Being an independent business means that I will always prefer to support other independent businesses whenever I can. I think in some cases it's unavoidable to use big brands because of things like your location and availability of things. For instance I will always try to shop at our local green grocer for our fruit and vegetables. They also stock local dairy products and locally made jams and chutneys and things.
I also favour independent eateries (well, I do work in one after all). I can't remember the last time we ate out in a chain. However, like I said, this is subject to quality and availability. We are EXTREMELY lucky in York with the selection of independent business that cater to our needs and desires. I know that's not the same everywhere.
There are also many businesses that work, like me, from home. If this is your first time reading my blog you may be confused. I shall explain: I work in a local independent cafe kitchen but I also run my own business from home, baking and cooking meals to order (check out my order page!) Anyway, I digress... I do use other home-based independents: the lady who shapes my eyebrows, for example, runs her salon from home. I have relatively recently met a lady who dyes her own ethically woven fabric and turns them into aprons, tableware, napkins and other linen based products. She is so talented and all her dyes come from natural ingredients - did you know avocado stones turn fabrics pink?
I don't ever get political on my blog. I don't think it gains anything to jump on a soapbox - everyone has their own opinion about everything for one reason or another. But supporting local businesses is something I'm very passionate about. Local businesses are generally about talented people doing something they love and providing a service to their local community. Large chains generally speaking have massive amounts of money just sitting doing nothing or lining corporate pockets. Some business minded people would rather invest in larger corporate companies because they're a safe investment. That's fair enough, like I said: each to their own. But I know that by supporting a local business I might be helping someone get on the property ladder. Or make enough money during the week so they can have the weekend with their children. Or alleviate some of the cost of life by doing what they love rather than being told they can't because they don't have the right qualification. But again, that is just my opinion.
On that note, I think we need cake. Here is a recipe I whipped up a couple of days ago. I bought some locally grown raspberries from a farm shop just outside of York. I didn't know when I'd get to use them so I washed them and froze them - great tip by the way. I also had some chocolate ganache in the freezer that I'd made a while ago so I let that defrost and then whipped it up for the icing.
Raspberry, Rose and Pistachio Loaf
200g butter, softened
100g light brown sugar
75g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
100g pistachios, roughly chopped
100g frozen raspberries (you can use fresh ones but they will bleed into the batter)
1 tsp rose water
Preheat your oven to 150 degrees C and grease and line your favourite loaf tin.
Cream together the butter and sugars until they are light and fluffy. One by one add the eggs. Wait until the first egg is completely mixed in before you add the second and the same for the third. Add the rose water once the eggs are fully combined.
Fold in the chopped pistachios. I chopped mine so that I had some really fine bits and some slightly larger bits - I like a green tinge to the batter and the really fine bits achieve this. Fold in the flour until it is only just completely combined.
Make sure the tin is lined properly and scatter the raspberries along the bottom. If you prefer to have the raspberries in the cake instead of at the bottom, put the batter in first and scatter the fruit on top. Anyway, to do it my way, pour the batter on top of the raspberries and level it off.
Bake in the preheated oven for 70 minutes or until it's properly cooked. I would check it after 40 minutes and then decide how much longer you want to keep it in. You my also want to swivel the tin round depending on the heat distribution in your oven.
You can top with anything you like. I used a ganache that is 1 part double cream and 2 parts dark chocolate. Heat the cream to just before boiling point, pour it over the chocolate, stir like crazy until smooth and then leave to set. Whip it up when it's about buttercream consistency.
Take the cake out of the oven when it springs back when touched and a skewer comes out clean. Leave it to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then completely out of the tin before you decorate it. Sprinkle some more chopped pistachios over the top and some rose petals if you have them.