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Christmas recipe #9: cucidati (Italian fig biscuits)

December 27, 2012
Author: Tom

Winter festival at the Eden Project: 23 Nov 2012 – 6 Jan 2013

This year we’re publishing a series of Christmas recipes for the delicious biscuits and cakes that we’re serving up in the Eden Bakery over the festive period for our Time of Gifts winter festival.

Cucidati fig biscuits

Ingredients

Makes 30

  • 250g dried figs
  • 75g sultanas
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons orange zest
  • 125g chopped walnuts
  • 125ml honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 90g plain chocolate, finely chopped
  • 100ml orange marmalade
  • 150g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Pulse the figs, sultanas, orange zest and walnuts in a food processor. If the mixture is too thick, a couple of tablespoons of water can be added. Gradually stir in the honey, cinnamon, chocolate and orange marmalade. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Grease two baking trays.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and baking powder. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the eggs, milk and vanilla until the mixture can be gathered into a ball.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll out to .5cm thickness.
  5. Cut the dough into strips that are 10cm wide.
  6. Spread filling onto one half of each strip lengthwise.
  7. Fold the dough over to cover and seal the edges by pressing on them with the prongs of a fork.
  8. Slice the filled strips crosswise at an angle about every 2cm or so. This will make diamond shapes. Place the biscuits onto the prepared trays.
  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Remove from the baking trays to cool on wire racks. Glaze with your favourite icing and top with decorative sugar.

Visit Eden this winter for late opening, ice skating, lantern parades, live music and craft workshops.

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Biome-inspired Christmas chocolates

December 24, 2012
Author: Mikki

Winter festival at the Eden Project: 23 Nov 2012 – 6 Jan 2013

We’ve taken a Jamie Oliver recipe and ‘remixed’ it with inspiration from some of the delicious plants we’ve got growing in our Biomes to cook up these tasty chocolate treats:

These chocolates are great Christmas-time treats as they look marvellous and snap into shards of random flavours, so are exciting to share.

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1tbsp almond extract
  • 1tbsp orange extract/Cointreau
  • 1tbsp peppermint extract
  • 1tbsp rose water
  • mint leaves
  • chopped almonds
  • chopped coffee beans
  • orange zest
  • chilli flakes
  • 600g dark chocolate

Method

  1. Take four bowls and put 2 tbsp of sugar into each bowl. Add 1 tbsp of a different flavouring (almond, orange, peppermint or rose water) to each bowl. Mix the flavouring until all the sugar has been incorporated.
  2. Roll a large sheet of baking paper out and sprinkle the flavoured sugars out into four separate strips and leave to dry.
  3. Make a strip of chopped coffee beans and a strip of chilli flakes.
  4. Add the chopped almonds to the strip of almond-flavoured sugar, the mint leaves to the strip of mint-flavoured sugar, and the orange zest to the strip of orange-flavoured sugar.
  5. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set in a saucepan of boiling water. When smooth and fully melted, pour the chocolate over the top of your strips of flavoured sugars, coffee beans and chilli flakes. You may need to use the back of a spoon to evenly distribute the chocolate.
  6. When your strips are fully covered with chocolate, leave to harden and set.
  7. When dry you can snap it into bite-sized chunks either of one flavour or if you fancy being adventurous you could incorporate a mix!

Visit Eden this winter for late opening, ice skating, lantern parades, live music and craft workshops.

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Christmas recipe #8: chocolate orange mince pies

December 21, 2012
Author: Tom

Winter festival at the Eden Project: 23 Nov 2012 – 6 Jan 2013

This year we’re publishing a series of Christmas recipes for the delicious biscuits and cakes that we’re serving up in the Eden Bakery over the festive period for our Time of Gifts winter festival.

Chocolate mince pie and bowl of clementines

Ingredients

Makes 6

  • 280g plain flour
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 5g salt
  • 200g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 500g mincemeat
  • 50g orange juice
  • 20g orange zest

Method

  1. Mix the flour, icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt together in a bowl. Mix in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Stir in the eggs until the mixture comes together in clumps (you may need to a little cold water).
  3. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for one hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.
  5. Mix the mincemeat, orange zest and juice together in a bowl.
  6. Remove the pastry from the fridge, and roll out to a thickness of 0.5cm/¼in. Using a 7.5cm/3in fluted cutter, stamp out 12 discs from the pastry and use them to line a 12-hole bun tin. Fill each hole with two teaspoons of the mincemeat mixture and brush the edges with a little milk.
  7. Using a 6cm/2½in fluted cutter, cut out 12 circles and use them to top the mince pies, pressing the edges together with your fingertips. Re-roll any remaining pastry and cut out snowflakes or star shapes to decorate the top. Brush the top of each mince pie with beaten egg and gently place the decorations on top, then brush again with egg.
  8. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked through.

Visit Eden this winter for late opening, ice skating, lantern parades, live music and craft workshops.

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Christmas recipe #7: dark chocolate and mincemeat cupcakes

December 19, 2012
Author: Tom

Winter festival at the Eden Project: 23 Nov 2012 – 6 Jan 2013

This year we’re publishing a series of Christmas recipes for the delicious biscuits and cakes that we’re serving up in the Eden Bakery over the festive period for our Time of Gifts winter festival.

Mincemeat cupcake

Ingredients

Makes 30 cupcakes

  • 800g self raising flour
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 400ml sunflower oil
  • 10g baking powder
  • 300ml milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 400g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 600g mincemeat
  • 300g water icing
  • 150g chocolate shavings

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  2. Whisk together the oil, milk and eggs.
  3. Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a bowl and whisk to mix.
  4. Mix in the dark chocolate and mincemeat.
  5. Divide mixture into 30 cupcake cases (40g each) and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  6. When cooled add a water icing to the top and add finish with some chocolate shavings.

Visit Eden this winter for late opening, ice skating, lantern parades, live music and craft workshops.

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How to make a Christmas wreath with willow

December 18, 2012
Author: Hannah

Why not be brave this year and make a Christmas wreath from scratch, using willow? You can either hang it on the door or use the wreath as a table decoration with candles in the middle.

Christmas willow wreath table centrepiece with candles in the centre

 

What you need

  • About 30 stems of willow and/or dogwood, with a mixture of colours and thicknesses
  • Items to decorate with, such as cinnamon sticks, dried physalis, pine cones, dried orange or apple slices, pot pourri
  • Glitter
  • Candles (if you are creating a wreath table decoration)
  • Foliage (if you are hanging the wreath on the door)
  • Secateurs
  • Goggles (to protect your eyes from springy, stray willow ends)
  • Glue gun

How to source willow
We use willow that we’ve coppiced ourselves at Eden, during the month of December. We make sure we cut them before they begin to shoot in the New Year. We use them within the week, while they are still moist and easy to bend. Tidy up the lengths before you start the wreath, by trimming off any side shoots.

If you don’t have your own source of willow to hand, you can buy them online from willow specialists such as English Hurdle or Somerset Willow Growers. Before using the stems you’ll need to submerge them in cold water, to rehydrate. A rule of thumb is that they should soak for one day per foot of length.

Technique

  1. First, start with the willow stems, leaving the dogwood until the end if you are using it. Take a stem of willow and wrap it around itself several times to create a ring of about 25-30cm in diameter. Use long, sweeping wraps so that you don’t damage the stem.
  2. To secure the ring, feed the fatter end underneath itself first, then do the same with the thinner end. Leave a few centimetres sticking out from each end, because you will tidy this up with the secateurs at the end. If you’re having trouble bending the fatter end, you can simply snip it off.
    TIP: Test the bendiness of the stem with your thumbs. Or ‘take the spite out of it’ by rubbing the stem with gloved hands – or even rubbing it from side to side behind you on your bottom, as if you’re drying yourself with a towel!
  3. Once you have a first ring nice and round, start feeding the next stems in – again, not too tight, but just enough so that it doesn’t fall apart. You can keep adding the stems so they all flow the same way or so they alternate – either looks great.
  4. If using dogwood stems, weave them into the ring once you’ve established it well using willow, because they tend to be shorter and may not do a whole circumference.
  5. Repeat until the wreath is a good thickness.
  6. Now to decorate the wreath. For our table decorations at Eden we’ve glued on things like cinnamon sticks, dried physalis, pine cones, dried orange and orange slices, pot pourri and dried apple slices – but feel free to use whatever you can find. Glitter goes down well, too.
  7. Finally, place it in on a surface, such as a table or chest of drawers, and arrange a few candles in the middle.
  8. For ideas on collecting foliage to decorate a willow wreath to hang on the door, check out our video on YouTube.

One-day willow garden climber course at Eden
If you’re inspired to try making other things out of willow, why not join us on a one-day course to weave a willow obelisk for your garden? They’re great for training plants up such as clematis, sweet peas or even climbing beans.

At the end of the course you’ll get to take home the finished willow obelisk (as seen in our Garden of the Senses – pictured). The finished obelisk is 1.5-1.8m (5-6ft) tall.

The great thing about these structures is that they look pretty all year round, even when the plants have died back. You can also use different coloured willows to create a nice effect.

Book a place on the course, which takes place on Saturday 16 February 2013.

Willow obelisks in the Eden Project gardens

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Local history inspires Cornish schoolchildren’s Christmas tree decorations

December 16, 2012
Author: Hannah

If you come to Eden this winter you’ll spot some beautiful, weird and wacky Christmas tree decorations as you approach the Visitor Centre. Giant chicken pies with Barbie Doll legs, recycled vintage books, shakeable snow globe baubles…

Christmas trees decorated by schoolchildren at the Eden ProjectThey’ve been designed and created by Cornish schoolchildren who have been working with artists and older residents in the neighbourhood for inspiration.

As part of our My Tree, My Community project, we sent local artists to work with nine primary schools in the county, where they helped gather stories of Christmas past and present from elders invited to a tea party.

For example, Charlestown Community Primary School transformed one classroom into a newsroom, where the children became ‘journalists’ interviewing local residents on stories of Christmas past. You can spot their memories in the ‘snow globe’ bauble decorations.

Lady from the neighbourhood talking to children at their school tea party

The idea for the chicken pies on Mevagissey Community Primary School’s tree were inspired by the story that locals took Christmas dinners along to the ‘Bakehouse’ to be cooked in giant ovens, as many didn’t have their own at home.

Christmas tree decoration which looks like a pie with legs

Lanlivery County Primary School decided to create decorations from free, natural materials, as people used to do much more. The results are beautiful, laminated autumn leaves hanging on the Christmas tree. The pupils even made their own paints from earth and charcoal to colour some of their decorations.

Schoolchildren creating Christmas decorations with paper and scissors

As well as producing some sparkly Christmas trees for Eden visitors to enjoy, the community art project helps bring together different generations – creating living social history, and reminding the elderly and the young what both generations can learn from one and other.

One teacher said: ‘Right from the beginning the children were learning, from serving teas at a party to welcoming guests – right through to realising how lucky they are to receive the gifts that they do today. It helped keep the true meaning of Christmas alive.’

You can see the decorated Christmas trees in the covered area of our Visitor Centre until 6 January 2013.

With huge thanks to all the primary schools, community members and the artists Sarah Joyce, Eve Worrell, Alice Maddicott, Joanna Smith, Rosalind Holgate Smith, Sue Field, Nikki Chambers, Reg Payn and Emma Myers.

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Make your own ‘Family Hexagon’ biscuit selection box this Christmas

December 14, 2012
Author: Tom

Winter festival at the Eden Project: 23 Nov 2012 – 6 Jan 2013

Family biscuit box

Make a tasty and unique gift with our ‘Family Hexagon’ selection box of delicious biscuits. Over the past few weeks we’ve been publishing recipes of the Christmas biscuits we’re serving at the Eden Project this winter. Now you can use a selection of these recipes to fill up a box – made by hand, of course – and give as a gift this festive season.

How to make your gift

  1. Choose a selection of these biscuits to make. Note that they won’t all fit in the box, so you could halve the ingredients of each biscuit and you’ll still have plenty left over to feed your own family:
  2. Make an origami box using an A1 sheet of red card using these instructions on our Blog.
  3. Print out this biscuit box lid PDF in colour, cut off the white border, hand-write your name in the white ribbon beneath ‘With love from’, and glue on to the top of your origami box.
  4. Ta-da! A great gift!
Family Hexagon biscuit box lid

Visit Eden this winter for late opening, ice skating, lantern parades, live music and craft workshops.

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Tips on making a ‘mini Eden Project’ terrarium

December 12, 2012
Author: Tom

Winter festival at the Eden Project: 23 Nov 2012 – 6 Jan 2013

If you’d like to make a mini Biome of your own this Christmas, follow these top tips from Emma in our Green Team. A terrarium makes a beautiful decoration for any home, and a great Christmas gift for a green-fingered friend or family member.

Top terrarium tips

  • You can use any transparent, non-airtight container to make your terrarium. Whether you use plastic or glass, try to recycle something you don’t use any more, like a jam jar, Kilner jar, vase, or even a goldfish bowl!
  • Choose plants for your terrarium that like similar environments; for example, cacti and succulents together (pictured below), or ferns and mosses together.

Cacti and succulents

  • Air plants (epiphytes) are also really good to use as they don’t require a lot of watering and don’t need soil.

Air plants

  • For the best effect, don’t overcrowd your terrarium.
  • Use a soil layer at the bottom to put your plants in, then you can sprinkle coloured grit or sand over the top to make it look nice.
  • You can use a spoon to make it easier to put coloured sand, extra soil or grit in the jar around the plants you have planted.

  • Wear some gloves if you’re planting cacti – they’re prickly!
  • The best way to water the plants in your terrarium is by spraying them.
  • Spray ferns and mosses every day: they like it moist.
  • Spray succulents, cacti and air plants every couple of days, depending on your home environment (if it’s really dry and your heating is on a lot then they may need watering more).
terrariums

Visit Eden this winter for late opening, ice skating, lantern parades, live music and craft workshops.

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Christmas recipe #6: cranberry and pistachio biscotti

December 11, 2012
Author: Tom

Winter festival at the Eden Project: 23 Nov 2012 – 6 Jan 2013

This year we’re publishing a series of Christmas recipes for the delicious biscuits and cakes that we’re serving up in the Eden Bakery over the festive period for our Time of Gifts winter festival.

Biscotti and capuccino

The sixth recipe in our series is a Christmas take on the classic Italian biscotti – perfect with a capuccino! We’ve made it more festive with the colourful, and tasty, addition of red cranberries and green pistachio nuts.

Ingredients

Makes 20

  • 75ml olive oil
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 10g vanilla extract
  • 2g almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • 2g salt
  • 5g baking powder
  • 60g dried cranberries
  • 200g pistachio nuts
  • 50g icing sugar
  • Few drops of water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts, then beat in the eggs.
  3. Combine flour, salt and baking powder; gradually stir into egg mixture.
  4. Mix in the cranberries and nuts by hand.
  5. Divide dough in half. Form two logs (measuring 30cm x 5cm) on a baking tray that has been lined with parchment. The dough may be sticky, so wet your hands with cool water to help you handle it.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until logs are light brown. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 140°C/gas mark 1.
  7. Cut logs on diagonal into 1cm-thick slices. Lay on sides on parchment-covered baking tray. Bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until dry. Leave to cool and then serve.
  8. Mix the icing sugar and water to make a soft icing and drizzle over the top.

Biscotti

Visit Eden this winter for late opening, ice skating, lantern parades, live music and craft workshops.

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How to build an insect home

December 10, 2012
Author: Hannah


At our Freaky Nature with Bugs event this half-term (28 May – 2 June 2013), get the low down on the good, the bad and the ugly of the bug world; discover which bugs are plant-friendly and which definitely aren’t!
Why not try making your own insect home – or ‘hotel’ – out of junk, to give bugs somewhere to live? They’ll repay you when they help control pests and even pollinate your plants.

What you need

You can get creative with these insect homes, as there are no rules. We’ve even got a hot water bottle, an old jumper and a pair of shoes in ours! Here are a few things you might like to use:

People building an insect home out of pallets and recycled materials

Recycled stuff

  • Wooden pallets (These are essential – try asking at industrial sites and builders’ yards for free pallets.)
  • Plastic bottles
  • Broken bricks and tiles
  • Stone chippings
  • Broken plant pots
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Drainpipes

Natural materials

  • Logs and twigs
  • Rotting wood
  • Spare rolls of turf
  • Dry leaves
  • Bark
  • Hollow plant stems
  • Straw and hay
  • Bamboo canes

How to build your insect home

  1. Choose a good spot for your insect home.
    Firstly, because most insects like cool, moist conditions, so a shady area next to a hedge or under the tree works well.
    Secondly, make sure the home has a firm base, because it will end up quite heavy.
    Thirdly, choose a spot where the insect home can remain for at least this winter.
  2. Create a structure with pallets.
    Layer old pallets on top of each other as tall as you’d like the insect home to be – ours are around eight pallets high, but five will do. Place any larger pallets at the bottom. Check the pallets don’t wobble; secure each to the one below (with string, wire or pull ties) if you need to.
Detail of an insect home, including plastic pipes and sticks

 

  1. Fill in the gaps with other materials.
    There are no rules as to how you fill the empty pallets, but here are some ideas to attract different insects:
  • Dead wood makes a great home for wood-boring beetles, such as the majestic stag beetle, and their larvae. It also supports fungi, which can break down the natural material. Centipedes and woodlice can burrow under the bark.
  • Hollow stems, canes, and holes drilled into blocks of wood are all ideal spots for solitary bees to lay their eggs. These bees help pollinate flowers (so helping your plants produce vegetables) in the garden. Because solitary bees like sunny spots, place these on the sunniest side of the insect home.
  • Stone and tiles provide lovely cool, moist conditions for frogs and newts. They might be best lower down, on the shadiest side of the insect home.
  • Hay and straw give insects a good place to burrow and hibernate.
  • Dry leaves provide homes for insects, just like leaf litter on the forest floor. Ladybirds hibernate here over winter – and they’re great for eating aphids in the garden.
  • Rotting wood and bark is where beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodlice love to be. Because woodlice and millipedes break down woody plant material, they’re an important part of your garden recycling system.
  • Corrugated cardboard rolled up inside a lemonade bottle will attract lacewings, which are really good at eating pests.

Tips on how to make an insect home with your community group

  • Discuss the best place for the insect home, taking into consideration forthcoming plans for the shared space.
  • Source pallets before you start, but then suggest that everyone brings their own junk and recycled materials to the session; give them guidelines on what sort of thing works.
  • Arrange a tidy up of your plot, so that you can use natural materials like stems and leaves.
  • Get a few stronger members of the team to put the pallets and heavy items in place, then invite everyone else, including kids, to stuff the other materials into the holes.
  • Come and visit the insect homes at the Eden Project for inspiration; they’re next to our big ‘Hive’ building at the centre of the site.

If you haven’t got time to make your own insect home but would like to give the bugs somewhere to live this winter, check out our selection on the Eden Project webshop.
Visit Freaky Nature with Bugs at Eden during the school half-term holiday (28 May – 2 June 2013), where you’ll find fun, games and some really freaky bugs!

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