about shade for your guests. Parasols should be enough to keep your guests comfortable but, if you really want to go to town, you can invest in a gazebo if you want.

 

Table centre pieces such as wild flowers in jars and/or candles can help bring atmosphere to their surroundings, and fairy lights amongst any foliage or nearby trees make the setting an incredibly magic place to be in the evening. Lanterns can also lend natural light to the party when the sun begins to go down and it’s always good to keep in mind some form of heating when it starts to get a bit chilly. Firepits and outdoor heaters are a great way to keep your guests warm, and, with nearly a 50% increase in the number of people searching for garden heaters last month, they are certainly proving to be a popular garden feature this year.

Another key element is music. Depending on the theme of the party, make a playlist in advance to match the mood and you may want to invest in some portable speakers which you can dot around the perimeter of the main party space. Remember though, don’t have the music too loud; people want to be able to hear each other!

 

 

Relax and Have Fun!

Once you have everything for your party sorted out beforehand, the most important thing to do is to enjoy yourself! Stress and tension will not only spoil the party for you, but can make your guests feel awkward too.

Remember, it’s your party too and there’s no reason why you can’t be yourself and have fun. As long as you’ve done everything in advance, you can kick back, relax and enjoy the summer sunshine, safe in the knowledge you’ve created a garden party your friends and family will remember forever.