Carole’s cookery – Rhubarb Crumble


  • Fruit of choice – I used 900g of rhubarb (about 6 sticks).
  • 300g self raising flour (you can use plain flour but SR gives a lighter texture)
  • 150g butter
  • Around 50g sugar to sweeten the crumble and sugar to taste to sweeten the rhubarb. Just before the crumble went into the oven I topped the crumble mixture with a sprinkle of brown sugar and porridge oats.

Wash and cut the rhubarb into chunks.

Cook in a little water (around 1 cm in the pan) and sugar to sweeten, until soft.

To make the crumble topping sift flour into a bowl. Using a knife cut the butter into the flour then rub with your fingertips until the mix looks a bit like breadcrumbs. This can get a bit messy!

Add some porridge oats now (or you can add them later). If the mix is a bit too wet just add more flour until you have a crumbly texture.

Strain the rhubarb through a sieve to drain off the excess liquid.

Put the rhubarb into an ovenproof dish.

Place the crumble mixture on top of the fruit, sprinkle with sugar and porridge oats if you wish to. Bake in the oven at 180C for around 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

Enjoy hot or cold with custard or cream!

Carole’s Cookery – Potato Based Cheese & Bacon Flan


This flan is made up of whatever you have and what you prefer to eat, so the ingredients are pretty flexible to use up what’s already in the house. I believe in cook once, eat twice – eat half the next day! It’s great eaten hot or cold. Here’s what I used:

  • Potatoes (enough to slice and line the dish when cooked)
  • Bacon (I used 6 slices)
  • 2 or 3 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • 1 pepper
  • Grated cheese
  • Mixed herbs
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 pint of milk

I used a 34 x 27cm dish to make mine in.

Boil the potatoes and at the same time cook the bacon.

Fry the chopped onions and garlic.

Add the mushrooms and pepper and lightly fry.

Line your greased dish with the cooked, cooled and sliced potatoes.

Place the cooked vegetables and bacon  on top of the sliced potatoes.

Beat the milk and eggs together in a bowl and then pour over the bacon and vegetables.

Add some grated cheese and mixed herbs to sprinkle on top.

Bake at 160C for about 30 to 45 minutes. You can check to see if it’s cooked by inserting a knife or skewer – when it comes out clean, it’s done.


Carole’s Cookery – Breakfast Raisin Bars


  • 40g butter
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 150g porridge oats
  • 100g dried milk opowder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 250ml milk
  • 200g raisins

Preheat oven to 350F/180C or Gas Mark 4.

Cream the butter with the sugar then blend in the egg and vanilla essence (mine curdled but don’t worry as the dry ingredients added later will sort that out!)

In another bowl mix together the oats, dried milk powder and baking powder.

Add the oat mixture and the 250ml of milk to the butter and sugar mixture and stir well.

Stir in the raisins.

Pour mixture into a baking dish or tin (I doubled the amount of ingredients to make some to eat right away and some to freeze and I used a 20 x 28cm baking dish and a loaf tin).

Bake until brown (about 30 minutes) or until a knife or skewer comes out clean, without any mixture on it, when you test it.

Once baked turn out to cool on a cooling rack, then cut into squares/bars.

Carole’s Crafts – Box and Jar Covering

If you’ve got any boxes or jars at home why not give them a bit of a makeover using whatever you can find around the house?

Painted Jars

You will need:

  • Nail varnish
  • Permanent marker pens
  • Paper (to plan your designs before you start)

These are some ideas I drew for designs, though I’m sure you can think of some of your own.

I decided to paint a flowers on my first jar. (NB. If you use nail varnish make sure you’re in a well ventilated room as it can have a powerful smell!)

I started with a blob of brown for the centre then added pink and white blob dots for the petals. I had a happy accident where the pink and white started running into each other so I used a matchstick (or you could use a cocktail stick) to blend in the two colours. Leave to dry lying down flat to avoid any paint runs you don’t want!

Next I made a beach jar. If you are not confident at drawing then find an image that will fit into the jar and blu tack it to the inside to follow the lines.

I started with purple for the rocks and hills (it was all I had) and then blue for the sea.

When the blue was getting tacky-dry I added white for the waves. Gold brown for the beach and pink for the sand grass, again “make do and mend” as they were the only colours I had.

For this dottie jar I just painted random dots of different colours. The nail varnish wasn’t put on too thickly so I could stand it up to dry.

Tissue Paper Covered Jars

For this you’ll need:

  • Jar or container to cover
  • Watered down PVA glue
  • Tissue paper
  • Paintbrush (you’ll need to clean it afterwards!)

Paste the watered down PVA glue onto the jar a section at a time.

Rip or cut shapes of tissue paper to lay over the surface, guiding with the brush. It doesn’t matter if you get glue on the top of the paper as it will act as a protective varnish.

Keep layering the paper (look how the colours change when layers are attached) brushing on with the paintbrush. I used a smooth edge for neatness at the base and top edge.

When dry I might add some decoration with paint or rubber stamping or maybe sticking bits and bobs on it.

Covered Boxes

You will need:

  • Item to cover (I used an aftershave box and a cheese triangle box)
  • PVA glue
  • Old magazine or wrapping paper, tissue paper, newspaper etc
  • Paintbrush
  • Scissors

I like the effect of ripped edges so did this for mine but its personal choice. Gather together the photos from the magazine (or the paper you are using to decorate).

Here’s how I ripped the paper – just tear it and keep pulling towards you, slightly moving from side to slide to give it a wiggle effect.

Start gluing the photos to the box. It doesn’t matter if it’s higher than the side of the box as this can be folded over to the top.

This image went round the corner of the box, which was then cut to fold over to the top.

Keep gluing and layering the photos to cover the box.

Cover the box with more PVA glue to seal the paper and protect it then leave to dry.

The cheese triangle box was covered in the same way. I did take more care on the measurements to fit round the lid edge and base. As this was quite small I glued the box and then put the paper on.

I used the lid to draw round on the image I had chosen, then cut it out.

Cut off the bits of image you don’t need.

Brush PVA glue all over the finished layered images to protect it.


Carole’s Crafts – Bunting

I used fabric to make mine but you could use paper or light card.

I drew the shape on paper a few times then pinned it to the fabric. I had mine double layered but if you don’t feel comfortable doing that then do one at a time. Cut out the pinned shapes.

The  gaps in between the paper make more bunting flag shapes so cut those out too.

To make the heading tape, measure 5 cm width strips, making them as long as the finished tape you need. This will probably need to be joined to make it longer and I’ll explain that in a while.

With the heading tape fabric strips, fold and iron in half, like on the photo:

This is how the heading tape is made. You can buy ready made tape or use ribbon which would need no folding or ironing.

Joining the strips of heading tape together to make a longer length. Put your prepared fabric right sides together, flat with no turn in, pin and sew to join.

If the pins in the fabric go across ways, like in the photo, the sewing machine needle will run over them fine. Remove pins when finished.

It should look like this:

Press with the iron to get it back to the folded shape you need. Repeat the process for the length of bunting you need.

Heading tape finished. Now put the top edge of your bunting into the folded heading tape and pin. Repeat this with your all your bunting flags. If this was bunting I was going to be using a lot I would have turned the side edges in once and top stitched to keep it from fraying. Alternatively you could use scissors called “pinking shears” which have a zig-zag edge, to stop it from fraying.

Sew all your flag bunting, capturing it between the heading tape.

I fixed my finished bunting onto the gutter with washing line pegs. If standing on a ladder or steps make sure an adult is with you or better still ask if they will do it for you!


Carole’s Cookery – Flapjacks

I found a recipe on the BBC website for flapjacks. Here’s how I made them:


  • oil, for greasing
  • 100g butter, cubed
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 50g mixed seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower, linseed and sesame
  • 150 g dried fruit  (I used raisins and apricots)
  • 250g jumbo porridge oats
  • 1 large egg, beaten

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the egg and mix together.
  3. Add melted  butter and golden syrup.  
  4. Pop in a greased tin, press mixture down firmly and bake in the preheated oven for 18–20 minutes, or until golden and lightly browned around the edges.                                                                            






Carole’s Cookery – Things to Make With Beetroot

Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies

This is the picture in the recipe book  – will Carole’s turn out like these?

Ingredients – Makes 16

  • 250g fresh beetroot, cooked and peeled
  • 250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus a little more fro greasing
  • 250g good quality dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 150g self-raising flour, sieved
  • 100g walnuts or pistachios, roughly broken

What To Do

  1. Preheat oven to 170C. Line and grease a deep 20 x 20cm square baking tin.
  2. Chop the beetroot (wear rubber gloves to stop your skin staining) and blend with a dash of water until you have a smooth puree, adding more water as necessary.
  3. Pit the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted.
  4. in a separate bowl whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in the chocolate. Fold in the flour, nuts and the beetroot. Pour into the prepared tin.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm but still gooey in the centre when tested with a knife. When cool, cut into squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Here’s How Carole Did It

My first thoughts were that the ingredients seemed a bit expensive but once baked I had 24 pieces around 5cm square and they were very nice with ice cream!

I boiled the beetroot the night before. It can take around 2 hours until cooked and soft. When cold I peeled them by pushing off the layer of skin wearing gloves to stop my hands being stained purple.

It says to chop and blend the beetroot with a little water. I found it better to chop it with a knife and then mash with a fork.

I melted the chopped up butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of bubbling water. Don’t rush this process or let any water into the mixture.

I think I whisked the eggs and sugar for longer than I needed to!

Here’s the chocolate and butter almost fully  melted.

Mix together the chocolate butter mix with the egg and sugar mixture, then fold in the flour, nuts and beetroot. Then pour into a greased ovenproof dish.

The recipe said bake for 25 minutes but mine took around 45 minutes. I tested it by putting in a skewer – if it came out with no mixture on it then it was cooked.

Here they are cooling on the rack, looking just like the ones in the book!

Beetroot Dip

Here’s the picture from the recipe book!

Ingredients – serves 4-6

  • 400g fresh beetroot, usually a bunch of 3
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for roasting
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
  • 6 tbsp thick Greek yogurt or creme fraiche
  • 2 garlic gloves, crushed
  • Toasted sourdough slices, to serve

What To Do

  1. Heat the oven to 180c. Remove any stalks or leaves, then roll each beetroot on a plate with a little olive oil sprinkled with salt. Wrap in foil and roast for an hour or until they are cooked through when tested with a knife.
  2. When the beetroot has cooled, peel them. You may want to wear rubber gloves to stop your skin from staining. Roughly chop and put in a blender with the rest of the olive oil, the yogurt or creme fraiche and the garlic. Whizz until smooth, then season to taste.
  3. To serve, scoop into a bowl and serve with slices of toasted sourdough.

Tip – swirl in a dollop of creme fraiche before serving to make it more creamy.

Here’s How Carole Did It:

This time it was easier to blend with the blender, possibly because it was with oil, not water. In the instructions it says to roast the beetroot but I already had leftover boiled beetroot from making the brownies.

Beetroot, garlic, oil, yogurt or creme fraiche, whizz or mash until blended.

Serve with bread, baked potato or a salad.

Carole’s Crafts – Spectacular Spectacles!

We decided at our last online club to have a contest to see who could wear the most amazing pair of glasses on camera at the next one. Carole’s come up with some great ideas to help you!

How to make Letter Specs

Here are some of the things you could use, take a look around at home:

I made a rough measurement of how big I would need them to be, using my own glasses (you could use a pair of sunglasses if you don’t wear specs yourself). Leave room either side for the arm to go along the side of your head and over your ear.

I drew what I hoped would look like the letters Y and C.

I stuck the white card on to the black as it wasn’t quite big enough.

Next I started gluing on strips of tissue paper. You could use a magazine, newspaper, wallpaper or wrapping paper. It didn’t matter about covering up the lens of the Y letter as I cut it out later.

Last of all I punched out some flower shapes using a paper punch or you could just draw some or cut them out of a magazine. When the tissue paper is dry draw lines around the letters to make it look like stitching.


How to make Rainbow Specs

Draw around your specs, allowing the rainbow to overhang more on the outside of your head, as the inside – the bit that is near your nose – will get in the way.

Mine looked like this.

After colouring the rainbow I cut out cloud shapes from cotton wool face wipes or you could use cotton wool or paper.

I fixed the rainbows on with double sided tape to the outside of the frames.

How to make Seaside Binoculars

Sticky tape two loo roll tubes together, leaving a gap for the nose bridge. I did mine at an angle facing outwards to fit the shape of my eyes. Then I stuck card over the bridge of the nose part to make it stronger, adding some card to fit around the side of my head.

I covered the loo roll tubes with brown tissue paper. Then I drew some umbrellas, beach hut, boat and a seagull. If you didn’t want to draw then you could cut images out of an old magazine. I then stuck a cocktail stick behind each drawing, leaving enough of the stick to stand up after pushing the pointed end into the loo roll.

Carole’s Crafts – Cultivation Update

It’s been 2 weeks since I planted the vegetable seeds. These are the tomato plants that need potting out into deeper pots around 6cm apart – they have grown to 3cm high.

Here you can see they’re still in the old meat container they were first planted in.

With a lot of shops closed I kept some containers from buying flowers or fruit, ready to re-pot plants into.

Because the tomato plants are so small I cut the soil with a knife and used a spoon to lift each on out, a bit like cutting up a tray of chocolate brownies.

All done and watered, 15 plants out of a packet that said it contained around 12!

Next, thinning out the rocket plants. If the container looks like a cat litter tray, well that’s what it is! I hadn’t got anything else suitable. I put some stones in for drainage as I didn’t want to put holes in the litter tray.

Difficult to thin out individual plants, so they are a bit clumpy but have more room to grow than they did. Again after re-potting (or a re-cat-litter-traying) give a light watering. Fingers crossed they will survive!

Update on the carrots: the green bits that I wasn’t sure at first weren’t weeds, are now definitely carrots. If you remember I did them in circles, not rows. Hopefully all will have survived and we can eat them by the time we can meet at club again!

Carole’s Crafts – Paint Your Own Furniture/Grow Your Own Vegetables

There’s a bit of a theme with this week’s Carole Crafts, it’s all about doing and growing it yourself. Bank Holiday weekends like the Easter one we’ve just had are usually times when people flock to DIY stores or garden centres , eager to improve their homes and gardens. As we’re all staying at home right now perhaps Carole can inspire you to find a project you can do with what you may already have around you?

Painted Drawers

I had these honey pine drawers that I wanted to make more exciting. This is how they looked after I sanded them down outside:

(Sanding off any existing paint and/or varnish gives a better surface for new paint to stick to.)

Next I removed the drawer knobs and gave them a coat of paint primer, which gives a good base for painting in your chosen colours.

Here’s the finished item. I used some leftover cream paint from when I painted my kitchen cupboards for the outsides. The drawers were painted with sample paints (one of the colours I used on the painted stones project last week). I gave the drawers 3 coats of paint and when they’d dried about 24 hours later I gave them a coat of varnish. The pebble knobs were bought about 4 years ago from Sainsburys which shows how long I’ve been intending to do this project!

Carole’s Cultivation

You will need:

  • Compost
  • Containers
  • Seeds

I’ve only grown mustard and cress before so I haven’t got much of a clue with veg but thought I would give it a go! I’ve chosen carrots, hanging basket tomatoes and rocket salad leaves.

I’ve used containers as my garden isn’t big enough to dig a vegetable patch and I thought it would be good to show how things can be grown in limited space.


This pot was half full with old soil and compost so I just topped it up with new compost.

On the packet it says sow seeds in a row. I couldn’t do rows in a round pot so I made 2 circles about 2cm deep, scattered the seeds in, covered them with compost and then gave it a water.

rocket salad leaves

I put some stones for drainage in the bottom of the container and filled it with compost. Then I made trenches around 1.5cm deep in rows, scattered the seeds in, topped with more compost and watered.

I had a few seeds left over so put some in an old, washed out meat container.  I’ve been watering all the seeds daily and here they are starting to sprout already after just a couple of days!

Hanging basket tomatoes

I’ve planted these seeds in an old washed out food container, the type that may originally have held meat or strawberries, etc. I used an old pencil to make holes for each seed in the compost. Then I covered the seeds with more compost and watered them.

This container is in the house, on the windowsill, as I haven’t got a greenhouse. Once they have grown they will get transplanted to bigger pots and then the last stage will be to transfer them to the hanging basket. I’ll keep you all posted on progress!