Posted on September 1st, 2017 - Fiona
I love working with nature and when blackberry season comes around I can’t resist popping on my creative cap for activity hour. Every year we end up baking with blackberries, whether to make crumble, ice cream or cakes. This year a friend had given me a bag of windfall apples from the garden, so I decided on blackberry and apple muffins, with tie dye experimentation to follow.
Foraging for blackberries
We began by handing out blackberry collecting trays for blackberry picking. We didn’t have to go too far and had more than enough from the hedgerows around the cottage gardens.
Preparing Blackberry and Apple Muffins
Back at the craft table we washed hands and blackberries and began peeling our cooking apple.
It took quite a time to get all the ingredients measured and mixed with my team of 14 eager helpers. We managed and with spoons and mixture in all directions enough landed in the muffin cases to go into the oven.
It would appear my own kids are not the only ones to love baking for the fight over the mixing bowl after. Spoons and sticky fingers delved in to ensure none of the mix was wasted.
Tie dye with blackberry juice
While our muffins cooked we cleared the table, washed sticky fingers and set up for a little creative tie dye fun. I had been blackberry picking in the morning and blended my foraged finds into a rich mixture and had a little test go to ensure it worked.
Happy that this was a runner with the children I brought my mixture to the table along with enough pieces of cloth for everyone to have a go. We used some of my supply of loom bands to make the ties and everyone crested their own designs wrapping the bands around the fabric.
Dipping the cloth in the blackberry dye was messy fun. I had a sheet of kitchen roll on hand to dry each one, before peeling off the loom bands to reveal the tie die cloth.
I was thrilled with the results everyone achieved. Time was marching on, but they all wanted to mount their cloth, as I had done, on coloured paper and card to show it off to its best.
Those muffins were delicious.
In any case the extra time gave my muffins a chance to cook and cool sufficiently for everyone to take one home – or eat it there and then.
There were only 3 muffins spare to bring back to my house so I had to make a fresh batch for my own kids. As for the blackberry dye mix, I couldn’t throw away all that goodness, instead I boiled the remaining juices to make sure it was hygienic and turned it into ice cream.
I do like foraging in autumn, maybe we will go hunting for elderflower or mushrooms next.
Posted on June 16th, 2017 - Fiona
I was determined to fit in a week working with herbs, and in particular wild garlic, before it was over on the farm for another year. Wild garlic has such a strong smell rather like spring onions and so useful in cooking. I had a feeling many of our children staying would not have noticed it during the week with us and so I decided on a spot of foraging for herbs and baking savoury scones as the basis for our activities this week.
Preparing to study herbs
We began by cutting up a cereal box to make a backing board for our theory work together with a clever little pouch to store the herbs we would find. Printed information sheets on each herb were stapled next to the pouch with sensory information to fill in on the herbs.
Foraging for herbs
With our work all prepared we set off in search of our herbs. The wild garlic was just at the end of flowering and having showed the children what to look for they soon came across some along the farm paths. Armed with a good bunch for everyone we headed into my garden for snippets of all the other herbs I had growing. We had 6 to collect in total and the children needed help to carry back their haul.
Making wild garlic and cheese savoury scones
Back at the craft tables we washed hands ready for cooking. I had all the ingredients for cheese and wild garlic scones. We measured, mixed and kneaded the ingredients together before cutting them into hearts and stars to go in the oven. The children were wonderful at taking turns to help at every stage.
Completing herb worksheets
While the scones cooked the children began to complete their worksheets using the collected herbs. They rubbed each herb on the page to release the smell and then wrote down how it smelt, felt and looked along with what foods it was used in. They were great at suggesting foods the herbs reminded them of.
Writing up the savoury scone recipe
They worked really hard and made a lovely job of completing their worksheets before moving on to recapping the recipe we used for the scones. I handing out printed sheets where the children just had to fill in the amounts of each ingredient and mount them onto coloured card of their choice decorating them with felt tip pens.
I just had time for a photo of everyone with their competed recipes and herb cards while our delicious smelling freshly baked savoury scones cooled enough to eat.
I was thrilled that every scone was eaten with the children all tasting their hard work and the parents polishing off any going spare. I can safely say cheese and wild garlic savoury scones make a very tasty snack. This turned into a really fun and educational afternoon with even the parents learning a thing or two about cooking with wild garlic.
Posted on April 30th, 2017 - Fiona
Back in March I shared a clever way to keep potted herbs looking stylish on the window ledge, this month I’m sharing the easiest recipe I can think of from the clumps of wild garlic now flowering all over our farm. This wild garlic pasta sauce requires no cooking, is as versatile as any expensive garlic sauce in a tube or jar that you can buy from the supermarket and yet can be made from scratch for next to nothing in just 3 minutes; that’s a lot quicker than a trip to the supermarket when you live in rural Cornwall! What’s more it is packed with nature’s goodness and couldn’t be fresher, just the sort of instant meal you need when added to fresh pasta after a day at the beach or working here on the farm.
Ingredients for Wild Garlic Pasta Sauce
- Wild garlic
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh pasta
Put your fresh pasta on the hob to boil for 3 minutes.
||Chop a good bunch of wild garlic including roots, flower and leaves.
|Place in blender.
Add enough olive oil to make a paste consistency with your garlic, about 1/4 cup for a large bunch of garlic.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
|Blend to a coarse paste consistency. You may need to stir part way through for an even texture.
Stir in sauce.
|If liked grate over cheddar or Parmesan cheese and garnish with chopped chives.
The sauce can be kept in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
A few alternatives to try
- Replace garlic butter with wild garlic pasta sauce for a tasty garlic bread.
- Fry sliced mushrooms in the sauce and serve on toast.
- Use to seal meat when making casseroles or stews.
A quick 45 second vlog on how to make wild garlic pasta sauce
Posted on May 10th, 2015 - Fiona
Onion Bhajis Made Easy
I have been experimenting again in the kitchen and come up with a really easy way to make great tasting authentic Onion Bhajis. Anyone who follows my What’s Cooking Category here on the blog will know I’m a real scratch cook with a dislike for ready meals and try to ensure my family have a decent nutritious meal every evening. That said I am no kitchen goddess and all my meals are prepared in half an hour to an hour. This recipe for Bhajis is so simple and quick to make yet tastes authentic and never fails to delight the family with or impress when I have friends to supper.
Indian food can be as complicated or as simple as you chose, it is certainly not something to be scared of, I do cheat with buying the spice blends rather than mixing my own but after that the cooking is really simple, all my Indian dishes are inspired from food I eat at The Raj in Wadebridge, our local friendly Restaurant. I’m sure they make their meals quite differently to me but I love the challenge of tasting the flavours and textures and experimenting to recreate this myself as all my family adore Indian food.
To prove just how easy this recipe is I have vlogged the whole process instead of sharing in picture steps. It is only a couple of minutes long, which illustrates how quick and easy these are. If you are a fan of your local curry house, do give these a try, I think you will be surprised how authentic they taste and are a perfect starter or curry accompaniment served with a simple salad and a little mango chutney.
Do let me know how you get on or if you enjoyed this post. I’ll happily share some of my other curry dishes which are all equally easy if you like this one.
Posted on January 18th, 2015 - Fiona
How many times were you told to “finish your greens” as a child? For me it was most meals. I try not to be as dictatorial over food as my parents were with me, taking the more modern approach of encouraging my children to try a little of everything at each meal but not stressing over the things they really dislike, usually anything green. As my children have grown up they have come to tolerate and then enjoy more and more of the traditionally hated-by-kids’ foods. However they are not perfect and some will eat more than others. Cooking a roast in my house rarely involves any leftovers although I can guarantee what there is will be the green veggies I over optimistically produced.
|Waste is something I dislike, usually the left over greens go in into tomorrow’s shepherd’s pie or chilli in minced size pieces, and the outer leaves in the preparation stages we save to feed the farm pigs. However I had an inkling of an idea I wanted to try and wondered if I could be more creative and hide our leftover greens in a cake, after all carrot cake is always a success and I’ve used pulses before now. I figured a chocolate cake would be the best to hide both the colour and the flavour of the unwelcome 200g broccoli, leek, pea and green bean combination. I tossed the idea onto Facebook and then felt inspired to take the challenge promising to blog the results, only if it worked!
There is not much left after the first day so I call that a success.
I actually videoed myself making the cake, it is really quick, in fact just three minutes from the start of the video to popping the cakes in the oven. I’d love you to take a look, this is my first go at video cooking, or vlogging of any sort come to that and I think I might try it again, it is easier than stopping to take a photo at every step of the way and a great way to make me tidy my kitchen before I begin!
Vlogging Chocolate Cake with hidden greens!
How do you get on with greens and kids? Do you end up disguising them to get a variety going or just stick to the one or two you know they tolerate. Do you make them try them or just accept it is an acquired taste that comes with age?
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