Cookies and Hens

As you do on a Sunday evening, I'm attempting to bring my weekend to a close by tying up any loose ends around the house. This involves putting away dry laundry, changing the bed sheets, putting away clean dishes from the dishwasher... and finally attending to my poor, neglected blog. Chalk it up to a very busy beginning to the summer months - between wedding planning, looking for a new apartment, and various fun weekend activities, I haven't been sitting in front of my computer as much. This weekend, I went to a very special girl's bachelorette party (although here, it is known as a 'hen do') - Phil's brother's fiancee, Josie, invited 16 of us up to her Dad's house in Sheffield (also the location of their wedding in July) for a ridiculous and girly weekend. I haven't had a weekend like that in a very long time and it was brilliant. I spent Friday and Saturday night in her gorgeous house, getting to know her family and girlfriends, helping to cook and set up for the various activities that took place, and joining in on all the fun - dancing, to be precise.

The day of her hen do (Saturday) was split into two: in the afternoon, we had a vintage-style garden party picnic. We were all asked to dress up in 50s style dresses (and were given our own beautiful teacups and saucers), and had a spectacular picnic of smoked salmon and goat cheese blinis, crudites and hummus, bread and salami, and more desserts than you could possibly imagine.I decided to contribute to the baked goods by making some lemon shortbread cookies, which I brought up with me on the train on Friday (and they survived the journey!) - you can find the recipe below. Other delicious treats to be had included a banana cake, a decadent chocolate raspberry cake, lots of sweet cupcakes, and classic flapjack.

After the picnic, we all changed into 80s Fame-style attire and congregated in the basement (reminds me of an American-style finished basement) to learn a dance routine! It was pretty epic - Josie's friend is a professional dancer and spent the weeks leading up the the hen do coming up with a fabulous dance. It had plenty of jazz hands and extreme poses (a few power lunges of course). After a few party games and a few glasses of pink champagne, we headed out into Sheffield - yes, still dressed in mostly neon lycra, including Josie's Stepmom!

We had dinner at an Italian restaurant and played "pass the parcel" (I had to recount the most embarrassing person I ever kissed... hilarious, although no one knew who he was of course) - and then moved on to the clubs for lots of dancing, shots, and giggles.

It was a great weekend - I'm now thoroughly exhausted - but I'm so glad I went. Phil is currently on his way home from his brother's 'stag do' (they decided to have them on the same weekend) so I can't wait to hear how that went. For now, I'm going to relax, have some gazpacho, and leave you with this recipe. Look at my giant hand!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 24 cookies

The particulars:

  • 110g vegan margarine, plus more for greasing
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  1. Heat the oven to 350F. Using a bit of the margarine, grease two cookie trays.
  2. Using a wooden spoon, beat the sugar and margarine together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and flour and mix until it just comes together - use your hands to make a dough ball. You may need a drop of water or some extra flour if it is too dry or too moist.
  3. Section out the dough into equal sized pieces until you have roughly 24 teaspoon-sized balls. Place them on the baking trays, equally spaced, and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. If you need to, shape them to be round and evenly sized on the trays.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes or so, until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and leave for a few minutes before cooling on a wire rack.

Optional: Sprinkle with icing sugar once completely cooled with a sieve - but this would only work if you were serving almost immediately.