How it all began …..

If you would have told me 3 years ago I would be living in the countryside making Wines and Mead, baking and be completely obsessed with all things food related and vintage, I would of laughed until I cried! But then things changed, my husband fell ill and we thought the worst so without hesitation I up rooted my young family for a once in a lifetime opportunity. So it began, taking on Lurgashall Winery, established for nearly 30 years but had suffered as a result of a recession. No-one can ever say I don’t rise to a challenge, I don’t see problems just opportunities.

Moving to Sussex has not come without its challenges but without doubt it is the best thing we have ever done. During the past 3 years we have achieved and been presented with opportunities we would of never of dreamed off; made new friends, met up with old, learned to cook, been on TV and Radio and the children love it.

Why do I cook?

I have to be careful as when it comes down to it, I get bored very easily. I am on a constant quest for new things to excite & challenge me, and that is one of the reasons why I have fallen in love with cooking. For years like many, I have had a love-hate relationship with food, a denial about the fact I really enjoy it!

When I became a mum, I felt the pressure of becoming “domesticated” and for anyone that knows me I still struggle with that nowadays. This pressure didn’t come from my husband but the social peer pressure of being a “yummy mummy”, which I totally rebelled against. My husband was always the one who undertook the majority of the cooking or if you asked me what I would like for dinner it always used to say “Chinese” (something’s never change!) Anywhoo, when we moved my eyes were opened to the wonderful delights of local food and drink and ever since then I have been addicted.

I am always tasting and constantly educating my palette, particularly when choosing ingredients for my wines. It is only natural to seek out amazing food to compliment them as well. I have always enjoyed strong, fresh flavours and, to be honest, it has taken me a long time to build up the confidence to experiment with them. Now I can’t stop! I must admit, I do have a tendency to add alcohol to most things I make, ranging from roasting vegetables found at the bottom of my fridge to making boozy cakes and I’m always testing them on any unsuspecting guests! I also can’t deny there is still a closet student in me that will never disappear from the days of creating skittle Vodka now they were nights to remember … or not!

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My 1st published article in December 2012 Etc Magazine ‘Sussex Wines’

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Is it wrong to dislike this time of year?

I feel awful, more so for my children. I am really struggling to enjoy what is meant to be a ‘jolly, festive, happy’ blah, blah time of year. It is not that I hate Christmas, that is a strong word to use but it is more what it does to people; stress, road rage, pushing, rudeness, unable to communicate, brat like behaviour. I don’t even get this from my 5 and 7 year old devil children.

The only thing prohibiting me from exploding is the thought of soaking up the sun after Christmas and enjoying spending time with my boys and husband. Relaxing I think is the word they call it?

I am sure I will make it, but with the seams set to burst, time to seek out a bottle of precious Gospel Green Cyder whilst burning the midnight oil tonight and of course tucking into something naughty. But with no cooker for the past 3 days that really doesn’t help my stress levels. Something simple is required and in times of need you can’t beat Welsh rabbit. Comfort food at its best .. there had better be cheese in the fridge!

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Christmas Pudding Vodka

 Christmas Pudding Vodka

Christmas pudding Vodka is the perfect tipple when slaving over decorating the Christmas cake.

Best served chilled either from the fridge or preferably kept in the freezer.

Prep

  • 3 days steeping
  • 15 minutes straining

 Equipment

  • 1 large bowl
  • Clingfilm
  • Muslin cloth or jelly/jam straining bag
  • 1-2 bottles

 Ingredients

  • 300g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants)
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsps ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 6 Cloves
  • 75g light brown Sugar
  • Orange zest finely grated
  • Lemon zest finely grated
  • 1 litre Vodka

 Method

  1. Place the fruit, cinnamon sticks, mixed spice, nutmeg, cloves, sugar and zests in a large bowl
  2. Pour over the Vodka
  3. Stir well ensuring all on the fruit is soaking in Vodka
  4. Place cling film over the bowl
  5. Stir each day for 3 days
  6. Sterilise the bottles; wash in warm soapy water, rinse and place in a warm oven to dry
  7. Secure the muslin cloth over a bowl and gently pour the mixture
  8. Place the fruit into another bowl in preparation to make mincemeat (recipe to follow)
  9. Pour the Vodka into your prepare bottles

 This can be consumed straight after straining, but I recommend leaving for at least 1 week to allow the flavours to mature in the Vodka.

 Thank you to the Hairy Bikers for inspiring this recipe and my husband for all of his quality control testing.

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