Friday, 26 June 2015

2 Bits of News

It's been a big week here at the home for soon-to-be retired Pilots, retired Nurses and current Micro-Bakers.

Firstly, the Micro Bakery had its busiest week whilst still a hobby, at least until the end of July when it will become a business. We produced 34 loaves and 60 assorted rolls, scones, crumpets and teacakes. It might not sound a lot in the great scheme of things but that's over 20 kilogrammes of flour, and a lot of effort. And some satisfied customers as well. Things are looking good for August.

Secondly, my novel "Ribbonworld" is at the copy edit stage, that's the bit where someone casts an eye over my manuscript and weeds out all the bad grammar and incorrect spellings, finds the holes in the plot and generally tidies it all up. Based on the above, I'll probably get a blank sheet of paper back!

Then after re-writes we will move to proof reading, and a contract. I'm dead excited to say the least. In fact its got my creative juices flowing and I've resumed my Steampunk novel, with about 30,000 words to go. I don't know how long the edit will take but I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

A new regime

One month to go now, my association with the Port of London will officially cease on July 31st, 22 years after it started.

I've been gradually building up the bread business to take over from August 1st, at which point I will set it all up as the Well Bread! Sourdough Bakery, and be the owner, manager and staff.

I've set my customers orders up so that I work two days a week, and a couple of mornings before 9am, thus making sure that I don't disrupt our lives too much. It takes a bit of juggling but I think I'm getting there, of course there is more news on the bread blog, so please have a look, the link is on the right.

This week, I delivered on Monday and we headed to Teignmouth for a day out, intending to dodge the rain if we had to but have a laugh. 

We succeeded in keeping dry and had a nice day, I found a strange road sign, not maybe as precise as you might expect.

Tuesday was spent preparing bread for Wednesday's orders, the thing with Sourdough is that it takes 24-36 hours to produce, with long gaps between periods of activity, so it can hold you captive. At least there are plenty of jobs to do around the house, so we've been doing them in the gaps. Yvonne has been waxing the dining room table whilst I've been sanding the floors down, both things have come up looking as good as new.

Wednesday I delivered at 9 and we popped into Paignton. Yvonne had to go to the bank and we had a coffee in town. I've got to sort out the loft, a lot of the boxes have been up there, unopened, since we moved in and need sorting. It's a winter job really as it gets hot up there in summer so I'm putting it off as long as possible.

Thursday I started orders for Friday, 19 loaves this week, 15 Sourdough and 4 Yeasted, I will have an early start on Friday to finish off, then after deliveries I have another 20 kg of flour arriving. I've used nearly that much this week already. Here are some of them preparing for an overnight rise in the fridge.

There was a strange object on the decking outside the front door,

I think its a shed skin from one of our resident slow worms. Yvonne is not too keen.

My black tomatoes are getting larger, but how do you tell when they are ripe? They are quite hard just now so I'm guessing they need more time.

And I've just spotted a flower on my potatoes, it won't be long till I can dig some up, I do love new potatoes.

So all in all a quiet week, Saturday is a day off, time for some open gardens (NGS) as long as it stays dry.

Sunday, 21 June 2015


 I hope you like my new mantra.

A while ago now, I made some Sourdough Battered Onion Rings, soaking the Onion in Balsamic Vinegar overnight first, and put them in the freezer.

Well yesterday was crunch time, so to speak, as I took a few out for a taste test against a well known supermarket version, The supermarket ones are Beer Battered with Black Onion Seeds.

Here's a look at them on the tray prior to cooking  (mine are on the left)

After 15 mins in the oven from frozen they were ready, unfortunately the evidence disappeared before I could take any more pictures. But they looked the same, just hotter.

My independent critic (Yvonne) who is not a huge fan of Onion Rings said there was no contest. So you can guess which ones we will be having with our steak tonight. And to give you a clue, its not the ones on the right!!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Two Posts in One day

Unheard of, I don't normally have that much to say. But I've got more pictures of the garden to post and didn't want to wait. I think they speak for themselves.

The greenhouse with added bunting, seen through a frame of Foxgloves.

My Buddha and the grapevine, with grapes this year.

Poppies with Roses,


Not to forget the Blackcurrants, which are starting to ripen.


The greenhouse is finished, well as finished as it will get, the final parting shot was when I attached all the trims to the corners and the holes didn't line up. I turned them upside down (all 4 were the same) but no joy there. So I have come to the conclusion that it's definitely not my DIY skills at fault.

And I've managed to get all the stuff back in, apart from the car load I took to the tip.

What I don't get is that the old house was half the size and full. In theory if I had just put everything back in the new, it would only have half filled it. So considering that I threw loads away, how is it still full?

In other news,I have received my new bannetons from Bread Matters, increasing the amount of sourdoughs I can prove at once. Now of course I will need a bigger fridge. (Only joking Yvonne if you are reading this)

On Thursday I had spoken to them about delivery and thought that I recognised the voice from a lecture I had found on You tube. Sure enough it was Andrew Whitley himself, one of my major inspirations.

He asked me if I ran a micro-bakery and I thought about it for an instant before saying ,"Yes I do."  
"More power to you," he replied and we chatted for a couple of minutes. It was then that I realised that I was a proper baker, if only a micro one.

Talking of which, I had a bit of excess bread on hand so  made croutons this morning.

Just chop the bread into small cubes, splash with Oil and Balsamic and bake at 140°C for around an hour, turning a couple of times.

Leave them to cool and crisp and store in the fridge. 

Great on Soups or in salads.

And finally, (as they say) we have Roses round the front gate.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Fun and games with the new Greenhouse.

I started today full of good intentions, after 10 months I would put up my new greenhouse.

As you can see the old one has become just a dump for all the rubbish we acquire, so Yvonne sorted it out and I took it too bits (well let it fall down gracefully!) and cleared the ground.

I got the boxes out and started putting it together. At first it went well, then I began to find holes that weren't lining up and bolts that were too short. After a bit of bending of metal and modifications to the holes the frame came together.

Then as I started to clad it, I found that the plastic panels were not cut correctly.

And so I called the customer services at the place I brought it from. 

To my surprise they told me it was my fault and that I was obviously not following the instructions. 

I have been building flat-packs for at least thirty years, furniture, sheds, children's toys on Xmas day etc and without sounding too clever I have hardly ever found one so bad, as well as the faulty parts the instructions were worse than useless and half of the pieces were not marked.

How I can be responsible for the drilling of holes in the wrong place and plastic sheets not cut square I'm not too sure, anyway I carried on and just bodged it. (Resourceful seafarer expression - to me it means to modify something that has been badly designed to make it work.)

In the end, after 7 hours I had to stop as I was getting really hot, I will try and finish it off tomorrow, there's just the door and the roof to do now. 

But will ensure that I never buy another thing from them again, and tell anyone who asks my opinion that the products they produce are ****. 

And that was another thing, I was treated to a long winded explanation of how the plastic is "hand cut in Belgium," as if that was really relevant. And how "we never have any problems with our kits." 

In other words, the seller is blaming someone else and calling my competence into question. 

Not a good day.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Dining Room Floor

I've spent most of today, well after I delivered bread and went to get milk etc, stripping the floor in the Dining part of the Kitchen and Varnishing the floorboards. I wasn't looking forward to it but the loss of my old sander meant that I could get a new one with the power to do the floors.

In the end it had turned out well, as I did the floor in less than an hour, thanks to the new sander having a dust extractor the room was not covered in dust when I had done. 

I have been able to get two coats of Varnish on already, I'll leave it overnight and do the final coat in the morning.

Look at the difference so far,

and after 1 coat of Varnish,

Now for the porch and the front room.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Highs and Lows

After the excitement of getting the Kitchen done, and the realisation that I had to do some painting, I awoke on Sunday to find that the internet had gone off in the night. I traced the fault to the router, which had no power light and after trying it in other sockets confirmed that it was an ex-router, now merely a black plastic paperweight.

The people at my provider were really good and sent me one straight out, the three days without internet connection have flown by, and I've got so much more done without the distraction.

One half of the Kitchen is done, all the shelves are back up and the plates and pans are back in place. We had a good sort out of all the things you accumulate and never use and took three big bags to a local charity shop.

The eagle eyed among you will see that I have updated my cover picture, its the same view but 4 years on. I'm trying to get it all across the page but it doesn't want to a the moment, I will fiddle later.

As you can see the garden is a riot of self seeded foxgloves and the roses we have planted or brought with us when we moved.

and my Black Tomato has set its first fruits.

In bread news, dealt with more in the bread blog, I have been following an online course from Teresa Greenway, with increasing levels of success.

White and Wholemeal Sourdough Loaves
as well as my usual orders.

Buckwheat Rolls

Spelt and Spelt with Walnuts

Spelt Sourdough
I also now produce Scones, using Sourdough, both plain and fruited.

for sale as part of a Cream Tea.

The picture isn't of one of mine though.

Having caught you up, I'm off to paint the rest of the ceiling in the diner.