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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Berry Picking & Pie Making!

I've been living in Florida for almost 15 years and my fond memories of strawberry picking are all in England, until now!!

We finally found a place here in Florida which is about 25 minute drive from our home. I had no idea something like this lay on my doorstep. Don't get me wrong now, it doesn't have the beauty of England with the luscious green fields, sheep bleating off in the distance and the beautiful English flowers blooming in the sunshine, but it was still in what is called the country here and we had so much fun. We even saw cows! Yes, to some of you that might sound odd, but I love livestock. I really think I should have grown up on a farm.

Our Florida Country Walk 
We headed out early in the morning to the fields and the excitement in the back of the van from my three little ones was great to listen to. The morning had a nip in the air, which is a plus in Florida, but because of this there was a concern that the berries wouldn't be ripe enough, but we found plenty for our family to take home and make into pies and jam. 

Strawberry & Rhubarb pie, Blueberry pancakes, Strawberry Jam and Blueberry & Apple pie
We also found a blueberry farm around the corner from the strawberry field. We couldn't miss the opportunity to pick blueberries especially since my husband and youngest son loves them. What a truly fun experience! 

As soon as we got home my husband made family breakfast, his most favourite thing to do on a Saturday morning. He pulled out his blueberry pancake recipe and made a batch. They were gobbled down in no time!

Once breakfast was over it was onto Strawberry and Rhubarb pie which the children loved to help me with. It was simply the best pie I've ever taste! The crust melted in your mouth and the combination of strawberry and rhubarb is divine. I've only ever made it one other time and it was just as good then as it was today! We then made sugar free blueberry and apple pie for daddy. When I say sugar free, I mean zero sugar in this pie, no artificial sweetener in place of sugar. My husband can not eat any form of sugar, only the natural sugar from fruit and not too much. He has improved over the years and when I first married him the sugar content in an apple was too much and I had to experiment, coming up with my own recipes so that he could enjoy pies and cakes too. He can now eat a whole apple!!  

In the evening we began making the strawberry jam, stirring the big pot of bubbling mixture and the air filled with the sweet smell of berries. Jars and jars were filled and labels await to be attached. My pantry is looking pretty good this year, which reminds me I must begin my yearly batch of Beetroot Chutney.

Fruit Pies
We are truly blessed with all the wonderful baked goods we love to prepare. I would be glad to share my recipes with you, but I know you probably already have your own family recipes which you love to make. 

This will certainly become a family tradition, passing along these wonderful recipes down to my children.

Enjoy your weekend
Sugar & Spice Cake Shop, Hannah~

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sooty Birthday Cake & Party Ideas

My youngest little boy turned 5 last week! I didn't realise how time flies until I had children. The years seem to slip through my fingers and they are no longer babies but children with minds and imaginations of their own, full of fun and with more energy than 10 people put together.

Although we live in America, I try and give them a lot of British culture and the things I grew up with. When Granny was over we got to view the British TV and I was whisked back to my childhood when I saw The Sooty Show was still being produced!! 

It all started in 1948 when Harry Corbett bought a little bear puppet named 'Teddy' for his 5 year old son, Peter Corbett (aka Matthew Corbett). He was spotted by a TV producer who invited Harry to BBC's Talent Night. In order for the bear to stand out on black and white TV, Harry and his wife decided to sew a black nose and ears onto the bear and renamed him Sooty. It was such a success that BBC commissioned Sooty his own TV show, which aired in 1955. The show was passed down to his son Peter, under the stage name Matthew Corbett, in 1976. On Sooty's 50th Birthday in 1998 Matthew retired due to illness, and wanted to spend his retirement years with his wife and family. He handed it down to Richard Cadell, who continues the show today. 

Harry Corbett 1955-1976
Richard Cadell 1998-present

Matthew Corbett 1976-1998

It is the longest running children's TV programme and I find it amazing that for 3 generations we have watched Sooty. Mum watched it when she was little with Harry, I was fascinated with it when Matthew was Sooty's right hand man and now my children are smitten with it. My little boy laughs and laughs at this little bear and even my eldest is taken to Sweep, the mischievous little dog. They love it and I love watching them watch it with smiles so big.

So his little party came to life through this show and invitations were sent out to all our American friends who had no idea what in the world this was. They certainly know now.

Custom made invitations
I wanted to keep the party pretty simple since they are only 5 year olds, so we let them have fun with different toys we set around the garden. We only did one game which was a traditional English game, 'pass the parcel'. We also had a 'lucky dip', although I renamed it to 'Sweep's Messy Prize Basket'

Playing with Jack's English Knight Castle from Grandad and of course Postman Pat had to join in the fun.
The little ones also loved the English Village - Happy Land Set
The parcel started out pretty big!
William got the parcel last.

One activity we did was colouring cookies. I love this idea for little ones and they had so much fun colouring Sooty and Sweep with edible food markers. 

Each child got to either take their cookie home or eat it. I had goody bags all ready for them with their name on it so any gifts they received from the game or activities were placed inside their own bag. These were really easy to make, using brown bags with cut out Sooty and Sweep attached to the front and tags tied on with ribbon.

Sooty and Sweep Goody Bags
We drank Sooty's lemonade and then got ready for a show!

Sooty's Lemonade
This was probably by far the children's most favourite part of our party. How can you not host a Sooty Party without the guest appearance of Sooty and Sweep?! They came all the way from England and surprised William. It was a delight to see his little face light up when Sooty popped up to make him a special cake. My eldest son and daughter both helped with this little show. Jack operated Sweep and Millie helped hand me the things Sooty would need. The children laughed and laughed as Sooty made the cake. Those two naughty boys got into a water fight and got me wet and Sweep thought it was a good idea to give me a dirty cloth to dry myself with!! They all had a good laugh at my expense! William was delighted.

After our little show it was time for cake. William loves orange so this cake was Chocolate Orange Cake. It is amazing. I love this recipe and it really tastes like the Terry's Chocolate Orange, which you have to tap it or whack it to break off each chocolate segment. I've renamed this cake to 'Terry's Chocolate Orange Cake'

I designed the cake to look like the box that Richard carries around with him when he's in public introducing Sooty to the children. Usually only one puppet pops out, but I simply couldn't forget Sweep. I made them from rice krispie treats and covered them in fondant.

Perhaps William will take over from Richard in a few more years!!

I love doing sweet tables for my kids and displaying their cakes and cookies and other sweets etc. I find these tables so eye appealing and fun to set up. I only wished my wall was longer so the backdrop was the same, but I had fun with it all the same.

Our Sooty Party in one photo
We had a wonderful day celebrating my son's birthday. He had the best day and he now goes to bed with Sooty every night. Sweep seems to have made his way into Jack's top bunk!

"Bye Bye Everyone, Bye Bye"

Sugar & Spice Cake Shop, Hannah~