Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil

With a super intense tomato flavour and just a hint of basil and garlic, these sun dried tomatoes are the perfect addition to bring back summertime memories during those long cold winter days.

With a super intense tomato flavour and just a hint of basil and garlic, these sun dried tomatoes are the perfect addition to bring back summertime memories during those long cold winter days.

A few weeks back I published “How to preserve tomatoes for winter”. In that post, I talked about the drying process itself… in case you missed it, here it is again…

How to Preserve Tomatoes for Winter

The drying process can be achieved by air drying, oven drying, dehydrating and my favourite sun drying! There is nothing better than the taste of sun dried tomatoes during the winter!

With a super intense tomato flavour and just a hint of basil and garlic, these sun dried tomatoes are the perfect addition to bring back summertime memories during those long cold winter days.

So how do you sun dry tomatoes?

  • Wash and dry the tomatoes.
  • Cut them into your desired size. I personally prefer drying cherry tomatoes and I simply cut them in half.
  • Place them on a metal baking tray, skin side down, then cover with some cheesecloth, muslin or some sort of fly net… if needed you might want to construct some raisers so the cloth doesn’t rest on your fruit directly.
  • Place in the full sun and watch them shrink!

Here, in temperatures around 30C, my tomatoes are ready within 3 days.

So now, when you have a pile of lovely sun dried tomatoes let’s then turn them into jarred goodness which will last us all winter and beyond.

With a super intense tomato flavour and just a hint of basil and garlic, these sun dried tomatoes are the perfect addition to bring back summertime memories during those long cold winter days.

Ingredients:

  • Pile of sun dried tomatoes
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh basil
  • Good quality olive oil

As you might notice there are no amounts, well… amounts will depend on a number of tomatoes you have dried and the size of your jars. I would recommend small jars, no bigger than 0.2l and 1 large clove of garlic and 10 basil leaves per jar… the amount of oil will depend on your “packing skills”

With a super intense tomato flavour and just a hint of basil and garlic, these sun dried tomatoes are the perfect addition to bring back summertime memories during those long cold winter days.

Method:

Wash and sterilised all the jars you will use.

Wash the basil leaves and allow them to air dry.

Peel the garlic and slice each clove into smaller pieces.

Now, it’s all about layering them in the jars – tomatoes, basil leaves, a small piece of garlic and repeat until your jar is almost full. Do not overfill! Ideally, pack to the shoulder of the jar.

Finally slowly, really slowly pour the olive oil and watch the jar being filled to the rim. Stop when all tomatoes are submerged.

Screw the lid on really tight and you are done!

With a super intense tomato flavour and just a hint of basil and garlic, these sun dried tomatoes are the perfect addition to bring back summertime memories during those long cold winter days.

Now, when it comes to storage there are quite a few theories about it – cool, dark place seems to be the place to put them but just to be on the safe side I would suggest the fridge. Yes, keep your jars in the fridge… after all, they are small and really will not take up so much room.

Your tomatoes will be ready for consumption after a month… but the longer you leave them the better the taste.

With a super intense tomato flavour and just a hint of basil and garlic, these sun dried tomatoes are the perfect addition to bring back summertime memories during those long cold winter days.
With a super intense tomato flavour and just a hint of basil and garlic, these sun dried tomatoes are the perfect addition to bring back summertime memories during those long cold winter days.

Healthy Living and Modern Society

Healthy lifestyles should work for us, keep us fit, both body and mind, improve our health and well-being… healthy lifestyles should make us happy but how do we achieve it in modern society?

7 tips on how to achieve a healthy lifestyle in modern society. Healthy lifestyles should work for us, keep us fit, both body and mind, improve our health and well-being… healthy lifestyles should make us happy but how do we achieve it in modern society?That is the million $ question… what steps should we take to achieve healthy living?

We are all different and my happy balance will probably be different to yours but some main rules will always apply… in the end, we both want to achieve the same state of happiness, being fit, energetic and simply feeling good!

Since we left the busy life style of the city and moved to the countryside, I am more content, calm and happy… I know this change worked for me and I would never go back but lately, I find myself searching for a deeper meaning of healthy living and the different steps I can take in order to improve even more the quality of my life.

I came up with some tips, which I believe if followed should improve one’s life and put them on the path towards healthy living.

Stress Reduction

I know this is easier said than done, but it can and must be done. Try to identify what is stressing you and take steps to reduce it or preferably make it go away completely. Stress is part of life, there is no question about it but high-stress levels can be very damaging to our health especially if they accrue over a long period of time, so stress less… or at least try.

Practice “Me Time”

We all have things we love to do, things which calm us down and bring us joy. No matter how busy life gets it’s important to find the time for these activities, being a long bubble bath or a lonely walk in the woods… “me time” should never be optional… this is something which keeps us sane and can be extremely helpful when trying to achieve a healthy living state.

Good Night Sleep

Everyone knows that sleep is an essential part of life; an uninterrupted good nights’ sleep will go a long way to making our life better… make your bedroom nice and cozy, air it well, leave your phone outside the door, turn the TV off, pull the curtains too and sleep… try to leave day to day worries behind and just sleep… focus on your breathing, relax and sleep… everything will look much brighter after a good night sleep.

Stay Fit

We all need some form of exercise in our lives, walking, running, cycling or swimming, the choice is yours… but we all need it. It’s hard to know what form of exercise will suit us well, improve our well-being and bring us the most satisfaction, so you might want to consider a personal trainer for a while; trainers like Stephen Coleclough can guide us on the right track, can help to make us healthier, fitter and stronger.

Right Nutrition

This is most likely the more difficult one to achieve. Wherever you look there is a fast-food joint on every corner, shops are packed with unhealthy snacks and processed food, and we always lack time! But where there is no pain there is no gain… as they say… start from a position of smart shopping, buy raw ingredients instead of packed food, plan your meals, cook in batches when you have time so you have some healthy nutritional meal in your freezer once you don’t… swap crisps for nuts and cookies for fruit… take care of your body and in return, it will take care of you.

Right Friendships

We don’t live in a vacuum. Every day we are surrounded by 10s or 100s of people, we interact with them because we have to but what about the people we really want to spend our time with? A good, real friendship is the best cure… there really isn’t a better thing in life than having someone you can always count on. Look after those friendships, they take work too but in the end, it is worth it!

Do What You Love

Do what you want, do what makes YOU happy; after all life is short! Hate your job? Maybe it is time to quit and find something else which will give you an income? Drowning in debt? Maybe it’s time to downsize and finally put your life on the right track? Always wanted to see Paris? Why not buy the last minute ticket and go for a trip?

I know we all have our own burdens and responsibilities but at the end of the day ask yourself: Am I happy? Is this all I can expect from my life? If you are satisfied with the answer… good for you but if you are not, maybe it is time for a change… take baby steps but do something to improve the quality of your life before it’s too late.

7 tips on how to achieve a healthy lifestyle in modern society. Healthy lifestyles should work for us, keep us fit, both body and mind, improve our health and well-being… healthy lifestyles should make us happy but how do we achieve it in modern society?

“Sustainable happiness is important, because it not only elevates our own well-being locally, but also contributes to the collective global flourishing.”
Lisa Cypers Kamen,

* This is a collaborative post.

Countryside Plum Cake

Light, moist and very refreshing this countryside plum cake is the perfect treat any time of the day.

Light, moist and very refreshing this countryside plum cake is the perfect treat any time of the day.Living in the countryside and finally having our own garden and an orchard means that we get to enjoy a lot of fresh produce straight from the source. We still can’t get used to this fact; it’s so surreal sometimes… In the past things had to be planned… I couldn’t just bake a plum cake on the whim, I couldn’t mainly because I had no plums in the house… I had to drive to the supermarket and purchase some, which 99% of the time were unripe and thus still too hard to use… now, I just walk out into the garden and pick some from my tree… how cool is that?!

Anyhow, after months of baking brownies and chocolate based cakes and muffins, it was time for a change… summer has finally brought us a lot of super juicy and extremely tasty fruit, so I thought it was about time we added them to our menu.

The recipe below makes one 8 inch square tin, just like you would use to bake brownies, which is as it happens the perfect size for just the two of us, but if you have a bigger family or you are expecting some guests then simply double the volume of the ingredients and turn it into a sheet cake. Also, I should add that this cake tastes the best on the 2nd day, so make sure you bake a portion big enough to allow for plenty of next days “leftovers”.

On the first day, you have a defined cake with plums – crumbly light cake with refreshing moist plums inside. However, on the second day, the cake is becoming much moister with fruity juices spreading throughout the cake part think of it as a self-drizzling cake. Try for yourself and tell me which day you like best.

Now, let’s get baking.

Light, moist and very refreshing this countryside plum cake is the perfect treat any time of the day.

Ingredients:

  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 15 large Damsons plums
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • Pinch of salt
  • Icing sugar – for decoration (optional)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C fan and prepare an 8-inch square tin by lining it with baking paper.

In a small saucepan over a very low heat melt the butter, once melted put aside to cool.

Wash, halve and pit the plums then put them on a large baking tray to air dry whilst you continue with the rest of the cake.

In a large mixing bowl mix together the sifted flour, both sugars, and salt.

In a separate small bowl beat the eggs, then add the vanilla essence and stir well.

Once the butter has cooled down to room temperature combine it with the eggs and mix well.

Finally, add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and with a silicon spatula mix well until combined.

Pour the mixture into the earlier prepared baking tray.

Decorate however you want with the plums, or simply place them next to each other in a grid. Whichever way you go ensure that the skin side is pointing up. When your work of art is completed just pop into the oven.

Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.

Once totally cooled down, decorate with icing sugar (if using), then finally cut into portions and enjoy.

Light, moist and very refreshing this countryside plum cake is the perfect treat any time of the day. #plumcake #cake #fruitcake #baking

How to Prevent Air Pollution in Your Home

Air pollution is a really big problem all over the world. Due to industrialization, people living in big cities all around the globe may suffer from lung diseases that can be directly related to air pollution.  

Most people think that it’s only the pollution outside that is dangerous to their health. To the contrary indoor pollution can be just as dangerous; some reports even go so far as to claim that this is even more of a problem than outdoor pollution.

There are many sources of indoor air pollution, such as air fresheners, dusty furniture dust mites or just poor ventilation. If you want to make sure that your family will remain healthy, check out the following tips to reduce the levels of indoor pollution in your home.

Fill your home with many indoor plants – Sometimes synthetic cleansers can do more harm than good, therefor it would be a good idea to use natural air cleaners instead. The perfect example of these are indoor plants as they can remove harmful elements like benzene, carbon dioxide, and formaldehyde. Some plants that you can put inside your home are lady palm, rubber plant, Boston fern and peace lily. Check this article for the “Top 10 Plants for Removing Indoor Toxin” and see if any of them takes your fancy and would fit in with the aesthetics of your home.

Ban smoking inside your house – everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health. This is also true for people who inhale second-hand smoke. If you or anyone in your family is a smoker, then try your best to quit or at least do not allow smoking inside your home. When you have guests coming to your home, make it clear to all visitors that you do not allow smoking inside.

Use natural cleaning supplies – there are many cleaning supplies containing what are called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause fatigue, headaches, and sinus congestion. To avoid these symptoms, make sure that you just use natural cleaning supplies. There are many simple home products that can be used instead of shop bought harsh chemicals. Ingredients like baking soda, which works well as a deodorizer and scouring agent, vinegar, which will help you disinfect things or lemon juice which is a perfect freshener.

Clean your air ducts regularly – proper ventilation is needed to make sure that the air is clean and pure. While you need to make sure that your house is properly ventilated, it’s also important that your air ducts be free from particles which may cause sickness. You can try to deep clean your house on your own or you can hire the services of a professional so that they can rid your house of indoor air pollution.

 

Most of these tips above only require a little bit of your attention, but that little attention can result in big benefits for you and your family’s health. Take time and make the effort so that you can ensure that every member of your family is as free as possible from air pollution hazards in your home in future.

 

12 Refreshing Infused Water Ideas

Infused water is the perfect summer drink – super hydrating and with the addition of fruit and herbs can be extremely delightful, flavourful and refreshing.  

Infused water is the perfect summer drink – super hydrating and with the addition of fruit and herbs can be extremely delightful, flavourful and refreshing.

How to make it?

Well, it couldn’t be easier.

All you need is a jug of water and some fruit and/or herbs. Simply pop your herbs and fruit into the water (you might want to slice the big fruits like apples, lemons or grapefruits so the final flavour of the water is more intense) and then you just wait… Ideally you want to leave it to infuse overnight, up to 12 hours for best results but with a minimum infusing time of just 4 hours. When ready remove the fruit and herbs from the water, discard them and store the infused water in the fridge (for up to 3 days) ready to use.

For most people plain water can get a little boring especially if consumed regularly, but with the endless possibilities for infused water, everyone will find something they like and will enjoy.

I personally like the simple combo of lemon and mint – a few thick slices of lemon and a small handful of fresh mint left in the fridge overnight gives me an extremely refreshing drink in the morning.

With so many different fruits in season right now, I wanted to share with you some infused water ideas from other bloggers in the hope that they will inspire you to create your own infused water combos.

Blackberry Mint Infused Water

Cantaloupe Blueberry Infused Water

Dill, Melon, Lemon and Apple Detox Water

Fresh Mint Infused Water

Grapefruit Rosemary Water

Kiwi and Mint Infused Water

Lemon Ginger Water

Mojito Infused Detox Water

Orange Basil Infused Water

Pomegranate Lime Infused Water

Rose, Lemon & Strawberry Infused Water

Strawberry Lemon Infused Water

 

Which of those takes your fancy?

Which combo is your favourite?

 

Infused water is the perfect summer drink – super hydrating and with the addition of fruit and herbs can be extremely delightful, flavourful and refreshing. #infusedwater #water #summerdrink #fruitwater #recipe