Celebrating a cosy Crocktober!

Fire up the log burner and the slow cooker – October’s here…

It’s the start of a new season – the evenings are getting shorter, there’s a crisp nip to the air, and the leaves are turning a beautiful golden shade. It’s Autumn – a lovely time of year, with a lot of fun events and activities to look forward to! What with my wedding anniversary, special friend’s and family’s birthdays, and, of course, Halloween, I do enjoy this time of year.

Cosy cottage

With the decidedly cooler weather, thoughts turn to cosy, comforting meals cooked at home. I have blogged before about the joys of slow cooker cooking and have cobbled together many a hearty casserole, particularly during the Autumn months. But did you know you can make cakes in a slow cooker, too?

Cosy log burner

Time to fire up the log burner

Crock-Pot hosts #Crocktober every Autumn, and 2016’s theme is a Weekender – the ideal time to try out some cupcake recipes as tasty weekend afternoon tea for guests. And what do you need when you have a selection of delightfully delicate cupcakes? A nice pot of tea – or two!

Crock-Pot has been experimenting with their Weekender cupcake recipes and asked me to make some recommendations of teas to accompany the cakes. Who doesn’t love tea and a sweet, sugary cupcake? I have to stretch the experimentation a little further in order to have gluten and dairy free versions, but here are my recommendations of tasty teas to try with your Crocktober Cupcakes.

Darjeeling and tasty mini cupcakes

A nice cup of Darjeeling with some tasty mini cupcakes

Why not try a light, refreshing, citrus infused Earl Grey to balance the sugary icing and contrast with the sweetness of the cupcakes, or perhaps a healthy green tea? Another option is a delicately flavoured Darjeeling, which doesn’t detract from the full flavours of the cupcakes but instead has the right mix of tanginess and depth to go with a gooey, tasty treat.

Cupcakes and a refreshing cup of Earl Grey

Cupcakes and a refreshing cup of Earl Grey

I’ll be sharing some Crock-Pot slow cooker casserole recipes over the coming weeks, but while we still have the bright, yet somewhat cooler weather, make the most of those sunny weekend afternoons with some Crock-Pot Cupcakes and a really good cup of tea!

Until then,

Enjoy!

Rachael xx

First Food Festival of 2016

Tasty food from Surrey Food Festival in Richmond

Tasty treats from Surrey Food Festival – tea, coffee, cakes, cookies and olive oil

I visited the Surrey Food Festival at Richmond’s Old Deer Park last weekend, and had a lovely time trying out lots of tasty food and drink in my local area and meeting some great people.

I met some fantastic artisan food providers, from the wonderfully meaty cuisine of Meat The Chef (chicken skin skin-on fries, anyone?), to Sussex oil and vinegar makers, Stratta, to the delightful team at tea and sweet treat makers, Brew and Bites, who tempted me with Persian sweet treats and their beautiful tea and coffee blends. I also found plenty of gluten and dairy free fare to taste and take home, thanks to Wholesome Bakes and online marketplace Free From Market. We even bought a few cheeky bottles of wine from The Vineking, which we were able to try out and taste at the festival and then, once we’d got expert advice from the wine experts on the stand, bring our favourites home with us.

So much good food and drink to take home
I returned with an impressive haul: herb flavoured olive oils from Stratta, Rosy Grey tea and Colombian coffee from Brew and Bites, gluten and dairy free cakes and cookies from Wholesome Bakes, and, of course, a cheeky Prosecco and Cabernet Sauvignon from local wine specialists, The Vineking.

Afternoon tea at home with treats from Surrey Food Festival

My own afternoon tea at home with tea and treats from the Surrey Food Festival and my new bespoke coasters from Individually Inspired

Time for tea
The obvious thing to do when I got home was to have my own special afternoon tea with my tasty treats, so I brewed up a refreshing and delicate pot of Rosy Grey, a blend of Ceylon black loose leaf tea, bergamot, rose petals and rose buds.

The tea is so pretty and smells divine – almost too good to drink! But drink it I did, and it was exactly what was needed after wandering around outside for a few hours and feeling a little tired after all the fresh air!

Paired with a gluten and dairy free raspberry cupcake and served on the lovely Tea with Rachael coasters that Individually Inspired made for me, it was the perfect time to take a moment and relax. I also had a good look through the show guide and the Taste Awards brochure for inspiration for other fabulous foodie finds!

Rosy Grey tea from Brew and Bites

Rosy Grey tea from Brew and Bites – looks and smells too pretty, but tastes just as good to drink!

I’ll be heading to Foodies Festival at Syon Park again next Bank Holiday weekend with some fellow foodie friends, so am looking forward to enjoying our VIP tickets and trying even more tasty treats!

Until next time, hope you also get to enjoy some fabulous food this Bank Holiday weekend – a whole extra day to take the time to sit back, relax, and have a good cup of tea! (And maybe a cake or two…!)

Enjoy,

Rachael xx