July 2011


Everyone loves apple pie, if you don’t then I will eat it as I love it, providing there’s no cinnamon in it!

What will make this pie taste even more delicious is to use your own, homegrown apples picked fresh from your own trees. I am beginning to slaver just thinking about that.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 400g plain flour
  • 200g butter or 100g butter and 100g lard
  • 4 tbsp. ice cold water

Filling

  • 1.5-2.0kg apples preferably Bramley. Peeled, de-cored and cut into slices

    Use whatever apples you have grown

  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp. water

Ingredients Shortcrust Pastry

  • 400g Plain flour
  • 100g Lard at room temperature
  • 100g Butter at room temperature
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 4tbsp. Ice cold water

Method Shortcrust Pastry

  1. Sieve the salt and flour into a mixing bowl.
  2. Cut the lard and butter into small manageable pieces and add to the flour in the bowl.
  3. With a round edged knife (butter knife is good for this) mix the ingredients together until they are fairly mixed together. Then with your fingertips lightly rub the ingredients together until they resemble breadcrumbs.
  4. Sprinkle 1tbsp. of cold water over the ingredients and rub in.
  5. Repeat until you have used the water then with the knife bring the ingredients together to make a dough. You want the dough that’s not to sticky or dry so you may have to add or reduce the water you use.
  6. Finally with your fingertips once more, bring the dough together to form a smooth dough. Add cold water if needed as you bring the dough together.
  7. Put the dough in a plastic bag or Clingfilm and leave to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge. This is important as it gives the dough time to get more elastic, making it easier to roll out.
  8. After 30 minutes roll out to the desired size on a floured surface.

Method Pie

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C or gas Mark 5.
  2. Put the apples and sugar into a large mixing bowl and mix together.
  3. Get a large pie tin or ovenproof plate and grease.
  4. Take the dough out of the fridge and cut in half. Roll one half out on a floured surface. You want the pastry to be slightly bigger than the tin or

    Rolling out the shortcrust pastry

    plate.

  5. Gently put the pastry on the tin pressing down into all the nooks and crannies. Trim away the edges and brush the edge with milk.
  6. Take the apples and spread them all over the base leaving about 2cm’s free at the edge so you can seal the pie.
  7. Roll out the 2nd half of pastry. Again you want the pastry to be slightly bigger than the plate.
  8. Carefully put the pastry over a plate

    Place the lid over the apples and press it down at the edges making a seal. Trim away the edges then with your fingers finish it off by crimping the edges all way round sealing the apples in.

  9. Make 3 slits on top of the lid so steam can escape. Brush the finished pie with milk then put in the oven.

    With a knife, carefully remove any excess pastry

    Ready for the oven

  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is a golden colour. Remove and leave to cool before serving with ice cream, custard or cream.

 

 

 

 

 

We all know about climate change. The use of products that produce dangerous gases and pollute the air we breathe, resulting in warmer temperatures. But do many of you know how you can do just a little bit which will make a big impact to the climate and environment around you?

Turning off unwanted electrical items like chargers and computers, walking or cycling instead of using the car, planting trees and growing your own vegetables. All these things can be done quite easily, but will make a big change to the way in which we all live.

Below is a small list of things one can do to live a greener life but there are many more things one can do.

  • When making coffee or tea use enough water for the number of cups you need.
  • Make sure the pan you are using is the right size for the job and the ring you are going to use on the cooker.
  • How about making your own meals instead of shop brought rubbish? Making your own meals means you know exactly what goes into them. If you use your own home-grown veg, fruit, herbs and other edible items, you will have a great tasting, healthy meal.
  • Always open the windows around the house to let in fresh air and dispel any old, stale air which can be bad for you. Even in winter a few minutes makes a difference.
  • Never leave the TV, satellite receiver or any other electrical device on standby. Leaving it on standby means you are still using electricity to keep it on standby and raising your electricity bills.
  • Planting trees is an excellent way of helping the planet deal with pollutants which we pump into the air like carbon monoxide and turn it into oxygen which we need.
  • Never buy bottled water. Yes it is an invaluable source in emergency situations where the local supply has been cut off or contaminated, BUT there are ways for these companies to distribute water without using plastic. Cardboard cartons and bottles is one way in which they could distribute water needed in times of disaster. Plus the transporting and making is incredibly expensive and bad for the environment.
  • Growing your own food like vegetables, fruit and herbs are another great way for you to live greener lives and conserve the environment. Not using pesticides will greatly improve the air and the soil in which you have planted your vegetables and they will taste delicious too.
  • Conserving rain water is a great way of living a green life and there are many ways in which one could utilise the collected water. First off is the garden. Water the plants, trees, and all those vegetables with rain water which is free from chlorine, fluorides and other chemicals water companies pump into our drinking water. Some plants like Venus Fly Traps should only be watered with rain water as the chemicals in drinking water will rot and kill it outright. Other good ways for using rainwater is the toilet and if you can have the correct filters in place, the shower.
  • Composting. When you are preparing your vegetables and fruit why not have a small compost bin in the kitchen with a lid on. When it’s full take it outside and put that waste into a compost bin. This will rot down over time thanks to the beneficial insects and worms, leaving you with beautiful compost which you can use in your garden. The plants will thank you for it too.
  • Try to recycle as much as you can. From paper to plastic, metals and even batteries can be recycled. No longer working electrical items like fridges and freezers can all be recycled. Furniture you no longer require and old clothes can be recycled to. Just give the local charity shop a ring or go visit them and see if they will collect you’re unwanted items. I save some containers to use in and around the house and in the garden. Old yoghurt pots can be great emergency plant pots, so can tin cans. Plastic egg cartons can be used as seed trays. If they have a lid then you have a mini propagator. Just think about it, the possibilities for recycling are endless.
  • When washing clothes use the coldest setting possible and try to hang them up to dry instead of using a tumble dryer. Bad for the environment and the pocket.
  • Other more common things to do to live a greener life include leaving the car at home instead replacing it with either walking, cycling or getting public transport to work and wherever else you may be going. If you need to use the car make sure it is as environmentally friendly as possible and always make sure the tyres are at the correct pressure. Turn off lights when not needed and even turning down the thermometer by 1 degree makes a difference.

As one can see these changes are nothing major, most of them you will already know and, hopefully already implement. But they will make a big difference to the environment and climate, especially if everyone practices these simple procedures. It’s not hard or even rocket science, just common sense.

I have recently written an article on Getting Rid Of Dust Inside A Computer. To read it click HERE.

Dust can be a killer if left inside your pc, so regular cleaning inside will not only make it run cooler, it will prolong it’s life. It’s also simple to do.

I have recently added an article on another website about Combatting Spam. You can read it HERE.

It gives you ideas, hints and tips on combatting spam and other scams freely sent to our in-boxes daily. If you want to stop these unwanted emails read the article.

Word 2007 icon.

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There is so much software out there today it starts to get confusing when you are searching for the right program. Office programs, computer care and protection, even cloud based programs designed to give you, the user the ability to access your documents no matter where in the world you are. If you are not computer savvy then this can lead to you going out and buying software that the shop assistant pushes your way. With the advent of the internet there came with it a whole new world of software, with much of it free to the customer who cares to download it. And this is the aim of this short article, to give you another option when you need software and in particular Office software. It’s not conclusive but gives one a taster of what’s out there for free.

Office Programs

Ever since Microsoft released their first Operating System, Windows 3 they have had a small and basic word program for you to use. Over the years the program has stood the test of time but been somewhat neglected, until the advent of Windows 7. A new interface and buttons for you to play with, WordPad is an excellent choice if you only write the occasional letter.

OpenOffice is a word program that rivals Microsoft’s own Office suite, only Open Office is free. It has the ability to open almost any document format including Microsoft’s own extensions. Looks similar to Microsoft’s interface and is easy to use. You can download it from the internet which won’t take long then save it to a CD for future use.

Did you know you can download Microsoft’s latest office software FREE? Well you can but only for 60 days. You can download the latest office application and try it free of charge for 60 days, then purchase it if you want to afterwards. It’s fully unlocked for you to try and is a great way in which to get Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and other applications. I will let you into a secret. After the 60 days is up uninstall it, reboot your computer then re-download it using another email address. You now have a fully working office program FREE to use for another 60 days.

There are lots of other Office programs out there online and these are just some of the popular ones. If you are in need of any kind of software, always look for a free program before you go out and buy a more expensive version. Free doesn’t always mean rubbish these days and it could save you a fortune.

If you can think of anymore Office suites that are free, why not let us know?

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The WASD keyboard setup is used widely.

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As more and more of us go online it also seems there are more and more unscrupulous people who are out to get everything they can from you. That includes bank details, your identity and of course your passwords.

It’s a fact of life now when we go onto a website that if we want to participate we have to sign up meaning creating a username and password. This is where we all fall down and leave ourselves open to these people who want our information. What I am talking about is the use of passwords and the fact that most of us use the same one for every website, forum and social networking site we frequent.

So what should we do to make it impossible for anyone to get our details?

It’s quite simple really. NEVER ever use the same password for more than one website. I know many of us go to tens or even hundreds of websites every day and we need to put our details in every time, and to be honest it gets a little monotonous and annoying, but that’s what these scammers and hackers want. You see if you use the same password all the time then anyone who does get hold of your details has an easy time taking over your identity, and that means they can post, purchase and do pretty much what they want as the password is the same.

I know its tedious inputting different passwords every time we want to go to our favourite websites, and another problem is remembering them all too. But it is important to have different ones and there are ways in which you can make your life easier online.

Before we go into storing all those passwords we need to know how and where you can make a password, how to make one up, how many characters it should have and what NOT to use.

Where can you make a Password?

Well if, like me you struggle to think of a password when you are signing up to a website there are a few other things you can use. One is a website which has a small piece of software on it that allows you to create a password. Another step is to download a free copy of a password generator. Look online and you will see that there are pages of online or desktop password generators available so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something.

Making a Password Up

The ideal number of characters in a password is between 12 and 14 characters long. When making a password it’s always advisable to use numbers and letters including UPPER and lower case, special characters’ like slashes and other symbols on the keyboard.

What NOT to Use

It is not advisable to use things like a date of birth, favourite football teams, pet names or any other piece of information easily available to everyone. Social security or National Insurance number? Forget it. All that does is give the hacker even more information as he now has your SSN. The password you generate should also be easy to remember, easier said than done I know when you have one which has so many different characters.

Storing that all Important Data

Once you have different passwords for all those favourite websites, blogs, forums and social networking websites how can you remember them all? Well unless you have a photographic memory that could be a problem but help is at hand.

Look online and do a search for something like “storing different passwords” and you will be immediately shown lots of websites that offer you software which will remember all your passwords inside one program. All you have to do then is remember the master password so you can get to the passwords. Some of these programs are free so it pays to take some time and choose one you feel comfortable with, and read any comments other users have left if there are any.

Using different passwords for all those websites you frequent is a must. Yes it does get annoying having to remember them all then input them into the password box. But in the end it can save you from being taken over from some of these nasty people that only want to take from you what they can. Help is at hand too in order for you to store all the passwords so to be honest there is no excuse is there?

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This was a highlighter and uv light image.

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Sometimes just going to the local store and picking the first computer one sees, hoping it will do all you require it to do won’t suffice, and the chances are you will need to mod or upgrade a computer. Upgrading a computer can involve replacing the standard video card, memory and CPU if they won’t run the latest games or many of the high performance pieces of software available on today’s market. So when you do buy a pc off the shelf upgrading at the same time is a good idea.

 

What if you already have a computer and you want to upgrade that? Well there are options galore from a computer CPU upgrade, memory and graphics card as mentioned above, even a nice new case like those lovely modded cases that glow in the dark can be classed as computer upgrading.

clip_image002Why should you need a pc upgrade? Well when buying a branded computer many manufacturers will make a bulk standard pc which will serve most people’s needs whether it’s for the internet or using programs like office, playing games or movie editing. So if you want something a little more powerful you either go to an independent computer shop and get them to

A hard drve cooler will keep your hard drive cool and prolong it’s life.

build one for you to your specifications, or you purchase the pc off the shelf and upgrades at the same time then do the job yourself. Many major manufacturers now allow you to upgrade the computer so long as you do not damage it, by that I mean damage the motherboard or other parts as you will void any warranty.

If you already have a pc then upgrading will mean it will probably run better and faster, run the latest software products and games and be an all-round more high performance pc compared to the old one you had before, oh and you are being kind on the environment in not throwing away the old computer, rather upgrading it.

clip_image003Have you seen those jazzy cases with lights inside? Those green, red and blue light tubes that light up the inside of the case showing off all the neat cables which have UV ends. When the UV lights are switched on they give the inside of the case a wonderful glow especially in the dark. What about those cables too that light up when a UV light is shone on them? When done proper these cases look magical and you end up spending more time looking inside the case then you do looking at the monitor, well I did anyway when I first modded mine! But they are easy to do. You may have to purchase another case, one with a transparent side panel then transfer everything from the old to the new case. If one is not so sure then the local friendly computer shop will come in handy or maybe a relative who is computer savvy.

But it’s not just under the cover that one can upgrade or accessorize. Things like a better keyboard and mouse can be important in today’s computer age, plus the keyboard and mouse one gets with computers don’t tend to be very good do they? As they do most of the work, having a good quality board and mouse is important. Even speakers are no longer luxuries in today’s computer household. With Social Networking and the chance to stream music and video via the internet into your home, a good quality set of speakers is now a necessity whether a twin set at the side of the monitor or the multimedia speaker systems that allow one to hear even the tiniest of noises all around the house.

Have you thought about a printer? What about an all in one printer? What they will give the user is invaluable especially if one works from home. An all in one printer now gives the user the ability to not only print but copy and scan meaning an end to a scanner and copy machine in the home or office, and they are very cheap to purchase.

As one can see upgrading or modding a computer can be done and in most cases it’s easy to do, you only require minimal expertise at best. Even adding keyboards and mice to a system can make a big difference. They now make life easier as these have become multimedia objects that will do everything from opening a Word doc to playing Spotify and iTunes by pressing 1 button. One word of caution. If you intend to upgrade that new branded PC or any PC you brought from a shop make sure you won’t void the warranty. As mentioned above most will let you upgrade but it’s worth checking first.

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