Posts Tagged ‘work’

Winter approaching….

I still feel a bit like my head is full of cotton wool so I’m doing a winter photos post. Please forgive my lack of actual blog writing recently.

image

The walk to work in the cold

image

Wednesday’s mist

image

He was just standing there as I walked to work!

image

The river through the bus window

image

Winter sky behind Ham House

image

The walk home is dark and beautiful

Advertisements

The Chestnut Challenge

Yesterday seemed like a fairly regular day. I went to work, did a little bit of this, a little bit of that, played around with some food and eventually decided that it was time to approach…

The Chestnuts….!

The chestnuts have been sitting there all innocently since the gardeners gathered them all up and delivered them to us to make use of. One of the other chefs sat and scored a load of them and roasted them and then I scooped them out, mushed them up a bit and used them in some chestnut, orange and nutmeg biscuits.

image

It all sounds fabulous and earthy and organic, doesn’t it?

Yesterday I decided I would complete the Chestnut Challenge because the little chestnuts had been sitting in bowls on the side, waiting to be dealt with and it seemed like the time for it.

image

That’s a lot of chestnuts. I was determined to complete the challenge by the end of the day. I picked up a chestnut, I scored it, I put it into a roasting tray.

image

Holding the little chestnut down whike chopping it made me finger rub on the chopping board so an hour in, I had my first chestnut injury, a blister. I started holding my fingers up when I chopped then, prompting my second injury, a knife slice on the same finger as it was now in the way of the knife.

image

See? I bet you thought I was being a right baby, moaning cause I had to stand around and play with chestnut. Well, shit just got serious here. I HAVE INJURIES.

Selflessly, I soldiered on. I recruited some extra hands to make the whole thing move faster.

image

And the pile of chestnuts in one of the bowls got smaller.

image

image

Then one of my Chestnut Helpers came up with a brilkiant idea (mainly because we had roasted some of the chestnuts and it had not gone well, far too hard). She decided that we would be better peeling the chestnuts and chopping them finely to add straight into cakes, etc. She did have a point. We experimented by making one chestnut and raisin cake and it went fabulously well.

This, then, became the new plan of action. Little did I realise how much more labour intensive this method is.

And so we began.

image

The four chestnuts up at the top took ne about ten minutes. If you portion tgat out to five million billion chestnuts, you will see that it would take me 18 years to peel all of the chestnuts.

I started to dislike chestnuts. Hated them, quite possibly. The day ahead seemed endless and hopeless. My life felt empty and chestnut coloured. The rate at which the pile in the bowl went down almost stopped. I probably battled with depression.

A few hours later, sad and with aching fingers, I pushed the mostly full bowls of chestnuts to the side, unable to look at them anymore, and left work.

I failed. I failed myself. And I failed the chestnuts. And I failed my fingers.

I understand if you feel differently about me now, readers.

Recent photos from my walk home

The weather is changing recently and the sky is different colours and everything looks a little different every day. Here are some photos I have taken over the past ten days or so.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Breaking the rules

This morning, I am joining in with Emily and Kelly’s Remember The Time blog prompt.

image

For some reason, the first thing that sprung to mind is the following story. It’s a bit feeble but I’m just going to run with it.

When I was about ten years old, I had an operation on my hip and spent about six weeks with plaster down both of my legs. A lady used to bring me work from school so I didn’t fall behind. I think, actually, because I didn’t have anyone around me to distract me, I got quite far ahead with things. When I then went back to school, I was ahead of everyone else and bored so I got a bit restless and naughty.

Because my operation meant I had to use crutches for a little while and had a huge healing scar, I couldn’t go swimming. I used to still go along to the swimming pool but would just sit on the side.

This particular day, I had an idea that I wasn’t going with them, I’m not sure why. Then someone came and found me and said I was supposed to be on the bus. So off I toddled towards the school gates to the bus. My teacher, Miss Moore, saw me as I approached the bus and came over and really bollocked me.

She was going, “We were looking everywhere for you. We’re really late now. You’ve held everyone up.”

And this, my friends, is the moment at which I totally broke the rules. I broke the rules of the teacher-pupil relationship. I broke my own rules of good behaviour. I broke the rules of respecting authority. This was the first thing that sprung to mind when I saw that I had to write about breaking the rules.

When my teacher shouted at me for being naughty, I said…..

“So.”

Wowzers! What on earth was that about?! That is crazy talk.

I remember being quite shocked that that had come out of my mouth and being like, “Omygoodness, she’s gonna go mad!”

And even though I’m 28 years old and have done lots of other things in my life, had numerous jobs and lived in many different places, for some reason, this singular incident when I was 10 years old is my first thought when I am asked to write about breaking the rules. 

Cake day

I bet you’re all hanging on the edge of your seat, wondering what happened after my gluten free failure the other day? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that I arrived in the kitchen the next day, eggs in hand, and rectified the mistake. The result was a nice light fluffy sponge with moisture from the plums and texture from the ground almonds and it all went fabulously.

Yesterday, I went into work a bit early and I thought I’d give those gluten free members of the public a bit of choice so I made a chocolate torte. My phone had a freak out so I couldn’t take any photos of that cake but you’ll have to trust me that the experiment was successful. I’ll give you the recipe at the end. I added raspberries and it went down quite well with the public. The first one sold out in an hour! Then I got a bit crazy and adapted the recipe to make a chocolate, orange and almond torte.

Now I tend to think of gluten free cake as Compromise Cake, cause it’s usually a rubbish version of real cake. I resolved to change this in my kitchen and to make cake that is actually nice, not just gluten free nice, which we all know, means ‘rubbish.’

I also attacked the Overripe Fruit bowl and made a banana and plum cake, an apple upside down cake and a savoury apple bread thing that we served with cheese.

image

image

image

I made a total of 18 cakes yesterday. It was a pretty good day.

Chocolate almond torte
(adapted from BBC Goodfood recipe)
250g dark chocolate
210g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
5 eggs, whisked

Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease a round cake tin then line the bottom with baking paper and grease again. Melt the chocolate, butter and sugar down. Take it off the heat and let it cool while you whisk the eggs. Mix them in to the chocolate mixture then fold in the almonds. Bake on 170c for about 45 minutes or until it looks done. Let it cool in the tin. It will sink a bit and the end result is something denser than a sponge and lovely and rich. It is pretty when decorated with icing sugar and small edible flowers.

Adaption 1 – Chocolate raspberry torte

Everything is the same as above except you add the raspberries at the end and when it is finished, decorate the top with raspberries. There’s no hard and fast rule about how many raspberries to add. If you LOVE raspberries, then add loads. If you just want a little hint of something else, only add a few.

Adaption 2 – Chocolate orange almond cake
This one is spongier than the torte as I have added bicarb to rise it and rice flour to give it a lighter texture.

200g dark chocolate
210g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
60g any gluten free flour (I used rice flour)
5 eggs
75g ground almonds
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 large orange or 2 small clementine/mandarin type things

Do the same as above by melting the chocolate, butter and sugar together. Then add the whisked eggs once mixture has cooled a bit. Add the flour and the bicarb then zest and juice your orange(s) in. Now here is where you have to use some initiative. Stick a teaspoon into the mixture (or your finger) and taste it. Does it taste orangey enough? If it’s orangey enough for you, then put it into the tin and bake. If not, grab another orange and get zesting and juicing til it tastes how you want it to. 

And so, my dears, go forth and bake! Be plentiful, be chocolatey and be gluten free!

An odd thing that happened

My friend, Vaughn, sent me a bracelet about five years ago. It’s just a thin scrap of a thing. A peice of black cotton and a peice of white cotton spun around one another. I was surprised it had been allowed to be sent out to me. He said most other people he’d tried to send them to hadn’t received them.

I tied it onto my wrist and it has never moved. It doesn’t come off for anything. For some reason, leading up to the day of Vaughn’s death, I felt like it would probably break after he died. I’m not really sure why. I don’t go in for a lot of spirituality and fate and bigger meaning etc etc etc. But I just kept thinking it in the back of my mind.

I wrote to him once, shortly before visiting him, and told him I still wear the bracelet he made me and he said I was the only one. The people who did receive them had either lost or broken theirs.

Then when I visited him, at one point, lost for words and overwhelmed by it all, I touched my hand to my wrist to show him my bracelet and he did the same on his wrist, as he was also wearing one.

The day after he died, July 19th, I was in work. I work with food. I had some of those thin blue disposable gloves on. As I took the left one off, the bracelet came off with it. It had literally never moved from my wrist in the five years I had been wearing it. I put it back on quickly but pulled it thinner a bit as I forced it over my hand. When I got home, I noticed the bracelet was now bigger so I tied another knot in it, to make it smaller.

Ever since tying this extra knot, I’ve felt like it was going to break. I’m not sure why, as it looked pretty secure. I just had this unexplainable expectation that it would break.

Then last Thursday, four weeks exactly since Vaughn’s death, the bracelet broke. It caught on the arm of a chair I was sitting on and snapped, flying off. I wasn’t surprised at all.

I have tied it around my finger, unwilling to throw it away, but I know it hasn’t much time there. It will probably fall off soon.

image

An ode to the potwash boy

O, potwash boy, o, potwash boy,
How lovely are your teapots.
They are so sparkly and so white,
I wish that I could marry you.
O, potwash boy, o potwash boy,
How lovely are your teapots.
(To the tune of, ‘O, Christmas Tree.’)

Now, before you judge me, let me just ask you this. Haven’t you ever been overcome by the sheer sparkly whiteness of a well cleaned teapot? No? Well then, my dears, you have simply not lived.

A teapot is a difficult thing to get totally clean, due to the tea’s fondness for discolouring things. I love a good cup of tea. Love it. But sometimes the tea just makes everything brown and tea coloured – the teapots, the mugs, people’s teeth.

When the potwash boy came to work on Tuesday, I had decided that from this day forth, I would no longer stand dirty teapots. Poor potwash boy. As soon as he arrived, I was like, “Today, we must clean ALL of the teapots and they must not be tea coloured anymore!”

He said he could do it for me and I should leave him to it. I wandered off, keeping a sneaky eye on the teapot challenge, expecting them to be returned a little stained still but hopefully an improvement on the previous situation.

And my god, was I blown away! These teapots SPARKLED! They SHINED! They were like artwork. I fawned helplessly over them, like a lovesick teenager.

image

image

“They’re beautiful!” I gasped, looking at the potwash boy, with love in my eyes. “Thank you. Thank you.”

Every time I popped my head round to offer him a cup of tea (which he refused), he was scrubbing a wall down or taking apart bits of machinery to clean down.

image

I was left stunned, especially considering we’ve never taken that hot metal plate thingy apart before.

It was only shyness that stopped me from asking for his hand in marriage.

What if my teapots aren’t sparkly enough for him? I wondered. What if I don’t take my kitchen apart regularly enough to clean it? No, I’m not good enough for him. He’ll never marry me. He’d see my tea stained mugs at home and run a mile.

And so for now, I just dream. I dream about sparkly clean teapots and milk jugs with no dried milk crust around the edge, about soap and hot water and yellow washing up gloves.

And I am happy.