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We are still enjoying a steady supply of mushrooms from our Mushroom Growing Kit, and as promised this week we have one of our favourite yummy mushroom recipes for you.  My children love this recipe, which is always a good sign, and it’s ready in around 20 minutes!

Garlic & Mushroom Pasta

Ingredients

Knob of butter
1½lb mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 medium onion peeled and chopped finely
350g pasta
Dash of lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and black pepper
Fresh cream
Grated parmesan cheese

Method

1. Melt the butter in a pan, add the onions and cook until soft.

2. Add the mushrooms, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Meanwhile bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes.

3. To the pan of mushrooms and onions, add the lemon juice and garlic, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley, salt and pepper and mix well. Add around 5 tablespoons of cream and heat through.

4. Drain the pasta well and toss in the sauce. Add more cream if necessary.  Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on the top and serve.

For a healthier option try substituting some of the cream for creme fraiche.  This dish is nice with a side dish of crispy salad leaves.

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We always love to find recipes that are full of seasonal ingredients and this one is perfect.  So if you still have your harvest of carrots, parsnips and garlic give this carrot and root vegetable gratin a go. 

…Fruit and vegetables taste best when they are at their freshest – straight from the plot to the plate.  So if you want to grow your own vegetables visit www.recycleworks.co.uk for all your gardening needs.

Ingredients

  • 500g waxy potatoes sliced very thinly
  • 1 parsnip , sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig chopped fresh rosemary
  • 284ml carton double cream
  • 150ml full-fat milk
  • 350g carrots , sliced wafer thin
  • 50g parmesan cheese, grated
  • Method

    • Preheat the oven to around 170 C
    • Grease a shallow ovenproof dish.
    • Layer the slices of potatoes and parsnip in the bottom of the dish with two of the sliced garlic cloves and sprinkle over a little salt and half the rosemary.
    • Pour the cream and milk into a large saucepan, add the rest of the rosemary and garlic, the carrots and a little seasoning. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes.
    • Pour the carrots and cream over the other vegetables, and spread the carrots out. Sprinkle over the parmesan, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake a further 20 minutes until golden brown.

    This is totally delicious alongside a meat dish or as a vegetarian meal eaten on its own.

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    Lots of you got in touch to say how much you enjoyed our ideas for Brownies.  So this week we have some more ideas for you.

    Brownies Collector Badge

    If you would like to win your Collectors Badge why not go on a nature walk and collect something that interests you from the world around.  It could be shells, fossils, leaves, interesting rocks and stones, different seeds from plants…..the list is endless. 

    Put all of your finds in a trug and take them home.  Arrange your items and label them.  Then talk about your collection with the tester, how long you have had it, what you like about it, your favourite things in it etc.  And why not find out about other people who made collections like yours and perhaps visit them in a museum.

    Brownies Wildlife Explorer Badge

    Spend around 15 minutes each day for a week watching birds, animals and insects near where you live. 

    Attract birds to your garden by putting out food like these yummy Bird Bistro Feeders, or hang a Nest Pocket in a tree or hedge to provide a place for birds to nest or hide away in the cold weather.  Learn to identify the birds that visit your garden – this Laminated Guide to Garden Birds will help with that. ..And to watch birds really close up, this Bird Window Feeder will bring garden birds right up to you.

    Go with an adult to a local park or watch what is happening in your garden or school grounds.  Record what you seen in a nature notebook.  Go on a nature walk and learn how to identify wild mammals with this Guide to British Land Mammals.  And why not study the insects in your garden with this Solar Insect Theatre?  Make drawings, take photographs and make leaf and bark rubbings.  With an adult why not visit a local pond and record all the wildlife that you see there.  Most of all have fun and enjoy the environment around you!

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    Gathering wild food can be so much fun… and hedgerows have lots to offer.  We will be giving you plenty of ideas of what’s there to be found throughout the year. 

    This week we are focusing on Sloe Berries.

    Traditionally used in gin here are a couple of non-alcohlic ideas of things you can do with the humble sloe!

    Making Spiced Sloe Jelly

    1. Collect around 5 lb of sloes
    2. Cover with water
    3. Add 2 cinnamin sticks and about 20 cloves
    4. Simmer until tender
    5. Tip into muslin and allow juices to drip through but don’t squeeze
    6. Add 1lb sugar to 1 pint of juice approximaitely
    7. Add 1/2 pint malt vinegar
    8. Boil until mixture begins to thicken
    9. On a cool teaspoon take a sample of the mixture and see if it begins to set as it cools
    10. When it does pour the mixture into storage jars and seal
    11. This is excellent with steak and kidney pudding, game and venison. 

    Making Sloe & Apple Jelly

    This recipe was kindly sent in byFrederica – so many thanks and we hope you enjoy it.

    • Cook until soft equal amounts of sloes that have been pricked with a bodkin, roughly chopped windfalls or crab apples and enough water to cover
    • Tip the mixture into muslin and leave the contents to drip into a container but do not squeeze
    • Combine the juice with sugar at a ratio of 1 pint of juice to 1 lb of sugar
    • Cook until set

    When collecting berries don’t forget this handy Berry Picker.  It helps in the battle against thorns and speeds up the picking as well!

    berry_picker_m

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    We are busy thinking about Christmas 2009 and spring time 201o, and it’s all fast approaching.

    Everyone wants to spend the Christmas money wisely without wasting it on gifts that aren’t 100% appreciated.   And the almost fail safe option for all ages has to be flowering bulbs.

    Buy now to flower at Christmas, for example the pots of Amaryllis, Merry Christmas or Amaryllis Snow White. These fine quality bulbs are guaranteed to please. They will flower with many flower heads and will flower again for many Christmases to come so your gift could last for many years.

    Amaryllis Merry Christmas available from www.recycleworks.co.uk

    Amaryllis Merry Christmas available from http://www.recycleworks.co.uk

    Or you can choose the small pots of 5 or 6 small bulbs with their own biodegradable pot and compost.  Crocus Bulb Kit Rememberance and  the Narcissus Bulb Kit Tete a Tete, both well under £10.00. Also under £10.00 the Hyacinth water culture kit.   Who cannot fail to melt under the spell of a Hyacinth?   Bulbs are perfectly simple to plant now in Pots and Planters to flower as the days get longer again. Try a mixture of Blue and Yellow Crocus or a mixture of Tulips Ali Baba and Mickey Mouse or a mixture of Red Riding Hood and Pinocchio Tulips.

    Tulip Ali Baba available from www.recycleworks.co.uk

    Tulip Ali Baba available from http://www.recycleworks.co.uk

    …And please remember all bulb orders must be received at Recycleworks Ltd by 31st October.

    bulbs for spring

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    Each week we have been finding our favourite bulbs, and this week it’s the turn of  this fabulous Spring Bulb Collection from Recycle Works Ltd

    Spring_bulb_collection2

    It comprises 10 bulbs from each of the following varieties and they are ideal for growing in Traditional Raised Beds:

    • Puschkinia Libanotica
    • Chionodoxa Luciliae
    • Anemone de Caen
    • Galanthus Nivalis (Single Snowdrops)
    • Anemone Blanda Mixed
    • Dutch Crocus Blue
    • Muscari Armeniacum
    • Narcissus Tete a Tete
    • Tulip Red (Mme Lefeber)
    • Species Crocus Mixed

    The 100 bulbs when planted out will take up an area of 1m x 2.5m and can be planted along with the Instant Meadows to give bring colour to your garden throughout spring and summer.

    Instant Meadows Available to sow as Seeds

    Instant Meadows Available to sow as Seeds

    The plants will continue to produce new bulbs each year making the following years display even more impressive.

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    Last week we were contacted for some advice about starting a school garden using raised beds.  We thought the advice might be useful to others so here is the original question along with our response. 

     picture 1

     

    If you have any questions of your own, please get in touch with us at Ask The Expert and we will do our best to help.

    We were asked….

    ….I work in a school that has no garden area but we are keen that the pupils should be involved in growing their own vegetables.  We are thinking along the lines of raised veg. beds but would these be suitable to place on tarmaced areas?  Would we need to put in a liner under the soil? Finally, what mix of soil/compost should we use?  Thank you….

     Charlotte’s response…..

     Raised beds are excellent in a school garden.  The Recycle Works Ltd Raised  beds are very easy to assemble and can be put together in a matter of minutes, with no screws, no nails and no holes to dig.  They all just slot together. 

    hoops1 

     Made from FSC wood they can be located on any level surface.  Tarmac would be perfectly fine.  They do not have to be used with a liner.  You may see a bit of drainage coming out of the base in very we weather, however this prevents water logging which is good for the crops.  If you do choose to use a liner, make sure it is perforated to allow adequate drainage. 

    If you are growing root crops take a look at the Deep Raised Beds as they allow more room for roots to develop. 

     picture 3

    For the best growing results we recommend you use a good vegetable compost.

    Raised beds are perfect for gardening with children as they allow easy access to the growing area without trampling, and are very easy to dig over and maintain.  And don’t forget they are suitable for bulbs, wild flowers and of course vegetable crops.

     Crocus_blue_02-01

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    Take a look at our latest  Schooland Family Competitions for budding gardeners.  They are easy to enter and have some great prizes up for grabs!  Good Luck with your entry.
     
    For the School Competition  we are looking for the best Indoor Grow Your Own project carried out in the Autumn term.  If crops aren’t ready to harvest when the competition comes to a close, don’t worry just send your entry with news of where the project is up to so far. 

    The winning school will win over £150 worth of gardening equipment for spring, including a wooden cold frame, a salad / herb bed, a raised bed and a potato growing kit, all from The Recycleworks Ltd.  Plus all entrants will receive 10% off their next order from them.  To find out how to enter click here.

     This salad bed is great for growing winter herbs and bulbs.
    These easy to assemble wooden beds are great for growing winter herbs and bulbs.

    For the Family Competition  we would like you to tell us all about a growing project that you have carried out this Autumn.  It could involve planting a tree or several, setting bulbs ready for spring, or growing some winter vegetables.  The project can be carried out indoors or outside, which ever you prefer.

    Amarylis - Merry Christmas

    This Amarylis called Merry Christmas can be grown in autumn for a lovely winter display

    The winner will receive over £100 of gardening equipment ready for spring, including a wooden cold frame, a salad / herb bed and a potato growing kit, all from The Recycleworks Ltd.  Plus all entrants will receive 10% off their next order from them.  To find out how to enter please click here.

    Huge congratulations also go to Ruhitha Choudhury for her winning pressed flower entry in our summer competition.  Called Sleeping Beauty her beautiful picture was in the shape of a sunflower and even included lavender, which smelt wonderful as we opened the envelope.  Totally original and very creative she won £100 worth of gardening tools and bird care goodies.  Well done to Ruhitha!

     

    Congratulations also to Teresa Armstrong and pupils from Llangennech Infant School, Carmarthenshire.  They are the winners of our recent Letterbox competition, and correctly answered that squirrels don’t actually hibernate.  An Apprentice Hand Fork and Trowel are on the way to them.

    For our weekly competition we’re thinking about autumn gardening. 

    At a time of year when the days are getting shorter and the weather is a little less hospitable, there are still lots of things that can be sown in the garden or on the window sill. 

    So we would like you to suggest something that’s nice to grow in autumn and why.  Our favourite entry this week will win a copy of a fantastic book called Grow it  Eat It from the Royal Horticultural Society. 

    A great growing and cooking guide for schools and families

    A great growing and cooking guide for schools and families

    It’s full of great little gardening projects and delicious recipes, all put together with kids in mind.  It would make a great classroom resource or a  lovely present for someone.  So email your entry in to charlotte@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk to reach us no later than 27th September 2009. 

    If you would like to receive Letterbox, our weekly emailed newsletter packed full of news, seasonal activities and competitions, email charlotte@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk.

     

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    Each week we are featuring our favourite bulbs, and this week we have gone for this lovely little Hyacinth Water Culture Growing Kit

    hyacinth_kit02

     Simply fill the glass with water, place in a cool, dark, well-ventilated spot and in around 10-12 weeks, you will be rewarded with a beautiful hyacinth bloom to brighten up your window sill during the dark winter days.  And priced at under £9 this would make a lovely little present for someone.

     

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    If you are in the enviable position of having a surplus of ripe tomatoes why not have a go at making this delicious soup. If you haven’t grown your own, or if like mine they are still green, locally sourced tomatoes are fairly cheap to buy at this time of year.

    Food tastes 100 times better if you grow your own!  For all your Grow Your Own needs visit www.recycleworks .co.uk.  With everything from raised beds, compost bins, tools and books there is something for everyone.

    This recipe is totally yummy and extremely nutritious!

    Ingredients
    Knob of butter
    1 clove of garlic
    1 bay leaf
    1 onion
    1 medium potato
    1 lb fresh tomatoes
    dash of tomato puree
    1 pint vegetable stock
    quantity of milk

     

    What to do

    1. Chop the onion and gently fry in the butter until clear
    2. Add a clove of crushed garlic, mix and fry a little longer
    3. Peel and chop the potato and add
    4. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add
    5. Add in the bay leaf and stock
    6. Simmer gently for 20 minutes
    7. Allow to cool
    8. Blend until smooth
    9. Add milk as desired to obtain preferred thickness
    10. Reheat before serving

    Serve with crusty bread or my children’s favourite cheese on toast croutons!

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