When was the last time that you went offline? For me, it’s probably been years. Ever since I got my first smart phone I’ve not had a day away from the internet. Well, when you’re carrying a computer in your pocket at all times, and your job is based online, and your friends contact you via social media, how can you ever really get away from it? It used to be easy to take a break: on a Friday night you’d simply shut down your computer and relax for the weekend. There was no social media to tempt you to stay up late scrolling through posts, and no-one expected a reply to their emails until Monday morning. In fact, no-one really sent those Saturday evening emails, because they too had closed down their computer at the end of the working week.After months of hard work, I knew I needed a break so hubby and I went away for a relaxing weekend away in Badger cottage in Sweffling. It’s a charming little barn that’s been converted into a super-cosy two bedroom holiday home in the beautiful Suffolk countryside. Arriving on Thursday evening, were delighted to find original beams and character galore, a deep reclaimed roll-top bath, and a big log fire. Everything we needed was right there at hand in the well-stocked kitchen, bathroom and living room. The stack of firewood and flickering woodburner let us know that we were in for a warm and cosy weekend. Candles in every room offered a calming sense of hygge and we felt completely at home the minute we stepped inside the door.Taking time away from the internet was partially self-inflicted and partially down my GiffGaff phone not being able to get any signal. I wanted to make the most of my time away from home, of course I did, but I’d still brought along my iPad and phone in case I ‘needed’ to get online. After an inital ‘why isn’t it working?!’ frustration, I asked myself why I was even trying to get online anyway. I realised that just knowing that I could get online if I wanted to was a bit of a comfort blanket. And I also realised that I’m a grown-up and don’t need comfort blankets anymore! And if I could have logged on, it’s likely that I would have wasted the whole weekend scrolling through Instagram or saving things on Pinterest (I convince myself it’s okay to spend time doing this because it’s ‘research’). So thank goodness that I couldn’t find that 3G signal anywhere, and thank goodness that I didn’t go searching for a wifi hotspot. Because it turns out that I had the best few (internet-free) days ever… Continue reading “No wifi for the weekend” »
Of course, I couldn’t allow myself to get much closer to Christmas without posting a mince pie recipe for Pieday Friday and I’ve been baking a selection of mince pies this week, trying out different recipes and pastry effects. There’s no rules for mince pies and the prettier you can make them, the better. So try cutting out star shapes in your pastry for the pie lids, or make a lattice over the top, sprinkle with Demerara sugar for a sparkly effect – or even use edible glitter! I have tried rolling up pinwheel twirls of mince pie – simply roll out your pastry, spread mincemeat all over it and roll it up before cutting into discs and baking – this makes a snazzy small danish-pastry style mince pie.
I love a dusting of icing sugar, and you could even use a snowflake stencil on the pie lids to mask off an area when you’re shaking your icing sugar on. Here’s a few snaps from my baking session when I had a go at the ‘traditional’ mince pie – a small pie case, filled with mincemeat and topped with a full lid. Use these ingredients to make a batch of 12 small mince pies: 350g (12 oz) mincemeat, 225g (8 oz) plain flour, 2 tablespoons caster sugar, 125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter, 1 large egg, beaten and a little milk to glaze and sugar to sprinkle.
I know some people aren’t keen on mince pies and I’m someone who can easily resist a shop-bought pie (too crusty) or a puff-pastry version (too flaky) but I have no will-power against a freshly baked homemade mince pie at Christmas (just right..!). So this is the weekend to get baking and make double portions so that you can freeze a trayful of mince pies and pop a couple in the oven whenever visitors arrive over the festive period – you’ll have a lovely christmassy smelling house and will look like a domestic goddess! Here’s the finished article beautifully presented on my new Dunelm Mill festive cake stand from their Holly and Berries collection – with a few chocolate snowballs thrown in for good measure!
- Pieday Friday Recipe – Butternut Squash & Stilton Soup (cassiefairy.com)
- Pieday Friday – Turmeric chicken pie recipe (cassiefairy.com)
- Afternoon tea recipe – fruity banana cake (Cassiefairy)
- Carrot and Corriander Soup Recipe (Cassiefairy)