November in review – all about the Christmas prep


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!


The rise and rise of the cupcake

Have a cupcake, all week!
Have a cupcake, all week!

This had passed me by slightly, but this week apparently is National Cupcake Week. Which is definitely going to be one of my favourite weeks of the year.

Where did the cupcake come from? How did it raise itself up to be the top cakey treat? Like many trends, I would think we have to blame Sex and the City, and those trips the girls had to the Magnolia Bakery. Now every city seems to have it’s own version, yes, even near my office in Nottingham. The team at the Bluebell Bakery (obviously Magnolia’s distant cousin) delivered half a dozen scrummy ones last week.

Through Twitter, I’ve come across some fabulously talented people making these little tiny delights of scrumptiousness and artistry. If you’re in the Kent area, then you need to be heading to The Kent Cupcakery, for everything from pirates and skull & crossbones (yes, cupcakes for the boys) to pretty florals and ones for wedding anniversaries.

If you’re seriously into cupcakes, then you could head to NYC and tour a few of the famous bakeries. And even those of us who are not friends with wheat or gluten needn’t miss out, if you head to the Lower East Side and stop by Babycakes. Not to mention that they are all vegan as well, so everyone is welcome!

There again there is nothing to beat the smell of cupcakes being lifted fresh out of your own oven, then working out what on earth you are going to put on the top of them. If you’re doing them with kids then the more is more principle will apply. Check out Cupcake Wrappers for an amazing selection of cases and sprinkles and toppers, more than you could ever have thought existed! For more basic but useful stuff, then you can never beat Lakeland!

If you want some inspiration, then there are some fab books around to do just that. On my wish list you’ll find Bake Me I’m Yours…Cupcakes, Hello Cupcake (which has the cutest cover, but not sure how I would feel about eating a Yorkshire Terrier cupcake), and Planet Cake, which is not exclusively cupcakes but very inspiring.

Failing that, I shall be making a run into Peyton & Byrne at St Pancras tomorrow and hoping the 5 for £10 deal is still on!