November in review – all about the Christmas prep

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An alternative to the caterpillar cake

 

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!

4. Asda Vin du Soleil – really, once in this lifetime was enough!

5. Comedy photo aprons – just picture your face on Christmas morning if this one is coming your way!

Looking forward to seeing what comes out top of the pops on the foodie present front come Christmas time. Here’s hoping it’s both tasty, and tasteful for all our sakes!

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The Saturday Session – recipes for local food greatness

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We’ve just made it back from the East Midlands Food & Drink Festival, being held this weekend at Brooksby Hall near Melton Mowbray. Lets face it, when the local foodstuffs are pork pies and Stilton, you know you’re going to be onto a good thing!

Melton Mowbray, ruler of rural food

This is the third time we’ve been, and I would say this year was the quietest one we’ve been to. It’s also lacking the big name celeb chefs of previous years. No disrespect to Alan Coxon, but he’s not exactly James Martin or Lesley Walters.  That said, there were still some great producers here, and we’ve come home with some great stuff for dinner tonight and beyond.

So, here’s what caught our eye, our purses and our tastebuds:

1. Leicestershire Food & Drink by Rupert Matthews – had a good chat with Rupert about his book, newly published, and the calorific dangers of living in this area. His London 3 piece suit didn’t last long in the onslaught of pork pies and Stilton, all in the name of research of course!

2. Bedazzled Cupcakes- these were MGG’s pudding of choice from everything at the show. She went for the fudge one, I’d have been tempted by the Oreo one.(UPDATE, sadly no longer trading). I’m always happy to see Peppercorn Catering though, as they always have a good, and tasty, selection of gluten and dairy free options for free indulgence by the sensitive amongst us.

3. The Tiffin Food Company- from award winning restaurant The Tiffin in Leicester come some very tasty Indian ready meals, sauces and marinades. We sampled the Chicken Bhuna, which was a little on the hot side for me (I’m a wimp). Looking forward to trying the Classic Curry sauce tonight. (UPDATE, sadly no longer trading)

4. Bobby’s– the legendary Leicester Indian vegetarian restaurant is also providing part of tonight’s dinner. Thrilled to see them there dishing out a buffet of great veggie food. We’ll be having Chilli Paneer, plus a veg samosa and onion bahji. To our shame and regret, we haven’t yet eaten at the restaurant (come on, we’ve only been here 6 years) but thought we should put that right any time soon.

5. W E Botterill & Son– these are just up the road from us, and when we have turkey at Christmas then we order it from them. Which meant we stood there debating what we’re having for Christmas dinner this year! And goose is sort of edging in there! Don’t go to Croxton in the first week in December though. An eerie silence will lay over the village, as all the geese will be hanging upside down by then.

6. Fire Foods – funnily enough had connected with Fire Foods on Twitter this morning. We have arrived home with a jar of the Crunchy Chilli Peanut Butter, which you think is just like normal peanut butter…and then the heat kicks in! Perfect instant satay, or for something a bit different on your toast in the morning.  I didn’t love the marmalade, it was just too much heat for me but, as I say, I’m a wimp.

Lots of other favourites from the area there too, including Brockelbys, Mrs King’s Pork Pies, Dickinson & Morris, Riverford and Picks, all providing great meat eating opportunities! So, if you’re in the area and short of something to do, not to mention need to do your weekly shop or just want to support proper food producers, then I would say it was £6 well spent. And kids get in free, though will probably cost you a lot in grazing money!

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