Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Back to what I do Best

I have to say, I loved every minute of Well Bread! but I had to step away when it stopped me doing the other things I wanted to do with my time.

As you will know if you've followed me for a while, I like experimenting with food ideas, that's how I got started on the sourdough.

Today I'm telling you about food that is not that good to photograph but which tastes good, after all that's the more important thing.

First off, as an antidote to all the meat I've been eating, here's the ingredients for a spicy beanburger.



basically you just chop the veg, drain and mash the beans and mix it all together.



Like I said it doesn't photograph very well. Sorry about that.

Next up, oil and flour some small springform tins. Add beaten egg to the mixture and split into 4, pouring it into the tins.



These are baked for 60 minutes at 180°C in a fan oven. A bit longer than I expected but if I had cooked the Onion and Pepper first it would have been less.
They tasted good, again the picture doesn't do them justice, never mind I'm sure you get the idea.


I found a load of Walnuts in my cupboard while I was sorting out the last of the Well Bread! stuff. Yvonne likes Peanut butter so I thought I would try to make Walnut butter for a change.

I blended the walnuts to a very fine paste in my spice mill,




Adding a few small pieces to give a crunch. That should keep in the fridge for a month or so.

Day Out

We had one of our Dartmoor picnic days yesterday, basically we make up a packed lunch and just drive off, picking a start point and then taking a random choice at each road junction, just to see where we will end up. On the way out we spotted a rather magnificent rainbow, I had to stop the car and get some pictures.





Wow! That set the day up nicely. 

After a meandering drive over the moor and through some stunning countryside we ended up at Dartmeet. The day had turned a bit showery with a lot of scudding cloud and it went from bright to dark very quickly.




After that we drove to Postbridge,



and on toward Moretonhampstead, stopping for our lunch in a showery layby on the moor.

I attracted the attention of several Crows whilst eating, although they may have been more interested in the crumbs than me personally!




On the way home we popped into a local butchers for supplies and I ended up with a rack of ribs for £3.99. I'm thinking overnight soak in home-made BBQ sauce then slow baked with a few potato wedges and salad.



On taking the dog for a walk I found more daffodils ready to flower.




All in all a very nice day, a bit of an antidote to the full-on hustle of last week.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

A relaxing break.

Well that's the festivities over for another year and I'm back; refreshed and ready to get started on a new years blogging.

We had a great Christmas at my middle daughters, all of my girls were there including Elsa my grand-daughter.



All my girls in one place.

Lots of good food and drink, laughs and presents, what more could you ask for?

It was sad to leave them all and come home but we'll meet up again soon, Naomi is expecting a baby (her first) in Jan so another visit 'back east' will be happening then. 
Not only that George will be down to see us as well.

I'm now facing a life without getting up at 5am every day to bake bread. In a way its a bit of a shame, the emails from customers have shown me just what they thought of the loaves I made and I feel slightly upset that they won't be getting the stuff they grew used to. 

BUT and its quite a big one, our lives will improve. No more being tied to delivery times or spending sunny days making bread when we should be outside enjoying our retirement. The trouble was really of my own making, when I did bread 'ad hoc' it fitted in with what we had planned. When I got tied into schedules for shops it became a tie and I started to resent it. I guess after 40 years of never working in a conventional job, with ever changing shift patterns I just couldn't handle it. Other people will of course see it differently.

My first 'solo' bread is here, just a plain white bloomer, not sourdough.

Ready to rise

Oven ready




I'm going to have to re-educate the dog into getting up a bit later as well, he's back from his holiday in kennels and ensconced on the sofa with his present.


Sunrise today and the days are getting longer, only a little for a while but spring is on the way.



We have bulbs up and the Geraniums are still in flower from last year, a neighbour has Daffodils as well.


I have finished my novel "The Rocks of Aserol," and it's ready to be edited. Its a standalone story, not connected to either of my others. 

This ones set in an alternative universe where society has evolved without Electricity, using Coal as a main power source. Vaguely Victorian but with some fantasy elements its a tale of adventure with an unlikely hero. Once the edit is complete I will be offering the first few pages as a download before publication, more details to follow. 

It looks like a nice day today so we're taking a picnic and heading out....... somewhere.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Marmalade and Mustard.

Way back in March, when I spotted a load of Seville Oranges for a ridiculous price, I made marmalade as usual and ran out of jars. So I prepared the fruit and bagged the pith and pips and froze it in batches, so that I could make more later in the year. Here is one of them straight from the freezer.


I made it yesterday, tipping the defrosted contents into a pan and adding water.


I then just carried on as normal and ended up with about 5lb of Marmalade.


I have one batch of prepared fruit to use before this years Oranges turn up.

Feeling creative I also ground up some mixed Mustard Seed and mixed the powder with Whole Seeds, Balsamic Vinegar and Agave Syrup to make a great mustard for Ham or Sausages.





It also makes a good base for salad dressing.

That's about it for now, it's time to prepare for the big family get-together so I'll be signing off for a while. Happy Christmas everyone and I'll speak to you again soon.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Deck the Halls

We have put the tree up and decorated the house, just after taking these pictures the lights on the bottom of the tree packed up and I couldn't get them going again.




So we had to strip all the stuff off and re-arrange it all with two sets of lights. It looks good though and has got us in the mood.

I made some caramelised nuts for a snack, 75g of Icing Sugar per 100g of nuts and Sweet Paprika to taste. The nuts were rinsed in water and then mixed into the sugar/Paprika; then spread onto a large baking tray. I sprinkled with salt and sprayed with EVOO then baked at 160°C for 15 minutes.




And very tasty they were too.

And I have found a new drink to replace black coffee.



made with milk and served hot it's absolutely delicious.

I've been striving for inspiration for the new set of articles on my author website. As you might know I'm toying with the idea of a magazine from the future, the successor to National Geographic. I've called it "Galactographic" and I'm trying to set up a series of articles in the style of NG, without any illustrations it's tricky and a bit limiting though.

Anyway I was searching for inspiration and in time honoured fashion I closed my eyes to see what my imagination could come up with. You might find what follows to be slightly weird.

I saw a planet, just like that! I was in space and the sky was filled with stars. In front of me, a huge planet filled my vision; it was a swirling mass of yellow and orange clouds with rings like Saturn. These were laid out below me. Almost like stepping stones and it seemed that I could just walk across them.

Looking to my left I could see a large oval space ship, like a rugby ball on end. Small craft moved about the rings, it looked like they were scooping up the rocks and dust that make up the rings and taking it back to the oval. I think they were mining the rings for something.

I opened my eyes and it was gone, wow I hadn’t been expecting that. The memory remains though, like the memory of a day at the beach or on the moor, as vivid as if it had been real.

I wonder if I could make that brief vision into an article. I thought about a possible angle, how about if the miners were unhappy; perhaps they had been stuck there for years without pay or any family contact. Maybe they were convicts or prisoners of some war, forced to work. There could be a mutiny or an accident that needed investigating. That would give some human interest and a chance for some science as well.

Or looking at it the other way the scene might be disrupted by an attack on the ship, some scavengers wanting the results of the mining without doing all the hard work. Of course the ship would be protected, there could be an escort lurking about and a fight would ensue, with unknown results. All good journalistic stuff.

As you can see the possibilities are endless, the only limit is my imagination. 

Meanwhile I have had two more five star reviews for Ribbonworld. Here's the first one,

Review: "Ribbonworld" by Richard Dee
December 20, 2015
Genre: Sci-fi
Available at: http://amzn.to/1kaMPKw
My Verdict: ★★★★★

Miles finds himself in trouble when he stumbles upon a dead body. He is on Reevis, a planet that has no days and nights. However, that is far from being his only concern. He is trapped in the middle of a conspiracy involving interplanetary corporations! Uncovering shocking facts and notorious plots, Miles faces a battle where survival becomes increasingly difficult.

Sci-fi has always been one of my favorite genres and I’m going to include Ribbonworld in my ‘favorite sci-fi books’ list. Reevis is a planet with numerous problems, much like our earth itself. Sci-fi happens in situations and places that are not real but in spite of that, they are pretty close to reality.  The powerful owner of the interplanetary corporation is a very believable figure and so are the plots and conspiracies that feature in the novel. I recently read a book about a group of people’s adventure in a planet quite akin to Reevis. But this book was marred by the presence of too many characters who were unsure about their own position in the storyline. I am making this reference here just to highlight the fact that I was really impressed with characterization in Ribbonworld. Everybody fits in perfectly and Miles as the protagonist is admirable. It is well written and without too many excesses that only serve to damage the events unfolding in the fictional world. I’m sure all the sci-fi fans out there will love Ribbonworld!

and here's the other.

By Amazon Customer on 20 Dec. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm not usually a fan of Science Fiction but Ribbonworld is a thriller that would work in any genre. The characters 
are believable and engaging and the Writer has imagined and created a fascinating environment and setting in 
which to play out the plot. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from Richard Dee!

All in all a good couple of days.





Another review

I received another review of my novel yesterday evening, I thought I'd like to share it, the original is at
 http://chrisan081.wix.com/pagehungrybookworm#!Review-Ribbonworld-by-Richard-Dee/cu6k/5676f77b0cf28854b38da781  



Review: "Ribbonworld" by Richard Dee
December 20, 2015
Genre: Sci-fi
Available at: http://amzn.to/1kaMPKw
My Verdict: ★★★★★

Miles finds himself in trouble when he stumbles upon a dead body. He is on Reevis, a planet that has no days and nights. However, that is far from being his only concern. He is trapped in the middle of a conspiracy involving interplanetary corporations! Uncovering shocking facts and notorious plots, Miles faces a battle where survival becomes increasingly difficult.

Sci-fi has always been one of my favorite genres and I’m going to include Ribbonworld in my ‘favorite sci-fi books’ list. Reevis is a planet with numerous problems, much like our earth itself. Sci-fi happens in situations and places that are not real but in spite of that, they are pretty close to reality.  The powerful owner of the interplanetary corporation is a very believable figure and so are the plots and conspiracies that feature in the novel. I recently read a book about a group of people’s adventure in a planet quite akin to Reevis. But this book was marred by the presence of too many characters who were unsure about their own position in the storyline. I am making this reference here just to highlight the fact that I was really impressed with characterization in Ribbonworld. Everybody fits in perfectly and Miles as the protagonist is admirable. It is well written and without too many excesses that only serve to damage the events unfolding in the fictional world. I’m sure all the sci-fi fans out there will love Ribbonworld!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

George is Home

For the first time since 2008, all my girls will be together at Xmas, Georgina flew into Heathrow this morning, (Saturday) and was met by  Naomi and Amy. We will see her soon.

To celebrate I made some beer battered Onion rings, (OK its weird!) but it passed the time and used up some Sourdough Starter I had spare.




And the reason for that, I have finished baking as Well Bread!, as it was uneconomical for me to continue any longer. My insurance and Council registration, as well as my Food Hygiene Certificate were up for renewal and I needed a load of stack so I would not have made any profit until March if I had carried on.
I have kept all my starters of course, just in very small quantities and will refresh them every week and keep them in the fridge.

Here's a selection of the last bake,





So now I'm truly retired, I can concentrate on the writing and on enjoying life.

Talking of writing, my latest flash fiction went down well and got several positive comments.

Its repeated here in case you missed it, only 662 words so it won't take long to read. It could maybe expand into a full story someday.

Its decoration time today, must get up the loft.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Blank Page Syndrome

I remember hearing an interview with a famous writer; he said the worst feeling in the world was facing a blank sheet of paper on Monday morning, knowing he had to fill it.
That's about how I feel now, the only difference being its Saturday.

There is so much to write about, as you may have seen on my other blog I have had to call time on the Bakery. I feel upset but it had just become too much for me to fit in with everything else. I was working from 5 till 9 every morning and all day Tuesday and Thursday, plus deliveries. 
This left me little time to do anything else, which was the whole idea of retiring from pilotage and moving to Devon. Also the end of December is the time to renew all my insurances and things plus stock up on expensive ingredients in bulk, so I can avoid that outlay as well.

Next year will be busy with family events and I was not going to compromise them for the sake of making a few loaves.
So in an effort to get my life back I've wrapped it all up. I will be getting used to the idea of not getting up at 5 am after I have finished my last bake on December 18th.

Of course I will still be baking bread and biscuits for myself and my family and I hope now that I have the time, I can try all the new recipes that I haven't been able to do yet because I have had to do the same old loaves week in and week out.

It also means that I can spend a little more time in my office, where I get so much inspiration, this is what it looked like yesterday afternoon.






I now have about 50kg of flour and assorted ingredients to use up before they go out of date, so we definitely won't go hungry for the next few months. (As long as we eat Bread)

Of course the most exciting news is that Georgina is on her way home for Christmas, the crazy thing is that, due to the cost of flights from Australia, when she set out to find a cheaper way (I trained her well!) she found that flying via the Maldives with a week there was not much different in cost? So that's what she's doing. Quite how that works I'm not sure but she did say that its cooler there than in at the Barkly so its getting her ready for the temperatures in England.

So what am I going to do with all that time I hear you ask. Well sleep till six in the morning might be on the list and actually putting some effort into marketing my novels as well, sales could be better and I'm sure that I've been neglecting that aspect of things. I might even have time for regular writing, to get the next one(s) finished. 

If I could just manage 2000 words a day I would write a book every six weeks (whether they would be any good of course is another matter) but I will take the chance. I do have quite a few ideas for new stuff at the moment and it would be nice to see how it develops. 
There are a couple of things I started that seemed good until I got a few thousand words in; you suddenly realise that the idea is going nowhere. These are left to mature; a bit like sourdough bread, I can always come back to them later. I might get renewed inspiration on them

At the moment the 'Galactographic' idea is occupying my mind though but I do need to get around the lack of illustration somehow (words from the future are one thing, pictures another one altogether!)

It will be nice to have the time to work it all out.

And I've just noticed, I no longer have a blank page.