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March 6, 2016

Over the last few years we’ve enjoyed many food festivals and shows and began to notice the stands selling home wine tasting events but were a bit unsure what it would be like.

Then at the Foodies Festival at Tatton we had VIP tickets that included a glass of Prosecco from the Pieroth Wine stand and had a good chat with the gentlemen there. We were interested so decided to buy a gift token for my brother (you know how hard it is to buy for the man who has everything!).

You can buy for weekday of weekend, for yourself or a larger group depending on your needs. In our case there should have been four of us but my sister in law was unable to come so it was just three.

Les Barber from Pieroth Wines

Les Barber from Pieroth Wines

Our guide through the wines was Les Barber. He gave us an interesting introduction to the company, it’s vineyards and then our selection for the evening – 11 wines ranging from a light, sweet white German wine to a rich, full bodied, oaky red.

Even in our little group of three the range of favourites was huge – I am a lightweight Prosecco drinker who only enjoyed the first two, hubs preferred the middle range lighter reds that it is now popular to chill, and my brother’s choice was the richer, oaky reds at the end of the tasting.

My favourite from the wine tasting

My favourite from the wine tasting

I had supplied savoury nibbles and water and with the chat and tasting it took just over an hour and a half. Ideal early evening entertainment before we had our meal.

Having been a little unsure we all really enjoyed learning a little more about wine and although we did order a mixed case between us there was no hard sell and it wasn’t expected. The wines are dearer than our usual supermarket special offers but are all single estate, first pressing with none of the additives found in cheaper bottles.

We would definitely do it again and include other members of the family or friends too.

This post was not sponsored or requested by Pieroth Wines and was written because we enjoyed our evening!



March 3, 2016



I haven’t blogged since December. I almost thought I’d left it too long. Then this week has been such a good week and lots of interesting things with food and travel plans, walking and sewing I decided I must get back to it.

On Monday I started a new project at my craft group at Macclesfield Silk Museum. I love to sew but as my work has all been on the machine I can’t take that so decided to try knitting again which is something I never really got into when I was younger as my Mum was such an excellent knitter!

My lovely ladies are very patient showing me hints and tips as we chat away. I’ve done a baby blanket with pompom wool which is lovely – no baby to give it to at the moment but one on the way for my daughter’s best friend very soon.

The new knitting is a modern pattern for a little girl’s jacket in pink, sparkly wool – I hope I can finish it before she grows too big for it!

On Tuesday I did Mum and Dad’s shopping – if you’ve read my blog before you’ll know this means I’m having to do supermarket shopping – I’ve tried them all and still hate the whole process but generally find Tesco are the most helpful staff, shortest queues so in and out of there as fast as I can. In Sidmouth I used to like the Co-operative – I like their ethos but the one near my parents is now another store. We have a handy little one near us but it’s only tiny.

On Thursday I attended a meeting organised by a friend of mine to discuss (with other like minded people) her ideas for a cafe project inspired by The Real Junk Food Project – but more on that another time.

We’ve had my lovely daughter in law’s 30th this week and a party last night which I did a cheeseboard for. I love doing a good cheeseboard with a variety of cheeses – definitely some local, one blue, one smoked, one goat’s cheese, a strong Cheddar, a crumbly Cheshire, one with chilli for my husband and a tasty Red Leicester which is my son’s favourite. I would normally have six or seven but as this was a big gathering I chose nine.

Celery and grapes with a final decoration of some sugar mice – an idea I picked up some years ago which people enjoy.

So that was my week and I’m happy to be back here sharing it with you!


December 23, 2015

We generally only have pancakes on pancake day but occasionally if I have left over buttermilk I make these thicker pancake treats. Served with maple syrup they remind us of holidays in the States.

Yesterday I made a Bundt cake and had the necessary buttermilk so we had these for brunch today.


1 and 1/2 cups (375 mL) plain flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 and 3/4 cups (425 mL) buttermilk
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp vegetable oil


1. Mix the dry ingredients together.

2. Mix together the buttermilk and egg

3. Mix the liquid into dry ingredients then gently add in the melted butter and vanilla.

Mix the batter

Mix the batter

4. Heat the vegetable oil in a flat frying pan (I have a pancake pan) and spoon the batter on in batches of three or four.

5. As the pancakes cook little bubbles appear on the surface and this is the time to flip them over – they only take minutes to cook.

Canadian Buttermilk Pancakes

Canadian Buttermilk Pancakes

6. Serve warm with maple syrup.


November 17, 2015

I love the idea of Clandestine Cake Club – an opportunity to meet other people who like baking cake, like eating cake and like talking about cake!

Unfortunately we don’t have one in my immediate area so when I investigated the CCC – after meeting the lady who is the inspiration behind CCC, Lynn Hill, at the Manchester Cake and Bake Show in 2014 – I joined the Stockport and Manchester South groups.

I’d only managed to get to one meeting before so when I saw one advertised of the two groups joining together a bit closer to home in Bramhall I signed up straight away.

In case you don’t know you only find out about the exact venue when you’ve signed up to attend – and a couple of days before the meeting. Our venue was announced as A Sweet Thought– a sweet shop that also hosts children’s parties – and more recently some adult ones too!

The two organisers were Owen and Claire of the Manchester South group.

Clandestine Cake Club

Clandestine Cake Club

Clandestine Cake Club

Clandestine Cake Club

The great thing is you don’t have to eat a dozen slices of cake – if you remember to take an extra box you can take cake home too!

Cakes for the Trick or Treat event were my Sweet Treat (a moist chocolate cake with chocolate ganache covered in mini Oreo biscuits and buttons), Claire baked an orange and brownie Day of the Dead Cake in the shape of a skull, topped with jelly beans and other sweets and also produced a mini Red Velvet to bring along with her mum and friend Sarah. There was an iced spiders’ web on Elaine’s Red Velvet Cake, a Toffee Apple Cake from Jannette, Helen’s Sticky Ginger Cake with lime-flavoured icing, a “Smoresfest” (toasted marshmallow) cake from Jo.

Owen’s spectacular Sticky Toffee Cinder Cake featured as a November recipe in the CCC A Year of Cake book with his addition of custom decoration featuring a certain bearded judge from the Bake Off!

Picture courtesy of Owen

Picture courtesy of Owen

Stockport group are looking for a new organiser so if you live in that area and love cake don’t hesitate to contact Clandestine Cake Club.


November 5, 2015

Christmas Markets

There are a look of good foodie events around Macclesfield prior to Christmas – I’ll update as I find any more or let me know if you do! I’m sure there will be a Wilmslow, Prestbury and Middlewich market but I’ve yet to confirm dates.


The final market of the year will be on Saturday, 5th December, 9 – 1.30 pm.
More details of producers here – Rode Hall Market


In a change of routine (usually last Sunday of the month) to be the perfect shopping date for Christmas the market will be held from 10 – 3 on Sunday, 20th December. Never one to miss the Christmas market includes music and festive stalls.

If you want to get ahead with your shopping then get along to the November market on Sunday, 29th November.


Will be held for Christmas on Sunday, 13th December. This market has grown and grown in popularity and sure to be a lovely festive occasion.


This year will see the Christmas Market lining Princess Street under a row of gazebos, on Saturday 28th November and Sunday 29th November.

You will find a fantastic selection of stalls selling a range of fine foods and gifts perfect for treating your loved ones at Christmas. With mulled wine and delicious hot food to take off the chill, Knutsford will be the ideal place to do some Christmas Shopping.

At the market this year will be some fantastic street entertainment, including a Street Organ and live music performances.

The market coincides with the Christmas Light Switch on and the Crib service.

In addition on Sunday, December 6th there is the monthly Makers Market so plenty of opportunity to visit Knutsford in the run up to Christmas.


Will be held in the new marquee structure alongside the Pavilion Gardens on Thursday, 3 December 9.30 – 2.30pm and on Wednesday, 23rd December.

Renowned for selling the very best of seasonal locally-grown food, the Buxton Farmers Markets are packed with farmers, growers and producers from the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales selling their produce direct to the customer.

There will be plenty on offer, including award-winning and organic meats, pies and sausages, scrumptious cakes and desserts, chocolates, cheeses, beers, preserves, sauces, dressings and fresh vegetables.

GLEBE FARM AT ASTBURY – are having a number of events in addition to their usual shop and cafe – more details here GLEBE FARM
They are having a Christmas lights switch on event in Saturday 28th November too.

And of course there are the huge, busy, European style, lovely Manchester Christmas Markets which begin on Saturday, 14th November – we’ll definitely be there!


October 27, 2015

We’ve been to this event a number of times over the years – from the very first ones to this year’s much larger marquee the size of a football pitch. Even though it’s under cover it was nice that it was a dry day when we visited so we weren’t all steaming under canvass!

We got our entry through a Shop Cheshire competition so we were very spoilt with a VIP ticket including a glass of champagne and lunch voucher which we used on pulled pork barm cakes from Bowland Outdoor Pork. Loaded with apple sauce and stuffing that kept us going all afternoon. We’ve bought their meat through our Northern Harvest farm shop delivery for quite a few years and it’s a brand we trust for meat.

There was certainly no shortage of places to buy food to eat on the day and we saw a lot of people enjoying loaded waffles. There were over 100 food and drink suppliers on site.

We also bought a couple of Christmas presents – which I will not mention in case the people concerned read this!

For us the best part of the afternoon were the Chef’s demonstrations by Dave Mooney and Andrew Nutter – both Northern chefs using Northern produce which was great to see. Over the festival weekend there were other great chefs including Simon Rimmer. Both Dave and Andrew were entertaining, knowledgeable and mostly enthusiastic about using good quality, seasonal, local food which I really love.

Dave Mooney

Dave Mooney

Andrew Nutter

Andrew Nutter

We saw a few local food products we’d not seen before – including these amazing mushroom boxes.

Smithy Mushrooms

Smithy Mushrooms

It was another opportunity for us to talk with producers about something they are passionate about – their products – and we got another insight into how hard they have to work to publicise them.

Their next event is at Chester Racecourse next Easter weekend so we’ve already put that in the diary!


October 24, 2015
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We can’t complain about the weather – it’s been dry for weeks and here on the edge of the Peak District we’re certainly used to rain! Having said that it changed our plans to head to the Halloween trail at Tatton Park with the grandchildren and instead they came to us for a few hours of baking and playing on the Wii.

Firstly we made sausage rolls – after a deep discussion with a six year old about using ready made puff pastry hindering his chances of getting a place on the Bake Off in the future!

Baking fun

Baking fun

Then – before we prepared Cheesy Staffordshire Oatcakes for our lunch – he made these easy treats – he’s not a big eater but cheese, jam and sausages are top of his choices!


7 ounces cold butter – diced
1-1/2 cup Plain Flour
1-1/2 cup Oats
1 cup Soft Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 jar (10 To 12 Ounce) Strawberry Jam or any jam of your choice


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Fan oven. Butter a 9 x 13 or 8 x 10 baking tin.

2. Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. (I admit I do this in my Kitchen Aid it takes seconds).

Mix in the butter

Mix in the butter

3. Sprinkle half the mixture into the pan and press lightly to pack it in.

4. Spoon strawberry jam evenly over the surface, then use a knife to spread it around.

5. Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly again.

Pack lightly

Pack lightly

6. Bake until light golden brown on top, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin before cutting into bars.

Jammie Oatcake Slices

Jammie Oatcake Slices

After a busy few hours they’ve gone home now with a box of Jammie treats for later.

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