Thursday, 30 April 2015

Another new Start

On my new adventure, I am gradually severing all my ties with the old life that I used to lead. I have already given my notice and cancelled my professional insurance. Yesterday my medical certificate ran out and today I stopped my Union membership. 

Next week I go up to Gravesend for my leaving party and to hand in my radio and other things. Then it's just a case of waiting till the end of July to draw the line under my 40 year sea-going career.

And so I will start again, this time as a Baker and Author, I'm still deciding on the best way to go with my novel, that's on the back burner as the Bakery is taking off.

My new oven will arrive tomorrow,

instantly doubling my capacity, of course it's never that simple, now I need more trays and tins, I've also got to find the room for it in the Kitchen. I will need to change all my routines as well, at the moment I have everything set up for the single oven, I need to sort out a system that uses both for maximum efficiency.

As a project for the upcoming Lovelife event, I made some Sourdough Cookies flavoured with Cranberries. Hopefully I can sell these via Oats on the day. The taste was quite different to a normal cookie, due to the sourdough, but very nice all the same.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Pasta and Rosti.

I had another go at the sourdough Pasta, this time it came out a lot better.

I also found a recipe that used Sourdough Starter as a binder in Potato Rosti, so I just had to have a go.

I blitzed 400 g of peeled potato and added about 80 g of starter,

and mixed with a drop of Oil and seasonings.

I split it into cakes and baked for 50 minutes at 160 degrees.

There should have been six but I tried one, and it was very nice!

Here is the recipe for the Pasta,

80 g Starter at 100%
60 g Flour

Mix well until you have a smooth ball, s&f a few times and leave overnight.

Roll and cut in the morning.
It's that simple.

And for the Rosti,

400g potatoes
80g unrefreshed 100% sourdough starter, I used Wholemeal
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to season.

Roughly grate the potatoes into a bowl, or blitz in a processor. Add the starter, olive oil, rosemary and salt and pepper and stir till combined.

Divide into six equal size balls and arrange on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper and drizzle with a few more drops of olive oil.

Pop into the oven 160C oven for about 50 minutes until golden brown.

Serve hot, can be reheated from frozen.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Another Old Favourite

It's Chorizo and Roasted Veg time again, there are various veg lurking around so it's the ideal time to use them all up. We have Shallots, Beetroot, Mushrooms, Peppers and of course Chorizo. Add in a few chunks of Potato and we're in business. Not forgetting the Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Garlic.

Just chop it all into a casserole and add some Olive Oil, give it a good stir to coat everything. And that's it! No measuring, just use what you have.

Now all we need is about 90 minutes in a 200 C oven

An Old Favourite.

 I have been asked for a batch of my Black Pudding and Bacon Rolls, so here we go.

Firstly, I fried 200 g of bacon and 200 g of Black Pudding,

I will cut it into smaller pieces tomorrow, if you start off frying it in small pieces it dries out and then is too cooked to bake properly.

Next up I make a dough, 750 g Flour, 30 g coarse Semolina, 15 g each of salt and yeast, 480 g water and 75 g Olive Oil. Knead and prove for 1 hour. While it's rising, cut the bacon into smaller pieces.

Oil two large baking sheets and turn the dough out onto one of them.

Stretch it to cover and let it rest for a couple of minutes.

Top with the meat mixture.

Roll up like a swiss roll, putting a bit of tension in, finally pull the edge over.

Cut into slices and arrange on the trays. 

Cover and leave to rise for 45 minutes while the oven heats up to 220 C.

Spray with Oil and bake for 20 minutes or until browned on top and 95 C inside

I make other flavours as well, Cheese and Onion, Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato, Chorizo and Cheese and Curry Spices with Chutney. Any other ideas are always welcomed.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Busy Day

Tuesday is always a busy day here. I have the Oats order to prepare, sourdoughs to make and today I also have to see my GP later this afternoon about my shoulder. Fortunately it's improving day by day and even though I will never have to climb another pilot ladder it's important that it does.

So the need is for a quick and easy supper tonight, I was going to use my Sourdough Pasta that I was making this morning but as it was a disaster I had to use dried. I pre-cooked and cooled it before putting it in the dish.

I found some home made Tomato Sauce in the freezer from last years tomato glut, and had a bag of chicken pieces salvaged from the roast we had last month. So that was the filling sorted.

So I added pesto and garlic paste to the pasta,

then the sauce and the chicken.

After a stir it was ready for the oven 

Half an hour ought to do it, we can have the last of the Sourdough Focaccia with it.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Weekend in Nottingham

A great weekend in Nottingham, with our daughter Amy, her Husband Harry and Elsa, who will be 1 this week. We hadn't seen them since the end of Jan, and the change in Elsa was amazing, she's crawling at speed and can just about stand upright with a little help. 

The thing is, when I look at her, I can see Amy when she was that age, the behaviour is almost identical and I think to myself (and so does Yvonne) "I know dear, I've had some of that!"

I took Saffron Buns and some of the Sourdough Chocolate Brownies, Yvonne made a Mint Chocolate Cheesecake, decorated with After-Eights. It had crushed extra strong mints in it and the base was made from mint chocolate biscuits. Of course we had to eat it with a dollop of Clotted Cream as well. Unfortunately some of the After-Eights had leant over during the journey, but that had let some of the calories out so everything was OK.

Harry made a summer veg lasagne, with Peas, Broad Beans and Broccoli, served with a Tomato and Herb Panzanella which was amazing.

After the news of my leaving work, I have been invited to a leaving party in Gravesend next month, it will be nice to say goodbye to all the people that I have worked with for the past 22 years. 

Seriously, I couldn't have worked with a more professional and friendly bunch of experts in a demanding and interesting job, the senior ones taught me so much, giving their knowledge and experience freely and I only hope I was able to pass it along to those who started after me in the same way. And after handing in my equipment that will be it. I'll be an ex-pilot.

When we drove home yesterday and passed Portbury Docks, I took my eye off the road for a bit to see what ships were in.(not that I miss it already you understand) I saw a Grimaldi Ro-Ro and remembered what a tight fit they were in Tilbury Lock. 

Always fun when the wind was howling. Now I will miss that.

Friday, 17 April 2015


I've got my potatoes planted into their bags, this year I'm only growing "Charlotte," a salad variety which sold be ready to harvest in June or July.

I put 6 inches of compost in the sack, add two potatoes,

 then six inches of compost and another two, 90 degrees apart from the first two,

 covering with six inches of compost. I never have to earth up, just keep watering and add some fertiliser when the leaves show. And keep the slugs out.

I also brought a tomato plant, this one is supposed to produce Black tomatoes, we'll have to see how that turns out. Trouble is I cant remember the name of the variety, I got it from Plant World in Newton Abbot and it's a good looking plant so I'm sure it will be fine.

 I just need to build my greenhouse to put it in, the greenhouse is still in boxes from last summer, with my shoulder problems I haven't been able to put it together.

Since I have decided to retire early, I have felt better, I think its the realisation that after 40 years of working irregular hours I'm finally able to relax and do my own thing. As I said before I loved the job (40 years is a clue) but the never really knowing what I would be doing or when must have had an effect because now it's not there I feel different. No doubt the novelty will wear off, hopefully not for a long time. Plus I will never work a Christmas again, one trip I did years ago I was away for all the families birthdays and my wedding anniversary, saved a fortune of course but still not worth it. Mind you we did have a big party when I got home.

I also want to make sure that I don't turn into one of the people who you meet who regales you with boring tales of "when I was ******** back in the days......" etc: etc.

As far as I'm concerned that was what I used to do then and this is what I do now, if you want to know I will tell you, but not if you're not interested. All I would say is that the reality was nothing like you would have expected and leave it at that.

We're off to Totnes Market today, the sun is just breaking through and it looks like it will be a wonderful day. Whatever you're doing, enjoy it!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Big news.

As regular readers will know (and how are you both?) I have been suffering with a shoulder injury since last September. It has meant that I can’t climb pilot ladders and has kept me off work. I had surgery in Feb and am making slow progress.

I went to see the Occupational Health Dr at work in March and she said that I should come back and work in the office until I was fully fit.

I also saw my boss and he asked me what I was going to do, I said jokingly “make me an offer.”

Well they have and I have now handed in my notice, I’m taking my pension and giving up all the driving, the broken sleep and the irregular hours that I have worked for the last 40 years.

It’s a new start for me, here in glorious Devon, I will miss being a pilot and ships generally but I can still laugh at the inaccuracy of the media whenever ships are mentioned.

Brixham harbour is 10 minutes walk away and every now and again I hear three short blasts on a whistle and instinctively know that someone is going astern.

I can listen to the wind howl at 3am and turn over, secure in the knowledge that I haven’t got to get up and wrestle 220 metres of ship into an opening 1 metre wider than it is. I can hear the muted rumble of the Pilot boat and wish them happy landings.

And I can be a Baker, or an Author, or whatever else I want to be.

Talking of which, I have got my White Sourdough starter to behave, just look at it this morning,

Looks pretty active to me, so I've refreshed it and put it in the fridge. Yesterday I started croissants with it, and left them overnight to rise.

I folded the butter into the dough and got about 30 layers into it before shaping, 

The little nicks are to help in shaping.
As you will see they rose alright overnight and after an egg wash baked in 20 minutes.

They tasted pretty good as well.