Thursday, August 23, 2012

Growing Apple Trees for Firewood

any people think of apple trees as only having one purpose, which is of course, to produce apples for out eating enjoyment but apple trees have other uses. One of those uses is as firewood. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, you know that certain kinds of wood are better for burning. The kinds of wood that are better for generating heat are dense woods that are rated high in BTUs. Firewood is rated for its Heat Content by MBTUs or Million British Thermal Units and Pounds of Weight per dry cord of wood. One of the densest woods out there is Osage Orange; it's MBTU rate for 1 cord is ~ 30 MBTU. White Oak, another popular hardwood used for firewood, is rated at around 28 MBTUs and Pine, a light softwood, is rated around 15 or 20 MBTU. The wood of apple trees falls right around the 25 MBTU range for 1 cord of dried wood.

So by these numbers you can see that apple wood is a dense word which contains a lot of energy that can be released when burned properly in a wood stove. Another feature of apple wood is that it is very fragrant when burned. This makes it an enjoyable wood to burn because the smoke isn't as unpleasant or acrid as it can be with some other woods. Since it is so fragrant, apple wood is also commonly used to make natural incense and to smoke meats. If you have a smoker at home, apple wood would be a great source of smoke. The burned wood also makes a dense hardwood charcoal which can also be used for smoking or outdoor BBQ. Now that you are sold are growing apple trees for both fruit and wood, I bet you are asking yourself what kind of apple trees you should be growing.

Well, you may have to grow a few different kinds of apple trees to meet all of your needs. If you prefer a particular apple variety for eating, then by all means, grow that variety. You will probably not be able or not want to harvest a lot of wood from your eating apple trees. You will of course want to prune them and can always collect sticks and branches that it will drop. These would be great for smoking or fragrance when dried but to really use an apple tree you firewood, you will have to grow a tree to maturity and harvest the entire tree. The most practical way of doing this is finding a type of apple tree that is very fast growing. Red Delicious, one of more common eating apples out there, is known to be a fairly fast growing tree. When choosing a type of tree for firewood it is important to select the semi-dwarf or standard variety of apple. You would not want to select the dwarf variety as they will produce very little wood for you. It will take years for the tree to mature to a size where it can be harvested but if you plant a crop every year after the first planting, once the first crop is ready to be harvested, you can harvest another crop each year after that. This way you will have an unlimited source of apple wood heat for your home.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to Make Your Christmas Dinner Gluten Free

Christmas, as they say, is a time for giving, a time for sharing and generally eating a lot of food, and drinking some fine wine. But if you have special dietary requirements, such as coeliac disease, which means that you have a reaction to foods containing gluten, the holiday can seem a little more difficult to enjoy. After all, what do you eat? What do you drink? And how can you have Christmas dinner without having a bad reaction to it? Here are some ideas.

Sort Out Some Gluten-Free Recipes
While this may sound like fairly obvious advice, sorting through your recipe books and selecting some tasty recipes for meals that you can eat on Christmas Day is absolutely paramount to making sure you will enjoy your meal. Once you have selected a few recipes, make sure you have the ingredients for them well in advance of the 25th, as the shops will be closed for the Christmas holidays during that time, and missing a vital ingredient could mean wasting a much wanted meal.

Know Where Your Dining
Again, this may sound obvious, as most people will be eating their Christmas Dinner with friends or family on the big day. However, firming up your arrangements in advance will mean that you will know whether you are going to be doing the cooking or if someone else is. Once you know where you'll be having Christmas Dinner, the easier it will be to prepare food for yourself and put it to one side in your own home, or prepare something for yourself and take it to a friend or relatives house. You could also buy gluten-free ingredients and offer to help the host with your meal, which they will probably appreciate.

Have a Support Network
If you have coeliac disease, or if someone who does is coming round to your home on Christmas Day, then sometimes the best advice to get is from other people with the disease, as they will have a wealth of tips, tricks and advice to help you prepare the Christmas meal. Join an online forum or two and see what advice other sufferers have for the big day, such as how to prepare and store food and how to keep it apart from foods that contain gluten.

While it's become so much easier for sufferers of coeliac disease to eat the kind of foods that they need to, certain social occasions, such as Christmas Day, can prove to be challenging for the coeliac sufferer. However, it's important to define the difference between challenging and impossible, because this condition can actually open up lots of different opportunities to try out gluten free recipes and foods, and to experiment with cooking.