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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

 

Why Doesn’t My Stove Work? – Spring & Autumn Syndrome

There are a multitude of common misconceptions surrounding how a stove operates and in this series of Why Doesn’t My Stove Work? articles, we hope to dispel the myths and clearly underline the actual causes and simple solutions.

First and foremost, it is essential to recognise that the flue (chimney) is the engine that powers a stove. The basic fact is a closed heating appliance such as a wood burning stove without a flue will not work (and vice versa if you felt the need to try that).

There is a lot of ‘science stuff’ going on inside your flue system that powers your stove and below are three main driving factors:

  • It is not the heat of the stove or flue pipes themselves that draw air into your stove, it is the affect heat has on the density of the molecules within the gases. The warmer the gas, the lighter the molecules, the more encouraged they are to rise. Reversely, the colder the gases, the heavier the molecules and the more likely they are to slump or drop back down the system. Therefore, if the molecules within the gases inside the chimney system are warmer than the molecules within the air outside the chimney system, the gases inside the flue will rise as the air outside sinks and rushes in to fill the space left by the rising warm air (put simply), thus creating the magical draw!
  • Taking the above into consideration, the greater the temperature difference between the flue gases and the air outside, the greater the draw. Simple.
  • Thirdly (but crucially), the height of the flue system affects things as the taller the system, the greater the change in pressure which also encourages a stronger draw.

So what is Spring & Autumn syndrome? This is concerned with how quickly temperatures can change around these times of year. If the temperature outside should happen to rise quickly then this can easily surpass the temperature within the home. Warm outside vs cool inside equals a reversal of the draw as air flows down the system rather than drawing up.

Should this reversal of draw occur, you will not know until you attempt to light your stove. The lighting cycle will begin but the air coming down your system will force smoke out of the stove into your living space and prevent any hot air from rising into the flue to remedy things.

So how do you avoid this situation?

Firstly, test the direction of the draw before lighting it! Even without a fire burning, there is a draw of sorts happening in your flue and there are ways to find out which direction this is flowing; by hand or is a smell of soot being pushed out of the flue?

Secondly, should the draw be in reverse, you can encourage it back up the system by artificially warming the air within the flue. Some use a hair dryer, others a blow torch.

But, here at Glowing Embers we have a top tip! Stack your fuel in reverse. Logs on the base, kindling on top and firelighters on top of this. This is a tried and tested method in our showroom because the heat produced by initially the firelighters and then the kindling is directed up into the flue and not down into the fire bed, thus warming the flue above first. You will most likely experience a little smoke at first but if stacked and controlled well, the flue should warm reasonably quickly and the stove kick into life…