Crumbling Away

applesAn Apple Crumble with custard is never out of season according to the good wife. When the days turn chilly, the nights turn cold and apples are in abundance, what can be a better than this good old favourite?

Let’s get it right this time and make it all finger-and-lips lickingly good and from scratch. From top to bottom, in order of preparation:

Custard

Mix 250 ml double cream with 250 ml whole milk (1/2 pint each), bring it almost to the boil. Mix 100 g sugar, 5 free-range egg yolks (room temperature) and a good helping of vanilla essence or seeds from a vanilla pod. When the milk is just below the boiling point, remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the egg mix. Keep whisking for a minute, then place the pot in cold water and whisk for another minute.

There’s no need for water bath and it will not turn into scrambled eggs if you remember to remove the pot from the heat and whisk vigorously.

Put it into the fridge for at least one hour. This will keep for days, but it won’t last for days. Not in my house.

Crumble

It’s 1 : 1 : 1 : 1. 50 g soft butter, 50 g sugar, 50 g white wheat flour, 50 g ground almonds. Take the hand mixer and whisk it all together, optionally adding a small handful of chopped toasted hazelnuts for extra goodness.

Put it into the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This can be prepared well before serving time.

Fruit

Peel and cut apples, perhaps add a little ground cinnamon, lime juice and sugar to bring them to life with the right levels of tartness and sweetness.

Production

Fill the baking dish or individual portion dishes with a layer of fruit.

Cover the fruit with a crumble layer, then bake at 200C for ~15 minutes until the crumble is slightly golden.

Serve straight from the oven with cold custard and speak no more.

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Piggeries Progress

IMG_20170406_114423998Join us today for the final 2017 effort to tidy up The Piggeries Orchard in preparation of… wait for it… in preparation of… drumroll… in preparation of the 2018 Piggeries Orchard tree planting!

We have been working with Ealing Council and Thames Water who identified that problems exist with the drains that deal with surface water in St Margaret’s Road and in the immediate area. We understand that they are looking for a long term solution. However, as less unwanted water has been entering the Piggeries site we infer they may have found a temporary fix that at least reduces the problem, and we are optimistic that we can plant the Piggeries Orchard trees on February 24th. Today, we’ll be preparing the site by removing more bramble and nettle, stones, brick, rubble and metal in our last work Saturday for this year.

Please join us at The Piggeries 11:00.

Wear suitable clothing and shoes, bring gardening gloves and tools such as digging forks, secateurs or trimming hoes if you can. We hope to finish with refreshments at The Fox at around 14:00.

Funny Fungi

dog-vomit-fungusIt’s late in the mushroom foraging season, but with luck you might still come across these funny fungi, sometimes aptly called the dog vomit mushroom.

It’s neither dog vomit nor fungus. You might have been carefully looking away from a slime mould, entirely harmless and natural albeit visually unappealing to most of us. There’s a good chance of finding some around the wood chip and bark used for mulching all along the orchard trail.

Fuligo septica is able to actively move to better food sources! How cool is that! Wikipedia describes it as a multinucleate mass of undifferentiated cells that may move in an ameboid-like fashion. Now it not longer sound quite so cool, but still… fascinating, don’t you agree?

Annual General Meeting

DSC_0412INVITATION & FORMAT NOTICE

Notice is hereby given of the third Annual General Meeting of the Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail, which will be held at 19:30 on Tuesday 14th November 2017 at 72, St Margaret’s Road, Hanwell W7 2HF.

All members of the Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail are entitled to attend and vote at the AGM. Please contact us to confirm your attendance. There is no charge for attendance at the AGM.

The complete notice and agenda can be found here (pdf).

Picnic? No Picnic!

_MG_8109We have all been looking forward to this Saturday’s picnic and birthday party in the meadows. We’ve also been monitoring the weather forecast.

With a forecast of pretty miserable weather, storms as high as 48 miles per hour and a severe Met Office weather warning in place, we think it prudent to cancel this Saturday’s autumn orchard picnic.

With the knowledge that it is better to be safe than sorry, we suggest you stay at home, stay dry, stay warm, stay safe.

 

Points Mean Prizes!

picnic-kidsWe must have ticked some boxes with the judges and are now pleased and proud to report that London in Bloom awarded the Osterley Lock Orchard with thriving in the It’s your Neighbourhood category. 

Thriving, we are proud to add, is just one tiny little step short of outstanding.

Our thanks to everyone who encouraged or helped with this fabulous project. Why not come and help celebrate at

Saturday October 21
Autumn Picnic and Birthday Party

in Jubilee Meadow by the sheep, from 13:00.

Bring a friend, a spouse, a child or a neighbour. Bring a drink and something to eat for the sharing table if you like, but please be prepared to take leftovers back with you as we hate waste. You’re also welcome to come empty handed, as there’s always plenty and more to go round.

Most importantly, bring yourself. See you there!

Dolce Far Niente

demijohnAre you making your own Cider? Have you joined the discussion about the right type of yeast yet, whether to wash, to dance around it during a full moon or sing to it naked?

We hadn’t. Our Cider-making experiment failed thanks to our blissful ignorance. We hadn’t even thought of an airlock, I admit in shame. Ah, expert advisers told us dismissively, you’ll get nothing but vinegar!

And vinegar we got. Beautiful, aromatic, golden, delicious home-made cider vinegar. We are now making our own cider vinegar in the third year, and a few litres see us through the entire year. That wouldn’t happen if it was delicious cider, would it?

Here’s how:

Don’t wash or peel the apples to include the natural yeast which sits on the skin, just mechanically remove dirt, blemishes and anything which moves or wiggles. Press juice into a large pot. Leave standing open for a few hours to attract more natural yeasts, then put the lid on loosely, keep it at low room temperature away from direct sunlight, and do nothing.

White spots appear on the surface after a few days. Do nothing.

The surface develops a skin with more white spots, and eventually bubbles begin to form. Do nothing. Do nothing until the process is finished. After 7 to 10 days the bubbles stop. The yeast turned the sugars into alcohol, which oxidised into acid: the vinegar emerges!

Filter it through a muslin into a large bottle, canister or demijohn. Be careful not to close it tightly because the fermentation may not have completely finished after all. We put it on the shelf for a couple of weeks, then filter it through a coffee paper filter into pasteurised bottles and use it through the year.

It couldn’t be easier to make and fills me with pride and joy every day when I use our own vinegar.

Seasonal Changes

_MG_9310We had to suspend our weekly Tree Tending Tuesday meetings until spring 2018 due to the now early darkness. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who came to help on numerous occasions!

We recorded over 430 volunteer hours along the orchard trail for 2017 so far, with more to come! We think it shows: grass and meadow flowers are emerging and slowly taking over from nettles and brambles in the Osterley Lock, Piggeries, St Margaret’s and Blackberry Corner orchards. Elthorne Terrace, Elthorne Triangles, Trumpers Field, the Hanwell Meadows, Three Bridges Park and Glade Lane Canalside Park, Top Lock and Bixley Triangle also saw a lot of attention this year. In addition to weed bashing and rubbish removal, trees were pruned and fitted with better rabbit guards. We are now preparing to replace the worn-out and washed-out tree variety labels soon.

It’s never too late to join the fun! Our dedicated web page shows status and planned work on all sites, and active members coordinate using the volunteer email list.

More fun activity events are coming up in October and November!

Ontario Bridge

DSCN3613Did you know that the bridge often called the Trumpers Way Bridge really is Ontario Bridge, although officially known as Grand Union Canal bridge 205a?

We knew about Ontario Bridge for a while but keep forgetting, so here it is once and for all. Repeat after me: Ontario Bridge. Ontario. Ontario.

We can’t work out why or when this bridge has been given this name, and with so few references, we aren’t entirely sure if this name is official in any way.

Please come forward if you can contribute to this discussion.

 

Train In The Distance

steam-locoWho doesn’t like the sound of a train in the distance?

You will all have seen or heard the freight train travelling alongside the Hanwell Meadows, and many will have used the railway crossing behind lock 97 at the bottom end of Green Lane.

The railway and history buffs from disused-stations.org.uk put together a lovely article about the now disused Trumpers Crossing Halt, exactly where the foot crossing is located now. How exciting it must have been to walk down Green Lane, cross the canal and the meadow, then wait for the GWR service to Brentford Dock!

The line is used for a freight train service today, connecting a station in Brentford with the main line in Southall with an on-demand schedule within permitted time slots, a slow but sometimes rather impressively long train. Most carriages are said to carry crushed concrete for re-use in road and building works, but other recycled material and some landfill is also said to travel along that line.

Every now and then the discussion flares up whether the line could or should be reopened for public passenger use, for example linking Brentford to the Southall Crossrail halt. I doubt even the most enthusiastic proposals include the resurrection of the Trumpers Crossing Halt, however.