Friday, 15 June 2012

We're Off!

Things at A Bushel & and Peck are going to be very quiet over the next few weeks because the Ginge and I are off to California - hooray! We fly to San Francisco tomorrow morning and will make our way down the Pacific Coast to Los Angeles to visit family, taking in as much as possible on the way down. I cannot wait to tell you all about it when we get home (or whilst we're there, if we're lucky). Until then, I hope you all have a wonderful few weeks of Summer. 

Newport Beach, 2009

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Jubilee Biscuits

Better late than never, eh? We had a lovely, if cold and wet Jubilee weekend. My sister came to stay and we are both unashamed lovers of the Royal Family, particularly the Queen, so we were virtually glued to the coverage of the celebrations. We also went to Chatsworth House for the afternoon, where we had a very British picnic outside on long tables - umbrellas and all! On Sunday afternoon, whilst watching the flotilla, we iced Jubilee-themed biscuits. I really like Nigella's recipe for iced sugar cookies and they're really easy to make, which leaves plenty of time and energy to enjoy the best part - the icing! See below for the recipe, or check Nigella's website. 

Iced Sugar Cookies (Courtesy of Nigella Lawson)


  • 90g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Half teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200g plain flour, plus more for rolling
  • Half teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and as light as a mousse, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. 
  • In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and eggs, and fold together. Add a little extra flour, if mixture too sticky.
  • Form the dough into a fat disc, wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour
  • Roll the dough to a thickness of about half a centimetre. Cut into shapes and place the biscuits a little apart on the baking sheet. 
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, by which time they will be lightly golden around the edges. Cool on a rack
  • Ice once fully cooled.  You can use either fondant or royal (I quite like royal as it sets hard before you ice the details). 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Fancie Treat

Happy Jubilee! We have had a wonderful weekend, despite the weather, but more on that later. Last Friday, I had a lovely treat; a box of cakes from Sheffield-based cupcake company, Fancie. Contained within the beautifully-wrapped box was a perfect selection of cakes; a whoopie pie, two macarons and a Jubilee-themed cupcake. Each of them was utterly delicious; crisp macaroons with gooey middles and a summery strawberry cupcake with champagne icing. My personal favourite was the lemon and white chocolate whoopie pie, which was a gorgeous combination of light sponge, rich and sweet white chocolate buttercream and tart lemon curd. Yum! I have lovely memories of eating Fancie cakes; discovering them as a welcome treat whilst a first-year student living off hall-of-residence food, being given a whole box of them as a birthday present from my housemates in my third year and the many times spent lying out in the sun in the botanical gardens or wandering along Sharrow Vale Road with cake and friends. Before I found Fancie, I had only ever eaten chic cupcakes in London, at the likes of the Primrose Hill and Hummingbird Bakeries, but Fancie more than competes with them for taste and atmosphere and the best thing is that it is in Sheffield. Fancie has three shops in Sheffield and apparently, they do cake decorating parties with cocktails. Now that's an idea. 

Friday, 1 June 2012

Of Fields and Family

If you asked me 'what is the thing you miss most about being at home?', I'd probably jump to say 'my garden'. I have so many wonderful memories of family meals, summer birthday parties and other events that all happened out there, not to mention the hours of exploration and imaginary games it provided us with as children. It looked stunning this weekend, just like something from the Chelsea Flower Show. Yes, on first thought, I would definitely say 'my garden'. After that, however, a flood of other beloved ideas rushes into my head; the open fields, the cow-parsley-flanked lanes, the melee of different architecture set in Cotswold stone, the railway crossing, the river, the tithe barn. In short, everything that has been so familiar to and loved by me my whole life. This weekend, all I did was soak all of that up with my family and my boy. Heaven. On Saturday, we walked to our local Farm Shop, where we were rewarded for our efforts by delicious burgers and cooling, summery drinks. We picked wild Bath asparagus and spotted butterflies and some of this year's fledglings taking their first tentative flights. We spent the evening wandering through some of the back streets of bath. It was a perfect evening for it; the balmy air cooled by stone walls. We had drinks outside followed by a delicious dinner at Jika Jika. On Sunday, we had lunch in the garden (the Ginge fell asleep) and then spent the afternoon wandering again, this time around my little town. There was an open gardens event, so we got to be very nosey and look around some incredible gardens, which are only very occasionally open to the public. It's amazing that, even after living somewhere for so long, you can still see very different sides to a place, just by looking at it in a different way. Each garden was very individual, but all were full of character and charm, with picture-postcard views. We cooed over their choice of planting and happily sipped glasses of Pimms and homemade lemonade. We even made time to stop for a childhood classic - the cider ice lolly. If you have never tried one, I urge you to do so! I also urge you to visit Bradford on Avon and its surrounding area as it is perfectly lovely, in my very biased opinion. I don't know about you, but I cannot wait for the Jubilee Weekend - I hope you're all planning some exciting things to do, with lots of cake and bunting thrown in for good measure. Love to all!