Saturday, 31 December 2011


With a flurry of markets, an extremely hectic week at work, and working Christmas Eve for the first time, Christmas arrived with both a bang and a whimper. Not that it was bad in anyway, far from it, just that is appeared very suddenly, with a wave of exhaustion and the sudden realisation that lots of things just hadn't been done.

Nevertheless, it arrived, and when it did it was perhaps the best yet. No obligations, not stress, no pretensions. Just the two of us, and the crazy kittehs, in the house, drinking cranberry and fizz cocktails, making a mess and trying to catch up with ourselves.

Here's a small snapshot of what we've been up to over the past week. I will be back tomorrow with news of an exciting month to come.

The tree was decked, with lots of nice things placed underneath.

I indulged in a very small amount of Christmas baking, certainly not as much as I would like.

Christmas Eve rolled around, I dragged myself up the hill for a festive day at work while N dutifully opened the last advent present.

Finally, after a nice long sleep the big day rolled around...

...and was spent mostly enjoying new books and purry dozing company

We went to the Boxing Day match...on the 27th...
...while the kittehs hung out together (somewhat reluctantly).

And then rounded off the week with a very slow, dictionary filled game of scrabble in Italian. We're getting there, slowly.

p.s. I looked back at my resolutions from last year, and was pleased that I definitely fulfilled the first three. As for the fourth, I feel that it should be an ongoing one, because you can never remind the people around you how thankful you are.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Mulled apple juice; or, something to fix the lurgy.

After a weekend of standing outside, trying to be both festive and warm, it seems I have contracted the lurgy. I thought I was fine. It didn't feel that cold on Saturday, I had a great time on the market, did well and even got a glass of port to keep me going.
What could go wrong I ask you?!

Then I woke up on Sunday and felt bleargh. That's the only word for it really. I spent the entire day lying on the sofa being pathetic and complaining about it. (I should warn you, I'm not very good at being ill, it's a bit like watching someone go through the seven stages of grief, accept I never get much beyond denial and whinging).

I gaily got up for work on Monday feeling better and determined not to let it get to me. But by the time I had finished my shift, and come home and done a mammoth session in the jam kitchen, I had to accept that I was feeling more tired that I should be. I woke up this morning and the lurgy was back with a vengeance. I don't like it. I don't like letting people down and not being able to go to work, I don't like being stuck at home knowing there are a million things I should be doing and no being able to summon up the energy for as little as making toast.

Now, where is all this whinging going, you've probably started asking yourself? Well, it's heading towards my favourite discovery of this year's festive season. Mulled apple juice.
No, really. It's amazing. It's such a simple thing, and yet it immediately makes you feel warm and festive inside. Plus, it's a completely alcohol and guilt free drink that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike any time of the day. (Although my gut instinct says that a dash of some brandy in there would be a super addition). I know it doesn't look like much, but the transformation when you put the three ingredients together and heat them is something very special indeed.

It's so simple, it can be multiplied almost infinitely, so you can slake the thirst of any size crowd, or just indulge yourself. I give you, the genius that is, mulled apple juice:

1 mug cloudy, best quality you can afford, apple juice, per person. (I use some from a local farm which is every so slightly tart, which works well as it stops the end product being too sweet).
1 skant tsp honey per person
1/2 tsp mixed spice, per person.

Place all of the above ingredients into a pan and warm together gently as the honey dissolves. You want it hot, but don't let it boil.

Pour back into a mug. Drink.

See! It's that easy, and if you use the best quality ingredients you can it's utterly delicious. Go, make it now...and if you do, could I have a mug please?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Time out, and dates for your diary

I met up with a group of friends tonight for an early festive tipple. As I arrived and was saying hello one of the greeted me with "it was so exciting to see you mentioned in London's Time Out this week." Which I responded to with a "wahh?!", a dazed look and stunned silence. I thought she was joking. But after a couple of drinks and on the way back to the tube station I was marched into a shop, where she picked up the magazine and read proudly that this year's Christmas Food Market in Covent Garden Piazza will include: "guest appearance from some of the hottest food bloggers...baker and jam-maker Rebecca shares the wit of her At Number 98 Blog"
Seriously. I nearly fell over! I mean. Wow! I need to up my game in this little space clearly. If they are going to say such darn nice things about me (and two other very talented people, Niamh Shields - Eat Like a Girl and Chris Dreyfus - Silver and Claret) I really ought to start bringing you a bit more wit and certainly some more recipes.
So I bring you a promise, that I will try and be present more often in this little space, not matter what the pace of the jam world!

But before I begin hassling you with recipes and wit (?!) I shall first bombard you with some dates for your diary.
Calling all those in London and the South East: No. 98 Limited will be rocking the following Christmas markets with Good Cheer and Good Preserves. If you're in the area come and say hello, and have a taste!

Dec. 3rd 2pm-6pm Reigate High Street, Surrey

Dec 9th and 11th 10.30am - 8pm COVENT GARDEN PIAZZA! It's a long cold day, please come and say hello!

Dec 17th 10am-4pm Reigate Community Centre, Surrey.

The official website will also be updated shortly to include a full product list. I will be offering a limited mail order service, if you'd like to buy online. However, please note that postage on jars is a lot, so will be costly, especially as I will only be using Royal Mail Recorded Delivery to ensure tracking. If you'd like to enquire about pricing you can email info (at) no98 (dot)