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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Have you heard about queen bees Beyonce and Heidi Klum that live on top of KPMG’s Canary Wharf tower?

http://www.wharf.co.uk/
 

The professional services firm has kept two hives on top of its headquarters since 2013 offering workers an insight into how incredibly important these animals are for our environment


KPMG bees: Staff on the roof of KPMG in Canary Wharf learning about the bees
On top of KPMG’s Canary Wharf tower are two hives ruled by Heidi Klum and Beyonce (should that bee Hive-di Klum and Beeyonce?).
Of course the pop star and model aren’t really stuck on top of the professional services firm’s headquarters in east London. Those are just the names staff have given the queen bees.
KPMG started its bee obsession back in summer 2014 when it set up the hives on its roof – sheltered by a windbreaker to make sure the insects are ok to fly as they don’t like too much breeze.
The employees’ love for their 40,000-strong colony of furry flyers has grown so much over the years that there is now a huge waiting list to visit them and in-house awards have even been named in their honour.
Team work: Just some of the 40,000 bees that live on the roof of KPMG in Canary Wharf
The firm has also made soap with the wax, makes cakes from the honey and uses it in products sold in their restaurant Fourteen.
Read more: Plateau has given honey a haute cuisine makeover with its Honey Gourmand menu
KPMG’s environment assistant Sam McCarthy said: “For us keeping the bees is a tangible link to the environment and aids us in explaining about climate change.
“Staff go up every month and the bee keeper opens up the hive and explains what happens in there.”
Tasty: Some of the products on offer at KPMG from their roof bees

Naomi Sayers, who works in internal communications at KPMG, said: “I was a little apprehensive at first as I’m quite wary of winged things and was stung by a wasp when I was younger.
“But once I got suited up into my bee-keeping kit I was raring to go.
“Bees are really fascinating creatures and while I was on the roof I got to see the queen (a taller, skinnier version of the other bees) as well as seeing babies being born and the infamous dance the bees do when they’ve found a good source of food.
Bee fan: Naomi Sayers, who works in internal communications at KPMG, in a bee suit
“They are amazing creatures and my new favourite animal. The fact that we have them on our roof is brilliant – you wouldn’t think Canary Wharf would be the sort of environment where bees could thrive but ours are certainly doing well.”
The company set up the hives with the help of Urban Bees, an organisation that is trying to get across quite how important the insects are to the world around us and to counter the threats posed by global warming, extensive farming and the use of pesticides and the loss of flower-rich habitats.
Read more: How to help our dwindling bee population in the UK
With about a third of the world’s food production being reliant on a healthy bee population, the problem is not insignificant.
At risk: Bee populations have reduced by a third since 2007 due to global warming, farming methods and the plants they like diminishing

Urban Bees’ Alison Benjamin said: “Keeping bees is a great way to get people thinking about the environment and our role in it.
“It’s also a good message within a work team as it shows the bees all getting things done together – it shows we are all dependant on each other."

**************** BEE FACTS ****************

  • Bees make honey between May and September
  • There are different types of flowers planted to attract bees in Jubilee Park Gardens (holly bushes) and Westferry Gardens
  • Client rooms at KPMG all have bee-friendly plant seeds for people to take home
  • The KPMG roof bees average about 40lbs of honey each year
  • Bees don’t fly when the temperature is lower than 13C
  • Queen bees can live for up to three years, but worker bees may only live for six weeks
  • A bee will only make about a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.

Alison said it is not just honeybees that are under threat. She said among the more than 250 species in the UK bumblebees and solitary bees are just as vital to our ecosystem.
Alison said the best thing people could do to help these species was to plant more flowers and bushes that they like and to create shelters for solitary bees.
She said: “You can easily make a bee hotel – that’s with sticks of bamboo that you can put together.
“These are good for solitary bees who like to live alone but prefer to live next to each other, sort of like us living in flats.”
http://www.wharf.co.uk/news/local-news/you-heard-queen-bees-beyonce-10762077#nav-panel

Monday, 25 January 2016

 

 Home Farmer

How to Make Camembert Cheese

Main pic
Making Camembert isn’t as hard as you would imagine. OK, there’s a bit of fathing about early on and yes, you do need to buy the bacteria but if you follow these instructions for how to make camembert cheese you should have a small round of your own homemade cheese ready to eat within 5 weeks.
See also
How to Make Stilton
How to Make Roule Cheese
How to make goats cheese

A BRIEF NOTE ABOUT EQUIPMENT
If you followed the Stilton-type recipe, you will certainly have most of the following:
*           Large stockpot
*           Slotted spoon
*           Thermometer
*           4 cheese mats (see the note below)
*           2 hard cheese moulds
*           Knife
*           Board (chopping or otherwise)
*           A scrupulously clean working area and sterilised equipment
 

Do not be tempted to make your first Camembert in a large Camembert mould. The cheese is difficult to turn, especially in its early stages, so it is best to keep it in a more ‘manageable’ form until you have got the process completely sussed out.
Cheese Mats
You can buy plastic cheese mats, or use plastic canvas intended for tapestries, which is available from most hobby outlets. I got a bamboo felting mat, cut it into 4 pieces, as required, and retied it. Do not be tempted to use old bamboo place mats – the colour will leak into your cheese!
INGREDIENTS
3.4 litres full milk
400ml gold top extra creamy milk
⅛ tsp mesophilic direct set culture (or starter culture)
⅟₃₂ tsp Penicillium candidum Neige*
¼ tsp rennet in 30ml cooled, boiled water
2 tbsp rock salt
*Measuring out ⅛, let alone ⅟32 of a teaspoon of anything, is going to be almost impossible, so using your best guess will be required here.


METHOD
1           STERILISE EVERYTHING! ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING! You do not want to add bacteria to existing bacteria!
2           Put the milk in a large pan and heat it gently to bring the temperature up slowly to 32°C, or as near as dammit. Keep stirring the milk throughout the process.
3           Once it has reached 32°C, remove the pan from the heat.
4           Add the Penicillium candidum Neige (us home farmers really need a smidgeon measure for things like ⅟₃₂ tsp) and stir well again, then add the mesophilic culture and stir once more.
Adding the Penicillium candidum Neige.
Adding the Penicillium candidum Neige.
5           Keep stirring for 5 minutes, then leave to stand, covered and warm, for 90 minutes. You need to keep the temperature at a constant 32°C, or as close as possible. To keep the temperature correct I found that siting the pan next to a gas ring that’s on low and turning the pan round every so often did the trick. Do not keep the pan over an active gas ring!
6           Add the rennet in a solution of cooled, boiled water, stir it in and leave for a further 60 minutes, or until you have a clean break in the curds. To test for a clean break, cut the curds with a knife – it should be like cutting into a wet, semi-formed blancmange.
Checking for a clean break.
Checking for a clean break.
7           Cut the curds first into a square grid, moving the knife from side to side both ways, then slant your knife to cut at 45 degrees; your curds should now look like a very, very watery cottage cheese.
Once cut the curds will look like watery cottage cheese.
Once cut the curds will look like watery cottage cheese.
8           Stir for a good 5 minutes, then leave to settle. The ‘chunks of curd’ will get smaller and sink to the bottom. When ready, ladle off as much of the whey as possible.
PREPARING YOUR CAMEMBERT STATION
9           Put a chopping board or similar on the draining board – use something to prop up one end slightly so that it tilts and will drain off any excess whey into the sink/bowl.
10         Place 2 bamboo mats on the board, then place 2 hard cheese moulds on the mats – you are not making a hard cheese, but you do need the rigidity of a hard mould for this.
11         Gently transfer the still wet curds directly from the large pan into the moulds. Continue scooping, filling up and topping up the mould until all the curds are in the 2 moulds. Expect shrinkage and leakage on a grand scale.
Keep topping up the moulds.
Keep topping up the moulds.
12         Once you’ve put all the curds into both moulds, cover with 2 more cheese/bamboo mats, one on each mould, and leave to drain for 60 minutes with your moulds effectively sandwiched between the mats.
The moulds sandwiched between bamboo mats.
The moulds sandwiched between bamboo mats.
13         Your Camembert will now have begun to form a solid, albeit delicate, shape. You now need to flip the moulds and the mats over – this is best done quickly. The top cheese mat and the top of the mould now become the bottom ones.
Flip over - Top bamboo mat removed to show how the cheese has shrunk.
Flip over – Top bamboo mat removed to show how the cheese has shrunk.
14         Flip them over again in the next hour, then leave them to stand overnight.
FORMING THE RIND
15         The following day you will be able to tip the Camembert out of the mould, but handle it with great care. It will still be very fragile and can be easily damaged. This is the main reason why I suggested using small moulds at first.
Removing the cheese from the mould.
Removing the cheese from the mould.
16         Use kitchen towel to remove any excess whey, and rub the surface of your Camembert rounds with rock salt, then place each one in a separate plastic container on either bamboo sticks/skewers or a cheese mat. Cover the container with a lid with holes, or another bamboo mat, and continue to drain off the liquid that will continue to seep out of it for the next few days – you do not want your cheese to sit in this!
Removing excess whey.
Removing excess whey.

Rubbing rock salt into the cheese.
Rubbing rock salt into the cheese.

17         Leave the rounds in containers on trimmed bamboo mats for the rind to form. Do not seal the containers – simply cover them with bamboo mats. By Day 5 you should notice dry white patches appearing. This quickly spreads to cover the whole of the cheese, giving it a white, slightly furry, almost ‘out of focus’ look.

Place in a container for the rind to form.
Place in a container for the rind to form.
Wrap the Camembert in cheese wrap or wax paper for 5 weeks. Storing it outside the fridge produces a stronger cheese, whereas refrigerating it creates a milder cheese. We like it strong, so we keep it in our ‘cheese cave’ under the stairs. For a milder flavour, store it in the fridge.  Be advised. I like strong cheese and kept it out side the fridge for ages. The cheese had almost dissolved so be moderate.

One of the rounds on day 14 complete with rind.
One of the rounds on day 14 complete with rind.

 https://homefarmer.co.uk/

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

https://homefarmer.co.uk/Home Farmer

10 Home-made Household Cleaners that Work

 

Main pic
Seren Evans-Charrington picks some of her favourite effective natural cleaners from times gone by.


Leafing through my 1861 copy of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, it becomes apparent that during the Victorian age the chore of household cleaning was tackled with a range of natural ingredients. Because of the ease and availability of commercial preparations, with their claims of supercharged stain removing and germ eradicating properties, it is easy to forget that there are plenty of natural cleaning methods that have proved themselves throughout time to be just as effective as their chemical counterparts, but without the packaging waste, the harm to the environment or hazards to our health.
In addition, home-made, natural cleaning products are also kinder to our pocket, as a basic natural cleaning kit requires no fancy bottles of wonder product, just simple household ingredients and a bit of know-how.
The world we live in is full of man-made chemicals, and our largest organ, our skin, is often subjected to contact with a wide range of them every day: immersing our bare hands into cleaning products (such as washing-up liquid), contact with clothes washed in detergent, touching surfaces and implements that still have a chemical residue on them. And we also breathe in chemicals; if you use a flammable spray furniture polish that is petroleum-based, it can lead to headaches and a lack of concentration, and can even depress the central nervous system.
Uncertainty cleaner
Chemical disinfectants often contain triclosan, which for decades has been considered the easiest, cheapest and safest way to kill bacteria, and is commonly found in antibacterial soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, mouthwashes, first-aid creams, cleaning supplies, clothes, and even in toys. There have been many studies researching the effects of triclosan, and fears have even been voiced by the FDA in the USA that overuse of products containing it can lead to bacteria building up greater resistance to antibiotics.  It seems that the proverb, “We must eat a peck of dirt before we die”, is indeed true. In studies of what is called the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, many researchers have concluded that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body alongside ‘dirt’, spur the development of a healthy immune system. It has been suggested that children raised in an ultraclean environment, filled with chemical cleaners, are more prone to allergies and illness, as they are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune systems.
Although I’m not overly keen on housework and admit to sharing Agatha Christie’s sentiment that, “the best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes”, I’m not advocating that we never clean, just that we adopt a more natural approach. I also advise abandoning the purchase of those pretty bottles of nice smelling ‘eco’ products, as many of them just don’t have the oomph needed to lift grime, and they often tend to be an expensive and unnecessary purchase. I live in a household that includes animals, children and a muck-magnet husband, and they result in a constant need to lift grubby fingerprints off paintwork and other surfaces. Whilst leafing through a handwritten household manual dating from the 1700s, in amongst recipes for blacking, horse powders, fever balls and patent polish, I happened upon a perfect and yet simple recipe for surface cleaning. Below, is my version of this recipe, which has been put to good use in my household and is my new favourite wonder cleaner.
1. General Household Cleaner
Ingredients
  • 6 sprigs of rosemary
  • Distilled white vinegar
pic 2
Method
1           Place the rosemary in a saucepan and add enough vinegar to cover the herbs.
2           Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and place the vinegar and herbs into a clean jam jar.
3           Allow to steep overnight.
4           Strain the vinegar into a clean spray bottle and use as a surface spray, or keep it in a jar and dip a cleaning cloth into the rosemary vinegar to use for rubbing down dirty paintwork, tiles and varnished or laminated surfaces.
I have long raved about the cleaning power of vinegar, but my husband has always groaned about the smell, usually muttering comments about chip shops and pickling factories. The aromatic rosemary in this recipe actually neutralises the smell of the pungent vinegar, and it’s cheap and effective, with no headachy chemical smells to contend with.
2. Trusty Beeswax Polish
My mother-in-law once said that, “beeswax makes a home”, and she has a valid point, for the smell of beeswax polish does lend a homely and well-cared-for feel to a room. Due to the cost of commercially bought beeswax polish, I have been making my own for years, and a little really does go a long way. Over time I have tried various recipes, but the one below is my favourite, and it’s the one I even had the opportunity to show the late Lynda Bellingham how to make on Country House Sunday.
pic 4
Ingredients
  • 50g pure soap flakes (Castile soap)
  • 100g beeswax, grated
  • 500ml turpentine (this must be pure turpentine – available from artists’ shops)
  • 250ml warm water
  • 10 drops pure essential lavender oil
Method
1           Put the water and soap flakes in a pan and dissolve the flakes over a moderate heat.
2           Put the grated beeswax into the turpentine in a double boiler, or a bowl over a pan of hot water, and warm gently until the beeswax has thoroughly melted and dissolved. Don’t be tempted to put the beeswax and turpentine in a saucepan over a direct flame, as it is highly flammable!
pic 5
3           When the beeswax has melted, add the soap mixture to it and stir with a wooden spoon. It will be a milky-white colour and should be completely liquid.
4           Remove it from the heat and stir in the lavender oil, then pour into clean storage jars.
pic 3
If you fancy a change from the smell of lavender oil, this polish can either be left natural or you can add 10 drops of pure essential sweet orange oil for a fresh and warming smell.
3. Leather Furniture Cleaner
This recipe for leather cleaner contained in The Book of Hints and Wrinkles is very effective, but you must remember to be sparing in its application, and it is only suitable for dark leathers.
Ingredients
  • 1 gill vinegar
  • 2 gills linseed oil
Method
1           Add the vinegar to the linseed oil, stirring constantly.
2           Bottle, and rub a small quantity on the furniture using a soft cloth.
3           Finish by rubbing with a silk duster.
My own modern redaction of this recipe uses 100ml of white distilled vinegar to 200ml of boiled linseed oil. I use a lint-free cloth and apply the mix sparingly to my leather sofa. Then, after careful application (a little goes a long way), I finish by buffing it with a soft, clean cloth. It removes grime and conditions the leather beautifully, giving it a gentle shine.
4. Natural Glass Rinse Aid
pic 6
Here is a glass-cleaning recipe that I regularly rely on, and it’s one which gives my drinking glasses and vases a real sparkle. As a poultry keeper I find it hard to resist any recipe that uses old eggshells, and this recipe is effective and satisfying to make.
Ingredients
  • 2 eggshells
  • The juice of 2 lemons
Method
1           Crush the eggshells into a teacup and then pour the lemon juice over them.
2           Leave the eggshells to dissolve over a period of 48 hours, then strain the opaque, yellowish liquid to use on glass that has become cloudy or dull.
This is very effective and gives a better sparkle to glass than any other product I’ve used.
Whilst on the subject of glass cleaning, when it comes to streak-free windows it seems that the simplest remedies are the best. I found that combining 150ml of white vinegar with the juice of a lemon and 1 teaspoon of cornflour worked wonders. The ingredients must be combined well and put into a spray bottle that always gets a good shake before use; if it is applied using a lint-free cloth and the windows are then buffed with newspaper, they come up beautifully.
5. Copper Cleaner
pic 9
This is a recipe that I can’t resist sharing, as it’s one that uses up the winter wood ash that has built up in the bottom of the wood-burner, and it removes the tarnish from copper pans beautifully. This is a bit of a messy one to make and use, but it’s a very simple procedure that is extremely effective.
Ingredients
  • Wood ash
  • Juice of ½ lemon
Method
1           Half fill a teacup with wood ash, then slowly squeeze in the lemon juice. The acid from the juice will fizz and bubble a little as it makes contact with the alkaline ash, and you will end up with a thick grey paste.
2           Apply the paste to your copper (you can even paint it on if you wish), then simply polish it off with an old rag – it requires some elbow-grease, but the results are well worth it.
6. Varnished Wood Cleaner
Ingredients
  • Pure essential lemon oil
  • ½ cup warm water
Method
1           Add a few drops of lemon oil to the water.
2           Mix well and spray onto a soft cotton cloth – the cloth should only be slightly damp.
3           Wipe your furniture with the cloth, and finish by wiping once more using a dry, soft cotton cloth
7. Moth Deterrent
Ingredients
  • Dried lemon peel
  • Dried lavender seeds
Method
Tie the lemon peel and lavender seeds up in muslin bags to make clothes smell fresh and to deter moths.
8. Rust Remover
Ingredients
  • Rock salt
  • 1 lime
Method
1           Sprinkle a little rock salt on the rust and squeeze lime juice over the salt until it is saturated.
2           Leave the mixture on for 2–3 hours, then use the rind to scrub away the residue.
9. Shoe Polish
Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • Pure essential lemon oil
Method
1           Add a few drops of lemon oil to the olive oil and apply to your shoes with a thick cotton rag.
2           Leave for a few minutes, then wipe and buff with a clean, dry rag.
This is great for conditioning leather and works well on bags and coats too.
10. Loo Cleaner
Ingredients
  • 125g baking soda
  • 200ml vinegar
Method
1           Mix the baking soda and vinegar, then pour it into the toilet basin and let it sit for a few minutes.
2           Scrub with a brush, then rinse.
BONUS – 11. Scratch Repair for Natural Wood
Method
1           Rub a Brazil nut or walnut into the scratch so that it fills the area.
2           Leave for 5–10 minutes, allowing oil from the nut to soak in and repair the scratch, then buff the area with a soft, lint-free cloth.
IN CONCLUSION
With a few basic ingredients it is possible to make natural cleaners for every room in the home. Armed with bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice, vinegar and essential oils you can have cheap and effective solutions without having to rely on expensive and chemical-laden products. So dusters at the ready for some good clean fun!

https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=2846089552386522046#editor/target=post;postID=4610434970058726240




Wednesday, 13 January 2016

 

 Home Farmer

 Building a Shed from Recycled Wood


Shed on an allotment.
Dave Hamilton, author of Grow Your Food for Free and The Self-Sufficient-ish Bible sets out to build his shed using recycled scraps. It may not win Shed of the Year but it’s a a perfect little hideout-cum-storage area for his allotment plot. What’s more, as the example above demonstrates, you can create you’re very own Grand Design on a tight budget.
BUILDING A SHED FROM SCRAP
Building a shed from scrap can be a worthwhile alternative to buying second hand or new. A scrap shed is much more individual and can be made to fit your needs. A neighbour of mine once made a fantastic bike shed from a bunch of old pallets. It looked just as good as anything you might buy in the shops, if not better. It was built to be the perfect size for two bikes in his small urban garden, and after a lick of wood preserver and a felt roof, it looked right at home in his Victorian terrace garden.
MY SCRAP SHED
A few years ago I built a shed from scrap on my allotment in Bristol. I am still in touch with the people who took over the allotment and by all accounts it is still standing! I’ve included how I made mine as a guideline. Since I built my shed there have been a large number of blueprints posted on the Internet. From experience I have found that the main thing to remember when building any structure is to always put in cross-beams, and triangles are a much stronger shape than either a square or rectangle.
Step-by-Step Photographic Guide
For the base I found 2 pallets that didn't have any gaps between the slots. An alternative would be some good quality marine ply or a couple of old doors. The pallets made a perfect base, which I rasid on some breeze-blocks to prevent any moisture rotting the shed.
For the base I found 2 pallets that didn’t have any gaps between the slots. An alternative would be some good quality marine ply or a couple of old doors. The pallets made a perfect base, which I rasid on some breeze-blocks to prevent any moisture rotting the shed.

Onto the base I attached scaffolding planks using strong outdoor screws – these acted as a support for the uprights.
Onto the base I attached scaffolding planks using strong outdoor screws – these acted as a support for the uprights.

 I then attached uprights at each corner with an extra one for the doorway. These were all reinforced with a diagonal support. The roof beams were attached to the four uprights facing downwards at an angle towards the front to allow rainwater to run off.
I then attached uprights at each corner with an extra one for the doorway. These were all reinforced with a diagonal support. The roof beams were attached to the four uprights facing downwards at an angle towards the front to allow rainwater to run off.

4. Once the shell of the shed had been made I could begin to clad it. Again, I found some pallets without gaps between the slats. You could remove them from the pallet and use them to clad the shed.
4. Once the shell of the shed had been made I could begin to clad it. Again, I found some pallets without gaps between the slats. You could remove them from the pallet and use them to clad the shed.


5. I then put on the roof, attaching old corrugated plastic to the beams. The plastic was cut to size using garden shears, and in hindsight they were not ideal for the job. Next time I would consider making a green roof for my shed (check out my book Grow Your Food For Free) or using marine ply and roofing felt.
5. I then put on the roof, attaching old corrugated plastic to the beams. The plastic was cut to size using garden shears, and in hindsight they were not ideal for the job. Next time I would consider making a green roof for my shed (check out my book Grow Your Food For Free) or using marine ply and roofing felt.

6. Once the roof was on, the door was put into place.
6. Once the roof was on, the door was put into place.

7. Once the door was in place I began to set the shed up for my tools by nailing a number of hooks around the inside.
7. Once the door was in place I began to set the shed up for my tools by nailing a number of hooks around the inside.
8           Finally, I used a low-VOC (volatile organic compound) wood preserver to protect my shed. The only colour available at the time was Titchmarsh blue, but this seemed to suit my allotment.

 https://homefarmer.co.uk/

Sunday, 3 January 2016


BBC NEWS

Devon battery hen rehome woman Jane Howorth gets MBE

 
Jane Howorth
 
Image caption Jane Howorth started collecting battery hens from a slaughterhouse in 2003 and her charity now sells about 50,000 a year
A woman who collects unwanted battery chickens and gives them a new free-range life has been made an MBE.
Jane Howorth, 55, from South Molton in Devon, was inspired after watching a BBC documentary about battery hen farming in 1979.
She has collected thousands of chickens from battery farms and rehomed them through her charity the British Hen Welfare Trust.
"It's huge thrill and surprise," she said of her New Year Honour.
Ms Howorth started collecting battery farm hens in 2003 and her charity now has 500 volunteers and will soon collect its 500,000th animal.
It sells about 50,000 birds a year to people who can show they will look after them well.

'Fabulous team'

"I started with an ad in the local paper, offering chickens that have 'never seen sunshine or tasted grass', said Ms Howorth.
"My phone never stopped. I was contacted by people from across the country."
Battery hens now get more space after new legislation in 2012 but they are still confined to cages in artificial light and will be slaughtered after about a year.
Ms Howorth said the rehomed chickens would live for seven or eight years.
"I would like to see all hens outside and free range," she said.
"But battery farmers are not bad people. I have always worked with the industry and it wouldn't have happened without their support.
"It is the most rewarding experience and I am so lucky to have a fabulous team here."

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-35204687