Friday, 27 February 2015

An Experiment

I'm always looking for new ways of doing things, in cooking or indeed in any other thing that I get involved in. I can usually see a second use in most things, or a minor modification that can often save me money or time or both.
Hence my request to the local hardware shop for 52mm washers that I can put on the ends of my rolling pin to give me a constant 4mm thickness when rolling, perfect for biscuits. I can't find any just yet but I will.

Also in breadmaking, I'm finding and trying a lot of no-knead recipes which reduce my actual effort but still give great results. I had a bit of a problem with the Ciabatta recently but at least I know where I went wrong.

My latest is a straight lift from " Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois." I'm going to leave it 3 days before making and baking but it rose in 3 hours before I put it in the fridge.

We'll see what it looks like on Sunday.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

More Practice Needed.

I had a go at a no knead Ciabatta recipe, but didn't really make much of a success of it. The idea was to mix the flour and water, autolyse for 4 hours then add salt and sourdough starter. I over-mixed the flour and it formed a hard lump. 


When I added the final bits it didn't mix very well, despite folding it four times and leaving it overnight. There wasn't much evidence of bubbles when it had warmed up.

In the morning, I finished it off and it appeared to bake reasonably well, not a lot of spring but adequate. 

However when I cut one I found that the two mixtures were still separate, giving it a marbled look.

It remains to be seen what it tastes like, the plan was to use it for Garlic Bread tonight.

Its brought me back to earth a bit and has taught me to be a bit more careful in following instructions.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Getting There

The sling is off and I am exercising my shoulder as instructed. It's a little sore but not too bad and I'm managing without painkillers. I'm seeing my G.P. on Monday and planning to ask if I can start driving and dog walking anytime soon.

Meanwhile, because  I couldn't drive, we had stocked up on stuff last week when Naomi was here, including milk dated use before 25th Feb. I've thrown 8 pints away this morning (22nd) because its off, of course I can't get to take it back, I hate waste.

We have been trying a few new ideas, thanks to the offer from Able and Cole, four veg boxes for the price of three. There have been a few veg in there that we may not normally have tried and we have enjoyed them. Things like Roast Beetroot and Squash that we always said we would try but never did. And they were nice so we probably will have them again.

There were a load of oranges in the box as well, and a single lettuce? We had a couple of tomatoes left over from something else so made a salad,

with grated carrot and onion, laced with Yvonne's dressing idea, equal parts Oil and Balsamic with Wholegrain mustard and honey to taste, recommended. 

I also had a load of Gnocchi that were in need of using, I fried them in a little oil instead of boiling, its a tip that I got from Nigella ages ago, 

the flavour is superior and they have a crunch that tastes better than the soft, boiled version (I think)

Then on Sunday, an Oxtail stew, 9 hours in the slow cooker with stock, onion and carrot and the meat just fell off the bones, I don't know why its not more popular, £6 for enough meat for 4 good portions. 

Served with roast Potatoes, Parsnip and Squash.

The powder you can see in the picture is veg stock powder, I use a lot of that, adding it to the water I boil potatoes in and in home made soups, it gives an extra dimension.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Sourdough Caraway Seed Rolls

As an alternative to the rolls I made yesterday, I tried some using my sourdough starter (Wholemeal) with White flour and an overnight rise.

They were a lot stronger, probably due to the seeds sitting in the dough for 15 hours, but in general just as good, a nice open crumb and chewy texture, just a bit of fine tuning needed.

Here's the recipe and method :-


   75g mature 100% sourdough starter

   515g water

   700g organic stone ground bread flour

   2 1/2 teaspoons salt


In the evening, combine the starter with the water and add all the flours (leave the salt out for now).

Let rest covered for 45 minutes, then add the salt and combine well.

Let rest covered for 30 minutes than make a few folds of the dough.

Let rest covered for another 30 minutes and perform a few more folds.

Cover and let rest at room temperature until the following morning.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 475 F/250 C degrees.

Transfer the dough on a floured surface and fold like a package. Let rest 10 minutes and fold again.
Flip (delicately) upside-down and let rest another 40-60 minutes.

Cut the dough into small pieces with the help of a dough scraper and bake for 15 minutes.

Here's what they came out like.



Thursday, 19 February 2015

Caraway Seed Bread

A gentle reminder for you, a lot of the bread recipes and some other bits and pieces can be found on my dedicated bread blog :-

Several people have told me that if they are viewing this on a tablet or smartphone, the links on the right of the page are not shown, so navigation is impaired. This can be rectified by switching to "web view," or by clicking the link above to see the other page.

The bread blog is dedicated to my small endeavour supplying artisan bread to the people of Torbay, including some recipes and other useful information.

Please have a look, if you need any recipes and can't find them, or have any other bread related questions just post a comment and I'll do my best to help.

The best news is that I'm now two weeks post op so can start weaning my arm out of the sling, its been feeling better every time I take it out to exercise so I'm extending the periods its free and using it a little, if it hurts I'll stop. I'm still wearing the sling so I can just rest it every now and again. I'm looking forward to taking it off at night as I've woken being strangled a couple of times!!!!

I thought you might like to see a group selfie from the girls visit, we all look vaguely normal in this one,

Anyway back to the title, I've been asked to make a bread incorporating Caraway Seeds, I've ordered some fresh Organic ones but until they turn up I'm experimenting with the ones I have.

My first batch has 1 tablespoon of seeds, roughly crushed in a 500g flour mix. I plan to make a small loaf and some rolls from this. There are several permutations I could try, Oil or no Oil, Seeds on top as well as inside or maybe infuse the seeds in the water before mixing. Looks like we might be sick of Caraway by next week.

To celebrate my return to two-handedness, I rashly offered to sort the food tonight, I'm doing a selection of roasted veg, sausages and whatever else I can find. I know there are Beets, Squash, Onions etc. and some leeks and greens.

Back to the bread, and here they are, the smell is amazing, I will try them out when they are cooler but they should go well with our Leek and Potato soup for lunch.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


But not any old pancakes, these were made from Organic Rye and Wholemeal Sourdough. See my bread blog for all the details and the recipe, but feast your eyes on these first. They were delicious.

Served with Cherry Pie filling and Ice-Cream.

Let out on my Own

I managed to talk Yvonne into letting me go for a walk today, I went around one of the routes I have been taking the dogs on, through the caravan park and down by the cliffs at St Marys Bay.
It is an absolutely beautiful day here, a bit chilly but not unpleasant, with a clear blue sky, I took a few pictures on my way around so you could see how lucky I am in living here.

I was out for half an hour, bliss after sitting around, I'm looking forward to Friday when I can take the sling off and start getting better properly.

We had loads of salad left over from the weekend, Yvonne made up a dressing from Mustard, Honey, Home Made Balsamic and Oil, which we had on mixed Leaves, Tomato, Apple, Leek and Carrot, with a few pieces of cooked Chicken on top.

Not only that, I managed to make two Wholemeal loaves this morning, (see the bread blog for the details, coming soon.) and we have Sourdough Pancakes tonight with Cherry Pie filling and Ice-cream.

It doesn't get much better than this!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Physio's are a necessary evil.

First the great weekend, we had such a good time with Naomi and George at the weekend, they were so good, helping us out with the shopping and dog-walking. Naomi cooked Haloumi and stir-fried veg on Saturday night and we talked and laughed so much.

 Sunday we went to Totnes Good Food and got some good stuff, Linda's Chorizo Scotch Eggs and Millionaires Shortbread etc. Then all to soon they were gone to see Amy Harry and Elsa.

George is looking good.

and Naomi sent me a picture of all my girls together, complete with Unicorn.

And then on Monday I saw the Physio, I know that my shoulder needs building up and that its going to hurt and I wasn't wrong. They are only doing their job but still.  I've had a lot of experience of physio with three knee operations and now this, I guess they have to push you, I just wish they didn't always look like they were enjoying it.

I'm going to have a go at a loaf in the morning, I think I will be able to turn the mixer on now so I will try a wholemeal and white with added sourdough starter, at least that's a useful exercise.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Guess Who's coming to Dinner

We had a bit of a shock Friday night, we expected Naomi to arrive for the weekend. I was looking out as a car came down the road, (we were hungry)  "that's good," I thought, but when it stopped someone got out the passenger door. Feeling disappointed I turned away but realised that it was GEORGINA, back from Oz in secret.

I didn't tell Yvonne, but went out the back so she would have to answer the door
What followed has been immortalised on video,


Friday, 13 February 2015

Garlic Bread

The recipe that I used for the white loaf can also be made into passable French sticks. I can't call them baguettes as they are not the right size or weight. (my oven is not big enough to take full sized ones anyway)

Instead of forming a ball, simply half the dough and fold into a sausage shape, baking on a baguette tray for around 30 minutes, with steam.

The result is good enough for garlic bread. Yvonne is making Chilli and Naomi is coming down. And it's Totnes Good Food on Sunday. Evergreen Farm Steaks for tea. What more could we ask for!!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Let Out

I went for a walk yesterday morning. That may not seem like a very big thing but to me it was a release. I know I only had the operation two days ago but I'm not  normally in the house much more than I have to be, walking dogs or pottering about in general.

It was good to feel the sun on my face, even though it was cold and to stretch my legs. It made me realise that things were pretty good and were going to get better.

I've not had a lot of pain from my shoulder, its sore of course and I'm taking regular painkillers but I'm sure it could be a lot worse. It was bad when I came back from theatre but I had some morphine before I came home and that sorted it out. I don't have to go back for stitches but do have to start physio on Monday.

There is a shortage of wound dressings in Brixham, I was sent home with some and told to get more myself,. A few places didn't have any at all? but Yvonne managed to get a few on a pharmacy crawl yesterday. Best news is that Naomi is coming down at the weekend, always nice to see one of my girls. I also heard that Elsa has her first tooth, there will be no stopping her now!

I managed to make a loaf, using only one hand! If you check out the bread blog you can get the recipe, it's the easiest loaf  you'll ever make and one of the tastiest as well. And you can do it with two hands if you want. (it won't taste better though)

Makes me feel hungry and I've only just had breakfast.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Post Op

Let the one handed typing commence.

After two hours in the operating theatre, and with my right clavicle now 8mm shorter, I made it home.

Not only that, I had a few bony spurs taken off and various decompressions performed.

In short my shoulder was a mess. But now it's on the mend.

I did try my physiotherapy exercises today but they were just too painful, maybe tomorrow.

Actually I have found that by balancing my keyboard on my knees I can use my right hand to type, so that will speed things up a bit.

I'm bored already though and want to make bread, or decorate the spare bedroom, or do.... well anything really.

I've been following Pattypan at and inspired by her cooking adventures have brought a couple of the books she has featured, 'Prepped' and 'Salt Sugar Smoke', now I want to get creative. I'm not a patient patient.

Thanks everyone for the kind wishes.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Day Before

So here I am, its the day before I go into hospital for my shoulder operation. About a million questions are buzzing round inside my head.

Will it work?
Will I get a sleep without the pain waking me up when its done? (First full nights sleep for years)
Will I be able to go back to work?
How much time before I am recovered?
Will I regain the full use of my arm?
and many more.

I guess I'll just have to find out tomorrow.

One thing that I'm not worried about is the operation itself. Being in the hands of the surgeon and anaesthetist is not a concern at all. After all I will be asleep. And if I don't wake up, it'll be better than having been hit by a bus.

Anyhow, I've survived a plane crash (1985) and had enough heart-stopping moments in a forty year career connected with risk to be sure that I'm here for something special. And as I get the feeling that it hasn't happened yet, I think that I'll be around a while.

There may be a slight delay until my next post, I spent ages learning how to type with two hands, now I will have to go back to using one.

I've baked a loaf, that should last us for a few days and Naomi is coming down to see me next weekend, so I think everything is set up. Yvonne's a good cook and a qualified nurse, the freezers full and my girls have sent chocolate.

I'll speak to you soon.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Pizza Part Two

So my dough has rested in the fridge, about an hour before you intend to bake, get it out and delicately make a round shape out of it, as thin as you like. Put it on a pizza peel or other flat tray, ready to slide it onto your baking stone. (I use a ceramic floor tile) Heat the tile and the oven to 220 degrees.

Next add your toppings.

I started off with Tomato paste and Green Pesto.

 Next some garlic and chorizo, onion and pepper.

then cooked chicken and sweetcorn,

Lastly,  pineapple, tomato and grated cheese.

Then its 20 minutes on the tile in the oven. 

And that's it. I seem to have lost a tomato somewhere, I'll find it later.

If you wanted you could freeze the dough as it is, or make the base and part cook it for 7 minutes and then freeze.

Defrost it and add your toppings and then give it about 15 minutes to cook.