Last chance for Santa Dash

Last chance to sign up for the Willen Hospice Santa Dash

It’s your last chance to sign up for the annual Willen Hospice Santa Dash – the countdown is on!

The festive fundraiser takes place at 10 am, Sunday 19 December, in front of the Hospice on Willen Lake North. Wannabe Santas have until midnight, Thursday 16 December, to sign up.

Santa Dash is one of Milton Keynes’ biggest festive charity events. It makes for quite a sight with hundreds of Santas running, walking, or jogging the 2km route around Willen Lake North.

Last Chance to Book

Registration to take part in the Dash is £15 for adults and includes a Santa suit. For children it’s £5/7.50 and includes a hat or suit.

While it’s £2.50 for a ‘Yappy Christmas’ dog bandana.

To book a place, visit SANTA DASH or call 01908 303052.

Please note parking at the Hospice is for Blue Badge holders only.

All other parking for the event is at the nearby Willen Pavilion.

Willen Hospice needs to raise around £9 every minute of the year from the local community to continue to provide their specialist end-of-life care in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas.

About Willen Hospice

Willen Hospice provides complex and individual care to all adults affected by life limiting illness in our community and support to their families and friends.  Our care is assuring, equally accessible and advanced and often takes place in people’s own homes.  It is free to the patient and provided by a highly skilled team of professionals. We receive less than a quarter of our funding from the NHS and need the support of the local community to provide us with financial stability to ensure that we are always there to care.

 

picture showing the Nutcellars chocolate caramelised macadamias

NUTS ABOUT CHRISTMAS?

I’m nuts about Christmas. I love the decorations, the festivities, and all that goes with it. However, I really love good locally produced food and drinks, like the nuts from the Nutcellars, for a truly special Christmas.

by Emma Johnson

I’d been hearing about the Nutcellars for a while before actually getting round to trying them. When finally I popped down to Stony Stratford market the producers explained their story, without knowing I’d be sharing it with you!

The Nutcellar Story

The Nutcellars is a family-run business with a long history that connects them to Malawi. And, in fact, to macadamia nuts!  The Nutcellar business itself is still quite a fledgling business, having started only a couple of years ago.

The family import the nuts directly, however, there is more to the story than simply importing. Having planted their first macademica trees in 1992, they began smallholder macadamia production. In 2004, the family set up a charity Neno Macadamia Trust in 2004. I’d really recommend reading more about this. The goal is support the poorer smallholder farmers, particularly adapting to climate change. Along with this, they are committed to address environmental issues.

The Nuts

The round, creamy balls of macadamia nut, come with sweet and savoury options. We bought the chocolate, caramelised macadamias and a jar of the chocolate spread. I am a both a self-confessed chocoholic and a nutaholic, more likely to eat 20 hazel nuts at a time, than 1!

Chocolate, carmelised macadamias

When I first tasted the chocolate, carmelised macadamias, I was a little concerned that there wasn’t quite enough chocolate coating for me. However, and this is a big however, I learned how to eat them. That might sound strange, but they are designed to be savoured and enjoyed. There really is more to them than a box of everyday chocolate nuts.

If you take your time, then the chocolatey coating comes through. Of course, it did take me a whole bag, to recognise this. One at a time, (or occasionally two) with morning coffee, after lunch, after dinner and so on!  They will work really well as your after Christmas lunch treat. Ultimately, chocoholics may appreciate slightly more of the chocolatey coating but after a whole bag they worked well for me!

The Chocolate Spread

We don’t do white chocolate so I can’t comment on the white chocolate spread. House policy means I normally make my own. A bit of a challenge for The Nutcellars to beat my taste test!

My daughter is responsible for chocolate spread taste test. Like me with the caramelised nuts to start with she was a little unsure to begin with. Gradually, the taste came through and by the last lick of the jar she was asking me to buy more. She liked the smoothness of the spread and although it does taste different to my spread she liked the flavour.

Where to Buy

My Refill Market, Stony Stratford

Local farmers markets

Here at the Nutcellars website

The Costs

They do cost more than a supermarket but this product has a story and a far greater value:

  • it supports farmers in Malawi
  • promotes ethical and fair trading
  • reducing climate change impact
  • support local business here in Milton Keynes.
  • tastes delicious

Cost is still an issue to most of us, so for me this won’t be an everyday product but it will definitely be my go-to-treat or gift.

Chocadamia chocolate macadamia spread -£5.95 for 170g or £4.50 for 100g

Chocolate caramelised macedamias – £4.50 for 100g or £8.50 for 225g

Display of Artea Afternoon tea

Do you Have Time for An ARTea Christmas?

Do you have time to surprise your family and friends with An ARTea Christmas Surprise? After all, isn’t a bit of delicious time the perfect gift?

Christmas is just around the corner, and are you still desperately searching for the right gift for your favourite but hard-to-buy-for relatives?

Forget the usual scents, flowers, chocolates, and scarves. After the last eighteen months of lost birthdays, Christmas and other celebrations, time spent with family and friends must be the most precious and wanted gift of all.

The vintage-styled ARTea Room at Wakefield Country Courtyard is the perfect place to rediscover lost memories and make new ones. Owner, James and his team bring a clean, modern ambiance, to the delightfully quirky converted barn. They’ve filled it with fascinating ornaments as well as pictures that make lovely gifts for Christmas.

However, from all this and their amazing selection of morning coffees, light bites, and meals, make their signature Luxury Afternoon Teas your choice for the perfect Christmas gift.

The treat includes a generous selection of sandwiches, moreish mini cakes and a plain, fruit, cherry or gluten-free oven warm scone, served with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. A pot of tea of your choice or
coffee comes as standard, but go luxury to enjoy a glass of fizz as well. Alternatively, gift them a voucher and let them choose for themselves from the menu.

And to Book an ARTea Christmas

To book the memorable Luxury Afternoon Tea gift experience for friends and family at ARTea Room.

ARTea Room Wakefield Country Courtyard, Potterspury, NN12 7FA

Tel: 01327 810245

Email: enquiries@artearoom.co.uk

Website: ARTeaRoom

Facebook: @TheARTeaRoom

Photo showing food from KassiaStony

Mouth-watering Indian Tapas You’ll Love

Last month Kassia Indian Tapas enjoyed their grand opening.  They’re now serving mouth-watering Indian Tapas you’ll love as well as the old classics. Of course, good food is nothing without great staff organising, preparing, and cooking it. In fact, looking after us, the customer, is possibly equally, if not more, important. We talked to the people behind Stony’s new Indian restaurant to find out more.

by Emma  Johnson

The owners at Stony Stratford’s new Indian, Kassia, are all about building and being in the hub of local communities. Owner, Kaz, is determined to create a venue where local people can socialise, relax and enjoy good food. Community is possibly one of the main reasons that he chose Stony Stratford as his next venture after his successful Kassia in Portsmouth.

A simple conversation with an old friend and experienced business partner from the area was the start of Kassia, Stony. Kaz explained,

“It is the sense of community you get when you are in Stony that appealed. When you look around you see the wide range of independent businesses. We love this and being part of it.”

It was a brave, if not slightly crazy, decision to open so soon after lookdown. However, despite the hurdles, local people have welcomed this team and their vibrant restaurant. Of course, as passers-by, we watched the progress as the building took on its new look, wondering who and what was coming. Kaz and the team took their time to open because they felt it was essential to find the right contractors to create the feel they wanted. At the end of October, the grand opening finally took place.

Having arrived in a town so far from their other restaurant was risky – after all, no-one had heard of them, let alone Indian Tapas! So far they’ve loved every minute and so have their new customers. The community has welcomed them, giving really good feedback about their food, the cocktails, and the bar.

The People Behind Kassia Indian Tapas

Kaz who created the Kassia brand comes from Portsmouth. He is an experienced restauranteur with over 30 years in the trade. His humble beginnings as a kitchen assistant gave him the initial knowledge and at the same time, it sparked the yearning to develop his skill. He moved to assistant chef before finally becoming a head chef and building a portfolio of 9 restaurants.

Kaz joined forces with business partner Shelim, who he met when they worked together in Portsmouth. Shelim built his career in Milton Keynes while Kaz continued to develop his in Portsmouth. Several years later, Kaz knew that, jointly, their passion for food and hospitality were the right ingredients for success. Along with their dedication to food and customer service they are both keen to develop what they offer.

Behind the Scenes

Behind the scenes, Steph and Dan’s senior management skills provide the essential support to keep the operations running smoothly. This isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. However, bringing the best part of 15 years each within the hospitality industry has helped. After all, it’s not just about food! Every successful business needs someone to manage the finances and marketing!

Between them, Steph and Dan are really keen to share their knowledge of the Kassia brand and culture with the new Stony team. Handing over won’t be hard now they have a strong team in place.

Building the Team

New staff members have filled the positions and the team has grown as planned. There are still a few positions left for enthusiastic bar staff and food servers during the busy periods, particularly Christmas.

If you are interested, apply via the ‘Join Us’ page on the Kassia website. It’s a beautiful venue to work in with an already confident team.

Find out more on the Kassia Indian Tapas Website

 

Spicy bean casserole

Satisfaction Guaranteed With My Deliciously Spicy Bean Casserole

My deliciously spicy bean casserole will guarantee to leave your taste buds mouth-watering with satisfaction! Well … it does me!  When I was asked for this recipe, I realise I don’t actually follow a recipe. Make sure that you taste test all the way along.

This will serve 4 people

Ingredients

400-500g Fava or Carlin beans or a mix of the two (add more if needed)

One onion, finely chopped

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil

Tin of tomatoes or fresh tomatoes

Chopped spinach – a couple of handfuls (wilt it in a pan and then chop it)

Harrisa paste or a mix of paprika and chilli. (I use a slightly adapted John Torode recipe, it makes lots so I freeze the spare)

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 vegetable stock cube

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

Serve the Spicy Bean Casserole with:
  • Rice or flatbreads
  • Top with creme fraiche, a sprinkling of cheddar cheese, a mix of fresh chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce.

Method

  1. Soak the fava or carlin beans overnight or for at least 8 hours. Check the exact instructions.
  2. After soaking cook the beans for at least 45 minutes, again depending on the instructions.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of rapeseed oil in a heavy-based pan.
  4. Put your onion into the oil in the pan and fry until softened. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a further minute or two. Don’t let it burn.
  6. Add a teaspoon of dried oregano and stir in.
  7. Pour in your tomatoes, stir and cook for about 5 minutes until gently simmering. Add in the spinach (optional)
  8. Put one to two teaspoons (or more depending on your preference) of harrisa paste, a splash of the cinnamon, and a vegetable stock cube into the tomatoes. Stir and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  9. Add the beans and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  10. Keep checking the taste of the spicy bean casserole and add your own mix to the taste.

Links to Products

Website links:

John Torrode’s Harrisa Paste

My Refill Market for Fava and Carlin Beans

The Fruity Farmer for Rapeseed Oil 

If you like this recipe try out Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry

delicious chocolate spread recipe

Delicious Easy to Make Chocolate Spread Recipe

This delicious, easy-to-make chocolate spread recipe is perfect to scoop onto your bread, let it melt into your crumpets, or as someone I know does spoon it directly into your mouth!

by Emma Johnson

This recipe is slightly adapted from a Good Housekeeping recipe I found many years ago. I have tried many including those with cream.  The cream does not work, don’t bother either trying it, in my opinion!

Ingredients

100g blanched and ground hazelnuts

250gmilk chocolate, broken into pieces

200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

50g icing sugar, sieved

100 ml Fruity Famer vegetable oil or similar – ones with a milder taste

1/2 tsp vanilla essence or extract (whichever you have)

 

  Blanch the Nuts

Although you can buy pre-blanched hazelnuts, it’s easy to do it yourself:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan) mark 5.
  2. Scatter the nuts onto a baking tray, heavy-based is best.
  3. Put them in the oven and toast for about 5 or so minutes. Keep checking though.
  4. Once they look slightly golden brown, take them out of the oven and see if the skin removes easily.
  5. Cool the nuts and then pop them onto a cloth. Cover the cloth over them and rub vigorously to remove the skin.
  6. Once completely removed you’ll be left with golden nuts.

The Spread

  1. Break the chocolate into pieces and pop into a heatproof bowl.
  2. If you have a microwave, carefully melt the chocolate. You don’t have to fully melt every piece as when you stir together, they’ll continue to melt.
  3. If you prefer to use a stove, pop the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Do not fill the pan too high because if water gets into the chocolate, you’ll ruin it. Once melted remove from the stove.
  4. Grinding the nuts: choose the hard way, pop them into a heavy-duty pestle and mortar, then grind. Or put them into a food processor and let that chop them finely for you!
  5. Add the nuts to the processor and continue to whiz it up.
  6. Add the icing sugar, whiz again, before adding the melted chocolate, oil, and vanilla.
  7. This recipe does leave a little crunch in the final mixture. If you do have fussy eaters, try pushing the mixture through a sieve.
  8. Finally, spoon into your sterilised jars.

Results

Whenever I cook something new, I always need positive feedback from them that tastes my latest creation. This one went down particularly well. In fact, one was caught spooning it into her mouth! On that point, if you prefer the spread to be slightly runnier, add a little more oil – up to about a max of 125 ml, I’d say.

If this is all too much of a faff – try the Nutcellar Chocolate Spread.

Website – The Nutcellar

Find them at the local farmer’s markets and at My Refill Market, Stony Stratford

Willen Hospice Annual Winter Draw Give Away

Willen Hospice Annual Winter Draw Give Away Launches

Willen Hospice annual Winter Draw Give Away launches. The total prize pot is a massive £4,000.

by Yvonne Shuttleworth

The annual draw helps to raise funds for the ongoing work of the Hospice. It gives local people an opportunity to give to a worthy cause with just a £1 ticket. Enter for a chance to win the first prize of £3,000, the second prize of £500 or one of ten £50 runner up prizes.

Lottery Fundraising Manager Louise Dela-Haye says,

“Every ticket we sell, helps to support the Hospice in offering our care completely free of charge. It also gives us a chance to give something back to our amazing supporters.”

In addition to celebrating its 40th year, the Hospice is also marking its 25th year of hosting the Lottery. During this time the Lottery has raised over £6 million and more than 1300 players have won the weekly Lottery prize of £1,000.

Louise adds,

“When the pandemic hit, we had to cancel or postpone our fundraising events and close our shops for months on end, but alongside our regular givers, our Lottery has continued to be a vital source of income. A huge Thank You to all of our Lottery players, past, present and future, for helping us to be there for local families. You really do make a difference”

The NHS only gives the hospice a quarter of the financial support the hospice needs. The hospice raises the bulk of the money that it needs privately. It takes £4.7million every year, or £9 a minute, to continue providing specialist, compassionate care to patients with life-limiting illnesses.

Willen Hospice Annual Winter Draw Tickets

Winter Draw tickets are available to buy online at:
www.willen-hospice.org.uk/winterdraw

in any of the Willen Hospice shops to adults 16 years and over.

The draw closes on 4 February 2022. The draw takes place on 10 February 2022 and winners will be announced within 7 days.

Terms and Conditions

Chances of winning and full Terms and Conditions are available on the Willen Hospice website: www.willen-hospice.org.uk/winterdraw

Find out about Willen Hospice Lights of Love

WIN A FRUITY FARMER GIFT BAG

Yes, enter this Fruity Farmer competition to win a gift bag filled with 3 of their Christmassy Liqueurs.

The Fruity Farmer Wordsearch Nov 21And with Christmas around the corner, go seasonal and local with the Fruity Farmer. They are perfect for drinks with family and friends, pre or post-dinner, or as gifts ideas. Select from 13 delicious gins and liqueurs, 3 rapeseed oils including the classic and lemon-infused or their natural rapeseed oil soaps. The lucky winning entry will be able to select a gift bag of 3 items from this delicious range and it’ll be delivered to your doorstep*

Jenny, Chris and their team grow the fruit in their garden, in the farm hedgerows and at local orchards.  They also grow the rapeseed crop on the farm. The oranges and lemons they use in the Seville orange brandy, the rum, and Limoncello are the only fruits they can’t grow. Along with the in-season freshness they produce in small batches to ensure the perfect taste, colour and flavour. Rhubarb, quince, strawberry, and more take your choice.

Find out more by meeting owner Jenny at one of the four regular farmer’s markets they attend. If you can’t make it, 35 local businesses stock their produce. Alternatively, order direct and Fruity Farmer offer free delivery within 10 miles of their farm*.

The attractive, Italian glass gin and liqueur bottles cost £10 for 200/250ml or £20 for 500ml. Return your empty bottles and they’ll re-use them.

Celebrate a truly local Christmas with The Fruity Farmer.

For a Chance to Win

For a chance to win this fantastic prize simply find which word is missing from the grid and send your answer to the Fruity Farmer, including your name and address. Visit The Fruity Farmer for more information.

Fruity Farmer Competition Rules:

To enter email, post or telephone your answer to:
The Fruity Farmer, Priors Wood House, Purse Lane, Stoke Goldington, Newport Pagnell, MK16 8LW

Email:letts.farm.sg@gmail.com

Call: 01908 551903

State which competition you are entering and include your name, address and telephone number. The competition runs from 1 November 2021 and the closing time is 5pm, 30 November, 2021.

No purchase is required, there will be one winner and no alternative prize. Please confirm that you would like to receive details about events and special offers from The Fruity Farmer; support local and don’t miss out.

Read more

Santa Dash for Willen

Santa Dash for Willen Hospice this Christmas!

The Dash For Willen Hospice is back this year on Sunday, 19 December at 10am. Best of all it won’t be virtual like last year’s was!

by Helen Winter

Willen Hospice hope that 1oos of people will once again dress as Father Christmas to walk, run or jog around Willen Lake North. Don’t forget – this event helps to raise funds for your local charity hospice.

The event is open to people of all ages, and dogs are welcome to take part too.

Tracey Jago, Events Manager at Willen Hospice, said:

“Our Santa Dash has become an annual favourite for many families and has become a staple in their Christmas routine as a great way to mark the start of their festivities. We truly missed not having it last year, and we can’t wait to see everyone dressed up in their Santa suits.

Whether your Dash is in memory of a loved one, a chance to do something fun as a family, or simply a change to your usual Sunday run, by taking part you’ll be helping to support our vital work.”

How to Book on Santa Dash for Willen

Click here for the Santa Dash Link

It costs:

  • £15 for adults including a Santa suit
  • £5 for kids including a Santa Hat
  • £7.50 for kids including a Santa suit
  • £2.50 for a ‘Yappy Christmas’ bandana for your furry friends

Willen Hospice is the only adult Hospice in the local area. The charity needs to raise around £9 every minute of the year from the local community to continue providing specialist end-of-life care in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas. So go, Santa Dash for Willen!

About Willen Hospice

Willen Hospice provides complex and individual care to all adults affected by life limiting illness in our community. It also supports families and friends.  Our care is assuring, equally accessible and advanced and often takes place in people’s own homes.  It is free to the patient and provided by a highly skilled team of professionals. We receive less than a quarter of our funding from the NHS and need the support of the local community to provide us with financial stability to ensure that we are always there to care.

 

Britain’s 4 Favourite Puddings

Here are Britain’s 4 Favourite Puddings. What’s not to love about puddings? And, as we celebrate British Pudding Day on Thursday, 4 November, along with National Roast Dinner Day, let’s enjoy them all!

Lauren Plummer

The word ‘pudding’ comes from the lower classes who enjoyed plain and simple desserts after their main courses, for example rice pudding. Puddings date back to the 1300s, and you can still find recipes that are over 200 years old.

Puddings are usually associated with sweet, after meal courses, however you can also enjoy them during your main meal, for example Yorkshire Puddings. Yorkshire Puddings are said to have come from the North West of England, even though we know them as Yorkshire by name. Sorry to all the Yorkshire people, we have to tell you this was not where they originally came from!

Along with the Yorkshire pudding you can also enjoy Black pudding. This is also a savoury pudding, but you enjoy it with a full English breakfast. Black pudding was first created as early as 800 BC, and and is made from pig’s blood. Pudding originally meant that it was savoury and was a sausage-like product, often filled with suet or other meats. The cook would then boil, bake or steam them, ready to be eaten.

British pudding day isn’t just made for one specific pudding, there are many varieties of traditional puddings, for example:

Apple Crumble

Our first pudding is apple crumble. Even though apple crumble came after apple pie it is still one of Britain’s most favourite pudding. It was first made in World War Two as an alternative to apple pie. There are many different ways to enjoy crumble, with custard, cream or even ice cream. All these options make the apple crumble even better!

Lots of restaurants will offer apple crumble as they know it will be very popular. Apple crumble is even more favourable than the apple pie itself. These days  people are adding in extra types of fruit or making different variations of this pudding, with their own twists. For instance, people are making rhubarb and apple crumble, so the crumble trend is spreading with people changing it in all different ways.

 Jam Roly-Poly

The second very famous pudding is jam roly-poly. Also known as Dead Man’s Arm or Dead Man’s Leg!

It gets its name this because the jam-filled suet pudding was wrapped in an old shirt whilst it was steamed. A lady named Eliza Acton created  the Jam Roly-Poly as well as one of Britain’s first ever cookery books.

This pudding is currently going head-to-head against apple crumble to see which is Britain’s favourite pudding. A jam roly-poly and a swiss roll are very similar in look, however there is a small difference. Swiss Roll is made from sponge cake while jam roly-poly is made from a suet pudding. Not everyone adds strawberry jam to their jam roly-poly, some choose marmalade or other flavours, like raspberry or blackcurrant. A lemon jam roly-poly is also hopping in on the trend.

Yorkshire Pudding

Although Yorkshire Pudding Day is celebrated on the 13 of October, people in Britain still like to enjoy them as a dessert. Yorkshire puddings were first discovered in 1714.  We did not originally call them Yorkshires as they did not originate from the county.

Nobody really knows where they came from to start off with, however the name first appeared in the book ‘The Art of Cookery Made Simple’. It is usual for people to eat these puddings with a roast dinner or with gravy, however you can also eat them with cranberry sauce or apple sauce. These are the sweeter options which makes them more like a pudding than a savoury Yorkshire Pudding. Yorkshire Puddings were originally called dripping puddings, because they were made from the dripping from meat when cooked over an open fire.

Eton Mess

Eton Mess is a traditional meringue dessert which was first announced in 1893. The pudding consists of meringue, strawberries and whipped cream. It is commonly believed that its name originated from the school name ‘Eton College’. The college served the pudding to the pupils after an annual cricket match. This match only went on between the pupils themselves, but the news about this creation spread rapidly around the country and is now another of Britain’s favourite puddings. Eton Mess is another pudding people like to change to add their own twist, to make it their own personal preference.

 

And finally …

These are just a few of Britain’s favourite puddings, there are many, many more savoury and sweet options or in some cases both. Britain’s all-time favourite pudding is the apple crumble, however it is in close competition with the jam roly-poly. Do you have a favourite?

If you don’t like cooking head to one of the lovely local eaters like ARTea Room. Make sure you try at least one of their delicious choice of puddings.

Click to find out more about some of our favourite puddings the ARTea Room, Potterspury.