It’s not often that a press release gives us a little lump in our throat, but a snippet of news we received about the pub chain Ember Inns has really touched our hearts this year.
Sadly, some of the latest national research has revealed that half a million UK senior citizens will be alone on Christmas Day, making it a day to dread for many lonely people. While most of us enjoy a day of fun and family each year, almost 1 in 20 older people didn’t receive a single Christmas present last year. So, it’s not surprising to learn that Ember Inns reckon that 20% of older people wake up on Christmas morning dreading the day ahead and that 1 in 10 are expecting to eat a ready meal on Christmas Day.
Ember Inns support The Silver Line a helpline which provides information, friendship and advice to older people and this year, each of their 130 pubs across the UK has donated a table so that guests nominated by The Silver Line can enjoy a special Christmas meal with them.
Fiona Richardson, Marketing Manager for Ember Inns, said, “At Ember Inns we’re passionate about communities. We all have friends or relatives that live alone and this can be a very tough time for them, especially in the run up to Christmas and our pubs are ideally situated in the community to help.”
In the UK more than half of all 75 year olds live alone and one in ten suffers ‘intense’ loneliness but is reluctant to ask for help.
We say “bravo Ember Inns” and a big “Happy Christmas” to everyone involved.
Is everyone ready for a night of ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night?
Halloween has snowballed in popularity in recent years and though there’s an assumption that it’s an ‘American import’, it’s actually thought to date back to the ancient Celtic pagan festival of Sahmain or ‘summer’s End’, which was a community celebration, held on November 1st to mark the annual harvest and the start of a New Year. It was a time of festivities and bonfires and the people of the time believed that the spirits of the dead were active.
Over time, elements of Sahmain merged with observance of the Christian feast day of All Saints or ‘All Hallows’ giving rise to the term of Hallow E’en for the night before the festivities . Children and the poor would go from house to house ‘souling’ to beg for small soul cakes in return for saying a prayer for the dead. Quite a ringer for modern day trick or treating!
Emigrants to the new world of America took these age old traditions with them and over time, it evolved into the much loved modern day celebration, which has come full circle back to the UK and is a perfect excuse to get together and party with family and friends.
Of course, all good parties need a celebration cake and we’ve found this fabulous idea from the Vegetarian Society for a creepy Black Widow cake. You’ve just got time to bake it before tomorrow night!
Serves 8-12 slices
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes
For the cake:
100g soft eating liquorice pieces
250ml vegetable oil
165g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
50g walnut pieces, ground
2 tbsp gram flour mixed with 4 tbsp water
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
Few drops vanilla extract
For the icing:
60g icing sugar
½ tsp food colouring (optional)
1 tbsp water
Black icing pen
1 piece of soft eating liquorice
1. Preheat oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4. Chop the liquorice into small pieces and put in a small pan with 175ml water. Boil for about 5 minutes until the liquorice is starting to go soft and mushy. Remove from the heat and pour in the vegetable oil, stirring well.
2. Put the remaining cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir in the liquorice mixture.
3. Put in a small (18cm) lined cake tin and bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the middle of the cake clean.
4. Leave in the cake tin to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Mix together the icing sugar, food colouring (if using) and water, then spread over the cooled cake with a palette knife, gently and evenly. Using the black icing pen draw a web pattern on top of the icing. Then make a spider out of the spare piece of liquorice!
Recipe © The Vegetarian Society 2012. Visit www.vegsoc.org for more recipes and information.
If you like to browse your recipes on the move, the new app from the Vegetarian Society could be just what you need. It has just been launched in time for National Vegetarian Week which this year takes place between 19-25 May 2014.
The app features a range of recipes for all abilities and has a handy binder function so you can save all your favourite recipes for easy look up.
So, whether you need inspiration for a butternut squash a lonely can of chickpeas or simply to search for some scrumptious puddings, the app is sure to be a help. It is available free of charge from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
Find out more by visiting www.vegsoc.org/recipeapp