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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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red-tomato-chutney

This morning there is a faint smell of vinegar in our house, yesterday I made Red Tomato Chutney using the crops that I had grown, Tomatoes (Large fleshy beef variety that contain very little juice or seeds), Onions and Bramley Apples, I made a large batch which produced 13 jars of this wonderful chestnut brown preserve, it cannot be eaten straight away as most chutneys take time to mature and should be left for at least a month before opening, I like to leave mine a little longer and will be eating this at Christmas with the Turkey. There are so many variations of Chutneys I think it is a case of anything goes whether its fruit, vegetables or a combination of both, it’s a great way to use up the last of your crops or alternatively to make good use of a glut. The word ‘Chutney’ is derived from the Hindu word ‘chatni’ which means strongly spiced if you like lightly spiced chutney then this recipe is perfect for you.

Red Tomato Chutney

Ingredients

  • 900g/2lb Tomatoes (firm but ripe)
  • 450g/1lb Onions
  • 450g/1lb Cooking Apples (weight when peeled and cored)
  • 450ml/¾ pint Malt or Wine Vinegar (I used Malt)
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon Ground Mixed Spice
  • 350g/12oz Sugar
  • 300g/10oz Sultanas
  • Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

What you need to do

  1. Skin and chop the tomatoes, peel and finely chop the onions and the apples.
  2. Put all the ingredients into the preserving pan except for the sugar, sultanas and the seasoning, simmer gently until tender.
  3. Add the sugar and stir over a low heat until dissolved then put in the sultanas and seasoning.
  4. Simmer steadily, stirring regularly until it is the consistency of a thick jam.
  5. Spoon into hot sterilized jars, add a waxed circle and tighten the lid securely.
  6. Store in a dark, cool and dry place.

Notes:

  1. I made 2.5 times the above quantities in a large stainless steel pan 17cm high x 25cm diameter, this is the maximum volume that can be made in this size of pan.
  2. Once the sultanas have been added you need to stir the mixture regularly as they sink to the bottom and can burn.
  3. If the chutney is slow to reduce down to a jam consistency, spoon off some of the watery mixture from the top of the pan and sieve out the vinegar liquid returning any pulp to the pan.

Homemade chutneys, jams and preserves make a lovely personal gift, why not plan ahead and give friends/family a home produce hamper this Christmas.

Gill

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Nasturtiums

Why not impress your friends and liven up your salads with Nasturtium petals, flowers, leaves, stems and seeds, they are all edible and have a peppery watercress like taste, the flowers are the mildest and the seed pods the strongest.

Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) are easy to grow, have wonderful bright orange, yellow and red flowers and are delicious to eat, sow now to pick throughout the Summer.

Nasturtium seeds are widely available in shops, and garden centres, check on the packet that it is an edible variety. Sow seeds 1cm deep in small pots of compost and place on a warm sunny windowsill at 15-25C to germinate this will take approx. 7-14 days. Grow your plants on and harden off before planting outside after all risk of frost has passed.

Nasturtiums are fast growing and will sprawl across the ground if planted in the border or trail and create an attractive cascade if planted in a hanging basket, window box or container. Nasturtiums need very little attention, they grow best in full sun preferring the soil to be slightly dry, containers can dry out quickly so may need to be watered more often, Rain Gel Water Storage granules added to the compost will hold the moisture in and reduce the frequency of watering.

Start picking from your plants when several leaves and the bright flowers (approx. 6 weeks after sowing) have appeared. Always ask an adult before eating anything from the garden.

Here are some culinary suggestions for your Nasturtiums:

  • Make attractive flowery ice cubes, place the flowers/petals in an ice cube tray with water and freeze.
  • Nasturtium Butter – use to flavour potatoes, vegetables, fish or chicken.
  • Make Flavoured Oils, Vinegars or Dressings using the flowers and leaves.
  • Stuffed Nasturtium flowers – fill large flowers with, cream cheese, humus or guacamole and gently fold in the petals.
  • Include in a Salad or use as a garnish.

Towards the end of Summer allow some flowers to set seed, collect the seeds when they change from green to a tan colour, spread them out on a paper plate indoors to dry out for approx. two weeks before storing in an airtight container in a cool, dry place – you can plant these next year.

Even if you don’t fancy eating Nasturtiums or you dislike their taste they are definitely worthy of a place in your garden they are vibrant, easy to grow and will brighten up any corner.

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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I can’t believe what glorious weather we are having, scorching hot days and sultry evenings, it is wonderful and a real tonic. The soft fruit on the allotment is ripening fast, I will have to keep my eye on it and the opportunist birds too, netting will keep them off and allow me to get there first. I make Jams and freeze a lot of my fruit to use in pies and crumbles later on when fresh fruit is not available or expensive to buy.

Strawberries 2

Strawberries have done exceptionally well this year, as it’s hot I thought it would be nice to make something cooling with my bumper crop so I delved into my recipe books and found the perfect solution –

Strawberry Sorbet

  • 450g Strawberries hulled and chopped
  • 175g Granulated Sugar
  • Juice of a small lemon
  • 450ml water
  • 1 egg white
  • 25g Caster Sugar
  1. Puree the prepared Strawberries in a food processor
  2. Put 150ml water and the granulated sugar in a bowl and warm gently until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 300ml water, lemon juice and the pureed Strawberries, mix well.
  4. Pour into a freezer container and chill until cold.
  5. Freeze for 1 hour.
  6. Beat the egg white until stiff then add the caster sugar and whisk again until stiff and shiny.
  7. Place your fruit mixture in a chilled bowl and whisk until smooth.
  8. Gently fold in the beaten egg white then return to the freezer container and freeze for 45 minutes.
  9. Remove from the freezer, whisk again then return back to the freezer container and freeze for 90 – 120 minutes or until firm.

This is a very healthy alternative to ice cream why not serve it up whilst watching Wimbledon this week.

Enjoy

Gill

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They say that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, there is no better way to do this than with Chocolate, these Double Chocolate Chip Cookies are just perfect to show how much you care, they are quick and easy to make too.

Valentines Chocolate cookies

Valentines Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

What you will need

  • 225g butter/margarine
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 225g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 100g milk or dark chocolate chips

To decorate

  • Icing sugar/red food colouring
  • Ready-made icing in tubes
  • White Chocolate
  • Cake Decorations

What you need to do

  1. Mix the butter/margarine and the caster sugar in a bowl until fluffy and light in colour.
  2. Add the egg yolk and the vanilla essence and beat thoroughly.
  3. Sift the flour and cocoa into the bowl (a bit at a time) and mix, the dough will become quite firm.
  4. Stir in your chocolate chips.
  5. If the mixture is slightly soft and sticky place it in the fridge to chill for at least 20 mins this will make it easier to handle.
  6. Divide the mixture into 12 balls, roll and put onto a baking tray lined with parchment, 6 to a tray allowing room for them to spread, and squash down slightly.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C/Gas 5 for 10 minutes, remove and leave to cool and set for at least 15 minutes before decorating when cold.

To decorate

Hearts, crosses and patterns can be made from icing or runny white chocolate (melt in a bowl over hot water) add cake decorations when wet – sugar strands, mini marshmallows, silver/gold balls, glitter sugar, sugar hearts.

Don’t forget to reward your young helpers with a sample of their hard work.

Delicious!

Gill

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Christmas Day is nearly here and Father Christmas is due to arrive in just over 12 hours, there is still plenty of time to make some home made Mince Pies to put out for him tonight, this is the recipe that I use; I will be making some this afternoon.

Mince Pies Med

Christmas Star Mince Pies

Ingredients

  • 16oz Plain Flour
  • 8oz Butter or Margarine
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 tbsp Water
  • 1 dessertspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 jar Sweet Mincemeat 822g approx
  • Caster Sugar

What you need to do

  1. Rub the fat into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Mix the egg yolk, water and lemon juice together and add to the flour mixture, if it is a bit sticky add some more flour or a bit crumbly a little more water, then gather the mixture into a ball.
  3. Roll out the pastry, cut out the bases with a round cutter, large enough to fit into your bun baking trays (I use shallow trays) and a pastry star for the top with a star shaped cutter.
  4. Place the round pastry bases in your bun trays, add a teaspoon of Mincemeat and top with a pastry star.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180C.
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with Caster Sugar.
  7. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before eating.

Makes approx 36 mince pies – enjoy.

We would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year from Gardening With Children and everyone at The Recycleworks.

Best Wishes

Gill

P.S. Don’t forget to feed the birds over Christmas

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October truly is the month of the apple and this year growers have reported bumper crops with fruit that is tastier than ever due to the favourable weather. If you wish to taste some new or old varieties, many of which do not appear in our supermarkets, have a look out for an Apple Day near where you live. There are many organised events throughout the country where you can eat apples, make apple juice, walk round orchards, ask the experts about growing, pruning and training apple trees, bring in your own apples to be identified or to simply buy apples or even a tree.

You cannot beat a Bramley Apple for that lovely tangy taste and fluffy texture, they are very versatile and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes – delicious! They are at their best at the moment and widely available, but of course if you grow your own they are even better!

This week is Bramley Apple Pie Week when we celebrate this wonderful apple, here is a delicious recipe for those of you with a sweet tooth, it would be perfect for a Halloween or Bonfire Night Party.

Toffee Apple Pie

Your ingredients

The pastry

  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 125g Butter/Margarine
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons cold water

The filling

  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Dark Muscavado Sugar
  • 50g Butter
  • 25ml water
  • 700g Bramley Apples
  • Juice and zest 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Caster Sugar for sprinkling

25cm pie dish

What you need to do

Sift the flour and salt in a bowl, rub in the butter/margarine until it resembles breadcrumbs, add the cold water and mix with a knife until it comes together, gather up and knead to form a ball. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for ½ hour.

Peel, core and slice the apples, sprinkle over the cinnamon, the grated lemon zest and the juice, and stir.

Melt the butter in a pan, add the water and the caster and dark muscavado sugar, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, add the apple mixture stir and cook for a further few minutes until the apples start to soften then leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Roll out 2/3rd of the pastry and line the bottom of the pie dish, fill with the cooled apple mixture.

Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid, brush a little water around the edges of the pastry bottom  so that the lid will stick, press/crimp the edges to seal the pie and trim off any excess pastry, make 2 or 3 slits in the middle of the lid. If you wish to decorate the top, roll out the leftover pastry and cut out leaf or apple shapes, wet them underneath with water to help them stick.

Sprinkle with the caster sugar and bake for 30mins until golden brown.

Serve with cream, ice cream or custard.

You know what they say an apple a day…

Gill

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Ground Spices

This week is National Curry Week, 7-13 October 2013, so to celebrate this ‘British’ favourite I thought I would share with you one of my recipes.

The great thing about curries is that you can really put your own mark on them, adding your favourite ingredients and customising them to you or your family’s tastes, they are ideal for using up your vegetable glut, why not make double quantities and freeze some for later on.

This curry is quick and easy to make, the fruit adds a nice sweetness which will appeal to children.

Fruity Chicken Curry

Your ingredients

  • 25g butter/margarine
  • 2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless and cut into chunks)
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 3 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 stick of celery (sliced)
  • ½ apple (diced)
  • ½ red pepper (chopped)
  • 75g sultanas
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper

What you need to do

  1. In a large pan melt the butter, add the chicken pieces and cook on medium heat until sealed and browned on all sides (approx. 8 minutes), then remove from the pan.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and fry until soft, then add the curry powder and stir well.
  3. Return the chicken to the pan with the celery, apple, red pepper, sultanas and chicken stock.
  4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Serve with rice and naan bread.

Serves 2

Other vegetables that you could add include cauliflower, courgettes, runner/french beans, potatoes, carrots, spinach.

We are all big Curry fans in the office, especially Sylvia who regularly frequents her favourite local restaurant.

Why not give it a go; it will warm you up now that there is a chill in the air.

Gill

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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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