This is a time of year when our newsfeeds are full of new year’s resolutions and memories of the year gone by. It’s a time when we make decisions about the coming year and feel full of excitement and ideas and plans. Well, after our feverish few months running up to the festive period I actually took a couple of days to sit back and do nothing other than drink hot chocolate, watch Christmas films and snuggle on the sofa with a blanket, a cup of tea and our dog – which was great but then, as usual, I had to get up and get on with things (I am well known in our family for being rubbish at sitting still) and so I’ve been making plans for the Little Lemon for next year, tidying and sorting, and making yummy things for our Christmas guests like these Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies from Donal Skehan’s website (I discovered him recently on Pinterest and his site is full of divine-looking food). This is the best recipe for chocolate cookies I’ve ever found – they were definitely the most delicious cookies I’ve made and they didn’t last long with our guests (I might also have eaten quite a few of them!)
I discovered this delicious-looking cake on his website, made by Kate Packwood of the Wild Flour Bakery in Ireland. I’m planning to fit in a bit more baking in the new year in amongst all the fudge-making for our markets so this might be a good one to start with:
Doesn’t it look amazing? Speaking of cake, back in November we made the wedding cake for our dear friends Gemma and Ian whose wedding took place in the beautiful Tudor Barn in Burnham. It was a three-tier cake (chocolate, ginger and butterscotch) with a cream cheese icing and decorated with winter flowers and berries to match the bride’s bouquet:
Early in the new year we’ll be creating some new flavours of fudge – every now and then someone who comes to our stall will suggest a flavour that they’d like us to try out (this is how our celebrated Salted Caramel fudge came about) and quite a while ago a lady asked us about passionfruit fudge which she’d had in New Zealand. We’ve also had requests for liquorice and for pistachio; up until now we’ve not been able to track down the perfect ingredients but we’ve managed to do so, so look out for some exciting new additions to our collection!
While I’ve been writing this, George has been asleep on my lap and my legs are full of pins and needles so I’m off to make myself a salted caramel hot chocolate, but I’ll leave you with possibly the cutest selection of pics I’ve seen this year:
Happy New Year!
I know I’ve not written for a while and have been meaning to for a few weeks but I hadn’t realised until I checked yesterday that it’s actually been about six weeks since I wrote about our weekend in Monza, and the main reason is that we’ve been rushed off our feet making giant mountains of fudge which is never a bad thing! This is the Little Lemon’s first festive season so we’ve jumped in feet first and booked ourselves in for eight markets and a wedding cake, all before the middle of December. Sound crazy? Well, maybe a little bit but it’s been so much fun so far that despite not being able to move for crates of fudge in our house we’re really enjoying ourselves.
We’ve twice had friends round for the evening to help us cut and package fudge in return for dinner, which is an alternative to Tupperware evenings (although now I come to think of it, it’s probably not that different) and we’ve been busy putting together our gift boxes too. This weekend, our Canadian friend Chaps who is on tour in Paris with Cirque de Soleil came to visit us and was not deterred at all by us roping him in to help at Lighting Up The Manor (setting up a state of the art show in a ginormous tent all over the world is nothing compared with setting up the Little Lemon…)
Next weekend we’ll be at the Duck Pond market for Saturday AND Sunday; the last time we did a two-day event there was the Medieval weekend in August which was brilliant, and this time there’ll be Christmas music and mulled wine! Can’t wait. After that we’ll be back at the Little Fox for an evening market (“The Starlight Market” which just sounds lovely and Christmasy) and then another two-dayer at the Duck Pond in mid-December. Phew. Oh, and some dear friends are tying the knot at the end of this month and we’re delighted to be making their cake for them. They’ve chosen beautiful autumnal colours for the wedding – imagine deep reds, burnt oranges, winter berries and leaves and you’ll get an idea – and the decoration of the cake will complement the bride’s bouquet. We’re very excited about it!
We’re so pleased that the Little Lemon has taken off so well, and even the website is starting to garner more attention with online orders coming in and people tweeting us lovely messages about our fudge. So, come mid-December we’ll have a chance to sit down and rest our aching feet, spend time with loved ones and enjoy a few days off, but until then it’s going to be a real whirlwind of a time. A big, Christmasy whirlwind covered in tinsel and baubles, of course.
This weekend was a great but busy one for us – we spent both days at the Duck Pond market in Ruislip as part of the Medieval Festival (there was real jousting and everything). The weather was perfect, the atmosphere was great and we made some new friends among the stallholders. We also had several friends and family pop down over the weekend to see us which is always nice
Sunday was definitely the busier day and Simon was there with me to help out (and to get us a delicious steak sandwich from the Lomito stall for lunch). After we’d packed everything away at the the end of the festival and collected George from his nana’s, we grabbed a bottle of wine and headed over to friends for a relaxed evening of food, drink and conversation – a very pleasant way to end a fab weekend…
This one was almost a last-minute pic because I’ve spent the day at the Duck Pond market with the Little Lemon and it was so busy that I hardly sat down all day! (Brilliant, but my back and knees were slightly less enthused). We’ve been going to the Duck Pond markets since February and we’re really enjoying them, and today was the start of a two-day event which is much bigger than the usual, and one we’ve never done before. This was also the first one I’ve done on my own (Beloved works on a Saturday) and actually, it was fine (I had a big flask of tea. What more could you need?) Towards the end, Ollie and Chris popped in and held the fort for me to take a quick break, and then helped me to pack everything away, along with my mum. Four pairs of hands and a trolley are much better than one pair of hands and a trolley so I’m very grateful.
Afterwards, I headed round to my mum’s for another cuppa and to collect George, and ended up staying for dinner. Then I remembered the challenge and thankfully there were clouds! Of course, that shouldn’t have come as a surprise – good ol’ Blighty is very obliging when it comes to clouds…
Last month at one of our markets, a very nice lady asked us if we made salted caramel fudge which got me thinking (we always like to try out new flavours in our fudge recipes) so we decided to have a go at creating one. I found a great recipe for salted caramel sauce (thanks Nigella) and I have to admit that it’s really easy to make (shhh don’t tell everyone…). With a couple of experiments and a change in the salt we were using (flakes work much better than normal sea salt), we’ve now got a lovely salted caramel fudge which proved a hit at last weekend’s Duck Pond market.
Because Nigella’s salted caramel sauce is so delicious, I began to wonder what else we could use it in. The first (and most obvious) thing that came to mind was salted caramel cupcakes – my mum had asked me to make some cakes for her – and all it took was a simple cupcake recipe with the caramel lightly stirred in, a cream cheese frosting and a load of caramel sauce drizzled on top (according to my husband ‘a load’ wasn’t quite enough – the caramel sauce was that good! Again, thanks Nigella).
Salted caramel cupcakes and salted caramel fudge
I’ve spent a little bit of time today looking for different salted caramel recipes and so far I’ve found:
Salted caramel hot chocolate (going to try this one tonight using a bit of caramel sauce I’ve got left over)
Chocolate fondant with salted caramel brittle and caramel sauce (yum)
Salted caramel brownies
Salted caramel brandy butter (this one sounds perfect for Christmas, poured over Christmas puddings or home-made mince pies)
Something tells me that this love affair might last for some time…
This time a week ago we were packing all our camping gubbins and several picnics in the car and high tailing it off up to Northamptonshire for a weekend of fast cars and festival, and what a flipping brilliant weekend it was! The weekend was a birthday present for my brother’s 40th – he’s a Motorsport fan and has been to lots of car events including Le Mans, but never an F1 race. It’s the first time I’ve been to Silverstone and we’d booked our tickets back in February. Hubby and I were lucky enough to go to the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai a couple of years ago when we were travelling and that was my first experience of a GP (and the one that hooked me into Formula 1). Great though it was, there was actually nothing going on at the circuit apart from the race and the Chinese weren’t hugely welcoming.
The campsite at Silverstone
Silverstone was a completely different story: our campsite had a pub and a steak house (!) as well as a couple of big stages for live bands and comedians, and different food stalls. The atmosphere was brilliant – everyone was busy having a marvellous time and the circuit was the same, with more food stands, restaurants and another huge stage with entertainment and jolly times to be had almost constantly (Saturday night on the big stage was the legend that is Billy Ocean. I know. It was brilliant!)
I’ve never been to an actual festival (was probably not actually cool enough) but this was pretty much what I imagined a festival would be like, complete with putting up a tent in the rain (good ol’ Blighty) and getting covered in mud (hurrah for the wellies!) and getting sunburnt when the weather took a turn for the best (not me this time but there were an awful lot of very pink people).
Full English fry-up to set us up for the day
Before the race on Sunday, we were treated to the Red Arrows and I was once again reminded why I love being British – there are some things we do really rather well and these guys are incredible.
The race itself was brilliant and even though you see less of it when you’re there than you do watching it from your sofa, it was so much more exciting. Afterwards, they opened up the track and we all piled onto it to get up close to the winners’ podium (something else we weren’t allowed to do in Shanghai), and then we spent the rest of the evening kicking back in the sunshine in front of the stage with a beer to a few more bands and the drivers coming out to say hello. We had a fab time (so did my brother) and we’re already planning to go back again next year – better start saving the pennies!