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Posts Tagged ‘cooking with children’

If you are lucky enough to be harvesting your own crop of rhubarb why not try making these delicious rhubarb muffins – easy to make and popular with the whole family!

Ingredients

  • 400g rhubarb, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 200ml milk
  • 100g butter , melted and cooled

Method

  1. Mix rhubarb with 4 tbsp of golden caster sugar
  2. Bake the rhubarb for about 10 minutes until soft, then drain well
  3. Mix plain flour with baking powder, sugar and cinnamon
  4. Beat eggs with milk and melted butter.
  5. Heat the oven to 180C
  6. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases
  7. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones along with the rhubarb
  8. Divide between the muffin cases, sprinkle the tops with a little sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden

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bread

This Thursday 17 November is Homemade Bread Day, it is a day to celebrate and make our own homemade bread. Bread is a staple food using flour, water, yeast and sugar, usually it is oven baked but in some cuisines it can be steamed, fried or cooked on a skillet, there are many ingredients that can be added to bread to either make it sweet (sultanas, raisins, cherries, orange peel, cranberries, chocolate chips, bananas, apples, spices) or savoury (onions, pumpkin, herbs, nuts, cheese, seeds such as poppy and sunflower).

Bread is often referred to as the “Staff of life” and has been prepared for at least 30,000 years, there have been two major developments in the industrialization of bread-making the first was in 1912 when Otto Frederick Rohwedder began work inventing a machine that would slice bread, bakeries were reluctant to use it as they thought that sliced bread would go stale, later in 1928 it was re-developed to slice and wrap the bread, then in 1961 came the development of the Chorleywood Bread Process which used intense mechanical working of the dough this dramatically reduced the fermentation period and the time taken to produce the bread, this process is today used around the world in large factories.

White bread was once the preferred bread of the rich whilst the poor ate whole grain bread however in the late 20th Century in most western societies this was reversed as whole grain bread was found to have a higher nutritional value whilst white bread became associated with the lower class.

Homemade bread is far superior in taste, aroma, quality and appearance although it does have a shorter ‘shelf life’ which is not really a problem as it is usually eaten within hours of being made, if you want to have a go at making your own bread see below.

Charlotte’s guide to making delicious bread with children.

When bread making with the under 10’s we recommend preparing the dough in advance, up to step 7, and dividing the mixture into balls to make rolls.  Each child can then finish their own fairly easily.

Ingredients

  • Just over a pint of tepid water
  • 2 sachets of dried yeast
  • 1 dessert spoon of brown sugar
  • 5 cups of strong white bread flour (note our cup takes around 160g of flour
  • 2 cups of either wheat bran, ground oatmeal, wholemeal flour or granary flour (experiment to see which you prefer)
  • Handful of seeds – sunflower, poppy, sesame etc.

 

Method

  1. Add the dried yeast and the brown sugar to a jug containing the tepid water and whisk until the sugar has dissolved
  2. In a separate large deep bowl add the strong white flour and the 2 cups of either wheat bran, ground oat meal, wholemeal flour or granary flour (this will give the bread a little more texture) and mix together
  3. Add contents of the jug and stir and then with your hands form into a ball of dough
  4. If its too sticky add a little more flour but don’t add too much
  5. Work the dough by stretching, folding and kneading for 10 to 15 minutes
  6. Stand in a covered bowl in a slightly warm place until twice the size (about an hour)
  7. Knead for a second time for around 3 to 4 minutes
  8. At this stage you can add seeds of your choice (little hands love to prod them into the dough)
  9. Put into bread tins or make into roll shapes.  When making rolls with children you can be creative, try cobs, plaits and cottage rolls
  10. When the children have finished leave the dough to rise a second time, for around half an hour until it doubles in size
  11. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes for rolls.  For a loaf allow 30 – 35 minutes at Gas mark 4 to 5 or 180 C.
  12. When the bread is cooked, place on a rack until cool.  Store in a sealed tin or bag to keep the bread fresh for longer

 

Happy bread making

Gill

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We have been spoilt recently with the weather and it has definitely paid dividends in the fruit and vegetable garden; regular pickings of Autumn raspberries, pumpkins, squashes and marrows maturing and ripening ready for storing, apples, pears and plums still hanging on the trees, an extra spurt of growth in the vegetables extending their harvesting season, and the onions and garlic now completely dry and ready for storing.

Today the weather has changed and is back to what you could expect for October – wind and rain with frosts on the horizon, now is the time to pick and store what you can, when storing your crops choose those that are undamaged and disease free, once stored check them regularly and remove any that are going bad, these don’t necessarily have to go straight onto your compost bin, most will be perfectly edible once you have removed the bad bits. Why not use these in a Ratatouille it’s a delicious warming one pot dish perfect for a wet and windy Autumn day and a great way to use up your less than perfect crops, the ingredients can be always be varied to suit your taste and the availability of vegetables.

Autumn Ratatouille

What you will need

  • 2 large Aubergines
  • 3 medium Courgettes
  • 2 medium Onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 green or red peppers, deseeded and chopped
  • 6 large tomatoes or a 440g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • Grated cheese/Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh basil to garnish

What you need to do

  1. Cut the Aubergines and Courgettes into 2.5cm/1” slices then cut each Aubergine slice into quarters and the Courgette slices into similar sized pieces.
  2. If using fresh tomatoes place them in boiling water for a minute then drain and allow to cool before peeling off the skins, cut into quarters, remove the seeds and roughly chop up.
  3. Heat the oil in a flame proof casserole dish or large saucepan, add the onions and cook for approx. 10 minutes until browned and tender.
  4. Add the Courgettes and Aubergines and cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the peppers, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper then mix well.
  5. Cover and cook over a gentle heat for 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  7. Top with the cheese and basil and serve with crusty bread, garlic bread or pasta.

This dish is packed full of vitamins and minerals and can help towards your five a day.

If you are looking for some storage ideas for your fruit and vegetables why not consider

Wooden Stackable Storage Boxes available from £19.95

Tubby Stack Pack Wooden Storage Boxes and Crates

or if you have a larger harvest to store a Wooden Fruit and Vegetable Larder, Rack or Store available from £40.00

in 4 sizes each with 4 height options

Wooden Fruit and Vegetable Larder, Rack and Store

for more information visit the Gardening Works website by clicking here.

Gill

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This week it’s National Picnic Week, why not go for a picnic this Sunday on Fathers Day and treat the whole family, especially Dad. Finger foods are perfect for picnics and can be eaten as you explore, my favourites are Sausage Rolls, homemade are definitely best and can be made with the children the day before.

Sausage Roll

Sausage Rolls

Ingredients

  • 500g puff pastry
  • 400g good quality sausages
  • 1 eating apple
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour for rolling

What you need to do

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
  2. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to make a rectangle about 26cm x 40cm, cut the pastry in half lengthways so that you have two long thin pieces.
  3. Slit the sausages with a knife to remove the sausage meat and place it in a bowl.
  4. Peel, core and finely dice the apple, add to the sausage meat with the wholegrain mustard and the salt and pepper, mix together well and divide the mixture into two.
  5. Lightly flour your hands and roll out each half of the sausage meat into a long sausage the same length as the pastry.
  6. Lay the sausages onto each piece of pastry lengthways and brush the egg along the longer edges, fold one edge of the pastry over the sausage and then roll the whole thing slightly so that the join is underneath, press lightly to seal the pastry.
  7. Cut each roll into 12 small rolls and place them on a baking tray, lined with baking paper, so that the join is underneath, make two small cuts on the top of each roll and brush with the beaten egg.
  8. Bake in the oven for approx. 20 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden and the meat has cooked through.

These sausage rolls can be made up to a month in advance and frozen, freeze them uncooked before brushing with the egg, to cook from frozen add 10 minutes on to the cooking time.

They are ideal for school lunchboxes and delicious served warm on a buffet.

Buddleia and Small Tortoiseshell

To keep the children entertained on your picnic why not set them an I Spy Nature Quiz, print off a list of things that you might see on your picnic, and ask them to tick them off as they see them, they could do this individually or in teams don’t forget the prize for the winners, here are some suggestions of what to include:

  • Ladybird
  • Butterfly
  • Bee
  • Beetle
  • Spider
  • Daisy
  • Buttercup
  • Blackbird
  • Robin
  • Oak Tree
  • Holly Tree
  • Rabbit
  • Squirrel

Have a lovely weekend, hopefully with plenty of warm, sunny picnic weather.

Have fun

Gill

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DSC05882

This week (18-24th May) we are being encouraged by the British Tomato Growers Association to buy home grown British tomatoes, tomatoes are very healthy and delicious whether they are eaten raw or cooked, they are a good source of Vitamins A, C and E and contain minerals such as potassium which can lower blood pressure and calcium which we need for healthy bones and teeth.

Here is a simple tasty idea to use your British Tomatoes:

Easy Pizza with home made Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 800g ripe fresh tomatoes
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 to 2 tsp dried Italian or mixed herbs or a handful of fresh Basil chopped or torn into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground Black pepper
  • Grated Mozzarella Cheese and toppings

What you need to do

  1. In a large pan heat the oil on medium/low and cook the onion until soft and translucent then add the crushed garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, do not allow to burn.
  2. Chop your tomatoes and add to the pan with the remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool and blend until smooth.
  4. This sauce is delicious with pasta and can be frozen.
  5. If you are making pizzas with children for speed and convenience use a packet pizza base mix or buy ready made pizza bases, then spread your Pizza Sauce over the base with the back of a spoon, sprinkle on grated Mozzarella Cheese and add your favourite topping the combinations are endless: Ham, Salami, Pepperoni, Chicken, Tuna, Prawns, Mushroom, Onion, Peppers, Pineapple, Olives, Sweetcorn…
  6. Bake in the oven at 230C/450F/Gas mark 8 for about 15 minutes until crisp and golden.

Making Pizzas

Nothing beats the taste of freshly picked home grown tomatoes, when they are ready it’s often a race as to who gets to them first, make sure you grow plenty a lot won’t make it back to the kitchen.

If you want to have a go at growing your own tomatoes young plants are widely available now in shops and garden centres for more information and full growing instructions click here.

Why not have a go at making your own Pizzas this week.

Enjoy

Gill

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Rhubarb buds

I am sure that most of you will have a clump of it in your garden or on your allotment, although it can grow quite big it is often overlooked and not really eaten – it’s Rhubarb.

If you do have a root or crown you will notice that it is coming to life, its large smooth coated ‘buds’ are splitting to reveal new leaves on short stems, to get long, tender, delicious pale pink stems you need to block out all light and ‘force’ them by covering the crown with a large container/bucket, old chimney pot, dustbin or a traditional terracotta Rhubarb forcer, my dad even uses an old dolly tub, place bricks on top to weigh them down, you can start forcing Rhubarb in January for an earlier crop. Harvest the forced stems when they are approx. 20-30cm long, cut off the poisonous yellow leaves, these can be put in your Compost Bin, to pick Rhubarb hold the stalk at the base, pull and twist away from the crown so that it tears off.

Rhubarb is actually a perennial vegetable although we often regard it as a fruit, it is available to pick fresh when other fruits are in short supply and often expensive, even if you have to buy some it is inexpensive when in season.

Forced Rhubarb

This picture shows forced taller, yellow leaved Rhubarb stems and smaller green leaved Rhubarb stems which haven’t been forced

Rhubarb is an easy plant to grow and will thrive on neglect, it prefers a moist fertile soil in a sunny position, plant Crowns in Spring or Autumn, although it can grow quite big it can be grown in a large Dirt Pot or Growing Bag (minimum size 40 litres), fill with a good quality Compost and mix into it well-rotted farmyard manure. Plant the crown about 3cm below the surface and water in well. Place the bags in a sunny spot watering the Rhubarb regularly especially during the Summer and during dry periods, allow new plants to become established for the first year before harvesting any stems, the following Spring only harvest a few stems at a time, remove any flower heads that appear these can be put in the Compost Bin. Rhubarb should only be forced every two years so if you prefer forced Rhubarb have two or more plants so that you can alternate them, don’t harvest stalks later than July. During Summer feed with a liquid or general-purpose fertilizer then in Autumn put your Rhubarb to bed; remove any old leaves and mulch around (not on) the crown with well-rotted farmyard manure.

Rhubarb makes a delicious dessert why not have a go at our

Easy Rhubarb Fool

Ingredients

  • 350g Rhubarb, washed, trimmed and sliced
  • Finely grated zest and juice of half an orange
  • 55g Caster Sugar
  • 150ml Double Cream
  • 150ml Greek Yoghurt
  • Shortbread or Oat Biscuits

What you need to do

  1. Place the Rhubarb, Zest, Juice and Sugar in a pan and heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the Rhubarb softens and starts to break up, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Softly whip the Cream and Yoghurt together, fold in half of the cooled Rhubarb mixture.
  4. Spoon the stewed Rhubarb/Orange mixture and the creamy Rhubarb mixture in alternate layers into glasses or small dishes and serve with the biscuits.
  5. For a grown up version add a splash of Cointreau Orange Liqueur to the Rhubarb/Orange mixture.
  6. Serves 4

Why not have a go at our other Rhubarb Recipes?

Click here for the Rhubarb Crumble Recipe or here for Rhubarb Muffins, I don’t think you can beat Rhubarb Crumble served of course with Custard, simply delicious.

Enjoy!

Gill

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Doesn’t time fly its Halloween again, and I can’t wait, I have been trying out some Halloween treat ideas for next week, much to Thomas’s delight, they would be great for a party, you could use the ‘eyeballs’ as a spooky decoration.

 

Eyeball 2

Ghastly eyeballs on sticks

What you will need

  • Large white marshmallows
  • Red food colouring or red icing in a tube
  • Smarties
  • Round Black liquorice sweets or black icing in a tube
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Scissors

Eyeball 1

What you need to do

  1. Carefully trim the edges from your marshmallows to make them round
  2. Stick a cocktail stick into each one
  3. To make the veins dip the end of a cocktail into the food colouring and paint thin wiggly lines onto the marshmallow or pipe on red lines with your icing.
  4. Attach your Smartie (iris) to the front of marshmallow with icing or by slightly wetting the marshmallow to make it sticky.
  5. For the pupil cut the liquorice toffees into thin slices and stick one onto the smartie by slightly wetting it or add a blob of black icing.
  6. To serve simply stick them into a pumpkin

 

Swamp pot

Gooey swamp pots

What you will need

  • Packets of Lime Green Jelly (each pack will make approx. 3 servings depending on pot size)
  • Spooky sweets – snakes/body parts/bugs
  • Chocolate biscuits
  • Popping candy

What you need to do

  1. In a jug make up the jelly as per the instructions on the packs.
  2. Pour the jelly into your clear pots and put them into the fridge until they just begin to set.
  3. Remove from the fridge and carefully push your sweets into the green goo, arrange some so that they are sticking out and hanging over the pot.
  4. Return your pots to the fridge to set.
  5. Place your chocolate biscuits in a bag and bash into crumbs with a rolling pin.
  6. Just before serving sprinkle the chocolate crumbs on the  top with some of the popping candy for a crunchy exploding experience.

Both ideas went down well with Thomas, he enjoyed the Swamp Pots the most.

Whatever you do/make for Halloween have lots of fun.

For lots more spooky ideas/treats/games click here.

Gill

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