“Bonfires: Where friends and marshmallows get toasty.” -Unknown
Making the most of the Season
The dark nights, the cold damp air on your cheeks, the smell of bonfires burning and an earthiness all around. Snuggling up on the sofa watching great TV, scented candles flickering, and the first of the Christmas shopping being hidden at the back of the wardrobe.
This is the season for warmth, family time and taking comfort and enjoyment in all that we have. Good company, hearty food and fresh air. Kids filling the house with leaves and conkers and pine cones. The clock change which throws us all every single time – thank goodness for Nanna calling to remind us.
Family fun doesn’t have to stop just because the sun has gone in. There is something fulfilling about driving to a local firework display and standing in the dark surrounded by friends and family under the intermittent flashes of light from the fireworks. Wrapped up in your big coats, gloves and scarves, a warm drink in your hands, wellies on and the sounds of people ‘ooh’ing and ‘ahh’ing.
Autumn is the most colourful season, the final hurrah before we get stuck inside. Our last chance to drink in the fresh air and enjoy all the home comforts.
I have gathered up some information for you about local events running from November the 1st to the 5th so that you can get out there with the family and make some memories. I have also included some recipe ideas that are filling, yet easy, and some seasonal drinks for the grownups.
Stick the kettle on and grab your calendar because things are about to get exciting.
Sunderland Illuminations 2018
If you haven’t already been then it is running until Sunday November 18th. Bigger and better than ever before.
11-4pm at Bowes Museum – Sparkle and Bang. A ‘Bonfire Night’ themed day.
5pm Onwards at Seaham – Mamma Mia Firework Spectacular – FREE
7-7:30pm – Kynren Musical Fireworks Spectacular
1-3pm at Oriental Museum – Family Art Attack. Making flowers and lanterns for Diwali
6pm Onwards at Framwellgate Moor – St.Cuthbert’s Hospice Family Fireworks Night
4:30pm Onwards at Chester-Le-Street Cricket Club – 30th Annual Fireworks Event
5pm Onwards – Stanley Fireworks Festival
4:40pm Onwards – Chester-Le-Street Riverside Fireworks. With music from The Greatest Showman
5pm Onwards at Beamish Hall Hotel – Two nights of Bonfire fun
5:30pm Onwards at Dean Bank Recreation Park – Ferryhill Fireworks Extravaganza. (Ferryhill residents only, free entry with advance tickets – available from Town Hall)
7:30pm Onwards – Aykley Heads Fireworks, Police and Fire Service Display
6:30pm Onwards – High Whitworth Playing Field – Spennymoor (Free Entry – But tickets required prior to event. Available from Town Hall Reception)
“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” Emily Brontë
Get that Slow Cooker out!
So you have your Firework’s night planned, maybe you are hosting a display in your own back garden, all you need are some filling foods to go with it. Something that doesn’t take a lot of work, can be chucked together and left to cook until everyone is hungry and in from the cold. Here are some of my top ideas:
Chilli Con Carne & Jacket Potatoes’
A firework night staple!
500g beef, 3/4 tsp dried basil, 1 tin cannellini beans, 2 stalks of celery, 1/2 tbsp chilli powder, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 green pepper, 2 tins of kidney beans, 1 onion, 3/4 tsp dried oregano, 1/2tsp dried parsley, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp salt, 1 jar of passata.
- Brown the mince in a frying pan over a medium heat. Drain the fat.
- Put the mince in the slow cooker or crock pot and mix in all remaining ingredients.
- Cover and cook on low setting for up to 8hrs.
- Serve with crispy jacket potatoes’, grated cheese and sour cream.
Banging Beans and Sausage Bake
Perfect meal the whole family can tuck in to!
300g sausages (your choice!), 1 tbsp. vegetable oil, 1 onion, 1 clove of garlic, 1 red pepper (deseed and slice), 500ml passata, 1 tbsp. black treacle, 2 tbsp. soft brown sugar, 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 400g flaelot beans, 400g red kidney beans, 400g butter beans (rinse and drain all beans).
- Heat the oil and brown the sausages, onion and garlic until browned and softened.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the slow cooker or crock pot and leave to simmer from 30 mins on higher setting or 90 mins on lower.
- Serve in a bowl with hunks of crusty buttered bread
Autumn Spiced Toffee Apple Cake
Everything that is right about this season in one delicious cake slice!
200g chopped dates, 200ml milk, 250g softened butter, 280g self raising flour, 200g soft brown sugar, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 4 large eggs, 1 tbsp. mixed spice, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 3 small apples, a squeeze of lemon juice, handful of toffees, icing sugar for dusting.
- Heat oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4. Grease and line a loaf tin or 20 x 30cm baking tray. Put dates and milk in small pan to simmer. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- When cool, whizz the date mixture to a smooth puree, then scrape it into a big mixing bowl. Tip in the butter, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, eggs, mixed spice and vanilla. Set aside and prepare the apples.
- Quarter and core the apples then slice thinly. Add lemon juice as you go to avoid them browning. Quickly beat together the cake ingredients with an electric whisk until all smooth then scrape it all into your tin. Arrange the apple slices on top of the cake in neat rows lengthways.
- Bake for 45-50 mins until a skewer comes out clean.
- Cool in the tray before transferring to a rack.
- Put the toffees in a small pan with a splash of milk and gently melt. Save one to eat whilst cooking.
- To finish dust the cake with the icing powder and drizzle the toffee sauce over the cake.
Sugar and spice and very very nice!
4oz softened butter, 4oz caster sugar, 4oz self raising flour, 2 medium eggs – for cakes.
150g butter, 300g icing sugar, orange food colouring, 1 tbsp. cocoa powder, flake bars or matchmakers, popping candy – to decorate
- Mix the cake ingredients together until smooth and divide between 10-12 cases
- Bake at 180c until golden brown
- Mix the butter and icing sugar together with splash of water to make the butter icing
- Take one third of the icing and add orange colouring. This will be the bonfire flames
- Take the rest of the icing and add the cocoa powder
- Through a piping bag ice the cakes with a swirl of chocolate icing
- Break up the flakes or matchmakers and arrange them around the icing swirl like wood on a bonfire
- Pipe small flames of orange icing around the bonfire and on the top
- Sprinkle each cake with popping candy so they pop and bang when eaten
From a little spark may burst a flame.” — Dante Alighieri
Time to warm the cockle’s
The kids are all settled with a plate of food in front of a film and now the grownups can enjoy a drink or two. If you want to keep the ‘Bonfire Night’ theme running then here are a couple of ideas that will impress your guests.
Toffee Apple Cocktail
You will need: Vodka, Werther’s Originals, Appletiser & Ice
- Pre-prepare the toffee vodka. Fill half a jar with Werther’s originals and then top up with Vodka. Put the lid on and give it a good shake. Leave it for a few days so that the sweets dissolve.
- On the night – pour a shot of the toffee vodka into a cocktail glass
- Add Ice
- Fill to the top with Appletiser
Epic Mulled Cider
Remember – Cider is not just apple juice, drink responsibly! (As previously thought during my teenage years)
You will need: 1 litre of cloudy cider, 1/2 litre of ginger beer, 1 orange, handful of cloves, cinnamon sticks, maple syrup or honey, sloe gin or spiced rum
- Poke some holes in your orange and then squeeze your cloves into the holes
- Put your orange into a large saucepan, then pour over your cider, ginger beer, add a couple of the cinnamon sticks, and a splash of the syrup/honey
- Put the lid on a bring to the boil
- Once boiled turn the heat off. Then add a measure or two of the sloe gin/spiced rum
- Pour into a big jug to serve, leave the orange in as well to add depth to the flavour
Firework and Bonfire Safety
Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
Never return to a firework once it has been lit.
Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators.
Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire.
Buy only legal fireworks and store them in a cool, dry place.
Don’t allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the bin.
Think about your pet! Animals have sensitive ears and can be very frightened or stressed. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they’ll run loose or get injured.