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THE PERFECT PLAYLISTREAD MORE

Music for all seasons

We have put our heads together in the ZIP™ office to come up with our favorite fireside music playlists for all seasons.

Whether you are snuggling up by the fire or getting ready to fire up the barbecue, we have the perfect songs for you!

If you have any fireside favorites you would like to share with us, please post them on our Facebook wall or Tweet them to us.
You could even see yours added to the ZIP™ playlist!

DiscFire Songs
DiscSpring Tracks
DiscSummer Tracks
DiscAutumn Tracks
DiscWinter Tracks
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FLUFFY HISTORYREAD MORE

A fluffy history of the beloved marshmallow

With cozy fire season around the corner, now is a great time to enjoy the fun of roasting marshmallows!

What better childhood memory is there than warming up by the fire and indulging in the sheer joy of sticky, gooey roasted marshmallows! Most of us know and love s'mores, that irresistible snack of roasted marshmallows sandwiched between two graham crackers and a hunk of chocolate. And while it's easy to toast marshmallows over a crackling fire, have you ever wondered just how and where marshmallows came to be?

Marshmallow candy originated in ancient Egypt, where it was used as a medicinal product. It was a honey candy, flavored and thickened with sap from the marshmallow plant. This plant grew on salt marshes and near large bodies of water. According to Viable Herbal Solutions, “Nineteenth century doctors extracted juice from the roots of the marshmallow plant, cooked it with egg whites and sugar, whipped it into a foamy meringue, left it to cool and harden, and used it to soothe children’s sore throats.”

This method was used until the mid-1800's, when the French invented its more modern form of a marshmallow confection – a cross between a medicinal lozenge and a bonbon. Unfortunately, once the healing properties of the gooey marshmallow root juice were no longer needed, its use as an ingredient was lost to history.

At the same time, confectioners wanted to find a new, faster way to make marshmallows. The marshmallow root was replaced by more stable gelatin. Today’s marshmallows are now a sweet confection and are a mixture of corn syrup or sugar, gelatin, gum arabic, and flavorings.

Marshmallows gained in popularity, and by the 1920's they inspired edible novelties such as Moon Pies – as well as other products to satisfy the sweet tooth, namely the incredible, spreadable Marshmallow Fluff. Some marshmallow companies even created whimsical countertop toasters to give their powder-white sweets that beautiful golden brown hue.

In 1948, marshmallow manufacturer Alex Doumak began experimenting with different methods of making marshmallows and revolutionized marshmallow production with the “extrusion process”. Using this process, marshmallows were made by piping the fluffy mixture through long tubes and cutting its tubular shape into equal pieces.

Today we enjoy these delicious confections as white and pink puffs of deliciousness, all thanks to the ancient Egyptians and some ingenious inventions along the way.

If this makes you crave something sweet, why not make a cozy warm fire this evening and satisfy your inner kid's sweet tooth with some toasted marshmallows?

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WEATHER

Planning a camping trip or grill out this weekend? Stay prepared!

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RECIPESFrom comforting winter warmers to delicious ideas for the grill, we have the perfect recipes to get your taste buds tingling!READ MORE

The Ultimate BurgerChocolate and Banana Bread and Butter PuddingFudgy Chocolate PuddingGinger and Honey Chicken WingsPork, Chorizo and Cannellini Bean StewGrilled Bananas with Rum Honey RecipeSpiced Hot BourbonComforting Winter Soup recipe

The Ultimate Burger


The Ultimate Burger

There’s nothing like a juicy, delicious burger to make your BBQ.

Here’s our favorite recipe for the ultimate one!

Ingredients

For the hamburger

  • 1kg freshly ground beef
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 300g mature cheddar cut into 50g slices
  • 12 slices streaky dry cure bacon, grilled until crispy
  • 6 soft white buns, split in two
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Half a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Ripe beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
  • Handful of fresh, crisp lettuce

For the burger sauce

  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp chopped capers
  • 1 tsp chopped gherkins, splash of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper

Method

  1. Press the ground meat into 180g patties. Heat a skillet or your barbecue. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  2. Cook the underside for about three minutes, flip the patties, season again, top with a slice of cheese and cook for another three minutes.
  3. Remove the burgers from the barbecue and leave them to rest. Brush the buns with vegetable oil and place on the barbecue, cut-side down, for 30 seconds.
  4. Fill each bun with a hamburger, two slices of bacon, onion, a slice of tomato, lettuce and burger sauce.
  5. No need for cutlery, grab and enjoy!

Chocolate and Banana Bread and Butter Pudding


Chocolate and Banana Bread and Butter Pudding

Comforting and indulgent, a delicious sweet treat for those days when you need warming up!

Ingredients

Serves: 8

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 pint milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 15 oz French bread, cut into cubes
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 6 oz chocolate chips

Method

Prep:20min  ›  Cook:1hr  ›  Ready in:1hr 20min

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in bread, bananas, and chocolate chips, and let rest 5 minutes for bread to soak. Pour into greased pan.
  3. Line a roasting pan with a damp kitchen towel. Place loaf pan on towel inside roasting pan, and place roasting pan on oven rack. Fill roasting pan with water to reach halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean
  4. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Fudgy Chocolate Pudding


Fudgy Chocolate Pudding

After a long winter’s day, warm up in front of your fire with this decadent chocolate fudge treat!

Ingredients

Serves: 16

  • 4 oz plain flour
  • 5 oz superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups hot water

Method

Prep: 20min  ›  Cook:40min  ›  Ready in:1hr

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, superfine sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Spread in ungreased 9 inch square baking pan.
  2. Combine brown sugar and 4 tablespoons cocoa; sprinkle over batter in the pan. Pour hot water over all; do not stir.
  3. Bake at 356 F 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. Serve warm, sit back, relax and enjoy!

Ginger and Honey Chicken Wings


Ginger and Honey Chicken Wings

Tender marinated chicken to make your BBQ feast a real show stopper!

Ingredients

  • 25 chicken wings
  • Ginger and honey marinade
  • 5 scallions, finely sliced
  • 5 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 red chili pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 4-5 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

Method

Put all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk to make a sticky sauce. 

Place the chicken wings in a single layer in a wide, shallow, non-reactive dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken, cover with plastic cling wrap and place in the fridge to marinate for 24 hours. 

Heat your grill or griddle pan until hot. Cook the wings for 15–20 minutes, turning often, until dark and the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a skewer. If cooking on a griddle, finish the wings in the oven at 350 F for 10 – 15 minutes to ensure they’re cooked through.

Pork, Chorizo and Cannellini Bean Stew


Pork, Chorizo and Cannellini Bean Stew

The perfect hearty treat to warm you up on those chilly winter nights. A delicious meal to enjoy on a Sunday in front of the roaring fire.

Ingredients

  • 87 lbs pork shoulder steaks or pork shoulder
  • 1 14 oz can cannellini beans
  • 1/2 lb chorizo (cut into pieces)
  • 2 14 oz cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 large red onions (roughly chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes

Method

  1. First, slice the pork into strips, season and sauté in a heavy bottomed pan until brown all over. Remove from the pan and drain off any excess oil.
  2. Add the cut up chorizo to the pan and cook for two minutes until brown. Add the chopped onions, 4 teaspoons of paprika, 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes, and garlic. Fry for another 2 minutes until the onion is soft.
  3. Once the onions are soft, return the pork to the pan along with ½ pint of water and the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 1 hour on low heat (add more water if it begins to look dry). After 1 hour, remove the lid and add the cannellini beans. Simmer for 30 more minutes.
  5. Serve with some crusty bread and enjoy!

Grilled Bananas with Rum Honey Recipe


Grilled Bananas with Rum Honey Recipe

This works great on your grill, just wrap the bananas individually in aluminum foil before placing on the barbecue for a yummy desert.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium to firm unpeeled bananas
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla ice cream

Method

  • Combine the rum, honey, and cinnamon into a small bowl and set it aside.
  • Cut the bananas in half lengthwise, leaving the peel on.
  • Place the bananas cut side down on the grill, cover and grill on a medium heat for 3 minutes.
  • After 3 minutes, turn and brush with the rum and honey mixture.
  • Cover and grill 5-6 minutes longer or until tender.
  • Peel bananas and serve immediately with ice cream.

Spiced Hot Bourbon


Spiced Hot Bourbon

There is nothing like a warm fire and a whisky in the wintertime to thaw those frozen hands and feet. This quick recipe is for adults only… both young and old. Sit back in front of the fire with a glass of this spiced whiskey and let it warm you inside and out!

Ingredients

  • Bourbon (or other whiskey)
  • Lemon
  • Cloves
  • Honey

Method

  • Boil some water and pour some bourbon into a cup.
  • Take a slice of lemon and insert cloves all over it.
  • Put the slice of lemon with cloves into the cup with some honey.
  • Pour in the hot water and enjoy.

Comforting Winter Soup recipe


Comforting Winter Soup recipe

We have perfected this warming soup recipe over the years, and there is simply no better place to enjoy this wholesome healthy meal then in front of your cozy open fire on a cold winter day. Comfort food at its best, we hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 small to medium sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped)
  • 1.1 lbs chopped pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3.5 oz chopped spinach
  • 1 tsp light cream cheese per person (optional)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Method

  • Heat the oil in a pan. Chop/dice the onion, tomato, and garlic, while the oil is heating up.
  • Lightly fry the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent, then add the tomato, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
  • When the tomato is somewhat cooked, add the sweet potato and butternut squash and stir. Let cook for five minutes.
  • Fill the pot halfway with hot water. Add the chopped celery, salt, and spinach. Let cook for 30 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Add a teaspoon of light cream cheese to each serving.
  • Serve soup and enjoy!

Serves 2 big bowls.

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HOUSEKEEPER'S TOP FIREPLACE TIPSREAD MORE

Over the years we have collected lots of tips, either from our own personal experience or sent in by our loyal ZIP™ customers. Here are a few that we thought would be especially helpful to you.

Good job for sliced white bread

Winter fires or candles on the mantelpiece tend to leave a black or brown sooty residue on the walls.

We find that modern cleaning products sometimes stain or bleach walls or wallpaper. Our top tip is to clean this soot away with soft, fresh sliced white bread. Just gently dab the soot. Do not wipe, as this will cause smearing and leave bread crumbs everywhere.

Breathe easy

For those with respiratory problems such as asthma or bronchitis, an indoor fire can dry out the air, causing or triggering breathing difficulties. Keep a bowl of water in the room when the fire is lit to humidify the air and help ease breathing. This tip also applies to central heating.

Citrus Zing

To enjoy a fresh fragrance in your room, put some orange peels on top of your wood burning stove or mantelpiece. The peels give off a delicious citrus fragrance as they dry. You can eliminate the use of those modern chemical air fresheners!

Keep animals out of your chimney

Animals, insects, and birds often get stuck in chimneys. This can cause the animal a great deal of distress. If the animal dies while stuck in your chimney, it will block the chimney, reducing efficiency, and will also cause smoke, ash, and debris to spread into your home. Not to mention the terrible smell...

A flue cap on top of your chimney should keep animals and birds from getting in, and it also helps protect your chimney from inclement weather.

Don’t just trash your ash

Some ash can be used as a lawn and garden fertilizer to provide soil nutrients and reduce acidity. It can be used on compost piles to maintain neutral acidity levels. Some people use ash to provide traction on icy driveways and sidewalks. Excess wood ash can also be taken to public disposal sites.

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