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Posts Tagged ‘cooking for children’

Strawberries on plate

I seem to be surrounded by Strawberries: at my allotment, in my garden and even when I visit my parents, they have a strawberry bed which is simply overflowing with fruit (I can’t resist them and always leave with a tub full). This year has been an exceptional year for Strawberries, they are at their best now and simply delicious, however you choose to eat them.

HomeBetween 1st June – 31st August Breast Cancer Care are encouraging people to support them by holding a Strawberry Tea. Simply get together with friends and family, buy or bake some cakes, add some strawberries, put the kettle on and away you go!

You can hold a Strawberry Tea at home, at work, at your Sports Club in the clubhouse, with your community group, gardening club, art group and at school.

Holding a Strawberry Tea at School is a great way to get children involved, I am sure there will be lots of eager volunteers to help make the Strawberry Treats as well as designing posters, invitations and planning the event, why not combine it with the end of term Summer Fair.

There are some delicious Strawberry recipes on their website, this is one of my favourites, it’s perfect for parties too or as a cooling and refreshing treat on a hot day.

Mini Rainbow Jellies

This recipe uses small shot glasses, you can use larger plastic cups by increasing the quantities of Jelly and adding more Strawberries, why not try different flavours of jelly and use other seasonal fresh fruits.

Makes 12     Preparation time: 20 minutes     Chilling time: 3½ hours

Ingredients

  • 35g Pineapple Jelly Tablet
  • A drop of blue food colouring
  • ½ x 35g Lime Jelly Tablet
  • 4 Strawberries sliced

What you need to do

  1. Make up the pineapple jelly with water as the pack directs. Pour half into a jug and add a drop of blue food colouring to darken the jelly slightly. Allow the jelly to cool slightly.
  2. Pour the darker coloured jelly into the base of 12 plastic shot glasses then chill in the freezer for 15 minutes or until just set.
  3. Make up the lime jelly as the pack directs using half the amount of water. Leave to cool.
  4. Pour the lime jelly over the set coloured pineapple layer, then put back in the freezer for 15 minutes or until set.
  5. Press a slice of strawberry into each jelly then pour over the remaining uncoloured pineapple jelly to fill each glass. Chill in the fridge for about 3 hours or until set.

If you have a glut of Strawberries why not put them to good use; hold a Strawberry Tea, have a great time and raise money for a good cause at the same time. If you have a large crop turn them into delicious Strawberry Jam and bake some Strawberry Jam Drop Cookies or into Strawberry Smoothies.

Enjoy

Gill

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It’s Bank Holiday weekend, giving me an extra day to get busy in the garden, go out for a walk or if the weather is not great I usually find myself in the kitchen baking. The walk is planned for tomorrow, I was in the garden yesterday and so today with a light drizzle falling I have dug out a recipe.

I usually have a jar of honey in the cupboard and honey and lemon is such a lovely combination – we can take these on our walk tomorrow.

Honey and Lemon Fairy Cakes

Ingredients

  • 150g Butter/Margarine
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 150g Self-Raising Flour
  • 2 Medium Eggs
  • 50g Clear Runny Honey
  • Finely grated zest of a Lemon
  • 3 tbsp Lemon Juice

For the icing

  • 100g Icing Sugar
  • 4 tsp Lemon Juice or Water
  • Sprinkles, Small Sweets or Sugar Flowers to decorate.

How to make your cakes

  1. Line a bun tray with 12 paper bun cases.
  2. Preheat oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 5.
  3. Mix together the Butter/Margarine, Sugar and Honey in a bowl until pale and creamy.
  4. Beat the eggs and add gradually, mixing well.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
  6. Sift the flour and add gradually, mixing well until light and fluffy.
  7. Divide the mixture between the 12 bun cases.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing

  1. Place the icing sugar in a bowl, add the Lemon Juice/Water gradually and mix until it is smooth and runny.
  2. Spread or drizzle the icing on the fairy cakes, add your decorations whilst wet then leave to set.

If the weather is fine there are lots of things to do in the garden click here for some ideas.

Have a lovely weekend

Gill

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Halloween has been and gone and Bonfire Night on 5th November is fast approaching, excitement is building again in our household or maybe it’s all those Halloween ‘treats’.

Here is a great activity for children of all ages to get them in the mood for Bonfire Night.

Make a Blow Paint Firework or Bonfire picture

You will need

  • Coloured paper or card
  • Runny paints in various colours
  • Straws
  • Glue
  • Glitter

To make your pictures

  1. Place spots of paint of various sizes and colours on your paper/card.
  2. Use a straw to blow the spots of paint in various directions to make the fireworks or the flames of the bonfire.
  3. Put different colours next to each other so that they mix together to make some great effects.
  4. When you are happy with your picture let it dry then add some glue and sprinkle with glitter to make your fireworks sparkle.

We all love Bonfire Night, keeping warm by a nice bonfire, watching stunning and often noisy fireworks and eating lots of party food, sweets and treats (click here for some delicious Bonfire Recipes) but …

don’t forget the Wildlife in your garden on Bonfire Night

At this time of year hedgehogs, frogs, toads and newts are looking for a nice, cosy, warm and safe place to hibernate and to them your bonfire looks ideal so a few hours before your party and before it goes dark have a good look inside and at the bottom of your bonfire to check for any creatures and move them to a safe area of your garden.

Position your firework display away from trees and hedges where birds may be roosting.

your pets

Make sure that your pets are kept indoors as fireworks are a common phobia for dogs and cats as they often find the loud noises and bright lights frightening. Provide a safe and quiet place for them to hide, keep curtains and windows closed and leave the TV on or play music to mask the load bangs.

and your safety

Fireworks and bonfires can be very dangerous if care is not taken so click here for advice on bonfire and firework safety and follow the firework code.

Have a happy, safe and fun Bonfire Night.

Gill

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Blackberries are plentiful this year and picking them is another of my favourite Autumn things to do, it is also the time when farmers begin to cut their hedges so to avoid disappointment a few years ago I planted a cultivated blackberry at the bottom of my garden and this year from late August I have been picking fruit every few days. Cultivated Blackberries are definitely worth growing, producing much larger berries than their wild cousins, and are often thornless making them child friendly.

Cultivated Blackberry ‘Black Satin’

Blackberries to me are the taste of Autumn, they can be made into lots of delicious deserts, I love their flavour but not really their seeds so when I have a good crop I make a batch of Blackberry Jelly which we all enjoy through the winter months. As I pick my Blackberries I freeze them in margarine cartons or ice cream tubs and when they have finished cropping I then make my Jelly.

Blackberry Jelly

Ingredients

  • 900g/2lb Blackberries (Fresh or frozen)
  • 150ml/1/4 pint Water
  • Granulated Sugar or Jam Sugar with added Pectin
  • Lemon Juice

Method

  1. Place the Blackberries in a pan with the water and simmer gently until very soft, press the fruit regularly.
  2. Strain through a jelly bag or muslin – I did this the first time but it took quite a while to drain through so now I press it through a sieve, although you do not get a clear liquid you do get more pulp and more taste.
  3. Measure the liquid and reheat in a clean pan.
  4. Add 450g/1lb sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per 600ml/1pint of Blackberry liquid. If you are using frozen Blackberries you need to double the quantity of lemon juice. If you are using sugar containing pectin only add half the amount of lemon juice.
  5. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. It is at this point that I taste some of the cooled liquid and if it is a little tart I add some extra sugar.
  6. Boil rapidly until a setting point is reached.
  7. Pour into hot jars and seal down.

To give you an idea of yield last year I used approx 5lb Blackberries which made approx 3 pints of liquid and filled 10 medium/small jars.

Blackberry jelly

Delicious on toast, crumpets, and in jam sandwiches, it is also nice warmed in the microwave and drizzled onto deserts, ice cream, yoghurt, porridge or rice pudding.

A jar makes a nice gift or add one to a homemade hamper of home grown produce for an unique Christmas present.

I still have a couple of jars left from last year which will tide me over until I make this year’s batch, making jam is a great way of preserving your precious fruit have a look at out website for more ways to preserve your crop and how to make harvesting and storing fruit easier and safer.

Gill

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If you are lucky enough to have a glut of tomatoes one of the best ways to use them is in some delicious Tomato Soup, I make some every year, if I have had a good crop, and freeze it to enjoy in the winter months, just one spoonful brings back that summer feeling, Thomas says it tastes better than the tinned alternative, a great compliment.

This recipe can be doubled or trebled depending on the availability of tomatoes and the size of your pan and freezer! I would recommend large fleshy tomatoes which have less seeds and juice, plum tomatoes give a good flavour too, I usually make my soup with the tomatoes that are ready often using a few different varieties. All quantities are approximate and can be adjusted to suit your own taste.

Thomas’s Favourite Tomato Soup

  • 3 lb ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 1 Large Carrot
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Puree
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Puree
  • 2 pinches dried mixed herbs or fresh if available
  • 3/4 pint Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock
  • Knob of Butter/Margarine
  1. Chop the onion and carrot and add to the pan with a knob of butter/margarine and cook until soft without browning.
  2. Wash and roughly chop your tomatoes and add to the pan with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Simmer for 30 – 45 minutes stirring regularly.
  4. Leave to cool slightly and then blend until smooth.
  5. Taste and add seasoning if required, if it tastes a bit tart you can add a little bit of sugar.
  6. It is at this stage that I sieve the soup which removes the skin and the seeds but if you don’t mind these your soup is ready to eat or leave to cool and then freeze.
  7. I freeze my soup in margarine tubs, a 500g tub holds about the same as a standard size tin of soup.
  8. It will keep in the freezer for 6 months.

This soup is delicious served with crusty bread or our favourite Home made Garlic Bread.

Enjoy

Gill

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Would you believe it the summer holidays are nearly at an end, where have six weeks gone?

These delicious biscuits will make a nice treat in school lunchboxes when the children go back after the holidays and they are perfect for little fingers and thumbs to make.

Home made Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam Drop Cookies

  • 125g Butter or Margarine
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 190g Self Raising Flour
  • 1oog Caster Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • Strawberry Jam
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy.
  3. Mix in the egg yolk and the vanilla extract.
  4. Gradually add the flour and mix in slowly to form a smooth dough.
  5. Roll generous teaspoons of dough into balls and space out on baking trays lined with greaseproof paper.
  6. Flatten each ball slightly and press your finger or thumb into the middle to make a well, take care not to press too hard.
  7. Fill the hole with approx ½ teaspoon jam.
  8. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden.
  9. Cool on wire racks.

You can of course use any flavour of jam that you like. 

Enjoy,

Gill

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If you are having a Birthday Party, Garden Party, BBQ or a family get together this Summer why not personalise your cakes or deserts with flowers from your own garden, they will look stunning and at this time of year there are plenty to choose from.

This is a lovely fun Summer holiday family activity, from selecting and picking the flowers to painting on the egg white and sprinkling on the sugar, you may need a bit of patience but the results are worth it. The flowers can also be made in advance.

Select flowers that you know are edible, pick a few at a time, when they are dry, and only choose those that are in perfect condition, make sure that they have not been treated with pesticides or chemicals.

Perfect purple pansies

Ingredients for Crystallised Flowers

Edible flower heads (Borage Flowers, Rose Petals, Pansies, and Violets are suitable)
Edible leaves (Mint, Lemon Balm)
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar

How to make Crystallised Flowers

  1. Take the egg whites in a large bowl and add a spoonful of water, whisk with a fork until a few bubbles appear in the mixture.
  2. Dip the paintbrush in the egg white and brush each flower and leaf with egg white making sure that you cover all the surface.
  3. Hold over the bowl of Caster Sugar and then sprinke on the sugar until fully covered on both sides.
  4. Allow the sugar to absorb and then cover lightly with a second sprinkling if required, take care not to over apply.
  5. Place the finished leaves and flowers on some kitchen paper, and position the flowers to best effect (once they are dry you will not be able to move them), allow to dry at room temperature for around 24 hours.  They are then ready to use.

    Flowers ready for crystallising

Your crystallised flowers can be carefully stored in an airtight container between layers of greaseproof paper at room temperature for up to two weeks.

It is worth remembering that all plants have a certain amount of toxicity which not everyone can tolerate, if in doubt don’t eat them, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Have fun

Gill

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Be a smash hit this Wimbledon, take advantage of our abundant summer fruits and make an ace Strawberry Smoothie which everyone will love – a winner every time.

This recipe couldn’t be simpler, is quick and easy to make and a great way to use up very ripe or frozen fruit.

Perfect fruit for a smoothie

Wimbledon Strawberry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 8 Strawberries (Hulled) approx.
  • 110ml (4floz) Milk
  • 120g (4oz) Plain Yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons Caster Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • Strawberry or Vanilla Ice Cream

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients together except for the Ice Cream and blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Pour into glasses.
  3. Serve with a spoonful of Ice Cream on top.

Serves 2.

Enjoy!

Gill

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To celebrate National Jam Week next week, 18-24 June 2012, why not make some delicious Strawberry Jam. Strawberries are one of the first fruits to come into season but they all seem to ripen at once and do not have a very long ‘shelf life’ once picked, so why not turn your crop into a delicious treat that you can enjoy well into the winter months. This is a great way to preserve your crop if you have a glut or if you want to take advantage of the plentiful supply in the supermarkets.

Strawberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 1500g strawberries
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1250g Sugar

Method

  1. Wash your strawberries; remove the green tops as well as any soft/bruised spots and cut any large fruits into smaller pieces.
  2. Put the strawberries into a large heavy based saucepan.
  3. Simmer gently until hot, and then add the sugar and lemon juice.
  4. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Raise the heat and boil rapidly stirring occasionally until setting point is reached (To check for setting point chill a plate in the fridge and put a small teaspoon of jam onto it and allow to cool. Push your finger through the jam, if setting point has been reached the skin on the jam should wrinkle up when pushed and the jam either side should remain separate).
  6. Remove any scum off the top of the jam.
  7. Spoon the jam into hot, sterilised jars and seal down.
  8. Leave to cool, label and store in a cool place.

This recipe will make approx. 4 x 500g jars.

Jam is a delicious topping on ice cream, rice pudding, croissants, scones, jam tarts, pancakes, waffles as well as on toast and of course in Britains favourite and our children’s favourite ‘jam butties’.

Yum, Yum!

 Gill

P.S. Have a look at The Recycleworks website under Summer Harvest for more great ways to Press, Preserve and Dry your fruit crops.

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This Sunday on Father’s Day why not tempt your Dad out of bed with the irresistible smell of freshly baked home made Flapjack. This is a recipe that I use again and again and with delicious results every time.

Fruity Flapjack

Ingredients

  • 200g (7oz) unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 80g (3oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 350g (12oz) rolled oats
  • 100g (3.5oz) approx Raisins or Sultanas (add more/less if preferred)
  • 10 approx Glace cherries chopped (add more/less if preferred)

 Method

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 /Electric Oven 190C / Fan Oven 170C.
  2. Lightly grease an 18cm x 30cm (7inch x 12inch) tin and fully line with greaseproof paper.
  3. Heat the butter, syrup and sugar in a large saucepan until the butter has melted.
  4. Add the Raisins/Sultanas and Cherries and stir, then add the rolled oats and mix well.
  5. Spread the mixture evenly into the lined tin and press down with a fork so that the mixture fills the corners and that any air pockets are removed.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden, keep checking towards the end of cooking as if overcooked they will not have that lovely soft texture (All ovens vary slightly I cook mine at 170C (Fan) for 10 minutes then turn the tray round and cook for another 10 minutes).
  7. Once cooled you should be able to easily lift out the flapjack holding the greaseproof paper, and then cut into pieces.
  8. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Flapjack is packed full of energy and will keep you going whatever you have planned on this special day, it also makes a perfect addition to a lunch box, family picnic or a day out.

Enjoy!

 Gill

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