Our Wedding Venue

 

All weddings, even the small, simple affairs require planning and decision making. When my fiancé, Grant got down on one knee back in September we were able to make two very big decisions very quickly: we both knew we wanted a spring wedding (my fiancé gets time off work in May and I adore spring-time flowers) and we both agreed on the venue.

I had always dreamed of having a barn wedding in the countryside, however, when we had a look into the various barn venues available we couldn’t quite find one that ticked all the boxes for us. A lot of them were either way over our budget or they didn’t have a menu that appealed to us. For us, there was only one real choice and that was South Causey Inn. This venue has it all; beautiful views over the Beamish Valley, a rustic setting, a fantastic wedding package (within budget) and superb menus. Although it wasn’t exactly a barn venue, it ticked so many other boxes it was definitely the clear choice for us.

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We took a trip up there to speak to the wonderful staff about potentially booking our big day at their venue. Luckily, on the night we visited them they actually had the ceremony and reception areas set out as they would have for a wedding so we got to see exactly what it could look like on the day. We even had a little practice walk down the aisle! It didn’t take us long to make the decision to book it and set a date.

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Now we had a date set, it all seemed to be getting real. Our big day isn’t until May 2017 but of course, that doesn’t stop me from doing a spot of wedding scrapbooking or sourcing ideas from Pinterest every now and then!

Just before Christmas, our dream wedding venue became even better! The staff at South Causey left Grant a voicemail about our booking and immediately I feared the worst and, I must admit, may have had a very slight bridezilla moment. Had they double-booked our day? Had they got the booking wrong? We called them back and they assured us that everything was absolutely fine and they just wanted to inform us that they were planning on opening a second wedding venue on site, totally separate from the one we had booked and that we shouldn’t worry as it wouldn’t affect our day at all. This set my mind at ease and I went back to being a very relaxed, chilled-out bride-to-be.

I later had a look on their website where they had recently added more information on the new venue and found out that they had received planning permission to build a barn on site where couples can get married and host their wedding reception. It will even have its own private garden overlooking the valley. Oh, and it would be ready and open months before our wedding date!! Was it too good to be true? Our perfect wedding venue now with the dream barn setting! We decided to get in touch with the staff at South Causey to see if we could have our day in the new ‘Old Barn’ and they invited us up to give us more information.

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                                 How they propose the barn will look when completed

So on December 23rd we went along to see what they had to say, and after a delicious dinner in the restaurant we sat down with the very friendly owner, Susan, who went over all the details of the new venue (which just kept getting better and better) and told us it would be no problem at all to have our day there. We immediately signed a new contract for the barn and everything was sorted.

The plans they have made for the venue are absolutely stunning and exactly how I always pictured the perfect wedding setting. Now that it’s all booked we can get started on the rest of the planning and make our big day one to remember!

Melting Chocolate Pudding

 This is my go-to dessert for Christmas day for anyone who doesn’t like traditional Christmas pudding…

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100g dark chocolate, chopped

100g unsalted butter

150g light soft brown sugar

3 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

50g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 200C.  Butter four ramekins and place on a baking tray.  Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of hot water (or alternatively heat in the microwave) and stir until smooth.

Let the mixture cool slightly before stirring in the sugar, then the eggs, followed by the vanilla extract and finally the flour. Pour the mixture into the ramekins.

The mixture can now either go in the fridge and wait until they’re nearly ready to be eaten, or bake now for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are firm to touch but the middles still feel squidgy. You can either serve them in the ramekins or carefully run a knife around the edge of each pudding, then turn out onto serving plates.  Serve them with pouring cream, or even better, pouring cream with a dash of Amaretto.

Popcorn

Popcorn is the perfect Christmas Eve treat!  There’s nothing better than snuggling up in a cosy pair of pyjamas with a classic Christmas movie and a huge bowl or popcorn.  It also makes a great homemade gift when presented in a cellophane gift bag tied with pretty festive ribbon.  The only problem is choosing a flavour…

Oreo Popcorn

This is perfect for children but it is also my personal favourite and was a hit with my Dad when I made it for him last Christmas.

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1 bag or sweet or regular white popcorn

12 Oreos (broken into small pieces)

170g Vanilla candy melts

If using popping corn, heat according to package instructions, listen carefully to the popping and try not to burn the popcorn.  Once popped, remember to move any remaining un-popped kernels (you don’t want to bite down on one of those).

Mix your popcorn with the crushed Oreos in a large bowl until evenly distributed.

Next, microwave the candy melts.  I usually heat for around 20 seconds, give it a quick stir, then put back into the microwave for another 20 seconds.  Do this until they are fully melted, glossy and smooth.

Drizzle the candy melts over the popcorn mixture little by little and stir with a rubber spatula until all of the melts have been added and the full mixture is evenly coated.

Spread the mixture out onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and allow to set.  Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

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Salted Caramel Popcorn

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17g light soft brown sugar

300ml double cream

50g butter

1tsp salt

1 bag of salted or regular white popcorn

Add the sugar, cream, butter and salt to a saucepan, set over a low heat and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved.  Turn the heat up and let the sauce bubble for a couple of minutes until golden and glossy.  Add the popcorn to a large bowl and stir the sauce in little by little until the popcorn is evenly coated.

Set the oven to 150 degrees.  Pour the coated popcorn out onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for around 30 minutes (stirring every 10 minutes).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before breaking up any clumps of popcorn which might have stuck together.  Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

Chocolate Bark

 

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This is such an easy treat to make.  Simply melt your chosen chocolate, pour out onto a tray lined with parchment paper and spread evenly until about 1/2cm thick.  Sprinkle on your chosen topping and add to the fridge to set.  Once completely cooled, break the chocolate into shards and it’s ready to serve.  This is a perfect homemade Christmas gift and it looks so impressive. There are so many different flavours to choose from but here are a few of my favourites:

Milk chocolate with chopped cranberries and almonds

White chocolate sprinkled with broken candy canes and edible glitter

Dark chocolate with crystallised ginger and cardamom

Milk chocolate topped with cherries and mini marshmallows

Dark chocolate with caramelised nuts

White chocolate topped with broken pretzels

Gingerbread

 

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260g plain flour (plus extra for rolling)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

95g butter (cubed)

130g light soft brown sugar

1 free-range egg

3 tbsp. golden syrup

Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon. Add the butter to the mixture and rub together with your fingertips until the mix looks like breadcrumbs then stir in the sugar.

Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the flour mixture and stir until the mixture clumps together (you might have to use your hands to bring the mixture together). Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them. You can also roll the mixture into balls and gently press down on the baking tray to create round gingerbread biscuits.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing, cake decorations or chocolate.

The Best Chocolate Fudge Cake

 

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This rich, moist chocolate fudge cake is just heavenly! I’ve made it a number of times now and each time I have tweaked the recipe slightly to experiment with different flavours.  The first time I added the juice of an orange to the ganache for a beautifully rich dark chocolate orange cake.  The second time I added amaretto for an extra indulgent twist! The beauty of this cake is that you can add a huge range of flavours to the basic recipe.  I’ve also tried different toppings each time including a white chocolate spider web for Halloween, a box of chocolates and even Champagne truffles.  Anything goes!

For the cake:

200g good quality dark chocolate

200g butter

85g self-raising flour

85g plain flour

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

200g light muscovado sugar

200g golden caster sugar

25g cocoa powder

3 medium egg

75ml milk

For the Ganache:

200g good quality dark chocolate, as above

284ml carton double cream

2 tbsp golden caster sugar

Butter a 20cm round cake tin and line the base. Preheat the oven to fan 140C/conventional 160C/ gas 3. Break 200g of dark chocolate in pieces into a medium, heavy-based pan. Cut 200g butter into pieces and tip in with the chocolate. Warm through over a low heat just until everything is melted – be careful not to overheat.

While the chocolate is melting, mix 85g self-raising flour, 85g plain flour, ¼ bicarbonate of soda, 200g light muscovado sugar, 200g golden caster sugar and 25g cocoa powder in a bowl, mixing with your hands to get rid of any lumps. Beat 3 medium eggs in a bowl and stir in 75ml milk.

Now pour the melted chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring until everything is well blended and you have a smooth, runny consistency. Pour this into the tin and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes – if you push a skewer in the centre it should come out clean and the top should feel firm (don’t worry if it cracks a bit). Leave to cool in the tin (don’t worry if it dips slightly), then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cake is cold, cut it in half horizontally. To make the ganache, pour a 284ml carton of double cream into a pan, add 2 tbsp golden caster sugar and heat until almost boiling. Take off the heat and add 200g chopped dark chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.  Put the mixture into the fridge, this will help it to thicken.  Once completely cool, sandwich the two halves of the cake together with a little of the ganache.  Add the rest to the top and sides of the cake and smooth with a palette knife.  Decorate the cake with chocolate curls, truffles, or whatever you wish!

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Christmas Markets

So, we kicked off our festive celebrations last weekend with a trip to Vallum Farm Christmas market.  If you haven’t yet visited Vallum I highly recommend that you do.  They have so much to offer including a tea room, ice cream parlour, restaurant and patisserie/deli.  You can also enjoy a walk around the farm and take in some of the beautiful surroundings.  A warm welcome and friendly service is also guaranteed!11990620_10156176054975307_4771887161032043492_n

This was the perfect place to get us into the Christmas spirit with a huge range of stalls offering products from all over the North including beautiful cakes, local ales, festive interiors and much more!

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I was very excited to have my first mulled wine of the festive season and, of course, sample some yummy festive treats from Robin Hood Inn, Scream for Pizza (who cooked delicious pizza from scratch in their wonderful gold van) and Northumberland Sausage Company.

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The festive cheer continued with some classic Christmas songs performed by Prudhoe Community Band and we couldn’t help but sing along to our favourites!

Don’t worry too much if you missed this Christmas market.  There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the festivities at one of the many markets in the region, the hard part is trying to fit them all in!

Christmas at Beamish – Saturday 24th November – Thursday 24th December

Sunderland Frost Village – Keel Square – Thursday 26th November – Christmas Eve

Newcastle Christmas Market – Grey’s Monument – Wednesday 4th – Sunday 8th December

Durham Christmas Festival – Friday 4th – Sunday 6th December

Bede’s World Yule Festival – Friday 4th – Sunday 6th December

Gibside Festive Market – Saturday 5th December – 10.00-15.00

Carlisle Christmas Fayre – Saturday 12th – Sunday 13th December

Alnwick Garden Christmas Market – Various Dates Throughout December