A warming blend of Blueberries and festive spices that create a subtle, refreshing, but superb mulled drink. Of course you can mix it in with wine, but can also mix with grape juice. Good stocking filler, very reasonable at £4 from deli2dine4.
Another month gone, and we’re getting so close to Christmas now. After last month’s obsession with unusual foodstuffs like the Gummi Bear, this month has swung into full on gift searching, but at a more general level. And then the usual array of odd searches that cause me amazement, bewilderment and the odd giggle or two.
So, the top 5 things everyone had on their mind this month were as follows:
1. Foodie gifts and presents – bit obvious with the title of the blog, but a big switch, which suggests everyone is looking for ideas for the foodies in their lives. Over the month my ideas have included where to buy a whole pig, gifts for the tea and coffee lovers, gifts on a budget and what to serve if David Tennant pops round for dinner. Always best to be prepared. And if anyone wants to know, David coming to dinner could be the best gift you could send this foodie!
2. Cupcakes – you weren’t so much making your own as looking for two fabulous suppliers, Bedazzled Cupcakes for if you’re up here in the East Midlands, and The Kent Cupcakery for those in Kent. I would think. Great choices, and I would be getting a move on to get my Christmas order in quick with both, or your local provider. Would make a fabulous alternative to mince pies, or to a Christmas cake. For the adults, have a look at what Sally at The Kent Cupcakery is doing with Limoncello cupcakes! Definitely not one for the kiddies!
3. Hampers – these were definitely beginning to creep up the presents chart, all ready for the festive season. I wrote a piece on hampers back in October, and there are some specific posts on hampers from M&S, Not On the High Street and Funky Hampers. A number of you were looking at hampers you could put together yourself, and I’ll be posting some ideas around this shortly.
4. Caterpillar Cake Tins – wow, this really is the cake of the moment! Don’t get me wrong, I love a caterpillar cake as much as the next mum, but this month I will be attempting a stable with three horses heads, thanks to MGG and her flicking through of Debbie Brown’s 50 Easy Party Cakes. Photos and tales from the kitchen to follow before much longer. The cake tin is a great route though to a very quick and easy cake, so to be recommended for working parents everywhere who want to turn out a great homemade cake.
5. Alcohol free drinks – some of you are getting ready for Christmas, and providing interesting options for those who don’t, or can’t, drink. I’ve written a few times about how much I like the cordials from Belvoir Fruit Farms, and I will certainly be stocking up on Spiced Winter Berries cordial this weekend. I’ll also be testing my resolve with the Bottlegreen limited edition sparkling presses, which are very pretty, not to mention very tasty.
And for entertainment value, these are my choice searches of the month:
1. Lambrini gifts – stop asking me, I still loathe all of them. Please don’t send me one.
2. Turkey twizzlers – please, I’ve told you before, not on my watch!
3. Campbells condensed soup vol au vent filler – ah, retro food lives on for another month!
I realised when I had published yesterday’s post that there were other old foodie friends that we stopped by at the East Mids Food Festival, with one of them being Belvoir Fruit Farms. I know they are quite literally just up the road, but still we came back with 3 different bottles.
If you’ve not discovered Belvoir, which I am sure in most of the country is pronounced the French way but here is Beaver, then you really should, particularly if you want good cordials to provide adult alternatives to wine. Lets face it, Diet Coke is not a good accompaniment to most meals, and you can get bored of water.
As a great alternative to white wine then I’m very fond of the elderflower. Great with still water, even better with sparkling. There’s now a Elderflower, Gooseberry & Muscat Grape, which sounds a perfect alternative to a white wine on a summer’s day. They’re also really useful as bases for sorbets, when you need a little helping hand!
For something to accompany a beef casserole or similar, then it has to be Spiced Winter Berries. I stockpile this, as it is seasonal, but I love it. Works equally well as a hot drink or cold, you could also spice a warm mugful up a bit more with a grating of nutmeg or a swirl with a cinnamon stick. You can buy them directly from Belvoir, or most branches of Waitrose.
If you were after more traditional alcohol free versions of wine, then The Alcohol Free Shop is probably a good place to start. They have red, white, rose and sparkling wines, plus alcohol free beer and cider. They also stock the Fentimans traditional sodas, like ginger beer and dandelion & burdock. New to me earlier this year was Kingsdown Drinks, which has a great range of British drinks including not only Belvoir Cordials but also Luscombe and juices from Moors and Lawton Cross.
With the Christmas season coming up this is a good time to start thinking ahead to organise some interesting alternatives to any non drinkers you may be entertaining over the season. They’ll be grateful not to be greeted with diet coke or orange juice and lemonade. Or they can be there for those good intentions of your New Year’s resolutions!