Archive for ‘village life’

April 28, 2016

Biggest baking challenge to date

So far my baking journey has taken me from trying to make gluten free cheese muffins to orange polenta cake to French Macarons. I’ve perfected gluten and dairy free pastry, made many jars of dairy free lemon curd and eaten far too many leftover biscuits.
I’ve made things I never thought I would and not always been successful but have enjoyed the journey and enjoyed sharing my successes with my customers and my failures with the food recycling bin.
The Countrymarket is a unique market place, with an average of 40 customers a week most of which are over 70, I was concerned that there would be no takers for my creations. Gradually more & more people bought my bakes regardless whether they needed it to be dairy or gluten free. Dairy free doesn’t make it taste bad, for some of us dairy free is not a choice but a necessity. I recently watched a programme about shoppers choosing to buy gluten free foods because they believed it be healthier, tosh, manufacturers brain wash us and charge the earth for products that have no health benefits. I don’t understand how ‘gluten free’ oats can cost so much when the cheapest oats are gluten free anyway, if only others would take the time to read labels and realise the harsh power of advertising. I have been reading labels for over 30 years as I’m sure other sufferers do, I won’t eat food at a buffet unless the person who has prepared it is there to ask what went into it. I know what it’s like to be denied puddings, or offered a banana as dessert when everyone else is tucking into a hot pudding with lashings of custard. I’m trying to make life happier for those who have gone without the joys of puddings and biscuits.
I love being part of the market community and have made some great new friends which when you are self employed and work from home is really important.
Our village hall has been undergoing much needed improvements to cater for our ever growing community and the country market was asked to provide canapés for the opening of our new library extension. Between 6 of us bakers we will be baking an assortment of savoury and sweet nibbles. No sausages on sticks for us! My choice was French Macarons and mini cupcakes. Then I realised no one was making anything savoury that was dairy or gluten free so I offered up 2 savoury options too. With a fridge full of butter substitutes, a mountain of eggs on the counter, packages of almonds at the ready, tomorrow I will make a start on the cup cakes & Macarons. The devilled eggs will be done Saturday morning as will the decorations on the cup cakes. When catering for 80 people this is certainly a different kettle of fish to what I’m used too.
Wish me luck!

December 30, 2015

Baking for Christmas, GF or otherwise

I recently joined the Lewes Women in Business group, a fantastic group of very talented women with skills that I lack. Our leader a wonderful cook was hosting a Christmas baking day at the community prep kitchen in Lewes so I thought it would be a good idea to join her. Being the awkward one I requested GF flour and Stork margarine for my cakes.  With just 4 willing students Chloe introduced us to the joys of mixing by hand with ingredients that had so much brandy in them the fumes almost put us over the legal limit.

After a day of baking we had produced Christmas Biscotti, chocolate hazelnut biscotti, gingerbread dough and some delicious smelling cakes. I could barely carry my stash to the bus stop-blinding wind & rain didn’t help. I duly ‘fed’ my cakes with more brandy over the following weeks then waited for the orders to come in. Seems people in the village didn’t need gluten free cakes. Plan B. Luckily I have several friends who appreciated the opportunity to eat cake that wouldn’t make them ill so I was just left with one small loaf shaped cake-perfect for MOI.

A couple of weeks later I was asked to make regular cakes complete with marzipan & icing. I love a challenge! 2 x Yule logs & Mince pies too…..

Now my kitchen is tiny, in real life it isn’t a kitchen, it’s a space you walk through at the top of the stairs. My workspace is 4′ long, needless to say it took military precision to organise the baking, storage and decorating of these cakes. I pulled it off. whew. Even made a chocolate snowman cake for a special GF customer.white cake12317341_1072790349408291_1312000709_n


GF snowman cake


Falling bauble cake


square cake


July 27, 2012

Bell ringing

I went along to St. Mary’s church in Ringmer this morning to take part in the bell ringing. A large group of villagers turned out with eager hands for the celebration. I was given a hand bell which had quite a dull dong so when the offer came to ring the church bells I jumped at the chance. Up lots of steep steps, almost in need of resuscitation when I reached the top where more volunteers were waiting with their professional helpers. I was ably assisted by Ian who promptly went into overdrive about church bell ringing. All of which went straight over my head. Being only 5′ 2″ I had trouble reaching the ‘Sally’ (the fluffy bit) so I had to stand on tippy toes to reach! We had a countdown and the peeling began, 3 minutes of tugging on the rope (with Ian’s help) and my hands were sore & upper arms ached. Then we were offered the chance to ascend the bell tower up a ladder & through loft hatch. I was up for it but then once I had got almost level with the bells my bottle deserted me & I had to climb back down.

Croissants & coffee awaited us in the church hall and a certificate to say I was there!


July 18, 2012

Life without a car

Looks like the relationship between me & Betty has come to an end. Betty is a 12yr old Nissan Micra that my dad bought new in 2000. She never missed a service and has only clocked up just over 60,000 miles.Dad never drove very far in her, she made it to Yorkshire last year, the furthest she ever went.

I don’t understand cars, can’t even change a tyre, I know where to put oil, screen wash and petrol, that’s it.

The man at the garage was very kind explaining this & that trying to make me understand that Betty was defunct and was not worth the cost of repairing, there would be no guarantee that she would last very long even after the repair to get her through the MOT.

So now I’m coming to terms of losing Dad’s car and my independence. I’m lucky to live in a village with a frequent bus service which will take me to Hove so I can look after my grandson ( double the time it takes to drive), get me to Lewes to do my shift at Oxfam and to Uckfield to see my mum. It will enable me to do 2 of my Lets Get Moving jobs but one will have to be dropped, too far & no bus. It won’t get me to Forest Row to sell my wares at Mansion market or to the shows I do every year. I will miss them but I’ll have to adjust.

Life changes all the time, throws up new challenges. Now I have to be positive and move on. I shall make the most of Betty til the end of the month then wave her goodbye (after removing the AA badge from her front).

She may go the Fire service or the police, but I’d quite like a few pennies for her to put toward a shopping trolley and an annual bus pass!


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July 29, 2011

Mays Vintage tea room in Ringmer Village hall

Every Friday from ten til one this wonderful tea room will be serving home made cakes,scones etc and proper coffee and tea.The room has a delightful atmosphere, surrounded by vintage tablecoths, silverware and crockery. My handmade cards will be on sale every week.