Friday, 30 November 2012

Oooh a tea parcel.

The first of the tea swap packages has arrived! I got home and a little parcel was waiting for me. I love the fact it has foreign stamps and a customs declaration form. Very exciting!

This one was from Jadyn in Canada, Niagara Falls to be precise. And has some very yummy looking tea inside.

Not long till advent now, i cannot wait to try these lovely looking weird and wonderful teas!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Christmas treasure hunt.

I have just had the best weekend of fun, jolly times and merriment. Yes i have. I know that it's now Thursday so the weekend was a while ago but i have just gotten back home!

I went up to London to see my friends and take part in our first festive treasure hunt. And the general consensus is that we will now make it an annual affair!

We all met up at Covent Garden and headed to the nearest pub for some preparatory mulled wine. Whilst sat around supping the delightful hot booze the rules of the hunt were set out. This basically involved one member of the group wearing a santa hat and another elf ears at all times!

We were each given a copy of list of things we had to find and had two hours to get as many of the ten pages of things as we could. And off we went!

My team were pretty single minded, we wanted to win!

Unfortunately (or fortunately as it was pretty damn funny and a lot of fun) a lot of the things involved us making idiots of ourselves and taking photos. And help from various shopkeepers/ bar staff/ people on the street was essential.

The above photo of one of our team (me) reading the T'was The Night Before Christmas. This was one of the things we had to find. Done. You might even notice that we also have a book in shot called 'The Night Before The Night Before Christmas' as we thought this might get us extra points. It didn't.

This photo is my favorite and is thanks to the security staff at Tesco's who not only let us into their booth to take a photo of one of the group (Abby) on CCTV in elf ears but even redirected the security cameras for us and got her to pose in the right place for the best shot!

A photo of the whole group calling santa!

A poor gingerbread man having his head bitten off!

One of the group (Laura) asking a policeman the way to the north pole. He was a very jolly man and was happy for us to take photos with him.

A taxi driver who kindly agreed to be photographed wearing one of our Christmas hats! We gave him a mince pie to say thank you.

Not all of the questions were photo based, there was also a lot of Christmas trivia, such as: Which European city donates a Christmas tree to London every year (the answer is Oslo). Thank god for the power of the iphone!

Once our time was up we headed to the crypt at St Martins in Leicester Square for some well deserved cake.

And lovely little elf spend a lot of time studiously adding up the scores and it turned team won! Hooray!

But most importantly (she says knowing how competitive i can be!) we had heaps of fun and got to hang out together. We then got even more festive with an afternoon spent at the Christmas market on South Bank. All in all the perfect day!

I'd just like to say a massive thank you to my amazing friend Antonia for organising the whole thing. A LOT of work went into it and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Christmas cake is thirsty!

Oooh time to feed the cake. I have decided to break with tradition and feed it a strange almond liqueur.

 It's looking yummy!

Turkish Delight!

Last week i was at work and i was in a creative type mood. The type of mood where you have to try to make something new.

Since we were a little bit quiet that afternoon i decided that i was going to try my hand at making Turkish delight.

Not sure why i decided upon Turkish delight, however as soon as i saw the recipe in one of the Leon books i knew i had to give it a go!

You start by heating up a sugar, water and a small amount of cream of tartar in a pan. The idea is to get it boiling quite ferociously to make a clear sugar syrup.


While this is happening you mix together icing sugar and cornflour in a bowl. I was surprised that this recipe didn't call for gelatine as i would have thought that was essential to get the right consistency. However this is achieved with the liberal amounts of cornflour.


This mixture is then whisked (to remove any lumps) and then heated in another pan for some time till it thickens and goes almost translucent. 


The Sugar syrup is then added to the cornflour mixture along with a couple of tablespoons of rosewater syrup and a touch of food colouring.

The mixture is then poured into a lined tin and left till it is completely cooled.

It is then turned out and cut into squares that are rolled in a mixture of icing sugar and cornflour. You have to be very liberal with this is the Turkish delight is quite wet and seems to devour it's dusting!

And there you have it, some rather tasty rose Turkish delight. You could easily adapt it and try other flavours such as lemon if you wished. I was very pleased with it, although to be honest if i was to make it again i think i would try another recipe that did use gelatine, not because it didn't hold it's shape but because i think it would be slightly less wet.

 However it was still yummy!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Advent tea swap!

Yay it's time for parcels and tea and merriment. It's time for the advent tea swap!

If you have been reading my blog for a while (well, if you were reading it this time last year) you will know that i love the advent tea swap.

The swap is run by a wonderful Brit living in Texas called Astrid. She has a brilliant blog here.

The idea is that you parcel up four little presents of tea and send them to four other people taking part in the swap. They each also send a parcel to you and each parcel contains five teabags. You then keep five teabags for yourself and end up with a bag for every day of advent plus Christmas day itself.

The fab part is that you don't know what you're gonna get and you get four parcels through the post! I am a big fan.

So i put together my four parcels ready to send off to different parts of the world.

I put the teabags in a handmade envelope with a few other goodies and then also sent a handwritten card wishing each person a Merry Christmas!

I am sending tea to Hollywood, Texas and Canada amongst other places. I hope they like them.

Oooh i wonder what i get back? I will of course show you what drops through my letterbox as it arrives. It's very exciting!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Christmas Cake.

Well now, Bear and Bug is really getting into the Christmas spirit!

As i mentioned in my last post i did indeed bake my Christmas cake a few days ago. And even if i do say so myself, it's by far my best yet!

I use a Dan Lepard recipe, as it really is the best recipe i have found. It's really dense and moist and gooey. All the good things you want a Christmas cake to be!

You start off by boiling down the Guinness which is then taken off the heat to which the sugar and treacle added.

While this is happening you are heating the butter in a separate pan. You want the bottom of the butter to go golden brown.

The butter is then added to the Guinness treacle mixture.


In a separate mixing bowl to mix together all the dried fruit and the orange zest.

Which then is covered in the lovely gooey treacle mixture! This smells amazing.


I then added the spices. The recipe says to add them to the butter when you are heating it, but i forgot to do this. Opps! I don't think it effected the cake at all though. I also double the amount of ginger and cinnamon (and the cherries as well) as i especially like these things, always good to have a bit of a play with a recipe i always think!

Strong wholewheat bread flower is then added to the mixture (although not nearly as much as you think i cake would need, this cake really is mainly fruit. Yum!).

I then triple lined the cake tin. This is to stop the cake from burning as the cooking time is really long. Really really long.

In the end the cake was in the oven for nearly two hours! But it was worth it as a long slow cook keeps the cake moist. Plus the house smelt amazing. Now i just have to decide how to decorate it!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Christmas cards!

I am naughty. I'd been trying to find time for a few weeks or so make some Christmas cards and had so far done nothing.

I bought all the materials i needed as i thought this would push me in the right direction. But still no cards were made.

I was getting rather annoyed at myself. So yesterday i sat down and made some. It's not that i didn't want to make the cards, it's just that i've been really rather busy of late. Boo indeed.

However, i have now started making this years cards. And i think they are fab! This has also given me the push i need to get my Christmas house in order (and so i am currently baking my Christmas cake as i type this....more on that in my next post!).

I have used genuine vintage Christmas postage stamps to make my cards, the earliest one i found was dated 1939! Incredible.

So, what do you think? Do you like them? I hope you do! If you would like to purchase some of these unique cards please feel free to get in touch. Alternatively you could just pop into Manna Tearooms if you happen to be round Portsmouth way as they will also be stocked there. Hooray!