Bonfire Night

This weekend, all over the UK, fires were lit and fireworks whizzed into the sky.  November 5th is Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night and is a favourite celebration of mine.  Coming as it does at the beginning of the winter season it sparkles with the excitement of dark nights and magical possibilities.  And toffee, lots and lots of toffee.

Our farm was a little piece of England this weekend too, as we celebrated with friends and neighbours a year of work and productivity.  We burned wood, ate food, watched fireworks and talked, talked, talked.  It was wonderful, the perfect way to celebrate this extraordinary year.

It was a cold day so the fire was welcomed by everyone, especially the children who happily threw waste wood from our house build into the flames.  It felt good to watch them use their youthful energy to dispose of those last scraps, the few Stephen hadn’t been able to make use of on the farm somewhere.  Friends also enjoyed the opportunity to exercise their chainsaw muscles, chopping up deadfall from the edge of the field, a task we’d been saving up for this time of year.

Eventually we all moved inside for pulled pork or roasted ham sandwiches with home made bbq sauce, along with home made hamburgers toasted on the bbq, all accompanied by delicious salads brought by our guests.  But I have to say I think the big hit of the night was the toffee, made with my Mum’s recipe, a tradition for Bonfire Night that goes back to my childhood.  I simply can’t imagine the occasion without it.

After the food we headed outside into the twilight to enjoy roasting marshmallows on the still hot fire.  Many sticky treats were consumed before Stephen dished out the traditional sparklers and sparked up the fireworks.  The night was alight with colours, whizzing fantastically through the sky or gripped in the hands of little people as they discovered the magic of gunpowder-on-a-stick.

Eventually the collective wail went up from the children that had parents reaching for coats and heading for cars.  Our own boys were out for the count in record time and the house fell silent.  Wrapped up and with cups of tea in hand, Stephen and I headed out to the fire once more.  Overhead the clouds came and went, giving little peeks of the stars as they watched our own sparkling embers from above.  We talked of the year that’s been and the year to come; what we did well and what we will change.  We’ve so much to celebrate and even more to look forward to.

Mum’s Golden Toffee Recipe

450g of brown sugar

300ml water

2 Tbsp Golden Syrup (or corn syrup if you can’t get the good stuff)

50g butter

1 tsp white wine vinegar

Salted peanuts

Grease a baking tray and spread out peanuts evenly (other nuts could be used, salted is best).  Alternatively pour into tart moulds for toffee dabs.  

In a large, heavy based pan, melt together water, butter and vinegar, bring to boil. 

Add sugar and golden syrup, allow to fully disolved.  

Over a medium high heat allow to boil without stirring until the hard crack stage, this should take between 10-15 minutes. 

Test toffee in a bowl of cold water, keep adding drops until they firm a hard ball that crunches when chewed. 

Pour over peanuts and allow to cool before breaking up and eating.  

For preference eat while next to a bonfire and watching fireworks, best shared with loved ones. 

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  1. #1 by Dad on November 6, 2012 - 5:40 pm

    Did not know you had Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall as a guest!! The fire was nothing compared to the rocket-fuelled B-B-Q last year. Looks like you all had a great time. Same again next year?

    • #2 by emmalina73 on November 7, 2012 - 9:40 pm

      Hugh comes to all of our parties! I’m definitely thinking this could be an annual thing ; )

  2. #3 by Alison on November 7, 2012 - 9:34 pm

    I moved to France this year and it was such a joy NOT to have fireworks!! But I love the toffee recipe and will give it a go just with family by the fire inside!

    • #4 by emmalina73 on November 7, 2012 - 9:41 pm

      In my experience (and my experience of eating toffee is extensive) it should taste good anywhere! Let me know how you get on : )

  3. #5 by Helen on November 8, 2012 - 11:18 am

    I need to update Emma’s recipe slightly. She mentioned letting the toffee cool before you can eat it. From experience, I can assure you that the edges cool quite quickly and can be nibbled ahead of the ‘breaking of the slab’

    This may be the reason most of you won’t have had the chance to try Emmas toffee in the past. I’m not saying definitely, just a strong possibility.

    • #6 by emmalina73 on November 8, 2012 - 2:54 pm

      I did indeed have a still warm taste test of the edge! Just for quality control ; )

  4. #7 by movita beaucoup on November 11, 2012 - 12:20 pm

    First off, BONFIRE NIGHT? That’s the best idea ever. Who doesn’t like throwing things on a huge fire? Second, the menu sounds awesome, and I REALLY wanna make that toffee. Especially because it was your mum’s recipe…

    • #8 by emmalina73 on November 11, 2012 - 3:35 pm

      Fire + toffee = bliss. That is pure science my lovely pal. Though I can’t claim my toffee is as good as my Mum’s, it is pretty fabulous, reminds me of home : )

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