A browse around the General Store

General store collage

When we started the market, we were all completely new to stocking and running a stall selling locally made high-quality foods and toiletries, and to be honest we had no idea of what would be popular and what wouldn’t. We wanted to offer as wide a range as possible of items that were a little bit special, but that were also affordable. We’ve offered a variety of products in the General Store over the last couple of years, but there are some ranges that people now ask for specifically, and which disappear very quickly!

Of course, the artisan breads from the Cornfield Bakery are always extremely popular, as are the tasty savoury products from Just Biscuits and the appealing little waxed cheeses from Little Shop of Cheese. But what is a hunk of cheese without a good tangy chutney or pickle?

Jim and Jules are a small family business making top-notch jellies, chutneys and pickles from locally sourced produce, and we find that once people have sampled their wares, they come back for more. Last year, they made a special Christmas chutney for us, using Piddington apples (provided by Karen and Derek – thank you!), which was hugely popular.

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This year, we’ll again be selling the little gift sets ‘A Piddington Pair’ – a jar of Piddington Christmas Chutney paired with a jar of Rosemary’s Hedgerow Jam in a ready labelled gift bag. Honestly, you couldn’t get a more local and unique gift for a foodie friend! As well as our own special chutney, you’ll find some other delicious-sounding items made by Jim and Jules (unless someone else has snapped them up first):

  • Jim and Jules Onion & Chilli Gubbins
  • Apple & Chilli Jelly
  • Pops’ Perfect Piccalilli
  • Beetroot & Orange
  • Hearty Ale Chutney – made with beer from Tring Brewery
  • Jingleberry Jelly – a very special edition made with Hedgerow fruits after a family forage along the canals
  • Cranberry & Red Onion
  • Quince & Apple Jelly – made with Quince from Jim and Jules’s village
  • Green Tomato Chutney – made with Tomatoes from Jim and Jules’s greenhouse

Jacobs

Another much loved range is Jacobs Field Lavender. These toiletries are made from extracted oils produced from lavender grown in Jacobs Field in Islip, Oxfordshire. The venture is an inspiring example of ‘land share’, bringing together like-minded people who own land with those who would like to share and cultivate it for a greater good. Profits are given to local charities; local schoolchildren come to learn about growing veg, and there are beehives producing honey. The products themselves are gorgeous. You’ll find all your favourites – Hand Cream, Hand Wash, Linen Water, Moisture Lotion, Pillow Spray – but you’ll also be among the first to try their brand-new products – Body Butter, Body Latte and Essential Oil. We’ll be selling Jacobs Field Lavender products in beautifully presented ready labelled gift bags, to make your life a bit simpler. If you buy two or more products, the gift bag is free.

There are lots more interesting products on the General Store. Why not make up your own hamper from the tempting array of goods on offer? Ask for a basket at the stall.

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Who’s coming?

VH Xmas Pantry pic

So here it is, the final list of stalls at The Pantry Christmas Market!

As usual, there’s a mixture of old friends and exciting newcomers – not to mention some stallholders who are certainly both. You should recognise a few familiar Piddington faces among people who are taking a stall for the first time.

I hope to feature at least some of these in more detail over the coming week, but for now, in alphabetical order, we have …

Zena Ashdown: A firm favourite at The Pantry, Zena offers a fantastically affordable range of gorgeous handbags and baskets

The Beer Stall: Local ales from Oxfordshire Ales, Vale Brewery Co. and XT Brewing Co. Tasters are of course available, served enthusiastically by the ace team of Ian and Andrew. Why not choose from our selection and make up your own mixed case of ales – for yourself or as a gift?

Jennie Bosher: Cushions, knitted toys, cot blankets and more

Kathy Chalk: Individually designed decorative glass pieces. Offering unique gifts and decorations, Kathy’s stall was very popular last Christmas

Christmas Lights: Assorted lights to make your home sparkle

Debbie’s Home Cooked Food: Another very popular stallholder at The Pantry, Debbie produces ‘proper’ home-cooked food using local ingredients. If you’d like to order in advance to collect at the market, Debbie is happy for you to contact her on 01296 770196 or 07966 148130 or email debbiesfood@outlook.com. Her website shows what is available

Event and Party Essentials: Lots of great Christmas gifts and stocking fillers, plus ideas to make your party go with a bang (or a bong – ask at the stall!). Lynda has supported village events and initiatives for many years, so do come along and support her own brand new venture – and add some fun to your Christmas preparations too

Forever Living: Range of aloe vera products, including Christmas hampers

Horton Accessories: Chris will once again be offering his range of fine-quality accessories for ladies, gentlemen and the home – you may find the ideal gift for that chap who is so difficult to buy for!

The Piddington Bakers: This village community stall selling delicious homemade cakes and bakes needs no introduction. Go on, treat yourself! All profits are in aid of St Nicholas’ Church fabric fund

Alex Simmons: A first-timer as a stallholder at The Pantry and a resident of Piddington, Alex is selling a hand-picked range of beautiful and eclectic home accessories and gifts, from ceramic tea light holders to reindeer hides

Liz Tagert: Another Piddington villager and first-timer at our market, Liz will be offering household goods, including kitchen wares, ceramic storage jars and lanterns

Waddesdon Deli Company: It’s hard to imagine The Pantry without Sandy and her stall packed with delicious home cured and smoked produce, cheeses and more. If you sample some of her products, it’s guaranteed you’ll want to take them home with you!

Richard Walker Photography: A newcomer to The Pantry, Richard is a photographer who will be selling mounted and framed prints, cards and calendars featuring his work. Richard is married to …

Jenni Walker (The Hat Hire Company): Another very popular stallholder at The Pantry, who’ll be bringing her collection of seasonal fashion accessories and contemporary jewellery

Toys: Lots of children’s toys at bargain prices, including plenty of stocking fillers

As well as all these stalls you’ll find …

The Pantry Raffle

Fantastic prizes include:

  • a round of golf for four plus spa session at Bicester Golf Club
  • a ladies handbag from Zena Ashdown
  • a car valet worth £17
  • a Christmas hamper
  • six bottles of local ale
  • a bottle of vodka

Make sure you buy a ticket!

 

The General Store

General store collage

All your favourites, including products from Just Biscuits, Little Shop of Cheese, Cornfield Bakery, Jim and Jules (including a new batch of Piddington Christmas Chutney made from Piddington apples!), Rosemary’s Hedgerow Jams, Littlecote Soap Co., Jacobs Field Lavender and more. There’ll be lots of special offers and Christmassy gift packs of toiletries and foodie delights. And once again we’ll be offering ‘A Piddington Pair’ – a jar of Piddington Christmas Chutney paired with a jar of Rosemary’s Hedgerow Jam in a ready labelled gift bag – which proved so popular last year. Or why not make up your own hamper from the tempting array of goods on offer?

And last but certainly not least …

The Coffee Shop

Coffee shop collage 1

Homemade cakes from the Piddington Bakers, croissants and pain-au-chocolat from the Cornfield Bakery, legendary bacon and mushroom baps and now the SUPERBAP (it’s even BIGGER, with THREE rashers of bacon in a whole ciabatta!), hot chocolate with marshmallows and more, all served up with frightening efficiency by the dazzling duo of Maggie and Karen and a crack team of volunteers

By the way, all the images in this post are taken from various Pantry markets over the years. If you appear in one of them and would prefer not to, please email me at hazel@piddingtonvillageoxfordshire.org.uk and I’ll make sure your photo is removed.

 

 

 

Feast of St Nicholas

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I wonder how many people have spotted that the day of the Pantry Christmas Market, 6 December, is also St Nicholas’ Day, or the Feast of St Nicholas. The historical 4th-century bishop of Myra (now part of Turkey), St Nicholas, had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself a corruption of ‘Saint Nikolaos’. His Feast Day on 6 December is still the main day for gift giving and merrymaking in much of Europe, and there are many traditions associated with it. For example, in the Netherlands children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint’s horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts, and in France a little donkey carries baskets filled with children’s gifts, biscuits and sweets.

St Nicholas is also the patron saint of bakers. I was particularly delighted to discover this because our lovely church in Piddington is dedicated to St Nicholas and, as you’ll know if you are a Pantry regular, one of our most popular stalls is The Piddington Bakers, the cake stall run to raise funds for the church fabric fund. The standard of baking is very high in Piddington, and has been for many years, so it is particularly appropriate for our village that bakers should rate a special mention on this date.

st nicholas cookies

Many traditional food items are associated with St Nicholas across Europe, including Dutch and German spiced cookies and cakes. You can find recipes for some of them here. But here’s an ancient English recipe for a light fruity fresh plum pudding, which probably originated as part of the ‘Boy Bishop Celebrations’ that were held on St Nicholas Day during the Middle Ages: St Nicholas Pudding.

I’ll post very soon to let you know which stallholders are coming to the market – there are a lot of them this time, and we’re having to be very creative with how we use our available space!

Eat cake and support your village church

Just to let you know that The Piddington Bakers will once again be filling the community stall with a mouthwatering array of cakes, buns, biscuits, tarts – and I daresay a few mince pies – all baked by the good people of Piddington.

There’s nothing nicer than homemade cake at the weekend, so come and buy a little treat. Or, if you’re a keen baker, and would like to provide something for the stall, please contact Heather.

The cake stall is being run by members of St Nicholas’ Church, and all the proceeds from it will go towards the much needed repairs to the fabric of the church. You can read an update on the work done so far here.