Welcome to LittleSugarSnaps. My place for sharing enticing and easy sweet and savoury recipes with a side helping of cocktails.
I’m Jane Saunders, mum to two fun-loving and food-loving girls and wife to my carbohydrate-loving (obsessed) husband. I live with my family in the Chiltern Hills, England, about 30 miles northwest of London. I’ve been blogging since October 2014.
I grew up in Nottinghamshire, in the East Midlands, spending every minute of my free time either pestering my Mum for permission to bake (again) or working in my dad’s supermarket, just over the border of neighbouring Derbyshire.
My favourite job was serving fruit and vegetables to customers – back in the days before self-service and plastic took over.
I guess my two childhood pastimes helped shape my future. Food has been a big part of my life since before my memories begin.
I accidentally moved out of the Midlands permanently in 1998 when I went to Exeter to undertake a Master’s degree. From there I was due to head back to begin a PhD in Birmingham the following autumn. But all did not go to plan – my time in Exeter turned out to be a relentlessly sad year on a personal level. Bad news kept arriving, I found my world was tilting and, in short, the previously passionate & dedicated university student that I had been suddenly found herself dangerously close to quitting the course mid-way through – shocking! In the end, stubborn determination did win out – I dug my heels in and completed the degree (hurrah). But it was clear that I needed to change direction, so I backed out of the PhD just a few weeks before my studies were due to commence and took the first job that came along instead. I didn’t give any thought as to whether the job was right for me (nope) or where I really wanted to be living – I just didn’t want to be unemployed. So off to London I went!
Whilst I’m very glad I didn’t do the PhD (a step way too far) I have always missed the Midlands (London never really suited me). My family would not be on board if I suggested a move back there now though, so I guess I’m stuck! But watch this space during 2022 as I’ll be paying homage to my roots with a bunch of recipes from the East and West Midlands.
The silver lining of my accidental geographical displacement is that my interest in photography and food writing took shape whilst I was working as an economist in London. I’m not sure exactly when I started tinkering with recipes and coming up with my own creations but it pre-dates this blog significantly. It was only when my passion for food photography was truly ignited that I considered blogging.
I published my first post shortly after my youngest daughter started school in 2014. In truth, my blogging career was another accident – I was still only considering blogging when I pressed publish, not expecting anybody to see it (duh), but within minutes I’d gained my first follower. It went from there. That post remains unchanged to this day. It’s woefully lacking in sensible information regarding the recipe, reflecting blogging trends of the time to tell a little story instead. And the photos are verging on embarrassing – I’ve come a long way. But will I update it? No! That post marks the start of a successful and highly enjoyable career that embraces the creative side of me that I had let lay dormant since my early teenage years when I gave up art and food tech (bafflingly ludicrous decisions are clearly my forte). Anyway, that first post represents a sunny part of my history and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I have a quirky little thing for snippets of history.
Running LittleSugarSnaps has been a significant achievement for me. I’m a naturally shy person & I’ve never had an abundance of self-confidence in public. Sometimes getting my voice across can be a struggle. But on LittleSugarSnaps I can talk about the things I love – in detail and with confidence. And the best part is that I don’t have to do this in public. (Flashback central – oh the stress that presentations at work caused me – what if somebody asked me a question and my mind went blank?!)
I used to keep quiet about running a food blog. In fact, most of my family and friends discovered it gradually after I’d been blogging for several years. A lack of confidence and self-belief were behind that. However, now I’ll happily and proudly talk about being a food blogger. It’s something that I’ve achieved through my own hard work and perseverance, so I’m finally proud of myself.
The blogging career path has also enabled me to work whilst remaining on-call for my children whenever they have needed me throughout their childhood. I’ve watched them take part in countless sporting competitions over the years. Produced fancy dress costumes at the drop of a hat. Made forgotten PE kits miraculously appear at school… you get the picture. That makes me a very lucky lady… though I’m less keen on my role as resident taxi driver now we’re well into the teenage years.
What you will find on LittleSugarSnaps
LittleSugarSnaps is a place to find a bounty of decadent home-baked sweet and savoury goodies mixed in with a few cocktails & non-alcoholic drinks along with a small but growing collection of lunch & supper dishes suitable for the whole family.
You will also find a handful of vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free recipes along with plenty of vegetarian dishes on LittleSugarSnaps too.
My style of cooking is homely and fun. I will often take a popular recipe and add my own unique twist to it. And all of my recipes are achievable at home with the minimum of fancy equipment.
In short, LittleSugarSnaps is a place to find inventive and achievable recipes for the home cook for just about any occasion.
How I Feed my Family
I’m a firm believer in teaching my children how and why to eat healthily. Though you’ll find a whopping stash of sweet treats on this site, those recipes are exactly that: treats. We eat healthily for the majority of the week and enjoy our indulgences on the weekends, celebrations and holidays. Or when somebody needs cheering up. My view is that treats should remain sacred – something to look forward to – and never taken for granted.
Each and every member of my family takes regular exercise, from swimming, cycling or hockey to long hikes. Healthy food, exercise and occasional treats seem like a good balance to me.
Though I am not on a free-from diet, I fully respect anybody who is. I once went dairy-free (and tomato-free!) for 6 months to try to resolve a particularly aggressive and prolonged outbreak of eczema when prescribed treatment was failing to help. Following an exclusion diet proved quite a challenge 20+ years ago – especially when eating out. So if you ever need guidance on a suitable ingredient substitution in one of my recipes, please speak up. I’ll help you if I can.
Why You Can Trust My Recipes
Quite simply, I have been baking for as long as I can remember. I learned the basics at a young age from my mother, who can testify that I could never quite satiate my appetite for baking. You can trust my recipes because:
- I’m self-taught. That means I’ve learned my skills on the job (the best kind of experience in my opinion).
- I learn from my mistakes and I’m always keen to pass on my knowledge of how to achieve success with a recipe and what pitfalls to watch out for.
- I only ever publish recipes that have been tested thoroughly and I know can be relied upon to give good results. I have a healthy supply of willing family and friends happy to relieve me of my bakes in return for their reviews. And if there’s a hung jury? It’s another tweak to the recipe to win over those not quite convinced.
- If a recipe I am developing doesn’t quite work first time, I have an inner determination to understand what went wrong and try to resolve that issue. The majority of my recipes work out just fine first time – perhaps with just a minor tweak necessary to take them up a level. A handful of recipes take several attempts to get to perfection. And a few do not make the grade. They get consigned to the scrapheap.
- My promise to you is that the nearly there or total fail recipes will never appear on this blog. Only the recipes I have 100% confidence in will ever make the grade.
- If I feel that somebody else is better qualified than myself to talk you through a particular technique, then I will happily provide links to such resources in my posts.
- I also welcome your questions and feedback – either before or after you’ve tried one of my recipes. Preferably before if you need clarification on anything within a recipe.
There are so many awards food bloggers can be selected for. But by far my proudest moments have been when my images have made it to the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year finals. I’ve managed to get a place in this prestigious competition final 4 times, scooping 2nd place category awards twice.
In fact, getting a photograph into the final of the very first competition back in 2012 was what spurred me on to put aside my notions of going into family portrait photography and declare myself a food photographer instead. This was honestly the best career decision I could have made.
Aside from that, my Winter G&T was awarded 2nd place in the Drizzly Blogger Awards 2017 in the best reinvention of a classic category. More recently, my Hearty Beef Stew was selected as the winning recipe in an Opie’s competition.
And finally, one or two of my recipes have been nominated in the Best of Pinterest UK Food & Drink Awards.
Brands and Press
I do love developing recipes for brands. However, I will only ever feature those that are a good fit for this blog if I also rate their products highly. I feel privileged to have worked with the likes of Thermapen, Portmeirion, Kerrygold and Warninks to name a few.
You can also find my recipes featured on a wide network of well-established online sites.
Any questions? Get in touch!
Whether you have a question about a recipe or just want to let me know how you got along, do get in touch. I love to hear from my readers and I’ll always do my best to reply to you.
Aaaand pens down. That’s it!
PS: Some irrelevant fun facts about me:
- I detest bananas – you will never find a recipe on here that features them.
- I’m left-handed, asthmatic – with a severe allergy to dogs and other furry friends – and I’m prone to cracking jokes that only a small child (or my Dad) might find funny.
- I’m very good at keeping secrets (mine, yours, happy, sad) for days, weeks, months… occasionally I’ll keep them for decades!
- Favourite food: peas… and cake… or maybe ice cream… Did I mention my indecisiveness?
- Favourite drink: tea – in abundance thankyou very much. And if it’s loose-leaf and served in a dainty teacup with a saucer then I’m in heaven.
- You won’t see too many images of me splashed around. I hate being in front of the camera these days.
- I learned to drive in a Transit van but, to the bemusement (& immense frustration) of my Dad, I was always terrible at reversing it.
- Favourite animal (I can still admire them from a distance): equal between cats and elephants.
- Most prized possessions – family, friendships, memories, sense of humour…