Cbeebies ‘I can cook’ rocks!

After the last few posts about the World Food Summit, I thought I’d blog about something closer to home. I can cook is a BBC programme* that shows young children cooking. They cook real food in a cheerful kitchen and then eat it. Simple!

There are many things to like about the show: 5 kids and the presenter make the same dish so you can see that each of them makes it in a different way; and each kid is praised for the work they’re doing. They use raw egg in some shows, and use blunt-nosed kitchen scissors in others. The recipes are child-appropriate, although one minor worry was the fish triple decker smothered in a layer of ketchup, with its salt and sugar content. (Ha! I should talk … my daughter mainlines the stuff)

I’m most impressed with the I can cook garden, where they take the kids out to collect an ingredient. Am envious of their nice raised beds and greenhouse.

Today’s recipe was for savoury bites. The daughter and I had just made scones, so it was interesting to show her that some of the recipe was the same, and how they used chives instead of sultanas and sugar. I really like their way of describing mixing the fat and flour as tickling the flour.

Our scones turned out well, using rice milk and stork instead of cows’ milk and butter. Taste great with home-made jam, too.

home made scones and jam

Search for I can cook on BBC iplayer

* It’s actually an Endemol programme for the BBC, but I won’t quibble.


A new bell for the bike!

Several months ago I cycled to a Transition Edinburgh Pentlands meeting in Oxgangs. Whilst I was in the meeting, the bell from my bike was nicked. In fact it was the top half of the bell that was nicked, but that’s functionally the same as losing the whole bell. Since then, my daughter has been asking incessantly why I don’t get another bell and why it was taken.

At the Painting Edinburgh Green festival this weekend, I stopped by the Greener Leith table and was given a bike bell. Very gratefully recieved!

I’m just off to pick the daughter up from nursery. No doubt I’ll have to explain how I got the bell back…

Last of the broad beans

Two quick visits to the plot today. I took the daughter on the first one, and she was fantastic. Second one I got bitten to death by the midges…

Picked the last 250 grammes of broad beans (that weight is when they’re podded but not yet shelled). The daughter picked some blackcurrants and redcurrants and I’ve bought some strawberries, so it’s Summer pudding tomorrow. That’ll be after a main course of egg fried rice with spring onions, peas, broad beans, mushrooms and carrots. The onions, peas and beans are from the plot.

I also have a glut of turnips, but suspect they’d not work well in the stir fry :) They’ll go with a massive haggis that she who knits bought from costco.

Managed to blanch 175 grammes of the beans for freezing, but worried about the amount of energy that it’s taken to prepare them. Next year I’ll sow beans every two weeks for eating fresh and have a patch from which I can pick and freeze a significant quantity.

Recieved two courgette plants from a neighbour.

Sage and hyssop seem to have settled in OK: the sage is standing proud; the hyssop has started to flower.

Wildlife count: 1 teeny-tiny frog, 1 grasshopper, plenty of spiders, way too many midges.

Currently have 1 empty bed, 3 empty half-beds, and 2 empty 1/3 beds. I’ve also got spaces where I have to build 2 new beds.

Oh yeah … and Go Bradley!.

Summer bounty

Hectic, hectic month on the plot. Tidied up, built a raised bed, planted seeds that I’ve germinated in my new greenhouse, moved stuff around on the plot… and over the last few days I’ve been harvesting and preserving produce. I’ve made cordials, frozen beans, preserved some garlic in extra virgin olive oil, eaten loads of vegetables, and the biggest success has been today’s strawberry ice.

strawberry granita, with a helper

strawberry granita, with a helper

The girl is helping out so much. She loves it, and she’s getting the hang of the plot. Yesterday a pal joined her and she delighted in showing him around. I was so proud when they were watering the peas, she moved along the row whilst the pal was static.

kids looking intently at a bug

kids looking intently at a bug

And here’s her lovely grin

lovely grin on the girl, who's standing in front of the blackcurrant bushes

lovely grin on the girl, who's standing in front of the blackcurrant bushes

By the way, we love her frog t-shirt. And this is a frog in our garden — a benefit of letting the grass grow long.

a frog in our garden

a frog in our garden

As usual when there’s a situation where nature is running its course , I’m reminded of a Summer haiku by Issa:

Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house

Good news, bad news, grubby hands

Last week was very windy, and I was worried about the peas and beans. I also put up some netting over the strawberries and redcurrant, so I was a bit worried that the net would act as a sail and get blown away.

Success: The sun’s out this week and everything’s looking much better. Nothing got blown over and the stakes I put in for the broad beans have kept them upright; elderflowers ready (not that I did anything to manage the elder tree); strawberries warm and tasty; garlic progressing nicely. OMG blackcurrants! A lot of these are coming through…

Less good: the overwintered vegetables haven’t come through. Out of 60 onions I planted, only one has survived (although I did munch on a couple of shoots in February). A slightly better rate for the broad beans but still quite poor (3 out of 21 survived).

Which reminds me: transplanting has been a great success. I moved one onion, three broad beans and the redcurrant and all of them have taken to their new homes. Forgot to move the rhubarb this year, so that’s something for the Autumn.

The last piece of bad news is that the French beans didn’t work, and only a couple of fragile sprouts came through. The under-planted lettuces are going great so I don’t think the soil is deficient. Perhaps just wrong conditions for germinating, so this morning’s activity with the daughter was getting some more beans into modules. It’s a little late in the year, but we’ll see how it goes…

the daughter helped put French Beans into modules

the daughter helped put French Beans into modules

calabrese, fennel, French beans

calabrese, fennel, French beans

the daughter's grubby hands

the daughter's grubby hands

Back to cookery…

I am more at home with cooking, so today we made jam. Well, I made jam and the girl helped with the labelling.

Three jars of jam. An apple and roses in the background

Three jars of jam. An apple and roses in the background

Three jars of rhubarb and ginger jam, each with two labels

Three jars of rhubarb and ginger jam, each with two labels

We now have 7 jars of rhubarb and ginger jam in the understairs cupboard. In a moment of clarity, I’ve realised that I’ve used up perhaps 10% of the rhubarb. The last jar from 2008 is dated 15 June, so that means I may have to make jam every day I look after the daughter from now until the holiday on 5 June…

Keep the momentum going…

My mum brought us a kitchen compost caddy last time she came round. It’s way bigger than the previous thing we used so I’ve put it on the floor by the kitchen entrance, up close to the baby gate and in plain sight for the daughter.

She’s obviously watched me ripping up cardboard and did her annoying point-and-squeak when I was tearing up some stuff yesterday. So I tore off a strip and made a wee tear in the long side and gave it to her. She’s not the quickest at tearing the stuff up, but she got so excited… me too. I’m so chuffed she’s copying my good behaviour.

Her first skinned knee

I’m going back to working 3 days a week from next week, and I’m intending to spend more time down the allotment. So I took the daughter down own the plot on Sunday, just to familiarise her with the place. It’s always instructive to actually see how she deals with it; no amount of theorising is as instructive as letting her get on with it in a controlled way.

The ground’s quite bumpy, even the main spine of the plot, and it’s raised higher than the beds. Every so often, she’d fall over and I’d see her head in a hollow and her legs sticking up. Not crying but obviously relieved when I picked her up, and she showed me her dirty hands and asked me to wipe both of them. When changing her nappy, I noticed three bruises down her left knee and a wee dod of blood. I feel so wretched; she’s fine.

Resolution: Gotta do some serious earth moving to level the paths and raise the beds.

Looks like I’ve got 6 beds for rotation this year. Four are ready. One has winter onions in, so it’s not going to be available until July. One still has to be dug over. Of these beds, three are big and 3 are small.