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I didn’t get these curves by turning down a good meal, let me tell you!!  Food is very important to me.  I like to cook, like to eat and like to cook for other people to eat!

Every year I try to create a food hamper with items collected over the previous 12 months.  Jam from a Summer Fair, wine from a wonderful holiday, biscuits from a trip to the lakes.  The possibilities are endless.  Most of the places we visit have  a gift shop of some sort and most gift shops sell something edible; so I buy bits here and there.  Even Museums have old fashioned cordials and chutneys these days.  It always feels quite canny to be squirrelling things away all year.  Sometimes, if I have room, I dedicate a cupboard in the kitchen to my edible investments, other times I use an old picnic basket.

This year with the house move, the wedding and the change in career direction, I haven’t created a hamper at all.  I made a small attempt, bringing home this jar of banana and coconut jam from our honeymoon in St Lucia, but it’s currently sitting in our fridge with a few spoonfuls missing, looking a little bit past it’s best.   Oops :-S

But never fear!  The Christmas markets are here!!  I visited Manchester Christmas Market last weekend with my friend Kat, but only managed to returned home with a very odd Christmas decoration (winner of the ugliest ornament competition) and a slightly fuzzy head from all the mulled wine!

This weekend there is a Christmas Market in Preston.  Quite unlike the Manchester markets which feature mainly continental sellers, this market is very local indeed.   So with my little Princess helping to taste test all the products, I managed to amass a small collection of locally made treats for our Christmas hamper.

After we indulged in a little retail therapy, Beth made friends with a beautiful baby owl named Poppy.  I saw her face sadden a little bit when she heard that the owl had the same name as our lovely cat who recently went missing.  But she soon cheered up when she realised how friendly this bird was!  Poppy kept trying to snuggle up to her, it was adorable, but no, we are not getting an owl!

So what did we buy?  Lots of things that we should probably be giving as gifts but will actually just chomp away at ourselves!!  We bought a spiced, spiked chutney for cold meats and cheese and some rosemary and orange jelly for the same.  Some delicious garlic and herb cheese in a wax bauble (how cool is that!!) and some cheeky vimto fudge chosen very much by Beth!!

Speaking of sweets, we also treated ourself to some Turkish Delight which always reminds me of Narnia some Bavarian Schokokas and some peanut butter flapjack cakes!  Sweet tooth?  What sweet tooth?

Next year I will be back on form with the year round Christmas Hamper shopping.

Obviously we still have plenty of things left to stock up on before the big day, but these are the kind of things I keep my eyes open for throughout the year.

Interesting liqueurs or wines

Jams and chutneys

Biscuits and crackers

Syrups and cordials

Sweets

Sausages

Anything else that is typical of the area I’m in, like cheese from France, or shortbread from Scotland.

It’s so nice when Christmas comes along and you get to take all the items out and remember all the good times you had, people you met and places you visited.

We still haven’t put up our tree as my lovely Husband has been working all hours and it isn’t something you want to do with one family member missing.  But the rest of the decorations are starting to take place and now with a few festive treats lined up on the dresser…..it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!

Now I just have to summon up enough self control to stop myself from eating any of this food….especially these schokokus.  Anyone who knows my love for Tunnocks Tea Cakes will know that these chocolate covered marshmallow mounds are already causing me some issues!  But for now the glass dome is going back over the cake stand.  I will not eat the schokokus……I will not eat the schokokus …..

Love Rachel

xxx

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