Bringing home the bacon

As we say goodbye to those long summer nights it’s time to cosy up with something simply wonderful this Autumn, and whilst you can’t buy happiness you can certainly buy Crispy Bacon & Maple Syrup Popcorn, which is pretty close in our opinion!

We all love a chance to indulge in our favourite snacks and what better excuse is there to scoff up some Crispy Bacon & Maple Syrup Popcorn than National Bacon Day! National Bacon Day celebrates this yummy meat in a variety of unusual ways with Bacon jokes, Bacon art and event Bacon outfits! The first ever wild pigs were said to be domesticated over 10,000 years ago in central Asia, where the process of preserving pork became popular due to it being easy to cook, delicious and inexpensive. In the modern world, bacon can be found in all kinds of tasty treats such as bacon chocolate, bacon mayonnaise and most importantly bacon popcorn!

To celebrate National bacon day, here are a few of our favourite bacon facts!

1. Bacon grease was used to make explosives in world war II.

2. The name for this delicious treat originated from Germany where it was referred to as ‘Bakko’, the name then developed in the 16th century to Bacoun before eventually receiving the name that gets our mouths watering today- Bacon.

3. The reason your craving bacon? That’ll be because bacon contains six types of umami which produces an addictive nurochemical response.

4. The phrase ‘bringing home the bacon’ is said to have originated from 12th century England where husbands were awarded a side of Bacon if they could swear before god that they had not argued with their wife for a year and were therefore seen as good citizens.

and finally to give you hope through these chilly winter days we leave you with our all time favourite bacon quote from chef Anne Burrell:

“Bacon always makes it better”

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How to Beat Those Winter Blues

Although winter is the fun and festive period of Christmas (EEK), yummy food, cosy nights and delicious hot chocolates, winter can make us all a bit down and miss those wild summer adventures! So, we have some handy tips to keep you (and us!) as chirpy and cheerful as possible!

Keep active

Although it’s super tempting to snuggle up and indulge in those tasty treats, getting out and about, and running around (walking works too!) has proven to raise spirits and keep us happy, happy, happy! Not only does staying active reduce stress, anxiety and depression, it also helps us with weight loss too- woo!

Here are a few fun ideas to get you moving:

  • Get walking and enjoy the crisp winter season
  • Convince your friends to get involved and do some fitness classes together- get competitive
  • Jump into the swing of Christmas and take to the skating rink- Ice Ice Baby
  • Remember that everything counts- run up those stairs, walk to the shops, have dance and a jiggle while the kettle is boiling
  • Get your family involved and go on a mini adventure- Castles, beaches, National Parks
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Getting involved in a fitness class at our local Super Tramp!

Make sure you spend time your friends and family

The winter is typically a time that you spend with your nearest and dearest, they know how to make you smile and will brighten your day! Socialising has a super positive effect on mental health, so get chatting over a good ole cuppa!

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Take up a new hobby

Taking up a new hobby can be a great way to keep you busy! If you choose something creative you could even busy yourself with making your friends and family Christmas goodies- cards, decorations, cookies, wreaths, there’s so much to make!

If you aren’t the creative type perhaps look to get involved with a sport. Team sports are great and there lots of sports that aren’t only for the summer periods!

Eat Happy Foods

Before the times of flicking a switch to heat up our homes and the wonderful technology we have today, keeping warm was far more difficult. As we have evolved and can keep cosy all through the chilly season, we must not forget that it is super important to maintain a healthy balanced diet. Along with our wonderful Christmas treats, we also need our good old greens! A healthy diet will help prevent that winter gloominess taking over!

Here are some foods that aren’t just healthy but have also been proven to make us happier (YES PLEASE):

  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Quinoa
  • Dark Chocolate- (HOORAY)
  • Green tea
  • Apples
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Coffee
  • Oranges
  • Eggs

Checkout our blog post from September for a super healthy banana oat pancake recipe, to inspire your healthy (but still yummy) lifestyle!

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Our scrumptious banana oat pancakes! 

Let’s not let the grizzly winter get the best of us this year and make the most of what those cold and winter days do bring! Happy winter from us all at Portlebay Popcorn!

 

Save our Hedgehogs!

If you’re anything like us, you just LIVE for this time of year. Crisp Autumn nights are made nice and cosy with hot chocolate, sticky toffee puddings and of course a bloomin’ big bonfire that lights up the sky and warms you down to your little cotton socks.

But we’re not the only ones who love to kick up some leaves this time of year – hedgehogs come in a very close second! Right about now, they’re gorging on slugs, spiders and other creepy crawlies so they can have a nice, long snooze. Or in science-y speak, they’re about to hibernate. Unfortunately, us humans have made it pretty tricky for these balls of prickles to find the perfect bed for themselves, or do very much at all!

Right now, there are just under a million in the wild; that may sound a lot, but in the 1950’s there were 30 million of these critters running around. 30 million! There isn’t one specific cause, but loss of habitat, increased farming, busier roads and a rise in the number of badgers definitely doesn’t help.

So what can we do to help our spiky little friends? We went to Prickly Ball Farm, a farm dedicated to caring for injured or sick hedgehogs, to find out!

Build Your Bonfires Last Minute

The one time being prepared is a bad idea! Stacking all your burnable items right before you set it alight will unsure an unsuspecting hedgehog hasn’t had time to make a nice little nest in amongst the bonfire! If you really MUST be organised, make sure you give the ground underneath a gentle poke to wake them up in time!

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Keep Your Garden a Little Bit Messy

A hooray for lazy gardeners everywhere! The advice from wildlife experts is to look at your garden as a mini nature reserve – twigs, leaves and bushes are a hedgehog’s paradise. Or, if you want to give your little garden lodgers the V.I.H experience, you can make up you own hedgehog house to make sure they are completely undisturbed!

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A hedgehog oasis

Have Holes in Your Fences 

This may sound like we just want you to have a really shabby garden, but these little Tom & Jerry style holes will make sure a hedgehog can take refuge in your lovely garden! Hedgehogs travel 1-2 miles a night searching for food, shelter and mates, so the easier they can get around, the more likely they’re to survive.

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A hedgehog nightmare!

If You Find a Hedgehog…

Rejoice! You’re one of the lucky ones to have spotted one this year! It may be peckish, so offer it cat/dog meat or cat/dog biscuits, or you could also use bird seed, sunflower hearts, meal worms, unsalted peanuts, raisins and dried fruit, and only offer it water to drink!

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Donate to Your Local Hedgehog Hospital 

There’s no such thing as an NHS or private healthcare for hedgehogs unfortunately, so donating to places like Prickly Ball Farm ensure they can get the care they need if they do become ill, or lose their homes and habitat! Olbas oil for sniffly hedgehog noses, newspapers, cat food and blankets are all greatly appreciated at hedgehog hospitals up and down the country. If you do want to make a donation, you can find their info here!

We would just like to say a massive thank you to Prickly Ball Farm for letting come to visit, and in particular Danielle who is a hedgehog genius and answered all of our many  questions! The hedgehogs are lucky to have you!

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The lovely Danielle and adorable Gary

 

Easy Painted Pumpkin Ideas

It’s that time of year again where our screens are filled with gruesome ghouls, haunted houses and even the streets have a vampire or two on the prowl. With all this horror and gore coming at us from every angle, do we really need to bring it into our kitchens too? Carved pumpkins sure look impressive on Pinterest, but the amount of scraping, scooping and swearing at the shoddy carving kits you buy from the supermarket, it’s enough to put anyone on edge, even without the jump scares.

Painted pumpkins are another story altogether. With little mess, no knives and a whole world of colours at your fingertips, the possibilities are endless, and leave you with pumpkins that will jazz up any windowsill or Hallows Eve spread!

Dripping Pumpkin

Dripping Pumpkin

You will need:

  • A pumpkin
  • 1 tube of matte acrylic paint
  • 1 tube of metallic acrylic paint
  • 1 large paintbrush
  • 1 medium paintbrush
  • 1 small paintbrush

Halloween doesn’t have to be all blood and guts – give your pumpkins oodles of opulence with metallic acrylics and matte finishes. Not as scary as your typical jack o’ lantern, but this will definitely add a little extra gothic glamour to any ghoulish gathering! Use the large paintbrush to cover your pumpkin in the base colour, allow to dry either naturally or with a hairdryer, and apply another coat if necessary. Using the medium paintbrush, create the lines going down the pumpkin starting at the stalk at the top, making sure to go all the way around, and varying in length. Then using the smaller paintbrush, create the paint globs at the end of the lines for a realistic oozing effect!

Geometric Pumpkin

Geometric Pumpkin

You will need:

  • A pumpkin
  • Acrylic paint in at least 3-4 different colours and varying finishes
  • Washi or masking tape
  • 3-4 medium paint brushes, or just 1 if you’re happy to clean between colour switches

This style is perfect for those who LIVE for the satisfaction of slowly peeling off pieces of tape to reveal a glorious design of your own creation. We chose a geometric pattern commonly found in Ikea, but you can create whatever style you like! Simply use washi or masking tape to create your design, fill in the gaps using acrylic paint and a medium paint brush, and make sure to layer up so the colours POP! It usually takes between 30-45 minutes for the layer to dry, or around 4-5 with a hair dryer, so make sure the layers aren’t too thick. It may be difficult but be restrained when pulling off the tape, and peel off slowly; acrylic paint tends to lift and tear away if ripped away too quickly!

Stencilled Pumpkin

Stencil Pumpkin

You will need:

  • A pumpkin
  • White card
  • A pencil or pen
  • A pair of scissors or craft scalpel
  • Some sewing or drawing pins
  • 2 tubes of acrylic paint
  • 1 large paintbrush
  • 1 medium paintbrush

This requires a little extra effort, but the results are terror-ific! Apply your base colour first, using 1 or 2 layers if you need to, and while it dries create your stencil using the card and scissors or scalpel, making sure to consider the size of the pumpkin before you draw out your design. We found it best to then use sewing pins to stick the stencil on to the pumpkin before filling it in with your contrasting paint, as tape or blue tack would peel away your base layer! Maybe you’re gifted in calligraphy and you don’t need stencils to tie your creativity down, but for us mere mortals stencils are a necessity for creating a truly polished looking pumpkin!

 

Adorable Plumpkin

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You will need:

  • 1 plumpkin
  • Acrylic paint in at least 3-4 different colours and varying finishes
  • 3-4 small paint brushes, or just 1 if you’re happy to clean between colour switches

 With these adorable balls of spookiness, you can really do whatever design you would like and they will always come out great because…well…look at it! You won’t find these gems in with the carving pumpkins; instead you’ll be more likely to find them in with the cooking pumpkins in the vegetable section. If you can’t find any of these, look out for little squashes in the vegetable section too, as they will work just as well!

 

Banana Oat Pancakes

Bored of your regular smashed avocado on toast? Fancy kicking your pancake game up a notch? Using no flour and no sugar, these banana oat pancakes are a barely naughty alternative to your regular Sunday brunch!

For 1 person you will need:

 

• 1 banana

• 1 egg

• 65g of rolled oats

• ½ a teaspoon of baking powder

• A pinch of salt

• A pinch of cinnamon (depending on your cinnamon taste levels)

• Whatever you would like to serve! We used maple syrup, fresh raspberries and cherries, and a sprinkling of Cinnamon Swirl Popcorn.

Method:

 

• Use either a blender or tonnes of elbow grease to mush up the banana and egg, and then use your remaining strength to mix in the oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

• It can be as smooth as you like it – we used a blender so it was silky smooth, but I’m sure it would be just as nice with a few chunks of banana inside!

• Let the batter have a little time out for 10-20 minutes so it can thicken.

• Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, and plop in a blob of coconut oil (or any oil you prefer).

• Fry generous spoonful’s of batter on both sides until golden brown, and good enough to wolf down in one bite.

• Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup and lashing of popcorn and fruit!

Easy peasey lemon squeezy!

The Bake is on!: Week 3

As soon as Autumn tumbles around it seems all of our internal tummy clocks start craving the gentle warmth of cinnamon; whether it be sprinkled over hot chocolate or dusted over pancakes, nothing quite beats the humble cinnamon cookie.

We had Lucy Rocks Paleo’s glorious popcorn and granola cheesecake last week, but for week 3 we’re heading back to biscuits, or more importantly cinnamon swirl and blush granola cookies (yay!).

For this recipe you’ll need to get yours paws on:

  • 225g of soft salted butter
  • 250g of demerara sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 300g of self raising flour 
  • 1/2 tsp on baking powder 
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon 
  • 75g of Portlebay Cinnamon Swirl popcorn 
  • 40g of Lucy Rocks Paleo Blush Granola 
  • Chocolate or toffee sauce (or both) for decorating

Start off by preheating your oven to 180 °C, and lining a baking tin with baking paper. If you don’t have any, lining it with butter and flour works just as well.

Next, you’ve got to beat the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk; once it’s combined, whisk in the egg as well. This isn’t going to be you’re smoother-than-smooth cake batter; it looks a bit like sugary quinoa, so not the best for whisk licking based on personal experience…

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From quinoa…

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…to edible pop-pourri!
Next, tip the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, Cinnamon Swirl Popcorn and Blush Granola in the bowl, and get your guns out because I would NOT recommend mixing this with an electric whisk. Popcorn and granola will fly everywhere, and you’ll end up with more of a popcorn dust than a popcorn crunch; that isn’t personal experience, but pure bakers intuition… and common sense.

Once that’s all combined and you have a stiff mixture of cookie dough, start rolling the dough into golfball sized balls, and put out on to your beautifully lined tray from earlier. Make sure there is a bit of a gap in between them, as they do tend to spread. Leave them there for 12-13 minutes, or until they’re golden brown; if they’re still a little bit soft on top not to worry, they will harden as they cool.

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From balls of dough…

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…too fully fledged cookies!
And they you have it! Decorate them as you like them; we drizzled ours with toffee and chocolate sauce, because we just couldn’t decide between them, and serve with a tall glass of milk or a nice cup of tea. The perfect little Autumn treat!

As with last week, show us your bakes on Facebook or Twitter, using our recipe or your favourite, and win some lovely samples from us and Lucy Rocks Paleo!

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