Having made our own dehydrator, we have successfully made some fruit leather. Started with blackcurrant as these ripened first. Not a difficult decision.
So took some fruit and added some lemon juice. This is to help keep the colour apparently. put that in a saucepan and simmer until soft. Blitz that with a stick blender removing any big lumps. Taste and add honey if you want to. Spread this out thinly on a parchment lined baking tray and whack it in the dehydrator in the sun.
Leave it until it is no longer tacky to touch then remove it. Take it off the parchment, cut it up, roll it into, well, rolls, and put in the fridge.
Great hill food to accompany a sandwich and the internet seems to suggest it will keep for up to a month.
Incidently, we measured the temperature inside the solar dehydrator to be 55 degrees centigrade. Not sure whether that is good or not but it seems to work well.
So, tiz Boxing Day, after a very Merry Christmas Day in The Chamonix Valley. Long lunch with champagne sitting in the sun up the mountain gave us lots of thinking time and ideas. Chatting with Keith & Lyn, we discovered a few people in the valley have already invested in various eco friendly systems. We now have a few contacts to touch base with, and hopefully glean some hints, tips and also how the French system support eco investment. We also need to traipse around builders merchants and talk to a couple of builder friends regarding French roofing techniques and materials. This is gonna be vital for the structural engineer so that we can actually make what he designs. We also need to find the “French termite map” to establish what timbers we require. If anyone knows where to locate this map then let us know!
The blog seems to be working as we are getting more information and contacts to talk to. Thanks Jane & Richard (Fletcher) for finding this and putting us in touch with Ester & Mathew looking forward to hopefully meeting them in the New Year and sharing ideas.
We have the plans back from the architect so need to pass them onto the structural engineer. Gonna get them scanned and put them up here for anyone interested. Current thinking is to use salvage slate for the roof covering as this is what it would have been originally. There are a few slates around but we need to track down a load more old ones so if anyone out there has a stash in the south of France please let us know. Don't worry I won't hold my breath. Put a couple of pics in to show what sort of thing we are thinking.
Still need to think through what we want the roof to do for us in terms of eco friendly stuff, power, water heating etc, and design that in as well. If anyone has experience to share on that front please let us know. It would be a shame to make unnecessary mistakes.
So, we have found a friendly architect who is doing drawings for us. Well actually he is a student architect who has jumped at the opportunity to earn beer money. Fantastic, we like.
Also got a structural engineer onboard who is going to design the roof. Martin Ward is happy to be paid in wine! So it is all coming together.
Next steps are to get a tools list together and acquire a small generator from somewhere so that we can use power tools etc in the spring. Oh yeh, the plan is to get out there for a month in May time and do a load of work in preparation for putting a roof on in the Autumn.
Things in France just seem to take time. So we have finally sent money over to complete the purchase of the Bergerie. Now we wait for something to come back.
We spent about ten days over there in October and measured up as best we could. We also managed to get a couple of really great walks in around the valley. See the photos below. The alpine meadow was covered in naturalised crocus flowers and although one arm of the stream running through the property seemed dried up, when we walked up the valley there was tons of water flowing. Where it goes we just don't know. The area is limestone though so we may have to put a well in? We also came accross a donkey trying very hard not to be found.
Once upon a time there was this small, derelict, stone building, up in the mountains and miles from any other habitation. The gorgeous views, and the several acres of land that belonged to it, made it irresistible …