Monthly Archives: December 2013

Cheese and Onion Chutney Tarts

1/2 250 gram ready made shortcrust pastry

Selection of cheeses (I used some Wensleydale and Cranberry, Sweet Chilli Cheddar, Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese and Brie)

Home Made Onion Chutney.


Chutney Recipe

4 small onions, chopped (I chose rough, but you can cut them as you like)

1 tbsp Sugar (Brown if you have it)

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/4 tsp grated garlic

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 small stick of butter.


First slice the onions and place them in the pan with the butter, let them cook slowly, turn translucent and start to brown, when it gets to this stage you can add the garlic and garlic salt, leave to brown a little longer.  


Once browned add the baslamic vinegar, reduce for about a minute and then cover and leave.  



Roll out your pastry and cut with a cutter (or a lid, like I did) and place into a yorkshire pudding tray, pushing in around the sides and making sure they are flat to the bottom.  



Chop the cheeses into small chunks and add to the tarts on top of a teaspoon of the chutney, dot them around.  


Put them into a preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius and cook for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden and the cheeses have melted.  


We are currently undergoing the VERY expensive process of having our products approved for sale.  Considering I only use organic ingredients and those are certified I have to pay to have each individual ingredient tested vigorously due to new EU legislation.  Despite it being against what we wanted, to encourage people to make things themselves, I have decided to make a very low profit and donate 30% of that to charity (a local food bank and an anti bullying charity).  So once I have the go ahead (the product is approved but it’s undergoing stability testing) our lip balm will be on sale (I could only afford one product at a time).  My recipes will still be free on here and maybe people might want to try it then make it themselves, who knows.  

Winter is coming and we live an old 80’s semi detached house so it’s not that warm unless we crank the heating up, although we aren’t affected by price increases (I was lucky enough to get onto fixed tariffs before each one) it’s not very “green”.  In February we are switching to a green energy company in the UK but in the mean time we’ve made some changes to try and make the house better insulated whilst trying not to spend too much. 

Firstly we were given material so made simple curtains to go around our open plan staircase to encourage heat back into our living room.  They have a hem on 3 sides and a large hem to fit a curtain pole through, the most simple you can get really. 

I purchased material locally to make new curtains as the ones on the living room window were far too thin, so we purchased the new material (I don’t mind, I think I support local trade this way) and basically used the old ones as lining.  I decided I’d like a small colour change so made some cushion covers from the leftovers.  The bottom line is that we have a warmer room, with a colour change (not essential I know) but all for under £60, instead of going out and buying everything new.

Behind radiators I have sheets of cardboard (reused of course) with a mylar blanket glued to it to reflect heat back into the rooms.  I also have cardboard behind sofas on outside walls to further try and insulate a little. 

We have a draught excluder made of the leg of an old pair of jeans stuffed with old clothes at the living room door (it opens onto a porch that isn’t insulated) and we are fitting a curtain over it also. 

I have read that it is better to keep heating on constantly and low than to keep switching it on and off, so I’m conducting a test.  We have had a poorly pet so he needed the heating left on really, so I have done for 2 weeks and taken metre readings.  To look at it, it doesn’t appear a drastic difference from normal (heat set higher and coming on for only 6 hours a day).  I’m waiting on a cost from the energy company and shall report this when I get it.  To be honest if it is the same cost it is worth doing as the house stays at a permanent comfortable temperature.  The reasoning is that it takes large amounts of energy to switch the heating on, which I did not know previously.   So I shall keep you posted on that. 

Our curtains are all closed to keep the heat in, when we are in work it doesn’t make a difference as we are not there and our pets are fish, who have their own light and rats who sleep a lot during the day.  

When I first started this blog I said I was going to try and reduce our waste and have succeeded from 2 to 3 black bags a fortnight (landfill) to 1 a fortnight.  This has been helped by our council now recycling cardboard and paper.  We try not to buy processed food and organic and non processed food tends to come in less packaging naturally.  All tin cans, plastic covers, plastic bottles (those that aren’t kept for making planters), plastic containers, all glass, all cardboard and paper get recycled with us now.  

It hasn’t been difficult to achieve with the kerbside scheme and once checking initially I generally remember what can recycled and what can’t, there’s also reuse as well as recycle so some of our waste will be made into other things.  A lot of cardboard goes for mulching, containers can be used for our pets (who also have all their waste contribute to our compost 🙂 ) 

My advice to anyone wanting to reduce their waste is to encourage councils to have  kerbside scheme, learn what can be recycled and what can’t and try to avoid what can’t.  I already boycott a huge number of companies for being unethical, since then I have changed how I look at my food, the products we purchase and also what goes back out of our door, aware that every black bag will be buried in our earth and left to fester, picked apart by children on foreign soil and contaminate those areas.  It’s not something I am happy about.  

When I have time I shall try and do a week where I’ll show everything that gets opened, used, recycled and disposed of.