Monday, 24 May 2010

Memories of childhood

We've just run a competition with The Secret Seed Society who promote growing vegetables and cooking for young children. We asked you to tell us about your early memories of growing and cooking. Here are some of the responses.
Grandparents are often the people who get little ones started. Sarah told us
"My earliest childhood memories of gardening were of my school summer holidays spent in Lancashire with my green-fingered grandparents. They rented a beautiful allotment from a local farmer and grew every traditional vegetable going. I would help my Grandmother pick peas and would pop open the pods and eat the the jade green beads raw. I remember thinking that they were the best tasting peas in the whole world."
Elena also learnt from her grandparents:
"My first childhood memory of growing things was digging up potatos in my grandmother's garden, and eating peas from the pod. I'm now doing the same for my daughter!"
But sometimes Dads are involved too. I remember my late father getting me started with a packet of Clarkia seeds and my own little strip at the bottom of the garden. Seeing them grow and then enjoying all the flowers made me feel really proud and with a huge sense of achievement. 

Likewise Elizabeth:
"My earliest memory of growing veggies is of myself and my twin brother helping our dad on his allotment. I remember helping to dig up potatoes, dad would put the fork into the ground and turn it over and me and my brother would scrabble around hunting out the spuds in the earth. I remember he had a funny little skinny shed on his plot which looked like a sentry box you see outside Buckingham palace! It was crammed full of tools and plant pots, and we'd huddle inside when it rained. Happy days"
Mustard and cress is a popular first seed for tinies to try. Karen remembers:
"My best memory of growing seeds as a child was decorating egg shells with faces and growing cress in them. I remember being amazed at being able to see the growth in seedlings from day to day and it kept me interested and the best bit was being able to eat them too."
As for cooking, again grandparents and jam tarts are often the catalysts to a cookery passion. My Mum made them regularly and let me help by spooning in the jam and then making my own freeform shapes with the pastry off-cuts. Here's Heather:
"My earliest memory of cooking is with my nan. We didn't make anything amazing, just jam tarts, but it was still ever so much fun! She is the reason why I love cooking now."
The Secret Seed Society is a great way to encourage kids to get into cooking and gardening. They produce storybook and seed packs. Each pack costs £5.50 but Make it and Mend it members get a 10% discount - just enter Cook it as the discount code at the checkout. >> Buy here

Right now they're running a competition for grownups to win a dinner for two by coming up with some interesting celebrity seed characters - Tina Turnip and Parsley Bussell among them. >> You can enter here

Thursday, 6 May 2010

How much power do your home appliances use?

I just found this really interesting page from GE (General Electric). You can find out how much electricity your home appliances are guzzling and even check out the annual costs (in US dollars). If you are from the US it's even more useful as you can compare costs by state.
>> GE Home Appliance Energy Use

For us Europeans it's still very helpful from a comparative point of view. The annual cost of using a hairdryer is more than curling irons or a vacuum cleaner. As I expected the tumble dryer is way up there in terms of electricity consumption and annual running costs. What did surprise me though was how costly fridges and freezers are, behind only furnaces (boilers?), water heaters and the deadliest of all - air conditioners. Other high consumers are plasma TVs, ovens and dishwashers

By clicking the menu the little appliance visuals rearrange themselves so you can check wattage, gas use, cost per year and kilowatt yield. I was also very surprised at the cost differential by state - a staggering annual cost difference of almost $2500 if you used all the appliances and live in New York ($4134) rather than Washington state ($1720). Go have a play!
Related links:
>>  Blog Action Day - Hang your Washing out!