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
2 Tbsp Golden Syrup (or corn syrup if you can’t get the good stuff)
1 tsp white wine vinegar
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.