The Cookie Decoration Station

Friday/Saturday just gone, I shared an early Christmas with Diana before she jetted off back to Spain on Sunday to celebrate Christmas and The Three Kings with her family. We indulged in Asti, Festive Sausage Rolls and exchanged presents by the tree.

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Among a number of kind and thoughtful gifts, I received a new set of Christmas themed cookie cutters! As you can imagine, as soon as I returned home, I couldn’t resist getting another few batches on! So, I did my traditional vanilla for some candy cane shapes, then swapped the vanilla for 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and a teaspoon of nutmeg for bells and stars! Soon the whole house smelt of Christmas as, from what I’ve been taught, so it should; my Grandma tells me “nutmeg just IS Christmas”, while my mother tells me with identical enthusiasm and intonation “cinnamon just IS Christmas”! To my amusement, these conversations took place on completely separate occasions, and so now cinnamon and nutmeg, to me, just are Christmas!

These batches were ready just a few hours before my sister was due to arrive at the family home for the holidays. And what better way to welcome her home for Christmas than the Cookie Decoration Station!

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We let our festive artistic sides EXPLODE through the delights of buttercream icing, edible glitter and decorative candies! And you know? I think we did a pretty good job!

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They’re joyful and triumphant!

T’is the Season!

It’s the first week of December, and in my world that means only one thing…

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TUACA PIE!

This recipe, inspired by the Hot Tuaca Apple Drink that Diana and I had in Lewes, is one I save specially for this chilly time of year! Tuaca, for those of you who don’t know, is a caramel based brandy which is delicious moreish. I start soaking raisins in it around September… They soak up the scrumptious  flavours then pump them around the pie during the cooking stage.

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Don’t worry if you don’t have 3 months free to leave fruit soaking, a week should suffice or if you only have a day just slosh a little extra liquor in the pie when you cook it. But the longer you leave them, the more they will boozily swell! Mine were near enough the size of olives when I returned to them!

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So. Raisins ready? Apron donned?

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It’s pie time.

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Lewes Bonfire- Tips and Tricks

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If you haven’t heard of Lewes Bonfire, then you’re missing out on one of the most strange and memorable nights in the British calendar.

A series of impressive, amusing, albeit highly controversial effigies are marched through the usually twee and quiet small town before being burnt at the stake in designated areas through-out. Your job as spectator is to enjoy and cheer the fire parade before charging off to see one of the many burnings followed by a Fireworks Display to rival that of Disney, Universal Studio’s and London NYE.

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It really is an incredible experience, and to my mind the last of its kind in England. I implore anyone to see it at least once in their life, but before you do take note of the following advice:

LEWES BONFIRE TIPS AND TRICKS
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Geeking Out for Operation: Cake Quest

The Monday just gone was my friend Diana’s birthday. Knowing carrot cake is her favourite, and knowing she was unfortunate enough for her birthday to land on a Monday, I couldn’t resist surprising her with a tasty treat! I’d never made a carrot cake before, and the prospect was a tad daunting, so Sunday morning I set out to find an easy recipe to build from!

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I would just like to side step, and take a moment to geek out about a free food app I’ve recently discovered that goes by the name of Yummly! Anyone who enjoys cooking and wants a world of recipes at their finger tips should download it and use it immediately! Simply search for a recipe (you can search by ingredient, country or even be specific like I have been here, or browse through the thousands they have on the home screen) and select. Want to hold onto it for future reference? Add it to your Yum List! Look through the ingredients and add anything you don’t have in the house to your built-in Shopping List. When you get to the supermarket, you have right in your pocket the exact items and measurements you require so there’s no longer the risk of finding yourself short of something halfway through cooking!

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Anyway, now I’ve got that out of my system, back to the carrot cake recipe.

I found a super easy to follow recipe via Yummly, that from the looks of it can also be found on the All Recipes UK website. I made a few tweaks, such as thickening the icing, adding a teaspoon of nutmeg, and making the vanilla a little more special, not to mention a few other tricks! So, with no further ado, here’s my Carrot Cake Recipe!

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