As much as I love entertaining in my own home (any excuse to cook up a feast) or even better, go out for dinner with friends, when it comes to communal eating , there’s nothing I love more than being a guest in someone else’s home.
Being invited into someone’s house to eat a meal is a great honour, in my opinion. And whilst there’s something fun about a formal dinner party, a relaxed meal (think sharing platters and dessert in the living room) where you dig in with the whole family is supremely special.
It signals an invitation for intimacy, allowing you to peer into somebody else’s life amidst their own unique chaos, take in their surroundings and be briefly welcomed as something akin to a family member, albeit for a limited amount of time.
Being a minister’s wife, I do a fair amount of entertaining, or ‘hospitality’ as the Bible might call it. And although I’m certainly not the archetypal pastor’s spouse, I guess my love for cooking and welcoming people around the dinner table is one facet of my character that does conform to traditional stereotypes.
Hospitality is far more than cooking up a feast, however. The act of inviting people to share in your lives and feel heartily welcome is much more important than providing gourmet food or using the opportunity to show off your fanciest table linen.
And despite my foodie inclinations, when we get invited out, I’m more than happy to eat frozen pizza or shop bought desserts. The reason for going isn’t to appraise their culinary skills, masterchef style, but to deepen friendships, encourage discussion and get to know what’s really going on in peoples’ lives.
When we are the dinner guests, I like to bring a little something to show my host that we’re appreciative of the effort they’ve gone to to welcome us into their home. Usually a little box of chocolates, or a bottle of wine/non alcoholic alternative is sufficient to communicate gratitude without guilt tripping our host into feeling as if they should have made more effort with the food.
Home made gifts can be a nice touch too. And this is where the idea for this recipe was born. A few weeks ago, the hubby and I had been invited to some friends’ for Sunday lunch and by the time it reached Saturday afternoon I panicked, realising we hadn’t got anything to bring. A quick look through the cupboards and a scour on the internet soon let me know I needn’t worry. I had all the right ingredients for making one of the most delicious treats in existence, something that would be perfect for wrapping in some brown paper or popping in a pretty little box and handing to our pals : honeycomb.
My son helped me make this, and despite the potential hazards involved with hot sugar (please DO be careful when handing the pan, especially when stirring in the bicarb) it is a fun recipe to make. And if you’re scientifically minded, it’d be a great teaching opportunity for kids. I’m not sure my explanation of ‘magic powder’ and ‘chemical reaction’ really cut it.
Not only does this treat make a great gift, but it’s super tasty covered in chocolate and eaten as a homemade ‘crunchie’ bar (just beware of a MAJOR sugar rush), or sprinkled liberally over ice cream as part of a sundae.
Of course, you don’t need an excuse to make this, so don’t worry if you don’t have an invitation out to dinner any time soon. You could make some for a friend in need of tlc, or a new family in the neighbourhood. But take heart if this doesn’t apply; it’s perfect eaten voraciously, alone, at home, with no company at all.
- 150g caster sugar
- 4 tablespoons golden syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Grease and line a 20cm baking tin
- Gently heat the sugar and golden syrup in a large heavy-based pan so the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and boil rapidly, without stirring (swirl gently if need be). Keep boiling until the mixture goes a golden-brown colour – probably about 3-5 minutes.
- Take off the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda. Quickly stir with a whisk, which will make the mixture expand and fizz (take care at this stage). Tip the mixture into the baking tin and leave until cold and set.
- To serve, cut or ‘bash’ the honeycomb into pieces. Store in an airtight container, avoiding moist environments.