The Grain Chain

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The best things in life really are free

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

A recent survey of more than 2,000 people across the UK found that the simple things in life really are the best.  Laughter was rated the most important pleasure – and it doesn’t cost a penny.  Sharing great food with good friends closely followed with 21 per cent of people describing it as their favourite pleasure.

Here at we aim to please.  Our site is full of easy-to-follow, easy-to-cook and great-to-share recipes for all occassions.  From breakfast and brunch items such as pancakes and summer berry compote; perfect party food including cheese straws and fairy cakes, main meals like the sensational spicy bean burger with coleslaw and delicious desserts like sweet choux buns also offer a range of curriculum linked, free resources which aim to teach children where their food comes from, the nutritional value of grain-based food and the skills required to cook with them. 

Resources are linked to the curriculum in all areas of the UK; and are easily accessible by both subject (geography, design & technology, and science, mathematics etc) and by age range.  Take a look today!

Rainfall and wheat crops

Friday, May 13th, 2011

While most of us are enjoying the glorious temperate weather, farmers are hoping for rain; and lots of it.  Trade magazine The Grocer warned: “Supplies of British fruit and vegetables, as well as grains, such as wheat, could come under serious pressure if the dry spell continues.”

Learn more about the growing cycle of wheat including an investigation of  average monthly rainfall and sunshine throughout the year via’s Farming Our Food activity sheet.  It was designed for 7-11 year olds though with a word version available it can be easily adapted to suit younger or older children also.

Global warming blamed for rising food prices

Friday, May 6th, 2011

An article in the Guardian on Friday 6 May highlighted a new study, published in the journal Science, which reported that rising temperatures are responsible for reduced crop yields of all major producer nations between 1980 and 2008. has developed a podcast looking at various factors, including supply and demand, that influence the cost of the food on our supermarket shelves.  The podcast can be accessed here.

St Patrick’s Day – soda bread and raising agents

Monday, March 14th, 2011

20110314 soda breadAs St Patrick’s Day approaches why not take this opportunity to look at a traditional Irish favourite – soda bread – and introduce your class to the concept and role of raising agents in baking.  Traditional bread of course uses yeast to create the carbon dioxide bubbles that make the dough rise.  Soda bread uses bicarbonate of soda.  Visit our section on the Science of Baking to find out more.  We also have a recipe plus accompanying video for you to make your own loaf of delicious soda bread.

Shrove Tuesday / Pancake Day / Mardi Gras; and Bread Bread Bread

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Shrove Tuesday AKA Pancake Day AKA Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday 8 March 2011 and is the last day before Lent.  Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up – so Shrove Tuesday is the final chance to indulge oneself and eat foods that aren’t allowed during Lent.  Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter and eggs which were forbidden.  Today Christians traditionally give up one thing, such as chocolate, for Lent.  In days gone by there was a whole week of celebrations and in other parts of the world the celebrations are still very extravagant.  The carnivals held in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro originate from the celebrations preceding Lent.  In fact the word carnival comes from the Latin meaning ‘removal of meat’ which refers to the early Christian Lentern diet.  

Why don’t you make a mask to wear in the Mardi Gras festival and/or  try out one of our pancake recipes.  The savoury and sweet mini pancake recipes even have an accompanying video. 

Savoury Pancakes

Sweet Mini Pancakes

Pancakes with Summer Berry Compote 


20110228 LeekStill related to feasts, 1 March is St David’s Day – the feast day of St David the patron saint of Wales.  St David’s Day is commemorated by the wearing of daffodils or leeks.  Both plants are traditionally regarded as national emblems.  There are many explanations of how the leek came to be adopted as the national emblem of Wales.  One is that St David advised the Welsh, on the eve of battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps to distinguish friend from the enemy.  Shakespeare mentions in Henry V, that the Welsh archers wore leeks at the battle of Agincourt in 1415.  


Try our crispy cheese and leek sausages.  They are a tasty and nutritious meat-free option for a main meal or snack.  They can even be frozen before cooking.  


After all this cooking why not visit our section Making and Baking: The Science and Technology  and discover what makes bread rise; how making bread at home differs from commercial bread making; some of the different types of bread available; and what the symbols and numbers on the label of a loaf of bread mean.


And don’t forget, before you begin any cooking session please make sure you are familiar with the health and safety checklist.

News time!

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

The start of a new school term can be slow to kick off, as children have got out of the school time routine, but if there is one way to ease them back in gently, it is by getting them to report on their news from the Christmas holidays.


There are lots of questions that you could ask your class and visual prompts that you could use to jog their memories, and as Christmas is the time of year when children may try new foods or travel to see friends or relatives, why not focus on this?


Start by engaging your class in a discussion about what they did during the holidays. You could use the following questions to get you started:


-          What did you have to eat on Christmas day? Did you try any foods that you hadn’t tasted before? What did you think of them? What was your favourite Christmas food and why?

-          Did you cook anything with your parents/guardians? What did you cook?

-          What was your least favourite Christmas food? What do you think you could do to it to make it more tasty?

-          Have you eaten any of the following over the holidays? – cheese straws, mince pies, Christmas pudding, sausage rolls, bread sauce, turkey sandwiches, crackers. What do all of these foods have in common? They are all made using flour.


Children should then find it easier to write their news as you’ve reminded them about what they’ve got up to!


Do you know…the origins of many popular foods which are eaten over the festive season?


Mince pies: Centuries ago the mince pie would have been a large oblong shaped dish filled with various meats such as chicken, partridge, pigeon, hare, capon, pheasant, rabbits, ox or lamb tongue, liver, and mutton meat mixed with fruits, peels and sugar. It was originally known as a Christmas Pye. It was only after the medieval era that meat was gradually replaced with the spices that the Crusaders brought with them. It is also thought that around this time, the pies changes to a smaller, round shape.

Bread Sauce: Bread sauce was first made in the medieval times when bread was plentiful. Flour was not historically used to thicken sauces so stale bread was the perfect alternative.

Christmas pudding: The Christmas pudding started life as a 14th Century ‘porridge’ called frumenty. This combined boiled beef and mutton with fruits, wines and spices and was more like a soup than a pudding. By 1595 it had evolved into the Christmas dessert that we eat today. It was thickened using eggs and bread crumbs, more dried fruit was included and the addition of ale and spirits gave it much more flavor. The puritans banned it in 1664 as a ‘lewd custom’. It was only in 1714 when George I developed a liking for plum pudding that it was re-introduced.

Cheese straws and sausage rolls: The origins of both of these flour based foods are not known but although they are now associated with the festive period, they were traditionally made at the start of Lent to use up any leftover meat and cheese before the fast.

Happy Christmas from the team

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Schools will be breaking up for Christmas soon and we realise that you might have more pressing matters on your mind… such as christmas shopping, the sudden realisation that the turkey won’t quite fit in your oven and how you’ll cope when your mother-in-law comes to stay for a couple of days.

That’s why we’ll be taking a short break over the festive period. But dont fear, we’ll be back after Christmas to help you with your lesson planning for the new year.

So for those of you who celebrate Christmas, have a good one! – not just for food technology teachers

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Ready made, curriculum referenced lesson plans covering not only food technology but also science, ICT, Geography, PSHE and technology!

The Grain Chain isn’t just a resource for Food Technology or Home Economics teachers. We have lesson plans suitable for KS3 and KS4 science teachers, technology teachers, PSHE teachers, geography teachers and ICT teachers!

Furthermore, all of our secondary school lesson plans are curriculum AND skill referenced, so you can be sure that you are teaching your class the right topics whilst improving their key abilities.

And it doesn’t stop there. Primary school teachers can also get in on the action, with drama and art based activities, fun to make recipes and easy science projects.

We’ve highlighted one of our lesson plans per age group below. All you need to do is click on the link, print out the materials and put your feet up and enjoy the bank holiday. Remember – you can find loads more lesson plans by clicking on whichever note section is relevant to the age group of your class.

KS1 lesson plan suggestion

Growing wheat seeds

This will give children a basic understanding of what seeds need in order to grow. It will also make them aware that grain produces flour which can be made into everyday foods such as bread and breakfast cereals.

Children get a chance to be a farmer and plant their own seeds. Discuss where the seeds should be kept in the classroom and explain that they will need to watch them grow over a few days. Ask them for their ideas on what might happen to the seeds. What will they need to remember to do each day?

This can then be followed up a week later with our second growing wheat seeds lesson plan, which will encourage your class to think about what has happened to their seeds and why.

KS2 lesson plan suggestion

A healthy, balanced diet

eat well plateAt the end of this lesson, children should be able to name all of the five food groups. They should be aware that different nutrients have different functions which help to maintain a healthy body.

Using the printable resources, run through the Eat Well plate, explaining about the different food groups and what our bodies need them for. Ask pupils to draw and label a diagram of their own creation that illustrates how much of each food group should be eaten daily to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Bring the class back together and share some of their work, recapping the main points.

KS3 lesson plan suggestion

Making and Baking: Technology

This lesson plan will enable students to understand and be able to describe the steps involved in baking bread on an industrial scale. It will also help them develop their survey skills and knowledge of procedures.

Work through the “technology of baking” worksheet and get students to draw a flow chart of the industrial process of baking bread. Students could also look at labels from wrapped bread. Do the labels meet the requirements of information to be given to customers? Do they give any other information? Is this extra information useful? Students could then carry out a survey in the class of the types of bread eaten and preferred. Results of the survey could be presented graphically.

KS4 lesson plan suggestion

ICT in the flour and grain industry

This lesson plan should enable students to develop an understanding of the overall picture of ICT in the flour and grain industry. It will also build on their presentation skills.

Organise the class into groups, so that each group contains four students. Each student should research one of the following topics:

  • ICT in farming and storage;
  • ICT in milling;
  • ICT in baking;
  • ICT in retailing and marketing (process controls).

Students should then report their findings back to their groups. Each group will then prepare a presentation or report to share with the class. A class discussion on the use of ICT in the industry should then take place.

Don’t forget that we have lots more ready-made lesson plans in the teachers section of the website.

Inspire! competition – deadline extended!

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Deadline for Inspire! competition extended…

You now have even more time to enter our Inspire! competition to win £1500 for your school. Given the current situation with the ash cloud, which is currently sitting over the UK and much of Europe, we realise that some teachers may find it hard to get their entries to us by the original closing date of 20 April. We’ve therefore extended the deadline to Wednesday 5 May. Visit for more information.

Pancakes, farmhouse breakfast and a chance to win £1500!

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Shrove Tuesday – better known as Pancake day – is just around the corner on 16 February.  In origin, Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French) is a traditional pre-Lent feast and is now carnival time around the world, most famously in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Why not check out some of the pancake recipes on the site?  They can be sweet or savoury, a quick snack or a complete meal and are always fun to make. Click on the recipes below to find out how to make them:

Sweet mini pancakes

Savoury pancakes

Breakfast pancakes with compote

Have you entered the Inspire! Competition yet?  It is open to all teachers of students aged 11-14 years across the UK. Teachers can enter by submitting original classroom ideas, resources and lesson plans; and there’s a great prize of £1500 for the winning entry.  The closing date is 20 April, so there’s still time to enter.  Find out more at

Farmhouse breakfast week ran from 24 to 30 January, with lots of publicity about the benefits of a healthy breakfast to start your day, and hundreds of events celebrating the great variety of breakfast foods.  If you missed it don’t worry, there’s lots of breakfast-related ideas on the site which you can use throughout the year.